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U.S. Catholic Bishops Approve in a Provisional Vote Strategic Priorities for the 2021-24 USCCB Strategic Plan. Bishops Also Approve the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Perm

BALTIMORE— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved several action items today at their Spring General Assembly taking place in Baltimore, June 11-13.

The full body of bishops approved in a provisional vote of 213 to 8 with 4 abstentions the proposed, provisional Strategic Priorities for the 2021-24 USCCB Strategic Plan.

The Bishops also approved the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, 2nd edition, for use in the dioceses of the United States by a vote of 217 to 5 with 2 abstentions; and a new translation of the ritual book used for the Ordination of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons for use in the dioceses of the United States of America. The Latin Church members of USCCB voted by the necessary two-thirds majority to approve the text.

The USCCB Committee on Priorities and Plans (CPP), based on two recent consultations with the body of bishops and one with the National Advisory Council (NAC), developed the 2021-24 Strategic Priorities. These two consultations with the body of bishops consisted of Regional Meeting questions at the November 2018 General Meeting wherein regions provided inputs on the Strategic Priorities for the 2021-24 Strategic Plan; and a Strategic Priorities Survey in January 2019 asking all bishops to further refine and prioritize the November 2018 regional meeting inputs; the National Advisory Council (NAC) also provided their inputs in January 2019 through a similar Strategic Priorities survey. The development of supporting 2021-24 Operational Plans by USCCB Committees, Subcommittees and Departments, which together make up the proximate 2021-24 Strategic Plan, will commence in July 2019.

The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, 2nd edition, fulfills the prescriptions of canon 236 of the Code of Canon Law and n.15 of the Ratio fundamentalis institutionis diaconorum permanentium to ensure unity, earnestness, and completeness in the formation, life, and ministry of permanent deacons in the United States. In September 2017, the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) approved the National Directory, 2nd edition, and submitted it for review to the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance (CACG) and the Committee on Doctrine. In June 2018, after adopting the recommendations of the Doctrine and CACG Committees, the CCLV Committee approved the National Directory and recommended to present it to the body of bishops in the General Assembly session in November 2018, but the Administrative Committee decided to postpone the discussion and vote. This year 2019, the Administrative Committee approved the inclusion of the National Directory on the June 2019 General Assembly agenda for discussion and vote.

The Latin Church members of USCCB also voted today by the necessary two-thirds majority to approve the Ordination of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. It now requires a confirmation of the decision (confirmatio) by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments before it can be published and used in the liturgy. Since Bishops in English-speaking countries around the world have been using a variety of translations of this text for their celebrations of Ordination, the Holy See expressed a desire for greater worldwide unity in these important ceremonies.

This new translation was prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) with input from the international community. While the new text is not drastically different from what is currently used in the U.S., it does update the book to some degree, and the positive vote of the Bishops indicates their desire for an up-to-date text and their support for the Holy See’s perspective on the value of worldwide consistency. The bishops of Canada have already approved the same text, and today’s vote of the U.S. body of bishops suggests that the hopes of the Holy See are already bearing fruit. Depending on the speed with which the confirmatio is received, the new book might be in print and available for use as early as 2020, though the approval and publication process could take more time.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Spring General Assembly, Baltimore, Strategic Priorities 2021-2024, Strategic Plan, Committee on Priorities and Plans, National Advisory Council, National Directory, Formation, Ministry, Life, Permanent Deacons, Clergy, Consecrated Life, Vocations, ICEL Gray Book, ordination, bishops, priests, deacons, Divine Worship, liturgy

 

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Conduct Canonical Consultation on Cause for Canonization of the Servant of God Irving (a.k.a., Francis) C. Houle

BALTIMORE— At their annual spring Plenary Assembly in Baltimore, MD, the U.S Bishops participated in a consultation on the cause for canonization of the Servant of God Irving (a.k.a., Francis) C. Houle.
Bishop Robert P. Deeley, Chairman of the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, and Bishop John F. Doerfler, Bishop of Marquette, Michigan, facilitated the discussion. By a voice vote, the bishops indicated support for the advancement of the cause on the diocesan level.

Irving C. Houle was born December 27, 1925 at his family home in Wilson, Michigan. His parents were Peter and Lillian Houle. They were faithful Catholics who raised seven children, six boys and one girl. Irving was the sixth child. All of Irving’s siblings have also died.

As a young child Irving recalled his family praying the rosary together, especially during Lent. Even then he felt a calling to suffer for Jesus. He recalled that his family would remain after Mass to pray the Stations of the Cross. In addition to Mass, the Station of the Cross and the rosary, in later years the Divine Mercy Chaplet was part of his daily prayer.

At the age of 6, Irving was badly injured when he was thrown from the back of a galloping horse. He suffered a severe chest injury. He was taken to a hospital in Escanaba, Michigan, where x-rays revealed the broken ribs and punctured lung. In addition, he was hemorrhaging badly through the nose and mouth. A local newspaper clipping reported the injuries as believed to be fatal.

Irving had an aunt who was a Franciscan Sister by the name of Sister Speciosa. She and the Sisters at the convent prayed an all-night vigil for his recovery. The next morning the doctor at the hospital was amazed to find that Irving had improved significantly and was no longer struggling to breathe. Irving related to his mother and the doctor that a “beautiful man in a white bathrobe” had stood at the foot of his bed during the night and raised his hand over him. Later in life, Irving would tell those close to him that he knows it was Jesus.

He married his wife Gail on November 17, 1948, and they were married for 60 years. They raised five children.

On Good Friday, 1993, it is said that Irving received the stigmata, at which point his healing ministry began. The wounds first appeared on the palms of his hands and he began to experience physical sufferings. He suffered The Passion every night between midnight and 3:00a.m. for the rest of his earthly life. He understood that these particular hours of the day were times of great sins of the flesh. Irving heard the voice of Jesus asking Irving to heal “my children.” Irving spent the last 16 years of his life doing just that, praying over tens of thousands of people.

Many of the people he encountered have spoken of extraordinary physical and spiritual healings they experienced when Irving prayed over them. He always made it clear that the healing came from God. He would simply say, “I don’t heal anybody” and “Jesus is the one who heals.”

Irving died at Marquette General Hospital in Marquette, Michigan, on Saturday, January 3, 2009. He will be remembered for his love of God, his closeness to Jesus and the Blessed Mother, his love for the Eucharist, the Church, prayer, and his care and concern for others.

In the life of Irving Houle, we see the extraordinary grace of God at work in an ordinary, simple man who offered his life in love for the Lord and others. Over the years, Irving’s generous response to simple sufferings disposed his heart to make of his life a generous outpouring of love expressed in prayer and suffering for the conversion of others. In general, the effects of Irving’s ministry, clearly increased greatly the faith of the people with whom he came into contact, and devotion to him continues to grow more and more everyday throughout the Diocese of Marquette.  
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Irving (a.k.a., Francis) C. Houle, Bishop Robert P. Deeley, Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, Bishop John F. Doerfler, Diocese of Marquette, canonical consultation, canonization, Cause for Canonization

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Activities Committee Applauds AMA’s Action Reaffirming Opposition to Physician-Assisted Suicide

WASHINGTON—Yesterday, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates voted by a 2 to 1 margin to affirm its longstanding opposition to physician-assisted suicide. Following the vote, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities has issued the following statement:

“We strongly applaud today’s action by the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates to reaffirm its policy against physician-assisted suicide. The practice and promotion of assisted suicide poses grave consequences for our entire society but particularly for persons living with illness, disabilities, or socioeconomic disadvantages. The AMA was right to reaffirm its longstanding view that physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, American Medical Association, House of Delegates physician-assisted suicide, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Committee on Pro-Life Activities

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Media Contact
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

President of U.S. Bishops Conference Appoints Three New Members of National Review Board for the Chapter for Protection of Children and Young People

BALTIMORE— Three new members have been appointed to serve on the National Review Board (NRB) by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  

The NRB advises the bishops' committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, and the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection at the USCCB. The NRB was established by the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, which the bishops adopted in 2002.

As Cardinal DiNardo said in a letter sent to all newly appointed members, "The bishops are very grateful to the Board for the work that it does and believe that it has been a tremendous help with the continued healing of the Church and protection efforts. The prudent counsel that the Board has provided has been beneficial to so many as we continue to establish cultures of protection and healing.”

The three new NRB members include those with expertise in law, victim advocacy and theology and they are as follows:

Elizabeth A. Hayden is a retired District Court Judge for the State of Minnesota. She is a graduate of the College of St. Benedict with a degree in Social Work. While working in that field, she held positions in a psychiatric hospital, county social services and the State Dept. of residential licensing. She received her law degree from Oklahoma City University. Subsequently, she served as a prosecutor in the office the Stearns County Attorney for six years before being appointed a District Court Judge. In her more than 23 years as a judge she presided over criminal, civil and family law cases and trials including many sexual abuse cases. She served as Chair of the MN Supreme Court Committee on the General Rules of Practice which led to a change in MN law to allow cameras in the courtroom. 

After being appointed by the MN Supreme Court, she served on a three-judge panel that presided over the U.S. Senate election contest of Norm Coleman vs. Al Franken. Judge Hayden was President of the Minnesota District Judges Association. She has served on the Board of Trustees of the College of St. Benedict and is currently a member of the Board of Governors of St. Thomas University School of Law. She is also a Trustee for St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud MN. Appointed by Bishop Donald Kettler she has been on the Diocesan Review Board for the Diocese of St. Cloud and is serving her second term as Chair of that Board. As a member of the CentraCare Health Foundation Board, she chairs the Grants Committee. Judge Hayden and her husband, retired Judge Charles A. Flinn live in St. Cloud MN. 
     
John N. Sheveland is Professor of Religious Studies and the current Flannery Chair of Catholic theology at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA., where he teaches courses on Christian theology, interreligious dialogue, and religion and violence. He holds a doctorate in systematic and comparative theology from Boston College, a master’s degree in Christian theology from Yale Divinity School, and a bachelor’s degree in history and theology from the University of Portland. His current areas of research and writing include theological reflection upon traumatic wounding and upon religious violence. At Gonzaga he organizes the annual lecture series called Being Religious Inter-religiously which advances the Jesuit commitment to interreligious dialogue.  

He received in 2013 a Faculty Diversity Leadership Award and in 2015 an Exemplary Faculty Award from Gonzaga University. He serves on the boards of the College Theology Society and the Society of Buddhist-Christian Studies, the steering committee of the Interreligious and Interfaith Studies Group of the American Academy of Religion, the advisory board of the Currents of Encounter monograph series with Brill and is a book review editor for Horizons. His research articles have appeared in a variety of academic journals and scholarly books, and he is the author of Piety and Responsibility (Ashgate/Routledge, 2011 (2017 2nd edition).

Belinda G. Taylor served as the first Victim Assistance Coordinator on contract for the Diocese of Amarillo for sixteen years and worked with three Bishops over the course of nineteen years. She served on the Bishop’s Advisory Committee and Review Board to address issues related to clergy misconduct and sexual abuse of minors by priests. Prior to retiring in 2018, Mrs. Taylor established and operated a private counseling practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor working with child and adult victims of sexual abuse, as well as providing individual, family, and play therapy. In 2003, Mrs. Taylor established an ongoing therapy support group for victims abused by clergy which allowed the group to create a training video for clergy on the effects of abuse. Through these efforts, victims were invited to participate in clergy trainings and reconnect with their church communities.  
As a Texas Registered Sex Offender Treatment Provider, Mrs. Taylor provided thirteen years of ongoing treatment services for registered adolescent and adult sex offenders on probation or parole. In addition, Mrs. Taylor served as the Executive Director for fifteen years at a local non-profit community center providing an array of social services from early childhood education, afterschool programs, counseling, a senior citizen center, and numerous youth programs serving predominately low-income residents struggling in poverty. In 2010, Mrs. Taylor was awarded the ‘Friend of the Child’ Mayor’s Service Award. Mrs. Taylor continues to volunteer as a Safe Environment Trainer and serves on the Amarillo Bi-City-County Public Health Board. Together, she and her husband Wayne have spent their married life farming and ranching in the Texas Panhandle. They have four adult children, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.  
 
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, National Review Board, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Charter for Protection of Children and Young People.
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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops’ Chairman for Catholic Education Welcomes the Release of Male and Female He Created Them

WASHINGTON—The Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Catholic Education says he welcomes the release of the document: Male and Female He Created Them: TOWARDS A PATH OF DIALOGUE ON THE QUESTION OF GENDER THEORY IN EDUCATION by the Holy See’s Congregation for Catholic education.

Bishop Michael Barber, SJ, of the diocese of Oakland, notes that “in a difficult and complex issue, the clarity of Church teaching, rooted in the equal dignity of men and women as created by God, provides the light of truth and compassion that is most needed in our world today”.

The document outlines both theological and scientific truths about the human person and will serve as a solid framework for those engaged in the ministry of Catholic education. It can be found here: http://www.educatio.va/content/dam/cec/Documenti/19_0997_INGLESE.pdf

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Keywords: Committee for Catholic Education Male and Female He Created Them: TOWARDS A PATH OF DIALOGUE ON THE QUESTION OF GENDER THEORY IN EDUCATION, Holy See, Congregation for Catholic education, Bishop Michael Barber, SJ, dignity of men, dignity of women, Catholic education, light, truth, compassion, human person

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200