A journalist's confession

Journalist: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been seven months since my last confession. I have been beating up on the U.S. Catholic bishops for their obsession (Pope Francis' word, not mine) with abortion, gay marriage, and birth control and ignored what they have said about justice and peace.

Priest: Well, beating up on the bishops is not a sin. That is part of your vocation. But what stories have you ignored?

Journalist: Well, here are some of the stories I have ignored since January:

Bishop Pates urges National Security Advisor Rice to provide humanitarian assistance, work with other governments to stop violence in Iraq, July 25

USCCB committee chairman calls on President Obama, Central American presidents to protect children and families, July 24.

Bishop Pates to Secretary Kerry: United States must change trade and economic policies, stop drugs and arms flow to end border crisis, July 24

Bishop Pates urges Secretary Kerry to pursue an Israel-Hamas ceasefire, reiterates call to work for lasting peace, July 21

Archbishop Wenski, Catholic Charities’ Father Snyder urge U.S. Sentencing Commission to fix broken Federal drug sentencing guidelines, July 8

USCCB chairman urges Obama Administration to reconsider proposed policy to return unaccompanied children to their home countries without proper due process, July 2

Bishop in House committee testimony: Nation ‘must not turn our back’ on unaccompanied children crossing border, June 25

On World Refugee Day, USCCB Chairman calls on the United States to help “alleviate the suffering” of refugees, June 20

Bishop Pates urges Obama Administration to promote inclusive government and provide humanitarian assistance in Iraq, June 19

Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development approves over $14 Million in grants to combat poverty, injustice, June 19

U.S. Bishops, Iran religious leaders jointly declare opposition to violations of human life and dignity, including weapons of mass destruction, June 17

Heading into U.S. bishop’s general assembly, USCCB president urges Congress to reform nation’s immigration system, June 5

Reacting to surge in unaccompanied children crossing border, USCCB chair calls on administration, Congress to offer protection, address root causes, June 4

U.S. bishops urge action on carbon pollution to stem climate change, May 29

USCCB Migration Committee celebrates Mass on Capitol Hill for immigrants; urges House of Representatives to act on immigration reform legislation, May 29

Jewish, Christian and Muslim national religious leaders urge Secretary of State Kerry to continue providing determined U.S. leadership for peace, May 21

Bishop Pates briefs bishops and public officials on U.S. bishops’ dialogue with religious leaders in Iran, May 12

Bishop Pates to National Security Advisor: Help Nigerian Government and faith-based institutions counteract religious extremism in wake of kidnappings, May 9

Bishops, policy specialists, other Catholic leaders convene renewed effort on nuclear disarmament at Stanford University, April 28

Bishop Pates applauds senators urging declassification of intelligence committee information on torture, April 2

Echoing Pope Francis, Cardinal O’Malley and brother bishops decry indifference to suffering of migrants under U.S. immigration system, call for action on immigration reform, April 1

USCCB Committee on Migration calls all Catholics to pray, fast, take action for immigration reform, March 28

Archbishop Wenski, Catholic Charities’ Father Snyder ask Senate to support Smarter Sentencing Act, March 27

Archbishop Kurtz, Bishop Pates commend President Obama, Secretary Kerry for initiative to resolve Israeli-Palestinian conflict, March 12

Bishop Pates urges prayer and action during Lent for peace in the Holy Land, March 10

USCCB Migration Committee to travel to U.S.-Mexico border to remember fallen migrants, highlight human consequences of broken immigration system, March 6

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, USCCB president, issues statement on Ukraine, March 4

Archbishop Wenski, Catholic Charities’ Father Larry Snyder urge Congressional support for Second Chance Act, March 4

Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders say support from religious communities essential to Israeli-Palestinian peace, Feb. 28

Christians leaders oppose mass incarceration, Feb. 25

Bishop Pates urges ratification of Mine Ban Treaty in letter to National Security Advisor, Feb. 20

Catholic leaders from across country urge legislators to promote peace, Feb. 4

USCCB Chair ‘strongly encouraged’ by House Republican immigration reform principles, pledges to work with all to pass humane immigration reform legislation, Jan. 31

USCCB and national Catholic partners respond to farm bill conference committee bill, Jan. 29

Bishop Pates renews plea for Secretary Kerry to urge Israel to stop unnecessary confiscation of Palestinian lands in occupied West Bank, Jan. 28

Archbishop Wenski, Bishop Pates ask Congress to remember values of human life and dignity in trade deals, Jan. 16

Bishops’ Conferences say hope is essential for peace in the Holy Land, Jan. 16

USCCB Chairman of Committee on Migration calls for Senate action on Syria, Jan. 14

Bishop John Manz visits Cuba; calls for ongoing support of reforms, openness, Jan. 10

Archbishop Wenski, Bishop Pates call for expansion of humanitarian aspects of response to U.S.-Mexican drug trafficking, Jan. 10

Catholic leaders urge Senate to promote decent work and just wages, Jan. 8

USCCB bishop to visit the Middle East, support continued peace talks, January 3

Priest: (Soft snoring heard.)

Journalist: Father?

Priest: Oh, yes. By the way, who is this Bishop Pates that you mentioned so many times?

Journalist: He is the bishop of Des Moines. In November 2011, the U.S. bishops elected him chair of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace. 

Priest: Never heard of him. OK. For your penance, publish the list.

Journalist: Oh $#!+.

Priest: Go in peace. 

[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. His email address is treesesj@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ThomasReeseSJ.]

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