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Convocation of Catholic Leaders – The Joy of the Gospel in America, Taking Place July 1-4 in Orlando; Unprecedented Gathering of Catholic Bishops and Leaders from Across the Nation

WASHINGTON—This summer, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will be convening an unprecedented gathering of diverse leaders from dioceses and Catholic organizations from across the country to assess the challenges and opportunities of our time, particularly in the context of the Church in the United States. An ongoing initiative of the Bishops' Working Group on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person, the Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America, will assemble Catholic leaders for a strategic conversation, under the leadership of the bishops, on forming missionary disciples to animate the Church and to engage the culture.

The moment is also an opportunity for the Church in the United States to examine today's concerns, challenges, and opportunities in the light of the Church's mission of evangelization, and be equipped to go forth, ready to engage the world with the joy of the gospel. Inspired by Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) the Convocation will form leaders who will be equipped and re-energized to share the Gospel as missionary disciples, while offering fresh insights informed by new research, communications strategies, and successful models.

The Convocation of Catholic Leaders will be held in Orlando, Florida, from July 1—July 4, 2017.  

Please note that advanced media registration is required as no onsite registration is available.

Credentialed media will have access to the Convocation main plenary hall from July 1-4. Press conferences for credentialed media will also be held each day of the Convocation in the Media Center as time allows.  Media will not have access to the Convocations individual breakout sessions.  All credentialed media are required to abide by regulations of the hotel or risk losing their credentials.  Reporters seeking to cover the Convocation of Catholic Leaders can download a credential application form at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/get-involved/meetings-and-events/convocation-2017/upload/convocation-2017-media-credential-form.pdf and submit it by June 23 to media-relations@usccb.org or mail or fax to:

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Convocation of Catholic Leaders – Media Credentials
Office of Public Affairs
3211 4th Street, NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194
Telephone: 202-541-3200
Fax: 202-541-3173

For more details regarding the Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America, please visit:

Convocation Program Schedule
Convocation FAQ Page
 

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America, Bishops' Working Group, Life and Dignity of the Human Person, Evangelii Gaudium, forming missionary disciples, Church in the United States, Catholic Leaders, culture, conversation.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Pope Francis Names Priest as New Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Father Bernard E. Shlesinger, III, a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh, as an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Atlanta. Father Shlesinger,57, currently serves as Director of Spiritual Formation at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, May 15, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bernard Shlesinger was born December 17, 1960.  He earned a bachelor's degree in Agricultural Engineering from Virginia Tech in 1983.  He went on to attend Theological College in Washington, DC (Pre-Theology/Philosophy) before attending Pontifical Gregorian University where he earned a B.A. in Sacred Theology in 1995.  He then began Licentiate of Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) studies at the Angelicum (Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome) that same year.  He was ordained a priest on June 22, 1996.

Father Shlesinger also served in the US Air Force from 1983 to 1990.  An Air Force pilot who retired as Captain, he flew the C130E Hercules while stationed at Pope AFB, in Fayetteville, NC.   

Assignments after ordination included: parochial vicar at St. Mary, Wilmington, NC, 1996-1998; Pastor at our Our Lady of Guadalupe parish as well as Assistant Vocation Director, Newton Grove, NC (1998-2007); Director of Vocations and Seminary Formation, Diocese of Raleigh (2007-2013); Administrator, Maria Reina de las Americas, Mount Olive, NC (2010-2012); Director of Spiritual Formation, Theology Division, St. Charles Borremeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, 2013 to present. Other responsibilities include: vicar forane, Newton Grove Deanery.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta comprises 21,445 square miles. It has a total population of 7,048,083 people of which 1,023,594 or 14.5 percent, are Catholic. Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory has been archbishop of Atlanta since 2005. The archdiocese currently has one active auxiliary bishop, Bishop Luis R. Zarama.  

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Keywords: bishop appointment, Pope Francis, Bishop-elect Bernard E. Shhlesinger III, Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, auxiliary, Archdiocese of Atlanta, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, Auxiliary Bishops Luis R. Zarama.


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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops to Meet June 14-15 in Indianapolis; Discussions will include Religious Liberty, Immigration, Upcoming Synod

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather for their annual Spring General Assembly, June 14-15, in Indianapolis. During the assembly, the full body of bishops will address issues of immigration and refugees, religious freedom at home and abroad as well as health care policy developments. The bishops will also begin consultation on the upcoming Ordinary Synod of Bishops being convened by the Holy Father in 2018. 

Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, will lead a presentation on religious persecution, genocide and human rights violations in the Middle East. The bishops will receive a briefing from their working group on immigration and hear from outside experts.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R of Newark, chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, will lead the discussion on the 2018 Ordinary Synod of Bishops, which will focus on young people, faith and vocational discernment.  

The bishops will also discuss and vote on whether to establish the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty as a permanent USCCB committee. Other items considered for discussion and votes are: the revised Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, a collection of blessings in Spanish (the Bendicional: Sexta Parte), and a new translation of the Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and of Consecrating the Chrism.

The Wednesday evening Mass will be moment of prayer and penance for the bishops as they respond to the call from Pope Francis for an international Day of Prayer to pray for the survivors of clerical sex abuse.   

Coverage of the meeting is open to credentialed media. Sessions open to the media will be Wednesday, June 14, and the morning of Thursday, June 15. Media conferences will follow open sessions of the meeting as time allows. Reporters seeking to cover the meeting can download a credential application form at: www.usccb.org/about/public-affairs/upload/application-news-media-credentials.pdf and submit it by June 9 to media-relations@usccb.org or mail to:

June Meeting Credentials
Office of Public Affairs
3211 4th St. NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, June meeting, Spring General Assembly, USCCB, president, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Synod of Bishops, marriage, family, youth, young adults, Pope Francis, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, immigration, refugees, sacraments, persons with disabilities, Bendicional, Chrism

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Chairman Calls on Senate to Strip Harmful Proposals from House-Passed Health Care Bill

WASHINGTON—After the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628), Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Senate to strip out the harmful provisions of the bill when the chamber takes it up for consideration.

"Even with efforts to improve the bill before passage, the American Health Care Act still contains major defects, particularly regarding changes to Medicaid that risk coverage and affordability for millions; it is deeply disappointing that the voices of those who will be most severely impacted were not heeded," said Bishop Dewane. "The AHCA does offer critical life protections, and our health care system desperately needs these safeguards. But still, vulnerable people must not be left in poor and worsening circumstances as Congress attempts to fix the current and impending problems with the Affordable Care Act."

Since discussions about repealing the Affordable Care Act began, the U.S. Bishops have repeatedly called for Congress to honor key moral principles in health care reform. Among them are: access for all people to comprehensive, quality health care that is truly affordable, including extra consideration for pre-existing conditions; respect for life by preventing the use of federal funds for abortion or to purchase health care plans that cover it; and conscience protections. Prior to Thursday's vote, Bishop Dewane urged House members to insist on changes, especially for the sake of those who are struggling.

"When the Senate takes up the AHCA, it must act decisively to remove the harmful proposals from the bill that will affect low-income people—including immigrants—as well as add vital conscience protections, or begin reform efforts anew. Our health care policy must honor all human life and dignity from conception to natural death, as well as defend the sincerely-held moral and religious beliefs of those who have any role in the health care system," said Bishop Dewane.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, American Health Care Act (AHCA), respect for life, human dignity, health care, affordability, abortion, poverty, immigration.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

USCCB President: Today’s Executive Order Begins a Process

WASHINGTON– Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued a response to President Donald J. Trump's executive order signed this morning.

Cardinal DiNardo's full statement follows:

"Today's Executive Order begins the process of alleviating the serious burden of the HHS mandate. We will engage with the Administration to ensure that adequate relief is provided to those with deeply held religious beliefs about some of the drugs, devices, and surgical procedures that HHS has sought to require people of faith to facilitate over the last several years. We welcome a decision to provide a broad religious exemption to the HHS mandate, but will have to review the details of any regulatory proposals.

In recent years, people of faith have experienced pressing restrictions on religious freedom from both the federal government and state governments that receive federal funding. For example, in areas as diverse as adoption, education, healthcare, and other social services, widely held moral and religious beliefs, especially regarding the protection of human life as well as preserving marriage and family, have been maligned in recent years as bigotry or hostility — and penalized accordingly. But disagreement on moral and religious issues is not discrimination; instead, it is the inevitable and desirable fruit of a free, civil society marked by genuine religious diversity.

We will continue to advocate for permanent relief from Congress on issues of critical importance to people of faith.  Religious freedom is a fundamental right that should be upheld by all branches of government and not subject to political whims. As president of the Bishops' Conference, I had the opportunity to meet with President Trump this morning in the Oval Office to address these and other topics."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President Trump, executive order, religious freedom, HHS mandate, religious exemption, Congress, federal government, state government, human life, adoption, healthcare, marriage and family, religious diversity, executive branch.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Gospel Message Spreads with the Catholic Communication Campaign, May 27-28

WASHINGTON—The Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC) collection is an annual national appeal to support evangelization through the internet, television, radio, and print publications. This year's collection will be taken up in many dioceses the weekend of May 27-28.

"At its core, this collection is a way for all of us to be evangelizers," said Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, chairman of the Committee on Communications' Subcommittee on the Catholic Communication Campaign. "The message of the Church is one of hope and mercy—that God walks with us and does not leave us to face our suffering alone. With the collection, this is the message that we share."

The Catholic Communication Campaign supports projects in the United States and in developing countries where the local Church lacks resources to spread the Gospel message.

Projects include providing access to the daily Mass readings on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' website, with a reach of 7.4 million page views per month. The CCC collection also shares the travels and daily ministry of Pope Francis through its support of Catholic News Services' Rome bureau.  

In addition, the Catholic Research Resources Alliance is preserving Catholic history in the U.S. thanks to a CCC grant to digitize more than 87,000 pages of Catholic news content that will be available online free to researchers and educators. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a CCC grant is enabling Radio Maria to expand to the Diocese of Goma to further the evangelization mission of the Church.

Fifty percent of funds collected remain in each diocese to support local Catholic communication projects.

Shareable resources for the collection are available online. More information about the Catholic Communication Campaign is available at www.usccb.org/ccc.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Catholic Communication Campaign, CCC Subcommittee, CCC, Bishop Joseph J. Tyson, evangelization, print, radio, internet, Pope Francis, Congo, Catholic News Service, Radio Maria, Catholic Research Resources Alliance, daily readings, Diocese of Goma, communications

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
O: 202-541-3200

National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea, May 22

WASHINGTON—The National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea will be celebrated on May 22. The day is observed in conjunction with National Maritime Day in the United States of America, which has been celebrated since 1933 to honor those who serve as merchant mariners and to recognize the benefits of the maritime industry.

Bishop J. Kevin Boland, bishop emeritus of Savannah, Georgia, and Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) promoter, is encouraging dioceses to mark the national day by remembering the men and women of the sea in homilies and by including special petitions during Mass. When Mass is celebrated on May 22, the text for the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea, is also encouraged.

Bishop Boland will celebrate a Mass in observance of Maritime Day on Saturday, May 20, at 12:10 p.m., in the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The Mass is sponsored by the AOS national office and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church.

Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) is a worldwide Catholic maritime ministry that reaches out to seafarers, fishers, their families, port personnel and all who work or travel on the high seas, regardless of race, color or creed. The maritime ministry shows the Church's care and concern to seafarers who are often away from home for many months because of the nature of their work and lifestyle. A network of AOS port offices and Catholic chaplains provides spiritual and practical assistance that accommodate a seafarer's unique lifestyle and needs.

In the United States, AOS is present in 53 maritime ports in 26 states, and in 48 dioceses. Priest chaplains, deacons, religious and lay people extend hospitality by providing a "home away from home" for seafarers. AOS has 10 Stella Maris centers, and over 100 chaplains and pastoral teams, including priests, religious, deacons and lay ecclesial ministers providing many services including: Mass, communion, confession and other sacraments, assistance to seafarers in distress, ship visits, transportation to visit business centers, a place to relax while on the port, computers with internet connection at the center, cell phones and phone cards as well as facilitating seafarers' access to services that others provide. 

In his profound love of the sea and ministry to the people of the sea, Bishop Boland says, "the needs of the invisible and silent merchant mariner, fisherman, seafarer spouse and retired seafarer to quality pastoral care are as needed as an inner-city community needs a pastor who is a good community organizer, or a new subdivision needs a new parish…the Catholic Church's ministry to the people of the sea is not a marginal ministry, but is an essential ministry of the Church." He encourages dioceses with maritime personnel to ensure that there is an active, viable Apostleship of the Sea ministry, and to ensure that AOS port chaplains and pastoral agents have the proper training and support for this ministry.

More information is available at: http://www.usccb.org/aos.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Apostleship of the Sea, AOS, Bishop J. Kevin Boland, seafarers, fishers, port personnel, people of the sea, merchant mariner, fisherman, maritime personnel, ministry, National Maritime Day

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Chairman Urges House Members To “Insist on Changes” To Proposed Health Care Bill

WASHINGTON—As the U.S. House of Representatives appears poised to vote on the American Health Care Act (HB 1628), Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, stressed that remaining flaws in the bill will harm poor and vulnerable people and called on members to insist upon changes.

"It is deeply disappointing to many Americans that, in modifying the American Health Care Act to again attempt a vote, proponents of the bill left in place its serious flaws, including unacceptable modifications to Medicaid that will endanger coverage and affordability for millions of people, according to reports," said Bishop Dewane. "Sadly, some of the recently proposed amendments—especially those designed to give states flexibility—lack apparent safeguards to ensure quality of care. These additions could severely impact many people with pre-existing conditions while risking for others the loss of access to various essential coverages."

In an earlier letter sent to Representatives on March 17, Bishop Dewane had urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives to correct provisions that would place a per capita cap on Medicaid funding to states, as well as to ensure adequate, quality coverage for those who are part of the recent Medicaid expansion, among other things. Bishop Dewane also called for conscience protections for those who participate in the delivery or coverage of health care services and against mandates like the contraception and sterilization regulatory requirement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"The American Health Care Act includes some praiseworthy features, among them restricting funding which flows to abortion providers and prohibiting federal funding for abortion or the purchase of plans that cover it," noted Bishop Dewane. "But the AHCA, as it now stands, creates new and grave challenges for poor and vulnerable people, including immigrants. The House must not pass the legislation as it is. Members should insist on changes, especially for the sake of those who are struggling in our communities."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, American Health Care Act (AHCA), respect for life, human dignity, health care, affordability, abortion, poverty, immigration.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Cardinal Dolan Calls Pro-Abortion DNC Pledge Extreme, Disturbing, Intolerant

WASHINGTON–Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities, reacted to the announcement by the Democratic National Committee's chair pledging support only for pro-abortion candidates. Calling the pledge "very disturbing," Cardinal Dolan urged party members to "challenge their leadership to recant this intolerant position."

Full statement follows:

"The recent pledge by the Democratic National Committee chair to support only candidates who embrace the radical unrestricted abortion license is very disturbing. The Democratic Party platform already endorses abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy, even forcing taxpayers to fund it; and now the DNC says that to be a Democrat—indeed to be an American—requires supporting that extreme agenda.

True solidarity with pregnant women and their children transcends all party lines. Abortion doesn't empower women. Indeed, women deserve better than abortion.

In the name of diversity and inclusion, pro-life and pro-'choice' Democrats, alike, should challenge their leadership to recant this intolerant position."

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Keywords: Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Democratic National Committee, DNC, pro-life, federal funding, abortion.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
O: 202-541-3200

Pope Francis Names Bishop Aleksiychuk as Head of Chicago Eparchy

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Venedykt (Valery) Aleksiychuk, M.S.U., as bishop of the Eparchy of St Nicholas in Chicago for Ukrainians, in Illinois. Prior to the appointment, Bishop Aleksiychuk was an auxiliary bishop of the Archeparchy of Lviv, Ukraine.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, April 20, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Valery Aleksiychuk was born January 16, 1968, in Borshchivka, Ukraine. He pursued seminary studies and was ordained a priest on March 29, 1992. He was named auxiliary bishop of Lviv on August 3, 2010, and ordained a bishop on September 5, 2010.

The Eparchy of St Nicholas in Chicago for Ukrainians has been a sede vacante since August 2016; it has a population of about 11,000 Ukrainian Catholics. About 70 priests and deacons serve the eparchy in 46 parishes and mission stations in 16 states throughout the United States.

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Keywords: bishop appointment, Pope Francis, Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop Venedykt Aleksiychuk, Eparchy of St Nicholas in Chicago for Ukrainians, Eastern Rite, Byzantine-Slavonic, Ukrainian Catholics, eparchy, mission stations, Ukraine, Archeparchy of Lviv

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
O: 202-541-3200