The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is the episcopal conference of the Catholic Church in the United States. Founded in 1966 as the joint National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and United States Catholic Conference, it is composed of all active and retired members of the Catholic hierarchy (i.e., diocesan, coadjutor, and auxiliary bishops and the ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter) in the United States and the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands. In the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the bishops in the six dioceses form their own episcopal conference, the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference (Spanish, Conferencia Episcopal Puertorrique a). The bishops in U.S. insular areas in the Pacific Ocean the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Territory of American Samoa, and the Territory of Guam are members of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific (Latin, Conferentia Episcopalis Pacifici).
The USCCB adopted its current name in July 2001. The organization is a registered corporation based in Washington, D.C.. As with all bishops' conferences, certain decisions and acts of the USCCB must receive the recognitio, or approval of the Roman dicasteries, which are subject to the immediate and absolute authority of the Pope.
National Catholic War Council
- Further information: National Catholic Welfare Council
The first national organization of Catholic bishops in the United States was founded in 1917 as the National Catholic War Council (NCWC), formed to enable U.S. Catholics to contribute funds for the spiritual care of Catholic servicemen during World War I.
National Catholic Welfare Council
In 1919 Pope Benedict XV urged the college of bishops around the world to assist him in promoting the labor reforms first articulated by Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum. In response, the U.S. Catholic episcopate organized the National Catholic Welfare Council in 1919. They also created the first Administrative Committee of seven members to manage daily affairs between plenary meetings, with archbishop Edward Joseph Hanna of San Francisco as the first chairman. Headquarters were established in Washington, D.C.
After a threatened suppression of the National Catholic Welfare Council, the administrative board decided to rename the organization to be the National Catholic Welfare Conference, with the purpose of advocating reforms in education, immigration, and social action.
Episcopal conferences were first established as formal bodies by the Second Vatican Council (Christus Dominus, 38), and implemented by Pope Paul VI's 1966 motu proprio Ecclesiae sanctae. In order to fulfill the new requirements for national conferences of bishops, the American bishops established in 1966 the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and its secular arm, the United States Catholic Conference (USCC).
As separate organizations with distinct responsibilities, the NCCB focused on internal ecclesiastical concerns while the USCC carried forward work in society at large. The NCCB enabled the bishops to deliberate and respond collectively on a broad range of issues, with work being carried out through various secretariats, standing committees, and ad hoc committees.
On July 1, 2001, the NCCB and the USCC were combined to form the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The merger resulted in the continuation of all of the work formerly done by the NCCB and the USCC, with the same staff.
The operation, authority, and responsibilities of episcopal conferences are currently governed by the 1983 Code of Canon Law (see especially canons 447 459). The nature of episcopal conferences, and their magisterial authority in particular, was subsequently clarified by Pope John Paul II's 1998 motu proprio Apostolos suos.
Current structure and membership
The structure of the conference (USCCB) consists of 16 standing committees (whose members are bishops) and the departments, secretariats, and offices that carry out the work of the committees. The leaders of these departments, secretariats, and offices report to the general secretariat of the conference.
The membership of the USCCB consists of all active and retired Latin-rite Catholic and Eastern Catholic bishops (i.e., diocesan, coadjutor, and auxiliary bishops) of the United States and the Territory of the Virgin Islands and the ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter but not the bishops of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Territory of American Samoa, and the Territory of Guam. The bishops of the latter four U.S. overseas dependencies belong to other episcopal conferences. In the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the bishops in the six dioceses form their own episcopal conference, the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference (Spanish, Conferencia Episcopal Puertorrique a). The bishops in U.S. insular areas in the Pacific Ocean the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Territory of American Samoa, and the Territory of Guam are members of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific (Latin, Conferentia Episcopalis Pacifici).
The USCCB has two semiannual meetings, in November and June. Between these meetings, the conference is governed by the Administrative Committee. There is also an Executive Committee, whose members include the conference president, vice-president, and secretary (all of whom are bishops). The officers of the conference are elected for three-year terms. The conference also elects chairmen and chairmen-elect of the standing committees.
Programmatic Committees and Related Subcommittees
Executive Level and Management Committees (Officers)
USCCB departments and programs
Office of the General Secretary
- General Secretary
- Associate General Secretary Pastoral Ministry and Planning
- Associate General Secretary and Secretary of Policy and Advocacy
- Associate General Secretary and Secretary of Administration
- Assistant General Secretary for Planning
Office of the General Counsel
- Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations
- Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church
- Secretariat of Divine Worship
- Secretariat of Doctrine
- Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
- Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis
- Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth
- Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection
Policy and Advocacy
- Secretary of Policy and Advocacy
- Government Relations
Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development
- Executive Director
- Office of International Justice and Peace
- Office of Domestic Social Development
- Catholic Campaign for Human Development
- Education and Outreach
Department of Migration and Refugee Services
- Executive Director
- Office of Migration and Refugee Policy
- Office of Refugee Programs
Secretariat of Catholic Education
Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities
- Secretary of Communications
- Catholic News Service
- Customer and Client Relations
- Media Relations
- Operations and Project Management
Administration and National Collections
- Secretary of Administration
- Office of Finance
- Office of Accounting and Business Services
- Office of General Services
- Office of Human Resources
Office of National Collections
Other Collections: National Religious Retirement Office
Office for Film and Broadcasting
Office of Information Technology
In November 2004, the USCCB kicked off the National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage, a multi-year effort to promote traditional marriage values.
In March 2012, regarding the Federal requirement that employers who do not support contraception but are not religious institutions per se must cover contraception via health insurance, USCCB decided to "continue its 'vigorous opposition to this unjust and illegal mandate' .
John F. Dearden, Cardinal Archbishop of Detroit (1966 1971; was created a cardinal on April 28, 1969)
John J. Krol, Cardinal Archbishop of Philadelphia (1971 1974)
Joseph L. Bernardin, Archbishop of Cincinnati (1974 1977; later became Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago)
John R. Quinn, Archbishop of San Francisco (1977 1980)
John R. Roach, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis (1980 1983)
James W. Malone, Bishop of Youngstown (1983 1986)
John L. May, Archbishop of Saint Louis (1986 1989)
Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of Cincinnati (1989 1992)
William H. Keeler, Cardinal Archbishop of Baltimore (1992 1995)
Anthony M. Pilla, Bishop of Cleveland (1995 1998)
Joseph A. Fiorenza, Bishop of Galveston-Houston (1998 2001; last NCCB/USCC President and first USCCB President; became an archbishop in December 2004, when the then-Diocese of Galveston-Houston was elevated to a metropolitan archdiocese)
Wilton D. Gregory, Bishop of Belleville (2001 2004; later became Archbishop of Atlanta)
William S. Skylstad, Bishop of Spokane (2004 2007)
Francis E. George, O.M.I., Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago (2007 2010)
Timothy M. Dolan, Cardinal Archbishop of New York (2010 present; was created a cardinal on February 18, 2012)
- 2010 election
At the November 2010 General Meeting in Baltimore, elections were held for President and Vice President. For the first time in the history of the USCCB, and in a break from long-standing tradition, a Vice President standing for the presidency was denied the top post. In those elections, Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, was elected President defeating Gerald Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson, 128-111 (54% to 46%) and Joseph Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville, was elected Vice President in a runoff against Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, 147-91 (62% to 38%).
The budget for 2011 is $180 million. Money is raised by assessing the individual dioceses.
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