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U.S. bishops speak out on current events

Following are some of the most recent statements issued by the U.S. bishops on topics of interest to the nation and the world. You can follow the actions and statements of the bishops at usccb.org; or on social media @usccb: twitter.com/usccb; facebook.com/usccb; and instagram.com/usccb/.

Child protection efforts mark 20 years

June 13, 2022 | This June marks 20 years since the Catholic bishops of the United States gathered in Dallas, Texas to draft and pass the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People as part of their commitment to address the issue of clergy sexual abuse. To mark this moment, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement:

 “This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. This is not a time of celebration, but a time of continued vigilance and determination.

“In these twenty years, we have greatly benefited from listening to and working with survivors of abuse. We are grateful for their courage in sharing their stories and for helping the Church strive to create a culture of protection and healing. Their witness has led directly to meaningful reform in the Church and to a greater awareness of sexual abuse in the wider world. For past survivors and future children, it is imperative that we remain vigilant.

“Since the passage of the Charter, the Catholic Church in the United States has worked hard to fulfill our pledge to support the healing of those hurt by sexual abuse, along with their families. We have also strived to be faithful to our promise to protect children and young people. Today, millions of children and adults have been trained to spot the signs of abusive behavior, allegations of sexual abuse are reported to local law enforcement, background checks are the norm, review boards comprised of lay experts meet to assess allegations, and victim assistance coordinators are in place to assist survivors in finding help.

“At this two-decade mark, we remain firm with Pope Francis’ commitment, ‘that everything possible must be done to rid the Church of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors and to open pathways of reconciliation and healing for those who were abused.’

“We entrust our prayers for survivors of abuse, their families, and for those who minister in the Church to our Blessed Mother, who offers her loving protection to all her children. We ask for her intercession as we continue in our work of protecting those close to the heart of her Son, Jesus.”

Solidarity with Dreamers

June 15, 2022 |Today marks 10 years since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was created through executive action. DACA allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children — commonly referred to as “Dreamers” — to remain in the country, subject to several requirements. DACA does not provide legal status, nor does it create a pathway to citizenship, but it does temporarily protect recipients from removal and make them eligible for work authorization, among other benefits. DACA was declared unlawful by a federal district court in July 2021, halting new applications and threatening protection for current beneficiaries of the program.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

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“In the time since DACA was created, its beneficiaries have come to be known for their abundant contributions to our society. But after a decade of temporary relief, most DACA recipients still face uncertainty about their future in this country, to say nothing of their families, including hundreds of thousands of U.S.-citizen children, employers, and the communities that depend on them. For those confronted by this reality, the Church remains committed to walking with you and seeing this injustice remedied, furthering God’s plan, which Pope Francis reminds us ‘is essentially inclusive and gives priority to those living on the existential peripheries.’ 

“DACA was never a cure for the underlying challenges facing Dreamers, but it was a welcome step toward recognizing their inherent dignity and unrealized potential. Only Congress can ensure the full integration of this population. We therefore urge legislators to make this moment the long-awaited inflection point that leads to a permanent solution for all Dreamers — one of many steps to address an immigration system in desperate need of reform.”

There are currently multiple bills pending before Congress that would provide permanent relief to Dreamers, including the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) and the Dream Act (S. 264), both of which have been endorsed by the USCCB. Last year, Bishop Dorsonville submitted written testimony for a hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Committee on the American Dream and Promise Act, which passed with bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. He also appeared in a recent video discussing DACA’s tenth anniversary, together with a current DACA recipient from the Archdiocese of Washington.

Efforts to address gun violence

June 14, 2022 | Over the weekend, 20 senators announced a bipartisan proposal to address gun violence. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement in response:

“I am deeply grateful that members of Congress have undertaken bipartisan negotiations to address the plague of gun violence in our nation. I commend their recent announcement of a framework to help prevent senseless violence, which includes reasonable gun safety measures. This willingness to engage in dialogue and commitment to the common good is an example of the ‘better kind of politics’ that Pope Francis champions in his encyclical Fratelli tutti, ‘For when the good of others is at stake, good intentions are not enough. Concrete efforts must be made to bring about whatever they and their nations need for the sake of their development.’ I encourage Congress to continue these important efforts which will help build a culture of life. It is imperative this Congress passes into law new protections for the American people.”

Attacks on pro-life organizations

June 13, 2022 | In response to ongoing attacks on Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Religious Liberty, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement:

“The Catholic Church has a long history of service to those who are most vulnerable, including both mother and child, and remains the largest private provider of social services in the United States. From religious communities to pregnancy care centers, from refugee resettlement services to foster care and adoption agencies, and from maternity homes to parish-based ministries, the Church consistently bears witness in word and deed to the beauty and dignity of every human life. 

“For two years now, Catholic churches have been attacked and vandalized at an alarming rate. In July of 2020, we strained to understand this violence. In October of 2021, we called on elected officials to condemn the attacks. This past January, we prayed that all religious communities would be free to worship without fear. Only rarely have the motives been clear; when they were, it was often opposition to the Church’s teachings on life in the womb.

“Since the leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, charities that support pregnant mothers in need have been firebombed, and pro-life organizations have been attacked almost daily and terrorized, and even the lives of Supreme Court justices have been directly threatened. In light of this, we urge our elected officials to take a strong stand against this violence, and our law enforcement authorities to increase their vigilance in protecting those who are in increased danger. We thank those who have already done so, and we encourage them to continue.

“Above all, each of us must choose the path of peace and open our hearts to the love that God has for his children. O Sacred Heart of Jesus, touch our hearts and make them like your own.”

Investments for climate change and common good

June 8, 2022 | As Congress considers additional investments to protect the environment this year, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has written a letter outlining the Conference’s principles and priorities.

Key points in the June 8 letter to members of Congress include:  

  • “Care for creation, and especially the climate which affects all life on earth, is integral to the care for humanity. The United States, a leading producer and consumer of global energy and one of the world’s top carbon emitters, has a distinct responsibility to address climate change. This is a critical time for investments in climate mitigation, adaptation, and innovation. The inclusion of $555 billion in climate investments proposed in the House-passed budget reconciliation bill was encouraging since those policies offer a comprehensive path to achieving net zero emissions.
  • “Climate legislation is being discussed alongside changes to the tax code and prescription drug pricing reforms, policies that can offset the cost of investments.We have long advocated that ‘the tax system should raise adequate revenues to pay for the public needs of society, especially to meet the basic needs of the poor’ and that ‘every person has a right to adequate health care.’
  • “Climate investments and economic decisions must be guided by the common good, and further investments under consideration must help those on the margins of society, strengthen families, protect religious freedom, promote care for creation, and respect the rights and dignity of every human life.”

The full letter to Congress is available here.

The U.S. bishops have continuously reached out to Congress on the environment and common good on budget reconciliation legislation:

Attack on Catholic church in Nigeria

June 8, 2022 | On Pentecost Sunday (June 5), gunmen threw explosive devices and fired on the congregation gathered at St. Francis Xavier Church in the city of Owo, Ondo State in Nigeria, killing at least 50 people. In response to the attack in Owo, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, sent a letter of solidarity to the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria where he reiterated his solidarity with the Church in Nigeria amid the unabated violence besetting Nigerians and the Church particularly. He also stated his hope that those responsible for these acts are brought to swift justice.

Bishop Malloy issued the following statement:

“Nigeria has sadly become all too familiar with such growing violence. In addition to the horrible loss of life, this attack is a disturbing development as it occurred in the far south of Nigeria where such bloodshed heretofore has been largely unknown. Just three weeks earlier, a young Christian student was accused by fellow students of blasphemy and brutally murdered. When police arrested two suspects, riots broke out directed at several Church buildings.

“The U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace has supported the Church in Nigeria for many years in its effort to stop terrorist attacks by Boko Haram and armed groups, to build peace between herders and farmers, and to ensure credible and transparent elections. Bishops on our committee have visited Nigeria and have received their Church leaders in Washington. We join our Holy Father, Pope Francis in commending the souls of the dead to the loving mercy of God and imploring ‘divine healing and consolation’ upon those who are grieving. The committee remains prayerfully determined as ever to support our brothers and sisters of the Church in Nigeria.”