Bishop Folda Statement in Response to SCOTUS Decision on Same-Sex Unions

fargodiocese-bishopfolda-mThe following statement is released on behalf of Bishop John Folda, Diocese of Fargo:

I am deeply saddened by the Supreme Court’s decision to mandate the redefinition of marriage in every state of our nation. This ruling, which fails to uphold the truth of marriage as a union of one man and one woman, is a tragic error that will have long-lasting consequences for generations to come. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the morality of abortion more than 40 years ago, the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling will not settle this question of marriage today. Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court has declared, the truth of marriage as found in natural law and as taught by Jesus Christ has not changed and remains unchangeable.

The Supreme Court’s decision will have a significant impact on the first amendment right to religious liberty. It sets the beliefs of millions of Americans about marriage in opposition to the law and will create innumerable conflicts between the state and religious people and institutions. In light of this decision, I urgently ask government officials of our state and throughout the country to implement measures that will protect the religious freedom of individuals and institutions who uphold the authentic meaning of marriage.

The Catholic Church will continue to teach and defend the goodness, beauty and truth of marriage given to us by our Lord. As Bishop of the Diocese of Fargo, I urge all Catholics to witness more fervently to the truth about marriage. I also ask all people of good will and those in positions of authority to join in affirming this truth and to respect the freedom of those who seek to live according to it.

Bishop Kagan Statement Regarding Court Ruling on Marriage

1_0_677971BISMARCK, N.D. (June 26, 2015) – The following statement is being released on behalf of Bishop David Kagan, Diocese of Bismarck.

We are saddened and disappointed by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling concerning the recognition of same-sex relationships. As St. John Paul II said, “The truth is not always the same as the majority decision.” Our defense of the truth is not over despite this erroneous decision. With great respect for the rule of law in the United States, we will continue to teach and practice God’s truth that marriage is a union between one man and one woman for a lifetime.


We join with the Archbishop Kurtz and the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB) in calling this decision a “tragic error.” We will stand united and “move forward with faith” as he has asked of us.

The Catholic Church continues to affirm the inherent dignity of persons with a same-sex attraction. At the same time, it is my fervent hope and expectation that the right of religious liberty and freedom of conscience of all persons will be respected and defended by the government without exception.

Supreme Court Decision on Marriage “A Tragic Error” Says President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference

1934701_106085432284_2617810_nJune 26, 2015
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court decision, June 26, interpreting the U.S. Constitution to require all states to license and recognize same-sex “marriage” “is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
The full statement follows:
Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.
The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.
Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.
I encourage Catholics to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage, rooted in the immutable nature of the human person and confirmed by divine revelation; hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society, not only by their logic, but by their great beauty and manifest service to the common good; and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral convictions.
Lastly, I call upon all people of good will to join us in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth.

Former Legislator Jim Kerzman was Friend of the Conference

We at the North Dakota Catholic Conference are saddened to hear of the death of former Representative Jim Kerzman.  Jim served as the chair of the legislature’s pro-life committee for many years, sponsored bills for the North Dakota Catholic Conference, and was always there to take a lead for social justice and life.

More importantly, he was a humble statesman and friend, whose Catholic faith permeated everything he did. Requiescat in pace. . .

USCCB Chairmen Give Strong Support for the ‘First Amendment Defense Act’

The ‘First Amendment Defense Act’ is a federal non-discrimination act
Religious beliefs and moral convictions on marriage would be protected
The Act is needed in an increasingly intolerant climate
June 19, 2015
WASHINGTON—Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, gave their strong support for the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which is a federal non-discrimination act.
The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) would prohibit the federal government from discriminating against individuals and organizations based upon their religious beliefs or moral convictions that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.  For such individuals and organizations, the Act provides broad protections, including in the areas of federal contracts, grants, employment, and tax-exempt status. The bills were introduced June 17 in the U.S. Senate (S. 1598) by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 2802) by Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID).
The chairmen, in a joint letter of support to each of the sponsors, noted that “persons who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman are increasingly having their religious liberties jeopardized and even forfeited.”  Noting some examples of efforts to discriminate on the bases of religious beliefs regarding marriage and human sexuality, the Archbishops said, “It is becoming apparent that some who promote marriage redefinition do not support the coexistence and tolerance of different ideas in a pluralistic society but instead have a ‘comply or else’ agenda.”  Further, they indicated, “As a non-discrimination Act, FADA would protect these individuals and organizations from federal government discrimination.”
The Act refers to the recent exchange at the U.S. Supreme Court when the marriage cases were being argued, noting that “when asked whether a religious school could lose its tax-exempt status for opposing same-sex marriage, the Solicitor General of the United States represented to the United States Supreme Court that ‘[i]t’s certainly going to be an issue’.”  Aware of this atmosphere, the chairmen in their letters of support for FADA said, “In a climate of increasing intolerance, these protections are very much needed.”
Encouraging passage of the Act, the Archbishops said, “The leadership of our Church will continue to promote and protect the natural truth of marriage as foundational to the common good.”
The letters of support for and a backgrounder on the First Amendment Defense Act are available at

Statement from Bishop Kagan regarding Pope Francis’ ecology encyclical

1_0_677971BISMARCK, N.D. (June 18, 2015) – The following statement is being released on behalf of Bishop David Kagan, Diocese of Bismarck.

Environmental stewardship is central to the moral roots of our faith. Care for God’s creation is the responsibility of all human beings as outlined by our Holy Father in his encyclical “On Care for Our Common Home.”

A change of heart that Pope Francis is asking of us will be a chance to witness our faith and begin to reverse the tide of global destruction. We have an extraordinary opportunity to drive this change from our energy resource-rich state. Everyone’s actions matter from in-home recycling to advocating for responsible harvesting of natural resources in our state’s coalmines and oil fields.

Pope Francis is calling for radical change to our “throwaway culture.” In his document, he challenges each of us do our part to preserve God’s gifts for future generations and prevent the poor from suffering the worst effects of industry-induced environmental degradation.

All of what Pope Francis is saying is premised on the unique and inviolable dignity of the person to whom God has entrusted the care of His creation; and all of creation is a gift from God to us not to be abused, but to be used in such a way that it helps us save our souls and the souls of others.

Let us prayerfully respond to Pope Francis’ plea for a change of hearts and call to action.

Archbishop Kurtz Welcomes Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’


Archbishop Kurtz Welcomes Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’
June 18, 2015
WASHINGTON—Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), welcomed the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si’, June 18.
Full text of Archbishop Kurtz’s statement follows:
Statement on the Occasion of the Promulgation of Laudato Si’
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 
With an open heart and gratitude I, along with my brother bishops in the United States, welcome Laudato Si’. In this beautiful and extensive treatment on care for our common home, the Holy Father calls all people to consider our deep and intertwined relationships with God, our brothers and sisters, and the gifts that our Creator has provided for our stewardship.
Drawing extensively from the teaching of his predecessors, the Pope teaches that care for the things of the earth is necessarily bound together with our care of one another, especially the poor.  This interdependency extends from the deep respect due every human person to all living beings and to the earth where we make our home. “Each creature has its own purpose…and the entire material universe speaks of God’s love.”84 The Pope uses the term “integral ecology” to draw our attention to a rich treasury of thought that people of faith bring with them to conversations about the human person and our environment. He states, “We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.”229
In Laudato Si’, the Holy Father invites us to reflect deeply on all points of human activity, whether we consider care for creation at the level of our individual choices or in the public square. The need for urgent action is clear and he appeals to us to become “painfully aware” of what is happening to the world and “to grow in solidarity, responsibility and compassionate care.”210 The Holy Father makes it clear that we were given the earth as a gift from our Creator. It is our responsibility to avoid contributing to a culture of acquisitiveness, individualism, or exploitation.
Pope Francis repeatedly urges us to renewed and urgent action and honest dialogue about our environment – both social and ecological. “The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together”48, both of which disproportionately affect our poorest brothers and sisters. Reflecting on inner city slums, lack of clean drinking water, and a consumerism mentality, Pope Francis asks “what kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?”160 This question is at the heart of this encyclical and rightfully calls us all to work harder against the challenges the human family faces today.
Genuine efforts to true dialogue will require sacrifice and the confronting of good faith disagreements, but let us be encouraged that at “the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us…he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward.”245 May we help answer Pope Francis’ call in this encyclical, receiving his message and growing in responsibility towards the common home that God has entrusted to us all.
Numbers are reflective of the paragraph numbers in Laudato Si’.

Mining the Past to Prepare for the Future

Mining the Past to Prepare for the Future

Pope Francis’ much anticipated encyclical on the environment will be released on June 18.


In anticipation of that event, we have mined the North Dakota Catholic Conference archives to look at what the conference has contributed to discussions on stewardship of creation and the related issues of farming, private property, and stewardship.


Creation, Property Rights, and the Law of Takings

The North Dakota Catholic Conference’s most comprehensive look at issues related to the environment was a newsletter published in 1996. Despite the passage of time, the lessons, being rooted in God’s Revelation, are just as relevant today.


An excerpt:


Kathleen Norris, author of Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, has said: “Dakota is a painful reminder of human limits . . .” Those who have seen our state’s vast open spaces or experienced its sometimes severe weather may understand what she means. This reminder is also a chance for spiritual growth. “Nature, in Dakota,” Norris says, “can indeed be an experience of the holy.”

North Dakotans have another opportunity to understand creation. More so than in most states, the lives of North Dakotans revolve around what we do with God’s creation. Our lives are very much tied to the use of our land and natural resources. The proper use of creation is sanctioned and blessed by God. Proper use and ownership of the earth’s resources can be spiritually rewarding.

Catholic teaching affirms both the right to private property and the need to respect creation. Sometimes, however, these two principles appear to come in conflict, such as when our use of property harms the environment or when laws intended to protect the environment unduly infringe on our use of property.


The newsletter goes on to discuss the biblical, papal, and church documents on the environment, private property, and takings laws.  Read the rest . . .


Testimonies, Presentations, Bishops’ Statements, and Columns 

Throughout the years the North Dakota Catholic Conference has addressed issues related to stewardship of God’s creation in a number of ways.





Columns from the New Earth and Dakota Catholic Action

Testimonies, Statements, and Presentations

Also, the North Dakota Catholic Conference produced Stewards of Creation, Stewards of Hope, a video that received the 1999 Certificate of Merit from the Catholic Communications Campaign of the United States Catholic Conference.

With six stories of how persons on the Northern Plains apply faith to stewarding creation, the video and study guide used scripture, Catholic social teaching, and talks by Pope John Paul II for reflecting on how everyone can respond to God’s call to steward creation. Segments included:

  • Introduction Creation is a gift from God, but conflicts often develop about how to best care for creation
  • Wetlands and Farmers Farmers and wildlife preservationists work together for common solutions and the common good.
  • Wind Energy A religious community and an Indian community apply faith to their energy needs.
  • Farm Family A profile of a farming couple and how their beliefs shape how they farm.
  • Community Supported Agriculture A look at how communities can work with farmers for local food needs.
  • New Economic Initiatives Examines how applying faith and stewardship to development can help, rather than hinder, rural communities.
  • Simplicity A couple simplifies their life for others and creation.
  • Conclusion A look at how everyone can act as a good steward of God’s creation.

Catholic Doctrine on Food, Creation, and the Human Person

Finally, the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly published an essay by Christopher Dodson, the Executive Director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, on Catholic Doctrine on Food, Creation, and the Human Person.



The essay is available for purchase from the National Catholic Bioethics Center.  Below is the abstract.





Kevin Murphy’s essay “Christians and the New Food Movement” (Autumn 2011) rightly warns about introducing non-Christian ideas associated with certain environmental movements into church practices. However, the essay embraces several errors that ultimately conflict with the Catholic faith. Catholic social doctrine, rooted in the universality of Christ’s salvific act, requires viewing food, agriculture, and the economy through a moral lens. A refusal to engage in such issues because they might bring the Church into contact with heterodoxy leads to a form of protectionism that embraces a reductionist view of creation and, ultimately, the human person. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 12.2 (Summer 2012): 217-226.

Protect Rights of Conscience and Religious Liberty

File:ReligiousFreedomStamp-1Please join in urging Congress to support our cherished rights of conscience and religious liberty. Policy is being considered on Capitol Hill that can protect the freedom of all Americans.  Please take action today!

Just follow this link to our center for Human Life Action :

Now is the time to urge Congress to work to enact critically important conscience protections this year. Such protections will likely be included in a soon-to-be-introduced appropriations bill, but House members should be urged to ensure that it remains a high priority and goes into law.  Senators should also be called upon to help ensure passage of these needed protections. We need you to contact Congress.

Thank you for once again raising your voice in defense of life and liberty. Together we will be heard!

Bishops’ International Justice and Peace Committee Offers Policy Framework for Targeted Killing by Drones


An MQ-9 Reaper sits on the flightline at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. June 19. The Reaper is capable of carrying both precision-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles. Gen. John D.W. Corley, Air Combat Command commander, met with Army Gen. William S. Wallace, Army Training and Doctrine Command commanding general, June 30 to discuss a new concept of operations that would maximize the contributions unmanned aerial systems bring to the joint warfighter. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lance Cheung)

WASHINGTON—The practice of targeted killings by unmanned drones should be limited by international standards, be transparent and guided by an awareness of how the practice affects conflict around the world, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace in a letter to National Security Advisor Susan Rice. The May 11 letter from Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, noted the ongoing concerns of bishops around the “serious moral questions” raised by drone strikes, and shared a policy framework that had been adopted by the bishops’ committee.

Bishop Cantú wrote, “Since the United States has led in the use of armed drones, it should take the lead in advancing international policies, standards and restrictions on the production, use and proliferation of drones in general, and of armed drones in targeted killings in particular. As weapons technology becomes more sophisticated, the need for an internationally recognized ethical and moral framework governing their use becomes more urgent.”

The framework notes that drone strikes should occur only in areas of active protracted conflict where war has been declared or where there is multilateral agreement to take action, when a threat is imminent, and the use of force if proportionate and a last resort. It also raises concerns about the decision-making processes behind drone strikes, civilian casualties and the long-term fueling of hostilities toward the United States.

The full text of the letter is available online: