Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz joined a coalition of faith and community leaders in urging Governor Phil Bryant to sign into law the Fresh Start Act SB 2781. The governor did just that on Wednesday, April 16.
The Catholic Diocese of Jackson has published the names of clergy and ministers credibly accused of abuse HERE.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz issued the following statement regarding the release:
On the weekend of March 16-17, Bishop Joseph Kopacz sent a letter to parishes in the Diocese of Jackson to inform Catholics that he will release a list of credibly accused clergy and lay ministers. Below is the text of that letter:
Dear Friends in Christ,
This week the Diocese of Jackson will release the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. It is our hope and prayer that releasing these names will confirm our commitment to transparency in the pursuit of our Promise to Protect and our Pledge to Heal the harm caused by abuse in the church. The list will be posted on the diocesan website on Tuesday, March 19, and will be printed inside the Mississippi Catholic set to come out at the end of the week.
We know that this list will cause pain to many individuals and communities and I am truly, deeply sorry for that pain. The crime of abuse of any kind is a sin, but the abuse of children and vulnerable adults is especially egregious. First and foremost, it is a sin against the innocent victims, but also a sin against the Church and our communities. It is a sin that cries out for justice.
The time for trying to keep these cases quiet in the church has come to an end. We now know that this deep wound in the Body of Christ will not heal until we lay bare the sins of the past and work together toward reconciliation. Releasing this list is not the end of a process, it is another step forward in the ongoing effort to reform our church.
In addition to the list, look for additional information about how our Office of Child Protection and Safe Environments is working to screen and educate employees and volunteers as well as educating children and families in self-protection, in hopes of preventing abuse in the future.
The majority of the cases on our list are from the past. This does not make them any less hurtful or significant, but it does indicate that the measures the Church and the Diocese of Jackson have put into place to prevent abuse are having an impact.
We know it can take years for a victim to come forward. We want to hear from those who have been abused by a member of the clergy or an employee of the church. Not only is it our legal duty to report these cases, helping victims find healing and wholeness is our moral imperative. Anyone can contact our Victim’s Assistance Coordinator Valerie McClellan at (601) 326-3728 to seek help.
Again, I apologize from the depths of my heart to those who have been sexually abused by clergy and church personnel, to the families damaged by these crimes and to the Catholic community for the scandal this scourge has brought upon our Church. There is no room for this evil in our society or our churches.
It is my hope that the release of this list during the penitential season of Lent will remind us to pray for all those impacted by abuse and recommit all of us to the Promise to Protect and the Pledge to Heal.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Joseph R. Kopacz
Bishop of Jackson
Nov. 2, 2017
Dear Friends in Christ,
With the passing of time since September 5 and the rescission of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, those not directly affected can be lulled into sleep that this crisis has passed. All who are directly affected, either personally, or with a family member, friend, or neighbor, know differently. Unless this reality is addressed justly and comprehensively by the United States Congress in March 2018, this presidential decision will mushroom into a crisis for all affected Dreamers, as well as for all whose lives will be adversely impacted, especially family members.
As Bishop of the Diocese of Jackson, I am in solidarity with my brother Bishops throughout the United States, standing with all Dreamers for whom this nation is the only homeland you know. You have lived here for most of your lives, you were educated here, you work here, and many of you have defended our nation in the Armed Services, all of which is to say that you have dreamed here and have been building a life for yourselves while contributing to our nation’s wellbeing. The Diocese of Jackson is in solidarity with you, welcomes you, prays with you and for you, and will advocate for a just legal decision when the United Sates Congress addresses this critical issue of national integrity and identity. You are our brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus, members of the Catholic Church and the family of God, and we will labor to uphold your dignity and rightful place in our nation.
Con el paso del tiempo desde el 5 de septiembre y la decisión de la Acción Diferida para Llegadas en la Infancia, DACA, aquellos que no se ven afectados directamente pueden ser arrullados en el sueño de que esta crisis ha pasado. Todos los que se ven directamente afectados, ya sea personalmente o con un familiar, amigo o vecino, saben de manera diferente. A menos que esta realidad sea abordada justa y exhaustivamente por el Congreso de los Estados Unidos en marzo de 2018, esta decisión presidencial se convertirá en una crisis para todos los Soñadores afectados, así como todas sus vidas se verán negativamente afectadas, especialmente los miembros de la familia.
Como obispo de la diócesis de Jackson, me solidarizo con mis hermanos obispos en todos los Estados Unidos, junto con todos los Soñadores para quienes esta nación es la única patria que conocen. Ustedes han vivido aquí la mayor parte de sus vidas, fueron educados aquí, trabajan aquí, y muchos de ustedes han defendido a nuestra nación en los Servicios Armados, todo lo cual es para decir que han soñado aquí y han estado construyendo una vida para ustedes mismos mientras contribuyen al bienestar de nuestra nación. La diócesis de Jackson se solidariza con ustedes, les da la bienvenida, ora con ustedes y por ustedes, y defenderá una decisión legal justa cuando el Congreso de los Estados Unidos aborde este tema crítico de integridad e identidad nacional. Ustedes son nuestros hermanos y hermanas en el Señor Jesús, miembros de la Iglesia Católica y la familia de Dios, y trabajaremos para mantener su dignidad y el lugar que les corresponde en nuestra nación.
In the peace of Christ,
Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz
Bishop of the Diocese of Jackson
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:
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“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
Director of Communications
Catholic Diocese of Jackson
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
The Catholic Diocese of Jackson is seeking a new coordinator for the Office of Youth ministry.
The Office of Youth Ministry wishes to minister to, with and for young people and guide them to an intimate and dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. Our youth have been given a life-long challenge that includes full involvement in the life, mission and work of the Catholic Church.
Believing that the most effective ministry to youth occurs at the parish level, we assist parishes and the adults called to lead our youth by offering programs, events and outreach to build and maintain a strong youth presence.
Download the Youth Ministry job description here.