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Catholic Archives of Texas Shines at Archivists' Exhibition

Archivist Eric Hartmann mans the Catholic Archives's display.The Catholic Archives of Texas joined with other archives and museums in the Austin area to display the depth and extent of its collection for the First Annual Archives Bazaar on October 19.

Hosted by the Archivists of Central Texas, the bazaar gathered representatives from the Office of the Texas Land Commissioner, the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum, the Texas State Archives and Library Commission, and many others.

The Catholic Archives's display focused upon its photographic collections related to Austin and on its affiliation with the Texas Catholic Historical Society. The display included copies of the Historical Society's Catholic Southwest Historical Quarterly. Staffing the display were CAT Director Marian J. Barber, PhD; Archivist Eric Hartmann; and intern Ryan Patterson.

For more information about the Catholic Archives or the Texas Catholic Historical Society, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Reflections From the Synod on the Family

cardinalThe Holy Father recently opened a first Synod on the Family, a kind of overture to the major Synod on the Family to be convened in October 2015.

Although the press has reported more on debate and polemics relative to a few issues that are a part of the discussions, particularly the question of the admission of some divorced and remarried persons after a period of penance to the reception of Holy Communion, the main thrust of the preparatory document for this mini-synod is about the importance of the family for the culture at large and for the Church herself.

From the beginnings of the Faith in the early Church and the texts of the New Testament through the teaching of the Faith in the Church and in the lived richness of family life — and its difficulties and challenges — throughout history, the great beauty and power of marriage and the family has shown its truth and needs to be celebrated now.

There is no doubt about the stresses which afflict our families and the Sacrament of Marriage in the last 50 years. Great grace and virtuous determination is required to sustain the commitments of the marriage covenant and the raising of children in our world. In more developed countries the issues are frequently reduced to a distorted sense of personal freedom and an attitude of "it's all about me."

In other countries the sheer economic poverty and exploitation of persons are other factors that destabilize marriage and family life. Also, despite the increase in "information" through the social media, there has been a great lack in the formation of people in the Faith about the content and meaning of the Sacrament of Marriage and the Family. The consultations we did this past year in our own Archdiocese in response to a survey sent by the Vatican verified that many of the issues and problems identified about stresses on the family do indeed occur here; this local Church is a mini United Nations and we all experience here in miniature the problems throughout the world. But that is not the whole story.

The preparatory document of the present mini-synod goes to great lengths to show the great accomplishments of the family today and the deep theological continuities of the Sacrament of Marriage and family life amidst the sometimes bewildering changes in the history of the Faith in these last 2,000 years.

There are many strong families today who live positively and also fight against the tide of distortions of marriage and family life quite vigorously. I must salute them and thank them for the great hope they bring to the Church and the world.

They are a genuine leaven. It takes great patience and insight to see the good fruit they are bearing for the life of our Faith.

Such families are also quiet models for those couples and families who are experiencing or have experienced great upheavals in their marriages and families. If a loving and stable family can bring consolation and encouragement to just one other family the effect on the Church and the world is tremendous. May I add that this is true of children and young people as well as true of adults and spouses.

The Letter to the Ephesians is an inspired text of Scripture that already recognized the nuptial or married love between man and woman as "the great mystery," that is, the human reality that makes present in the world the love of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:31-32). In the treatment on family life that follows St. Paul offers a beautiful description of the meaning of the person and the spouse as a gift to the other.

He calls it self-sacrificing love. It is not purely an ideal, it is a reality. Given (to us) the limiting circumstances of Greek Roman family arrangements of the time, it is still remarkable to hear the words of mutual respect and sacrifice as the core of marriage and the raising of a family uttered by St. Paul so early in the days of Christianity, when the Faith seemed so small and the numbers of Christians so minimal.

What a powerful resource and basis his understanding of "mystery" and "Sacrament" was to become in the unpacking of the Faith for us, as we confront anew in each age incredible challenges that appear to sap the strength or evaporate any substantial meaning to marriage.

The intimate communion of life and love willed by our Creator for marriage and family is never easy and will most probably always be subject to various assaults, ridicule and misleading interpretations. But good families themselves, however small or great their numbers, give us a greater glimpse of God's creative wisdom, the mercy and love of Christ Jesus, and the unmistakable presence of the Holy Spirit in our families.

Pope Francis has invited the whole Church to spend these 2 years in prayer and contemplation, in discussion and action, on the meaning of the family. He asks us to engage in this process without rancor and with a spirit of listening to one another. This assists the teaching office of the Church in its deliberations about recommendations for the up building of family life within the Church; that will have a genuine effect on the world.

Beyond the process of deliberation, what really counts is our own seeking of God's grace and good human advice so as to live the rich mystery of marriage and the family. It is my hope that this will be the norm and practice of this Archdiocese in the days ahead.

I recently (October 4) had the privilege as vice president of the Bishops' Conference of speaking with the Pope along with the president of our conference, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky. At the end of our 45 minute discussion, the Holy Father told us to please ask the people of our country to pray for him since the Office of Peter is upheld by the prayers of all the faithful. Amen! I ask you to pray daily for our Holy Father! †

Payday Lending, Preserving Life Top Bishops' Issues For Legislative Agenda

The Bishops of Texas have set their agenda for the 84th Texas Legislature, which convenes at noon on Tuesday, January 13, 2015.The 84th Texas Legislature convenes at noon on Tuesday, January 13, 2015, and the Bishops of Texas have set their agenda for the upcoming session. Their priorities touch upon six broad areas of concern: Protecting Human Life, Children and Families, Health and Human Services, Justice for Immigrants, Protecting The Poor and Vulnerable, and Criminal Justice. The Texas Catholic Conference will provide a unified voice for the state’s fifteen dioceses to work with lawmakers on these public policy issues.

The Bishops of Texas will be promoting specific lawmaking initiatives under each of these general categories. These particular policy matters include reforming the statute governing end-of-life care, beefing up regulatory standards for payday and auto-title lending, and comprehensive immigration reform. In addition, the Bishops will be focused upon opposition to the death penalty in Texas, supporting improvements to the state’s critical public health safety net, and increasing access to public and private pre-kindergarten programs.

One of the highlights of the Bishops’ activity during the legislative session will be the Catholic Faith in Action Advocacy Day, set for Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Catholics from across the Lone Star State will join their Bishops for Holy Mass, followed by a rally on the south steps of the Capital to promote the Catholic Church's values of Life, Justice, Charity, and Religious Freedom to members of the 84th Texas Legislature.

The Texas Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Bishops of Texas and the state’s seven million Catholics. The issues addressed by the organization are grounded in Catholic moral and social teachings. The Texas Catholic Conference communicates the Church’s concerns to Texas policymakers, collaborates closely with diocesan and parish leadership to respond to community concerns, and informs Texas Catholics about the governmental decisions made in both Austin and Washington, D.C. More details on the activities of the Texas Catholic Conference and the legislative agenda of the Catholic Bishops of Texas can be found at www.TxCatholic.org/Legislative-Agenda.

Three Texas Catholic Schools Honored With National Blue Ribbon Awards

St. Gregory Cathedral School in Tyler, St. Laurence the Martyr Catholic School in Sugar Land and St. Thomas More Parish School in Houston have been nationally recognized as 2014 Blue Ribbon Schools.Three Texas Catholic schools have been nationally recognized as 2014 Blue Ribbon Schools. On October 1, 2014, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that St. Gregory Cathedral School in Tyler, St. Laurence the Martyr Catholic School in Sugar Land and St. Thomas More Parish School in Houston were among the fifty private schools in the United States to receive this notable recognition. They were the only private schools in the state of Texas to be acknowledged by the program this year.

Since 1982, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has honored public and private elementary, middle and high schools, where students either achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap. Margaret McGettrick, Director of Education for the Texas Catholic Conference, congratulated the schools and pointed out that their success is part of a larger achievement, “The award confirms the hard work and dedication of the students, educators, families and communities in these three distinguished learning facilities, as well as all of our other outstanding Catholic schools across the state of Texas.”

St. Thomas More Parish School in Houston, St. Gregory Cathedral School in Tyler and St. Laurence the Martyr Catholic School in Sugar Land were selected from a large pool of applications received from throughout the country. The U.S. Department of Education will honor them, along with 287 public and 50 private schools at the 2014 Blue Ribbon Schools recognition ceremony on November 10-11, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Each school will receive a plaque and a flag as symbols of their status as National Blue Ribbon Schools.

In cooperation with the diocesan school offices, the Texas Catholic Conference Education Department oversees the accreditation of Catholic elementary and secondary schools of Texas. The Education Department is assisted by the Texas Catholic Conference Accreditation Commission and is a part of the state-approved Texas Private School Accreditation Commission. For information on Catholic schools in Texas, visit www.TxCatholic.org/Education.

Bishops Articulate Church Teaching On End-of-Life Care Reform in Austin

Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Jennifer Carr Allmon of the Texas Catholic Conference, and Cardiologist Dr. David Zientek discuss End of Life Care Reform at St. Edward's University.Over 100 guests gathered at St. Edward’s University in Austin on Thursday, October 9, 2014, for the “Principles and Policies for End-of-Life Care” conference. The Texas Catholic Conference teamed up with The National Catholic Bioethics Center to host this in-depth look at end-of-life care issues, including application of the state’s current law, clarification of Church teaching, legislative reform efforts and pastoral care. Bishop Mark Seitz from the Diocese of El Paso, Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson and Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler joined a variety of prominent medical ethics experts for a lively discussion of these divisive issues.

Bishop Seitz opened the event by taking aim squarely at flaws in the Texas Advance Directives Act of 1999, “Current law defines artificially administered nutrition and hydration as life-sustaining treatment rather than recognizing it as the ordinary, basic care due to any human person. As a result, artificially administered food and water can be withdrawn from patients prematurely, when it still has the ability to nourish and sustain the patient’s life.” He added, “The current ethics committee review process lacks adequate protections for patients and families going through the activity, often leaving them feeling overwhelmed. It is prudent to correct the law to ensure that patient rights are protected.”
“The Texas Advance Directives Act lacks clarity, given the complexity of end-of-life care,” confirmed Jennifer Carr Allmon, Associate Director of the Texas Catholic Conference. “It has several fundamental flaws that are contrary to Catholic teaching. Reform efforts should prioritize the patient, while also recognizing the emotional and ethical concerns of families, health care providers, and communities that want to provide the most compassionate care possible.”

During an afternoon panel addressing the obstacles to reform, Bishop Olson implored, “The reason changes to the law are being proposed is those very rare cases where proxy decision-making or even malevolence violates precisely the physician’s covenantal responsibility to care for the patient by protecting life and alleviating suffering, not taking life.” He added that the Catholic Church has an evangelical responsibility to address contemporary situations in American healthcare. ”Our ethics are not procedural. The ultimate enemy is not death. It is sin.”

Wading into these areas often results in misrepresentations of Catholic teachings and mischaracterizations of the intents of those involved in reforming legislation. This situation ensued in 2013 with S.B. 303 (An Act Relating to Advance Directives and Health Care and Treatment Decisions) during the 83rd Texas Legislative Session. Dr. John M. Haas, President of The National Bioethics Center, commented during his keynote presentation, “It was falsely maintained that S.B. 303 violated the teachings of the Catholic Church, pertaining to Do Not Attempt Resuscitation Orders and the administration of assisted nutrition and hydration. Significant safeguards were developed in this proposed legislation to correct existing statutes and to protect informed consent, without forcing the health care provider to initiate or continue futile and harmful procedures.” Haas maintained, “These criteria were consistent with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.”

“Even though most of this conference is focused on the law, we cannot lose sight that life begins and ends with God,” Bishop Strickland surmised. “We must make certain that the law does not impede our ability to pastorally care for the one considered to be outside of what may be the accepted values of society. This child of God must be held sacred until the moment of death.” Dr. Jeffery Patterson, Executive Director of the Texas Catholic Conference, described the “Principles and Policies for End-of-Life Care” conference as a success. “The bishops were very pleased with the community’s enthusiastic response to the event. The presentations were very insightful and the open dialog of the panels provided excellent clarity in communicating the bishops’ positions on end-of-life care reform in Texas.” The Texas Bishops have been engaged in end-of-life care reform for many years.

The Texas Catholic Conference advocates advance directives reform legislation that recognizes the right to life, dignity of the human person and acknowledges that death is a natural part of life. To learn more and get involved, visit www.TxCatholic-Advance-Directives.org.

Statement of Principles Regarding Refugee Families and Children

Our state confronts a continuing humanitarian crisis on the border as Central American children continue to seek refuge from the violence and exploitation in their home countries.  This influx has sparked contentious debate over how to address this problem. 

As Catholics we are called to compassion for the vulnerable and needy. Pope Francis has noted that Jesus was Himself a refugee who was forced into exile in Egypt as a child with Joseph and Mary. 

In welcoming refugee children today, we should see the face of Christ.  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus instructs us to welcome the stranger: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it unto me.” (Mt. 25-35).

The Texas Catholic Bishops have established a set of principles to guide our policymakers in this crisis:

·    Government immigration agencies and law enforcement personnel should treat all refugees seeking asylum with dignity, fairness, compassion, and in full accordance with their due process rights in seeking asylum.  Expedited processing risks diminishing due process and mistakes on legitimate asylum claims.

·    Allocate emergency funding to provide humanitarian aid for refugees, to ensure resources for governmental workers to efficiently perform their jobs, and to allow existing refugee programs to continue.

·    Preserve the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to protect refugee children fleeing violence, exploitation, and possible death in their home countries.

·    Reaffirm the nation’s right and responsibility to maintain secure borders and to intercept unauthorized migrants by targeted, proportional, and humane measures.  

·    Both governmental and non-governmental agencies should broadly communicate the risks and dangers of violence, exploitation, and possible denial of asylum that may await potential migrants considering the trek north. 

·    The federal government should collaborate with the governments of Central America and Mexico to alleviate the root problems of this situation, including human trafficking, violent gangs and cartels, poverty, and structural injustice.

We must remember that these are young, scared, and desperate mothers and children in need and deserve our protection and support. We pray for the safety and wellbeing of these young refugees and for the continued efforts of public officials to resolve this humanitarian crisis. 

Congressional Delegation Women and Children Refugee Press Release

The Texas Catholic Conference today issued a letter to all members of the Texas Congressional delegation urging them to reach a policy consensus that compassionately and effectively addresses the humanitarian crisis along the southern border.

The letter was signed by Bishops from each of the 15 dioceses across the state, and appealed for prompt actions in securing emergency funding as well as upholding the due process rights of refugees seeking asylum from the suffering, abuse, and death in their home countries.  

“[A] just and reasonable society works to protect and defend the vulnerable and defenseless from harm,” the Bishops asserted.  “As Catholics, we feel keenly this responsibility, since our faith calls us to serve the least of these our brothers and sisters.  Hence, we lend a vigorous voice to all men and women of good will who recognize that all people should be treated with dignity, compassion, and justice.”

Accompanying the letter the Bishops included a Statement of Principles to guide policymakers in this crisis.  These principles include:

·     Government immigration agencies and law enforcement personnel should treat all refugees seeking asylum with dignity, fairness, compassion, and in full accordance with their due process rights in seeking asylum.  Expedited processing risks diminishing due process and mistakes on legitimate asylum claims.

·     Allocate emergency funding to provide humanitarian aid for refugees, to ensure resources for governmental workers to efficiently perform their jobs, and to allow existing refugee programs to continue.

·     Preserve the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to protect refugee children fleeing violence, exploitation, and possible death in their home countries.

·     Reaffirm the nation’s right and responsibility to maintain secure borders and to intercept unauthorized migrants by targeted, proportional, and humane measures. 

“We appeal to you and other policymakers on both the state and federal levels to eschew the bitterness of contemporary political rhetoric and instead uphold the best of American principles and serve the needs of the most despairing and vulnerable in our midst,” the Bishops’ letter stated.

The Texas Catholic Conference is the association of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Texas. We accredit the state's Catholic Schools, maintain records that reflect the work of the Church in Texas, and represent the Bishops in the public policy sphere. For information, visit the TCC website at www.txcatholic.org.

Payday Loans: Rapidly Growing Schemes

You can hardly turn on the TV or drive around the block these days without being accosted by someone trying to loan you money. Easy money. No credit check.  No worries.  Free cash.  It is not as if manna is falling from heaven, but you could be excused for thinking so.

These pitches for easy cash promote a rapidly growing scheme called payday and auto title loans, and they are nearly inescapable.   In recent years countless storefront operations have popped up on nearly every corner and the ceaseless radio and television commercials jingle about “easy” and “same-day” cash. 

Of course, there is no such thing as easy cash. These pitches are designed to entice low-income borrowers into loans that they have little chance of repaying and which charge up to 600 percent or more in interest and fees.  Taking advantage of a loophole in state law, payday and auto title lenders market themselves these short-term, small cash loans or larger loans when a car title serves as collateral. If a borrower defaults (meaning if he fails to pay off the loan at the agreed length of time unless a rollover fee is paid) the loan company take the vehicle. 

Studies have clearly demonstrated that the payday and auto-title lending model is designed to capitalize on borrower failure due to the large fees charged and large number of rollovers.  In many cases these borrowers are working families who may have hit a financial snag and need help paying for groceries, housing, or utilities but are instead driven deeper into a cycle of debt or into having their vehicle repossessed.

This sort of practice is older than the Gospels. Call it usury or loan sharking, the effect is the same:  preying upon those in society who have the least chance to escape from it.  

Over the past several months, the Texas Catholic Conference has spearheaded a series of "PayDay Roadshows" in different cities across the state to inform and activate community advocates to the hazards and costs of these payday lending industry, then in turn, encouraging those communities to advocate for reform at both the municipal and state levels.  Along the way, clients and caseworkers have been encouraged to tell their stories in media interviews and videos that document the extent to which these credit businesses have taken advantage of them. 

"Traveling the state, listening to the same stories, repeated again and again in Dallas, Brownsville, Lubbock, Houston has been a tremendous eye-opening experience," said Jeffery Patterson, executive director of the Catholic Conference. "We go into a community and meet with charitable groups, parishes, and community leaders.  We listen to the effects that these payday lenders have had on individuals and the community and discuss solutions.  Mostly what we hear is anger and frustration, whether we're talking to folks in Dallas, Austin, or Brownsville."

Attempts to reform the payday and auto title practices during the last session of the Texas Legislature crumbled in the face of an expensive lobby effort by the payday lenders--some suggest the industry spent close to $7 million to bog down a bill in the House Committee on Investments and Financial Services that was not allowed to the House floor, despite the determined efforts of its chairman, State Rep. Michael Villarreal of San Antonio.  

"It was one of those times when advocating for the poor feels like the modern equivalent of 'David and Goliath,'" said Jennifer Allmon, associate director of the Texas Catholic Conference.  "Big money floods Austin with expensive lobbyists and campaign donations to dominate the legislative agenda; advocates for the poor and vulnerable feel outmanned and outgunned at the Capitol.    

That is why the idea of a statewide effort of outreach and education was seen as a way to even the odds. 



The Texas Catholic Conference welcomed the U. S.  Supreme Court's recent ruling that the federal government cannot force owners of closely held for-profit companies to violate their religious beliefs in order to provide certain services to employees under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The case involved Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. -- two privately-held, for-profit companies -- who sued the United States government over a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide comprehensive health coverage (including contraception) or pay a fine.

In a 5 to 4 decision, the court ruled that closely-held firms like Hobby Lobby are protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. The RFRA dictates that an individual's religious expression shouldn't be "substantially burdened" by a law unless there is a "compelling government interest."       

In a press release from the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops,  Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Baltimore, and Archbishop Willima E. Lori of Baltimore, expressed hope that the court will apply the same reasoning when it looks at cases involving non-profit entities with the same religious objections to mandates to provide contraceptive insurance. 

More than a hundred federal lawsuits have been brought by Catholic organizations and dioceses across the country that challenge the White House's 
 purported "accommodation" which shifts the burden for covering objectionable services from the employer to the insurer.  Under this dubious gimmick, religious entities would claim an exception to the mandate, but the insurer is required to automatically provide the coverage to the workers anyway under a "separate" policy they are eligible for solely because they are under the religious organization' insurance.

"The court clearly did not decide whether the so-called 'accommodation' violates RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) when applied to our charities, hospitals and schools, so many of which have challenged it as a burden on their religious exercises. We continue to hope that these great ministries of services . . . will prevail in their cases as well," said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a statement issued hours after the court’s decision was made public. "Now is the time to redouble our efforts to build a culture that fully respects religious freedom."

As the largest non-governmental health care provider in the United States, the Catholic Church has long supplied and advocated for universal, accessible, and life-affirming health care.  Nevertheless, the Church ardently opposes provisions of the ACA that violate constitutional principles of religious freedom by coercing religious organizations to cover services, even if indirectly, that violate our religious faith and severely hinder the ability to fulfill our fundamental mission of caring for the poor and vulnerable. 

In commenting on the case, the Texas bishops underscored their belief that a society dedicated to freedom and diversity must respect the freedom of its citizens to live and work in accordance with their religious convictions.  As articulated by Pope Francis, “Religious freedom is not simply freedom of thought or private worship. It is the freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly, consequent to the truth one has found.”


unacom minorsTexas' Catholic Bishops are deeply concerned about the increasing number of unaccompanied children and mothers from Central America and Mexico who are crossing into the United States through our state. Some of these children, as young as four years of age, are reportedly being held in crowded conditions in Customs and Border Protection detention facilities until they can be processed and accepted into a temporary living shelter. So far this year, some 47,000 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended, with estimates that the number could grow to 90,000 by the end of September.

The Catholic Charities agencies across Texas have expanded their commitments with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency--who has been tasked with leading the federal effort--and the Federal Office of Refugee and Resettlement to provide for the basic needs of these mothers and children while their cases are being resolved or they are reunified with their families. Not only does this include opening new temporary shelters, but also providing social workers, immigration lawyers, and medical personnel to meet immediate needs.

We must not lose sight of the fact that these are young, scared, and desperate mothers and children. They need and deserve our protection and support. Now is not the moment for inflammatory political rhetoric, but of compassionate and orderly resolution to the conditions of these women and children who are already in a difficult humanitarian situation. We are immensely grateful for the generosity of those who are selflessly giving of their time in bus stations and shelters to alleviate the confusion and desperation of the immigrants. We call on our fellow Texans to pray for the safety and wellbeing of these young refugees and for the continued efforts of both public and private aid officials in resolving this potential humanitarian crisis along the border.

Texas Catholics For Fair Lending

payday loansTo raise public attention to the issue of predatory lending, the Texas Catholic Conference (TCC) has announced, Texas Catholics For Fair Lending, an initiative to bring greater awareness to the responsibility we have as Christians to provide protection to the poor, vulnerable and victims of usury.

Texas Catholics For Fair Lending will provide a variety of resources such as, latest news on payday and auto title reform and city ordinances, information on filing a complaint, testimonies concerning victims of payday and auto title loans and many other helpful tools on the matter. The TCC
 seeks to promote Catholic social teaching on fair lending coupled with our teaching on economic justice to animate our questioning of current payday lending practices.

Read More and Visit: www.txcatholic-fairlending.org

© 2013 Texas Catholic Conference
Phone: (512) 339-9882   •   Fax: (512) 339-8670 
Physical Address: 1600 North Congress Avenue, Suite B, Austin TX 78701
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 13285, Austin, TX 78711
The Texas Catholic Conference is the association of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Texas. We accredit the state's Catholic Schoolsmaintain records that reflect the work of the Church in Texas, and represent the Bishops in the public policy sphere.