Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Immigration and gun control discussed by Catholic bishops in Baltimore

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is holding its annual fall meeting in Baltimore this week. The meeting entails three days of prayer, reflection and politics, as top church decision-makers weigh in on the same issues being debated across the nation's capital, including immigration and gun control.

"(Immigrants) who are often fleeing horrible violence, terrorism and disaster. Their journey is our journey," said Bishop Vasquez.

Bishops advocated for inclusion by embracing immigrants and migrants. That stance is in direct opposition to the Trump administration.

"We have resources for our local churches, our diocese, to be able to pursue policies. We try to work out, sometimes, in terms of legislatures or Congress or the administration," said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, USCCB president.

A small but dedicated group of protesters demanded the Roman Catholic Church designate one "sanctuary church" in every diocese in America.

"To protect immigrants facing deportation. There are a lot of Catholics, immigrants who are Catholic. And the Protestant churches are actually the ones supporting them," said Felix Cepeda, a Catholic protester from New York City.

What are the chances it will happen?

"We have provided resources to help a local diocese make some decision relative to sanctuary city. The conference itself does not go there," DiNardo said.

Gun control was also discussed at the meeting, and the USCCB is in favor of what the conference president calls "commonsense gun legislation."

"We think that this is the time for a good, national discussion and no doubt it will involve debate, we hope, with some change that would come," said DiNardo.

The gathering, which began Sunday with a Mass at the Basilica, runs through Wednesday.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Shootings demonstrate need for gun control, USCCB says

USCCB = United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Bishop Frank Dewane, CNA file photo

.- In response to mass shootings in Las Vegas, Nevada and the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Spring, Texas, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has encouraged public debate on gun control, suggesting specific policies that might quell gun violence.

“For many years, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been urging our leaders to explore and adopt reasonable policies to help curb gun violence,” said Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in a Nov. 7 statement.

“The recent and shocking events in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs remind us of how much damage can be caused when weapons … too easily find their way into the hands of those who would wish to use them to harm others.”

On Oct. 1, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock unleashed hundreds of bullets on a crowd of 22,000 people gathered for a country music festival in Las Vegas. Paddock had 23 guns stockpiled in his room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. He killed 59 people, including himself, and injured 546 others.
Devin Kelley, 26, opened fire Sunday, Nov. 5, at a church outside of San Antonio, Texas, killing 26 people and wounding 20 more. He was armed with a rifle and handgun.

Although violence won’t be solved by legislation alone, Bishop Dewane said, the recent events should instigate public debates to “explore and adopt reasonable policies to help curb gun violence.”
The bishop emphasized the USCCB’s previous support for gun control, mentioning their support for a 1994 federal ban on assault weapons, which expired without being renewed in 2004.

Additionally, Dewane mentioned that the USCCB has suggested policies for better background checks, limitations to high-powered weapons, more laws criminalizing gun traffic, improved access to mental health care, and increased safety measures on guns.

While recognizing the right of U.S. citizens to own firearms, Bishop Dewane said that the U.S. should consider greater limitations on “weapons capable of easily causing mass murder when used with an evil purpose.”

“Society must recognize that the common good requires reasonable steps to limit access to such firearms by those who would intend to use them [for evil purposes].”

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Responding to Texas church shooting, U.S. bishops renew call for gun control

Meredith Cooper, of San Antonio, Tex., and her 8-year-old daughter, Heather, visit a memorial of 26 metal crosses near First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., on Nov. 6. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Meredith Cooper, of San Antonio, Tex., and her 8-year-old daughter, Heather, visit a memorial of 26 metal crosses near First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., on Nov. 6. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Like the episodes of violence themselves—three of the nation’s five worst shootings in modern history have taken place over the last 24 months—responses to mass shooting events from politicians and activists seem to have adopted a routine. Those with an absolutist interpretation of the Second Amendment offer thoughts and prayers but insist that the immediate aftermath of a shooting is not the right time to discuss gun control.

Those who wish to end easy access to high-capacity, military-style weapons say thoughts and prayers are insufficient without action and demand legislators stand up to the national gun lobby, now prompting a backlash by some conservatives who say the supporters of gun regulation mock religion.
Just days after the nation’s deadliest church shooting, where 26 people ranging from 17 months to 72 years old were killed by a lone gunman with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, a civilian model of the military’s M-16, the response followed the same well-worn path.

The head of the U.S. bishops committee on domestic justice issued a statement on Tuesday expressing support for a “total ban on assault weapons” and calling for a “real debate about needed measures to save lives and make our communities safer.”

“For many years, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been urging our leaders to explore and adopt reasonable policies to help curb gun violence,” Bishop Frank Dewane, leader of the Diocese of Venice, Fla., said. “The recent and shocking events in Las Vegas and [Sutherland Springs] remind us of how much damage can be caused when weapons—particularly weapons designed to inflict extreme levels of bloodshed—too easily find their way into the hands of those who would wish to use them to harm others.”

The statement also noted that the bishops continue to support universal background checks, restrictions on the possession of high-capacity weapons and increased access to mental health care.
Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, interviewed at the University of Chicago by Washington Post writer and Commonweal magazine contributor E.J. Dionne on Nov. 6, renewed his call for a ban of high-power weapons, employing a grisly image about hunting to make his point.

“Reasonable” gun control, he said, is “not against hunting. When I was [a bishop] in South Dakota, we hunted.”

But, he continued, “When the hunting sport is human prey, we have to take action.”

“It is important to do mourning and support and expressions of outrage,” he said. “But then we also need to tell ourselves, that is not enough. We need to take action. We need to make sure that our legislators know that we need to enact laws that ban these high powered weapons.”

He also echoed Pope Francis, who has been fiercely critical of the weapons industry during his pontificate, asking the U.S. Congress in 2015: “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?

“Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood,” the pope said.

The Chicago archbishop agreed that resistance to limiting access to military-style weapons is “about money.”

“There’s a lot of money here,” he said. “It’s funding the political opposition to any gun control. And there’s a lot of profit in this. Let’s not be naïve about that.”

Speaking to reporters after the event, the cardinal was blunt in his call for legislators to take action.
“Let’s start with these high-powered weapons. Both state and federal law need to change to make these guns not available. We don’t need military weapons in our society. We’re not supposed to be at war with one another,” he said.

Other bishops also appear to be fed up with the lack of progress of gun control.

In rural Vermont, where hunting is a common way of life, Bishop Christopher Coyne released a statement that seemed to suggest prayer should stir believers to take action on guns.

“I find my horror at these murders to be mixed with frustration and guilt—frustration that we as a country cannot seem to come together to do anything about this evil plague and guilt that I bear for being part of a culture that fosters such violence,” wrote the bishop, who heads the communications committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

He called for prayers for the victims of Sunday’s violence but also for penance for a collective guilt that allows such carnage to continue.

“But also prayers for ourselves that we may as a country somehow find a way to have a meaningful dialogue about what is to be done to stop these mass shootings, with an openness to hear each other and to seriously consider new policies and laws to protect people from this horror,” he wrote. “Each of us must search our own heart and ask, ‘Lord, what must I do?’”

Closer to the shooting in Texas, where guns are a cherished part of culture, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller responded to the shooting with a straightforward message posted in a Tweet: “No war, no violence, no guns.”

Speaking to America, Archbishop García-Siller said he is “hopeful” that a debate about gun regulations could begin following the shooting.

“We are not having an open debate,” he said. “We have been pushed not to have a debate about this matter.”

But, he continued, “we need to take actions in little ways and in stronger ways on how to promote a culture of peace, compassion, kindness, tenderness.”

Catholic bishops in the United States have long supported restrictions on gun ownership, especially high-powered and semi-automatic weapons like those used in the Texas church shooting. Gun-rights advocates have noted that existing laws should have prevented the shooter from obtaining his weapon, but authorities were not notified about his domestic violence criminal background.

Similar weapons were used in the shooting in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 that left 58 dead and hundreds injured; the 2015 office shooting in San Bernardino where 14 died; and the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were murdered just days before Christmas.

The U.S.C.C.B. released a pastoral statement addressing gun violence in 1994 titled “Confronting a Culture of Violence: A Catholic Framework for Action,” and it supported an assault-weapons ban enacted that year that was allowed to expire in 2004. In 2000, it called for “sensible regulation of handguns.”

In 2015, the bishops pledged to continue advocating for a litany of gun control measures, including universal background checks, limits to civilian ownership of high-capacity weapons and ammunition and increased access to mental health services.

It is unclear what effect a push for gun control by bishops could have.

Fred Kammer, S.J., who heads the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans, said bishops already have the foundations for a gun-control campaign, pointing to the U.S.C.C.B. voters’ guide, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” which calls for “supporting reasonable restrictions on access to assault weapons and handguns.”

Father Kammer said bishops should consider partnering with “with other faith communities across the board.” He said the “corrupting power of money in our politics,” especially “the corrupting power of the National Rifle Association and its influence on Congress,” should be of particular concern.
“If they do it, the bishops really need to commit serious resources to do it,” he said.

Responding to a question at the University of Chicago event from religion journalist Amy Sullivan, Cardinal Cupich said the U.S.C.C.B. is considering how it can contribute to a national conversation—but he said local efforts are more effective. Cardinal Cupich has frequently spoken about Chicago’s high levels of gun violence, which experts say is exacerbated by lax state laws in next-door Indiana, which makes purchasing and transporting firearms into the city relatively easy. (U.S. bishops also advocate for a federal law to criminalize gun trafficking.)

“National efforts to ban guns can only go so far, so many bishops have taken up the fight at the local level,” he said. “I think that’s where really it has to happen.”

Monday, November 6, 2017

Texas bishop in wake of church shooting: ‘No war, no violence, no guns’

Carrie Matula embraces a woman after a fatal shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. Matula said she heard the shooting from the gas station where she works a block away. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the archbishop of Galveston-Houston, responded to the country’s latest mass shooting, where at least 20 people were killed in a Texas church on Sunday, by saying Americans “must come to the firm determination that there is a fundamental problem in our society.”

“This incomprehensibly tragic event joins an ever-growing list of mass shootings, some of which were also at Churches while people were worshipping and at prayer,” the cardinal said in response to the shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., located southeast of San Antonio.

“A Culture of Life cannot tolerate, and must prevent, senseless gun violence in all its forms,” he continued. “May the Lord, who Himself is Peace, send us His Spirit of charity and nonviolence to nurture His peace among us all.”

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, who heads the Catholic Church in San Antonio, took to Twitter to express his sorrow at news of the shooting—and make known his views on guns.

“We need prayers! The families affected in the shootings need prayers. Let's help with prayers. Our Baptist brethren need us. God have mercy!” he tweeted as news of the shooting broke.

He sent a series of additional tweets, including one that said, “no guns.”

The wife of the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs said the couple’s 14-year-old daughter was among those killed in a mass shooting at the church.

 Sherri Pomeroy, wife of Pastor Frank Pomeroy, said in a text message that she lost her daughter “and many friends” in the Sunday shooting. The text came in response to an interview request sent by The Associated Press to a phone number linked in online records to Frank Pomeroy.

“We ask the Lord for healing of those injured, His loving care of those who have died and the consolation of their families,” Cardinal DiNardo said in his statement, adding that he offers prayers for “the victims, the families, the first responders, our Baptist brothers and sisters, indeed the whole community of Sutherland Springs.” 

“We stand in unity with you in this time of terrible tragedy — as you stand on holy ground, ground marred today by horrific violence,” he said.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

National Catholic Reporter: Editorial: Now is the time for action on guns

Article Source

"The day after a gunman mowed down hundreds of people in Las Vegas, Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa, posted a message to his diocese. "Our faith inspires us to offer condolences," he wrote. He offered "prayers for the happy repose of the souls" and called for respect for life and for common good.

And then, in an abrupt needle-scraping-across-the-album moment, he simply wrote "Jesus, mercy" and ended with this parenthetical: "This is substantially the same statement as last year after the Orlando shooting. I figured: why write something new; nothing of substance has changed in the area of gun control. And that is I think yet another level to the sadness of Sunday's tragedy."

Many of us thought the slaughter of Connecticut schoolchildren, just weeks before Christmas five years ago, was gut-wrenching enough to inspire lawmakers to enact some legal reins on the gun culture that is destroying the freedom to enjoy life for Americans across the country. It did not. In the end, it was more important for lawmakers to protect their careers from the wrath of the National Rifle Association than to protect all of us from random acts of violence.

This time, with 58 people dead and almost 500 injured — making the event in Las Vegas the most deadly single shooting in modern U.S. history — President Donald Trump and supporters of the right to own any kind of gun, no matter how powerful or how unsuitable for any activity other than mass destruction, said that "now is not the time" to bring up the issue of gun control.

If now is not the time, then when is the time?

We do not know what drove the Las Vegas shooter to plan such an unimaginable act of violence. But we do know how he did it. We know he stocked his suite at the Mandalay Hotel with at least 23 weapons and accompanying ammunition. We know he chose guns with enough power to kill a large number of human beings from a window 32 stories above them. And we know he bought his weapons legally.

Now is the time. Now. Thirteen years after lawmakers allowed a 10-year-old ban on so-called assault weapons to expire, now is the time. That ban did not limit Americans' ability to own guns for hunting or even handguns for purposes of self-defense. What it did do was prohibit private citizens from buying 18 models of semi-automatic guns. The law was far from simple, and gun sellers and buyers found ways around it. That's going to happen. Take, for instance, the legal drinking age. Teenagers find ways to buy alcohol, but we don't let those laws just fade away.

For decades, the U.S. Catholic bishops have stood against the easy ability to buy deadly weapons, especially high-powered guns such as those used in the Las Vegas killings. In a 1994 pastoral message, "Confronting the Culture of Violence: A Catholic Framework for Action," the bishops outlined action steps for the church and its people, including advocacy for laws that restrict "dangerous weapons."

"The Catholic community is in a position to respond to violence and the threat of violence in our society with new commitment and creativity," the message said. "More of the same is not sufficient."

Six years later, they issued another document, "Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice," in which they specifically supported laws that "control the sale and use of firearms and make them safer."

After the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, they came out in force, calling for "reasonable regulations of firearms," including "universal background checks for all gun purchases" and a limit on "civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines." They reiterated that message in written testimony to a Senate committee considering legislation in the aftermath of Sandy Hook.

We are, therefore, baffled by the statement issued Oct. 2 under the name of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"In the end, the only response is to do good — for no matter what the darkness, it will never overcome the light. May the Lord of all gentleness surround all those who are suffering from this evil, and for those who have been killed we pray, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them."

Where was the call for restrictions on gun sales this time? October is Respect Life Month. Common-sense regulation of gun sales and ownership is an issue of life, and now is the time for U.S. Catholics — bishops, priests, women religious and all the rest of us — to fight against the culture of gun violence that pervades our nation.

We call on the bishops to use their national and state conferences to lobby for legislation that goes beyond small NRA-acceptable restrictions and acknowledges and addresses the public health threat posed by high-capacity, military-style weaponry. We call on Catholics to embrace the sentiment behind the social-media hashtag #enough and to demand real and courageous action by their representatives in Congress and in state capitols. And we call on all Americans to support political candidates who dare to make gun control a key issue in their campaigns.

Now is the time for action. Now is the time for change. Now is the time to respect and protect the lives of not only unborn children, and not only people near the end of their lives, but also humans who simply want to enjoy music at an outdoor festival on the streets of any American city.

Now. Not next time. Now." 

Read more: https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/editorial-now-time-action-guns

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Cardinal Cupich launches "anti-violence" program in Chicago with Pope Francis’ support

Cardinal Cupich launches anti-violence program in Chicago with Pope Francis’ support

By Michael O’Loughlin, April 04, 2017

Cardinal Blase Cupich announced he will use $250,000 from his discretionary charitable fund to create a new foundation to fund anti-violence programs throughout Chicago, an initiative with support from Pope Francis.

The cardinal told reporters on April 4 that the archdiocese will expand existing mentorship, educational and job programs at Catholic entities and partner with non-Catholic agencies. Speaking in a neighborhood where gang violence is rampant, Cardinal Cupich said the Catholic Church is committed to peace-building.

“We are here because the kids are here, because the families are here. They deserve our support,” he said.

The cardinal read a letter he received from Pope Francis, who exhorted Chicago’s young people to follow the example of Martin Luther King Jr.

“Walking the path of peace is not always easy, but it is the only authentic response to violence,” the pope wrote.

“I pray that the people of your beautiful city never lose hope, that they work together to become builders of peace, showing future generations the true power of love,” he continued.
Pope Francis: “Walking the path of peace is not always easy, but it is the only authentic response to violence.”

The cardinal’s announcement came on the 49th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King, and he said the archdiocese will spend the next year encouraging Catholics to reflect on how economic inequality and racism contribute to the city’s violence. Pope Francis has repeatedly mentioned Dr. King in speeches and statements, including in his 2015 address to the U.S. Congress.

In the pope’s letter, which was published in both English and Spanish, Francis wrote, “I urge all people, especially young men and women, to respond to Dr. King’s prophetic words—and know that a culture of nonviolence is not an unattainable dream, but a path that has produced decisive results.”
“The consistent practice of nonviolence has broken barriers, bound wounds, healed nations—and it can heal Chicago,” he continued.

Pope Francis: “The consistent practice of nonviolence has broken barriers, bound wounds, healed nations—and it can heal Chicago.”

For his part, Cardinal Cupich, who said he briefed the pope on violence in Chicago as recently as last month, said efforts to fight the city’s violence will require individuals from all walks of life to work together. To that end, he said parishes in every part of the city will be invited to partake in the effort.
“Broad gestures and sweeping rhetoric will not solve the problem. We need to do this person by person,” he said.

Among the programs the archdiocese says it is committed to over the coming months, in addition to the “venture philanthropy effort,” are a revitalized youth program, implementing “a robust anti-racism component” to religious education classes, the construction of a new job training center and the launch of a program for youth from around the city to dialogue about ways to combat violence in the city. Various Catholic agencies will expand summer jobs programs and the archdiocese will invest additional resources in its prison ministries.

Cardinal Cupich, speaking inside the gymnasium at the Catholic Charities-funded Peace Corner Youth Center, also announced that he will lead an interfaith march for peace on Good Friday through the city’s violence-plagued Englewood neighborhood.

“We want to inspire people to work together, giving them hope that we can do something even if we cannot do everything,” the cardinal said.

Asked how the archdiocese would be able to provide additional resources as it undertakes a reconfiguration process that could result in the closing of dozens of parishes in coming years, Cardinal Cupich said the church has no choice but to provide assistance where it can.
“If we don’t do this as a church, then we might as well pack up,” he said. “This is what we should be doing. We should be with people who are in need.”

Cardinal Cupich: “Broad gestures and sweeping rhetoric will not solve the problem. We need to do this person by person.”

Gun violence in the city is actually down compared to this time last year, the Chicago Police Department reported last month, but the number of shootings is on pace once again to eclipse the combined total number of shootings in New York and Los Angeles, the two largest American cities.
With 685 people shot, 124 of them fatally, in the first quarter of 2017, it remains one of the deadliest starts to a year in about two decades, the Chicago Tribune reported Mar. 31.

Last weekend, four men were wounded and two others were killed in suspected gang violence, just blocks from where the cardinal held his press conference on Tuesday morning. That shooting followed a particularly sensational spate of violence in February, when seven people were killed in a 12-hour span on the city’s South Side, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The pope’s letter stands in stark contrast to remarks from President Donald J. Trump, who repeatedly called out Chicago’s gun violence during his campaign and more recently as president. In February, Mr. Trump tweeted, “Chicago needs help!”

City officials, including the police superintendent Eddie Johnson, have said they would welcome assistance from the Trump administration, but say the president has not followed up his outbursts with concrete offers.

Mr. Johnson met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Washington last month to ask for federal money for mentoring, economic development and additional federal agents in the city.
In January, Cardinal Cupich compared the city’s gun violence to the Great Chicago Fire, which leveled the city in 1871.

After being honored by the council for being given a red hat by Pope Francis last November, Cardinal Cupich asked city officials for “your cooperation [and] support” as the archdiocese considered how it could contribute to efforts to fight gun violence.

He has repeatedly called for stronger gun control measures. In a 2015 op-ed in the Tribune, he wrote: “It is no longer enough for those of us involved in civic leadership and pastoral care to comfort the bereaved and bewildered families of victims of gun violence. It is time to heed the words of Pope Francis and take meaningful and swift action to address violence in our society.”

“We must band together to call for gun-control legislation,” he continued. “We must act in ways that promote the dignity and value of human life. And we must do it now.”

This story was updated at 4:35 p.m. EDT on April 4.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Catholic "church" is actively fighting for more gun restrictions in every state..

4 states pushed through tighter gun control which the Catholic church favored


Voters reject nearly all ballot measures on issues of Catholic concern

  • International Workers' Day supporters gather in downtown Los Angeles May 1 to raise awareness about minimum wage and immigration issues. (CNS/Vida-Nueva/Victor Aleman)
In this year's election, voters went against nearly all of the ballot initiatives backed by Catholic leaders and advocates, except the referendums on minimum wage increases and gun control measures.

Voters passed an assisted suicide measure in Colorado and voted in favor of the death penalty in three states and in favor of legalized recreational marijuana in four states and against it in one. They also voted for minimum wage increases and gun control measures in four states.

In Colorado, the only state with an initiative to legalize assisted suicide, voters passed the measure, making the state the sixth in the nation with a so-called "right-to-die law," joining Washington, Oregon, California, Vermont and Montana.

"The decision the voters of Colorado have made to legalize physician-assisted suicide via the passage of Proposition 106 is a great travesty of compassion and choice for the sick, the poor, the elderly and our most vulnerable residents," said Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference.

"Killing, no matter what its motives, is never a private matter; it always impacts other people and has much wider implications," she said in a Nov. 9 statement.

Kraska also said the state's initiative will only "deepen divides along lines of race, ethnicity and income in our society and entrench us deeper into a culture that offers a false compassion by marginalizing the most vulnerable."

The three death penalty referendums before voters this year all ended in favor of capital punishment. Bishops and Catholic conferences in these states had engaged in efforts to educate Catholics in particular on this issue and urge them to vote against it.

Oklahoma voters re-approved the use of the death penalty after the state's attorney general had suspended executions last year. Nebraska voters also reinstated the death penalty that had been repealed by state lawmakers last year.

In California, voters defeated a ballot measure to repeal death penalty in the state and narrowly passed an initiative aiming to speed up executions of death row convictions.

Disabled protesters against physician-assisted suicide gather in their wheelchairs outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. (CNS/Reuters/Jason Reed)

Karen Clifton, executive director of the Catholic Mobilizing Network, the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty, said in a Nov. 9 statement that "despite referendum losses" in those states, she was hopeful "the country will continue to move away from the death penalty and toward a greater respect for life." She also praised the work of Catholics on the state level to end the death penalty.

Clifton said the state ballots gave Catholics the chance to "prayerfully reflect on the dignity and worth of all life during this Jubilee Year of Mercy and to continue moving away from violence as the answer in our criminal justice system."

The California Catholic Conference said it was "extremely disappointed" that the ballot to repeal the death penalty didn't pass, stressing "it would have been the fitting culmination of a yearlong calling to live out the works of mercy." And the Catholic bishops of Nebraska expressed similar disappointment, saying in a statement they would "continue to call for the repeal of the death penalty when it is not absolutely necessary to protect the public safety."

Voters in California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine approved recreational marijuana initiatives, while Arizona voters rejected it. California, Massachusetts and Arizona bishops spoke out against the initiatives.

The Boston archdiocese spent $850,000 in a last-minute effort to defeat the ballot measure, saying increased drug use was a threat those served by the Catholic church's health and social-service programs. A Boston Globe report on the campaign quoted an archdiocesan spokesman who said the money was from a discretionary, unrestricted central ministry fund.

Marijuana plants for sale are displayed at the medical marijuana farmers' market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles July 11. (CNS/Reuters/David McNew) 

In a statement opposing the ballot measure, the Massachusetts Catholic bishops referenced a report from the National Institute of Drug Abuse that said marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.

"Its widespread use and abuse, particularly by young people under the age of 18, is steadily increasing while scientific evidence clearly links its long-term damaging effects on brain development," the bishops said.

On minimum wage ballots, voters in Maine, Arizona and Colorado voted to increase the minimum wage to at least $12 an hour by 2020 and in Washington they voted to increase it to $13.50 an hour by 2020. Catholic Charities USA has long been a proponent of raising the minimum wage as have other groups that work to reduce poverty.

Gun control measures passed in three states — California, Nevada and Washington — and lost in Maine.

Although gun control has not been taken up by the U.S. bishops as a body, some bishops have spoken out in favor of gun control measures, including Cardinals-designate Blase Cupich of Chicago and Kevin Farrell, the former bishop of Dallas who is prefect of the new Vatican office for laity, family and life.

Measures on climate change, an issue backed by the Catholic Climate Covenant, were rejected by voters. In Washington state, a ballot initiative called for the first carbon tax in the U.S., and a Florida measure would have restricted the ability of homeowners to sell electricity created through rooftop solar panels.