Group asks new bishop to restore funding for defunded immigrant rights group
Monsignor Stephen Berg, Catholic vicar for the Diocese of Fort Worth, was today named bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo, Colo. Monsignor Berg replaces Bishop Fernando Isern who retired early from his assignment for unspecified health reasons. Bishop-designate Berg is one of the first bishops Pope Francis has appointed since the recent reorganization of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, which vets potential candidates.
In 2012, Bishop Isern made international headlines when he withdrew funding from Compeñaros, an immigrant rights organization working in Durango, Colo. Compeñaros lost its funding for its association with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, or CIRC. CIRC offers statewide technical support services for immigrants-rights organizations and had embraced a non-discrimination policy for members of the LGBT community. Because of this association, Compeñaros was deemed unfit for funding.
Catholics United Education Fund helped raise money on behalf of Compeñaros in the wake of Bishop Isern’s action. Catholics United Executive Director James Salt issued the following statement on the occasion of Bishop-designate Berg’s selection:
“We pray Bishop-designate Stephen Berg lives up to high standard set by Pope Francis for restoring the credibility of the Catholic Church’s moral leadership.
“We all remember Pope Francis’ kind-hearted response to whether to embrace gay clergy, saying ‘who am I to judge?’ It’s clear that Francis’ pontificate will be remembered for his sharp and immediate change in priorities toward the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable.
“We hope Bishop-designate Berg takes this opportunity as the newest member of the College of Bishops to mirror Pope Francis’ inclusivity, and reject the divisive attitudes that have so harmed the Catholic Church in America. The first thing Bishop Berg could do to emulate this new kind of ‘Franciscan’ leadership is to immediately restore funding to tiny Compañeros, whose budget was slashed due to claims their membership in a statewide immigrants-rights coalition somehow violated Catholic teaching. Catholics know better than to act this way, and Bishop Berg can immediately help heal unnecessary hurts, just like Pope Francis has.”
Founded in 2004, Catholics United, and its educational arm, Catholics United Education Fund, are non-profit, non-partisan organizations dedicated to promoting the message of justice and the common good found at the heart of the Catholic Social Tradition.
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