World Day for Consecrated Life Celebrates the Important Witness of Consecrated Persons in the Church
WASHINGTON – Each year, the Catholic Church celebrates the World Day for Consecrated Life. Instituted by Pope John Paul II in 1997, the celebration is in conjunction with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas Day, commemorating the coming of Christ, the Light of the World, through the symbolic lighting of candles. Similarly, consecrated men and women are called to spread the light and love of Jesus Christ through their unique witness of selfless service, such as caring for the poor, the contemplative work of prayer, or through their professional careers. On February 2, 2020, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to recognize and pray for the essential role of consecrated persons in the life of the Church and to express gratitude for their service to the Church. Similarly, parishes in the United States will also celebrate consecrated life during the weekend of February 1-2 and recognize the essential role of consecrated persons in the life of the Church. As engaged members of their local communities, consecrated men and women bring the presence of Jesus to all they encounter throughout their day, allowing his Spirit to live and move within them so that the truth of the Gospel can be proclaimed to all.
Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, reiterated the importance of the witness offered by those in consecrated life: “Consecrated men and women are a special treasure in the Church who allow the love of Jesus to become tangible. By dedicating their entire lives to following Christ, consecrated persons are particularly able to reach out to those on the peripheries of our society and bring the message of the Gospel to all those in need.”
Each year, the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations asks the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) to conduct a survey of those solemnly professed in the United States in the past year. Some of the major findings of this year’s report are:
• The average age of the profession class of 2019 is 39. Half of the responding religious are age 34 or younger. The youngest is 24 and the oldest is 71.
• Two-thirds of the responding religious (69 percent) report their primary race or ethnicity as white. One in ten (10 percent) identifies as Hispanic, and one in ten (9 percent) identify as Asian.
• Three in four of responding religious (74 percent) were born in the United States. Of those born outside the United States, the most common country of origin is the Philippines.
• Twenty-five percent of responding religious earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute. Three-fourths (74 percent) entered their religious institute with at least a bachelor’s degree (77 percent for women and 69 percent for men).
• Around nine in ten responding religious (89 percent) served in one or more church ministries before entering their religious institute, most commonly as a lector (51 percent), altar server (44 percent), or Extraordinary Minister of Communion (42 percent).
• On average, responding religious report that they were 19 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, but half were 18 or younger when they first did so.
• Nine in ten responding religious (91 percent) regularly participated in some type of private prayer activity before they entered their religious institute. Three-fifths or more participated in Eucharistic Adoration or prayed the rosary before entering. Nearly six in ten participated in spiritual direction or retreats before entering.
The full survey from CARA, as well as resources for use by parishes are available at: http://cms.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/consecrated-life/world-day-for-consecrated-life.cfm
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, World Day for Consecrated Life, Bishop James F. Checchio, Diocese of Metuchen, Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, Presentation of the Lord, Candlemas Day, Charism, Consecrated Life, Vocations, Women Religious, Men Religious, Profession Class of 2019, Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, CARA, Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis, Vatican, Eucharistic Adoration, rosary, spiritual direction, retreats.
WASHINGTON—On January 24th, on the occasion of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., the Trump Administration announced that it is taking steps to enforce the Weldon Amendment, a federal law that prohibits discrimination by states against health insurance plans that do not cover abortion. In 2014, the California Department of Managed Health Care began forcing all employers—even churches—to fund and facilitate elective abortions in their health plans in direct violation of the Weldon amendment. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement in response to this enforcement action:
“Today’s announcement is extraordinarily good news for the right to life, conscientious objection, religious freedom and the rule of law. For nearly six years, employers in California—including churches—have been forced to fund and facilitate abortions in their health insurance plans in direct violation of a federal conscience protection law known as the Weldon amendment. This coercive California policy is abhorrent, unjust and illegal. We strongly commend the Trump Administration for taking this critical action to enforce federal law and correct this supreme injustice to the people and employers of California. Sadly, violations of federal conscience laws are on the rise. We hope that this enforcement action, and subsequent actions by the Administration, will stop further unlawful discrimination against people who reject abortion as a violation of the most basic human and civil rights.”
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop George V. Murry, S.J, Committee for Religious Liberty, Weldon Amendment, Trump Administration.
WASHINGTON—Today, bishops from two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), expressed their profound sorrow at the loss of three American crew members when a firefighting air tanker crashed in the state of New South Wales in Australia. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, offered the following statement:
“As the people of Australia continue to endure terrible fires, let us renew our prayer and generosity. Today, the suffering was brought even closer to home with the loss of three brave American crew members who died in the crash of a tanker airplane used in fighting wildfires in Australia. We join in prayerful solidarity with their families and with all the people of Australia and all those in regions affected by these terrible fires. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those who are suffering from this tragedy and from the disaster these dedicated professionals were fighting. In our prayer, we recall in trust that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, offering Himself to us and calling us to Himself even in our hardest hour.
“We join with Archbishop José Gomez, president of the USCCB, as expressed in his solidarity letter to the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, in the heartfelt prayers offered by the bishops of Australia in response to the terrible wildfires that have affected that nation and claimed the lives of so many individuals. We call upon the faithful to support, through their petitions and concern, the efforts at extinguishment and recovery taking place throughout in response to these fires. It is in unity with the bishops of Australia that we encourage the faithful and all appropriate parties to be generous in their financial support of these recovery efforts. We pray for the safety and wellbeing of those affected and those fighting the fires, and hope for the eventual restoration of the homes and natural habitats that have been destroyed.”
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archbishop Paul Coakley, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop David Malloy, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Australia.
Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap. of Philadelphia; Names Bishop Nelson J. Pérez of Cleveland as Successor
WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap., from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and has named Bishop Nelson J. Pérez of Cleveland to succeed him.
The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington on January 23, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is comprised of 2,202 square miles in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has a total population of 4,119,268 of which 1,292,704 are Catholic.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM, Cap., Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Bishop Nelson Pérez, Diocese of Cleveland.
Supreme Court’s Blaine Amendment Case An Opportunity to End a Shameful Legacy Says U.S. Bishops’ Religious Liberty and Catholic Education Chairmen
WASHINGTON – Today, the Supreme Court of the United States hears oral argument in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The case challenges a decision by the Montana Supreme Court to invalidate a tax credit scholarship program because families benefiting include those who choose to send their children to religiously-affiliated schools, a violation of the Montana state constitution’s “Blaine Amendment” of 1889 against aid to religious schools.
Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J., of Oakland, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Catholic Education, have issued a statement:
“The case before the Supreme Court today concerns whether the Constitution offers states a license to discriminate against religion. Our country’s tradition of non-establishment of religion does not mean that governments can deny otherwise available benefits on the basis of religious status. Indeed, religious persons and organizations should, like everyone else, be allowed to participate in government programs that are open to all. This is an issue of justice for people of all faith communities.
“But this case is not only about constitutional law. It is about whether our nation will continue to tolerate this strain of anti-Catholic bigotry. Blaine Amendments, which are in 37 states’ constitutions, were the product of nativism. They were never meant to ensure government neutrality towards religion, but were expressions of hostility toward the Catholic Church. We hope that the Supreme Court will take this opportunity to bring an end to this shameful legacy.”
The USCCB filed an amicus curiaebrief supporting the petitioners, which can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/Laycock-Berg-CLS-Amicus-Brief.pdf.
Keywords: Bishop George Murry, Bishop Michael Barber, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, religious liberty, religious freedom, Catholic education, Blaine Amendments, Supreme Court, Espinoza.