0218appeal10

Bishop Duca Reflects on Our Diocesan Stewardship Appeal

by John Mark Willcox, Director of Stewardship  Incredibly this May, Bishop Michael G. Duca  will mark his first decade as the second Ordinary of the Diocese of Shreveport. During his 10 years More »

0218bishop

Bishop’s Reflection: Letting Go of “Mine” for the Glory of God’s Work

by Bishop Michael G. Duca Maybe the first surprise to new parents is that children are born wild – not tame. I don’t mean this in a bad sense, but our first More »

0218charities

Faith Partners for Progress: Catholics Charities of North Louisiana and Society of St. Vincent de Paul

by Bonnie Martinez  The Western District Society of St. Vincent de Paul has been awarded a $5,000 systemic change grant by the National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent More »

0218maryshouse

Pro-Life Events Evolving in 2018: An Interview with Bishop Michael G. Duca

by Jessica Rinaudo As the Diocese of Shreveport continues to support and champion pro-life efforts in 2018, Bishop Duca is planning to keep awareness of the issue at the forefront but now More »

0218laptop

Discerning a Vocation in College

by Raney Johnson, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian Some young men discover their calling to the priesthood in high school and decide to enter the seminary right after graduating from high school. However, More »

0218mvv

Mike’s Meditations: Courageously Ask for God’s Opinion

by Mike Van Vranken Someone recently asked me what he could do differently for Lent. I suggested he think of a moral issue about which he’s always had a definite opinion, and More »

0118bishop

Bishop’s January Reflection: Make Small Commitments for Big Changes

by Bishop Michael G. Duca As you receive this Catholic Connection, I suppose we are all well into our New Year’s resolutions. Changes are tricky things because we often have a strong More »

0118vocations

Discerning a Vocation in High School

by Raney Johnson, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian High school can be a fun but stressful time. Life can easily become consumed with classes, extracurricular activities, jobs and finding moments to spend time More »

0118hv

50th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae

by John Parker On July 25th 1968, Pope Paul VI issued a brief but controversial document that shook the secular and ecclesial world. The document was Humanae Vitae, Of Human Life, and More »

Kids’ Connection: Saint Sebastian

This month’s Kids’ Connection is about Saint Sebastian. Click to download and print!

Catholic Schools Week: Help Your Child Get the Most from Life and Education

0118csw1

by Lisa Cooper

Holding our children for the first time, we are overwhelmed with love, our desire to protect them and to see them experience the lives God has planned for them. As we watch them grow, we feel more and more the weight of responsibility to help them get to heaven—of returning to God these precious souls He shared with us. We strive to afford them with every opportunity to better themselves, to grow in character. We want them to be successful, gaining admission to college and providing for families of their own one day. But often our measure of success falls short of God’s expectation, and so too does our idea of the type of education our children need to get there.

The best education offers much more than academic rigor and opportunities for scholarship. Our children need an education that not only requires excellence of them in the classroom, but also nurtures them in an environment where they are formed as full persons, ready to make a difference in this life.

For generations, Catholics and non-Catholics alike have relied on Catholic education to equip their children with the academic challenge and faith formation essential for success.

Academics: As with any good education, this journey begins with a strong academic foundation. We want our children to be prepared and confident by the time they finish high school, and a Catholic education is the surest path to that end. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), 99% of all students who attend Catholic schools graduate, and 86% of them graduate college. On a local level, Catholic school graduates are doing more than earning their way into the nation’s top universities; they’re earning scholarships and credit hours in the process.

But any education pointing only toward the direction of a diploma misses the mark. Fr. Jerry Daigle, Chaplain at St. Frederick High School and diocesan Church Vocations Director, said,  “A good education will teach a lot about the natural world, laying a strong foundation in the arts and sciences, but a Catholic education goes beyond that to help us understand the ‘why’ behind that knowledge.”

Celeste Lirette, a junior at Loyola College Prep, echoes Fr. Daigle as she describes her own involvement in the classroom. “The education I get at Loyola focuses on thinking about things according to their higher purpose. Yes, we learn biology and math, but we examine what we learn in the context of God’s order and plan.”

From an educational perspective, studies show that students who are able to explain the “why” behind a concept are more likely to use and build upon that knowledge. From the vantage point of faith, students who are able to understand that “why” as it relates to God’s purpose are far more likely to stay rooted in their faith throughout their lives.

Community: Ask students what the most important component of their school experience is, and they will probably point to their friends. A Catholic school environment is most likely to provide students with a sense of belonging. Jackson Khur, a senior, says of his experience at Loyola, “I like being part of a smaller school. It feels like a family. The classes are smaller, and I have better access to all my teachers.”

The sense of closeness among Catholic school students isn’t unique to Loyola. Fr. Daigle said of St. Frederick, “We see less conflict. Students are kinder to each other.” That kindness is due in large part to the responsibility to care for each other which comes naturally as students spend each day praying, working and playing alongside one other.

In fact, being part of a smaller school also generates benefits both in and out of the classroom. Two separate studies named in a recent Education World article, “Credit small schools with reducing the negative effects of poverty on student achievement, reducing student violence, increasing parent involvement and making students feel accountable for their behavior and grades.”

Students in Catholic school communities are expected to practice those aspects of the faith which draw them to serve each other. “We aren’t just forming good citizens,” said Fr. Daigle, “we are letting the Holy Spirit flow through the hallways, forming disciples for Christ—and that’s what changes the world.”

Faith: While faith would seem the most obvious talking point with regard to a Catholic education, few realize the significant role Catholic teaching plays in the daily formation of students. Catholic schools support a student’s faith in addition to what they learn at home. As Fr. Daigle points out, the spirit is an important component of the human person, and Catholic schools are uniquely equipped to provide students with the tools they need to be fully formed, intellectually and spiritually.
Infused into every expectation, prayer, teaching experience, act of service or kindness on a Catholic school campus is the reminder of the great “why.” Catholic school students are undergirded with a faith that propels them through their daily lives with a sense of purpose.

Discussing the influence of faith in her everyday student life, Lirette said, “I am able to look at the world through the eyes of faith and discern right from wrong much more clearly because I am encouraged to see everything through faith.” She continued, “Being in Catholic school has protected my faith and has also helped me overcome my fear of standing up for what’s right.”

Campus chaplains also play a crucial role in stirring the faith in Catholic schools by making themselves, and consequently the faith, relatable and accessible in daily life. Whether eating lunch and laughing with students or offering counsel and comfort, priests help bring faith to life in the halls of Catholic schools. Students not only appreciate the presence of priests on campus, they have come to rely on them – turning to these mentors to answer their questions and hear their confessions. They get to see priests as ordinary guys living their faith with joy.

“Having chaplains on campus humanizes the priesthood,” said Fr. Daigle. “Seeing the joy of the priesthood, someone who enjoys life and loves people, allows the Holy Spirit to speak more loudly to those who are actively discerning a vocation.”
The benefits of Catholic education are not exclusive to those students who are Catholic. Students enrolled in Catholic schools, regardless of denomination, find their faith sharpened and supported through Catholic education. Jackson Kuhr, raised in the Baptist church, says his faith has grown stronger because of his interaction with students from different faiths. “We thrive on being part of a community of faith,” Kuhr said. And that community of faith is exactly what Fr. Daigle calls the Catholic school experience. “When all of these faiths come together in one place,” said Fr. Daigle, “it teaches us to worship together as a community of faith in an academic setting.”

Success: The ultimate end of any quality education should be the success of the student. But what constitutes success? Is it the ability to make money and to buy things for ourselves and our families? Do our greatest expectations for our children rest in where they will go to college? Or live? Or work? Rather than ask where our children will be, shouldn’t we also ask who they will be?

Fr. Daigle challenges us to look at success through a different lens – the lens of God’s expectation for us. “Catholic education,” he explained, “gives students the tools for success and shows them how to use those tools to build the society that God wants to build – one where we use our gifts to benefit one another.”

While countless Catholic school alumni have become extraordinary leaders, almost all of them consider what they have done for others as their true mark of success. And they will readily tell you that the seeds of their greatest successes … were planted in Catholic school.

Domestic Church: Liturgical Living

0118katie

by Katie Sciba

One of the biggest trends happening now among lay Catholics is a mode de vie called “liturgical living” – the intentional synchronization of your daily on-goings with those of the Church at large.

I’ve heard about liturgical living for years, but the phrase and all my inferences felt daunting. I could only imagine Pinterest-worthy celebrations of the Catholic calendar: feasts and seasons that would undoubtedly demand time and knowledge that I don’t have. I’ve seen Facebook posts of All Saints parties with elaborately detailed costumes and Marian feasts with corresponding cupcakes; both the cherries on top of special prayers offered and traditions practiced.

The families pulling off liturgical living made it seem effortless and consistent. I knew I wanted the same Catholic culture in my own domestic church, the same joy and spiritual education flowing through my home; but how was I to scale the heights of aligning my family’s life with that of the Church?

One step at a time.

It started with the Feast of St. Nicholas. After years of hardly acknowledging the day except in brief conversation, I stepped up my game at the last minute. Pulling candy reserved for Christmas morning, I stuffed my kids’ stockings and laid them out for the little ones to discover. Then I turned on Formed.org, and playing a cartoon of the story behind their jolly ol’ saint. My kids were over the moon and brimming with new understanding of who Santa Claus is and why he gives at Christmas. Just these few little things made an impression and gave our whole family more insight into the depth of Catholic history and tradition.

For the Feast of St. Lucy, we drove around town looking at Christmas lights in honor of she whose name means “light.”

For Marian solemnities, every member of our clan dons blue somewhere on their clothing because “it’s Mary’s color,” as my kids say. Andrew and I tell them the significance of Mary in Sacred Scripture and in our family.

I didn’t plan in advance for any of the above. We bought nothing extra, baked nothing fancy, and kept our celebrations suited to our family’s means, yet they were all effective. We made memories and participated in a realm so much bigger and more important than our general day-to-day. Such small gestures cultivate a new awareness of not only what the Catholic Church is doing and praying all over the world that same day, but also of Christ’s life. And I found that in just beginning with the Feast of St. Nicholas, I had motivation and enthusiasm to continue.

I can’t claim that we’ve made a huge overhaul in our family’s lifestyle by adopting liturgical living, but I’m hoping we get there. By adopting these practices and being more aware of the liturgical life of the Church in our daily lives, we are gradually aligning our lives with the liturgical calendar. We are breathing with the Church, with the life of the Body of Christ on earth, and getting a glimpse of what matters in the Kingdom of God.

Katie Sciba is married to Andrew and together they have five children. She is the author of thecatholicwife.net.

Faithful Food: Be the Change You Want to See

by Kim Long

Time passes. Things change. Events occur. These statements hold true in many areas of life and in every single relationship in which we are engaged, including our relationship with food. And believe me, we ALL have a relationship with food!
When I was young I bragged that I had an iron stomach, I could eat peppers and onions raw with no repercussions. Today, I am loathed to admit that I would pay heavily for the same food choices.

We do not usually abandon relationships because things alter a bit, or because we need to add or subtract something from the dynamic, and neither should we do that with the foods we have enjoyed for most of our lives.

Be sensible, of course. If a doctor or nutritionist says thou shalt not eat this or that, then we shall not! If, however, you notice that you enjoy a particular food, but something just isn’t “agreeing” with you, then try altering an ingredient or a cooking method.

A dear friend, who formerly enjoyed chicken and dumplings, complained that they were no longer a menu choice due to an issue with lactose, so I thought I would try an experiment. My sister has the best way to “make chicken” using a method called pot roasting. So I got the bright idea to combine pot roasted chicken and thick egg noodles, and letting them swim in gravy sans milk or cream. Guess what? It was delish!

In my research for this culinary adventure, I decided I should check out the patron saint of cooking. Silly me, I thought there could be only one. Not true – there are 11! After reading their stories and areas of patronage, I realized that I never ever have to feel alone in any area of culinary science.

I admit this dish did not LOOK like typical chicken and dumplings, but the taste was heavenly! After all, if any of our relationships look “exactly the same” we must be viewing a photo album of something in the past, because everything changes. May we all be the change we want to see in the world, in our families, our hearts and in our kitchens!

Colleen’s Pot Roast Chicken

Ingredients:
• Pick of chicken pieces
• Salt, pepper and garlic powder
• ½ cup chopped onion
• Chopped bell pepper or celery
• Vegetable oil
• Flour
• Chicken broth

Directions:
1) Season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.

2) Flour and brown all chicken pieces lightly in enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot and then a little more. Brown chicken in just enough oil so they don’t stick.

3) Add onion and other veggies and continue browning until onions are wilted and clear.

4) Continue browning and add enough broth (or water) to cover.

5) Add “noodles” or dumplings.  (See following recipe).

6) Reduce heat and continue cooking until chicken is done and dumplings or noodles are tender.

Trisha Jean’s Noodle Recipe

Ingredients:
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 4 brown eggs (white can be used
but brown are richer)
• 1 tablespoon milk (can substitute Lactaid milk)
• 1 teaspoon olive oil

Directions:
1) Whisk eggs, milk and oil together, then stir in flour with a fork or your fingers until it forms a ball.

2) Knead on a floured surface for five minutes.

3) Split dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap and let stand for 15 minutes.

4) Unwrap and knead briefly on a floured surface and roll out to desired thickness (for this dish I made mine thicker than you would for “noodles” – this was what I call dumpling weight). You can use a rolling pin to start and, if you have one, a pasta roller latter.

5) Cut into desired strips and let dry for about 15 minutes.

6) Drop into the chicken pot and check to see if additional broth needs to be added.

Diocesan Seminary Burses

by Father Jerry Daigle

Bishop Duca and the Office of Church Vocations are pleased to announce the establishment of a Diocesan Seminary Burse program to provide all the faithful of North Louisiana the opportunity to invest in the education and formation of our seminarians into holy and effective priests to serve the Diocese of Shreveport.

What is a seminary burse, and how do they contribute to seminarians?
A seminary burse is an endowment used to pay tuition, room and board for the seminarians of the Diocese of Shreveport. The principal amount donated is not touched, but invested, and the support for our seminarians comes from the earned interest. Each donation to a burse is truly a gift that will continue giving as more men enter priestly formation in the years to come!

Who can establish a burse?
Anyone can establish a seminary burse, and name it in honor of loved ones (e.g., family members, teachers, mentors, pastors), in honor of organizations and faith or social groups (e.g., Knights of Columbus councils, ACTS, schools, church parishes, cultural organizations), for themselves or their families as an instrument of personal giving, or in memory of a deceased loved one. Burses and their balances, and new contributions, will be listed in future issues of The Catholic Connection.

Who can contribute to a burse?
Anyone can contribute any amount to any established seminary burse.

How can I establish or contribute to a burse?
You can establish and name* a burse with a donation of at least $250, or you can contribute any amount to a burse simply by designating its name when the contribution is made. Contributions may be mailed to the Office of Church Vocations, Diocese of Shreveport, 3500 Fairfield Avenue, Shreveport, LA 71104. Be sure to note the name of the burse in the memo line.

When is a burse completed?
Seminary burses are completed when the balance reaches $10,000. Once this goal, which is not a pledge, has been reached, and those who established the original burse wish to continue their donations, a new burse in the same name may be opened.

Where can I get more information?
For more information, please contact Fr. Jerry Daigle, Director of Church Vocations, at 318-219-7311.

THANKS TO OUR RECENT DONORS
007 Friends of Dr. Christopher ($100)
009 Dr. George and Sandra Bakowski Foundation ($250)

COMPLETED BURSE
001 Fr. Mike Bakowski Memorial Burse ($10,000)

INCOMPLETE BURSE
002 Joseph & Antoinette Bakowski Memorial Burse ($2,000)
003 Sam R. Maranto Memorial Burse ($1,200)
004 Kathryn Atherton Cook Memorial Burse ($350)
005 Cathedral of St. John Berchmans ($250)
006 Bishop’s Burse ($250)
007 Dr. Carol Christopher Memorial Burse ($600)
008 St. Jude Parish ($250)
009 St. John Berchmans Knights of  Columbus Council #10728 ($250)

Pathways to Giving

by John Mark Willcox

In addition to opportunities to donate to Diocesan Seminary Burses, (pg. 22), did you know there are a variety of burses and funds created for ministries of our faith community?

The Lucille and Joseph B. Cordaro Memorial Fund
Established in 1993 to assist with medical expenses incurred by clergy, this fund is a way to provide for a healthy future for our priests.

The Heller Trust
Established in 1991, the Heller Trust was created to provide for training and inservice costs for ordained deacons.

The K C Burse
Founded by the Knights of Columbus Council #1337 to serve as a special burse contributing to the educational needs of seminarians.

The Winston-Gandy Fund
Created in 1995, the Winston-Gandy Fund is a special fund designed to support seminarians in training to be ordained priests for the Diocese of Shreveport.

The Theresian Endowment
Created from the sale of St. Theresa Church in Shreveport, this special fund was created in 1990, and is dedicated to supporting area faithful choosing to send their children to Catholic elementary schools.

Daughters of the Cross Educational Fund
Established in 1998 by the pioneers of Catholic Education in our region, the Daughters of the Cross Fund supports Catholic education across our diocese.

Gifts are always welcomed to these meaningful vehicles of support for the work of Christ in our diocese. To learn more about how you can contribute to these funds, contact the Diocesan Office of Development, 318-868-4441.

Diocese Welcomes New Youth Coordinator

0118weaver

Diocese of Shreveport and St. Joseph Parish Embark on Joint Endeavor to Serve the Youth and Young Adults of the Diocese

by Randy Tiller

As of January 1, 2018, the Diocese of Shreveport and St. Joseph Parish of Shreveport are embarking on a joint endeavor to better serve the youth and young adults of our diocese and eventually help with coordination efforts for Campus Ministry.  This is a new arrangement with high expectations and hopes of matching up needs and wants with talent and expertise.

Mr. Trey Weaver has relocated to Shreveport from the Monroe area and will be a full-time staff member of St. Joseph Parish in Shreveport. Trey will also serve as the Coordinator of Campus, Youth and Young Adult Ministry on a diocesan basis.
This arrangement will be a shared position both in terms of duties and responsibilities and time and expenses associated with youth in our diocese. While continuing to work with the Diocesan Youth Council and the various youth ministers across our diocese, a lot of Trey’s focus will be on re-energizing the youth of St. Joseph Parish through fellowship and evangelization along with the youth in our Catholic schools, and the Catholic youth who are attending other schools in the area.
Additionally, Trey will be a resource to the youth ministers and youth volunteers in all the parishes, particularly when hosting diocesan events such as Encounter Jesus, NCYC, and any other events held jointly with the Catholic schools in Shreveport/Bossier, Monroe and Zwolle, as well as continuing to work with the Monroe and Shreveport Theology on Tap groups. Also, the Diocesan Youth Council will continue to function with Trey’s leadership and input.

“In the beginning I’m going to try to build relationships with people and reach out to our smaller parishes in the diocese,” said Weaver. He added, “I’m going to be getting to know the people connected with youth ministry in our diocese and learn what we can do for them in the future.”

Trey’s past achievements and employment includes assisting with planning various retreats, leading worship and music services, and giving talks for ministries and youth groups across the state from Monroe, Shreveport, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. He worked as a missionary for Camp ECHO (Dumb Ox Ministries) and helped lead Theology of the Body camps for teenagers and young adults while ministering to the retreatants through various activities such as games, talks, testimonies and prayer ministries. He has served as a Louisiana Boys State counselor since 2011, planned Tiger Awakening Retreats at LSU since 2012, and has been involved with Teen and Young Adult ACTS retreats in Monroe since 2008. Trey is also an Eagle Scout.

Trey managed to serve in ministry while also working as a worship leader and musician at St. Thomas More Parish in Baton Rouge, LA, and most recently, by working as a facilitator for at-risk and troubled youth and their families by building relationships, empowering the families and brainstorming creative solutions to help each family persevere through hardship.

I join Fr. Matthew Long in welcoming Trey to this new joint endeavor. Trey will be seen at St. Joseph, the Catholic Center and around the diocese eagerly engaged in working with the youth of the diocese in an efficient and professional manner to see the involvement and commitment of the youth grow throughout the diocese.

“The thing that makes me most excited about this new endeavor is that I feel like the Holy Spirit is ready to do new things. I feel like this is the time,” said Weaver. “A lot of people are coming together to make things happen – not just here in our diocese, but in the Church as a whole. There are many new movements and exciting new things, and I think this is our chance to make some of those things happen here in our diocese, and that makes me really excited.”

From the Pope: Why Attend Mass on Sunday?

from Vatican Information Services

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Resuming the journey of our catechesis on Mass, today we ask ourselves: why attend Mass on Sunday?

The Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is at the center of the life of the Church (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2177). We Christians go to Mass on Sundays to meet the Risen Lord, or rather to let ourselves be met by Him, to listen to His word, be nourished at His table, and thus become Church, or rather His mystical living Body in the world today.

From the first hour the disciples of Jesus understood him; they celebrated the Eucharistic encounter with the Lord on the day of the week that the Jews called “the first of the week” and the Romans “day of the sun,” because on that day Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to the disciples, talking to them, eating with them, giving them the Holy Spirit (cf. Mt 28: 1, Mk 16: 9-14, Lk 24: 1-13, Jn 20: 1-19). The great outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost also took place on Sunday, the fiftieth day after the resurrection of Jesus. For these reasons, Sunday is a holy day for us, sanctified by the Eucharistic celebration, the living presence of the Lord among us and for us. It is the Mass, therefore, that makes Christian Sunday! What kind of Sunday, for a Christian, is one in which there is no meeting with the Lord?

There are Christian communities that, unfortunately, can not enjoy Mass every Sunday; however, on this holy day, they are called to gather in prayer in the name of the Lord, listening to the Word of God and keeping alive the desire of the Eucharist.
Some secular societies have lost the Christian meaning of Sunday illuminated by the Eucharist. This is a shame! In these contexts it is necessary to revive this awareness, in order to recover the meaning of the celebration, the meaning of joy, of the parish community, of solidarity, of rest that restores the soul and the body (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2777-2188). The Eucharist is the teacher of all these values, Sunday after Sunday. This is why Vatican Council II wanted to reiterate that “the Lord’s day is the original feast day, and it should be proposed to the piety of the faithful and taught to them so that it may become in fact a day of joy and of freedom from work” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 106).

Abstention from work on a Sunday did not exist in the first centuries: it is a specific contribution of Christianity. By biblical tradition, the Jews rest on Saturday, while in Roman society there was no weekly day of abstention from servile labor. It was the Christian sense of living as sons and not slaves, animated by the Eucharist, that made Sunday – almost universally – the day of rest.

Without Christ we are condemned to be dominated by the fatigue of everyday life, with its worries, and by the fear of tomorrow. The Sunday meeting with the Lord gives us the strength to live today with trust and courage and to move forward with hope. This is why we Christians go to encounter the Lord on Sunday, in the Eucharistic celebration.

The Eucharistic communion with Jesus, Risen and Living in eternity, is a foretaste of Sunday without sunset, when there will be no more effort, nor will there be pain, nor grief, nor tears, but only the joy of living fully and forever with the Lord. The Sunday Mass also speaks to us of this blessed repose, teaching us, as the week flows, to entrust ourselves to the hands of the Father Who is in heaven.

What can we answer to those who say that there is no need to go to Mass, not even on a Sunday, why is it important to live well, to love others? It is true that the quality of Christian life is measured by the capacity to love, as Jesus said: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Jn 13:35); but how can we practice the Gospel without drawing the necessary energy to do so, one Sunday after another, from the inexhaustible source of the Eucharist? We do not go to Mass to give something to God, but to receive from Him what we really need. This is recalled by Church’s prayer, which thus addresses God: “You have no need of our praise, yet our thanksgiving itself your gift, since our praises add nothing to your greatness, but profit us for salvation” (Roman Missal, Common Preface IV).

In conclusion, why go to Mass on Sundays? It is not enough to answer that it is a precept of the Church; this helps to preserve its value, but it is not enough alone. We Christians need to participate in Sunday Mass because only with the grace of Jesus, with His living presence in us and among us, can we put into practice His commandment, and thus be His credible witnesses.

President Should Work with Congress Toward Acceptable Tax Bill, Says USCCB

from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON – After the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate passed The Tax Reform and Jobs Act, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, drew attention to unacceptable problems that remain, and called on President Trump to insist that Congress fix them before he signs a bill into law.

The full statement follows:

“Today, Congress passed its tax reform legislation, The Tax Reform and Jobs Act, and it has been sent to the President to consider.  The legislation achieves some laudable things, like doubling the standard deduction, which will help many struggling families avoid tax liability, expanding the use of 529 education plans, and increasing the child tax credit.

However, the Act contains a number of problematic provisions that will have dramatic negative consequences, particularly for those most in need.  Among other things, the Joint Committee on Taxation indicates that the bill will eventually raise taxes on those with lower incomes while simultaneously cutting taxes for the wealthy.  This is clearly problematic, especially for the poor.  The repeal of the personal exemption will cause larger families, including many in the middle class, to be financially worse off.  The final bill creates a large deficit that, as early as next year, will be used as a basis to cut programs that help the poor and vulnerable toward stability.  The legislation is also likely to produce up to a $13 billion drop in annual charitable giving to nonprofits that are relied upon to help those struggling on the margins.  This will also significantly diminish the role of civil society in promoting the common good.

As the President considers the tax bill before him, we ask that he take into account the full consequences of its provisions and work with Congress to remedy them before signing a tax bill into law.”
Bishop Frank J. Dewane’s December 6, 2017, letter analyzing the Senate and House bills prior to reconciliation can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Conference-Letter-Congress-2017-12-06.pdf

Bishops Disappointed with U.S. Withdrawal from UN’s Development of Migration Compact

WASHINGTON – Archbishop Timothy Broglio and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, expressed disappointment after the Trump Administration announced that the U.S. government is withdrawing from the process of the United Nations (UN) to develop a Global Compact on Migration.

“Catholic social teaching on migration recognizes and respects the sovereignty of each nation, indeed each nation’s right and responsibility, to ultimately decide how it will regulate migration into its territory,” explained Bishop Vásquez. “The Church has long articulated that it is the obligation of nations to assure human rights for all migrants and special protections for vulnerable migrants, such as refugees, forced migrants, victims of human trafficking, and women and children at risk. Pope Francis has described such obligations as part of building ‘global solidarity’ on behalf of migrants and refugees. In fact, the bishops continue to promote the international campaign initiated by Pope Francis, Share the Journey, as a sign of solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters.”

“With a growing global concern about protracted forced migration situations, the UN process provides an opportunity for the United States to help build international cooperation that respects such rights and protections on behalf of those seeking safety and security for their families. Participation in that process allows the U.S. to draw on our experience and influence the compact,” said Archbishop Broglio. “Therefore, the USCCB encourages the Administration to reconsider its decision to withdraw from this process.”