Thanks for Giving!

With Thanksgiving almost here and the start of Advent and the Year of Mercy nearly upon us, I wish to take a few moments to recognize just a few examples of goodness being spread throughout the world by the Catholic Church today. Too often such acts go unrecognized or simply overlooked in the glut of news and information.

The Knights of Columbus recently donated $500,000 to Catholic Relief Services to support the Jordanian Catholic Church’s schooling of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in that country. The gift will support the expansion of programs in 18 Jordanian Catholic schools that provide refugees with a safe space to learn, heal from trauma and regain a semblance of childhood, while catching up to their grade level after years out of school.

In addition, a special collection taken in Catholic churches around the U.S. earlier this year has raised nearly $8.1 million. The remitted funds have already been distributed to Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association to meet the most urgent humanitarian needs facing the people in Iraq, Gaza, Syria and surrounding countries where refugees are fled. These organizations have well-established partnerships with the Catholic Church in the region that allow them to respond quickly and efficiently to victims in some of the hardest to reach areas. Funds from this collection are also being used to support Church programs to aid persecuted Christians and to respond to the rebuilding needs of Catholic dioceses in the impacted areas.

KOC_CoatsHere in Baltimore, the Knights of Columbus are also donating over 1,000 new coats. I will join my brother Knights in giving out the coats on November 30th to children in need in Baltimore City, including Sandtown-Winchester, the epicenter of the unrest earlier this year, and to families from other parts of the City. I pray these coats will be not only a source of warmth this winter but a reminder that all of us are loved by God and deserving of his warm embrace.

May these few acts remind us of all the good being done on behalf of our Church, and may they inspire each of us to serve others as Pope Francis intended in the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy.


Syrian Refugees Deserving of Compassion

syriarefugeesThe Day after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Pope Francis said of Syrian refugees in Europe: “Behind these statistics are people, each of them with a name, a face, a story, an inalienable dignity which is theirs as a child of God.”

Today, I am proud to stand with my fellow Catholic bishops who serve in Maryland to issue the following statement:

“The Catholic bishops of Maryland join their voices with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and state Catholic Conferences throughout the country in calling for our nation and our state to welcome those fleeing persecution in other countries, including refugees seeking asylum from Syria. To deny certain groups access to a safe haven based on their religion or country of origin is contrary to the principles of fairness and compassion that have been the foundation of our nation’s character.  Upholding these principles does not conflict with maintaining the safety of our nation, which has always been a paramount priority of the U.S. refugee resettlement process.

“Maryland is home to the national headquarters of Catholic Relief Services, which has a rich history of serving potential refugees in their native land, and firsthand knowledge of the brutal oppression that innocent families endure at the hands of terrorist groups such as ISIS. In solidarity with the many Catholic agencies that serve the persecuted throughout the world, the Catholic Church in Maryland, through our Catholic Charities agencies and other ministries, stands ready to offer our assistance to these families. We urge all Marylanders to consider their plight with an open heart, and to learn more about the multiple layers of interviews and security checks these refugees must undergo in order to resettle in our country.

“We offer our heartfelt sympathy and prayers for the residents of Paris who suffered the horror of the recent ISIS attacks, and pray that the true spirit of human fraternity and nobility will inspire our country and nations around the world to triumph over this dreadful example of viciousness against our brothers and sisters.”

Welcome, Brother Bishops!

usccb.jpgThe Catholic bishops of the United States return home to the Archdiocese of Baltimore once again next week for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) fall general assembly.  We are always proud to welcome them each November to the diocese where the Catholic Church in the United States began.  We are especially mindful of our important role in the history of our Church in this year in which we mark the 200th anniversary of the death of John Carroll, the first Bishop to lead our local Church and the Church in the United States.

Among the issues to be discussed includes the proposed USCCB strategic priorities for 2017-2020; revisions to our quadrennial statement on political responsibility; a proposed pastoral response to pornography; the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy; World Youth Day; diocesan Project Rachel post-abortion healing; increasing the number of Catholic priests ministering to Catholics in the Armed Forces; how Catholic Relief Services programming is responding to the Pope’s encyclical on ecology; Religious Liberty; the Church in Latin America, and Marriage and Family Life ministry.

We will also be voting for USCCB treasurer-elect and the chairmen-elect of six USCCB committees as well as participating in the canonical consultation of three causes for canonization.

Pray for me and for my brother bishops as we engage in these important discussions for the good of the people of God we are so blessed to serve.

Praying for Archer

IMG_0031On August 5, 2015, Archer Senft, 17, son of Deacon William Senft, who serves at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, and his wife Louise, suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean at Cape May, New Jersey.  The injury has left him paralyzed from his chest down and he remains hospitalized as his family fights to ensure Archer gets the best care possible and that he receives every opportunity to recover.

The family is asking for prayers for Archer.  I join mine to theirs and ask you to do the same.  The family, in particular, is asking that you pray to Venerable Bruno Lanteri, a 19th century priest who founded the Oblates of the Blessed Virgin Mary and who died on the same day (August 5) as Archer’s injury.  “With firm faith and unwavering hope, please join us in our prayer to Venerable Bruno Lanteri to intercede for the whole and complete healing of Archer.”

May God’s healing mercy be upon Archer and may He bring comfort to his family and friends at this difficult time.