Bishop Anthony Taylor Says It All

Photo Source: Arkansas Diocese

Photo Source: Arkansas Diocese

Bishop Anthony Taylor, the Bishop of Arkansas, wrote a letter to his flock that I think we all should read.

I knew Bishop Taylor back when he was Father Taylor here in Oklahoma City. He stood in press conferences beside me when I demanded that the House leadership allow a vote on pro life legislation. He was a powerful support for the Day of Prayer to End Violence Against Women. He was a signatory of a letter signed by the priests of our priest council saying they would go to jail rather than deny services to hispanic people.

This last was in response to one of Oklahoma’s own Jim Crow Against Hispanics laws — which I opposed with every ounce of energy I had — that were passed in a move to demagogue against Hispanics/illegal immigrants. Among other things, this particular law made it a crime to aid such people in any way, including helping them in desperate situations such as accidents.

I was proud to be Catholic when the priest council of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City unanimously signed a letter saying that they would be priests for everyone, and were willing to go to jail, if that was necessary, rather than fail as shepherds. Father Anthony Taylor signed that letter.

One of his first acts as Bishop of Arkansas was to write a powerful pastoral letter on immigration. Now, he’s written a letter to his flock that I think everyone should read.

Bishop Taylor’s letter directly addresses some of the things that hispanic friends have said to me; that this election was a repudiation of them as human beings, and that they can not see how people they know and have trusted could do this. As one man said, “I don’t know the people I’ve known for so many years.” Only a bishop who understands the heart of beleaguered people could write with this sensitivity.

I am particularly grateful to Bishop Taylor for including a statement about the misogynist attacks on women that were a hallmark of the President Elect Trump’s campaign rhetoric. I know that there are a lot of women who feel very much as many hispanic people do; that the acceptance of the hate-language aimed at them by our President Elect is a repudiation of them as people and human beings. It is particularly scalding for Christian women such as myself when their religious leaders turn a deaf ear to such vicious and degrading attacks on the female.

I was disappointed that the recent conference of bishops did not choose to address the sins of misogyny and sexual assault as a group. I hope that other bishops will at least attempt to remedy this on a one-to-one basis in their own dioceses.

Here is the letter.

Bishop addresses presidential election

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor released the following statement to the people of the Diocese of Little Rock regarding the 2016 presidential election on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.

En Español

Many of us have experienced the recent presidential election as a mixed blessing. We are relieved that President-elect Trump opposes abortion and plans to nominate anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court. Indeed, many people voted for him for that very reason. But we are also dismayed by his divisive rhetoric.

The purpose of this letter is to remind all of us that this election has not changed the mission of the Church in Arkansas. We believe in the right to life and the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death and at every stage in between.

Particularly painful was the treatment of women and Hispanics during this campaign. Pro-life is more than just anti-abortion. Pro-life includes respect for women, a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, and in the present context respect for the rights of immigrants and the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

First, I would like to reassure our Hispanic parishioners that while much of the campaign rhetoric was disrespectful and indeed openly hostile, you should realize that most Americans harbor no ill will against you and might have voted differently except for the issue of abortion or perceptions about the economy.

True, some people voted with hostile intent and the Church calls such people to set aside their fears and open their hearts to welcome you.

Others focused on your undocumented status and based their vote on what, from a Catholic perspective, is an excessively narrow concept of the rule of law, but with no real hatred against you. My message to you today is to trust in the Lord, who will continue to protect us and guide us going forward, if we will just listen to him.

Second, I would like to invite all of us to redouble our efforts to make our parishes a place of welcome, where all of God’s children feel safe and valued. I feel proud when people tell me that their parish is a place where they truly feel at home. I would like to encourage you to continue to do all in your power to get to know your fellow parishioners and try to help them with their needs.

And since immigration has resurfaced as such a divisive matter in today’s politics, I invite you to re-read my 2008 pastoral letter on the human rights of immigrants. Eight years have gone by, but nothing has really changed … and I might add, Church teaching hasn’t changed either. It is very important that you be truly informed as our nation deals with this issue going forward.

I am grateful that we will soon have a president who has promised to name Supreme Court justices who are opposed to abortion. Let us support President-elect Trump in this matter and other areas where his efforts promise to benefit the common good. And let us be the voice of the voiceless in areas where our advocacy can make a difference, especially in the lives of the poor and vulnerable among us.

Sincerely in Christ,
+Anthony B. Taylor
Bishop of Little Rock

– See more at: http://www.dolr.org/article/bishop-addresses-presidential-election-results#sthash.VcKvMRQY.dpuf

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Archdiocese of Oklahoma City Opposed Anti-Hispanic Law

Archbishop Eusebius Beltran

I was never more proud to be a Catholic than when my archbishop, Archbishop (now Archbishop Emeritus) Eusebius Beltran and the priest’s council signed this pledge. They were willing to face criminal prosecution for refusing to obey this unjust law which passed the Oklahoma Legislature in 2004. The debate and vote on this bill was one of those times when I hated my job, but was very glad that I was there to fight the losing battle against it.

Archbishop Beltrane also marched with Martin Luther King when he was a young priest in Georgia. He did this at a time when doing so was, as this was, highly controversial, even among Catholics, and downright dangerous.

The Catholic Church has stood with the poor, the downtrodden, the weak, hungry and helpless for 2,000 years.

Anyone who supported this law should be ashamed of themselves.

Here is a copy of the pledge they signed. The emphases are mine.

Archdiocese announces resistance to forthcoming anti-illegal immigration law

Ben Fenwick
October 26th, 2007
The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announced a pledge to resist House Bill 1804, Oklahoma’s new anti-illegal immigration law due to take effect Nov. 1. Archbishop Eusebius Beltran and members o…

The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announced a pledge to resist House Bill 1804, Oklahoma’s new anti-illegal immigration law due to take effect Nov. 1.

Archbishop Eusebius Beltran and members of the Council of Priests supporting this statement will present the following signed pledge of resistance to the law to Gov. Brad Henry on Friday, according to the Archdiocese:

PLEDGE OF RESISTANCE
“This letter has been authorized and signed in response to the recently approved law HB 1804. This law is fiercely anti-immigrant and does not reflect values that respect people or families.

With the advent of this new law, we unite ourselves in opposition and defiance of this unjust and immoral law. This law makes it a felony to aid, assist or transport any undocumented person in the state of Oklahoma and ‘on violating the provisions of subsections A or B of this section shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than one (1) year, or by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

Our faith teaches us to do good to all people. There is no exemption clause for those persons who do not have documentation of their citizenship status. We will not show partiality against those who are in need of humanitarian assistance. Because this law is overly punitive and makes a felony out of the act of providing humanitarian assistance to an undocumented person in need, we the undersigned clergy, religious leaders and lay people of conscience will not and can not obey this law. We will continue to aid and assist all people regardless of their legal citizenship status, with charitable care and spiritual counsel.

We people of faith and conscience refuse to allow ourselves to be intimidated by Oklahoma’s law which makes those who serve others into felons. To the contrary, as persons of faith, hope and love, we call for the repeal of this anti-immigrant law and for immigration reform that provides justice for all God’s children. We are united in solidarity and in defiance of this law because of our allegiance to a higher law, the love of God and humanity.”

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