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Bishop Chairmen Applaud Administration Measures to Strengthen Religious Liberty, Embrace Contributions of Faith-based Organizations

WASHINGTON - On Religious Freedom Day, when the Constitutional protection of conscience and the freedom to exercise one’s religious faith is celebrated nationwide, the Administration announced measures that would strengthen the protection of religious liberty for individuals and for faith-based organizations. Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J., of Oakland, CA, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education, have issued the following joint statement:

“We wish to express our gratitude for these steps to ensure that the Constitutional right of individual students and teachers to pray voluntarily in public schools is protected. This fundamental right ensures that persons may freely worship without sacrificing full participation in schools and in society.

“We are also heartened by the Administration’s action to ensure federal agencies are fully compliant with the Supreme Court’s decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer. That decision properly concluded that it is unconstitutional for government to exclude faith-based organizations from public benefits simply because of their religious status. Today’s action and the Court decision it echoes both honor the American tradition of embracing the contributions of faith-based organizations and enrich the work of social justice by harnessing the efforts of these vital institutions of civil society. Lastly, we are grateful for the proposal to lift certain regulatory burdens from faith-based organizations. This will help ensure a level playing field for religious and secular social service providers.”

Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Religious Freedom Day

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops File Amicus Brief with U.S. Supreme Court Urging New Trial of Death Row Inmate Based on Evidence of Actual Innocence

WASHINGTON— On January 17, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of James M. Dailey, an inmate on Florida’s death row, urging a new trial in his case due to persuasive evidence of actual innocence. The amicus brief explains the Catholic Church’s longstanding opposition to the death penalty. The Church teaches that capital punishment violates respect for life and human dignity. The injustice is especially acute in the instance of an innocent person sentenced to death. The amicus brief also argues that the execution of an innocent person violates the Constitution of the United States.  

The amicus brief reviews the facts of Mr. Dailey’s case and concludes that the evidence of his actual innocence is persuasive, but that he was not able to present it at a new trial for procedural reasons. The brief declares that there is no legal or procedural reason that could morally justify the execution of an innocent person.  

Both the USCCB and FCCB uphold the Church’s teaching on the dignity of life and on capital punishment in the amicus brief by stating, “The radical injustice of punishing an innocent man is particularly grievous in the case of a sentence of death, which is by its nature final and irreversible.” The brief recalls that “Pope Francis has also identified the convictions of innocent men and women as striking at the core of the death penalty’s claim to justice: ‘[t]he death penalty loses all legitimacy due to the defective selectivity of the criminal justice system and in the face of the possibility of judicial error. Human justice is imperfect, and the failure to recognize its fallibility can transform it into a source of injustice.’”  

The full text of the amicus brief is available here.  
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, amicus curiae, U.S. Supreme Court, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, FCCB, James M. Dailey, death penalty, capital punishment, human justice, Pope Francis.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops’ Migration Committee Chair Welcomes Court Injunction that Halts Implementation of Executive Order on Refugee Resettlement

WASHINGTON—A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction in HIAS Inc., et al v. Trump, halting implementation of Executive Order 13888 which had given state and local officials the power to veto initial resettlement of refugees into their jurisdictions. Unless it is overturned by the judge or a higher court, this injunction lasts until the end of the case. The injunction orders that the resettlement program’s operational rules be returned to how they were before the Executive Order was issued on September 26, 2019. In other words, while the federal immigration officials will diligently engage with state and local officials, as always, to assure local concerns are taken into account, the program will return to federal officials having the final responsibility of deciding where refugees will be resettled.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“Jesus Christ, who was part of a refugee family, calls us to welcome the stranger, and our pro-life commitment requires us to protect refugees. Today’s ruling is a welcome step in our ongoing ministry to provide refugees, who are fleeing religious persecution, war, and other dangers, with safe haven here in the United States. We had previously expressed deep concerns about this Executive Order permitting state and county officials to turn away refugees from their communities. We feared the negative consequences for refugees and their families as this Executive Order would have created a confusing patchwork across America of some jurisdictions where refugees are welcomed, and others where they are not. Today’s injunction helps to maintain a uniform national policy of welcome to refugees and serves to maintain reunification of refugee families as a primary factor for initial resettlement.

“During the initial implementation of this Executive Order, I was moved to hear that it received robust bipartisan support from 42 governors and a myriad of local officials who consented to initial resettlement. Once more, we see the intention to act united as a nation in the effort to provide solidarity to those who need it most and are encouraged by the compassion that this nation has towards refugees. The Church looks forward to continue working with communities across America to welcome refugees as we uphold the dignity of all human life.”

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, Committee on Migration, refugees, President Trump.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

National Prayer Vigil for Life In Nation’s Capital, January 23-24

WASHINGTON—The National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held from Thursday, January 23 to Friday, January 24, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Over 20,000 pilgrims from around the nation are expected to gather there and pray for an end to abortion before the annual March for Life on the National Mall. The Vigil marks the 47th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion through nine months of pregnancy. Since those decisions, over 60 million abortions have been performed legally in the United States.

The principal celebrant and homilist at the opening Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life on January 23 will be Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, who is chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Many of the nation’s bishops and priests will concelebrate the Mass with Archbishop Naumann in the basilica’s Great Upper Church. The principal celebrant and homilist for the closing Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life on January 24 will be Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D. of the Military Services, USA, who is secretary for the USCCB. After the conclusion of the Mass on Friday, the participants make their way down to the national mall for the annual March for Life.

The schedule for the National Prayer Vigil for Life:

Thursday, January 23:
•  5:30 PM  Opening Mass in the Great Upper Church
•  8:00 PM  National Rosary for Life
•  9:30 PM  Byzantine Rite Night Prayer
•  11:00 PM ~  Holy Hours led by seminarians (through the night)

Friday, January 24:
•  ~ 6:00 AM  Eucharistic Adoration in the Crypt Church
•  6:30 AM  Morning Prayer and Benediction
•  7:30 AM  Closing Mass in the Great Upper Church

For those seeking the Sacrament of Reconciliation, confessions will be heard in the Our Lady of Hostyn Chapel of the Crypt Church over the course of nine hours before and after the opening Mass. See www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events/national-prayer-vigil-for-life-schedule.cfm for additional details.

“Even if you aren’t able to physically be present with us in DC, we invite everyone to join in our witness and pray for an end to abortion,” said Kat Talalas, assistant director for pro-life communications at the USCCB. “Thousands of Catholics across the country have already signed up for 9 Days for Life, the pro-life novena taking place January 21-29. We ask all of the faithful to unite in prayer to protect the rights of unborn children, to end the violence of abortion, and for greater respect for human life.”

The National Prayer Vigil for Life is co-sponsored by the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America.

Media are invited to attend the opening Mass and interview pilgrims who have traveled to Washington from around the country for the fourteen-hour vigil. Advance registration is requested via the media request form on the basilica’s website. Video footage from the Mass may also be obtained by satellite feed, courtesy of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). For coordinates, please contact Jacquelyn Hayes, director of communications for the basilica, at 202-281-0615 or [email protected].

For more details on the overnight National Prayer Vigil for Life and other pro-life events in the Washington area, please visit www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events. To join -- and help spread the word about -- 9 Days for Life, visit www.9daysforlife.com.

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Keywords: National Prayer Vigil for Life, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, abortion, Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, U.S. Supreme Court, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, The Catholic University of America, cardinals, bishops, seminarians, Byzantine rite, rosary, adoration, benediction, 9 Days for Life, prayer, #VigilforLife, #9daysforlife, March for Life, #whywemarch, #marchforlife2020, #LifeEmpowers, #WalkingWithMoms, #WalkWithMoms, Project Rachel, post-abortion healing, hopeafterabortion.com.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

MEDIA ADVISORY: 9 Days for Life Unites Catholics Nationwide in Prayer for the Protection of Life

WASHINGTON—Catholics nationwide are preparing to pray 9 Days for Life, the annual pro-life novena beginning this year on January 21.

In the Catholic Church, a ‘novena’ consists of prayers or actions over nine successive days. The pro-life novena is an opportunity for recollection and reparation in observation of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal throughout the United States.

The overarching intention of the novena is the end to abortion. Each daily intention highlights a related topic and is accompanied by a reflection, educational information, and suggested daily actions. The novena encompasses the annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children on January 22.

All are invited to sign up at www.9daysforlife.com. Participants can choose to receive the novena via email, text message, a printable version, or through a free "9 Days for Life" mobile app (with customizable reminders) in English or Spanish. Participants can share their pro-life witness and invite their social networks to pray on social media with the hashtag #9DaysforLife. A leader’s kit is available, and features the daily prayer intentions and reflections, among other resources.

Sponsored by the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 9 Days for Life began in 2013 in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

For additional information and updates throughout the novena, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Keywords: USCCB, Catholic, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Roe v. Wade, abortion, anniversary, Pro-Life, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, 9 Days for Life, People of Life, #9daysforlife, prayer, novena.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops’ President Calls for Building the “Beloved Community,” Inspired by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Example

WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement to mark the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 20, 2020.

Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:

“As our nation prepares to commemorate the life and witness of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are grateful for his courageous stand in solidarity with all who suffer injustice and his witness of love and nonviolence in the struggle for social change. But we are once again painfully aware that we are still far off from his dream for America, the ‘beloved community’ for which he gave his life.

“We have come a long way in our country, but we have not come nearly far enough. Too many hearts and minds are clouded by racist presumptions of privilege and too many injustices in our society are still rooted in racism and discrimination. Too many young African American men are still being killed in our streets or spending their best years behind bars. Many minority neighborhoods in this country are still what they were in Rev. King’s time, what he called ‘lonely islands of poverty.’ Let us recommit ourselves to ensuring opportunity reaches every community.

“In recent years, we have seen disturbing outbreaks of racism and prejudice against other groups. There has been a rise of anti-Semitic attacks and also ugly displays of white nationalism, nativism, and violence targeting Hispanics and other immigrants. Such bigotry is not worthy of a great nation. As Catholics and as Americans, we must reject every form of racism and anti-Semitism.  

“Racism is a sin that denies the truth about God and his creation, and it is a scandal that disfigures the beauty of America’s founding vision. In our 2018 pastoral letter on racism, my brother bishops and I stated: ‘What is needed, and what we are calling for, is a genuine conversion of heart, a conversion that will compel change and the reform of our institutions and society.’  

“Let us honor the memory of Rev. King by returning to what he called ‘the best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage.’ Let us commit ourselves once more to building his ‘beloved community,’ an America where all men and women are treated as children of God, made in his image and endowed with dignity, equality, and rights that can never be denied, no matter the color of their skin, the language they speak, or the place they were born."

The U.S. Bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter on racism, “Open Wide Your Hearts: The Enduring Call of Love,” and other resources from the Ad Hoc Committee on Racism can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/index.cfm.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José Gomez, Martin Luther King, Jr., racism.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops’ Religious Liberty Chairman Offers Reflection on Religious Freedom Day

WASHINGTON – The national observance of Religious Freedom Day is January 16, when the nation’s long‑standing commitment to freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one’s own faith is celebrated. Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, has issued a statement:

“The establishment of a culture of religious freedom is always an ongoing task. A culture of religious freedom consists of respect for the dignity of others as they seek to live in accordance with the truth about God. All people can thrive in such a culture.

“While the free exercise of religion has long been enshrined in our country’s laws, religious minorities have often experienced encroachments on their ability to practice their faith freely. Even today, many Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and other communities, all in different ways, face challenges to their religious freedom.  

“A culture of freedom means that all people of faith and all religious groups are able to freely worship and participate in the life of our society, without fear of intimidation or coercion.

“On this Religious Freedom Day, we are grateful that the right of religious liberty is cherished in this country. I appreciate concrete actions the Administration has undertaken, such as recent steps to protect faith-based social service providers. May we Catholics in America resolve to build on our inheritance for the good of all.”

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Keywords: Bishop George Murry, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, religious liberty, religious freedom, Religious Freedom Day.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

MEDIA ADVISORY: Catholic Social Ministry Gathering Calls on Catholic Leaders to Witness to Life and Justice in Their Work 2020 Conference to be held in Washington: January 25-28

WASHINGTON –The annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG), organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and 16 collaborating organizations, attracts more than 500 participants from around the country. The conference seeks to equip current and emerging leaders in Catholic social ministry and advocacy to cultivate God’s justice as they engage in their communities and around the world.

The theme of this year’s gathering is Bearing Witness: Life and Justice for All. Convening immediately after several annual pro-life events, CSMG participants will explore the Catholic Church’s call to unity and a consistent ethic of life on issues impacting life and human dignity across the spectrum. The issues to be discussed include those that impact both families as well as the wider communities: the death penalty, human trafficking, restorative justice, maternal and child health, migration, violence, and poverty. Participants will conclude the final day of the gathering with visits to Capitol Hill where they will visit the offices of their elected officials.

When:  January 25-28, 2020
Where: Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street, NW, Washington DC, 20008

Program and Speaker highlights include:
•   Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago will deliver the keynote address, Our Call to Holiness: Life and Justice for All. His Eminence is a consultant for the USCCB’s Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; co-chair for the National Dialogue Initiative with Muslims; chair for the USCCB’s Subcommittee for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe; and a consultant for the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.
•   Terri Steinberg, mother of a wrongfully convicted prisoner previously on death row, will share a personal testimony following the keynote address.
•   Kim Daniels, J.D., associate director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown Univesity will moderate a plenary discussion highlighting the Church’s leadership and global witness on peace and disarmament, life-saving international assistance, migration, and advocacy with persons in poverty in the U.S.
•   Gerard Powers, director of Catholic Peacebuilding Studies for the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and coordinator of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network, which includes two dozen episcopal conferences, universities, development agencies and peace organizations. CPN has focused on the Church’s peacebuilding work in Colombia, the Philippines, and central and East Africa, and on issues of reconciliation, peace processes, mining, and nuclear disarmament.
•   Michael N. Okińczyc-Cruz, executive director for the Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership (CSPL) and adjunct professor at the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University of Chicago. A faith-based community organizer, Okińczyc-Cruz has worked to address issues related to criminal justice, mental health, corporate bank accountability, immigration reform, refugee rights, public transportation, workforce development and workforce diversity on a local, statewide and national level.
•   Sr. Anne Victory, HM, RN, MSN, chair of the Board of Directors for U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, a national network of Catholic sisters who are addressing the issue of human trafficking across the country. She is currently serving as the director of education for the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking.
•   Ronnie Moore, of the Archdiocese of New Orleans will be awarded the 2020 Sr. Marget Cafferty Award. A long-time civil rights advocate, Moore developed the first AmeriCorps program in the country for returning citizens and brought this program, Re-entry 72, to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and continues to mentor, consult, and advise emerging organizations serving the returning citizen population, as well as returning citizens to advocate for removing barriers for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons.

A plenary session from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), “Transforming Communities with Restorative Justice,” featuring representatives from several CCHD-funded community organizations engaged in the work of bringing restorative justice to communities and schools, including Precious Blood Ministries of Reconciliation, in Chicago, IL and Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together (CLOUT).

Joining the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development in organizing the 2020 Gathering are numerous other USCCB departments and national Catholic organizations, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Rural Life, Bread for the World, and others.

Most workshops and presentations at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering are open to media coverage. Journalists are invited to download a credential application form and submit it for review and approval.

More information is available online: www.catholicsocialministrygathering.org/.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Catholic Social Ministry Gathering; Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Justice, Peace and Human Development, Catholic Relief Services, CRS, Catholic Charities USA, CCUSA, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Rural Life, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities; building bridges, human trafficking, maternal and child health, immigration, restorative justice, environment, migration policy, poverty, peacebuilding.

 

President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Chairman of Bishops’ International Justice and Peace Committee Urge All Parties to Embrace Peace

WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:

“The U.S. bishops’ conference has spoken out regularly to encourage the pursuit of peace in the Middle East. We urge once again that all parties, in these critical days, embrace peace rather than violence. Peace has been all too elusive – in recent memory alone, war has caused hundreds of thousands of lives to be lost, as well as untold suffering and endemic instability. We have particularly witnessed and addressed growing acts of violence in recent weeks, most recently with the attack on the United States Embassy in Iraq, the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani last Friday, and the missile attacks on Iraqi bases yesterday. We have called for necessary diplomacy, courageous dialogue, and tireless efforts toward peace to resolve such global conflicts. We do so now, and we will do so always.

“May the Lord help all parties in this time of growing belligerence to peer through one another’s transgressions and appreciate the legitimate fears that lie behind them. All must discover islands of trust in a sea of distrust, do the hard work of reasoning together, acknowledge the futility of further violence and military action, and humbly pursue the common good together. Let us reflect on Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message for 2020 and pray ‘to overcome evil with good and respond to hatred with love.’

“We join in the hope expressed today that the people of Iran share in the promise of a great future, and that the United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it. In this spirit, we fervently believe, hope, work for, and indeed anticipate, days of peace ahead. We have just celebrated the birth of our Lord with Christmas. Jesus, as the Prince of Peace, calls us to the renewal of the heavens and earth. Let us bear witness to this truth, beginning with each of us.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José Gomez, Bishop David Malloy, International Justice and Peace, Pope Francis, World Day of Peace, Iran, peace.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Calls for Peace in Wake of Escalated Tensions with Iran

WASHINGTON—The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, released a statement on the situation in Iran last night which was shared on social media.

Full text of the statement follows:

“In the face of the escalating tensions with Iran, we must pray urgently that our world’s leaders will pursue dialogue and seek peace. Please join me in asking our Blessed Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace, to intercede, that Jesus Christ might strengthen the peacemakers, comfort the suffering, and protect the innocent and all those in harm’s way, especially the men and women in our military and diplomatic service.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José Gomez, Iran, call for peace.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200