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WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – As part of the reorganization of its communication department, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is closing the domestic offices of Catholic News Service (CNS).

In an official statement, Catholic News Service announced the end of its domestic operations, which includes the closure of its Washington and New York offices.  

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PETITION to Pope Francis: Reinstate Puerto Rico Bishop, Daniel Fernández Torres
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By all accounts, Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres' diocese of Arecibo in Puerto Rico is flourishing because of his adherence to the perennial teachings of the Church.

But, without any formal proceedings, Bishop Fernández Torres has been summarily 'relieved' of his episcopal duties allegedly because he championed conscience rights in the face of a Church vaccine mandate in Puerto Rico.

Please SIGN this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres now.

To be clear, COVID-19 is a serious disease, oftentimes with debilitating consequences, or worse, for those who contract it.

However, all coronavirus vaccines currently authorized for use in the U.S. and Puerto Rico have been tested on or produced with cell lines of aborted babies. And, the vaccines have been linked to serious side effects, while none has yet completed long-term testing.

Given the complexity of this issue, the Church has determined that getting vaccinated is a matter of personal discernment which each individual must make after informing his or her conscience.

As such, the Church teaches that there is no moral obligation to be vaccinated. Indeed, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Church's teaching authority where faith and moral are concerned, issued a statement to that effect in December, 2020.

Specifically, the CDF's, “Note on the Morality of Using Some Anti-COVID-19 Vaccines,” of December 17, 2020, n. 5 states: “At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”

Therefore, it would appear that for simply restating the current teaching of the CDF and for opposing his brother bishops in Puerto Rico on this seminal matter of conscientious objection, Rome is now attempting to "cancel" Bishop Fernández Torres.

This is wrong, unfair and discriminatory!

And, Bishop Fernández Torres is hardly the first bishop to defend Church teaching on conscientious objection on the issue of mandatory vaccination. Both the Colorado and South Dakota bishops' conferences released similar statements, and like Bishop Fernández Torres, they also offered to validate religious exemptions for member of their flock who asked to be exempted from vaccination.

Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres.

For his part, Bishop Fernández Torres, 57, a staunch defender of life and family, protested his removal as "totally unjust" in a statement released Wednesday (3/9/2022).

The bishop, who led his diocese for nearly 12 years, noted that Pope Francis’ apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico verbally requested that he resign, but said that he refused to do so, as he "did not want to become an accomplice of a totally unjust action."

"No process has been made against me," Bishop Fernández Torres wrote, "nor have I been formally accused of anything, and simply one day the apostolic delegate verbally communicated to me that Rome was asking me to resign."

“A successor of the apostles is now being replaced without even undertaking what would be a due canonical process to remove a parish priest,” the bishop added.

“I was informed that I had committed no crime but that I supposedly ‘had not been obedient to the pope nor had I been in sufficient communion with my brother bishops of Puerto Rico,’” he said. “It was suggested to me that if I resigned from the diocese I would remain at the service of the Church in case at some time I was needed in some other position; an offer that in fact proves my innocence.”

Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres. Thank you!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

'Pope Francis abruptly removes faithful bishop who opposed COVID vaccine mandates' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-abruptly-removes-faithful-bishop-who-opposed-covid-vaccine-mandates/

'Puerto Rico bishop supports conscience objections to COVID vaccines, allows priests to sign exemptions' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/puerto-rico-bishop-supports-conscience-objections-to-covid-vaccines-allows-priests-to-sign-exemptions/

**Photo Credit: Diocese of Arecibo

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James Rogers, the chief communications officer of the USCCB, revealed that the Washington office will shut down by the end of the year. Catholic News Service has operated since 1920.  

The USCCB reorganization also includes staff reductions in public affairs, creative services and marketing, and episcopal resources, with a total of 21 Catholic News Service employees being laid off.  

Furthermore, USCCB Publishing will end its publishing operations at the end of 2022. The company is responsible for the printing of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the U.S. Adult Catechism, and other books. 

“Over the next few months,” a statement released by the bishops’ public affairs office read, “the USCCB Department of Communications will undertake a significant realignment to better utilize the resources entrusted to the Conference by the faithful in a manner that fits the communications environment today.” 

“Sadly, this will impact a number of staff,” it continued, adding that “job transitions can be difficult, and as this is a personnel matter, further detail will not be discussed at this time.” 

The statement explained that, “These changes, although painful, will allow the remaining functions — including the Catholic News Service Rome Bureau and the Office of Public Affairs — a more sustainable foundation upon which to do their work.” Accordingly, the Catholic News Service Rome Bureau will remain intact and, beginning in January 1, 2023, will make coverage available for free.  

Catholic News Service has been embroiled in controversy in recent years. In 2016, the outlet’s editor-in-chief, Tony Spence, was removed after denouncing religious freedom laws and offering public support for the LGBT movement.

CNS takes a left-wing position on various social issues, including immigration, has strongly pushed the abortion-tainted COVID-19 shots, and has faced criticism for downplaying the role of homosexuality in the clerical sex abuse crisis while condemning conservative Catholic groups like Church Militant.

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