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Bishops join Catholic leaders in call for more COVID-19 relief

More statements from the U.S. bishops on current issues and events

WASHINGTON | In light of the current needs affecting the nation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), signed a joint letter along with leaders of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, Catholic Charities USA, the National Catholic Educational Association, Catholic Relief Services, the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities urging immediate action to provide relief for those in need.

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Their letter to President Trump and congressional leaders emphasized the great hardships caused by COVID-19. Our nation is suffering a profound crisis, the leaders say, with over 200,000 lives lost and millions of Americans facing uncertainly about how to provide for their basic needs which include food, housing, healthcare, and education. The letter calls lawmakers to action, “For those in need here and abroad, as well as for the common good, our nation’s leaders must do more.”

Catholic ministries remain committed to providing aid, healthcare, education, and spiritual care, but the letter recognizes that “all this is not enough.” A new COVID-19 stimulus bill is needed to alleviate people’s suffering. Underscoring the urgency of their request, the letter implores our nation’s leaders to “put aside partisan politics and prioritize human life and the common good by expediting negotiations to ensure not another day is lost in providing security and hope to people in need at home and abroad.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Catholics invited to 'Live the Gospel of Life'

WASHINGTON | October is Respect Life Month, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, has issued a statement encouraging Catholics to allow “the Gospel of Christ to touch and transform our own hearts and the decisions we make.”

Archbishop Naumann’s full statement follows:

“As Catholics in the United States, we will soon mark our annual observance of October as Respect Life Month. It is a time to focus on God’s precious gift of human life and our responsibility to care for, protect, and defend the lives of our brothers and sisters.

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“This year’s theme, ‘Live the Gospel of Life,’ was inspired by the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, The Gospel of Life. Pope John Paul’s masterfully articulated defense of the right to life for children in their mothers’ wombs, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and the marginalized is more relevant today than ever before.

“Last November, the U.S. bishops reaffirmed that ‘the threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed.’ While we noted not to ‘dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty, and the death penalty,’ we renewed our commitment to protect the most fundamental of all human rights – the right to live.   

“This past January, I shared with Pope Francis that the bishops of the United States had been criticized by some for identifying the protection of the unborn as a preeminent priority. The Holy Father expressed his support for our efforts observing that if we fail to protect life, no other rights matter. Pope Francis also said that abortion is not primarily a Catholic or even a religious issue, it is first and foremost a human rights issue. 

“The Gospel of Life provides a blueprint for building a culture of life and civilization of love. The important work of transforming our culture begins by allowing the Gospel of Christ to touch and transform our own hearts and the decisions we make. May we strive to imitate Christ and follow in his footsteps, caring for the most vulnerable among us. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, may Our Lord grant us the grace to live courageously and faithfully his Gospel of life.”

New parish resources have been developed around the theme of “Living the Gospel of Life” and are available at www.respectlife.org. Respect Life Sunday falls on October 4.

Bishops applaud executive order on legal protections for babies

WASHINGTON | On Sept. 25, 2020, President Trump released an executive order to ensure that federally-funded hospitals are aware of, and compliant with, current legal protections intended to ensure that babies born prematurely or with disabilities receive a medical assessment and appropriate care. The executive order also calls for more funding for research to improve outcomes for babies born prematurely or with disabilities.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement:

“We applaud this action by President Trump to ensure that babies born prematurely or with disabilities receive a basic medical assessment and appropriate care as required by our federal laws. In addition to our laws, basic human rights demand that no baby born alive should be abandoned and left to die due to being disabled or premature. Every human life, regardless of its stage of development or condition, is precious and irreplaceable and deserves a shot at life.”

Bishop: Immigrants are a blessing to U.S.

WASHINGTON | Today, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, submitted testimony Sept. 23, 2020 to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship during a hearing titled “Immigrants as Essential Workers During COVID-19.” From the written testimony, Bishop Dorsonville states:

“Immigrants and refugees are a blessing to our country. The Church teaches that every human being is created in God’s image and deserves dignity and respect and that human labor has an inherent dignity, allowing all to share in the ongoing work of creation, while providing the resources to build and sustain families.

“The contributions of essential workers have become undoubtedly more important during COVID-19. While many essential workers are U.S. citizens, many are also immigrants and refugees. Immigrants comprise 31% of U.S. agricultural employees... [and] they risk their own safety to support their families and to ensure continuity in the nation’s food supply chains.

“In addition to being highly vulnerable to COVID-19, immigrant and refugee essential workers are less likely to have access to medical care and thus far have been completely left out of any federal COVID-19 relief or assistance. We urge Congress to include immigrant and refugee families in any future COVID-19 relief as well as be made eligible for past relief efforts. Additionally, we continue to advocate Congress for a path to citizenship for undocumented workers who have been living, working, and contributing to our country. As Pope Francis states: No one must be left behind.”

To read Bishop Dorsonville’s written testimony, visit Justice for Immigrants.

To watch the hearing, please visit the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship’s website.

Bishops mark 15-year anniversary of Justice for Immigrants campaign

WASHINGTON | In 2004, the U.S. bishops made immigration reform a major public policy priority of the Catholic Church in the United States. In 2005, after engaging broad stakeholders, the USCCB created the Justice for Immigrants campaign in an effort to unite and mobilize a growing network of Catholic institutions and individuals in support of the humane treatment of immigrants and refugees and immigration reform. On the occasion of the 15-year anniversary of the establishment of the JFI campaign, USCCB President Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, and Washington Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

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“We celebrate 15 years of the Justice for Immigrants initiative and the amazing accomplishments of Catholic organizations to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate immigrants and refugees coming to and living in the United States. While we are pleased to highlight the work that has been done by the Church and Justice for Immigrants to advance the humane treatment and legalization for immigrants, we note that the work is far from done. The Church redoubles its commitment to the Justice for Immigrants initiative and to recognizing the human dignity and rights of immigrants and refugees and the promotion of legalization and legislative reform. Our efforts are rooted in the Gospel and the need to recognize the face of Jesus in every person. Because of this, we will continue our work to educate Catholics about the Church’s teaching on promoting the human dignity of every person, including the immigrant and the refugee. We will also continue to encourage lawmakers and community leaders to prioritize reform of our broken system and to avoid politicization of our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters.”

To commemorate the 15-year anniversary, Justice for Immigrants will be conducting a webinar series and has also issued a new policy priorities document (available in English and Spanish) which is organized around what Pope Francis referred to as our response to the challenges posed by contemporary migration: Welcome, Protect, Promote, and Integrate. Visit www.justiceforimmigrants.org for more information about the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants campaign.

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