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Background: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (CWN)

In 1908, Rev. Paul Wattson, then an Anglican religious in Graymoor, New York, began a Church Unity Octave with the support of Anglican and Catholic prelates, including Cardinal William O’Connell of Boston.

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops File Amicus Brief with U.S. Supreme Court Urging New Trial of Death Row Inmate Based on Evidence of Actual Innocence

WASHINGTON— On January 17, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of James M. Dailey, an inmate on Florida’s death row, urging a new trial in his case due to persuasive evidence of actual innocence. The amicus brief explains the Catholic Church’s longstanding opposition to the death penalty. The Church teaches that capital punishment violates respect for life and human dignity. The injustice is especially acute in the instance of an innocent person sentenced to death. The amicus brief also argues that the execution of an innocent person violates the Constitution of the United States.  

The amicus brief reviews the facts of Mr. Dailey’s case and concludes that the evidence of his actual innocence is persuasive, but that he was not able to present it at a new trial for procedural reasons. The brief declares that there is no legal or procedural reason that could morally justify the execution of an innocent person.  

Both the USCCB and FCCB uphold the Church’s teaching on the dignity of life and on capital punishment in the amicus brief by stating, “The radical injustice of punishing an innocent man is particularly grievous in the case of a sentence of death, which is by its nature final and irreversible.” The brief recalls that “Pope Francis has also identified the convictions of innocent men and women as striking at the core of the death penalty’s claim to justice: ‘[t]he death penalty loses all legitimacy due to the defective selectivity of the criminal justice system and in the face of the possibility of judicial error. Human justice is imperfect, and the failure to recognize its fallibility can transform it into a source of injustice.’”  

The full text of the amicus brief is available here.  
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, amicus curiae, U.S. Supreme Court, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, FCCB, James M. Dailey, death penalty, capital punishment, human justice, Pope Francis.


Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte


U.S. Bishops’ Migration Committee Chair Welcomes Court Injunction that Halts Implementation of Executive Order on Refugee Resettlement

WASHINGTON—A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction in HIAS Inc., et al v. Trump, halting implementation of Executive Order 13888 which had given state and local officials the power to veto initial resettlement of refugees into their jurisdictions. Unless it is overturned by the judge or a higher court, this injunction lasts until the end of the case. The injunction orders that the resettlement program’s operational rules be returned to how they were before the Executive Order was issued on September 26, 2019. In other words, while the federal immigration officials will diligently engage with state and local officials, as always, to assure local concerns are taken into account, the program will return to federal officials having the final responsibility of deciding where refugees will be resettled.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“Jesus Christ, who was part of a refugee family, calls us to welcome the stranger, and our pro-life commitment requires us to protect refugees. Today’s ruling is a welcome step in our ongoing ministry to provide refugees, who are fleeing religious persecution, war, and other dangers, with safe haven here in the United States. We had previously expressed deep concerns about this Executive Order permitting state and county officials to turn away refugees from their communities. We feared the negative consequences for refugees and their families as this Executive Order would have created a confusing patchwork across America of some jurisdictions where refugees are welcomed, and others where they are not. Today’s injunction helps to maintain a uniform national policy of welcome to refugees and serves to maintain reunification of refugee families as a primary factor for initial resettlement.

“During the initial implementation of this Executive Order, I was moved to hear that it received robust bipartisan support from 42 governors and a myriad of local officials who consented to initial resettlement. Once more, we see the intention to act united as a nation in the effort to provide solidarity to those who need it most and are encouraged by the compassion that this nation has towards refugees. The Church looks forward to continue working with communities across America to welcome refugees as we uphold the dignity of all human life.”

Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, Committee on Migration, refugees, President Trump.

Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte


National Prayer Vigil for Life In Nation’s Capital, January 23-24

WASHINGTON—The National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held from Thursday, January 23 to Friday, January 24, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Over 20,000 pilgrims from around the nation are expected to gather there and pray for an end to abortion before the annual March for Life on the National Mall. The Vigil marks the 47th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion through nine months of pregnancy. Since those decisions, over 60 million abortions have been performed legally in the United States.

The principal celebrant and homilist at the opening Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life on January 23 will be Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, who is chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Many of the nation’s bishops and priests will concelebrate the Mass with Archbishop Naumann in the basilica’s Great Upper Church. The principal celebrant and homilist for the closing Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life on January 24 will be Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D. of the Military Services, USA, who is secretary for the USCCB. After the conclusion of the Mass on Friday, the participants make their way down to the national mall for the annual March for Life.

The schedule for the National Prayer Vigil for Life:

Thursday, January 23:
•  5:30 PM  Opening Mass in the Great Upper Church
•  8:00 PM  National Rosary for Life
•  9:30 PM  Byzantine Rite Night Prayer
•  11:00 PM ~  Holy Hours led by seminarians (through the night)

Friday, January 24:
•  ~ 6:00 AM  Eucharistic Adoration in the Crypt Church
•  6:30 AM  Morning Prayer and Benediction
•  7:30 AM  Closing Mass in the Great Upper Church

For those seeking the Sacrament of Reconciliation, confessions will be heard in the Our Lady of Hostyn Chapel of the Crypt Church over the course of nine hours before and after the opening Mass. See for additional details.

“Even if you aren’t able to physically be present with us in DC, we invite everyone to join in our witness and pray for an end to abortion,” said Kat Talalas, assistant director for pro-life communications at the USCCB. “Thousands of Catholics across the country have already signed up for 9 Days for Life, the pro-life novena taking place January 21-29. We ask all of the faithful to unite in prayer to protect the rights of unborn children, to end the violence of abortion, and for greater respect for human life.”

The National Prayer Vigil for Life is co-sponsored by the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America.

Media are invited to attend the opening Mass and interview pilgrims who have traveled to Washington from around the country for the fourteen-hour vigil. Advance registration is requested via the media request form on the basilica’s website. Video footage from the Mass may also be obtained by satellite feed, courtesy of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). For coordinates, please contact Jacquelyn Hayes, director of communications for the basilica, at 202-281-0615 or [email protected].

For more details on the overnight National Prayer Vigil for Life and other pro-life events in the Washington area, please visit To join -- and help spread the word about -- 9 Days for Life, visit

Keywords: National Prayer Vigil for Life, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, abortion, Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, U.S. Supreme Court, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, The Catholic University of America, cardinals, bishops, seminarians, Byzantine rite, rosary, adoration, benediction, 9 Days for Life, prayer, #VigilforLife, #9daysforlife, March for Life, #whywemarch, #marchforlife2020, #LifeEmpowers, #WalkingWithMoms, #WalkWithMoms, Project Rachel, post-abortion healing,

Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte


Italian bishops decry anti-Semitism (SIR)

“Anti-Semitism is the most tragic manifestation of a form of exclusion that in our society is expressed in the hatred of strangers, intolerance of immigrants, racism, rejection of the weakest, the poorest, the elderly,’ said Bishop Ambrogio Spreafico of Frosinone-Veroli-Ferentino, president of the Italian Bishops’ Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue.

'The blasphemy law is like a sword,' Pakistani prelate says (UCANews)

“The unjust law has been misused a hundred times to bring death and destruction,” said retired Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore. “I also fear that Christians in Pakistan will have to deal with greater pressures and opposition.”

Cardinal Sarah: no confusion on Benedict's role in new book (Cardinal Sarah- Facebook)

Cardinal Robert Sarah has announced that he met with Pope-emeritus Benedict, and “we have been able to see how there is no confusion between us” about the retired Pontiff’s role as co-author of a new book defending clerical celibacy. Cardinal Sarah said that he wanted to meet privately with Benedict because of the “incessant, unpleasant and false controversy that has never stopped since the beginning of the week.”

Turkmenistan police raid Christmas gathering of Protestant women (Forum 18)

The Central Asian nation of 5.4 million (map) is 89% Muslim and 9% Eastern Orthodox.

German court affirms pharmacist's conscience rights (Observatory on Intolerance against Christians)

The pharmacist refused to stock or sell the morning-after pill, which can cause an abortion of a newly conceived human being.

Nicaraguan police record license plates of those attending Mass (Fides)

“Members of the police take note of the plate of the cars of the faithful only for the fact that they go to Mass,” the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Managua said. “But the Church had this experience of persecution already in the 80s. We, despite this, do not stop in our work and in our mission, to evangelize and be next to the people.”