Bishop Kopacz opposes SB 2710

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   February 15, 2017

Bishop Kopacz opposes SB 2710, so-called “Sanctuary Cities” bill

As Christians we are called to welcome the stranger and care for those in need. As citizens, we are called to keep our communities strong and safe. We feel that the so-called “Sanctuary Cities” bill (SB 2710) being debated right now in the Mississippi Legislature damages both of those efforts.

The bill is flawed and not needed. Its language is so broad it will only confuse an already complicated issue and could put already vulnerable people at higher risk. Members of our law enforcement communities work hard to build trust in their communities. Putting them under a vague mandate such as this one would damage that trust. Immigrants, both those who enter this country legally and those who have come here hoping for a path to a new life, may be scared to seek needed help if they believe officers and first responders have been pitted against them.

SB 2710 may confuse those seeking education services for their children or college students who wish to seek help from a counselor or other administrator on campus. All of these unintended consequences make this bill a poor proposal for our state.

We urge lawmakers and advocates to oppose SB 2710. We will, as a Catholic community, continue to work with immigrants and refugees – welcoming their contributions to our community and culture – even as we pray for a just solution to the challenges of immigration and security.

Bishop Joseph Kopacz
Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jackson

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

Pope names new bishop for Biloxi, Bishop Kopacz offers warm welcome

BILOXI — Pope Francis has named Msgr. Louis Kihneman III, 64, as Bishop of the Diocese of Biloxi, and accepted the resignation of Bishop Roger Morin, 75, from the pastoral governance of that diocese. Msgr. Kihneman is a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, and currently serves as vicar general.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, December 16, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Msgr. Louis Kihneman III

Msgr. Louis Kihneman III

Msgr. Kihneman III, was born on February 17, 1952 in Lafayette, Louisiana. He holds a bachelor of arts degree and master degrees in religious education and theology from the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He attended St. Mary’s seminary, Houston, and was ordained as a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi on November 18, 1977.
“I would like to personally welcome Monsignor Louis Kihneman to Mississippi and wish him all the best as he makes the transition to the episcopacy. He brings with him a wealth of experience, having served in many churches in the Gulf South as well as in Mexico. I will keep him in my prayers and I look forward to serving with him in the Magnolia state for many years to come,” said Bishop Joseph Kopacz of Jackson. “I would also like to thank Bishop Roger Morin for his many years of devoted service and wish him a peaceful and prayerful retirement.”
Assignments after ordination included, parochial vicar at San Isidro Labrador Church, Arteaga, Mexico, 1977; St. Anthony of Padua Church, Robstown, Texas, 1978; Christ the King parish, Corpus Christi, 1980; Saints Cyril and Methodius Church, Corpus Christi, 1981. Pastor, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Alice, 1983; diocesan director of vocations and seminarians, 1986-1993; director, St. John Vianney House of Studies, 1986-1993; director of Christian leadership vocations, 1986-1993; pastor, Sacred Heart Church, Rockport, 1993-2011; vicar general, 2010-present; pastor, St. Philip Church, Corpus Christi, 2014 – present.
Other assignments include marriage tribunal advocate, diocesan director of religious education, priest personnel board, associate vicar for clergy, presbyteral council member and as chancellor.
Bishop Roger P. Morin was born on March 7, 1941 in Lowell, Massachusetts. He was ordained a priest on April 15, 1971; he was appointed auxiliary bishop of New Orleans on February 11, 2003, and ordained a bishop on April 22, 2003. He was appointed bishop of Biloxi on February 23, 2009.
The Diocese of Biloxi, originally part of the Diocese of Jackson, comprises 9,653 square miles in the state of Mississippi. It has a total population of 818,801 people of which 57,912 or seven percent, are Catholic.

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

Statement by the Catholic Bishops of Alabama and Mississippi on Capital Punishment

The brutal murders of Sisters Paula Merrill, SCN and Margaret Held, OSF in the small community of Durant, Mississippi caused shock and sadness. For 15 years these two Catholic religious women selflessly provided health care to the poor in Holmes County and beyond. While the senselessness of murdering two servants of the poor was exceptionally egregious, this act was one more instance of violence which plagues all areas of our society, devastating the lives of victims of violence and their loved ones.
Faced with such loss, this is an appropriate time to consider the manner in which the Lord has taught us to respond to evil. The issue of capital punishment immediately comes to mind. As Christians, we remember that wrongdoing, no matter how evil, deserves punishment but not vengeance.
We are called to respect every human life because each of us is created in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1:27) God can touch and change even the most bitter and hardened heart. Mindful of this, we do not support the execution of criminals. When we execute someone, we take away any opportunity they have to repent and develop a relationship with God in this life.
While we recognize that the State must protect innocent people from violent criminals, there are ways to do so other than executions. The death penalty is not a deterrence to murder. States with the death penalty do not have lower murder rates than states without capital punishment. In addition, innocent people are sometimes put to death as demonstrated by capital punishment convictions where the convicted person is later proven to be innocent.
The death penalty does not protect; it does not deter. Instead, it prolongs the suffering of loved ones and serves to foster a spirit of vengeance. As Christian leaders we call for alternatives to capital punishment more in keeping with our Christian values. We echo the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “If…non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.” In our country we have the ability to provide justice and protect the innocent without using the death penalty.
Society does not teach respect for life by taking life. Capital punishment contributes to a lack of respect for life and a climate of violence in our States. Life without parole, which some studies indicate costs fewer tax dollars than seeking to execute a criminal, protects society and keeps offenders from harming others. We implore our fellow citizens to ask our elected official to end the violence of the death penalty and to replace it with non-lethal means of punishment.
Let us together embrace the words of scripture: “As I live, says the Lord God, I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in the wicked man’s conversion, that he may live. Turn, turn from your evil ways.” (Ezekiel 33:11)


Signed by:
Most Reverend Robert J. Baker
Bishop of Birmingham

Most Reverend Joseph R. Kopacz
Bishop of Jackson

Most Reverend Roger P. Morin
Bishop of Biloxi

Most Reverend Thomas J. Rodi
Archbishop of Mobile

Memorial Arrangements for Sister Paula and Sister Margaret

Arrangements for Sr. Margaret Held, OSF, and Sr. Paula Merrill, SCN, both found murdered in their home Thursday, Aug 25, in Durant, Miss., are as follows:
Wake Service — Sunday, Aug. 28, 5:30 p.m. at St. Thomas Church in Lexington.
Memorial Mass — Monday, Aug. 29, 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle in Jackson.
Their mortal remains will be taken to their respective Mother Houses after the Wake Service for Funeral Masses with their respective communities. The Memorial on Monday will be an opportunity for our diocesan community and friends to celebrate the lives of these two remarkable women. Bishop Kopacz will be the principal celebrant.
Parking is available in the Regions Garage for a small fee.

Loss of Sisters in Durant

We are terribly saddened to have to announce the murder of two sisters in our diocese. Police found two bodies in the home of Sister Paula Merrill, SCN, and Sister Margaret Held, OSF, in Durant, Miss. this morning after they did not show up to the Lexington Medical Clinic, where they worked.

“These sisters have spent years of dedicated service here in Mississippi. They absolutely loved the people in their community,” said Bishop Joseph Kopacz. “We mourn with the people of Lexington and Durant and we pray for the Sisters of Charity, the School Sisters of St. Francis and the families left behind,” he added.

“These were the two sweetest sisters you could imagine. It’s so senseless,” Father Greg Plata, OFM, told a reporter on the scene. Father Plata is the priest at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Lexington.

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth have posted a remembrance on their website:

Pray for Sisters found dead in Mississippi

Mississippi of State Secretary of State also released a statement late Thursday: “Lynn and I grieve the loss of Sisters Paula Merrill and Margaret Held, who were found violently killed in their home in Durant, Mississippi, this morning. Unbridled love and care for mankind has been met with unparalleled savagery. These faithful nuns worked tirelessly at the Lexington Medical Clinic to make the Holmes County community and Mississippi a better place to live. We hope justice will be swiftly served.”

Media inquiries:
Maureen Smith
601-969-3581
maureen.smith@jacksondiocese.org

Bishop Kopacz releases radio spots

Bishop Joseph Kopacz recorded a series of radio spots to air throughout the state on the News Mississippi Network of stations throughout the year. Here is a sampling of the spots. Learn more about faithful citizenship at http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org. Any parish that wants copies of the spots can contact Maureen Smith, director of communications at 601-969-3581 or maureen.smith@jacksondiocese.org.

 

Diocese joins bishops in call for prayer, dialogue, end to violence

The Diocese of Jackson joins the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a call for prayer to end all violence. We urge everyone to engage in nonviolent, but necessary dialogue to identify and address the issues facing our nation today.

July 8, 2016

WASHINGTON—Following the deadly attacks on police officers in Dallas, during a protest rally in response to the killings of two men in Louisiana and Minnesota, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops extended a call to prayer, reflection, civility and peaceful dialogue.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, issued the following statement July 8.
Let Us Gather at the Cross

A statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The assassination of Dallas police officers last night was an act of unjustifiable evil. To all people of good will, let us beg for the strength to resist the hatred that blinds us to our common humanity. To my brothers and sisters in Christ, let us gather at the Cross of Jesus. Our Savior suffered at the hands of humanity’s worst impulses, but He did not lose hope in us or in His heavenly father. Love overcomes evil.

The police are not a faceless enemy. They are sons and daughters offering their lives to protect their brothers and sisters. Jesus reminds us, “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (JN 15:13). So too, the suspects in crimes or routine traffic stops are not just a faceless threat. They are members of our family in need of assistance, protection and fairness. When compassion does not drive our response to the suffering of either, we have failed one another.

The need to place ever greater value on the life and dignity of all persons, regardless of their station in life, calls us to a moment of national reflection. In the days ahead, we will look toward additional ways of nurturing an open, honest and civil dialogue on issues of race relations, restorative justice, mental health, economic opportunity, and addressing the question of pervasive gun violence.

Let us pray for the comfort of everyone affected and that our national conversation will bear the good fruit of healing and peace.


Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, tragedy, attacks, violence, Dallas, race relations, mental health, economic opportunity, restorative justice, gun violence

Bishop Kopacz releases statement on court actions on HB1523, abortion

“We are Catholics. We are Americans. We are proud to be both, grateful for the gift of faith which is ours as Christian disciples, and grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens. To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together.”

This introductory paragraph to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ statement on religious liberty encapsulates the struggle of all Americans with deeply held religious beliefs.

Both the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear an appeal regarding abortion laws and the blanket rejection of HB1523 vividly represent the current struggle for religious freedom in America. People of faith are called to be active in the political process – to protect the dignity of each human being and to make our communities stronger overall.

While we are disappointed that a Federal Judge has blocked the entire religious liberty law passed this year in Mississippi, we are glad the law has opened a dialogue about the tension between religious belief and civil law. The Catholic Church in Mississippi will continue to seek exemption in the specific areas of marriage and employment in certain ministries while engaging in respectful dialogue with our neighbors.

We are saddened at this country’s insistence on abortion, the destruction of innocent lives, and the laws that have been passed to support this continued destruction. The laws requiring doctors to have admitting privileges, although seen as a roadblock for abortion facilities, are in reality a commitment to the good health of all. Especially when a crisis happens and a woman who has undergone an abortion needs other medical attention. Presently they must go to the nearest emergency room and be treated by the next available emergency doctor.

The church will continue to work and pray for an end to abortion while supporting those in crisis pregnancy through ministries such as Birthright and Rachel’s Vineyard.

We must strike a just balance between church and state, not just for our own protection, but for the protection of other faiths and society as a whole. The USCCB document continues, “This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue.” Once the state begins to limit the rights of people of one faith, we must be concerned for people of all faiths and beliefs.

The Catholic Church welcomes everyone in our parishes, schools and service centers. We have and will continue to help anyone in need through Catholic Charities, schools and parish ministries, regardless of your faith, beliefs or background. And we will continue to raise our voices both in our churches and in our communities in defense of human dignity and justice.

+Bishop Joseph Kopacz
Catholic Diocese of Jackson

Additional resources: USCCB document Our Most Cherished Liberty; Previous statement on HB1523BirthrightRachel’s Vineyard; Catholic Charities of Jackson

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

Bishop’s Statement on Orlando tragedy

June 13, 2016

As Bishop of the Diocese of Jackson, I ask all the faithful to offer prayers and acts of mercy on behalf of the lives of so many innocent people extinguished in the blink of an eye by a deranged and misguided gunman in Orlando yesterday morning. We pray for them and for their families and friends who are now facing an unimaginable grief.

This senseless act of hatred adds to the seemingly unending number of acts of violence in our world against the life and dignity of each and every human person. In the face of such evil, now more than ever, we must respond with the love and compassion of Christ in order to bring true and lasting peace in our families, our communities and our world.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

+Joseph R. Kopacz
Bishop of Jackson