From the Bishop

bishop

 U.S. Bishops Chair on Migration Responds to DHS Memoranda on Immigration Enforcement and Border Security

Washington, D.C. – On February 20, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued two memoranda implementing Executive Orders 13768 and 13767, relating to border and interior immigration enforcement. In response to the memoranda, the Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, has issued the following statement:

“We recognize the importance of ensuring public safety and would welcome reasonable and necessary steps to do that. However, the two memoranda issued by Secretary Kelly on February 20th contain a number of provisions that, if implemented as written, will harm public safety rather than enhance it. Moreover, taken in their entirety, the policies contained in these memoranda will needlessly separate families, upend peaceful communities, endanger the lives and safety of the most vulnerable among us, breakdown the trust that currently exists between many police departments and immigrant communities, and sow great fear in those communities.

The DHS memoranda eliminates important protections for vulnerable populations, including unaccompanied children and asylum seekers. They greatly expand the militarization of the U.S./Mexico border.  Taken together, these memoranda constitute the establishment of a large-scale enforcement system that targets virtually all undocumented migrants as ‘priorities’ for deportation, thus prioritizing no one.  The memoranda further seek to promote local law enforcement of federal immigration laws without regard for the existing relationships of trust between local law enforcement officials and immigrant communities. The engagement of local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law can undermine public safety by making many who live in immigrant communities fearful of cooperating with local law enforcement in both reporting and investigating criminal matters.

I urge the Administration to reconsider the approach embodied in these memoranda, just as it should reconsider the approach it has taken in a number of executive orders and actions issued over the last month.  Together, these have placed already vulnerable immigrants among us in an even greater state of vulnerability.

Moving forward, we remain steadfast in our commitment to care for and respect the human dignity of all, regardless of their immigration status.  During this unsettling time, we will redouble our work to accompany and protect our immigrant brothers and sisters and recognize their contributions and inherent dignity as children of God.

 Virginia Catholic Bishops Statement on Governor McAuliffe’s Veto of Bill Defunding Planned Parenthood

Richmond, VA – For the second consecutive year, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has demonstrated his unwavering commitment to the nation’s largest abortion provider – at the expense of comprehensive health care for women. This morning, Gov. McAuliffe vetoed HB 2264, which would have redirected state tax dollars away from Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry, and toward community health centers that provide primary care to women and their families. This legislation had been introduced by Del. Ben Cline, R- Rockbridge.

Surrounded by Planned Parenthood supporters at a veto ceremony outside the Governor’s Mansion this morning, Gov. McAuliffe said his actions protected the rights and dignity of Virginia women – when, in fact, his actions harm the dignity of the women deceived by the multi-billion dollar abortion industry as well as the tiniest females, those still in the womb whose lives are brutally eliminated by abortion.

Despite its deceptive talking points about caring for women’s health, Planned Parenthood performs less than 2% of women’s cancer screenings nationwide, and provides no mammograms whatsoever. It offers, instead, the opposite of health care – conducting almost 17 times more abortions than birth-oriented services and aborting 160 children for every 1 child it refers for adoption. Planned Parenthood is responsible for nearly 900 abortions every day, a third of all abortions in the U.S. And yet, despite the fact that most Americans don’t want their tax dollars to pay for other people’s abortions, Planned Parenthood received half-a-billion dollars in taxpayer funding in its most recently reported fiscal year. It received this money despite extensive evidence that it illegally profited from the transfer of fetal tissue harvested during abortions.

The Virginia Catholic Conference upholds the timeless truth that every human being, born and unborn, has an equal right to life. The Conference finds Gov. McAuliffe’s pride in protecting an organization that destroys life and harms women and their families deeply offensive.  We will continue to fight for the day when Virginia law protects all human life, at every stage of development, from conception until natural death.

The Virginia Catholic Conference represents the public policy interests of Virginia’s Catholic bishops and their two dioceses.

 Letter Urges Administration to Care for Creation

Washington –  In a letter to the United States Secretary of State today, chairmen of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Committee on International Justice and Peace, along with Sean Callahan, President of Catholic Relief Services, urged the Administration to do everything they can to care for creation both domestically and globally.

Building upon Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato si’. . . the letter emphasizes the importance of adaptation policies and specifically calls for continued U.S. support of the Paris climate agreement as well as the Green Climate Fund, which provides poorer nations with resources to adapt to and mitigate changing climate realities.

“The Judeo-Christian tradition has always understood the environment to be a gift from God, and we are all called ‘to protect our one common home,’” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico and Sean L. Callahan, President of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The call to care for the environment echoes Pope Francis’ call to help poor and vulnerable people adapt to the effects of climate change.

The message also recognizes that “uncompromising support for adaptation policies in no way excludes efforts to mitigate the anthropogenic contributors to climate change” and called for an “energy revolution” to deliver “not only sustainable, efficient and clean energy, but also energy that is secure, affordable, accessible and equitable.”

The full text of the letter can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/upload/USCCB-CRS-Letter-to-Secretary-Tillerson-on-Care-for-Creation-02-17-2017.pdf

 Congress urged to pass conscience protections

Washington – Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and Archbishop William E. Lori – as chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, respectively – wrote to both Houses of the United States Congress on February 8, urging support for the Conscience Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 644, S. 301).

The Conscience Protection Act, they wrote, is “essential legislation protecting the fundamental rights of health care providers…to ensure that those providing much-needed health care and health coverage can continue to do so without being forced by government to help destroy innocent unborn children.”

“While existing federal laws already protect conscientious objection to abortion in theory, this protection has not proved effective in practice,” the bishops noted, citing recent examples in which the federal government has refused to enforce these laws. “The Conscience Protection Act will address the deficiencies that block effective enforcement of existing laws,” they said, “most notably by establishing a private right of action allowing victims of discrimination to defend their own rights in court.”

Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Lori recalled the Hippocratic oath’s rejection of abortion in the profession of medicine, indicating that the Act will benefit not only Catholic medical professionals but “the great majority of ob/gyns [who] remain unwilling to perform abortions.”

Finally, they explained that conscience protection facilitates access to life-affirming health care: “When government… mandates involvement in abortion as a condition for being allowed to provide life-affirming health care services, it not only undermines the widely acknowledged civil rights of health care providers but also limits access to good health care for American women and men.”

The full text of their letter to Senate is posted at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/Conscience-Protection-Act-Dolan-Lori-Ltr-to-Senate-02-08-17.pdf.

For more on the bishops’ promotion of conscience rights, including a video about a nurse who was coerced to take part in a late-term abortion, visit:  www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection.

Francis X. DiLorenzo Statement Regarding Catholics in Public Office

The Catholic Church makes its position very clear as it pertains to the protection of human life, social justice initiatives, and the importance of family life. From the very beginning, Catholic teaching informs us that every human life is sacred from conception until natural death. The right to life is a fundamental, human right for the unborn and any law denying the unborn the right to life is unequivocally unjust.

Legislative issues pertaining to these matters are advocated on behalf of myself and Bishop Loverde, of the Diocese of Arlington, before the Virginia General Assembly, U.S. Congress, and with state and federal agencies and administrations through the Virginia Catholic Conference, a public policy advocacy organization. Through this organization, elected officials in Virginia are aware of the Church’s positions on such important issues.

We continue to maintain an open communication with public officials who make on-going decisions impacting critical, moral and social issues. This is a responsibility I take seriously, along with my brother bishops, to reach out to public leaders to explain Catholic principles and encourage them to protect human life and dignity in all decisions they make.

We always pray for our Catholic leaders that they make the right choice, act in the best judgment and in good conscience, knowing the values and teachings of the Catholic Church.

It is the duty of all Catholics, no matter their profession, to decide through an upright and informed conscience as to their worthiness to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Guidelines for Political Activity in Diocesan Parishes and Entities

Our state and nation are in the midst of election season that will yet again determine the direction the United States takes in the future. In this summer of political conventions, Bishop DiLorenzo once again encourages Catholics to learn the issues being debated, to consider them using the light and wisdom of Church teaching, and to take an active role in the political process.

While our Church teaches that “responsible citizenship is a virtue and participation in political life is a moral obligation…”
(Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, USCCB), our Catholic parishes do not enter the political fray as partisans. We consider issues in light of Catholic principles, but we do not endorse candidates or show favoritism to either political party.
Several years ago, the Virginia Catholic Conference, the public policy representative of the Virginia Bishops, issued political guidelines for our parishes and other diocesan entities. Please follow these guidelines during this political season and beyond. You can find the guidelines attached to this memo or by visiting the Virginia Catholic Conference at www.vacatholic.org.

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo Statement on The Catholic Church’s Teaching Regarding Marriage

More than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage, and despite recent statements from the campaign trail, the Catholic Church’s 2000-year-old teaching to the truth about what constitutes marriage remains unchanged and resolute.
As Catholics, we believe, all humans warrant dignity and deserve love and respect, and unjust discrimination is always wrong. Our understanding of marriage, however, is a matter of justice and fidelity to our Creator’s original design. Marriage is the only institution uniting one man and one woman with each other and with any child who comes from their union. Redefining marriage furthers no one’s rights, least of all those of children, who should not purposely be deprived of the right to be nurtured and loved by a mother and a father.
We call on Catholics and all those concerned for preserving this sacred union to unite in prayer, to live and speak out with compassion and charity about the true nature of marriage – the heart of family life.

Declaración del Obispo Francis X. DiLorenzo sobre la enseñanza de matrimonio de la Iglesia Católica

Habiendo pasado más de un año después de la decisión del Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. sobre el matrimonio, y pese a las recientes declaraciones de la campaña electoral, la enseñanza de la Iglesia Católica de los pasados 2000 años enseña la verdad sobre lo que constituye el matrimonio y se mantiene resuelta y sin cambios.

Como católicos, creemos, que todos los seres humanos merecen dignidad, amor y respeto, y lainjusta discriminación es siempre mala. Sin embargo, nuestro entendimiento del matrimonio, es una cuestión de justicia y fidelidad al diseño original de nuestro Creador. El matrimonio es la única institución que une a un hombre y a una mujer entre sí y con cualquier niño que proviene de su unión. Redefinir el matrimonio no promueve los derechos de nadie, y menos el de los niños, que no deben ser deliberadamente privados del derecho a ser formados y ser queridos por una madre y un padre.

Recurimos a los católicos y a todos los interesados para preservar esta unión sagrada a unirse en oración, a vivir y hablar con compasión y caridad sobre la verdadera naturaleza del matrimonio – el corazón de la vida familiar.