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At memorial Mass, CRS remembers four employees who died in plane crash

IMAGE: CNS photo/Kevin J. Parks, Catholic Review

By Paul McMullen

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Approximately 480 men and women work at the Baltimore headquarters of Catholic Relief Services, the overseas aid and development agency of U.S. Catholics.

None were more affected than Yishak "Isaac" Affin and Atli Moges by the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash that took the lives of all 157 on board -- including four who were not just colleagues, but their fellow countrymen and women.

Affin and Moges were part of the standing-room-only gathering at the CRS chapel March 14, when Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori offered a memorial Mass. His concelebrants included a majority of the 14 bishops who serve on the CRS board of directors, in town for meetings.

Like the four who perished, Moges and Affin are natives of Ethiopia, which has approximately 100 million residents. Almost half lack access to clean water.

Trying to better themselves so that they could better their country, the four CRS administrators were en route to a training session in Nairobi, Kenya, when their flight crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, the capital of the east African nation that sits in a region wracked by famine.

"They do their work from their hearts," Moges told the Catholic Review, Baltimore's archdiocesan news outlet. "They were the kind of people who stayed in the office until midnight or worked Saturday if that was necessary."

She speaks from experience.

A senior adviser for CRS in financial technical support, Moges came to Baltimore in 1988, but from August 2015 to March 2018 served in Ethiopia as the deputy country representative for operations.

Managing administration, finance, human resources and IT for a staff of approximately 200 during her time in Ethiopia, Moges said she worked with the four deceased staffers "very closely."

They were typical of the 7,000 people employed by CRS, which prioritizes hiring and training local people in the nations it serves.

Moges said that Mulusew Alemu, a senior finance officer, was devoted to his Ethiopian Orthodox faith and "a delightful person, very respectful and hard-working."

Despite his low-key demeanor, she said, Sintayehu Aymeku had "wonderful leadership skills." A procurement manager who had lived for a time in the United States, Aymeku left behind a wife and three daughters.

"I had high hopes for him," Moges said.

Sara Chalachew, who once spent three weeks in Baltimore on temporary duty, was promoted last December to senior project officer for grants. Moges said she was always smiling, and "got along with everyone on staff."

Getnet Alemayehu was a senior procurement officer, known for being patient and persistent while navigating shipments.

Before Affin, a senior accountant, came to Baltimore in 2003, he worked as an auditor in Addis Ababa, where he knew Alemayehu as a driver, albeit one "studying at university."

As Moges got emotional remembering the four after the Mass, Affin placed his right hand on her left shoulder.

The Mass included a choir comprised of CRS staff based in Baltimore.

Bishop Gregory J. Mansour of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, New York, who is chairman of the CRS board of directors, welcomed Archbishop Lori, who had made a short walk from the Catholic Center, headquarters of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, to CRS.

"Sorrow shared," Bishop Mansour said, "is sorrow lessened."

"Why were such good colleagues taken from us?" Archbishop Lori said in his homily. "A tragic moment such as this, and the season of Lent itself, tests and probes the depth of our faith," he said.

"It highlights the kind of faith, hope and love -- coupled with courage -- that undergirds the many risks you and your colleagues take each day to advance the kingdom of justice, peace and love in this world."

Archbishop Lori said the four employees "died in pursuit of their mission to bring a measure of food security to regions of the world that are habitually plagued by famine. They met the Lord as they were dedicating themselves and their lives to the golden rule."

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McMullen is managing editor of the Catholic Review, the news website and magazine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

 

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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 [email protected]

Update: After attacks, New Zealand bishops tell Muslims: 'We hold you in prayer'

IMAGE: CNS photo/Martin Hunter, Reuters

By Michael Otto

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (CNS) -- New Zealand's Catholic bishops have expressed horror and distress at a terrorist attack in two mosques in Christchurch that saw at least 49 people killed.

The shootings took place at or near the Al Noor Mosque, where 41 people were killed, and at the Linwood Mosque, where 7 were killed. One more person subsequently died at Christchurch Hospital. Muslims had gathered at the mosques for Friday prayers. Some of those killed were children, it has been reported.

The terror attack started at around 1:40 p.m. local time March 15, sparking a massive mobilization by police. Mike Bush, New Zealand police commissioner, announced at 9 p.m. that a man in his late 20s had been charged with murder and would appear in the Christchurch District Court the next day.

Some three-and-a-half hours after the attacks began, the New Zealand bishops released a message, addressed to the nation's Muslim community, via social media.

"We hold you in prayer as we hear the terrible news of violence against Muslims at mosques in Christchurch," the bishops wrote.

"We are profoundly aware of the positive relationships we have with Islamic people in this land, and we are particularly horrified that this has happened at a place and time of prayer.

"We are deeply saddened that people have been killed and injured, and our hearts go out to them, their families and wider community. We wish you to be aware of our solidarity with you in the face of such violence."

The bishops signed off their message "Peace, Salaam."

A message sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, on behalf of Pope Francis, said the pope was "deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life cause by the senseless acts of violence" at the mosques.

"He assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks." He also offered prayers and blessings to those injured, those grieving, those who died and emergency personnel.

Christchurch Bishop Paul Martin released his own message on social media.

"We are horrified at the violence that has been inflicted on people of our city this afternoon," Bishop Martin wrote.

"Words cannot convey our distress. Our prayers are with those who are suffering. I invite you now, wherever you are, alone or with family, workmates or friends, to pray together in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: Lord make me an instrument of your peace ... "

Bishop Martin planned to celebrate a Mass of prayer for peace, "remembering those who have died in the mosques tragedy and praying for those who are suffering," at St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral March 16.

This is the second major tragedy involving significant loss of life in Christchurch in the last decade. On Feb. 22, 2011, an earthquake struck the city, killing 185 people. The Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament suffered severe damage, as did the nearby Anglican Cathedral.

Anglican Bishop Peter Carrell of Christchurch issued a statement on behalf of all church leaders in the city in early evening.

"Church leaders are absolutely devastated at the unprecedented situation in Christchurch this afternoon, and our hearts and prayers go to all involved. No religious organization or group deserves to be the target of someone's hate -- regardless of beliefs. We stand for an Aotearoa New Zealand, which will never condone such violence. So, across the churches of Christchurch and Canterbury, we are praying for our Muslim brothers and sisters, for those injured and those who have lost loved ones, for the police, ambulance and other emergency services, and for all in the city of Christchurch who are feeling distress and fear due to this event. We are upholding you all in our prayers. We pray, too, for the shooter and their supporters, because for any person to do this, they must have such hatred in their hearts, such misalignment of the value of human life, that they too, need our prayer. We thank many others from around our nation and the world who are praying for peace in Christchurch."

Five Catholic high schools and about a dozen elementary schools in Christchurch city were among many schools that went into lockdown in mid-afternoon as news of the terror attacks spread. Children and staff were unable to leave the schools until 5:30 p.m., when enough police personnel had been deployed to ensure a safe passage home.

When the lifting of the lockdown, one Catholic high school, the all-girls Villa Maria College, stated on Facebook announced that rolls would be taken in the school gym and that students would be "debriefed with pastoral care on hand." After this, students were released.

The attack is the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand's history. The gunman reportedly live-streamed video of the attack using a helmet-camera. New Zealand police asked people not to share this on social media. The shooter also posted a 73-page manifesto.

Facebook and Twitter reportedly removed the gunman's pages.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: "It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack." She said the thoughts and prayers of the nation were with "those who have been impacted today."

"Christchurch was their home," Ardern said. "For many, this may not have been the place they were born, in fact for many, New Zealand was their choice. The place they actively came to and committed to. The place they were raising their families. Where they were parts of communities that they loved and who loved them in return. It was a place that many came to for its safety. A place where they were free to practice their culture and their religion."

The prime minister added: "For those of you who are watching at home tonight and questioning how this could have happened here. We, New Zealand, we were not a target because we are a safe harbor for those who hate. We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism. We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of those things."

Mosques across the country closed on Friday at the urgings of police. Vigils sprang up throughout New Zealand as people gathered to mourn and grieve.

A meme on Facebook shared by many showed a sobbing kiwi.

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Otto is editor of NZ Catholic.

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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 [email protected]

USCCB Migration Chairman Endorses Proposed Legislation That Gives Permanent Legal Protection to Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Holders

WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration endorsed the American Dream andPromise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6), legislation that would provide permanent legal protection and a pathway to citizenship for qualifying Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders.

 “We need a permanent legislative solution for those who have spent their lives contributing and living in the United States,the country they know as home,” said Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration. “Dreamers and TPS holders are vital members of our community who are going to school, working to make our communities better and raising families.They have lived in limbo for far too long and now is the time for a solution.”  

On Wednesday, March 6th, Most Reverend Mario Dorsonville-Rodriguez, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washingtonand a Committee on Migration member testified before the House Judiciary Committee at the hearing “Protecting Dreamers and TPS Recipients.” The full written testimony of Bishop Dorsonville-Rodriguez and the hearing can also be seen in its entirety here.

Please see the USCCB Committee on Migration letter of support here.

More information about Dreamers and TPS can be found on the Justice for Immigrants website.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Bishop Mario Dorsonville-Rodriguez, Committee on Migration, refugees,Dreamers, TPS, DACA, immigration reform

 

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Media Contact:

Mark Priceman

202-541-3064

Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

President of U.S. Bishops’ Responds to Today’s Mass Shooting at New Zealand Mosques

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following statement in response to today’s mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The full statement follows:

“I am deeply saddened by the senseless attacks at the Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed dozens of worshippers and seriously injured many others, including children. This slaughter of innocent Muslim brothers and sisters praying peacefully is being described as a terrorist attack carried out by a self-identified fascist and his accomplices. As the Catholic bishops of New Zealand said, 'we are particularly horrified that this has happened at a place and time of prayer.'

Unfortunately, we Americans are all too familiar with gun violence, which often targets religious communities. However, we must not remain complacent or desensitized to the horror of these tragedies.

I join with my brother bishops in New Zealand in expressing solidarity with the Muslim community and in calling Catholics to join in prayer for the victims of this shooting, their families, and the Muslim community that was directly targeted.

May almighty God change the hearts of those who hate to recognize the inherent dignity of all people and bring consolation to all those affected by this heart-rending loss.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, mass shootings, Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque attacks, Muslim brothers and sisters, terrorist attack, fascism , Muslim community, prayers, inherent dignity

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

 

Bishops’ Conference Committee Chairman Welcomes Governor of California’s Declaration of Moratorium on Death Penalty

WASHINGTON—After California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on executions, Bishop FrankJ. Dewane of Venice, FL, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed gratitude for the decision as a step to further the recognition of the inherent dignity of all human life.

The full statement follows:

"We join the California Catholic Conference and all people of good will in welcomingCalifornia Governor Gavin Newsom’s declaration issuing a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in his state. We are grateful and urge California lawmakers to take the next logical step to repeal the death penalty to bring a permanent end to this practice.  

“In his 2015 address to the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis called for 'the global abolition of the deathpenalty,' as he explained, 'I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. . . . [A] just andnecessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.' Today’s decision is a wise step in better orienting the criminal justice system to recognize the inherent dignity of all human life.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee onDomestic Justice and Human Development, Governor Gavin Newsom, California Catholic Conference, death penalty, moratorium, U.S. Congress, Pope Francis, human person, inalienable dignity, rehabilitation, criminal justice system, inherent dignity

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

 

USCCB Migration Chairman and CRS President Issue Statement Supporting Texas-Mexico Border Bishops’ Statement on Recent U.S. Government Asylum Policy

WASHINGTON— Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration and Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services issue the following statement in solidarity with the March 4th statement of the Texas and Mexico Border Bishops.

The full statement follows:

“Consistent with the Texas-Mexico Border Bishops’ March 4th statement, we oppose U.S. policy requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while waiting to access protection in the United States. We urge the Administration to reverse this policy, which needlessly increases the suffering of the most vulnerable and violates international protocols. We steadfastly affirm a person’s right to seek asylum and find recent efforts to curtail and deter that right deeply troubling. We must look beyond our borders; families are escaping extreme violence and poverty at home and are fleeing for their lives. Our staff and partners in Central America witness the suffering there and fight against it. Our government must adopt policies and provide more funding that address root causes of migration and promote human dignity and sustainable livelihoods. Like the Texas-Mexico Border Bishops, we recommit to Pope Francis’s call to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate our immigrant brothers and sisters in Christ.”

For more information on the U.S. government’s Migration Protection Protocol policy which requires certain asylum seekers to wait in Mexico please click here.
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, Committee on Migration, Sean Callahan, Catholic Relief Services, Texas-Mexico, Border Bishops, migrants, asylum, Immigration, Central America.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Co-Chair of USCCB dialogue with National Council of Synagogues Issues Statement Regarding Opening of Vatican Archives

WASHINGTON— Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Co-Chair of the USCCB’s dialogue with the National Council of Synagogues, praised Pope Francis’ recent announcement regarding the opening of the Vatican Archives from the wartime pontificate of Pope Pius XII.

“I am grateful to His Holiness for taking this welcome step and allowing scholars to examine the records of Pope Pius XII’s pontificate during the Second World War,” commented Cardinal Dolan. “Along with our Jewish partners and colleagues, I have previously called for access to these files. Today, we look forward to the 2020 opening of the Archives.”

In a March 4 audience with Vatican officials, Pope Francis announced his intention to permit access to the Secret Archives of Pius XII’s pontificate. The Pope set the date of March 2, 2020 for the official opening.

Pius XII’s papacy began in 1939, just months before the outbreak of the Second World War. Scholars, particularly those interested in Catholic-Jewish relations, have been anxious to examine Vatican files, especially those related to the war years and the fate of the Jewish community in Rome.

As a U.S. leader in Catholic-Jewish relations, Cardinal Dolan has actively called for the release of these documents since becoming Archbishop of New York in 2009. “Whatever is needed to complete this project, even in phases rather than only as a whole, I suggest must be explored,” His Eminence said in a speech at Jewish Theological Seminary in 2011.

“I echo Pope Francis’ sentiment that sincere historical research will present an opportunity to grow in public understanding,” reflected Cardinal Dolan. “I pray it will bring about a new era in which Catholic and Jewish scholars, who have deepened their trust and friendship, can continue working together to examine this important new material.”

Rabbi David Straus, Senior Rabbi of Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, and co-chair of the National Council of Synagogues dialogue with the USCCB, echoed the Cardinal’s sentiments, saying, “We look forward to this new moment of openness, which will only build upon our previous work together, and, we pray, continue to strengthen our relationships, friendships, understandings of each other in our important work together. Our shared commitment to making the facts known can only serve to demonstrate the mutuality of respect and concern that is reflected in Pope Francis’s decision.”

For more information, please visit our website: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/index.cfm.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, National Council of Synagogues, Pope Francis, Pope Pius XII, Second World War, Secret Archives, Catholic-Jewish relations, Jewish community in Rome, Rabbi David Straus, Main Line Reform Temple

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

President of U.S. Bishops’ sends letter to Chairman of Catholic Relief Services following deadly plane crash

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has sent a letter to the Most Reverend Gregory John Mansour, Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, following the tragic plane crash yesterday. Bishop Mansour serves as the chairman of the board of Catholic Relief Services. Of the 157 lives lost, four were employees of Catholic Relief Services.
The full letter is below:

Dear Bishop Mansour,

It was with great sadness that I learned of the deaths of four of our esteemed colleagues from Catholic Relief Services who were on the airplane that crashed on Sunday, March 10, 2019.

I, along with my brother bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, join together with the entire CRS family, especially CRS Ethiopia and our EARO colleagues, in mourning the tragic loss of Sara Chalachew, Getnet Alemayehu, Sintayehu Aymeku, and Mulusew Alemu. Their service to the poor and their accompaniment of the marginalized stand as a great witness to Christ and His love for us all.

Please know that I have asked all our brother bishops here in the United States to pray for the repose of the souls of Sara, Getnet, Sintayehu, and Mulusew, and we will especially do so at the upcoming meeting of the USCCB Administrative Committee this week. May the consolation of the Savior’s embrace be now a source of comfort to their loved ones and co-workers on this difficult and painful day.

United in prayer and vigil for the Risen Lord, I remain,

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo
Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Gregory Mansour, Eparchy of Brooklyn, Catholic Relief Services
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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishes Revised Translation of the Rite for Blessing the Holy Oils

WASHINGTON—The publishing division of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has recently made available a revised translation of the rite for blessing the holy oils, entitled the Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and of Consecrating the Chrism.

The book is used at the Chrism Mass, which is one of the highlights of the year in a diocese, normally held on Holy Thursday morning or on an earlier day of Holy Week. At that Mass the bishop, surrounded by a great number of clergy, religious, and faithful, blesses new holy oils for the coming year. The oils will be used for various ceremonies, such as for the preparation and celebration of baptism and for the celebration of the sacraments of confirmation, holy orders, and the anointing of the sick. They are used in some of the most majestic Catholic ceremonies, such as the dedication of a new church, and also in some of the simplest, like an anointing in a hospital room.

“USCCB Publications has produced an attractive book that is worthy of a ceremony as important as the Chrism Mass. The use of the holy oils is a striking part of the Church’s prayer in various moments of a person’s life and in important moments in the life of a parish,” explains Father Andrew Menke, executive director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Divine Worship. “All of these ceremonies throughout the diocese are linked together through those oils blessed by the bishop.”

The Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and of Consecrating the Chrism is intended primarily for bishops in the United States and for their diocesan worship offices, but will also be a useful reference for seminaries, theological libraries, and for those interested in the Roman liturgy. It may be ordered online at http://store.usccb.org/order-of-blessing-the-oil-p/7-624.htm. Please also click on the following link for a cover image of the revised translation: http://www.usccb.org/about/marketing/products/images/usccb-7-624-blessing-oils-cover.jpg

Additional books and resources pertaining to marriage and family life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Vatican, ministry and more can be found by visiting the USCCB’s online bookstore at https://store.usccb.org.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and of Consecrating the Chrism, Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday, Holy Week, holy oils, anointing of the sick, Catholic ceremonies, Father Andrew Menke, Secretariat of Divine Worship

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

 

Bishops’ Conference President and Domestic Justice Committee Chairman Express Sorrow, Urge Prayer and Support, After Deadly Tornadoes Hit Alabama and Damage Other States in the Southeast

WASHINGTON—After tornadoes killed more than 20 people in Lee County, Alabama, and caused destruction in Georgia and surrounding states over the weekend, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, FL, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed sorrow for those in mourning and encouraged hope and generous support at the beginning of the Lenten season.

The full statement follows:

"It is with heavy hearts that we continue to learn about the destruction in Alabama and Georgia from tornadoes over the weekend. At the time of this writing, there are 23 confirmed dead in Alabama, including three children, many more missing, and miles of destruction of homes and communities. We offer prayers for the victims and their grieving families and friends. Now is the time to offer assistance in any way we can to those facing great difficulties. One way to do this is by donating to Catholic Charities and other organizations that are working to provide emergency needs, and to help rebuild.
Our hope, in this Lenten season, as always, is in the Lord of life who has conquered death. May the Lord grant eternal rest to those who have died, and may the Holy Spirit work through all of us to give comfort to those who are grieving with generosity and love."

Donations can be made to Catholic Charities USA at https://catholiccharitiesusa.org.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Frank Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Alabama, Georgia, tornado, assistance, Catholic Charities, emergency aid, Lenten season

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200