News Releases

Statement on DACA decision

Date posted: June 18, 2020

Following is a statement of the New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the Catholic Bishops of New York State in public policy matters:

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Administration’s attempt to immediately end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA is a widely supported and hugely successful program that has provided security and stability to thousands of law-abiding, hard-working young immigrants, many of whom have known no other home but the United States. We welcome this decision by the Court and urge the President and Congress to work together to make DACA protections permanent.

Statement on resumption of religious services

Date posted: May 20, 2020

Below is a statement from Dennis Poust, director of communications for the New York State Catholic Conference, on Governor Cuomo’s announcement that religious services can resume statewide with limits:

“Today brings good news for people of faith, and we’re grateful that Gov. Cuomo has acknowledged the importance of religious faith and practice, especially now in this time of pandemic. Cardinal Dolan and the Bishops of New York State look forward to working with civic and health officials and other interfaith leaders to responsibly plan for resuming public religious services.

“Our Catholic people are hungry for the Mass and are anxious to gather together again in prayer and worship. At the same time, we have a moral obligation to protect our congregations and our clergy from COVID-19, so we will proceed slowly and responsibly and collaboratively.”

Statement on passage of commercial surrogacy

Date posted: April 3, 2020

Following is a statement by Kathleen M. Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference, on the passage of legal commercial surrogacy in the state:

“The action by the legislature and governor to legalize monetary contracts for surrogate motherhood stands in stark contrast to most other democratic nations across the globe, which have outlawed the practice because of the exploitation of women and commodification of children that inevitably results from the profit-driven surrogacy industry.

“What makes it worse is our state elected officials included this major policy change in a 400-page budget bill in the midst of a pandemic crisis. We simply do not believe that such a critical legal and moral decision for our state should have been made behind the closed doors of a Capitol shut off to the public. The new law is bad for women and children, and the process is terrible for democracy.”

Statement on Commercial Surrogacy Proposal

Date posted: January 8, 2020

Following is a statement by Kathleen M. Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference:

“The push by Gov. Cuomo and members of the state legislature to legalize commercial surrogacy is a dangerous policy that will lead to the exploitation of poor, vulnerable women, and has few safeguards for children.

“The surrogacy legislation is designed mainly to benefit wealthy men who can afford tens of thousands of dollars to pay baby brokers, at the expense of low-income women. Ironically, this push is being made precisely at a time when most countries in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere have explicitly banned commercial surrogacy in response to the assault on women’s dignity that occurred in places where it had become an industry. (See hereherehere, and here)


Statement on Buffalo Diocese appointment

Date posted: December 4, 2019

Following the announcement by the Holy See that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard J. Malone from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Buffalo and appointed Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of the Diocese of Albany as apostolic administrator until the appointment of a permanent bishop, NYS Catholic Conference Executive Director Richard E. Barnes made the following statement:

“We trust that Bishop Scharfenberger, with the clergy, religious and laity of Western New York, will move forward with the slow and steady process of healing and renewal.”

2019 End-of-Session Round-Up

Date posted: June 24, 2019
Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany watches the Assembly debate on the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act from the chamber’s gallery June 19, 2019.
(Franchesca Caputo/The Evangelist)

The New York State Legislature wrapped up the 2019 session in the early morning hours of June 21. The session was among the most active in memory, as the new Democratic majority in the state Senate, joined with the Democratic Assembly majority and the Democratic Governor to take on many issues that had previously been staunchly opposed by Republicans. Below is a synopsis of major issues tracked by the Catholic Conference and their outcome.


Statement on Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act

Date posted: June 19, 2019
woman harvesting carrots in a field

Following is a statement of Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, on the passage of the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act:

“The Bishops of New York State are grateful and relieved that after more than two decades of advocacy, the legislature has passed a version of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act. For too long, farmworkers have been treated unjustly under the labor laws which protect workers in every other area and industry.


Statement on Appointment of Bishop-Elect Douglas Lucia to the Diocese of Syracuse

Date posted: June 4, 2019

Following is a statement of Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, on Pope Francis’ selection of Bishop-elect Douglas J. Lucia as the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse, succeeding Bishop Robert J. Cunningham:

“On behalf of the Catholic Conference staff, I congratulate Bishop-elect Lucia. We are so grateful to our Holy Father for this inspired appointment to the Diocese of Syracuse. Bishop-elect Lucia has been a beloved priest in the Diocese of Ogdensburg, and has had occasion to work at times with members of the Conference staff in a variety of capacities. His intellect, kindness and warmth have always made an impression, and all of us are looking to forward to getting to know him better and to work more directly with him as he joins the ranks of the New York State episcopacy.


Statement on “Born Alive” Hostile Amendment in State Senate

Date posted: May 16, 2019

During the State Senate session May 13, Senator Pamela Helming (R-Geneva) introduced a hostile amendment to restore legal protections to born-alive abortion survivors. Sadly, the amendment was defeated in a show-of-hands vote along party lines. The amendment attempted to rectify a portion of the radical “Reproductive Health Act” passed in January, which removed such protections for fully-formed babies in the womb and infants who survive late-term abortion. 

The scale of New York’s abortion expansion shocked the country and began a national conversation about the horror of infanticide and the extreme agenda of the pro-abortion movement. Yet a motion to correct this heinous overreach and to restore protections to born children went down to defeat when the Democratic majority was presented with an opportunity to rectify this portion of the law.

It defies common sense and public opinion. We continue to pray for a change of heart among elected officials who support such a radical assault on the sacredness and dignity of human life.

Catholic Charities official testifies at farmworker hearing

Date posted: May 6, 2019

Shannon Kelly, chief operating officer of Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster testified in support of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act on May 2 at a legislative hearing held in Loch Sheldrake in Sullivan County. The hearing was one of three regional hearings being held around the state on the controversial legislation, the others being on Long Island and in Western New York. The NYS Catholic Conference has supported the farmworker rights bill through its more than two decades of consideration by the state legislature.

“We must ensure that farmworkers are treated humanely and with dignity, in the same way we work to ensure other workers of our state are treated,” Kelly said. “This is not about putting farmworkers ahead of farms. You can’t support the farmworkers without supporting the farms, and vice versa. Both depend on and need the other.”