We Promote the Common Good Which the Church Offers Humankind
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is an assembly of the hierarchy of bishops who jointly exercise pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
What does the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) do?
Our purposes under civil law are:
- to unify, coordinate, encourage, promote and carry on Catholic activities in the United States;
- to organize and conduct religious, charitable and social welfare work at home and abroad;
- to aid in education;
- to care for immigrants;
- and generally to enter into and promote by education, publication and direction the objects of its being.
Our mission is to support the ministry of bishops with an emphasis on evangelization, by which the bishops exercise in a communal and collegial manner certain pastoral functions entrusted to them by the Lord Jesus of sanctifying, teaching, and governing (see Lumen gentium, no. 21).
This mission calls the Conference to:
- Act collaboratively and consistently on vital issues confronting the Church and society (see Christus Dominus, no. 38.1)
- Foster communion with the Church in other nations, within the Church universal, under the leadership of its supreme pastor, the Roman Pontiff
- Offer appropriate assistance to each bishop in fulfilling his particular ministry in the local Church (Cf. Apostolos suos, 1998.)
The mission of evangelization is entrusted by Christ to his Church to be carried out in all her forms of ministry, witness, and service. By evangelizing, the Church seeks to bring about in all Catholics such an enthusiasm for their faith that, in living their faith in Jesus and strengthened by the sacraments, most especially the celebration of the Eucharist, they freely share that faith with others to transform the world. (Based on Go and Make Disciples, A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States, 1990)
In 1917 the U.S. bishops formed the National Catholic War Council (NCWC) to enable U.S. Catholics to contribute funds and commit personnel to provide spiritual care and recreation services to servicemen during World War I. In 1919 Pope Benedict XV urged the hierarchy to join him in working for peace and social justice. In response, the bishops organized the National Catholic Welfare Council in and set up the first Administrative Committee of seven members to handle the Council's business between plenary meetings. The headquarters were established in Washington, DC and a general secretary with some staff was appointed.
In 1922, the word "Conference" replaced "Council" in the organization's title, underlining the fact that it was consultative rather than legislative. At the same time, the National Catholic Welfare Conference was created to address such concerns as education, immigration and social action.
This model continued until 1966 when the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and the United States Catholic Conference (USCC) were established. The NCCB attended to the Church's own affairs in this country. Its committees were exclusively bishops and their secretariats. In USCC, the bishops collaborated with other Catholics to address issues that concern the Church as part of the larger society. Its committees also included lay people, clergy and religious.
On July 1, 2001 the NCCB and the USCC combined to form the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). USCCB continues the work done by both, maintaining the same staff. The bishops themselves form approximately 17 committees, each with its own responsibility.
U.S. Enters WWI.
Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore sends letter to President Woodrow Wilson expressing loyalty: "Our peoples now as ever, will rise as one man to serve the nation."
National Catholic War Council (NCWC) founded to organize Catholic war efforts and liaise with U.S. government. Paulist Fr. John Burke chosen as its head.
Bishops gather at the Catholic University of America results in creation of National Catholic Welfare Council and a 14-part pastoral letter dealing with both domestic issues and international relations for a post war world. The structure and priorities of the NCWC's work were also planned. Overseas work of the War Council continues
NCWC Dept. of Social Action under Fr. John Ryan publishes The Church and Labor focusing on 'temporal concerns' like education, wage and labor rights.
Because 'Council' has specific canonical meaning, name changed to National Catholic Welfare Conference. The word "Conference" replaced "Council" in the organization's title, underlining the fact that it was consultative rather than legislative.
Bishops begin to protest Mexican government's persecution of Catholic Church
Bishops' issue statements on Unemployment and Economic Crisis.
Committee on Motion Pictures' Legion of Decency campaign launched to oppose 'salacious motion pictures.'
Statement Present Crisis reflects on the growing international unrest and armament buildup in Europe.
Assembled bishops send communication to Spanish and German hierarchies decrying religious persecution. Criticize communists for denying liberty and religious expression. Warn of the growth of secularism.
NCWC's Peace and War addresses the Vatican attempts to keep the peace as well the modern war machine that destroys whole nations, not only their armies.
U.S. enters WWII.
War Relief Services of the NCWC begins.
War relief continues through the 40s-50s and from it a separate aid organization, Catholic Relief Services, begins organizing church humanitarian efforts including the resettlement of refugees.
First guidelines for The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Facilities, by the U.S. Catholic bishops.
Catholic Relief Services distributes more than $1 billion in relief supplies around the world.
Ongoing resettlement of refugees from Communist Europe.
Pastoral letter calls for an end to segregation.
Second Vatican Council takes place.
Pope Paul VI visits the United States.
National Conference of Catholic Bishops created following recommendation from the Vatican Council and NCWC becomes the United States Catholic Conference. Archbishop John Dearden the first president with Bishop Joseph Bernardin its first general secretary.
National Advisory Council created to advise the USCC Administrative Committee.
Update of the Ethical and Religious Directives, declaring that a Catholic health facility has the "responsibility to reflect in its policies and practices the moral teachings of the Church."
First national Encuentro.
Following SCOTUS decision in Roe v. Wade, the NCCB/USCC devised first Plan for Pro-Life Activities.
First pre-election statement on Political Responsibility by the U.S. Bishops.
Pope John Paul II visits U.S. for the first time.
Four U.S. nuns killed in El Salvador. President of the USCC, Archbishop Joan Roach, statement to the governments of El Salvador and the United States decrying the violence and bloody repression by Salvador's military and paramilitary.
Pastoral Letter The Challenge of Peace focuses on threat of nuclear weapons.
Full diplomatic relations established between U.S. and the Vatican.
100th Anniversary of the Third Council of Baltimore.
Bishops release Economic Justice for All stating social justice principles in the economy.
Pope John Paul II visits U.S. for the second time.
Plan Pastoral Nacional del Ministerio Hispano created.
NCCB/USCC headquarters move from downtown D.C. to property near Catholic University.
Six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter, are killed in El Salvador. U.S. bishops issue statement condemning the pattern of violent activity in El Salvador
U.S. bishops approve statement on AIDS, Called to Compassion and Responsibility: A Response to the HIV/AIDS Crisis.
Observance of Fifth Centenary of the discovery and evangelization in the Americas.
Pope John Paul II and U.S. Bishops celebrate World Youth Day in Denver and the Great Jubilee of the Third Millennium of Christianity.
English language Catechism of the Catholic Church released.
The U.S. Bishops’ Catholic Television Network of America ceases operation after 14 years.
Pope John Paul II visits the U.S. and addresses the United Nations.
Bishops' Committee on Marriage and Family Life issues Always Our Children for Catholic parents of gay and lesbian children.
Pope John Paul II visits United States for the last time.
Consolidation of the NCCB and USCC into the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB),
Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People approved at bishops' meeting prompted by high-visibility abuse cases and intense media scrutiny. Vatican issues decree confirming U.S. sex abuse norms as law for all U.S. dioceses.
Pope John Paul II dies, Benedict XVI elected his successor.
Pope Benedict XVI makes his only visit to the U.S.
Pope Benedict resigns, Pope Francis elected.
Pope Francis visits the United States for the World Meeting of Families and addresses a joint session of Congress.
100th anniversary of the founding of the Bishops' Conference of the United States.
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As Christ's vicar, each bishop has the pastoral care of the particular Church entrusted...
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