Bishops Statements

Letter from Bishops of NYS to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand re: Radical Federal Abortion Bill

Date posted: October 1, 2021


Following is the text of a letter sent from the Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the Diocesan Bishops of New York State to U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand regarding the so-called “Women’s Health Protection Act.” To view a PDF of the original letters, click HERE.

September 29, 2021

Dear Senator,

As the Bishops of the eight Catholic dioceses of the State of New York, we write to express our unified and staunch opposition to S1975/HR3755, the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” a piece of legislation that would impose upon the entire nation a policy of unrestricted abortion on demand, for any reason, at any point in pregnancy, going well beyond the parameters of Roe v. Wade and subsequent Supreme Court decisions.

We are under no illusions. We know that on the matter of abortion policy, our views are radically disparate from yours. Nevertheless, we believe we have an obligation to speak out as a voice for the unborn, as well as for pregnant mothers who deserve so much more than this bill offers them. This legislation sends a message to women that abortion is their only option and their best hope, that it is something to be promoted and celebrated.

The truth is that abortion is something to be mourned, and it is often the most agonizing decision a woman will ever make. We believe our government should be offering pregnant women all of their options and the support services they need to empower them to choose to carry their babies to term, raise their families with dignity, or offer their child to a home which can appropriately and lovingly care for that child. Our public policies should reflect these priorities.

Here in New York State, our state legislature enacted the “Reproductive Health Act” in 2019, enshrining in state statute a policy of unlimited abortion on demand throughout nine months of pregnancy. We expressed our profound opposition at the time, and we continue to grieve for the mothers and infants harmed by this law.

But a majority of states in this great country have enacted laws to the contrary: policies to allow parents to be notified when their minor daughter is considering abortion; to provide informed consent to pregnant women; to prohibit state taxpayer funding of abortion; to require health and safety regulations in clinics; to require licensure and certification of abortion providers. All of these policies are allowable under Roe and subsequent cases. Yet all such policies would be invalidated in one fell swoop by Congressional passage of S1975. This authoritarian federal overreach undermines the will of the people through their elected state representatives, and does not bode well for our democracy.

Moreover, S1975 may very well nullify New York’s strong Civil Rights Law protection for health care professionals who do not wish to be involved in abortion, a law which so many rely upon to exercise their moral values and religious freedom. Is this how we want to repay our heroic health care workers who have served so valiantly throughout the ongoing pandemic?

In closing, we strongly urge you to reject this legislation and work to protect and strengthen the fundamental human rights of mothers and children.

Very Truly Yours,

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York

Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger
Bishop of Albany

Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn

Most Rev. Michael W. Fisher
Bishop of Buffalo

Most Rev. Terry R. LaValley
Bishop of Ogdensburg

Most Rev. Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Rochester

Most Rev. John O. Barres
Bishop of Rockville Centre

Most Rev. Douglas J. Lucia
Bishop of Syracuse

NYS Bishops Statement on Passage of Child Victims Act

Date posted: January 28, 2019

We pray that the passage of the Child Victims Act brings some measure of healing to all survivors by offering them a path of recourse and reconciliation. The legislation now recognizes that child sexual abuse is an evil not just limited to one institution, but a tragic societal ill that must be addressed in every place where it exists.

Sadly, we in the Church know all too well the devastating toll of abuse on survivors, their families, and the extended community. Every Catholic diocese in New York has taken important steps to support survivors of child sexual abuse, including the implementation of reconciliation and compensation programs. We are proud that these pioneering programs have not only helped well more than a thousand survivors of clergy abuse in New York, but have also become a model for how to help survivors in other states and in other institutions. More

Statement from the Catholic Bishops of NYS on Abortion Expansion

Date posted: January 17, 2019

Printable PDF

En Español

Words are insufficient to describe the profound sadness we feel at the contemplated passage of New York State’s new proposed abortion policy. We mourn the unborn infants who will lose their lives, and the many mothers and fathers who will suffer remorse and heartbreak as a result.

The so-called “Reproductive Health Act” will expand our state’s already radically permissive law, by empowering more health practitioners to provide abortion and removing all state restrictions on late-term procedures. With an abortion rate that is already double the national average, New York law is moving in the wrong direction.

We renew our pledge to offer the resources and services of our charitable agencies and health services to any woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, to support her in bearing her infant, raising her family or placing her child for adoption. There are life-affirming choices available, and we aim to make them more widely known and accessible.

Our Governor and legislative leaders hail this new abortion law as progress. This is not progress. Progress will be achieved when our laws and our culture once again value and respect each unrepeatable gift of human life, from the first moment of creation to natural death. Would that not make us truly the most enlightened and progressive state in the nation?

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York

Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger
Bishop of Albany

Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn

Most Rev. Richard J. Malone
Bishop of Buffalo

Most Rev. Terry R. LaValley
Bishop of Ogdensburg

Most Rev. Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Rochester

Most Rev. John O. Barres
Bishop of Rockville Centre

Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop of Syracuse

And the Auxiliary and Retired Bishops of New York State

En Español

Mensaje de los obispos católicos de Nueva York

Las palabras no son suficientes para describir la profunda tristeza que sentimos ante la aprobación contemplada de la nueva política propuesta para los abortos en el Estado de Nueva York. Estamos de luto por los infantes aún por nacer que perderán sus vidas, y por las muchas madres y padres quienes sufrirán el remordimiento, y dolor como resultado.

La llamada “Acta de Salud Reproductiva” expandirá la ya radicalmente permisiva ley en nuestro estado, empoderando a más proveedores de cuidado de salud a proporcionar abortos y removiendo todas las restricciones estatales a los procedimientos a largo plazo. Con un índice de abortos que ya es el doble del promedio nacional, la ley en Nueva York se está moviendo en la dirección incorrecta.

Reanudamos nuestro compromiso con proveer los recursos y servicios de nuestras agencias de servicios caritativos y de salud, a cualquier mujer que experimente un embarazo no planificado, para apoyarla hasta dar a luz a su bebé, criar a su familia o ubicar al infante en adopción. Existen opciones de afirmación de vida, y procuramos hacerlas más accessibles y conocidas. Nuestro gobernador y los líderes legislativos elogian esta nueva ley de abortos como progreso. Esto no es progreso. El progreso se logrará cuando nuestras leyes y nuestra cultura una vez más valoren y respeten cada obsequio irrepetible de vida humana, desde el primer momento de la creación hasta la muerte natural. ¿No nos haría eso verdaderamente el estado más progresista en la nación?

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Arzobispo de New York

Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger
Obispo de Albany

Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio
Obispo de Brooklyn

Most Rev. Richard J. Malone
Obispo de Buffalo

Most Rev. Terry R. LaValley
Obispo de Ogdensburg

Most Rev. Salvatore R. Matano
Obispo de Rochester

Most Rev. John O. Barres
Obispo de Rockville Centre

Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham
Obispo de Syracuse

Y los obispos auxiliares y retirados del Estado de Nueva York

Cardinal Dolan blasts family separation border policy

Date posted: June 19, 2018

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the New York State Catholic Conference, strongly criticized the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents who entered the country illegally at the nation’s southern border. The cardinal made the comments to Chris Cuomo on his CNN program Cuomo Prime Time June 15. Watch the entire interview, as the cardinal addresses Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ use of a quote from St. Paul to justify the policy, and to say “we need a little heart here, we need some tenderness.”

Also, don’t miss this strong op/ed in the New York Daily News by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, vice president of the Catholic Conference.

Statement on Political Responsibility by the Catholic Bishops of New York State

Date posted: March 18, 2016

Flag cathedralFor guidelines on political activity, see “Pastors, Parishes, and Political Responsibility.”

The good of a democratic republic like ours depends on the participation of its citizens. This may seem obvious but it needs to be insisted upon in today’s American society. The most fundamental action of a good citizen is to vote. All other activities in the political sphere depend on the exercise of this most fundamental right – which is equally a solemn responsibility. Regrettably, in our country today an alarming percentage of citizens do not exercise this right. In New York State, on average over the past four years, only 40 percent of eligible voters carried out their civic duty.

As the Catholic Bishops of New York State, we urge every eligible adult Catholic, without exception, to be sure that he or she is registered to vote and that all exercise their solemn responsibility of voting in this year’s elections.

If you are not registered to vote, or not sure if you are registered, please go to or call 1-800-FOR-VOTE. You may also go to our own New York State Catholic Conference website at and select “Register to Vote.”

We thank you for doing that. Now we want to invite you to prepare to vote by becoming familiar with both the candidates and the issues. Just voting for a name you recognize or a party you belong to does not fulfill your responsibility to build up a good society where human dignity, personal freedom, care for one another – especially the vulnerable – and the common good prevail as values which should be cherished in our democracy.

Sadly, determining who to vote for is not always easy. Pressure groups, especially the loudest ones, seek to shout down anyone who disagrees with them. Calm and thoughtful responses to issues are often drowned out. That makes the challenge to choose good candidates and support good programs even more difficult than in the past. But it makes these decisions even more important. We do have resources to help you. More

Statement from Cardinal Dolan on Education Tax Credit

Date posted: March 30, 2015

Dolan_0011_PUB_by_Bachrach2012Governor Cuomo and the leadership of the New York State Senate and Assembly have announced a three-way agreement on a state budget, which again does not include the Education Tax Credit, a critically needed piece of legislation for the parents and students of Catholic and other nonpublic education in the state. Following is a statement of Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the New York State Catholic Conference:

“Last week, I made the comment that there would be plenty of blame to go around if the Education Tax Credit didn’t get done in the state budget. And now, sadly, this has played out yet again. My brother bishops and I are sorely disappointed in all of our political leaders in Albany, who again assured us of their strong personal support, but again could not deliver for the children of our state. Yet we have no alternative but to turn to them again and implore them to please pass this legislation once and for all before the close of the legislative session.

“The Education Tax Credit encourages increased charitable giving to public schools and to foundations which provide scholarships to help children in need escape failing public schools. This is why the legislation is supported by so many in our minority communities, where the financial need is the greatest and the disparity in educational outcomes between public and Catholic schools are so great. Parents in these communities are desperate for a better future for their children, a future that our schools can provide.  Why their representatives are insensitive to them is a mystery.

“We have a difficult time understanding how in the world this has proven to be such difficult legislation to pass. We have a Governor who has called it a ‘matter of justice’ and included it in his executive budget. We have a Senate that passed it overwhelmingly by a vote of 44-16 earlier this year. And we have an Assembly with a solid majority of Democrats and Republicans who have said they support it. In addition, it has the support of more than 150 community, business, education, faith and labor organizations. Yet, somehow, it ended up pulled from the budget agreement, while the public schools again get a new boost to their gargantuan budget.

“So, while we have many supporters we can and do thank, there is also plenty of blame to go around. Our elected officials must cease allowing public school teachers unions intent on creating a government school monopoly to continue dictating education policy in our state. We turn again to our leaders to do the right thing, and pass the Education Tax Credit, not for any interest group, but for the children of our state. Every year that goes by is more lost opportunity for untold numbers of children. Their futures will not wait. Who will put their needs first?”

The Catholic Conference represents New York State’s Bishops in matters of public policy.

Gov. Cuomo and legislature: Don’t let us down

Date posted: March 24, 2015


A Statement from Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the Bishops of New York State

One year ago, with the promise of Education Tax Credits on the horizon, thousands of tuition-paying families were left out in the cold – excluded from a state budget that provides the nation’s highest level of spending per pupil in public schools. Governor Cuomo knows how genuinely disappointed we were.

This year, the Governor has included Education Tax Credits in his proposed state budget. And so we have renewed hope. But in politics, it is not enough to propose; the measure still must survive the negotiation process with the Legislature in order to be enacted, and we are strongly urging the Governor to be unwavering in demanding the tax credit be included in the final budget. More

‘For I am Lonely and Afflicted’

Date posted: February 4, 2014

Downloadable PDF version HERE.

‘For I Am Lonely and Afflicted’

Toward a just response to the needs of people with mental illness

A Statement of the Catholic Bishops of New York State

Turn to me and be gracious to me,

for I am lonely and afflicted.

Relieve the troubles of my heart;

and free me from my anguish.

 (PS 25: 16-17)

Severe-depressionMental illness does not discriminate. Neither age, nor ethnicity, nor economic or social status exempts one from its effects. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four adults, some 61.5 million people, experience some form of mental illness in a given year, and one in 17, or 13.6 million, live with a serious mental illness. About 20 percent of youth experience severe mental disorders in a given year. And for every mentally ill individual there is a family – parents, spouses, children, grandparents – who are directly impacted as well.

In our society, those with mental illness are often stigmatized, ostracized and alone.  The suffering endured by mentally ill persons is a most difficult cross to bear, as is the sense of powerlessness felt by their families and loved ones. As the Psalmist called on God to deliver him from affliction and distress, so, too, does the person with mental illness cry out for healing. Our Judeo-Christian tradition calls us to be witnesses of God’s love and mercy and to be instruments of hope for these individuals. More

A statement on casino gambling by the Catholic Bishops of New York State

Date posted: September 28, 2013

crapsOn November 5, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to decide an important matter affecting our communities. A statewide referendum of the people will be the final say on whether or not to amend the state’s Constitution to authorize casino gambling. As pastors and as citizens, we call on all voters to very carefully consider this measure and all of its potential implications.

In recent years, New York State has dramatically increased access to legalized gambling in an effort to raise revenue, with the state joining in multi-state lotteries and adding video slot machines and video poker at harness racing tracks across the state. With these initiatives, along with five Indian-run casinos, Off-Track Betting, and ever-increasing variations of scratch-off lotteries, gambling already is big business for the state. Now in a continued quest for additional revenue, the governor and legislature are seeking an amendment to allow for up to seven non-Indian casinos, the first four of which would be sited in three upstate regions.

Even if the state does realize economic benefits envisioned by our elected officials, we voters must also consider the potential for negative consequences. The Catholic Church teaches that gambling is a morally neutral act and that games of chance “are not in themselves contrary to justice” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2413). However, the Catechism also warns that “the passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement” and becomes morally unacceptable when it deprives an individual of what is necessary to provide for his/her needs and those of others.

When gambling as a revenue stream becomes overly prevalent in a society, the risks associated with problem gambling multiply. With their flashing lights, free-flowing alcoholic drinks, all-night hours and generally intoxicating atmosphere, casinos are more likely than other gambling options to lead to bad decisions and catastrophic losses for patrons, particularly those prone to problem or compulsive gambling. Interestingly, a study by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago showed the availability of a casino within 50 miles is associated with double the prevalence of problem or pathological gamblers.

A 2009 study commissioned by the Connecticut Division of Special Revenue on the economic and social impact of Indian casinos in the state, found that while the casinos did boost employment and revenues, they also resulted in serious numerous negative consequences in the areas near the casinos and for individuals. These included a 400 percent increase in embezzlement arrests, a doubling of DWI arrests, and an increase in substandard and illegal housing for undocumented workers. Of the problem gamblers studied in the report, 62 percent gambled until their last dollar was gone. Personal bankruptcies in areas where the state’s two Indian casinos are located were more than 10 percent higher than the national norm in seven of the 10 years after the casinos were built. We must ask, will the presence of casinos forever change the character of areas like Saratoga Springs, the Catskill Mountains and the Southern Tier?

Furthermore, it does seem apparent that with all of the gambling options already available here, there is only so much revenue to be gained. Indeed, casinos in our neighboring states have been struggling for their very survival due to an oversaturated market, so it is difficult to see how New York’s casino operators will reverse that trend. And while some will argue the casinos will bring employment, the jobs that casinos create tend to be of the low-paying service variety, rather than good-paying, upwardly mobile careers that are so desperately needed upstate.

When looking at potential sources for new revenue, it is the responsibility of government and the voting public to consider all of the consequences, both positive and negative. While the language on the ballot cites the hoped-for economic benefits, we feel obligated to ask for a more definitive statement as to how and where the money generated by these casinos will be spent. We pray for the good judgment of New Yorkers in weighing all factors before deciding how they will vote on the widespread expansion of casino gambling across our beloved Empire State.

—The Catholic Bishops of New York State
September 29, 2013
Feast of SS. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

Statement of the Bishops of New York State on abortion expansion bill

Date posted: June 4, 2013

Printable PDF version here.

En español aqui.

Following is a statement of Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the Bishops of New York State:

We are profoundly distressed by the introduction of a bill in New York State today that would ease restrictions in state law on late-term abortion and runs the serious risk of broadly expanding abortion access at all stages of gestation. This legislation would add a broad and undefined “health” exception for late-term abortion and would repeal the portion of the penal law that governs abortion policy, opening the door for non-doctors to perform abortions and potentially decriminalizing even forced or coerced abortions. In addition, we find the conscience protection in the bill to be vague and insufficient, and we are concerned about the religious liberty of our health facilities. While the bill’s proponents say it will simply “codify” federal law, it is selective in its codification.  Nowhere does it address the portions of federal laws that limit abortion, such as the ban on taxpayer funding, the ban on partial birth abortion or protections for unborn victims of violence.

As the pastors of more than 7.2 million Catholic New Yorkers, we fully oppose this measure, and urge all our faithful people to do the same, vigorously and unapologetically. We invite all women and men of good will to join in this effort and defeat this serious attempt to expand abortion availability in our state and to codify the most radical abortion proposals of any state in the nation.

We support the first nine points in the Governor’s agenda that enhance the true dignity of women.  We commit ourselves to examining those proposals and working with the legislature on any and all efforts that help guarantee real equity for all women and men.  Our position on these issues will be consistent with all the efforts of the Catholic Church throughout the world to enhance the dignity of women. The direct taking of the life of a child in the womb in no way enhances a woman’s dignity.

Instead of expanding abortion and making abortions even more prevalent, we would like to protect both the woman and the child in the womb. In New York, where one in every three pregnancies ends in abortion (and upwards of 6 in 10 in certain communities), it is clear that we as a state have lost sight of that child’s dignity. We pledge all our efforts to defeat this proposal.  We call on all pro-life New Yorkers to stand together with us and with all the leadership in Albany who share our conviction that we have no need for such a bill to become law.  We need instead to enhance and promote the life and dignity of all human beings from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.