|Legal status||Civil nonprofit|
|Active and retired Catholic bishops of the United States|
|Jose Horacio Gomez|
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 (USCC), 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. 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.
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[which?] 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.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops took its present form in 2001 from the consolidation of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United States Catholic Conference. The USCCB traces its origins to the National Catholic War Council, which was founded in 1917.
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.
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.
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 Church 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. 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.
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.
The dioceses of the United States are grouped into fifteen regions. Fourteen of the regions (numbered I through XIV) are geographically based, for the Latin Catholic dioceses. The Eastern Catholic eparchies (dioceses) constitute Region XV.
The National Conference of Catholic Bishops had appointed James T. McHugh during April 1967 to lead the early formation of what was later to become the National Right to Life Committee. The NRLC was itself formed in 1968 under the auspices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops to coordinate information and strategy between developing local and state Catholic pro-life groups and is the oldest and the largest national organization against legal abortion in the United States with NRLC affiliates in all 50 states and over 3,000 local chapters nationwide. These NRLC affiliate groups were forming in response to efforts to change abortion laws based on model legislation proposed by the American Law Institute (ALI). New Jersey attorney Juan Ryan served as the organization's first president. NRLC held a nationwide meeting of pro-life leaders in Chicago in 1970 at Barat College. The following year, NRLC held its first convention at Macalestar College in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The USCCB are issuing the "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services" that have in some cases caused doctors to refuse treatment of patients although in an emergency situation.
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'".
In June and July 2012, the USCCB promoted a campaign of events called the Fortnight for Freedom to protest government activities that in their view impinged on their religious liberty.
The National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage is a multi-year, far-reaching effort to promote traditional marriage values created by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2004.
Led by Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz of Louisville, and the USCCB's Office of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, as well as the Catholic Communication Campaign, the Initiative synthesizes social-science research, Catholic teaching and pastoral practice, and the everyday experiences of married men and women to bolster marriage as a social institution and Christian sacrament.
The NPIM has largely been promoted among the general public in the United States through radio and television public-service announcements.
In the advertising, couples speak candidly about the everyday things done for each other to show love and commitment as they answer the question: "What have you done for your marriage today?" Viewers are then directed to visit, an online repository of resources, tips and stories that can help strengthen a marriage.
The NPIM is expected to run through 2011, with the next phase including a bishops' pastoral letter.
On September 29, 2011, the archbishop of New York, Timothy M. Dolan, then president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), appointed Archbishop William E. Lori the chair of a newly formed Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty to address growing concerns over the erosion of freedom of religion in America. During June 2017, the U.S. bishops voted to establish a permanent Committee for Religious Liberty. The USCCB Office of Religious Liberty is currently led by Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz, who also was president of the USCCB during 2013-2016.
+ = deceased
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 2018 was US$200 million. Most money is raised through national collections, government grants, and diocesan assessments.