RELEASE: Thoughts on the One-Year Anniversary of Pope Francis’ election

Posted March 13, 2014

In the first year of his pontificate, Pope Francis has made great strides in restoring the moral credibility of the Catholic church. However, if his pontificate is to succeed in the long term, important work still lies ahead.

Pope Francis has repaired the credibility of the Catholic church by unequivocally prioritizing the needs of the poor, by ending discriminatory policy towards gay people, and by removing right-wing clerics from positions of power within the curia.

However, there is one important question Pope Francis has failed to answer; how can the church elevate the role of women within the decision making process of the church. If Pope Francis wants to restore the credibility of the Catholic faith for future generations, he must find a way to demonstrate that women are equal partners in the apostolic life of the church.

The most importants steps Pope Francis can take to demonstrate his commitment to empowering women are:

RELEASE: US Catholics Ecstatic Over Pope’s Planned Visit

Posted January 24, 2014

WASHINGTON – Media sources have confirmed Vatican reports that Pope Francis intends on visiting the United States in September 2015. In addition to a planned visit to the eighth World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, it’s been speculated the Holy Father may address the General Assembly of the United Nations during his trip.

Catholics United Executive Director James Salt made the following statement in response to the news:

“American Catholics are thrilled Pope Francis wants to visit the United States next year. Francis has inspired the world with his simple lifestyle, heartfelt concern for the poor and non-judgemental approach towards gay people. His voice is needed in America more than ever before, especially in Pennsylvania.

“Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput will be the host of the
World Meeting of Families and is known for his strident opposition to abortion and the rights of gay people. The Pope’s visit to Pennsylvania could have a seismic effect in re-calibrating the American Catholic Church’s moral priorities, especially as they relate to the needs of the poor and how the Church can better minister to families with LGBT members.

RELEASE: Catholics United Welcomes Incoming Pueblo Bishop

Posted January 16, 2014

Group asks new bishop to restore funding for defunded immigrant rights group

WASHINGTON -- 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.

RELEASE: It's Time for Bill Donohue to Hang it Up

Posted December 17, 2013

The permanently irascible, offensive pundit is a relic of a bygone era

WASHINGTON – Bill Donohue, president of the The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, has been president of the group for 20 years. The stated purpose of this organization is to defend the rights of Catholics in public life, yet when right-wing media commentators call the Pope a “Marxist,” or espousing anti-religious redistributionist views, Donohue is silent.

Beyond this stunning omission, his nearly incessant string of embarrassing statements in the media, wherein he defames and degrades whole swaths of people, represents a thankfully dying era in Catholicism. He claims his organization’s purpose is to “defend the Catholic Church,” but his behavior has only hurt it.

RELEASE: Catholics United Responds to Bp. Tobin's Tone-Deaf Statement on Mandela

Posted December 10, 2013

After Holy Father prays Nelson Mandela's life would inspire generations to act for justice, Tobin chooses to divide

WASHINGTON – Catholics United Executive Director James Salt made the following statement after reading Providence, R.I., Bishop Thomas J. Tobin's remarks on Nelson Mandela:

"In a time when we should be seeking true moral leadership, and honoring those who fight for justice, Pope Francis has been a shining example of why Catholics are proud to be Catholic. On the passing of Nelson Mandela, the Holy Father prayed that 'the late president's example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations.' We share the Holy Father's prayers.

"Regrettably, Catholics are leaving the Church in droves because of divisive political statements, and we desperately need more leaders like Pope Francis. It's sad Bishop Tobin appears he'll never have the moral authority of either Pope Francis or Nelson Mandela.

RELEASE: Faith leaders and Campaign to Unload hold vigil, ask Cerberus Capital to honor promises

Posted December 09, 2013

Private equity firm accepts letter asking it honor divestment pledge; work remains

NEW YORK – This morning, nearly a year after Cerberus Capital Management pledged to divest from assault weapons manufacturing, members of NYC faith communities gathered outside the international headquarters of the private equity firm on Third Avenue. After a short silent vigil and statements from faith leaders, representatives delivered a letter calling for Cerberus CEO Stephen Feinberg to honor his firm’s unfulfilled promise.

Carrying crosses, Stars of David and Islamic crescents representing those lost to gun violence since the 2012 school massacre at Newtown, Conn., vigil holders presented the letter to a Cerberus representative. The Campaign to Unload, a national coalition dedicated to assault weapon divestment, was the principal organizer.

“Investors in the gun industry are beginning to see these interests as toxic. This gathering was a reminder to gun investors like Cerberus that advocates for gun safety are not going away,” said Jennifer Fiore, executive director of the Campaign to Unload. “It’s been nearly a year and we’re just getting started.”

PRESS RELEASE: Pope to Right-Wingers: I’m Not One of You

Posted September 19, 2013

In startlingly honest interview, Pope confirms he believes the “imbalance” caused by the far right is damaging to the reputation of the church

WASHINGTON—Today, lay Catholics across the world are celebrating a wide-ranging interview given by Pope Francis to 17 Jesuit-affiliated periodicals. In the interview, published in English by the Catholic magazine America, Francis articulates his vision of moving the priorities of the Catholic faith away from divisive social issues, like what he calls an “obsession” with gay marriage, abortion and contraception, while refocusing on core Gospel teachings relating to poverty.

In the interview, found at America’s website,, Pope Francis makes a number of statements that provide hope to lay Catholics who want a church more rooted in social justice values:

On treatment of gay people:
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”

PRESS RELEASE: Catholics to Anti-Gay Priest in Wisconsin: ‘Who are You to Judge?’

Posted August 08, 2013

Inspired by Holy Father’s support of gay people, Catholics United wonders where Altoona priest found motivation to discriminate against gay kids in Boy Scouts

WASHINGTON – Fr. Derek Sakowski of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Altoona, Wis., recently became the latest member in a small group of Catholic priests who have chosen to ignore Catholic teaching on proper pastoral care of gay people when he issued a warning to his parish’s affiliated Boy Scout troop that he would disaffiliate the group if they chose to allow gay kids to join.

Despite strong statements in support of the new Boy Scout policy allowing gay kids from the likes of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, several bishops and, indeed, Sakowski’s own Diocese of La Crosse, the priest has chosen to disband the parish troop instead of allowing gay kids access to Scouting programs.

Catholics United’s Executive Director James Salt said he was in disbelief, especially after Pope Francis’ recent comments about treating gay people with dignity.

Holy Father Pope Francis on Gay People: 'Who am I to Judge?'

Posted July 29, 2013

Pope also calls for greater inclusion for women; Catholics United responds

WASHINGTON – Media outlets around the world are reporting on Pope Francis’ declaration that gay people who seek holiness, including priests, should be accepted with love and compassion:

“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?” the pope said. “You can't marginalize these people.”

The pontiff went on to call for a greater role for women’s leadership in the Church, though he stopped short of allowing for women’s ordination.

Catholics United’s Executive Director James Salt made the following statement in response to Pope Francis’ comments:

Priest Denied Speaking Venues by Boston and Philadelphia Catholic Dioceses to Speak in Washington

Posted July 18, 2013

Reform-minded Austrian cleric Helmut Schüller, rejected from speaking at several Catholic institutions, to speak at Lutheran church

WASHINGTON – Austrian reformer-priest Fr. Helmut Schüller is continuing his speaking tour of the United States in D.C. Monday night. This will follow speaking engagements in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, which have been marked with controversy. Fr. Schüller, who has generated growing international interest and support for his call for the acceptance of married and women priests to combat the increasing priest shortage, was denied the right to speak on Catholic property by the Boston and Philadelphia dioceses.

The Sisters of St. Joseph, who own and operate Chestnut Hill College, a Catholic institution in Philadelphia, will host Fr. Schüller’s presentation on Friday.

When the D.C. organizers of the speaking tour saw opportunities for a hospitable Catholic forum dwindle, they sought options with other faith traditions. After searching for weeks, Pastor John Kidd of Augustana Lutheran Church, a congregation affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, gave permission to hold the event at his church.