Bishops Statements

NYS Bishops Statement on a Pro-Life Future in the Empire State

Date posted: May 12, 2022

A statement by the Catholic Bishops of New York State. Printable PDF for parish distribution in English HERE and in Spanish HERE.

Humanity’s salvation history was forever changed when a poor, devout Jewish girl from Galilee affirmatively said yes to life and set in motion the birth, ministry, sacrificial death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Mary’s fiat (“Thy will be done.”) was a gift of love to humanity, given freely in spite of her inability to know all that would entail, but with more faith in the Lord than fear of the unknown. In this month of Mary, we have an opportunity to reflect on her example, even as Americans grapple with gathering societal unrest over the issue of abortion.

Since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade effectively opened the door to abortion on demand throughout the land, an estimated 63 million unborn babies across the country have been killed in the womb before they could even draw their first breath of air. As we await a decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the recently argued Supreme Court case that could potentially overturn Roe, we pray for a positive outcome even as we acknowledge that abortion in New York would continue unfettered, and even be actively promoted as a social good by many elected officials. Sadly, New York, which legalized abortion three years before the Roe decision, has long been the abortion capital of the country, a tragic and sobering distinction.

Through the years, advocates for legal abortion have skillfully framed the narrative as one of “choice,” and “reproductive freedom,” completely ignoring the biological reality of what abortion is: the intentional killing of an innocent child in the womb. Even as sonogram technology and advances in neonatal medicine clearly show us the truth that what is being “terminated” is a human life, the pro-abortion movement refuses to address the science. The abortion industry has been so successful in its messaging that the right to abortion has become inextricably linked to the notion of women’s rights and equality for a significant portion of the country, which is why the prospect of a nation without Roe has led to fear and anxiety for many people.

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Hacia un futuro provida en el Empire State

Date posted:

Declaración de los Obispos Católicos del Estado de Nueva York. Imprimible PDF en inglés aquí y español aquí.

La historia de salvación de la humanidad cambió para siempre cuando una pobre y devota muchacha judía de Galilea dijo sí a la vida y puso en marcha el nacimiento, el ministerio, la muerte sacrificial y la resurrección de nuestro Señor y Salvador, Jesucristo. El fíat de María (“Hágase tu voluntad”) fue un don de amor a la humanidad, entregado libremente, a pesar de la incapacidad de María para conocer todo lo que implicaría, pero con más fe en el Señor que con temor a lo desconocido. En este mes de María, tenemos la oportunidad de reflexionar sobre su ejemplo, incluso en un momento en que los estadounidenses están afrontando una creciente agitación social por el tema del aborto.

A partir de que la decisión tomada por la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos en 1973, en la causa Roe v. Wade, abriera efectivamente la puerta al aborto a demanda en toda la nación, aproximadamente sesenta y tres millones de bebés no nacidos han sido asesinados en el vientre de su madre, en este país, antes de que pudieran siquiera respirar por primera vez. Mientras esperamos una decisión judicial en Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, la causa recientemente tratada en la Corte Suprema que podría anular el fallo Roe, rezamos por un resultado positivo aun cuando reconocemos que el aborto en Nueva York continuaría sin restricciones, y que incluso sería activamente promovido como un bien social por muchos funcionarios elegidos por voto popular. Lamentablemente, Nueva York, donde se legalizó el aborto tres años antes del fallo Roe, ha sido desde hace mucho tiempo la capital nacional del aborto, una distinción trágica y realista.

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 Statement of Cardinal Dolan on NYS Public Safety Proposals

Date posted: March 29, 2022

Following is a statement of Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, in his capacity as president of the New York State Catholic Conference.

The Catholic Bishops have long been at the forefront regarding the rights of the accused and the humane treatment of those imprisoned, from our staunch opposition to the death penalty, to our demand for repeal of the destructive 1970s-era Rockefeller Laws, which tied the hands of judges with mandatory minimum prison sentences for even nonviolent drug offenders, to advocacy for passage of last year’s HALT Solitary Confinement Act.

At the same time, just as the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable embraced and tenderly cared for the victim of a violent crime, we are all called to do the same. And on a broader level, we are called to stand with all people of good will, especially those in our poorest communities, who rightfully desire a life of peace and safety, and a freedom from the lingering daily fear of murder, rape, assault, robbery, and other violent crimes against them and their loved ones. The safety and well-being of law enforcement officers is also a significant concern in a climate of rising violence.  New Yorkers see with their own eyes a dangerous lack of regard for the sacredness and dignity of human life that seems to be reaching epidemic proportions in many spheres, including in cases of violent crime.

I recognize lawmakers have a difficult task in balancing the real issues of equity and justice for those who are accused with the real rise in gun violence that is plaguing our cities. The Legislature made bail reform a priority in 2019 to address the disparate treatment of people with and without means and the dangerous overcrowding of jails, where people who have not yet been convicted of crimes waste away or worse for months or longer.

Those same lawmakers recognized flaws in the original law and addressed some of those issues the following year. But, clearly, most New Yorkers, including the people our priests, deacons, religious and laity serve in our parishes, believe more needs to be done. And there is no more important role of state and local government than to ensure the safety and security our state’s residents and visitors. In addition, any reform proposals must take into account the urgent need to ensure that there are safe and humane conditions at pretrial detention facilities, and that the accused receive their constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Governor Kathy Hochul recently laid out a multi-point criminal justice reform plan to give judges more discretion related to bail for some serious crimes. Beyond that, she also seeks to increase support and services for those suffering from serious mental health issues, to strike a balance in the handling of repeat juvenile offenders facing gun-related charges who may pose a threat to the community, to help those who have offended and completed their sentence to successfully re-enter society, and more. While we Bishops are hardly experts in criminal justice, her plan seems to me to be balanced and well-reasoned and is a positive contribution to the discussions over the final package of legislation.

I recognize some legislators and advocates will have concerns with some of these proposals. Yet, I am encouraged that both the Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who both must satisfy the legitimate concerns and commitments of their members and constituents, have pledged to keep an open mind in negotiations. They are not wrong to question the plan, and to seek better ways. Collaboration and consultation always lead to better results.

The Governor and the Legislature face a difficult task in ensuring justice and equity for those accused of crimes, while restoring a sense of law and order to the streets of our neighborhoods. I pray that goodwill from all lead to fruitful results, and I urge all parties to negotiate in good faith, with malice toward none and charity toward all, for the benefit of all New Yorkers.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York


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

Date posted: October 1, 2021

ALERT: TAKE ACTION ON THIS DANGEROUS LEGISLATION! CLICK HERE TO SEND YOUR MESSAGE.

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 www.elections.ny.gov or call 1-800-FOR-VOTE. You may also go to our own New York State Catholic Conference website at www.nyscatholic.org 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

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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