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Pope Francis names new head of Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education

Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça celebrates Mass at Fatima, Portugal, May 13, 2021. / Courtesy of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

Vatican City, Sep 26, 2022 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has appointed a Portuguese cardinal as the head of the newly formed Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education.

The Vatican announced on Sept. 26 that the pope appointed Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça as the prefect of the dicastery.

Mendonça most recently served as the head of the Vatican library and archives, where he oversaw the digitization of historic manuscripts and created a new space for housing temporary exhibitions.

The 56-year-old cardinal, originally from the Portuguese island of Madeira, is an expert in the relationship between literature and theology, according to the Vatican. He has published poetry as well as academic theological articles.

Mendonça has a licentiate from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and a doctorate in biblical theology from the Catholic University of Portugal, where he went on to teach theology as a professor for 14 years.

Pope Francis selected Mendonça to serve as the main preacher for the Roman Curia’s Lenten retreat in 2018. Five months later, the pope appointed him as chief archivist and librarian of the Vatican Apostolic Library with the dignity of archbishop. He was elevated to the rank of cardinal one year later, in 2019.

Mendonça will serve as the first prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education.

The new apostolic constitution Praedicate evangelium merged the Vatican’s former Pontifical Council for Culture and the Congregation for Catholic Education together to form the new dicastery.

Divided into two sections, the Dicastery for Culture and Education works “for the development of human values in people within the horizon of Christian anthropology, contributing to the full realization of Christian discipleship,” according to the constitution.

The dicastery also coordinates the activities of some of the pontifical academies, such as the Pontifical Academy of Archeology and the Pontifical Academy of Theology.

The Vatican’s announcement also stated that Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, the former secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education from 2012–2022, has been selected by the pope as the new archivist and librarian of the Vatican library.

Zani served within the Vatican’s education congregation since 2002, when Pope John Paul II appointed him as undersecretary, its third-highest official.

Pope Francis has appointed Monsignor Giovanni Cesare Pagazzi as the secretary of the Dicastery for Culture and Education. Pagazzi is a professor at the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences in Rome.

Representatives from Catholic and Pentecostal Churches Meet for Ecumenical Dialogue

WASHINGTON - Delegations representing the Catholic Church and the Pentecostal Charismatic Movement met September 14-16, 2022, for ecumenical dialogue. The meeting, hosted by Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was attended by representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Pentecostal Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA), and was a continuation of a theological exchange that began last year between the two faith groups.

The three-day meeting carried the theme of “healing,” which had been developed by the co-chairs for the meeting, Rev. Dr. Harold Hunter of the PCCNA and Fr. Walt Kedjierski of the USCCB with the intent to engage in exploratory dialogue on issues related to ritual, liturgy, and sacraments. The dialogue included the offering of two papers, the first by Dr. Andrew Prevot of the Department of Theology at Boston College on “Varieties of Healing: A Catholic Perspective,” and Rev. Dr. David Han, dean, Pentecostal School of Theology on “Healing in the Pentecostal Tradition.” Both papers explored aspects of Catholic and Pentecostal healing rituals and the call to healing in the lives of individuals and wider communities.

In addition to having an opportunity to gather and pray in the Oral Roberts University chapel, the theme of the meeting was enhanced with visits to Greenwood Rising, a museum of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre that destroyed what was considered the wealthiest African American community in the country and known as “Black Wall Street,” and to the Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park. Participants of the dialogue also had the opportunity to meet with Rev. Dr. Billy Wilson, president of Oral Roberts University over lunch, and with Dr. Hal Reed, head of the Global Environmental Sustainability Program at ORU, who offered further insights Pentecostal engagement for climate justice.

Participants attending the meeting included:

  • Dr. Kimberly Belcher, University of Notre Dame
  • Rev. Dr. Tammy Dunahoo, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
  • Dr. Martin Mittelstadt, Evangel University
  • Rev. Dr. Leonardo Gajardo, St. Paul Catholic Community (Indiana)
  • Rev. Dr. Andrew Menke, Executive Director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Rev. Dr. Frederick L. Ware, Associate Dean of the Howard University School of Divinity

Observers at the meeting included:

  • Rev. Mike Donaldson, Ph.D. student at Oral Roberts University
  • Rev. Allison Jones and Mr. Wesley Samuel of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church
  • Mr. Nathan Smith of Glenmary Missioners

The next meeting will be hosted by the USCCB at the University of Notre Dame in September 2023.

The PCCNA represents 40 million Christians through its member denominations and organizations serving in Canada, the United States, and Mexico ( The USCCB is the assembly of the hierarchy of Catholic bishops who jointly exercise pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands. ( The provisional dialogue is sponsored by the PCCNA’s Christian Unity Commission and the USCCB’s Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

Chieko Noguchi
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
(202) 541-3200, @email 


Barbara Gray, Executive Director
Pentecostal Charismatic Churches of North America
(973) 592-3411, [email protected]    


U.S. Bishops’ Chairman for International Justice and Peace Condemns Threats to Use Nuclear Weapons

WASHINGTON - Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace condemned threats made during the current 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly to use nuclear weapons in the Russia-Ukraine war.

“As tensions grow at the UN General Assembly, growing rhetorical gestures threatening the use of nuclear weapons must be condemned. A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Any threat made to use nuclear weapons reminds us of their heinous nature and disastrous consequences for all of humanity. Let us continue to pray for the leaders of the world – that the hopes and dreams we share in common for our peoples will triumph over the tempers and injustice wrought by this war in Ukraine.”


Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi

Respect Life Month is Opportunity for Catholics to Join in “Radical Solidarity” with Pregnant Mothers

WASHINGTON - The Catholic Church in the United States observes October as “Respect Life Month.” This year, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities invites Catholics to “practice radical solidarity and unconditional love” for pregnant and parenting mothers.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health this past June returned the responsibility of limiting abortion from the judiciary to the legislature. For those of us who have prayed for this moment to arrive, says Archbishop Lori, “it is the time for a renewal and rededication of our efforts to build a culture of life and civilization of love.” He explains that “justice requires that the basic protections of the law against violence be extended to the preborn child” while explaining that building “a world in which all are welcome requires not only justice, but compassion, healing, and above all, unconditional love.”

Moving from law to culture, Archbishop Lori asks Catholics to “shift the paradigm to what Saint Pope John Paul II described as ‘radical solidarity,’ making the good of others our own good, including especially mothers, babies (born and unborn), and families throughout the entire human lifespan.” He reminds the faithful that “Our Church understands that parents, children, and families need help not just during pregnancy, but throughout the whole of life’s journey because millions of Catholics already accompany their neighbors in such circumstances.”

Read Archbishop Lori’s full statement, “Building a Culture of Life in a Post-Roe World” here.


Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi

Statement of U.S. Bishops’ President on the Death of Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, Former USCCB President

WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following statement on the passing of Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, archbishop emeritus of Galveston-Houston, at the age of 91.

Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:

“It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of His Excellency, Joseph Fiorenza, the archbishop emeritus of Galveston-Houston. Archbishop Fiorenza led the bishops’ conference from 1998-2001 as president, and those who worked with him have expressed that his leadership embodied his love, dedication, and tireless service to the Church. I offer my prayers and sympathy to Archbishop Fiorenza’s family, friends, and the many people whose lives he touched through his ministry over the years as a priest, and then as bishop. May the Lord grant him eternal rest.”


Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi

U.S. Bishops Release National Synthesis Outlining Common Themes Raised in Synod Listening Sessions

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued the National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America. The synthesis marks the completion of the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod: For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.

Last October, Pope Francis invited the global Catholic Church to reflect on walking together and listening to one another. This “Synod on Synodality” is a two-year process that began with local dioceses and parishes engaging in dialogue through listening sessions. Each diocese then prepared a report of what was heard at these sessions. In turn, those local reports were then sent to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and a national summary was created and sent to the Holy See on August 29, 2022.

Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, chairman of the USCCB’s, Committee on Doctrine, who shepherded the preparation of the synthesis, wrote, “With immense gratitude, I have the distinct honor of sharing the National Synthesis. This pivotal document is the culmination of ten months of intentional listening carried out throughout the Church in the U.S. The synodal consultations, from parishes, dioceses, and national regions express the voices of hundreds of thousands in our local churches.”

The National Synthesis represents the synodal efforts of the 178 Latin dioceses in the United States, including the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter that serves both the United States and Canada. Due to their long history of synodal practice, the Eastern Catholic Churches shared their reports directly with the Holy See.

Catholic associations, organizations, and national ministries in the United States were also invited to participate in the Synod by submitting a summary report from their listening sessions to the USCCB’s Synod Team. In all, one hundred twelve (112) submissions were received from organizations, and combined with the reports from each of the (arch)dioceses, two hundred ninety (290) documents in total were received. These contributions represent over 22,000 reports from individual parishes and other groups. There were over 30,000 opportunities to participate in the Synod through in-person and virtual listening sessions as well as online surveys. An estimated 700,000 people participated in the diocesan phase of the Synod in the United States.

Bishop Flores expressed that “The synthesis is, among other things, an expression of the common joys, hopes, and wounds the bishops have heard and are hearing from the wider body of the Church. The publication of this document is not a concluding moment, it is instead an invitation to continue to dialogue and discern, together, those matters that weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of Catholics in the U.S.”

The National Synthesis is available in both English and Spanish. More information about the diocesan phase of the 2021-2023 Synod – For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission, as well as a brief overview of the next steps in the process can be found at


Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi

Catholic Faithful Invited to Encounter Those Living on the Existential Peripheries During National Migration Week and World Day of Migrants and Refugees

WASHINGTON - The Catholic Church in the United States marks National Migration Week (September 19-25) as an opportunity for the faithful to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, refugees, and victims of human trafficking, among others. The week-long observation customarily concludes with the Vatican’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) on the last Sunday of September.  

Instituted in 1914, WDMR is an occasion for the world’s Catholics to express concern for vulnerable persons on the move, to join together in prayer, and to increase awareness about the opportunities that migration can provide. National Migration Week has been observed by the Catholic Church in the United States since 1980 - the same year the landmark Refugee Act was enacted into law. From its inception, National Migration Week has coincided with WDMR out of solidarity with the Holy See and the Universal Church. Catholic dioceses, schools, and other institutions will mark the week with special Masses, interfaith services, educational opportunities, advocacy efforts, and more.

The theme chosen by Pope Francis for this year’s WDMR is “Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees,” and this same theme will be used for National Migration Week. In his annual message, the Holy Father underscores that no one can be excluded from the work of construction that leads to God’s Kingdom. “God’s plan,” he says, “is essentially inclusive and gives priority to those living on the existential peripheries. Among them are many migrants and refugees, displaced persons, and victims of trafficking.”

Ahead of National Migration Week, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“There has never been a more critical moment to reflect on the issue of migration, as we witness, for the first time in history, over 100 million forcibly displaced persons in the world. This week provides a special opportunity for encounter, accompaniment, and prayer, as well as a chance for Catholics and others of good will to join together in support of those who depend on our collective voice. I am especially mindful of Dreamers, our new Afghan neighbors, Ukrainians fleeing conflict in their homeland, those with temporary protections who have made a home in the United States, and undocumented agricultural workers, all of whom have an important role to play in building the future of our country—just as they have a role in building the Kingdom of God. May this week help us to experience a renewed sense of what it means to live as brothers and sisters, traveling together on the same journey.”

Educational materials, advocacy opportunities, and other resources for National Migration Week are available on the Justice for Immigrants website. The Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section also has resources related to WDMR on its website.


Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi

U.S. Bishops’ Chairman for International Justice and Peace Calls for Progress in Nuclear Disarmament

WASHINGTON – The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference concluded on August 26 without consensus on a final document. Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, expressed lament at the failure of international agreement upon the conclusion of the conference.

“At the beginning of the recently concluded Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, Pope Francis delivered his message to the distinguished delegates imploring them to ‘move with determination from a perspective of competition to one of cooperation,’ reminding all that ‘international peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation…’

“Article VI of the NPT commits states-parties to ‘pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.’ We lament the failure of the states-parties after four long weeks of negotiation to reach consensus on a final document. We advocate for the acceleration and strengthening of the implementation of the NPT and call on all states-parties to recommit to dialogue and demonstrate progress toward the elimination of nuclear weapons everywhere.

“No corner of our world is untouched by growing hostilities and war. Compounded by asymmetrical warfare, cyber technologies, and the intertwined nature of our world we are one miscalculation away from catastrophe. Fundamentally it is the enmity found in the human heart that is at the root of such conflict and hostility to which the Church proclaims Christ Jesus as the remedy to humankind. We pray that all nations will work to foster trust over suspicion and to bring about immediate and measurable progress towards disarmament and lasting peace.”


Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi

Bishop Chairmen Issue Reflection on World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

WASHINGTON - Each year, Pope Francis invites the Church to commemorate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on September 1. This day of prayer begins a month-long “Season of Creation” which concludes on October 4 with the feast of Saint Francis. Calling on all Christians to pray and work together to care for our common home, the theme for this year’s Season of Creation is, “Listen to the voice of creation.”

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace issued a reflection for the World Day of Prayer for Creation which may be found here.  


Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi

Labor Day 2022 Statement Focuses on Promoting the Welfare of Working Families

WASHINGTON - As Americans prepare to mark Labor Day on September 5, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued an annual reflection on the world of work and the importance of upholding the dignity of all laborers.  

“This Labor Day, let us reflect on how we can build a more just economy by promoting the welfare of working families through both charitable works and through advocacy for improved policies such as expanding the Child Tax Credit and passing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Advancing these two policies would have a profound impact on family stability, especially for families who are financially vulnerable,” said Archbishop Coakley.  

In considering the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade, he continued, “This unique moment necessitates a society and an economy that supports marriages, families, and women; it demands that all of us reach across political aisles and work diligently to reframe social policies in ways that are pro-woman, pro-family, pro-worker and, thus, authentically pro-life.”

Archbishop Coakley’s full Labor Day statement is available here. (Spanish)


Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi