United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Legal statusCivil nonprofit
  • To act collaboratively and consistently on vital issues confronting the Church and society.
  • To foster communion with the Church in other nations, within the Church universal, under the leadership of its supreme pastor, the Roman Pontiff.
  • To offer appropriate assistance to each bishop in fulfilling his particular ministry in the local Church.
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Region served
United States
Active and retired Catholic bishops of the United States
Jose Horacio Gomez
Main organ
US$180 million

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.

As of November 2019, the president is Los Angeles's archbishop, Archbishop José Horacio Gómez. The vice-president is Allen Henry Vigneron, archbishop of Detroit.[2]


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.[3]

National Catholic War 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 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.

Organizational structure

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
Pastoral Ministry
  • 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
  • Chief Communications Officer
  • Catholic News Service
  • Creative Services
  • Marketing and Episcopal Resources
  • Public Affairs
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 of Information Technology


National Right to Life Committee (1968–1973)

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.[4] 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.

Health care

The USCCB are issuing the "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services"[5][6] that have in some cases caused doctors to refuse treatment of patients although in an emergency situation.[7]

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'".[8]

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 USCCB platform on immigration reform includes:[9][10]

  • Earned legalization for immigrants who are of good moral character to adjust their status to obtain lawful permanent residence after a background check and payment of fines.
  • A legal path for foreign born workers to enter the U.S. for work in order to alleviate border crossing deaths.
  • More visas to promote family reunification as well as a reduction in waiting times.
  • Elimination of some of the penalties in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 such as the three year and ten year bans on deported illegal immigrants (depending on the length of their illegal stay in the U.S.)
  • The root cause of illegal immigrations such as poverty and inequality in sending countries needs to be addressed.
  • Enforcement should focus on illegal immigrants who pose risks to public safety rather than on families seeking employment.

National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage

In November 2004, the USCCB kicked off the National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage, a multi-year effort to promote traditional marriage values.

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.[11]

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,[12] 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.

Religious liberty

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.[13] During June 2017, the U.S. bishops voted to establish a permanent Committee for Religious Liberty.[14] The USCCB Office of Religious Liberty is currently led by Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz, who also was president of the USCCB during 2013-2016.

Religious Freedom Week is held annually during early summer to coincide approximately with U.S. Independence Day on July 4 and with the June 22 Feast of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher.[15]


  1. John F. Dearden, Cardinal, Archbishop of Detroit (1966–1971; was created a cardinal on April 28, 1969)
  2. John J. Krol, Cardinal, Archbishop of Philadelphia (1971–1974)
  3. Joseph L. Bernardin, Archbishop of Cincinnati (1974–1977; later became Archbishop of Chicago and a Cardinal)
  4. John R. Quinn, Archbishop of San Francisco (1977–1980)
  5. John R. Roach, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis (1980–1983)
  6. James W. Malone, Bishop of Youngstown (1983–1986)
  7. John L. May, Archbishop of Saint Louis (1986–1989)
  8. Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of Cincinnati (1989–1992)
  9. William H. Keeler, Cardinal, Archbishop of Baltimore (1992–1995)
  10. Anthony M. Pilla, Bishop of Cleveland (1995–1998)
  11. 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)
  12. Wilton D. Gregory, Bishop of Belleville (2001–2004; later became Archbishop of Atlanta and Archbishop of Washington)
  13. William S. Skylstad, Bishop of Spokane (2004–2007)
  14. Francis E. George, O.M.I., Cardinal, Archbishop of Chicago (2007–2010)
  15. Timothy M. Dolan, Cardinal, Archbishop of New York (2010–2013)
  16. Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville (2013–2016)
  17. Daniel DiNardo, Cardinal, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston (2016–2019)
  18. José Horacio Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles (2019-present)

† = deceased

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 2018 was US$200 million. Most money is raised through national collections, government grants, and diocesan assessments.[16]

See also


  1. "USCCB Mission". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  2. "Archbishop Gomez elected USCCB president; first Latino in post". www.catholicnews.com. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  3. "USCCB Timeline 1917-2017". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  4. http://www.christianlifeandliberty.net/RTL.bmp K.M. Cassidy. "Right to Life." In Dictionary of Christianity in America, Coordinating Editor, Daniel G. Reid. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1990. pp. 1017,1018.
  5. "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services" (PDF). usccb.org. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 2009. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
  6. "Bishops to Vote on Proposal to Revise 'Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services' at November Meeting". www.usccb.org. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
  7. "Health Care Denied". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
  8. Meehan, Seth, "Catholics and Contraception: Boston, 1965", The New York Times, March 15, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  9. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: "Catholic Church's Position on Immigration Reform" August 2013
  10. Pittsburgh Tribune: "Catholic Bishop Zubik prays for immigration reform" By Matthew Santoni November 24, 2013
  11. "YouTube". www.youtube.com.
  12. "For Your Marriage". www.foryourmarriage.org.
  13. "Archbishop Timothy Dolan letter to US Bishops of September 29, 2011" (PDF). USCCB.org. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  14. "Bishops Vote on Permanent Committee for Religious Liberty". USCCB. 2018-06-15. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  15. "USCCB Religious Liberty Chairman Announces Religious Freedom Week from June 22-29, 2018". USCCB. 2018-04-27. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  16. "Consolidated financial statements" (PDF). USCCB.
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