Statement regarding death of Cardinal Law

JACKSON – The Diocese of Jackson acknowledges the death of Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, Wednesday, Dec. 20, in Rome. He was 86-years-old. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced, but will likely take place in Rome.

Cardinal Law served as a priest in the Diocese of then Natchez-Jackson from 1961 – 1973. During his time here, he was a tireless and ardent supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. “While many will criticize his harmful decisions while he was Archbishop in Boston, others, especially here in Mississippi, remember his work as a pastor and an advocate for social justice,” said Bishop Joseph Kopacz, bishop of the Diocese of Jackson.

Cardinal Law was ordained for the priesthood on May 21, 1961, after having completed his seminary training at St. Joseph Seminary in St. Benedict, La., and at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, OH.

He was assigned as associate pastor of St. Paul Parish in Vicksburg where he served for two years. In January 1963, Law was appointed as associate pastor of St. Therese parish in Jackson and in addition to his pastoral duties he began studying to become editor and business manager of the diocesan newspaper – The Mississippi Register. He assumed these duties in March of 1963.

During his five-year tenure at the newspaper, Law used his editorial column to address a myriad of issues and topics in society and the church. Most notably he wrote forcefully in opposition to segregation and racial injustices. His March 1964 editorial entitle “Legal Segregation is Dying” won Editorial of the Year from the National Catholic Press Association.

Law also used local TV to conduct an eight-night on-air evangelization mission. Law reached more than 100,000 viewers each night.

He was very active in interracial, interfaith and ecumenical committees and action groups. This earned him the opportunity to be under the watchful eye of the KKK, the Citizens’ Council and the State Sovereignty Committee. It also earned him the opportunity to serve as executive director of the U.S. Bishops’ secretariat on ecumenical and interreligious affairs in Washington, D.C., from 1968-1971. Upon his return, Law was appointed vicar general of the diocese by Bishop Joseph B. Brunini. He served in this capacity until his appointment as Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in Missouri on Oct. 23, 1973. He was ordained and installed there on December 5, 1973.

On January 11, 1984, he was appointed Archbishop of Boston and was installed March 23 of that same year. He was elevated to the College of Cardinals on May 25, 1985.

###

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

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)
Maureen.smith@jacksondiocese.org