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U.S. bishops offer resources for Lent, marriage

A round-up of what Catholic bishops are saying, doing about current events

'Raise Up, Sacrifice, Offer' aims to help Catholics observe Lent

WASHINGTON | A variety of resources to help Catholics observe Lent, which this year begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, are being provided by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

With the theme “Raise Up, Sacrifice, Offer,” resources include a new set of daily suggestions for reading, reflection, prayer and action, in addition to the traditional downloadable reflection calendar available in years past. The downloadable Lent calendar with quotes from Pope Francis, Scripture, and Church fathers, is available in both English and Spanish. The daily suggestions and downloadable calendar offer ways to take an active approach to the three traditional pillars of Lenten observance: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

The website www.usccb.org/lent, also includes facts about saints whose feast days or memorials fall within Lent, a reflection on fasting, information on rediscovering the sacrament of Penance, and a section on Holy Week observances. The USCCB has also created an accompanying video reflecting on Lent for sharing on social media.

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Lent concludes at sunset on Holy Thursday, March 29. At that time, the Paschal Triduum begins. The three days of the Triduum last from sunset on Holy Thursday to sunset on Easter Sunday, which will be celebrated on April 1.

Bishops praise equal treatment for houses of worship after disasters

WASHINGTON | The Bipartisan Budget Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump Feb. 9 includes the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act, which codifies fair and equal treatment for houses of worship damaged in natural disasters by enabling them to seek assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, praised Congress for including disaster relief fairness provisions in the Act:

“When hurricanes and other natural disasters strike, houses of worship are on the front lines of rebuilding efforts. Churches, synagogues, and mosques are vital to their communities, and they, like other important community institutions, need help recovering from the impacts of natural disasters. We applaud Congress for including provisions in the Budget Act that direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make disaster relief assistance available to houses of worship on the same terms as other nonprofit entities. These provisions ensure that houses of worship are treated fairly. That’s good not only for houses of worship but for the communities that depend on them.”

Links to letters of support for the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act can be found here: http://bit.ly/2F0YMPi and here: http://bit.ly/2HaD0t8. A backgrounder is available here: http://bit.ly/2CdS9WP.

Pro-Life chairman praises implementation of expanded Mexico City Policy 

WASHINGTON | Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, thanked and praised the Trump Administration following release of its six-month report showing early signs of successful implementation of an expanded Mexico City Policy aptly renamed Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance.

“As chairman of the United States Bishops’ Committee, I again applaud this Administration for restoring our foreign assistance to its rightful goals of promoting health and human rights. Abortion undermines basic human rights, certainly for the child, and it also can wound the mother emotionally and physically. U.S. tax dollars have no business going to organizations that are unwilling to pursue health outcomes for every person and instead insist on promoting and imposing their abortion ideology on women and children. The six-month report just released by the Trump Administration provides early evidence that the vast majority of NGOs—729 out of 733—are willing and able to comply with this policy and that compliance does not appear to undermine delivery of appropriate health services.”

For your marriage now a mobile-friendly site

WASHINGTON | In conjunction with the start of National Marriage Week USA, the U.S. bishops launched a new mobile responsive ForYourMarriage.org website Feb. 7.

Originally launched in 2007, ForYourMarriage.org is an initiative of the USCCB that began as the communications component of the National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage. It continues to play a key role in advancing the USCCB’s priority on arriage and family.

Thanks to a grant received from the Catholic Communications Campaign, the new website, developed in collaboration with Crosby Communications and Marketing, includes updated content, graphics, and a new section dedicated to marriage and family ministry leaders.

“I hope this new platform will reach many more people with the message of God’s plan for marriage and be a source of support to husbands and wives at every stage of their vocational journey,” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, of Philadelphia, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

ForYourMarriage.org offers numerous resources on the meaning and beauty of marriage in God’s plan and provides support to couples at every stage of their journey. There are sections dedicated to dating, marriage preparation, mixed marriages, parenting and family, natural family planning, the stages of marriage, among others. A marriage resource section offers daily marriage tips, marriage help and support links, and solutions to common challenges. Finally, questions specific to planning a Catholic wedding as well as related Church documents and teachings are available on the website.

Along with these resources, the website features couples who write about their real-life experiences as engaged, newlyweds, or seasoned couples with weekly blog posts. Feature articles include book reviews, reports on current events and research related to marriage, and recent teachings about marriage and family life from the Holy Father.

Other websites hosted by the USCCB and dedicated to promoting marriage include PorTuMatrimonio.org and MarriageUniqueForAReason.org.

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