Supreme Court’s dismissal of de Lange lawsuit

Diocese Statement on Mississippi Supreme Court’s June 16, 2022, Dismissal of De Lange’s Lawsuit 

On Oct. 2, 2019, Arie Matheus (Aad) de Lange filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Jackson and Bishop Joseph Kopacz. The Diocese and Bishop Kopacz are pleased to confirm that on June 16, 2022, the Mississippi Supreme dismissed de Lange’s lawsuit and awarded the Diocese and Bishop Kopacz their costs of appeal.  

In his pleadings de Lange levied many baseless claims against the Diocese and Bishop Kopacz relating to his employment. At trial, the Diocese and Bishop Kopacz were prepared to respond to the pleadings filed by de Lange and prove that during his tenure the Diocese suffered from:  

(1) A weakened financial and administrative condition; 
(2) Internal accounting deficiencies as identified by third party financial audits of the Diocese;
(3) A large unexpected $900,000 financial deficit for fiscal year 2018-19; and 
(4) A lack of leadership communication and collaboration between the Office of Finance and Administration (De Lange’s department) and diocesan leadership including but not limited to the Bishop and the Diocesan Finance Council.  

The Diocese and Bishop Kopacz filed a motion to dismiss de Lange’s lawsuit based upon the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The motion sought dismissal because de Lange was asking the courts of Mississippi to interpret the application of Canon law (church law) to the facts surrounding de Lange’s termination of employment. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted the motion and dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that the First Amendment deprives civil courts of jurisdiction over claims which would require excessive entanglement in church employment decisions finding that “the Diocese’s decision to terminate de Lange pursuant to [church law] is binding on the civil court, and this Court must accept that decision.”   

The Diocese and Bishop Kopacz are grateful that the Supreme Court recognized the serious constitutional concerns raised by de Lange’s lawsuit and his challenge to the Diocese’s decision to terminate his employment. Bishop Kopacz made the following statement: “We rejoice in the unanimous decision by the Supreme Court of Mississippi. We pray that the Court is ever mindful of the constitutional religious rights of religious institutions. We thank the Court for its decision and its guidance.” 


Click here for pdf of Diocese statement

For full text of Supreme Court decision click here

Joint Statement of Bishops Kopacz and Kihneman on Execution of David Cox

Joint Statement of Bishops Joseph Kopacz and Louis F. Kihneman, III on Execution of David Neal Cox

November 16, 2021

In anticipation of the execution of David Cox tomorrow, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Cox family as they continue to grieve and heal from his horrific acts of violence. Their unspeakable suffering remains a heavy cross in their lives.

We share in their suffering. In 2016, two Catholic Nuns were murdered in Holmes County, Mississippi. Sister Paula Merrill, and Sister Margaret Held, served at a local medical clinic. Their brutal murders in the small community of Durant, Mississippi caused shock and sadness.

Even in the midst of such profound loss, the Sisters’ religious communities, their families, and the local Church stated their opposition to the death penalty. This response is deeply rooted in our Christian faith and Catholic tradition.

The death penalty is not a deterrence to murder. We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing those who kill others. Likewise, the antidote to violence is not more violence.

The execution of David Cox is the first in more than a decade in Mississippi. We respectfully submit the perspective and teachings from our Catholic faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that promote the abolition of the death penalty.

We encourage and pray for a more comprehensive debate that calls into question our assumptions used to morally legitimize the death penalty in Mississippi and in our nation.

We recognize that the State must protect innocent people from violent criminals. Our State and country have the ability to provide justice and protect the innocent without using the death penalty. At this time in our nation when violence afflicts the web of life, we do not need state sanctioned violence to add to this vicious cycle.

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. We are called to respect every human life because each of us is created in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1:27)

As Christian leaders we call for alternatives to capital punishment more in keeping with our Christian values, the common good, and the dignity of the human person.

Sincerely yours in Christ,                                              Sincerely yours in Christ,

Joseph R. Kopacz                                      Louis F. Kihneman, III
Bishop of Jackson                                      Bishop of Biloxi

Download pdf of statement by clicking here.

Mississippi Bishops praise abortion ban

March 25, 2019

Download statement HERE..
Statement in Espanol HERE..

Mississippi Bishops praise Abortion Ban
When the angel of the Lord declared unto Mary that she would conceive and bear a son, she did not hesitate to say ‘yes.’ What a wonderful world we would live in if every parent could feel free to echo that ‘yes’ when they learn of a new life in the womb.

We, the Catholic bishops of Mississippi, applaud the Legislature for passing and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant for signing into law the six-week abortion ban. This so-called heartbeat bill protects the tiniest and most vulnerable of our citizens.

We hope the courts will uphold this law and continue to pray for an end to abortion in our nation.

Knowing that many face pregnancy with fear; that many must overcome unbelievable obstacles and that the news of a new life can be overwhelming, we encourage women facing an unplanned pregnancy to seek support. There are organizations who can help you. Birthright statewide, ProLife Mississippi, the Center for Pregnancy Choices in the Jackson area; the Oxford Pregnancy Test Center; Life Choices Pregnancy Care Center in Columbus; Morning Star Pregnancy Care Centers in Harrison and Jackson Counties and St. Gerard Community Outreach in Waveland, just to name a few. The staff at these centers stands ready to accompany you from the fear of the unknown to the joy of new life.

Yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Louis F. Kihneman, III                         Most Reverend Joseph R. Kopacz
Bishop of Biloxi                                                             Bishop of Jackson

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