A Catholic community-organizing group from Massachusetts was recognized by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops for its 30 years of social justice advocacy during the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, DC, last month.

The Massachusetts Communities Action Network, or MCAN, was presented the Sister Margaret Cafferty Development of Peoples Award, given each year “to a group or individual working on the margins that has demonstrated outstanding witness to Catholic values and action on behalf of justice,” according to a statement.

“MCAN’s organizing and leadership development work on social justice issues in Massachusetts over the past thirty years exemplifies the values that Sr. Margaret Cafferty stood for,” said Ralph McCloud, head of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Ralph McCloud, which distributes millions of dollars in grants on behalf of US bishops each year. “We are pleased to recognize their exemplary work with this award.”

Working with parishes in four Massachusetts dioceses, MCAN was part of a coalition that helped raise the state’s minimum wage and expand sick leave laws in 2014, and is currently working on criminal justice and immigration reform, as well as education and job training.

Sister Cafferty, the award’s namesake, was the executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious from 1992 until her death in 1997. Born in San Francisco, she was an outspoken supporter of labor unions and pushed for greater roles for women in the Catholic Church.


Two bishops whose dioceses are close to the US-Mexico border will represent the US Church in Mexico later this month during the pope’s apostolic visit.

Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, and Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, will travel with Pope Francis during his Feb. 12-17 visit.

On the final day of his journey, Francis will celebrate a large outdoor Mass in Juarez, which abuts the United States. Just before the event, the pope will walk to the Rio Grande, and kneel to pray for migrants who lost their lives trying to cross the border. Assembled just across the river in the United States will be a group of several hundred undocumented migrants, who will join the pope in prayer.


A Wisconsin priest has been tapped to serve as second in command at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Rev. Jeffrey D. Burrill will begin his role as associate secretary general March 1 at the organization’s Washington, DC, headquarters. A priest of the Diocese of La Crosse, he is currently pastor of St. Bronislava Church.

The Rev. J. Brian Bransfield, who was selected by US bishops in November to head the USCCB, appointed Burrill.

“Msgr. Burrill brings a unique combination of pastoral skills and leadership experience to complement and strengthen our service to each bishop and to the Conference as a whole,” Bransfield said.


Catholic bishops teamed up with Evangelicals and Southern Baptists to urge the United States Supreme Court to uphold Texas a law that requires abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges, which abortion rights activists say is a roundabout way to close clinics.

Filing a brief with the Court Feb. 1, the Texas Catholic Conference argues that the law protects women’s health.

“There is ample evidence in this case that hospital admitting privileges and ambulatory surgical center requirements protect women’s lives and health,” it says. “When such requirements are not enforced, abuses detrimental to women’s lives and health arise.”

The case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, is scheduled for March 2.


Two Catholic cardinals will represent the Church at an interfaith prayer service marking the second International Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking set for Feb. 8 in Washington.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, will join his predecessor, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who will deliver the keynote address at St. Gabriel Church.

Also participating will be members of the Orthodox, Evangelical, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim communities, as well as Susan Coppedege, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2015 to serve as the State Department’s ambassador-at-large to monitor and combat trafficking in persons.