It is not easy to be a bishop in the United States

The author states that "it's not easy being a bishop in America today.". Particularly on two hot topics, "the bishops feel as if they are swimming against strong political winds."immigration and aid to pregnant women and the poor. 

October 20, 2023-Reading time: 2 minutes
bishop united states

On immigration, another flood of would-be immigrants at the southern border is overwhelming local resources and raising political ire. An estimated 110,000 immigrants have arrived in New York alone this year. New York Mayor Eric Adams has claimed that the influx is overwhelming. "This issue will destroy" the city, he warned. For his part, Texas' Republican governor, Catholic Greg Abbott, ordered the installation of barbed wire fences and buoys along the banks of the Rio Grande in an effort to deter possible arrivals.

In a homily delivered on September 17 during a mass for migrants, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, José Gomezexpressed his frustration bluntly: "People are being sent from the border all over the country. There is no plan for them to be welcomed or taken care of. We are all working together to welcome them and provide for their needs. But our leaders seem to be standing idly by instead of coming together and working to fix our broken immigration system." 

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court's decision to nullify abortion as a constitutional right, a decision greeted with cheers from the prolifershas led to a backlash that has expanded access to abortion in some states, while limiting it in others.

The political backlash has also demonstrated that while most Americans may be uncomfortable with unrestricted abortion, they are also uncomfortable with efforts to abolish abortion. So far, this reaction has benefited Democrats, who generally oppose abortion restrictions.

The bishops have persistently called for more programs to help pregnant women and families, but these appeals do not generate much support. Maternal deaths are on the rise, and recent cuts in funding for Medicaid (government health insurance for needy people), and a possible shutdown of the U.S. government due to a political stalemate are putting more pressure on poor Americans.

The bishops are also increasingly concerned about Congress itself. In an extraordinary letter dated Sept. 21, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic BishopsArchbishop Timothy Broglio challenged Congress to approve key budget items intended to help the poor. Unfortunately, there is little sign that either politicians or ordinary Catholics are doing anything to help the poor.

The authorGreg Erlandson

Journalist, author and editor. Director of Catholic News Service (CNS)

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