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Pope Francis Names Father Peter Muhich of Diocese of Duluth as Bishop of Rapid City

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Father Peter M. Muhich, a priest of the Diocese of Duluth as the Bishop of Rapid City.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 12, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The Diocese of Rapid City has been a vacant see since July 2019.

Bishop-elect Muhich was born on May 13, 1961 and ordained to the priesthood on September 29, 1989 for the Diocese of Duluth. Father Muhich attended Eveleth High School in Eveleth, MN and University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, MN. He studied theology at American College of Louvain in Belgium.

Father Muhich’s assignments in the Diocese of Duluth after ordination include: Parochial Vicar at St. Francis Parish in Brainerd (1989-1991); Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph, Grand Rapids; Our Lady of the Snows in Bigfork and St. Theresa in Effie (1991-1993). Pastor at Holy Rosary in Aurora (1993-1996); Pastor at Queen of Peace in Hoyt Lakes (1993-1996); Pastor at St. Rose in Proctor and St. Philip in Saginaw (1996-1998); Pastor at Blessed Sacrament, St. Leo and Immaculate Conception in Hibbing (1996-2009). He has served as Pastor at St. Mary Star of the Sea and at Our Lady of Mercy in Duluth (2010), and in 2019, he served as Interim Administrator at St. Francis in Carlton and Sts. Mary and Joseph in Sawyer. Bishop-elect Muhich has served as Administrator at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth where he currently serves as Rector.

Father Muhich’s ministry includes service for the Deacon Formation Program (1993); Presbyteral Council (1993-1996); College of Consultors (1993-1996); Clergy Personnel Board (2002-2007); Priest Personnel Board (2007); Diocesan Finance Officer (2009-2011); Spiritual Director at St. Raphael Guild of the Catholic Medical Association (2013); Presbyteral Council (2014) and Vicar Forane of the Duluth Deanery.  

The Diocese of Rapid City is comprised of 43,000 square miles in the State of South Dakota and has a total population of 227,211 of which 23,934 are Catholic.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Father Peter M. Muhich, Diocese of Duluth, Diocese of Rapid City.

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Media Contacts:
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Pope Francis Names Father Louis Tylka of Archdiocese of Chicago as Coadjutor Bishop of Peoria

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Father Louis Tylka, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago as the Coadjutor Bishop of Peoria.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 11, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC is the current bishop of Peoria, and the appointment as coadjutor bishop confers on Bishop-elect Tylka the right of succession for the Diocese of Peoria.

Bishop-elect Tylka was born on May 26, 1970 in Harvey, Illinois and ordained to the priesthood on May 18, 1996 for the Archdiocese of Chicago. He attended Niles College Seminary of Loyola University Chicago (1989-1992) and received a Bachelor of Arts from Loyola University Chicago (1992). Father Tylka attended Mundelein Seminary, IL (1992-1996) where he received his Bachelor of Sacred Theology (1995) and his Master of Divinity (1996).   

Father Tylka’s assignments in the Archdiocese of Chicago after ordination include: Associate Pastor at St. Michael Paris in Orland Park (1996-2003); Associate Pastor at Ss. Faith, Hope & Charity Parish in Winnetka (2003-2004); and Pastor at Mater Christi Parish in North Riverside (2004-2014). Since 2014, Father Tylka has served as President of the Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council and Pastor of St. Julie Billiart Parish in Tinley Park.

The Diocese of Peoria is comprised of 16,933 square miles in the State of Illinois and has a total population of 1,492,335 of which 139,835 are Catholic.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Father Louis Tylka, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, Diocese of Peoria.


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Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Binzer of Cincinnati

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer as Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati.

The resignation was publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 7, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop Joseph R. Binzer, Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

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Upcoming Cases Provide Opportunity for Supreme Court to Preserve the Religious Liberty of Little Sisters of the Poor and Other Christian Ministries

WASHINGTON – The Little Sisters of the Poor again find themselves in court defending their community against attempts to force Catholic religious to violate their conscience. The Supreme Court of the United States hears oral argument today in the case of Little Sisters of the Poor v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Additionally, the Court will hear oral argument on May 11 in the consolidated cases of Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel. These cases involve the right of Catholic schools, free of government interference, to choose teachers who will teach and model the Catholic faith.

Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J. of Oakland, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, have issued a statement addressing the cases:

“The Little Sisters of the Poor is an international congregation that is committed to building a culture of life. They care for the elderly poor, a ministry we appreciate even more as we endure a pandemic to which the elderly poor are particularly vulnerable. Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. James schools continue the Catholic tradition of offering Christian education. All of these ministries are animated by the Spirit of Christ. They are responses to the call of lay and religious to bear witness to the kingdom of God in the world.

“Religious organizations have a right, recognized by the Constitution, to select people who will perform ministry, and the government has no legitimate authority to second guess those ministerial decisions. Nor may the government force a religious order to violate the religious beliefs that animate its mission. It is dismaying that after the federal government expanded religious exemptions to the HHS contraceptive mandate, Pennsylvania and other states chose to continue this attack on conscience. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will reaffirm the freedom of our Catholic religious orders and schools to practice their faith and to serve others in love.”

The USCCB filed amicus curiae briefs supporting these religious institutions. The briefs can be found here:
Little Sisters of the Poor v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrisey-Berru

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Keywords: Bishop George V. Murry, Bishop Michael C. Barber, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, religious liberty, conscience rights, religious freedom, Catholic education, Little Sisters of the Poor, pro-life, contraceptive mandate, Supreme Court, Our Lady of Guadalupe School, St. James School, Catholic education.

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Bishop Chairmen Condemn Racism and Xenophobia in the Context of the Coronavirus Pandemic

WASHINGTON – In the midst of fear and anxiety being fueled by the COVID-19 virus, there have been increased reports of incidents of racism and xenophobia against Americans of Asian and Pacific Island heritage. Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez of Philadelphia and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Cultural Diversity in the Church, Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake City and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs, and Bishop Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux and chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism have issued a statement expressing their deep concern.

“The pandemic resulting from the new coronavirus continues to sweep across the world, impacting our everyday behavior, practices, perceptions, and the way we interact with one another. While we have been heartened by the countless acts of charity and bravery that have been modeled by many, we are also alarmed to note the increase in reported incidents of bullying and verbal and physical assaults, particularly against Americans of Asian and Pacific Island heritage.

“While a high percentage of Asian Americans work in the health care sector risking their own health to save lives, some have experienced rejection and requests to be treated ‘by someone else.’ Way before state and local ordinances brought to a halt almost every economic sector in the country, communities across the country, from Oakland, California to New York City, reported a sharp decline in the patronage for businesses owned and operated by Asian Americans. These are only a few painful examples of the continuing harassment and racial discrimination suffered by people of Asian and Pacific Islanders and others in our country.

“As Catholic bishops, we find these actions absolutely unacceptable. We call on Catholics, fellow Christians and all people of good will to help stop all racially motivated discriminatory actions and attitudes, for they are attacks against human life and dignity and are contrary to Gospel values. As we wrote in our pastoral letter Open Wide Our Hearts (2018), racism is ‘a failure to acknowledge another person as a brother or sister, created in the image of God.’

“Our hearts go out to all those who have been victims of these vile displays of racism and xenophobia. These dreadful occurrences are a reminder that, in an environment of increased anxiety and fear, racial profiling and discrimination continue to negatively impact the lives of certain populations, adding to the pain and suffering already caused by the pandemic.

“The acts of violence and unjust discrimination evoke and prod a long history of xenophobia and racism in this country. If uncontested, they could lead once again to a normalization of violence and abuse against particular groups. It would be a tragedy for the United States to repeat this history or for any American to act as if it is appropriate to do so.

“Rather, the reality of the times and all the suffering caused by this pandemic call for a stronger resolve towards unity, demonstrated through acts of solidarity, kindness and love toward one another, so that we can emerge from this crisis renewed and stronger as one American people; a people that places value in every human life, regardless of race, ethnic origin, gender or religious affiliation.

“While we continue to pray fervently for an end to the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus, we call for a firm rejection of racial categorizations or presumptions, racially based verbal assaults or slurs, and for an end to all forms of violence. We ask our elected officials and public institutions, as well as all public figures, to do all that they can to promote and maintain peace in our communities; and we encourage all individuals, families and congregations to assist in promoting a greater appreciation and understanding of the authentic human values and cultural contributions brought by each racial heritage in our country.”

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez, Committee for Cultural Diversity in the Church, Bishop Oscar A. Solis, Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs, Bishop Shelton Fabre, Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, racism, xenophobia, COVID-19, Asian American.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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U.S. Bishop Chairmen Issue Statement Urging State and National Leaders to Examine Impact of COVID-19 Virus on African American Communities

WASHINGTON- Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux and chairman of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and chairman of USCCB’s Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia, and chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, and Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, and chairman of Subcommittee on African American Affairs have released the following statement in response to the impact of the COVID-19 virus in African American communities.

“Our hearts are wounded for the many souls mourned as African American communities across the nation are being disproportionately infected with and dying from the virus that causes COVID-19. We raise our voices to urge state and national leaders to examine the generational and systemic structural conditions that make the new coronavirus especially deadly to African American communities.
 
“We stand in support of all communities struggling under the weight of the impact this virus has had not only on their physical health, but on their livelihoods, especially front line medical and sanitation workers, public safety officers, and those in the service industry. We are praying fervently for an end to the pandemic, and for physical health for all, and emotional healing amongst all who have lost loved ones.”

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Nelson J. Perez, Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, Bishop Joseph N. Perry, Subcommittee on African American Affairs, COVID-19, African American communities.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Daniel Conlon of the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois and Appoints Bishop Richard Pates as Apostolic Administrator

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop R. Daniel Conlon from the Office of Bishop of Joliet in Illinois and has appointed Most Reverend Richard E. Pates as the Apostolic Administrator sede vacante.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 4, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Conlon has been on medical leave since December 2019 and Bishop Pates, who retired as Bishop of Des Moines in 2019, has been serving as Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois. Read Bishop Pates’ full biography.

The Diocese of Joliet in Illinois is comprised of 4,218 square miles in the State of Illinois and has a total population of 1,950,354 of which 564,709 are Catholic.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, Bishop Richard E. Pates, Diocese of Joliet in Illinois.

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Media Contacts:
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Bishops Tasked with the Pastoral Care of Migrants Issue Statement in Support of Migrant Farmworkers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

WASHINGTON— “We urge our political leaders and policymakers to consider the realities and emerging, pressing needs of the farmworker communities across the country during this time of the coronavirus outbreak. To defeat the virus, no one must be left out,” said a group of four U.S. bishops tasked with the pastoral care of migrant populations.

The bishops put forth a statement in support of migrant farmworkers during the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus. Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez of Philadelphia and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers (PCMRT), Bishop Oscar Cantú of San Jose and PCMRT’s episcopal liaison for migrant farmworker ministry, and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the Committee on Migration.

The statement of the four bishops follows:

“The coronavirus has changed life for most of the planet, as billions of people experience social isolation and quarantine. Here in the United States, it is estimated that close to 95% of Americans have been impacted by some form of stay-at-home order. For those who are under such stay-at-home mandates, we thank you for doing your part in following the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and social distancing recommendations of your dioceses, state, and local governments to curb the spread of this pandemic.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude and prayers for the many essential workers throughout the country, helping us receive our medicines, groceries, and other fundamental needs during this difficult time. We would like to highlight the reality of migrant farmworker communities and honor their heroic role amidst the many challenges they face during this crisis.

More than a million farmworkers across the United States are regarded as essential workers, critical to keeping the nation fed during this pandemic. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that roughly half of these farmworkers are undocumented, while other observers suggest figures to be much higher. Like so many mobile and itinerant populations, undocumented migrant farmworkers are particularly vulnerable to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Many migrant farmworkers lack access to health insurance, medical treatment, and sick or paid leave options; farmworker housing conditions are often overcrowded with little opportunity for social distancing, including transportation to and from work, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not always available. Additionally, conditions of their immigration visas can make them unwilling or unable to speak out about a need for protection due to the threat of losing their job.

Along with these challenges to healthcare access and community mitigation during the outbreak are economic consequences of the pandemic that are having devastating effects on these communities. With disruption and layoffs due to the COVID-19 virus, many farmworkers are finding themselves without income for their families for the foreseeable future, and others who would otherwise stay at home for health concerns are risking going to work during this time as essential workers. Childcare for families with school closures is another area of related concern, as families may be at a loss for affordable, viable, safe childcare options. The realities of financial instability, increased stress, and anxiety during this time may also contribute to an increase in cases of domestic violence and labor exploitation.

Add to these many challenges the fear of immigration enforcement action which may deter someone from seeking necessary medical attention or speaking up about forms of abuses at home or the workplace that occur during this time.

Because of these many, grave concerns for this community, we urge our political leaders and policymakers to consider the realities and emerging, pressing needs of the farmworker communities across the country during this time of the coronavirus outbreak. To defeat the virus, no one must be left out. The COVID-19 virus teaches us we are one human family, says the Holy Father. ‘We can only get out of this situation together, as a whole humanity.’

Despite these concerns, there are signs of hope in the agriculture industry across the nation. Many growers and farmers are doing everything possible to protect their workers and ensure awareness and social distancing guidelines and measures are communicated and implemented. We extend our sincere gratitude to these businesses and implore that this trend is executed across the country for the basic protection, safety, and wellbeing of all farmworkers and their families.

We offer the following recommendations:

• Recognize that all workers need access to free testing and care related to the COVID-19 virus
• Ensure that all housing and transportation for farmworkers complies with current CDC guidelines
• Provide information on proper health and hygiene that is easily accessible in multiple languages and infographics for illiterate workers
• Ensure access to proper hygiene and safety protections at work sites, including hand washing facilities/stations, and masks and/or other PPE
• Have an emergency health plan in place to ensure care and protocols when a worker contracts the COVID-19 virus; and
• Honor the dignity of the work of farmworkers and make sure that they are paid a livable wage as well as be eligible for other benefits to help protect their health and the health and safety of their families at this time.

We pray for all farmworkers facing difficulties and challenges related to or exacerbated by the COVID-19 virus. We pray for their protection and safety as they provide for the needs of the country; we pray for all workers currently unemployed, that the Lord will accompany them and see them through. During this challenging time, it is good to remember the words of St. John Paul II: ‘We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.’ May the risen Lord send His peace and grace to be with you and your families. We turn to Our Lady of Guadalupe, asking for her intercession and maternal protection for the end to the coronavirus.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez, Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, Committee on Migration, Bishop Joseph J. Tyson, Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Migrant Farmworker Ministry, Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Catholic Home Missions Appeal: Supporting Essential Pastoral Programs Together Even When We Are Apart

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) annual Catholic Home Missions Appeal is scheduled for the weekend of April 25-26. Home mission dioceses are those located in remote, rural, and impoverished areas across the United States, including the Deep South, Appalachia, and the Rocky Mountains, as well as in U.S. territories in the Caribbean and Pacific. These dioceses and eparchies are unable to offer their people the basic pastoral ministries of word, worship, and service without outside help. While the impact of the coronavirus outbreak presents challenges in the lives of all the home mission dioceses are in special need of assistance to minister to their faithful in the midst of these unprecedented changes.  

“It is a difficult time to hold a national collection amid the coronavirus pandemic when in addition to health concerns, unemployment has surged and economic uncertainty casts a shadow over communities across the country. We also know that there are dioceses across the country that rely upon the generosity of the faithful to help provide basic pastoral services in remote, rural, and impoverished areas, that are also now facing additional hardship with the impact of the coronavirus,” said Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on National Collections. “We humbly ask Catholics to pray for these mission dioceses in the United States and consider contributing to help strengthen the Church even as stay-at-home orders physically limit our ability to gather together in our parishes for Mass.”

To assist mission dioceses and eparchies with the financial impact of the COVID-19 virus, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions, approved the early release of the second grant payments for 2020 to mission dioceses. This final distribution of the 2020 award was originally scheduled for release this July. “We thank God for the ability to continue our service our brothers and sisters in home missions dioceses during this time of uncertainty for many,” said Bishop McKnight. “It is my hope that the early release of the grant funds can be put to immediate use to help the recipient dioceses in their ongoing pastoral ministry.”

The Diocese of Crookston covers a vast area of rural Minnesota, including two Native American reservations. The ability to minister in this area is particularly challenging, given limited resources and the remote terrain. The support of the Catholic Home Missions Appeal has helped hundreds continue to grow in the faith for a lifelong commitment to missionary discipleship.

The Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions oversees the Catholic Home Missions Appeal as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. The subcommittee funds a wide range of pastoral services, including those that focus on evangelization activities, religious education, ministry training for priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers, and laypeople, as well as, support of poor parishes across the country. The subcommittee's grants are funded by donations to the annual collection. In 2019, the subcommittee approved over $9.9 million in grants to assist 83 dioceses and eparchies for 2020 – more than 40 percent of all U.S. dioceses are home missions.
More information about the collection, including what programs it supports and how the funds are distributed, can be found at www.usccb.org/home-missions.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Catholic Home Missions Appeal, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne, Committee on National Collections, COVID-19 virus, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight.
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Media Contacts:
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Catholic Leaders Respond to Administration’s Halt to Immigration with a Call for Unity in the Effort to Overcome COVID-19

WASHINGTON - Responding to the proclamation signed by President Trump announcing a temporary reviewable immigration halt, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, and Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento and chair of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), issued the following response:

“In this moment, our common humanity is apparent more now than ever. The virus is merciless in its preying upon human life; it knows no borders or nationality. Pope Francis teaches us that to live through these times we need to employ and embody the 'creativity of love.' The President’s action threatens instead to fuel polarization and animosity. While we welcome efforts to ensure that all Americans are recognized for the dignity of their work, the global crisis caused by COVID-19 demands unity and the creativity of love, not more division and the indifference of a throw-away mentality. There is little evidence that immigrants take away jobs from citizens. Immigrants and citizens together are partners in reviving the nation’s economy. We must always remember that we are all sons and daughters of God joined together as one human family.

“We are extremely concerned about how the proclamation will impact immigrant families looking to reunify, as well as religious workers. The proclamation prevents certain immigrant family members from reuniting with their loved ones living in the United States. Additionally, it bars religious workers seeking to come to the United States as lawful permanent residents from supporting the work of our Church, as well as many other religions, at this time. This will undoubtedly hurt the Catholic Church and other denominations in the United States, diminishing their overall ability to minister to those in need.”

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, Bishop Jaime Soto, President Trump, Migrants, Immigration.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200