Bishop Richard Pates sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to seek a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Bishop Pates serves as the chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace. Click here to read the letter.
Bishop Richard Pates, along with the bishops from the other three Iowa dioceses, issued a statement through the Iowa Catholic Conference on the situation of children and families fleeing war and violence in Central America, arriving at the southern border of the United States. The statement is as follows:
"A November 2013 report from the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on Migration alerted us to the ongoing increase in migration of unaccompanied children across the border. More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border since the beginning of the year.
"The report found a “perfect storm” of reasons leading to this phenomenon, including an absence of economic opportunities, a lack of access to education, and a desire to reunify with family in the United States. One cause has played a decisive role in recent years: extreme violence in the countries of origin and a corresponding breakdown of the rule of law. This violence has resulted in part because of the drug trade driven by users in the United States.
"We appreciate government officials for responding as best they can to this crisis and ask them to make sure that legal services are available to unaccompanied children. Children without family in the U.S. are at risk of being sent back to an unsafe situation. The best interests of these children should be a priority.
In a recent statement for World Refugee Day, Pope Francis said “Jesus was a refugee” and called upon Catholics and others to “alleviate their suffering in a concrete way.” We are responding the best we can through our Catholic Charities organizations and ask the government to do the same."
Bishop Pates, who is traveling in El Salvador on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, sent to us his reaction on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this week on religious liberty. Bishop said:
"I join in the broad consortium of ecumenical, business and constitutional advocates in expressing appreciation for the decision of the Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. At stake is recognition for the application of the First Amendment and the guarantee of Religious Freedom.
“Yet in judicial process in conjunction with the HHS mandate are approximately 60 cases which deal with the notion that religious freedom is exercised not only in freedom of worship but expressing one's faith in action. The principal case currently applicable is that of the Little Sisters of the Poor in insisting that the dedicated service of these women to the elderly poor qualifies for protection in the exercise of religious liberty.
“The Catholic Church has strongly advocated for health care as a human right but to be implemented without imposing practices that are contrary to long standing religious beliefs."
“Me junto con un consorcio grande de defensores ecuménicos, empresarios y constitucionales en expresar la apreciación por la decisión de la corte suprema en el caso de Hobby Lobby. En juego está el reconocimiento de la aplicación de la primera enmienda de la constitución y la garantía de libertad religiosa.
“De todas maneras en el proceso judicial sobre el mandato del departamento de servicios humanos hay aproximadamente 60 casos que tratan con la idea de que la libertad religiosa esta expresada no solamente en la libertad de culto sino también en la expresión de la fe en acción de cada uno. El caso principal más aplicable actualmente es el de las Hermanitas de los Pobres que insiste que el servicio dedicado de estas mujeres hacia los ancianos pobres califica para la protección del ejercicio de la libertad religiosa.
“La iglesia católica ha advocado fuertemente por la salud como un derecho humano, pero debe estar implementada sin imponer prácticas que son contrarias a las creencias religiosas tradicionales.”