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Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration Expresses Support for Mexican Bishops Concerns Regarding Recent Agreement Between Mexico and the United States

WASHINGTON— Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration has issued a statement in support of Catholic Bishops of Mexico who have expressed concern regarding a recent agreement between Mexico and the United States which will restrict the flow of migrants at the U.S./Mexico Border.

On June 10, the Catholic Bishops of Mexico stated:

"We express our concern for the lack of a truly humanitarian reception for our brother migrants, which reflects our conviction regarding the protection of the rights of all human beings equally," the bishops further stated, "Our brother migrants must not be a bargaining chip. No negotiations should be placed above what the church and civil society have defended for years: not criminalizing migrants nor the defenders of human rights.”

Bishop Joe Vásquez responded with the following statement of support:

“We stand in solidarity with our brother bishops in Mexico. We implore the Administration not to confuse economic issues with the humanitarian issues of forced migration. Families fleeing violence, persecution and extreme poverty must be treated with love and compassion and not be used as a tool for negotiations.

As always, we recognize the right of a nation to secure its borders.  However, the Gospel teaches us to love our neighbor. This is the imperative we must follow in treating our migrant brothers and sisters with compassion and dignity. We should be working with the governments of the Northern Triangle and the Mexican Government to eradicate violence and improve the local economies from which families are being forced to migrate.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, Catholic Bishops of Mexico, migrants, U.S./Mexico Border, migrants, human rights, Administration

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Media Contacts:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

 

Miguel Guilarte

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More than a few fans prayed for St. Louis Blues to win Stanley Cup

IMAGE: CNS photo/Rick Wilking, Reuters

By

ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- Before the St. Louis Blues beat the Boston Bruins in Game 7 on June 12 to win the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup for the first time in the team's 52-year history, Twitter was alive with hopes for a little divine intervention for such a victory -- maybe even from St. John Paul II.

Many a tweet recalled a Jan. 26, 1999, visit the pontiff paid to St. Louis and just how comfortable he looked holding a hockey stick given to him by young people gathered for a rally at the arena that is home to the Blues, then called the Kiel Center.

At the end of the rally, which drew a crowd of 20,000, the pope also received a special jersey in the Blues' colors -- bearing the name "John Paul II'' and the number "1.''

When the Blues headed to the Stanley Cup Final, Catholics of the Archdiocese of St. Louis were praying hard for their team, said a May 23 editorial in the St. Louis Review, the archdiocesan newspaper.

"Our city has caught Blues fever with fervor," it said. "Even Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, not a native of St. Louis but no stranger to hockey as a Minnesota native, exclaimed at the end of his May 22 State of the Archdiocese address to employees: 'Go Blues!'"

"Many people had given up on the Blues, who in January were the worst team in the NHL," the editorial noted. "It's a lesson in perseverance and never giving up. It's a lesson that we certainly could apply to our lives, and especially our faith. There's always hope. For Catholics, that hopes lies in Jesus. And, for #CatholicSTL, in the Blues, too."

The long-suffering team and its loyal fans finally got their magical moment in Game 7 with a 4-1 victory in Boston. And the celebration will continue with a parade to honor the champion team June 15 in St. Louis.

 

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Update: Church should focus on getting 'nones' back, Bishop Barron says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Carol Zimmermann

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Although the U.S. bishops' spring assembly in Baltimore was mostly devoted to responding to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, the bishops also considered something described as the second-most important issue currently facing U.S. church leaders: How to get religiously unaffiliated, or "nones," particularly young people, back to the Catholic Church.

This is a top priority for our church, said Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, who is known for his website, "Word on Fire," and for hosting the documentary series "Catholicism."

In a June 11 presentation, the bishop said a group of experts who've examined why young people are leaving the faith in increasing numbers recently spoke with his committee about this and will share their findings during a lunch presentation at the bishops' fall assembly in Baltimore.

"How many are leaving? The short answer is: a lot," the bishop said, noting the sobering statistic he said many in the room probably were aware of -- that 50% of Catholics 30 years old and younger have left the church.

"Half the kids that we baptized and confirmed in the last 30 years are now ex-Catholics or unaffiliated," he said, and "one out of six millennials in the U.S. is now a former Catholic."

Another statistic that particularly affects him is this: "For every one person joining our church today, 6.45 are leaving" and most are leaving at young ages, primarily before age 23. The median age of those who leave is 13.

 "Where are they going?" he asked, and in response to his own question, he again gave a short answer: They're "becoming nones" although some, in much smaller percentages, join other mainstream religions or evangelical churches.

Bishop Barron said church leaders don't need to speculate about why people are leaving because there are plenty of studies and surveys that answer this. The No. 1 reason, he said, is that they simply no longer believe the church's teachings, primarily its doctrinal beliefs.

In his opinion, he said, this is "a bitter fruit of the dumbing-down of our faith" as it has been presented in catechesis and apologetics.

Other reasons he said young people are leaving have to do with relativism, science and the church's teachings on sexuality.

The bishop's hope, in this environment, is that the young, religiously unaffiliated can still be reached because as he put it, most have drifted away versus storming away from the faith. "We're not up against a fierce opponent at every turn," he said, adding: "Most are ambivalent to religion rather than hostile to it."

He also mentioned what he called the "Jordan Peterson phenomenon," which he prefaced by saying, "Please don't take this as a one-sided endorsement" of the Canadian psychology professor and author who is popular on social media.

"He speaks at a very high level about serious things and big ideas," Bishop Barron said, noting Peterson's current YouTube talks on the Bible. He said the fact that millions of young people, young men in particular, are watching this speaker talk about "our book, the Bible" is worth reflecting on and is a sign of hope.

Not everyone on Catholic social media agreed with this point. Some questioned how the bishop could present a speaker who has stirred controversy with his complaints against political correctness as a model, while others called him an example of someone who takes on the big questions.

Bishop Barron was asked in a June 12 news conference how he would respond to critics of his Peterson reference. He said he does not fully agree with everything Peterson says, but he thinks that what he is doing -- "speaking about big ideas" -- and the huge fan base that follows him can't be ignored.

"We should be able to speak about the Bible in a way that people would want to hear" is the message he said he was trying to get across to the bishops.

The other examples Bishop Barron pointed to as signs of hope were Catholic campus missionary groups, like the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, or FOCUS, that are "getting traction with young people."

He also said the amount of engagement about social media in religion is a good thing, even those angry about religion. He said he was recently part of an "AMA" (Ask Me Anything) feature on Reddit, an internet news aggregator, where he said he was a Catholic bishop who loved to talk with atheists and ended up with more than 12,000 questions in under an hour.

In the discussion period after his Baltimore presentation, several bishops agreed with his analysis and one bishop asked for clarification and spelling of Reddit.

Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, said it was "wonderful that we're talking about this issue and I think we need to make it front and center at all of our gatherings." He said he hoped the discussion on the topic at the bishops' fall meeting also would examine cultural and sociological issues influencing young people to leave the church.

For example, he said the "paradigm of parish membership" does not work for millennials since many of them move so frequently, and this also applies to society in general where so many no longer join communities which leads to isolation and loneliness.

In response, Bishop Barron said young people who are leaving can be reached in a broader sense through social media.

"We have to go get them and we do have the means to do that through social media -- with all of its negativity."

He said the paradox is that social media can also lead to further isolation because people are connected only though their screens, but at this point in time, he said using it as "an evangelical tool is required now, given the fact that people aren't going to come to our institutions."

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

USCCB president, other bishops meet with survivors of clergy sexual abuse

IMAGE: CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters

By

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Indiana, chairman of the bishops' Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, and Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Richmond, Virginia, met with three survivors of clergy sexual abuse late June 12.

The meeting took place as the U.S. bishops were gathered in Baltimore for their spring general assembly June 11-13 where they focused on implementing bishop accountability measures in response to the abuse crisis in the church.

In a statement released after the meeting, Cardinal DiNardo said he and his fellow bishops were "grateful for the opportunity to meet with a group of survivors. Their testimony reminds us of the unfathomable pain they have endured, and the need for vigilance in extinguishing the evil of sexual abuse from our church once and for all."

He said that, during their spring assembly, the bishops sought to "expand and intensify existing policies in order to care for victims and prevent future instances of these crimes, holding not only clergy accountable but also ourselves as bishops. Our work will not conclude until the number of sexual abuse cases is zero."

On the morning of June 13, Bishop Doherty tweeted about the how the bishops and some USCCB staff who met with the survivors "were reminded that this week's meeting is not an abstract exercise."

"Thanks to the hurting who speak to us. My experience is that God comes to these conversations invited or uninvited," he added.

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: Protocol approved on restrictions on bishops facing claim of abuse

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Mark Pattison

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops overwhelmingly approved a measure that would enable bishops to apply restrictions in the life and ministry of retired bishops accused of sexual abuse or who failed to take necessary measures to prevent abuse.

The 212-4 vote, with one abstention, was taken June 13, the last day of the bishops' June 11-13 meeting in Baltimore. The measure required 180 bishops, or two-thirds of all U.S. bishops, for passage.

If a credible accusation of sexual misconduct has been reported against a retired bishop, his successor may act to limit the retired bishop's scope of ministry, including the celebration of the sacraments and the right to be buried in the diocesan cathedral.

The "Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops" was scheduled to be voted on when the bishops met last November. However, the Vatican requested they delay a vote until after the Vatican held a February meeting for presidents of bishops' conferences worldwide to discuss the abuse crisis.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Administrative Committee had decided last September that the development of a such a protocol would be helpful, said Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance. With the delay of any possible vote on the document last fall, bishops had more time to offer suggestions on the document.

"The authority to impose penalties on bishops who have committed offensive acts by commission or omission rests solely with the supreme pontiff," Bishop Deeley reminded his fellow bishops. But there are "existing instruments in canon law that are available to a diocesan bishop for imposing limitations."

The document uses "bishop emeritus" to refer for any bishop who has retired for age or for a "grave cause," or who was removed from office by the pope.

"The diocesan bishop will inform the bishop emeritus that public notice will be given of the situation and of any measures accepted by or applied to the bishop emeritus," the document says. "Prior to issuing such public notice, the diocesan bishops will inform the apostolic nuncio of his communications with the bishop emeritus, and will confer with the apostolic nuncio on the measures to be imposed."

Those restrictions can include "a statement to the effect that the bishop emeritus does not represent the diocese in any fashion or act on its behalf, and he is not to make public statements about alleged offenses, since these could result in further harm to victims or be detrimental to the faithful."

A diocesan bishop may forbid a retired bishop to preach, which is any clergyman's canonical right. "The diocesan bishop concerned may also request that the Apostolic See extend this prohibition more broadly or deny the exercise of the right entirely," the document says.

Diocesan bishops also may strip a retired bishop of the right to confer the sacrament of confirmation or to hear confessions. "The bishop emeritus can be denied the delegation necessary to witness marriages," it adds. "The diocesan bishop may request of the bishop emeritus, in writing, that he refrain from the public celebration of other sacraments or rites of the church."

While the U.S. bishops, in their "Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops," state that retired bishops have the right to sustenance and retirement benefits, "the diocesan bishop may adjust the benefits given to a bishop emeritus who falls under this protocol," the document said. "For instance, the diocesan bishop may decide that no funding for travel or secretarial assistance needs to be provided."

As for the possibility of burial in the diocesan cathedral, "the diocesan bishop will prudently decide based on local circumstances whether the bishop emeritus will be buried in the cathedral church of if other arrangements should be made."

Much in the protocol is dependent on the retired bishop agreeing to the requests and directives of his successor. Should he refuse, though, it adds, "the diocesan bishop can take measures within his competence, and strongly request further and swift intervention from the Apostolic See regarding matters outside his competence."

In addition to penalties imposed by a local bishop, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops may, after consultation, ban such a bishop emeritus from attending USCCB meetings or serving on any USCCB body.

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

U.S. Bishops Vote in Favor of Three Additional Bishop Accountability Measures During Baltimore General Assembly

BALTIMORE— Today, U.S. Catholic Bishops have approved three additional measures to address abuse and bishop accountability during their annual Spring General Assembly in Baltimore. The measures expand upon the Pope Francis’s Motu proprio and the U.S. Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The reforms are designed to hold bishops accountable for instances of sexual misconduct against minors and vulnerable adults.

The first vote, Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops, passed by 212 to 4 with 1 abstention. This form of accountability provides protocols for imposing limitations on former bishops who were removed from office for grave reasons. It also empowers the USCCB president to restrict bishops removed or resigned for reasons related to sexual abuse or abuse of power.

A second vote, Acknowledging Our Episcopal Commitments passed by 217 to 1 with 2 abstentions. This accountability measure implements a bishop code of conduct, including the affirmation that the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is expanded to include bishops as well as priests and deacons.

The third vote, Directives for the Implementation of the Provisions of Vos estis lux mundi Concerning Bishops and their Equivalents, presents a plan for optimal implementation of Pope Francis’s recent Motu proprio in the United States, including an outline for lay involvement. It passed by 218 to 1 with 2 abstentions.  

Yesterday, the body of bishops passed another bishop accountability reform, voting for the establishment of a Third-Party Reporting System for receiving confidentially, by phone and online, reports of possible violations by bishops of Vos estis lux mundi. The action item commits to activating the system no later than May 31, 2020.

To view the full action item documents pertaining to bishop accountability voted on yesterday and today, please visit: www.usccb.org/meetings
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, General Assembly, Motu proprio, Vos estis lux mundi, Protocol, Acknowledging Our Episcopal Commitments, Provisions Concerning Bishops and their Equivalents, Directives, Third-Party Reporting System, abuse crisis, bishop accountability, votes

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

U.S Bishops Approve the Revised Passage on the Death Penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults

BALTIMORE— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved the revised passage on the death penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults.

The full body of bishops approved the revised passage by a vote of 194 to 8 with 3 abstentions at their Spring General Assembly taking place in Baltimore, June 11-14.
 
On August 2, 2018, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released the Holy Father’s revision to the teaching on the death penalty in the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 2267). In response, the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the USCCB prepared a new section on the death penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults (USCCA).

Following collaboration with the Committee on Doctrine, they placed the revised statement on the death penalty for the USCCA before the body of Bishops for approval by two thirds of the members, with subsequent recognitio from the Holy See.

The revised statement on the death penalty would replace the current text in the USCCA (pp. 394-395).

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, death penalty, Baltimore, Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, Committee on Doctrine, Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200                                                                                                                                                                       

 

U.S. Bishops’ Vote in Favor of Moving Forward on Third-Party System for Reporting Abuse Allegations Against Bishops

BALTIMORE—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have taken three separate votes that will lead to the establishment of a third-party reporting system designed to receive confidentially, by phone or online, reports of possible violations by bishops per Pope Francis’s Vos estis lux mundi.  

The bishops voted overwhelmingly in favor of each of the elements necessary to establish a third-party reporting system yesterday.

By a vote of 205 to 16 with 3 abstentions, the General Assembly voted to authorize the design of a third-party system for receiving confidentially, by phone or online, reports of possible violations by bishops of Vos estis lux mundi.

By a vote of 200 to 21 with 2 abstentions, the bishops voted to authorize the Executive Committee to develop a more detailed proposal for a third-party reporting system, including financial, structural, and other necessary adjustments to account for Vos estis lux mundi, for review and approval by the Conference’s Administrative Committee at its September and November 2019 meetings.  

Additionally, the bishops voted in favor of committing to activate the third-party reporting system by no later than May 31, 2020 by a 220 to 4 vote with 1 abstention.  

Vos estis lux mundi, allows until May 31, 2020 for the development of local systems to receive such reports. Accordingly, May 31, 2020 is the earliest date the body can commit to activation of the system without interfering with the varying schedules of the Metropolitans and senior suffragans in developing local capacity to receive and process complaints from that system.  

It is important to note that anyone who has suffered sexual abuse by clergy should not wait for this national reporting system to be in place before reporting abuse. Individuals who may have been abused should contact local civil authorities to file a report as soon as possible, and may also report to Church authorities by existing means, such as Victims’ Assistance Coordinators. After reporting to civil authorities, individuals can also register a complaint with the metropolitan for issues related to sexual abuse or an abuse of power.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Moto proprio, Vos estis lux muni, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Third-Party Reporting System, Administrative Committee, Episcopal Conference, spring general assembly

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200