Bishop Kopacz, remembering MLK, calls for just immigration reform, end to prejudice

When tens of thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodians were forced from their homes in the 1970s, Catholic Charities across the nation, including the one right here in Jackson, Mississippi, welcomed them.

When thousands of boys in the Sudan faced the choice of being forced into a murderous militia or fleeing for their lives, again, Catholic Charities opened the door, offering a new home, counseling to ease the burdens of what they had witnessed and families to walk with them on their new journey.

As drug wars and civil strife destroyed the fabric of the simple agrarian cultures in Central America, driving families northward, Catholic Charities smoothed their transition into new communities. As the evil of war, prejudice and violence spreads from one global region to another, we stand ready to welcome the stranger.

In our own nation, Catholics, primarily women religious, answered the call to educate and empower the African American community in a time when they were denied the right to vote, to learn and to have access to equal rights as citizens of the United States. As the Civil Rights Movement took shape, clergy and lay Catholics stepped up. They marched, spoke out and, in some cases, protected the very lives of Civil Rights icons in their homes, convents and rectories. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took refuge at Holy Child Jesus in Canton. Franciscan sisters in Meridian protected another Civil Rights leader from a mob hoping to lynch him. In Natchez, Greenwood and beyond, we find stories of those who worked to advance the movement.

The central theme to this work — all people are made in the image and likeness of God. Reports this week of disparaging remarks made by President Donald Trump regarding people from nations wracked by poverty, natural disaster and civil unrest warrant a strong response. No one asks to be born into poverty, thrust into war or see their homeland destroyed.

As we mark Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it is appropriate to remember and renew our commitment to the poor and vulnerable.

I call again on our lawmakers to forge a just and equitable solution for Dreamers, those brought to this nation as children who are now a part of the very fabric of our nation. I call on them to work out immigration policies with an eye to global justice and mercy. I urge them to put aside politics and be leaders with practical integrity.

In the meantime, in collaboration with the State Department, Homeland Security, the State of Mississippi, State wide agencies and a host of dedicated individuals, Catholic Charities in Jackson will continue its work with unaccompanied refugee minors, ministering to those driven from their homes as Joseph and Mary were driven from Bethlehem. Our Migrant Resource Center will continue to assist those who are here legally and who wish to call themselves Americans, as well as those who are undocumented to uphold their basic human rights.  Our parishes and schools will continue to strive toward our mission to Embrace Diversity, Serve Others and Inspire Disciples.

Joseph R. Kopacz
Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Jackson

Media Contact:
Maureen Smith
Director of Communications
601-969-3581 (office)
251-753-6917 (cell)

The Catholic Diocese of Jackson covers 65 counties in Mississippi and includes 96 parishes and missions, 12 schools and more than 25 service programs administered through Catholic Charities of Jackson, Inc. Bishop Joseph Kopacz is the 11th bishop for the diocese.

Catholic, Methodist, Episcopal bishops release joint statement about Mississippi Museum opening

Joint Statement of Bishops Kopacz, Seage and Swanson

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are honored to join with the good people of our state in the celebration of Mississippi’s Bicentennial, 200 years of statehood. This milestone has already been celebrated in numerous ways across the State, and these celebrations will culminate with the opening of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on December 10, 2017. We have no doubt that these two museums will illuminate the history, culture, and numerous achievements of our State, and its people, and will help people everywhere comprehend and put into proper context our past and present, as well as help us better understand the challenges we face in the future.

Born from the racial and other tensions of the 1950’s and 60’s, at various times our predecessors in office spoke with conviction and in one united voice against the variety of forces undermining society and the common good, including violence, racism, bigotry and racial injustice. Once again, we come together to make our voices heard on a subject of weighty importance to our State.

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is the first, publicly funded museum of its type in the country. It will serve as a significant acknowledgement and affirmation by our state not only of its accomplishments but of its sometimes bloody and shameful past. Our hope, indeed our common prayer, is that the Museum will help us move toward individual and collective reconciliation for the hurts, injustices, prejudices, failures, violence and omissions of the past and empower coming generations of Mississippians to do justice and love mercy.

All of us – from the poorest of the poor to those who stride in the corridors of power in Jackson and Washington – must do all in our power to respect the dignity of every human being and constantly strive for justice and peace. Without overlooking President Trump’s provocative statements surrounding racial strife in our nation, our fervent hope is that the President will use his attendance at the opening of the Museums and the Bicentennial Celebration to acknowledge the sacrifice and witness of countless individuals who offered themselves, their souls and bodies, to eliminate injustice and oppression in our State.

Our State’s Bicentennial is a cause for celebration. May it also be an occasion for us to launch new and meaningful efforts of reconciliation and healing.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz         Bishop Brian R. Seage              Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr.
11th Bishop of the Catholic       10th Bishop of the Episcopal       MS Conference of The United
Diocese of Jackson                   Diocese of Mississippi                Methodist Church

Media Contact:
Maureen Smith
Director of Communications
Catholic Diocese of Jackson
601-969-3581 (office)
251-753-6917 (cell)