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Bishops troubled: Trump retains policy banning bias based on basis of sexual orientation, gender identity

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WASHINGTON — The chairmen of two bishops’ committees expressed disappointment Feb. 1 over President Donald Trump’s decision to retain a 2014 executive order by his predecessor, Barack Obama, that bans federal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity against federal employees and workers for federal government contractors.

Trump’s action is “troubling and disappointing” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput called President Trump's action to retain a 2014 executive order  that bans federal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity against federal employees and workers for federal government contractors. Trump’s “troubling and disappointing  (CNS filePaul Haring)

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput called President Trump’s action to retain a 2014 executive order that bans federal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity against federal employees and workers for federal government contractors “troubling and disappointing.” (CNS filePaul Haring)

The executive order, they said in a joint statement, is “deeply flawed.” In a July 21, 2014, statement, Archbishop Lori and Archbishop Chaput’s predecessor as committee chair, Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, labeled the executive order “unprecedented and extreme and should be opposed.”

In the 2014 statement, Archbishop Lori and Bishop Malone said the term “sexual orientation” was “undefined,” and that “gender identity” was “predicated on the false idea that gender is nothing more than a social construct or psychological reality that can be chosen at variance from one’s biological sex.”

They added, “Even contractors that disregard sexual inclination in employment face the possibility of exclusion from federal contracting if their employment policies or practices reflect religious or moral objections to extramarital sexual conduct.”

The two prelates urged Obama to include a religious exemption. Fourteen other religious leaders also asked for such an exemption in a letter to Obama so that “protection for one group would not come at the expense of faith communities” who religious beliefs motivate them to serve.

Father Larry Snyder, then Catholic Charities USA president, was one of the 14 leaders who signed a letter to the president. He told Catholic News Service he was among religious leaders who then met with White House staff to discuss the executive order before it was issued. The priest said later the order upheld “already existing religious exemptions, that will allow us to maintain fidelity to our deeply held religious beliefs.”

In their Feb. 1 statement, Archbishops Chaput and Lori said, “The church steadfastly opposes all unjust discrimination, and we need to continue to advance justice and fairness in the workplace,” but the Obama executive order “creates problems rather than solves them,” adding that it instead “creates new forms of discrimination against people of faith.”

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Diversity theme dominates U.S. bishops’ meeting in Baltimore

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BALTIMORE — A groundbreaking new study commissioned by the bishops that finds diversity abounds in the U.S. Catholic Church is a clarion call to Catholic institutions and ministries to adapt and prepare for growing diversity, said Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio. Read more »

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Cardinal DiNardo, new USCCB president, says bishops ‘intend to be attentive’

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Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE — The newly elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said he is not planning on “creating a new vision” but hopes to continue the bishops’ priorities particularly focusing on dialogue and listening to Catholics.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston addresses a news conference Nov. 15 at the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. The cardinal was elected USCCB president that morning. Seated to his left is Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, who was elected USCCB vice president. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston addresses a news conference Nov. 15 at the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. The cardinal was elected USCCB president that morning. Seated to his left is Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, who was elected USCCB vice president. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

The bishops “intend to be attentive,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston hours after his Nov. 15 election to a three-year term that begins at the close of the bishops’ fall assembly in Baltimore.

For the past three years, he has served as USCCB vice president, a role that typically leads to election as president. He succeeds Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky.

The cardinal said he plans to focus on the needs and concerns of Catholics, particularly members of the immigrant community who fear deportation with the recent election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. But he also said he remained hopeful about working with the new administration, saying its newness “offers options and possibilities.”

“We hope for a whole lot. This is brand new,” he told Catholic News Service.

The cardinal said he would listen to the voices of the immigrants and would work to ensure government leaders treat them with dignity, adding that the church in the U.S. has always stood with immigrants.

“We make our voices heard,” he said, “not by screaming in the streets but rather our voices are heard in the streets by our care and concern and our clarity, what we think is essential.”

Cardinal DiNardo, 67, said the key part of his role remains as a church leader, which is “where we show our shepherd’s heart.”

His Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston includes 1.3 million Catholics, 440 priests in 146 parishes and 60 schools spread over 8,880 square miles.

The cardinal, who was born in Steubenville, Ohio, was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1977 and named a bishop 20 years later. He is a former bishop of Sioux City, Iowa. He has been archbishop of Galveston-Houston since 2006. He was named a cardinal in 2007 and participated in the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis.

This summer, after the shooting of police officers in Dallas in response to shootings by police officers, Cardinal DiNardo said: “These tragedies call for our prayer for healing and for change. It seems as though at times our hearts are stony and paralyzed. We need God’s spirit of mercy to melt them and reopen our hearts to the beauty of human life and to rebuilding human communities.”

 

Follow Zimmermann on Twitter @carolmaczim.

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U.S. bishops OK four-year 740-things-to-do list

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Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE — A new strategic plan adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 15 during its fall general assembly reflects the efforts of Pope Francis to establish a more merciful and accompanying church, said the archbishop who led the planning process.

Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, listens to a speaker Nov. 15 during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, listens to a speaker Nov. 15 during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

The plan, adopted by a vote of 199-4 with two abstentions, will govern the work of the conference and its committees from 2017 through 2020. It takes effect in January.

“We have adapted these priorities to coincide with the priorities of Pope Francis,” Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans and chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Priorities and Plans, told the assembled bishops before their vote.

The plan incorporates the theme “Encountering the Mercy of Christ and Accompanying His People With Joy” in setting five priorities: evangelization, marriage and family life, human life and dignity, vocations, and religious freedom. In total, the five priorities identify more than 740 individual projects to accomplish during the next four years.

Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis, who recently was appointed archbishop of Newark, N.J., asked where in the plan might be concern for the environment and people who are experiencing the negative effects of climate change.

“It is more urgent than ever given the possibility that the new (presidential) administration is not going to be interested in the issues Pope Francis is interested in,” Cardinal-designate Tobin said.

Archbishop Aymond responded that the plan’s work on the environment, climate change and a response to the needs of people on the margins of society worldwide falls under the human life and dignity priority.

In that section, one of the areas addressed includes teaching and advocating about what the pope has described as integral ecology, “emphasizing environmental degradation and its impact on the lives of the most vulnerable.”

The plan also calls for the U.S. church to move from a “silo approach” to ministry as expressed through the USCCB committees to deeper collaboration and cooperation in service of each bishops’ ministry.

“Committee chairmen and committee members will need to make sure we stay on track,” Archbishop Aymond told the assembly.

The plan, more than a year under discussion by the bishops through their committees, subcommittees and an ad hoc committee, stems in large part from Pope Francis’ message to the bishops when he visited the U.S. in 2015.

The 28-page document offers an overview of the plan and outlines several specific areas to address under each priority. Much of the plan was developed to support individuals of all ages as well as families as people go through daily life and to encourage actions that carry out what is described as “missionary discipleship.”

Another passage in the plan stresses that it charts “a path of hope for the people in need of a loving embrace as they face the challenges of the world.”

      Further, the document states, “The USCCB strategic plan exists to serve the mission of evangelization entrusted in a particular way to each bishop; it is the tool the U.S. bishops rely upon to prioritize, organize, optimize and resource good works which will allow the conference to fulfill its mission.”

      Two major events are expected to help achieve the priorities including the national Convocation of Catholic Leaders scheduled for July 1-4, 2017, in Orlando, Florida, and the V Encuentro for Hispanic Latino Ministry in 2018.

      Thousands of Catholics are expected at each event to discuss, learn, pray and act on ideas to strengthen the church at the local level and inspire new leaders to take on the challenges posed by modern society.

      The strategic plan also mentions that the early projects being undertaken will help the bishops as they prepare a pastoral letter on race relations that is planned for the 50th anniversary of the death of civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 2018.

      In his presentation Nov. 14, Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, as chairman of the the USCCB Task Force to Promote Peace in Our Communities, urged his brother bishops to issue the statement on racism sooner than scheduled, because of the racial turmoil that has affected many of the nation’s communities after police shootings of African-Americans. The archbishop also said such a statement would help address postelection tensions across the country.

 Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

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U.S. bishops elect Texas cardinal president of their conference

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Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston was elected president of the U.S. bishops’ conference Nov. 15 for a three-year term to begin at the conclusion of the bishops’ annual fall general assembly in Baltimore.

Cardinal DiNardo collected a majority of votes on the first ballot of voting during the second day of the bishops’ public session. Based on the number of bishops voting, 104 votes were needed for election, and Cardinal DiNardo, the current vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, received 113.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston,  Nov. 15 at the annual fall general assembly of the USCCB in Baltimore, was elected president of the conference, succeeding Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., (at right). (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Nov. 15 at the annual fall general assembly of the USCCB in Baltimore, was elected president of the conference, succeeding Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., (at right). (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

He will succeed Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, whose three-year term as president concludes at the end of the meeting.

Elected vice president was Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles. By virtue of his election, Archbishop Gomez will not take over as chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Migration. He was elected last year as chairman-elect of the committee and was to succeed the current outgoing chairman, Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo of Seattle, at the end of this year’s general assembly.

A lunchtime meeting was scheduled for the committee to advance two names for chairman to be voted on by the full body of bishops.

Archbishop Gomez was elected vice president on the third ballot.

Under rules established by the USCCB, the names of 10 bishops who are willing to be nominated for the USCCB presidency are presented for voting. After a president is elected, the remaining nine are then considered for the vice presidency.

If no candidate of the nine has received a simple majority after two ballots, the third ballot features only the two top vote-getters in the second round. Archbishop Gomez was elected over Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans.

The other nominees were, in alphabetical order, Archbishops Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia and Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City; Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, the only non-archbishop among the original 10; and Archbishops William E. Lori of Baltimore, Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, and John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The bishops also voted for chairmen-elect of five standing committees and three representatives for the board of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency.

The standing committees include Canonical Affairs and Church Governance; Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; Evangelization and Catechesis; International Justice and Peace; and Protection of Children and Young People.

The chairmen-elect each will begin a three-year term as chairmen at the end of the bishops’ fall general assembly in 2017:

— Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance: Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine, elected over Bishop David M. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, 111 to 89.

— Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs: Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, elected over Bishop Michael C. Barber of Oakland, California, 115 to 90.

— Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis: Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles elected over Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, 122 to 90.

– Committee on International Justice and Peace: Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services elected over Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego, 127 to 88.

— Committee on Protection of Children and Young People: Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Indiana, elected over Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, 128 to 86.

Also several chairmen-elect chosen last year will become committee chairmen at the end of this year’s assembly and will serve three-year terms:

— Divine Worship: Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta.

— Domestic Justice and Human Development: Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida.

— Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations: Cardinal-elect Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis, who recently was appointed archbishop of Newark, New Jersey.

— Catholic Education: Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio.

— Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth: Archbishop Chaput.

A vote also was taken for three seats on the board of Catholic Relief Services. Elected were Archbishop Coakley, who ends his term as president of the board but remained eligible to continue serving; Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee; and Bishop Gregory L. Parkes of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida.

 

Contributing to this story was Dennis Sadowski. Follow Pattison and Sadowski on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison and @DennisSadowski.

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Papal nuncio tells U.S. bishops to welcome, learn from and teach young people

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Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE — Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the new apostolic nuncio to the United States, urged U.S. bishops Nov. 14 to pay close attention to young Catholics to both learn from them and help them to deepen their faith.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, speaks Nov. 14 during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, speaks Nov. 14 during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

“Many young people are not allergic to the truths of the faith or to the church, but they simply don’t know anything or know very little about the faith,” he said, urging bishops to take steps needed to help them.

The archbishop, who addressed the bishops at the start of their fall general assembly in Baltimore, also noted that it is difficult for today’s young people to live out their faith in today’s world and they need to know they are welcome in the church.

His remarks were geared to encouraging bishops to prepare for the October 2018 Synod of Bishops, which has the theme of accompanying young people on the path of faith and in discerning their vocation, announced by the Vatican this October.

“We know that youth are critical to the life of the church,” he stressed, adding that they often “find themselves at the peripheries of both the church and society. We must go out to them.”

This was the archbishop’s first address to an assembly of the U.S. bishops since his appointment earlier this year. He said Catholics in the U.S. were still benefiting from the pope’s visit last year and from experiences from the Year of Mercy.

The archbishop, who has spent 40 years in the Vatican diplomatic corps, spent most of his 30-minute address pleading with the bishops to come to understand the young people in their dioceses, noting that they “tend to place everything in the present moment” and are often in a state of constant flux and unable to make a permanent choice.

He also noted the impact of modern technology on today’s youths, saying it has made them change their ways of showing their feelings and communicating, trading “virtual closeness” for real encounters.

To truly understand the young is not only a way to reach out to them but a way to help them discern their next steps, particularly regarding vocations, he added.

Archbishop Pierre stressed that in general they are “open, available and generous” and want authentic relationships and seek the truth. They want to be heard, he added, saying church leaders need to listen to them, following the example of Pope Francis.

The archbishop also stressed the bishops alone do not have the responsibility to help young people connect with their faith, because it is up to the whole church “to go to and walk with our young people.”

 

Follow Zimmermann on Twitter @carolmaczim.

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Trump talks deporting millions, while bishop sends message on immigrants’ dignity

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Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE — In a letter read Nov. 14 during the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Migration, Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle, called on President-elect Donald Trump “to continue to protect the inherent dignity of refugees and migrants.”

In a television interview Nov. 13, Trump said he is looking at a plan to deport 2 million to 3 million people whom he described as “criminal and have criminal records” and entered the country without permission.

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, center, applauds with other prelates Nov. 14 during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, center, applauds with other prelates Nov. 14 during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

A day later, the U.S. bishops, meeting in Baltimore, affirmed Bishop Elizondo’s letter encouraging efforts “to work together to promote the common good, especially those to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

In the letter, first released late Nov. 11, Bishop Elizondo said he was praying for Trump, “all elected officials and those who will work in the new administration. I offer a special word to migrant and refugee families living in the United States: Be assured of our solidarity and continued accompaniment as you work for a better life.”

Bishop Elizondo asked for the protection of the family unit, as “the cornerstone of society,” and asked that the new administration recognize the contributions of refugees and immigrants “to the overall prosperity and well-being of our nation.”

He said the migration committee would continue to work to protect human policies for refugees and immigrants and their inherent dignity.

“Serving and welcoming people fleeing violence and conflict in various regions of the world is part of our identity as Catholics,” he said. “The church will continue this life-saving tradition.”

With more than 65 million forcibly displaced around the world, he said, “the need to welcome refugees and provide freedom from persecution is more acute than ever, and 80 of our dioceses across the country are eager to continue this wonderful act of accompaniment born of our Christian faith.”

Trump, during his campaign, vowed to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border and have Mexico pay for it and deport 11 million immigrants who have entered the country illegally by using a “deportation force.” He also said he would ban Muslims from entering the country and he called for a “pause” in allowing refugees into the country until some form of “extreme vetting” of their background could be put in place.

During his interview with CBS, he told interviewer Lesley Stahl: “What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers. We have a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million. We are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.”

Bishop Elizondo said the bishops’ committee was willing to work with the new administration “to continue to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans,” adding that “a duty to welcome and protect newcomers, particularly refugees, is an integral part of our mission to help our neighbors in need.”

 

 

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U.S. bishops’ fall assembly opens in Baltimore Monday

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. bishops will discuss ways to promote peace in U.S. communities torn apart by violence, vote on ways to implement priority areas for their conference approved last year and elect new leaders during their Nov. 14-16 fall general assembly in Baltimore.

The discussion about restoring peace in the nation will stem from a report to be presented to the bishops from a task force formed this past summer after shootings by police and of police took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Minneapolis; and Dallas.

The U.S. bishops will discuss ways to promote peace in U.S. communities torn apart by violence, vote on ways to implement priority areas for their conference approved last year and elect new leaders during their Nov. 14-16 fall general assembly in Baltimore. Above, people demonstrate outside the White House in early July after shootings by police and of police took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Minneapolis and Dallas. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)

The U.S. bishops will discuss ways to promote peace in U.S. communities torn apart by violence, vote on ways to implement priority areas for their conference approved last year and elect new leaders during their Nov. 14-16 fall general assembly in Baltimore. Above, people demonstrate outside the White House in early July after shootings by police and of police took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Minneapolis and Dallas. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)

When Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced the USCCB Task Force to Promote Peace in Our Communities, he said there needed to be “ways of nurturing an open, honest and civil dialogue on issues of race relations, restorative justice, mental health, economic opportunity and addressing the question of pervasive gun violence.”

The task force is chaired by Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, who told reporters in September that the U.S. bishops are in beginning stages of developing a pastoral letter that will examine racism in society and the church and will encourage dialogue on the issue as well as describe steps Catholics can take to bring about healing and reconciliation.

As part of the USCCB’s 2017-2020 strategic plan, the bishops will discuss and vote on an action plan to support the five priorities they approved last November: evangelization; family and marriage; human life and dignity; religious freedom; and vocations and ongoing formation.

They also will be given an update on preparations for the convocation of Catholic leaders from all across the country taking place next July in Orlando, Fla., and focusing on “The Joy of the Gospel in America.” It is an initiative of bishops’ Working Group on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person.

The bishops will convene key 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 U.S. Catholic Church, according to the USCCB.

Inspired by Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation, “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,” the USCCB said.

Archbishop Kurtz will give his final address as USCCB president; his three year-term ends at the conclusion of the fall assembly. Also ending his three-term is the current vice president, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

During their meeting, the bishops will elect a new president and vice president, whose three-year terms will begin at the conclusion of the assembly. Each office is elected from a slate of 10 candidates who have been nominated by their fellow bishops.

The nominees are: New Orleans Gregory M. Aymond; Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput; Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley; Cardinal DiNardo; Texas Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville; Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez; Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori; Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron; Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski and New Mexico Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe.

USCCB bylaws provide that the first election is that of the president by simple majority vote of members who are present and voting. Following the election of the president, the vice president is elected from the remaining nine candidates.

In either election, if a candidate does not receive more than half of the votes cast on the first ballot, a second vote is taken. If a third round of voting is necessary, that ballot is a run-off between the two bishops who received the most votes on the second ballot.

During the meeting, the bishops also will vote for new chairmen-elect of the following five USCCB committees: Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance; Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis; Committee on International Justice and Peace; and Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People. They serve one year as chairmen-elect and then over as chairmen at the conclusion of the bishops’ fall assembly in 2017.

The nominees are:

  • Canonical Affairs and Church Governance: Bishops Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine, and David M. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois.
  • Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs: Bishops Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Michael C. Barber of Oakland, California.
  • Evangelization and Catechesis: Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles and Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
  • International Justice and Peace: Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego and Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese of the Military Services.
  • Protection of Children and Young People: Bishops Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Indiana, and Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington.
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Baltimore exhibit of religious works of art offers ‘feast for the senses’

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Catholic News Service

 

BALTIMORE (CNS) — A 500-year-old oil painting of “The Glorification of the Virgin” now on display at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore is a genuine feast for the senses.

Inspired by John’s apocalyptic vision of a woman “clothed with the sun,” the image shows a crowned Mary surrounded by an intense radiant glow. Standing atop a black dragon whose eyes are set on the infant Jesus resting in her arms, the woman maintains a tranquil expression with downcast eyes. Read more »

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Mount St. Mary’s seminarian from Kansas believed drowned after saving a life

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WICHITA, Kan. — Brian Bergkamp, a seminarian from the Diocese of Wichita who was studying at a Maryland seminary, is believed dead after saving the life of a woman who fell into the Arkansas River July 9.

By mid-day July 12, he remained missing. Friends and family members remember were holding vigils to pray for the recovery of his body.

Brian Bergkamp, a seminarian in the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., disappeared into the Arkansas River July 9 while trying to save the life of another. Bergkamp, 24, had been kayaking with four friends, a man and three women, when they hit churning water. Bergkamp is pictured in an undated photo. (CNS photo/Catholic Advance)

Brian Bergkamp, a seminarian in the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., disappeared into the Arkansas River July 9 while trying to save the life of another. Bergkamp, 24, had been kayaking with four friends, a man and three women, when they hit churning water. Bergkamp is pictured in an undated photo. (CNS photo/Catholic Advance)

Bergkamp, 24, was among five people traveling in separate kayaks when all got caught in turbulent waters. According to The Wichita Eagle newspaper, Bergkamp jumped from his kayak to save the woman before getting pulled under himself. He was not wearing a life jacket. The other kayakers made it to shore.

“I knew Brian to be an exceptional seminarian, well on his way to demonstrating so many of the qualities needed to be a good and faithful priest,” Wichita Bishop Carl A. Kemme wrote in an email to The Catholic Advance, the diocesan newspaper. “I personally looked forward to the day when I might be able to ordain him.”

Bishop Kemme said Bergkamp was quiet, dedicated, diligent in his work and studies, and presented himself always with a sense of decorum and maturity, well beyond his years. “I was looking forward to how God would use him as a priest in the Diocese of Wichita. Now, we must all mourn his much anticipated ministry and the many fruits we all knew would be abundant by his priestly life and ministry.”

Life on this side of heaven is full of mysteries, contradictions and ironies, Bishop Kemme said. “Brian’s untimely death is full of these mysteries, which must wait until heaven to be solved.”

Bergkamp had just finished his second year at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, which is in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He is the son of Ned and Theresa Bergkamp of Garden Plain and would have been ordained to the transitional diaconate at the end of the upcoming school year. His brother, Andy, was ordained to the transitional diaconate in May. He is preparing for the priesthood for the Diocese of Wichita at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois.

“Brian’s death is a great tragedy and a great loss, not only for his family and friends,” said Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, “but to all who knew him and to the church he was so generously seeking to serve.”

In an email to the Catholic Review, Baltimore’s archdiocesan news outlet, Archbishop Lori said Bergkamp’s “heroic and brave actions” speak to the “great character and to the wonderful priest I’m sure he would have become.”

Msgr. Andrew Baker, rector of the seminary, remembered Bergkamp as a “quiet, but very effective leader.”

“He was a thoughtful and prayerful young man,” Msgr. Baker told the Catholic Review. “He was extremely reliable and hardworking.”

Bergkamp had served as a sacristan at Mount St. Mary’s, the priest said.

The circumstances of Bergkamp’s death show that he knew the depth of what it meant to be a Christian and a priest, Msgr. Baker said.

“It was self-giving love,” he said. “He didn’t have to think twice before he acted (to save another’s life).”

Seminarians and the entire Mount St. Mary’s community were taking Bergkamp’s death “very hard,” the priest added.

Derek Thome, a seminarian at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary from Viola, Kansas, said Bergkamp was a man of dedication with a big heart who would do just about anything for anyone, as long as it would help them.

“It didn’t matter what he had going on, his life was spent thinking of others first,” he told The Catholic Advance. “Brian died doing what he went to seminary for, to save souls.”

Bergkamp did so many things around the seminary, Thome said, adding that he was always keeping busy fixing things. “The joke goes that Brian was the only reason the seminary building still stands!”

Bergkamp showed a true priestly quality in his last moments, Bishop Kemme said, apparently saving the life of another while risking his own. “This all took place on the weekend when we heard the parable of the good Samaritan. Brian was living that parable in his last moments. No one could ever hope for or expect a greater homily than this.”

In addition to keeping Bergkamp’s family in prayer, Bishop Kemme asked the faithful to keep all of the diocese’s seminarians and priests in their prayers. “Pray fervently for more seminarians like Brian, so that others will come to take his place. More than likely, Brian’s heavenly service will help to make this happen, according to God’s providence.”

By Christopher M. Riggs

Riggs is editor of The Catholic Advance, newspaper of the Diocese of Wichita. Contributing to this story was George M. Matysek in Baltimore.

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