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U.S. Bishops’ Chairman on International Justice and Peace on Installation of Chinese Bishop

WASHINGTON – The Holy See has recently expressed “surprise and regret” over the installation of an auxiliary bishop in China in a diocese not currently recognized by the Holy See. Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace offered his support of the ongoing work of the Holy See, and the Holy Father’s commitment to dialogue.

Bishop Malloy’s statement follows:

“It is unusual for the Holy See to issue a public statement on what they note to be an event that ‘has not taken place in conformity with the spirit of dialogue that exists between the Vatican parties and the Chinese parties and what has been stipulated in the Provisional Agreement on the Appointment of Bishops.’ I share in the hope conveyed by the Holy See that such actions will not be repeated as well as the recent call of Pope Francis for a deep and on-going dialogue with Chinese authorities so as to continue to engage and seek the good of the Church and the people of China.”

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Chieko Noguchi
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'Perversion': Russia condemns Pope's remarks on cruelty of soldiers in Ukraine (BBC)

In an interview with the Jesuit periodical America, Pope Francis said that he has received “much information about the cruelty of the troops” in Ukraine, and that “generally, the cruelest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryats and so on.”

Maria Zakharova, director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that “this is no longer Russophobia, it’s a perversion on a level I can’t even name. We are one family with Buryats, Chechens, and other representatives of our multinational and multi-confessional country.”

U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Emphasizes Recommitment to Relationship with Jewish Community

WASHINGTON - In 1965, Pope Paul VI issued the Vatican Council’s declaration about other world religions, Nostra Aetate (“In our time”), marking a key milestone in the relationship between the Catholic Church and Judaism. As the 60th anniversary of this prophetic document approaches, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs has issued a statement urging all believers in Christ once again to decry all “hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.” (Nostra Aetate, 4).

The full Committee’s statement follows:

“More than ever, members of the Body of Christ must now become aware of their spiritual ties to the Jewish people chosen first to hear the Word of God. In his letter to the Romans, Saint Paul spoke of the Church as wild shoots grafted onto an olive tree, that is, the Jews. He cautioned: “you do not support the root, the root supports you.” (Rom 11:17-24) As a result, the Church must take care to protect that same root from which she continues to draw sustenance as all await in varied ways the coming of the Messiah. (cf. Nostra Aetate, 4). The rising trend of antisemitic incidents has become even more painful in light of the Church’s relationship to the Jewish tradition and our connections to the Jewish people in dialogue and friendship.

“Beginning with the leadership of St. Paul VI, who guided the drafting and approval of Nostra Aetate through the Second Vatican Council and continuing without interruption to the present day with Pope Francis, the Catholic Church has continually fostered and recommended that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues. (cf. Nostra Aetate, 4)

Over the last six decades, the USCCB’s Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs has been proud to build partnerships with the National Council of Synagogues, the Orthodox Union, and the newly established Modern Orthodox Group, promoting those positive relations so encouraged by the Council. In each of these exchanges, leaders in the Catholic and Jewish faiths have learned to encounter each other in a spirit of good will and a sincere desire to encourage our respective faithful to live together in a society increasingly diverse in its racial, ethnic, religious, and political makeup.

“Today, however, these same lessons are being challenged by the re-emergence of antisemitism in new forms. Outraged by the deeply hurtful proliferations of antisemitic rhetoric, both online and in-person, and the violent attacks on Jewish individuals, homes, and institutions, we wish to convey our sincere support to the Jewish people. As Pope Francis has stated, ‘A true Christian cannot be an antisemite.’ (Address to Members of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, June 24, 2013).

“We must remain ever vigilant of the various ways in which these dangers arise. In unequivocal terms, we condemn any and all violence directed at the Jewish people, whether motivated by religious, racial, or political grievances. We furthermore denounce any rhetoric which seeks to demonize or dehumanize the Jewish people or Judaism as a religious tradition. We continue to remind ourselves of the shared spiritual patrimony that remains the foundation of our relationship with the Jewish people. We affirm that the Jewish people cannot be held responsible for the death of Christ or be depicted as rejected or accursed in theological discourse. It must always be remembered that Jesus, Mary, and his apostles were all Jewish. Finally, we remain firm in our dedication to a just political solution - a secure and recognized Israel living in peace alongside a viable and independent Palestine.

“As partners and neighbors, we seek to foster bonds of friendship between members of the Body of Christ and the Jewish people. With this in mind, and in light of the upcoming 60th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, we recommit ourselves to broadening the implementation of the teaching found within that prophetic document. In the nearly six decades since the promulgation of Nostra Aetate, the relationship between the Church and the Jewish people has continued to grow and strengthen with mutual respect and admiration. May God continue to bless us with a renewed friendship and a mutual understanding that one day will allow us to address the Lord and stand as brothers and sisters to serve him ‘shoulder to shoulder.’ (Soph. 3.19).”

Members of the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs:

Most Reverend David P. Talley, Chairman
Bishop of Memphis

Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera
Bishop of Scranton

Most Rev. David D. Kagan
Bishop of Bismarck

Most Reverend Denis J. Madden
Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore

Most Rev. Jeffrey M. Monforton
Bishop of Steubenville

Most Rev. Wm. Michael Mulvey
Bishop of Corpus Christi

Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski
Archbishop of St. Louis

Most Rev. Alfred A. Schlert
Bishop of Allentown

Most Rev. Peter L. Smith
Auxiliary Bishop of Portland in Oregon

 

An earlier version of this statement included a typographical error in the verse citation of the Book of Sophaniah (Zephaniah) – the correct verse is Sophaniah 3:9.

 

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Bishop Chairmen Implore Congress to Reverse Course on Harmful “Respect for Marriage Act”

WASHINGTON – In advance of Monday’s Senate vote on H.R. 8404, the “Respect for Marriage Act” (RMA), Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, issued a joint letter and analysis urging Congress to oppose the measure. 

“Our opposition to RMA by no means condones any hostility toward anyone who experiences same-sex attraction. Catholic teaching on marriage is inseparable from Catholic teaching on the inherent dignity and worth of every human being. To attack one is to attack the other. Congress must have the courage to defend both.

“The Respect for Marriage Act’s rejection of timeless truths about marriage is evident on its face and in its purpose. It would also betray our country’s commitment to the fundamental right of religious liberty…

“Unfortunately, a number of religious groups and senators are asserting that the amended text of RMA sufficiently protects religious freedom. From the perspective of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose bishops’ ministries comprise the largest non-governmental provider of social services in the United States, the provisions of the Act that relate to religious liberty are insufficient. If passed, the amended Act will put the ministries of the Catholic Church, people of faith, and other Americans who uphold a traditional meaning of marriage at greater risk of government discrimination.

“This bill is needless and harmful and must be voted down. At the same time, Congress, and our nation as a whole, must resolve to foster a culture where every individual, as a child of God, is treated with respect and compassion.”  

The letter to Congress is accompanied by a detailed explanation of the religious liberty problems in the Act and its potential consequences.

The complete letter and analysis are available here.

Previous USCCB statements and resources on the Act may be found at the following links:

  • Cardinal Dolan’s November 17 Statement in Response to the Senate’s Vote 
  • Cardinal Dolan’s November 15 article, “The ’Respect for Marriage Act’ Stacks the Deck against Religious Freedom” 
  • Archbishop Cordileone’s letter to the House of Representatives and letter to the Senate. 

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Most Reverend Robert Evans, Auxiliary Bishop of Providence; Appoints Most Reverend Richard Henning, Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre as Coadjutor Bishop of Providence

WASHINGTON - Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert C. Evans, 75, from the Office of Auxiliary Bishop of Providence. At the same time, Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Richard G. Henning, currently auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre, as Coadjutor Bishop of Providence.  

The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, D.C. on November 23, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Henning’s biography may be found here.

The Diocese of Providence is comprised of 1,085 square miles in the state of Rhode Island and has a total population of 1,097,379 of which 603,558 are Catholic.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops’ Chairman for Religious Liberty on “Respect for Marriage Act”

WASHINGTON - On November 16, 2022, the United States Senate voted 62–37 to advance the Respect for Marriage Act.  In response, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement:

“It is deeply concerning that the U.S. Senate has voted to proceed toward potential passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would essentially codify the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell that found a constitutional right to same-sex civil marriages.

“The Catholic Church will always uphold the unique meaning of marriage as a lifelong, exclusive union of one man and one woman. In doing so, we are joined by millions of what the Obergefell Court called ‘reasonable and sincere’ Americans – both religious and secular – who share this time-honored understanding of the truth and beauty of marriage.

“Senators promoting the Act have claimed that their amended bill ‘respects and protects Americans’ religious liberties,’ but the provisions of the Act that relate to religious liberty are insufficient.

Obergefell created countless religious liberty conflicts, but the Act offers only limited protections. Those protections fail to resolve the main problem with the Act: in any context in which conflicts between religious beliefs and same-sex civil marriage arise, the Act will be used as evidence that religious believers must surrender to the state’s interest in recognizing same-sex civil marriages. Wedding cake bakers, faith-based adoption and foster care providers, religious employers seeking to maintain their faith identity, faith-based housing agencies – are all at greater risk of discrimination under this legislation.

“The bill is a bad deal for the many courageous Americans of faith and no faith who continue to believe and uphold the truth about marriage in the public square today. The Act does not strike a balance that appropriately respects our nation’s commitment to the fundamental right of religious liberty. Senators supporting the Act must reverse course and consider the consequences of passing an unnecessary law that fails to provide affirmative protections for the many Americans who hold this view of marriage as both true and foundational to the common good.”

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Recap of U.S. Bishops’ Annual Fall Plenary in Baltimore

BALTIMORE - The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathered November 14-17 for their Fall Plenary Assembly in Baltimore. During their meeting, the bishops elected a new president, vice-president, and secretary to lead the Conference; their terms began immediately at the conclusion of the 2022 plenary today. During their gathering, the body of bishops also elected new chairmen of seven standing committees. Six of the elected bishops will serve for one year as the committee chairman-elect before beginning a three-year term that begins at the conclusion of the bishops’ 2023 Plenary Assembly, and the new chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities assumes the chairmanship immediately to complete the term of the previous chairman who was voted Conference vice president.

The assembly began with an address by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles gave his final address as USCCB president upon completion of his three-year term.

The bishops spent time in prayer and fraternal dialogue with one another throughout the gathering. In acknowledgment of twenty years since the drafting and passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the bishops were led in prayer and reflection by Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR of Newark and Mr. Mark Joseph Williams.

The robust agenda for the bishops’ assembly included updates on the following items: the Synod of Bishops; the ongoing war in Ukraine; the bishops’ Eucharistic Revival initiative and national congress; the Church’s support for women and families in light of the Supreme Court’s decision this summer in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization; policy advocacy and ongoing work of Migration and Refugee Services; information on World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal; and the Journeying Together intercultural dialogue and encounter process.

The bishops also engaged in discussion on the approach to their teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, and its related materials to be executed over the next year. By an overwhelming majority, the bishops voted to reissue the teaching document without revisions but add supplemental materials and begin a process of reexamining the teaching document following the 2024 election.

The bishops voted with 215 in favor, 4 against, and 1 abstention to approve the 2023 proposed budget, presented by the Committee on Budget and Finance.

The Latin Church members of the USCCB voted to approve revisions in rites related to the anointing of the sick and lay ministry to the sick, as well as liturgical texts for two recently instituted feast days:

  • A revision of the U.S. English-language edition of “The Order of the Anointing of the Sick and of their Pastoral Care” was approved with 196 in favor, 4 against, and 1 abstention. A new U.S. Spanish language edition of the same text was approved with 200 in favor, 3 against, and 3 abstentions.
  • The texts of prayers and rites in English that can be used by lay ecclesial ministers in their ministry to the sick, “Lay Ministry to the Sick” was approved with 196 in favor, 8 against, and 2 abstentions. The Spanish-language edition of the same text was approved with 196 in favor, 8 against, and 2 abstentions.
  • Liturgical texts for the two optional memorials, the memorial for Saint Paul VI (May 29), and the memorial for Our Lady of Loreto (December 10) passed with 204 in favor, 0 against, and 0 abstentions.

The approval of all texts requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin-rite bishops, and the “The Order of the Anointing of the Sick and of their Pastoral Care” also requires “recognitio” from the Vatican.

The bishops were also consulted on the causes of beatification and canonization for three lay persons: Mother Margaret Mary Healy-Murphy, Michelle Duppong, and Cora Louise Evans. By a voice vote, the bishops affirmed support for the advancement of all three causes of beatification and canonization on the diocesan level.

Tune in to USCCB’s Catholic Current for November 15 and November 16 from Baltimore. News updates, texts of addresses and presentations, and other materials from the 2022 plenary are posted to: www.usccb.org/meetings.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Vote for USCCB Secretary and Committee Chairmen at Fall Plenary Assembly

BALTIMORE - On Tuesday, the Catholic bishops of the United States elected Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). They also elected Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore as Conference vice president. Both assume office immediately following the Fall Plenary. Today, the bishops elected Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City as Conference secretary and chairman of the Committee on Priorities and Plans in a 130-104 vote over Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR, of Newark. Archbishop Coakley fills the vacancy that is left as Archbishop Broglio who has been serving as USCCB secretary since 2019, assumes the Conference presidency.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has also elected the chairs of seven standing committees at their Fall General Assembly in Baltimore.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington was elected as chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities in a 174-63 vote over Bishop W. Sean McKnight of Jefferson City, and fills the vacancy created with the election of Archbishop Lori as Conference vice-president. He assumes his post at the end of this year’s Fall General Assembly and will serve through November 2024, at which time he will be eligible for re-election.

The remaining six will serve for one year as chairmen-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the bishops’ 2023 Fall Plenary Assembly. The bishops elected as chairmen-elect are:

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance in a 147-91 vote over Bishop Alfred A. Schlert of Allentown.

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs in a 128-111 vote over Bishop Peter L. Smith, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon.

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson of Indianapolis, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis in a 149-90 vote over Bishop William D. Byrne of Springfield in Massachusetts.

Bishop Abdallah Elias Zaidan, MLM, of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, as chairman-elect of the Committee on International Justice and Peace in a 148-95 vote over Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez of Philadelphia.

Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Richmond, as chairman-elect of the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People in a 127-114 vote over Bishop Elias R. Lorenzo, OSB, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Religious Liberty in a 165-77 vote over Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Affirm Advancement of the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of Servant of God Cora Louise Evans

BALTIMORE - At their annual fall Plenary Assembly, the bishops of the United States held a canonical consultation on the cause of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God Cora Louise Evans, lay woman.

Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, and Bishop Daniel E. Garcia of Monterey, facilitated the discussion by the bishops. By a voice vote, the bishops expressed support for the advancement of the cause of beatification and canonization on the diocesan level.

A brief biography of Cora Louise Evans was provided by the Diocese of Monterey:

Cora Evans was born July 9, 1904 and was raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She married Maclellan (“Mack”) Evans in the well-known Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah. That event was the turning point in her life. She later claimed that the ceremony left her disillusioned and disappointed with her faith, especially the doctrine that placed man-made gods above the God of Abraham. “I was without a God and religion but had gained a very wonderful husband. As I looked at him and learned to love him more and more, I resolved to help find a God for him. After ten years of searching, we found the One True God in the Roman Catholic Church,” she said.

In the decade that followed, Cora and Mack had three children. When they suffered the loss of their child, Bobby, when he was ten months old, Cora looked into many religions for comfort and consolation. Her upbringing prevented her from inquiring about Catholicism.

On December 9, 1934, while living in Ogden, Utah, Cora was ill in bed and the radio was on the other side of the room. Alone and too ill to get out of bed to change the station when the Catholic Hour began broadcasting, Cora listened to Monsignor Duane Hunt talk about the Blessed Mother and the teachings of the Catholic faith. His message conflicted with the negative stories Cora had been told about Catholics, and as soon as she recovered from her illness, she went to nearby St. Joseph Catholic Church to inquire about the faith and have her questions answered. Her inquiry led to a series of meetings, including debates in her home between the parish priest, Reverend Edward Vaughn, and several Mormon bishops. Cora appreciated Father Vaughn’s demeanor and the clarity of his responses to questions about Catholic doctrine

Cora was baptized into the Catholic Church on March 30, 1935 and received her first Holy Communion the next day. Her husband and daughters, LaVonne and Dorothy, followed her lead a few months later. She died March 30, 1957.

Cora influenced many Mormons to visit St. Joseph Catholic Church, inviting them to open house gatherings, and years later, Father Vaughn wrote a letter confirming that through Cora’s evangelization efforts, there were hundreds of conversions of Mormons to the Catholic faith.

The cause of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God Cora Louis Evans was formally opened in June 2010.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Affirm Advancement of the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of Servant of God Mother Margaret Mary Healy-Murphy

BALTIMORE - At their annual fall Plenary Assembly, the bishops of the United States held a canonical consultation on the cause of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God Mother Margaret Mary Healy-Murphy, foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate.

Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, and Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, M.Sp.S., of San Antonio, facilitated the discussion by the bishops. By a voice vote, the bishops expressed support for the advancement of the cause of beatification and canonization on the diocesan level.

A brief biography of Mother Margaret Mary Healy-Murphy was provided by the Archdiocese of San Antonio:

Margaret Mary Healy was born on May 4, 1833, to Jane Murphy Healy and Richard Healy in Cahersiveen, County Kerry, Ireland. When she was only five years old her mother died in childbirth, and over the next few years, Margaret watched her family and the rest of Ireland struggle to survive the ravages of famine.

Margaret immigrated to America with her father when she was 12 and her father died shortly after their arrival. She accompanied her brothers, aunts, and uncles when they made their way across several southern states and eventually to Mexico, where they operated a hotel. Upon marrying John Bernard Murphy in 1849, Margaret and her family moved to Texas. While her husband was traveling for business, Margaret ministered to the pastoral and material needs of her neighbors, reportedly even riding 35 miles on horseback to secure medicine for Yellow Fever victims.

With the Civil War brewing and her husband away, most likely for safety, Margaret moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, helping her neighbors with chores and cooking meals for those in need. After the war, Margaret volunteered at St. Patrick’s Parish, even as the Yellow Fever epidemic reached the city. She worked alongside the pastor, Reverend John Gonnard, who later died from the illness. One of the patients Margaret tended to – Mrs. Delaney – entrusted her daughter, Minnie, to Margaret’s care. Margaret and John Bernard adopted Minnie and sent her to a boarding school in New York with the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur. They also adopted Margaret’s goddaughter, Lizzie, who had lost her mother as well. Upon graduation, both girls entered the religious life with the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament Sisters.

Following the death of her husband in 1884, Margaret operated a tuberculosis hospital in Corpus Christi. After a few years, she moved to San Antonio. In 1887, responding to a plea from the bishops during the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, she was inspired to use her own finances to build the first black Catholic Church and school in the city. With racial prejudice prevalent, she struggled with securing finances to sustain her project and maintain a stable faculty. In 1893, with the blessing of Bishop John C. Neraz, Margaret founded a new religious congregation, the Sisters of the Holy Ghost, now known as the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate. These sisters supported Margaret’s mission of working with the poor and people of color. Mother Margaret Mary Healy-Murphy died on August 7, 1907, leaving behind 15 sisters, two postulants and three missions. Even today, her congregation continues “manifesting the compassion of Jesus to the poor” in the United States and Zambia.

On June 28, 2022, Archbishop García-Siller announced his intention to formally open the diocesan phase of investigation into the life of Mother Margaret Mary Healy-Murphy.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200