DATE: May 19, 2010
FROM: Sr. Mary Ann Walsh
BISHOPS WITHDRAW FROM LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS COALITION; RENEW OPPOSITION TO DISCRIMINATION
WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has pulled out of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition group founded in 1950.
At the same time the USCCB reiterated its commitment to oppose discrimination based on race, religion, sex, ethnicity, disabling condition, or age, and said that these are grave injustices and affronts to human dignity.
The bishops withdrew from LCCR after the coalition took one more position in opposition to USCCB policy, this time taking a stand on a Supreme Court nominee. Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre NY, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Peace, announced the withdrawal May 19. His statement follows.
In light of recent events, it has become increasingly clear that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ continued membership in the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is not possible because of the LCCR’s expanded and broadened agenda. The interests of the Leadership Conference and those of the USCCB have diverged as the LCCR has moved beyond advocacy of traditional civil rights to advocacy of positions which do not reflect the principles and policies of the bishops’ Conference. In recent years, the Leadership Conference has joined others in advocating or opposing nominees for the Supreme Court, a practice which clearly contradicts USCCB policy and compromises the principled positions of the bishops. The latest example of this is the LCCR support of the Solicitor General’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
The USCCB deeply regrets this action has become necessary and pledges to continue our ongoing work on civil rights, racial and ethnic justice, and the protection of human life and dignity. While we cannot continue as a member of this coalition, we will work with those, including members of the Leadership Conference, on particular issues that advance the bishops’ commitment to oppose all forms of racism, unjust discrimination and bigotry. As the bishops said in
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship :
It is important for our society to continue to combat discrimination based
on race, religion, sex, ethnicity, disabling condition, or age, as these are grave
injustices and affronts to human dignity. Where the effects of past discrimination
persist, society has the obligation to take positive steps to overcome the legacy
of injustice, including vigorous action to remove barriers to education and equal
employment for women and minorities. (86)