Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

Gun Violence: A Call For Constructive Dialogue

This week, President Obama raised the need for this nation to address gun violence. The manner in which this Administration and Congress have confronted this issue in the past has proven to be ineffective. What is needed is a constructive dialogue about the violence that is taking so many innocent lives and crippling our society.

It is past time for this nation and this Congress to come to grips with the violence that is growing in our nation. With regard to gun control, we must as a nation find the right balance between the common good and individual rights. This balance is also needed in resolving many other cultural issues today. It is time for Congress to take up this important dialogue.

I strongly support the Second Amendment which guarantees the right for individuals to “keep and bear arms.” At the same time, the common good of society, namely the safety of all people to conduct day-to-day lives in peaceful tranquility must also be equally protected. Putting the emphasis on the safety of our citizenry in no way diminishes the right of individuals to possess firearms. We all grieve at the news and loss of life experienced at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the mass shooting in San Bernardino, and the regular street violence in Chicago and other major cities. We all wish to see an appropriate solution to ending all forms of violence, especially gun violence.

Respect for the dignity of every human person and the sanctity of human life is at the heart of this challenge. I recall the recent challenge of Pope Francis in his encyclical, Laudato Si, challenging us to put the human person at the center of the economy, rather than financial gain. If Congress can do that, we will find the solutions we need to reduce gun violence in this country.

I fully endorse yesterday’s statement issued by Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Violence in our society is a complex issue with many facets, taking many forms. While no measure can eliminate all acts of violence which involve firearms, we welcome reasonable efforts aimed at saving lives and making communities safer. We hope Congress will take up this issue in a more robust way, considering all of the varied aspects involved. In addition to reasonable regulation, conversations must include strengthening social services for persons with mental illness, while being mindful that the vast majority of those suffering with mental illness are not likely to commit violent criminal acts.


Peace For Syria

Saturday, President Obama announced his decision to take military action against Syria.  Thankfully, he also announced his decision to seek approval of Congress for such action.

Yesterday, our Holy Father, Pope Francis made a passionate appeal for peace for the people of Syria.

As the people of this nation, we need to do two things (minimally.)  First, we would do well to heed Pope Francis’ appeal for prayer and fasting in an effort to secure this seemingly illusive peace in Syria.  Second, we have a short window of opportunity to appeal to our national representatives.  Please, write, call, email, tweet, facebook… but communicate to our congress a strong and unified voice: No Military Action!

Is the situation in Syria not a truly devastating time for so many innocent people?  Is it not heartbreaking to see so many dying?  Are not millions now living in sub-human conditions in refugee camps?  Will thousands not live with physical handicaps the rest of their lives?  Will not thousands more live with psychological scars as a result of the actions of this dictator?  Absolutely.

But, is military action of this nation truly going to change that situation?  I believe it will have no such desired effect.

We must ask ourselves: ‘What is the good to be advanced by such military action?’  To punish a dictator for the atrocious use of chemical weapons is not a sufficient answer.  To send a clear message to other dictators regarding their consideration of using chemical weapons is also inadequate.  To justify such action in defense of national security seems self-serving at best.

The good we seek is the cessation of violence and the restoration of order.  The good we seek is a safe environment for the millions of civilians to live and put their lives, homes and neighborhoods back together.

The other serious consideration regards unintended outcomes to the use of military weapons in such a politically fragile part of the world.  The US has limited if any international support for this military response.  How can we not expect unknown and potentially major military responses in retaliation for this planned military strike?  How can we say definitively as a nation that our military response in this situation will not further erode the fragile peace that presently exists in the Middle East?  How can we not expect that such military action will not further embolden the terrorists already intent on inflicting harm upon this and many other western nations?

Tell our Congress: Work for peace.  Work towards true diplomacy. Efforts to promote and defend human dignity and sanctity must apply the same principles of human decency to its actions.

Let us pray that a strong diplomatic effort, not military action, may work towards a resolution to this growing and sad chapter in our human history.

Mary Queen of Peace, Pray for us!


Letter To Priests, Deacons, Religious and Parishioners Regarding HHS Mandate



Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ:

 As you are most undoubtedly aware, on January 20, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services announced its decision not to expand the unacceptably narrow “religious employer” exemption to its mandate that virtually all health insurance plans must include, as so-called “preventive services” sterilizations, abortifacients, and contraception.  Since that time, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and I began immediately preparing to meet this challenge.

 The Bishops’ Conference committee on Religious Liberty is actively engaged in planning a nation-wide response on a number of levels.  I simply want you to know that the bishops are fully engaged in this process, and a significant, sustainable, and long-term strategy is our goal.

You are invited to visit the USCCB website for continually updated information regarding our efforts to defend freedoms of conscience and religious liberty, and to better inform yourself as to what you can do as individuals.  There is already information on this website to assist you in writing your representatives to express your deep concern for the protections of freedom of conscience and religious liberty.

 I want to be very clear.  We as church, and all believers, share a deep concern for women’s health.  However, we take serious issue with any effort to portray pregnancy as a disease.  Regardless of the present contraceptive practices of women and couples, the Church will always teach the integrity of the whole moral law of marriage and of human sexuality, for to do so is to support the true growth of human civilization. (See Humanae Vitae 18)  God in His Providence has provided for the natural means of conceiving children, and the natural and nurturing place for their development is in the mother’s womb.  This “sacred sanctuary” is and should be the first priority of healthcare, if healthcare is truly about nurturing and sustaining human life.

 Regarding the Obama administration’s intention to mandate free healthcare coverage of contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization procedures, let us be very clear.  This mandate seeks not only to reflect some women’s reproductive behaviors, but to change all women’s behaviors.  Should this mandate stand, we can easily see into the future how this or any future administration will then feel quite emboldened to take the next step of mandatory coverage for abortions, infanticide, and so called ‘assisted suicide’.  Indeed, this mandate will already cover the cost of certain FDA approved medications that are known to cause the early destruction of a human embryo, thus leading to the loss of life in the womb.

 As serious as the above issue of life is, this mandate raises another grave concern, with far-reaching consequences, and that is Religious Liberty.  Even though most churches and houses of worship are exempt from this mandate, other religious institutions, through which Catholics and other Christians carry out our Gospel Mission, are not.  Faith-based institutions such as schools, hospitals, universities and charitable institutions will be required to follow this new mandate, or pay stiff financial penalties.  In addition, individual employers who wish to act on their faith and provide their employees health insurance but do not want to provide services contrary to their religious beliefs are forced to either not provide health insurance and face a fine or act contrary to their faith.  In short, the government is requiring that people of faith purchase something that violates their moral beliefs. 

 If we allow this mandate to go unchallenged, if we allow it to stand, we are surrendering our constitutionally protected right under the First Amendment, to freely exercise our religious faith in American society.  This has serious consequences for our dioceses, parishes and other religious institutions and the way we are presently able to freely carry out our faith-based ministries.  We believe firmly that our moral presence in the public square and our charitable service to those in need is not only protected under the First Amendment, but is also good for our culture and society.  Once a country or government loses its moral foundation, there will be an inevitable destruction to “decent society” and the disintegration of culture and democracy.

 This mandate is a “not-so-subtle” revelation of this administration’s misinterpretation of Religious Liberty as a mere “freedom of worship”.  In other words, this mandate is telling people of faith: “Keep your faith at home or in your church, synagogue, mosque or temple and out of the market place, or we will enact regulations that will prevent you from practicing your faith in public.”  This is a wake-up call to all Catholics and all people of faith in American society.  This is one more step in the direction of declaring “no-god” the official religion of the State, and every person who holds dear their faith in God had better stand up and take notice.

 I urge you to contact President Obama, Senators Barrasso and Enzi and Representative Lummis and state your objections to this new requirement, and ask for the repeal of this mandate or at least for a religious exemption that would allow people of faith not to have to provide contraceptive, abortifacients and sterilization coverage. 

 I invite all of you please stay abreast of the developments around this HHS Mandate.  I also strongly encourage fasting and prayer as a proper response to this challenge.  Last but not least, our response should always be one of faith, hope and respect.  Please know how grateful I am for your faith.  With assurance of prayers for you and your families and loved ones, I remain,

 In The Heart of Christ,


 Most Reverend Paul D. Etienne

Bishop of Cheyenne

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May 2016
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