Bishop addresses racism: Calls for unity, action and finding God in each other

In a recent letter to the faithful, Bishop Frank J. Dewane directly addressed racism in this country and called on all to seek unity, take action and continue to find the image and likeness of God in others.

The letter, dated June 9, 2020, acknowledged the death of George Floyd and the suffering caused by racism in the United States. It also expressed an understanding for the anger and frustration felt by many as evidenced in protest in cities throughout the country, while at the same time stating that the Church encourages a peaceful response and prayers for an end to racism.

“The Church, Her leaders and the Faithful have an important role in confronting the sin of racism. Responding to the call to defend human dignity, the Church must raise Her voice against every instance of the evil of racism. I add my voice and condemn racism in all its forms.”

Bishop Dewane, who is on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee on Racism, has spoken repeatedly about bigotry and discrimination in the county, and the unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd, either during the daily livestreaming Mass from the Catholic Center or when celebrating Mass at Parishes in the Diocese. During his recent visits to Parishes throughout the Diocese, racism has been a recurring theme, including June 13, 2020 at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring.

“Every human being, regardless of their skin color, is made in the image and likeness of God,” Bishop Dewane said during the livestreamed Mass on June 14, 2020, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi – The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

A table display at St. Agnes Parish in Naples includes the USCCB Prayer to Overcome Racism along with a candle and flowers the weekend of June 13-14, 2020.

“It is not just one race, one color, every human being, you, me, all our neighbors,” Bishop Dewane continued.  “As human beings, as the Body of Christ, we have to see the image and likeness of God in all – not just some. The race of a human being, or the color of their skin, cannot determine the humanity showed toward them; the human respect that they are given shouldn’t be differentiated – it has to be the same!”

Citing racial unrest in the 1960s, 70s and 90s, and even just a few years ago, the Bishop said a solution to racism has not been found and it is very much present around us all. “We are the Body of Christ. We are the Church. We find ourselves here in the Diocese of Venice. You belong to a particular Parish. We need to drill down on this – and everyone needs to take action. You and I, we need to find unity. We need to seek peace and we do it all in the recognition that each and every person has been made in the image and likeness of God.”

In his letter to the faithful, the Bishop cited the words of Pope Francis who recently said: “My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”

Bishop Dewane also noted that he sent a request to priests of the Diocese to speak out against racism during their homilies for the weekend of June 13-14 and beyond. A variety of resources were made available to the priests through the USCCB website which are also available to the public. The Bishop also suggested that Parishes hold prayer sessions and programming to address the question of racism.

Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers hosted a June 11, 2020, “Prayer Service for Peace.” The gathering included Eucharistic Adoration, a Gospel reading, Sacred music, prayer and reflections on racism in this country.

During the weekend of June 13-14, many Parishes added special intentions against racism to the Prayers of the Faithful. St. Agnes Parish in Naples had a tabletop display in their narthex which included candles, flowers and a framed copy of the USCCB “Prayer to Overcome Racism.” The Parish will dedicate Adoration hours specifically calling for an end to racism.

You can find the Bishop’s Letter to the Faithful  and other resources on the Diocese of Venice homepage at www.dioceseofvenice.org, or for other resources, please visit www.usccb.org.

Resources and prayers during pandemic

Catholic Charities response to the pandemic as well as resources and prayers

If you need help

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance or tele-mental health counseling, please call the number for your area listed below 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday:

  • Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties: 844-385-2407,
  • Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423,
  • Collier County: 844-385-2404.

 

Food distribution

Volunteers load a vehicle in early May 2020 at the Elizabeth K. Galeana Center of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. in Fort Myers.

Catholic Charities food distribution will take place only at the following times and locations. Please call the regional number for more information.

  • Mondays and Wednesdays, 9-11 a.m., Guadalupe Social Services, 211 S. 9th St., Immokalee;
  • Tuesdays, 9-11:30 a.m., Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center, 3174 Tamiami Trail E., Naples;
  • Thursdays, 9 a.m.-noon, St. Margaret Parish, 208 Dean Duff St., Clewiston;
  • Fridays, 9-11 a.m., St. Leo the Great Parish, 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs;
  • Fridays, 9 a.m.-noon, Elizabeth K. Galeana Pantry, 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers;
  • 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month, 9-11 a.m., St. Paul Parish, 1208 E. Oak St. Arcadia;
  • Saturdays, 7–8:45 a.m., St. Michael Parish, 408 Heard Bridge Road, Wauchula.

How to Help

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. is in urgent need of your financial support during its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org/donate or send a check to: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

Online Resources

A special coronavirus web page is located on the Diocese of Venice website homepage at www.dioceseofvenice.org.

Resources include links to the Mass, the prayer for Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary by following the links for the Diocese response to Coronavirus included on the Diocese homepage. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org, also posts the daily Mass readings.

While the celebration of public Mass has resumed (effective May 18, 2020), Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced that for those who are at greater risk or anxious about returning at this time, that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect until June 28, 2020. The Faithful ought not to worry about remaining home if they are concerned for their wellbeing or that of other parishioners. Of course, those who are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 are to stay home.

While Parishes have been asked to continue livestreaming until the dispensation is lifted, the Diocese of Venice Mass live stream will continue from the Catholic Center in Venice 9:15 a.m. daily through June 28, 2020, and is available through the Diocese website and Facebook pages.

In addition, the Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday. In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs on television at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). This same Mass can be found on the Diocese of Venice website at any time during the week, www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Please check local listings for channel information.

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis.

The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ to donate to your Parish.

The Faithful may also contribute through their usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.

Please continue to pray for the repose of those who have died, for the recovery of those who are sick, for the strength of healthcare workers and caregivers, as well as for an end to this health crisis. Thank you for your generosity.

Act of Spiritual Communion

Bishop Frank J. Dewane raises the host during the Mass at St. Ann Parish in Naples in January, 2020.

It has long been a Catholic understanding that when circumstances prevent one from receiving Holy Communion, it is possible to make an Act of Spiritual Communion which is a source of grace. Spiritual Communion means uniting one’s self in prayer with Christ’s sacrifice and worshiping Him in His Body and Blood.

The most common reason for making an Act of Spiritual Communion is when a person cannot attend Mass, as is the case during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Acts of Spiritual Communion increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion and help us avoid the sins that would make us unable to receive Holy Communion worthily.

For all who will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist in person, consider this special prayer, an Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there

and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

Prayer Against Coronavirus

Cover of Diocese of Venice prayer card praying against coronavirus.

Lord Jesus Christ, our Divine physician, we ask you to guard and protect us from Coronavirus COVID-19 and all serious illness. For all that have died from it, have mercy; for those that are ill now, bring healing. For those searching for a remedy, enlighten them; for medical caregivers helping the sick, strengthen and shield them. For those working to contain the spread, grant them success; for the afraid, grant peace. May your precious blood be our defense and salvation. By your grace, may you turn the evil of disease into moments of consolation and hope. May we always fear the contagion of sin more than any illness. We abandon ourselves to you infinite.  Amen

By Pedro de la Cruz

 Oración contra el Coronavirus

Señor Jesucristo, nuestro Médico Divino, te pedimos que nos guardes y protejas del Coronavirus COVID-19 y de toda enfermedad grave. Por todos los que han perdido la vida por causa del virus, ten piedad; por los que están enfermos ahora, sánalos. Por los que buscan su cura, ilumínalos; por el personal médico que cuida de los enfermos, fortalécelos y protéjelos. Por los que trabajan para contener al virus, que sean existosos; por los que temen dáles la paz. Que tu preciosa sangre sea nuestro escudo y salvación. Por tu gracia, convierte a la maldad de esta enfermedad en momentos de consuelo y esperanza. Que siempre temamos más al contagió del pecado que al de cualquier enfermedad. Nos entregamos a tu infinita misericordia. Amén.

By Pedro de la Cruz

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe for Protection from the Coronavirus

Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son,
as you did at the wedding in Cana.

Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.

For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.

In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.

We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.

Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus.

Amen.

Courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Oración a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe para la Protección del Coronavirus

Virgen Santísima de Guadalupe,

Reina de los Ángeles y Madre de las Américas.

Acudimos a ti hoy como tus amados hijos.

Te pedimos que intercedas por nosotros con tu Hijo,

como lo hiciste en las bodas de Caná.

Ruega por nosotros, Madre amorosa,

y obtén para nuestra nación, nuestro mundo,

y para todas nuestras familias y seres queridos,

la protección de tus santos ángeles,

para que podamos salvarnos de lo peor de esta enfermedad.

Para aquellos que ya están afectados,

te pedimos que les concedas la gracia de la sanación y

la liberación.

Escucha los gritos de aquellos que son vulnerables y temerosos,

seca sus lágrimas y ayúdalos a confiar.

En este tiempo de dificultad y prueba,

enséñanos a todos en la Iglesia a amarnos los unos a los otros

y a ser pacientes y amables.

Ayúdanos a llevar la paz de Jesús a nuestra tierra y a nuestros

corazones.

Acudimos a ti con confianza, sabiendo que realmente eres

nuestra madre compasiva,

la salud de los enfermos y la causa de nuestra alegría.

Refúgianos bajo el manto de tu protección, mantennos

en el abrazo de tus brazos,

ayúdanos a conocer siempre el amor de tu Hijo, Jesús.

Amén.

Cortesía de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de EE. UU.

Updated Prayers and Resources from Diocese May 5 2020

Masses Temporarily Suspended Due to Coronavirus

While Masses and liturgical events in the Diocese of Venice remain suspended, Churches are beginning to open for individual prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  Public gatherings for Mass or other Liturgical Services will still not be possible.  Restrictions regarding social distancing, sanitizing of hands and often-touched surfaces, as well as protective masks by visitors must be followed.  Please check with your Parish for details.

Act of Spiritual Communion

Bishop Frank J. Dewane raises the host during the Mass at St. Ann Parish in Naples in January, 2020.

It has long been a Catholic understanding that when circumstances prevent one from receiving Holy Communion, it is possible to make an Act of Spiritual Communion which is a source of grace. Spiritual Communion means uniting one’s self in prayer with Christ’s sacrifice and worshiping Him in His Body and Blood.

The most common reason for making an Act of Spiritual Communion is when a person cannot attend Mass, as is the case during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Acts of Spiritual Communion increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion and help us avoid the sins that would make us unable to receive Holy Communion worthily.

For all who will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist in person, consider this special prayer, an Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus,
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

Resources online

A special coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website homepage at www.dioceseofvenice.org.

Resources include links to the Mass, the prayer for Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary by following the links for the Diocese response to Coronavirus included on the Diocese homepage.  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org, also posts the daily Mass readings.

The Diocese of Venice Mass is streamed live at 9:15 a.m. daily from the Catholic Center in Venice. Meanwhile, Mass is being streamed live from many Parishes daily (some on weekends only) throughout the Diocese of Venice (See updated list on Diocese website). Most streams are available with links through the Parish websites or through Facebook (to watch a live stream on Facebook, you do not need an account) or YouTube. Check with your Parish if you are having trouble finding the Mass or for more details.

Additionally, Magnificat is offering the online version of this devotional free at https://us.magnificat.net/free.

The Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday. In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs on television at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). This same Mass can be found on the Diocese of Venice website, www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Please check local listings for channel information.

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis.

The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ to donate to your Parish.

The Faithful may also contribute through their usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.

Please continue to pray for the repose of those who have died, for the recovery of those who are sick, for the strength of healthcare workers and caregivers, as well as for an end to this health crisis. Thank you for your generosity.

Prayers

Prayer Against Coronavirus

Cover of Diocese of Venice prayer card praying against coronavirus.

Lord Jesus Christ, our Divine physician, we ask you to guard and protect us from Coronavirus COVID-19 and all serious illness. For all that have died from it, have mercy; for those that are ill now, bring healing. For those searching for a remedy, enlighten them; for medical caregivers helping the sick, strengthen and shield them. For those working to contain the spread, grant them success; for the afraid, grant peace. May your precious blood be our defense and salvation. By your grace, may you turn the evil of disease into moments of consolation and hope. May we always fear the contagion of sin more than any illness. We abandon ourselves to you infinite.  Amen

By Pedro de la Cruz

Oración contra el Coronavirus

Señor Jesucristo, nuestro Médico Divino, te pedimos que nos guardes y protejas del Coronavirus COVID-19 y de toda enfermedad grave. Por todos los que han perdido la vida por causa del virus, ten piedad; por los que están enfermos ahora, sánalos. Por los que buscan su cura, ilumínalos; por el personal médico que cuida de los enfermos, fortalécelos y protéjelos. Por los que trabajan para contener al virus, que sean existosos; por los que temen dáles la paz. Que tu preciosa sangre sea nuestro escudo y salvación. Por tu gracia, convierte a la maldad de esta enfermedad en momentos de consuelo y esperanza. Que siempre temamos más al contagió del pecado que al de cualquier enfermedad. Nos entregamos a tu infinita misericordia. Amén.

By Pedro de la Cruz

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe for Protection from the Coronavirus

Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son,
as you did at the wedding in Cana.

Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.

For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.

In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.

We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.

Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus.

Amen.

Courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Oración a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe para la Protección del Coronavirus

Virgen Santísima de Guadalupe,

Reina de los Ángeles y Madre de las Américas.

Acudimos a ti hoy como tus amados hijos.

Te pedimos que intercedas por nosotros con tu Hijo,

como lo hiciste en las bodas de Caná.

Ruega por nosotros, Madre amorosa,

y obtén para nuestra nación, nuestro mundo,

y para todas nuestras familias y seres queridos,

la protección de tus santos ángeles,

para que podamos salvarnos de lo peor de esta enfermedad.

Para aquellos que ya están afectados,

te pedimos que les concedas la gracia de la sanación y

la liberación.

Escucha los gritos de aquellos que son vulnerables y temerosos,

seca sus lágrimas y ayúdalos a confiar.

En este tiempo de dificultad y prueba,

enséñanos a todos en la Iglesia a amarnos los unos a los otros

y a ser pacientes y amables.

Ayúdanos a llevar la paz de Jesús a nuestra tierra y a nuestros

corazones.

Acudimos a ti con confianza, sabiendo que realmente eres

nuestra madre compasiva,

la salud de los enfermos y la causa de nuestra alegría.

Refúgianos bajo el manto de tu protección, mantennos

en el abrazo de tus brazos,

ayúdanos a conocer siempre el amor de tu Hijo, Jesús.

Amén.

Cortesía de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de EE. UU.

 

USCCB leads country in prayer for reconsecration to Mary

The Diocese of Venice in Florida encourages the faithful to join the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for a live stream of the Re-Consecration of our nation to the Protection of the Blessed Mother under the title of Mary, Mother of the Church.  This will give the Church the occasion to pray for Our Lady’s continued protection of the vulnerable, healing of the unwell, and wisdom for those who work to cure this terrible virus.

The live stream will take place at 3:00 p.m., May 1, 2020, on Facebook @USCCB, and will also be shared on the Diocese of Venice Facebook Page.  Prayer resources are available at www.dioceseofvenice.org.

In addition, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will Consecrate the Nation of Canada on May 1, 2020.

 

Bishop finishes term as USCCB Committee Chair

Staff and Wire Reports

The most recent U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s General Assembly in Baltimore marked the end of a three-year term for Bishop Frank J. Dewane as chair of the Conference Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, but not before calling for an end to gun violence and encouraging civility in voters.

During that span, Bishop Dewane spoke on behalf of the U.S. Conference on issues of health care, human dignity, human rights, development, poverty and justice.

Bishop Dewane was elected to the post in 2015 and served as chairman-elect before taking the chair in November 2016. In three years as chair, the Bishop advocated on behalf of the faithful by sending letters to President Trump and to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as personally lobbying the Senate and House. In addition, he made more than 100 statements on a variety of issues and was interviewed by a variety of news outlets.

Among the topics Bishop Dewane has addressed include: civility in politics, gun control, the death penalty, the federal budget and legislative actions, the opioid crisis, climate change, agriculture, health care, civil rights, homelessness, immigration reform, natural disasters, trade, and much more.

During a Nov. 11 presentation the General Assembly, Bishop Dewane said Catholic clergy and lay leaders can play a role in bringing together people to build understanding of the need for sensible policies that can end the scourge of gun violence. Sadly, just a few days after the presentation, a school shooting in California left two dead and others wounded.

Outlining the USCCB’s long-held stance of the need for “common sense” legislation that governs the availability of guns, the Bishop also pointed to the need to address gun violence, which has ravaged many urban centers, while acknowledging the legitimate concerns among responsible gun owners of losing access to firearms for hunting or, in some cases, protection.

In 1975, the USCCB issued its first major statement on guns and have since addressed gun violence, outlining the Conference’s concern that lives are being needlessly lost because of the widening availability of guns, including military-style weapons. However, the latest call goes beyond legislative efforts and appears to open the door for Church leaders to seek a common ground in addressing gun violence.

“Human life is sacred … and we need to approach this with the full strength of our teaching,” Bishop Dewane said.

The USCCB is not seeking a total limit to handguns but would welcome broader background checks and some limits on gun ownership. While common sense restrictions on guns would be no different than those already in place on prescription drugs and drivers. The Bishop suggested the restrictions are not the full solution.

“Such regulations are helpful, but they will not ban gun violence completely. For that to happen, we need new ways of thinking,” he continued.

Bishop Dewane also urged society to look at the “danger signs in others that can lead to the loss of empathy (and see) early signs of self-inwardness… As a society we have become less and less empathetic ourselves, a clear sign that we all are, to a degree, becoming dangerous.”

During the General Assembly, the Bishops approved adding new materials to complement “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” which is a voting reference from the committee Bishop chaired, and a long-standing guide to help Catholics form their consciences in public life, including voting.

A new year-long initiative invites Catholics to model civility, love for neighbor, and respectful dialogue. The program, “Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate” asks Catholics to commit to civility, clarity, and compassion in their families, communities, and parishes, and call on others to do the same. (A link to the pledge is available on the Diocese of Venice website www.dioceseofvenice.org.)

Bishop Dewane emphasized the importance of “Civilize It” in the context of the current divisive climate: “Conversation in the public square is all too often filled with personal attacks and words that assume the worst about those with whom we disagree. We are in need of healing in our families, communities, and country. “Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate” is a call for Catholics to honor the human dignity of each person they encounter, whether it is online, at the dinner table, or in the pews next to them. I invite all Catholics to participate in “Civilize It.” In doing so, they can bear witness to a better way, approach conversations with civility, clarity, and compassion, and invite others to do the same.”

At the conclusion of the General Assembly Bishop Dewane handed over the leadership of the Committee to Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City.

Catholic News Service contributed to this report.

Bishop speaks nationally on death penalty, assisted suicide

Staff and wire reports

October is Respect Life Month, therefore it was appropriate that Bishop Frank J. Dewane recently spoke out on two important end-of-life issues.

Speaking as the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Dewane was part of a roundtable discussion about capital punishment on Oct. 10, the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

The discussion highlighted not only the consistency of church teaching against capital punishment but also what Catholics could do to learn more about what the Catholic Church has to say on this issue.

Bishop Dewane participated in the Catholic News Service moderated roundtable with Archbishops Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, D.C.

Bishop Dewane stressed the sacredness of human life and said that “when it is violated, when it is attacked,” we are called to step in and “become the voice for those who can’t speak” for their own lives.

The Catholic Church’s opposition to the death penalty stems from its view on the sacredness of human life and the value of mercy.

The bishops spoke about the many problems with the death penalty. Examples cited were cases where minorities were not given a jury of their peers or when DNA results have exonerated death-row prisoners. Bishop Dewane mentioned that many on death row include people of color or those in poverty or suffering from mental illness. He said society needs to look at these factors and consider not just punitive but restorative measures.

The bishops were asked about Catholic opinion of the death penalty — 53% are in favor of it, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center poll. It was agreed by the panelists that it’s important for the faithful to learn, study, and read the Teachings of the Magisterium of the Church on this issue.

From St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis there has been a steady movement toward a greater clarity in terms of the morality and the inadmissibility of the death penalty.

Panelists were disturbed by the announcement this summer that the federal government rescinded its 16-year moratorium on executing federal inmates.

When talking about the families of victims the bishops agreed that the only thing that can bring healing or comfort is “mercy: being willing to forgive.”

In another pro-life initiative, on Oct. 15, Bishop Dewane co-authored a news release from the USCCB responding to a National Council on Disabilities (NCD) federal study revealing that assisted suicide laws are dangerous to people with disabilities.

In its report, “The Danger of Assisted Suicide Laws,” NCD provides several policy recommendations including urging states to not legalize any form of assisted suicide or active euthanasia. The NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the president, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities.

Bishop Dewane, along with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of Kansas City in Kansas, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, praised the NCD for its “critical research and report exposing serious risks of abuse, coercion and discrimination posed by assisted suicide laws, specifically for people with disabilities.”

“Every suicide is a human tragedy, regardless of the age, incapacity, or social/economic status of the individual.,” the statement continues. “The legalization of doctor-assisted suicide separates people into two groups: those whose lives we want to protect and those whose deaths we encourage. This is completely unjust and seriously undermines equal protection under the law.”

The statement goes on to note the human rights and intrinsic worth of a person do not change with the onset of age, illness, or disability. As Pope Francis said, “True compassion does not marginalize anyone, nor does it humiliate and exclude – much less consider the disappearance of a person as a good thing.”

The bishops stated that all must do what they can to uphold the dignity of life, cherish the lives of all human beings, and work to prevent all suicides. “We urge state and federal governments, health care providers, and associations to heed this report’s warnings and recommendations, especially its opposition to assisted suicide laws,” the statement concluded.

Bishop Dewane has been chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development since 2016 and will be passing along the role to Archbishop Coakley during the Fall Meeting of the USCCB.

Catholic News Service contributed information to this report.

June 20, 2018 Bishop Letter on current Immigration issue

June 20, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sister in Christ,

This is a critical moment in our nation, a land of immigrants. We hear the cries of the children who are being torn away from their parents and family. As the political debate rages, action must be taken, and families need to remain together!

At its core, this is a moral issue, not merely a political debate. This is about the sanctity of the family, a bond that cannot be duplicated or replaced. While we may differ in our views on how to fix the immigration crisis, we can all agree that returning children to their parents must be of utmost priority.

Unlike many of you, I am not a parent, therefore I can only imagine the horror and suffering that takes place when children are torn from their parents’ arms. I can recall, as we all can, as a child the times when separated from our mother and/or father for any length of time – the anguish, the uncertainty and the deep hurt.

Children are being taken from their parents and detained on our border. They have no parent to comfort them as they are exposed to irreparable harm and trauma facing an uncertain future. Is this how we really want to treat children? Does this address basic human dignity? I hear this deep concern shared with me as I travel throughout the Diocese.

The family is the basic unit of society. When families are forcibly pulled apart, society is severely wounded. While every country has the right to secure and safe borders, it is the moral duty of us all to protect children. The government should not tear apart the family.

As brothers and sisters in Christ, pray for the children, parents and families who are suffering separation at our border. Pray that our country, the administration and the lawmakers find a solution to the immigration debate that makes sense and keeps families together.

I stand with my brother Bishops in asking you all to urge lawmakers to put aside politics and act for the moral good – reunite children with their parents!

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Bishop of the Diocese of

Venice in Florida

X