Search Statements

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Protect the poor and vulnerable by opposing predatory payday loans

The following is a statement signed by the Catholic bishops of Indiana and other faith leaders in Indiana.

We oppose Indiana House Bill 1319, which opens doors for lending practices that are unjust and which take unfair advantage of people in desperate circumstances. Together, we call on the Indiana Senate to reject this bill and find ways to establish more just legislation that protects the poor and vulnerable among us.

Across our religious traditions, we believe that economic life is intended to be a means through which God’s purposes of security and flourishing for all people and creation are to be served. When this does not occur, the Church cannot remain silent. We are called to address injustice and to seek changes in economic life in light of the biblically-grounded imperative of a sufficient, sustainable livelihood for all.

Indiana House Bill 1319, which, among other things, allows for annual interest rates on some loans of 222 percent, violates our common commitment to justice and protecting those most vulnerable. Rates of more than 72 percent are considered felony loansharking in current Indiana law. Sometimes called “payday loans,” such loans would make it likely that a person who borrows up to $1,500 to cover utilities or other day-to-day expenses (as is the case for most folks who seek such loans) will be required to pay thousands more in interest than the amount of the original short-term loan. Those who use payday loans are often lower income persons and families whose paychecks are just short of covering the month’s expenses and quickly become entrapped in a web of interest and debt.

Lending practices that, intentionally or unintentionally, take unfair advantage of one’s desperate circumstances are unjust. Taking advantage of the financial distress of vulnerable people and communities has a long history. Unscrupulous and exploitative banking has existed from the usury condemned in the Bible. The State’s purpose and duty is to protect and facilitate the common good. The weakest members of society should be helped to defend themselves against usury.

We appeal to conscience and what is just and right. Taking advantage of someone and exploiting them is wrong. Although it may be legal, it does not remove one’s obligation to do what is just. Extending the payday lending practice does not benefit the person, and it is contrary to providing for the common good, to helping persons and our society flourish. We ask the legislature to defeat this bill.

Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

Most Reverend Charles C. Thompson, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Most Reverend Donald J. Hying, Bishop, Diocese of Gary

Most Reverend Bishop Siegel, Bishop, Diocese of Evansville

Most Reverend Timothy L. Doherty, Bishop, Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana

Rev. Chad R. Abbott, Designated Conference Minister, Indiana-Kentucky Conference, United Church of Christ

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis

Rev. Soozi Whitten Ford, Executive Minister, American Baptist Churches of Indiana and Kentucky

Rev. Joan C. Friesen, Executive Minister, American Baptist Churches of Greater Indianapolis

Rev. Dr. William O. Gafkjen, Bishop, Indiana-Kentucky Synod, ELCA

Rev. Richard L. Spleth, Regional Minister, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Indiana

Rev. Taylor Alan Thames, Executive Presbyter, Whitewater Valley Presbytery, Presbyterian Church (USA)

The Rev. Dr. Julius C. Trimble, Bishop, Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Regarding the Notre Dame decision on contraceptive coverage


“I strongly support the decision of the University of Notre Dame to stop the government-funded provision, through its third party administrator, of abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures. I am also happy that the University will provide natural family planning services in its insurance plans. At the same time, I strongly disagree with Notre Dame’s decision to provide funding for contraception in its health insurance plans, which involves it even more directly in contributing to immoral activity. The Catholic Church clearly teaches that contraception is an immoral action that contradicts the truth of marital love.

As Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the local Church of which Notre Dame is a part, I wish to remind all the faithful of the diocese, including the faithful who are part of the Notre Dame community, of the Church’s definitive teaching that “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2370). I encourage all who struggle with this teaching to study prayerfully this teaching of the Church, and I especially recommend the study of the encyclical of Blessed Pope Paul VI, “Humanae Vitae,” during this 50th anniversary year of the encyclical, as well as the rich teaching of Pope Saint John Paul II in his catecheses on the “theology of the body.” Many Catholics have come to a greater understanding and appreciation of the Church’s teaching through such study and prayer.

I understand Notre Dame’s desire to respect other religious traditions and the conscientious decisions of members of the Notre Dame community on this issue. Members of the community who decide to use contraceptives, however, should not expect the university to act contrary to its Catholic beliefs by funding these contraceptives. Notre Dame bears prophetic witness to the truths of the Catholic faith in its words and actions on many issues of importance for the good of our society. Not providing funding for contraception would not be popular with some, but it would truly be a prophetic witness to the truth about human sexuality and its meaning and purpose. I hope and pray that the University will reconsider its decision.”

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Concerning administration’s decision to end DACA

Statement of Bishop Rhoades concerning Administration’s Decision to End DACA:

“A few weeks ago, I wrote a column expressing the Church’s strong support for the Dream Act of 2017. The passage of the Dream Act has even greater urgency now that the DACA program has been cancelled. My heart goes out to our DACA youth and their families who have been left unprotected from deportation and fear for their futures in the United States, their home. I am very saddened and disappointed in the Administration’s termination of the DACA program. I urge our legislators to support the Dream Act. It is a matter not only of mercy, but of justice. I hope and pray that Congress will act soon to protect these young people who were brought to the U.S. as minors and not responsible for the violation of our nation’s immigration laws. America is their home. They are part of our community, our churches, our schools, our workplaces, and our military. May we all stand in solidarity with them during this difficult time!"

Declaración del Obispo Kevin. C. Rhoades sobre la decisión de la Administración de poner fin al Programa DACA:

"Hace unas semanas, escribí una columna expresando el fuerte apoyo de la Iglesia a la Ley de los Sueños del 2017. La aprobación de la Ley de los Sueños tiene aún mayor urgencia ahora que el programa de DACA ha sido cancelado.Mi corazón siente por nuestros jóvenes recipientes de DACA y por sus familias que han quedado desprotegidas de la deportación y temen por su futuro en Estados Unidos, su hogar. Estoy muy triste y decepcionado de esta Administración por la terminación del programa DACA. Les pido a nuestros legisladores apoyar la Ley de los Sueños. Es un asunto no sólo de misericordia, sino de justicia. Espero y rezo para que el Congreso actúe pronto para proteger a estos jóvenes que fueron traídos a los Estados Unidos como menores y quienes no fueron responsables de la violación de las leyes de inmigración de nuestra nación. América es su hogar. Ellos son parte de nuestra comunidad, nuestras iglesias, nuestras escuelas, nuestros lugares de trabajo, y nuestra milicia. ¡Unámonos en solidaridad con ellos durante este tiempo tan difícil!"

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Regarding the tragedy in Charlottesville

Statement from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend

“I ask for the prayers of the faithful of our diocese for the victims of the terrible tragedy in Charlottesville on August 12th. We must always stand against the poisonous sin of racism. As disciples of Jesus, we oppose all hatred and bigotry, including ideologies of white supremacy. Let us combat these evils through prayers, words, and actions that reflect the love of Christ and safeguard the dignity of every person.”

Monday, January 30, 2017

Statement of Bishop Rhoades on Executive Order on Refugees

The Church stands firm in its commitment to the defense of the life and dignity of the human person and to the promotion of the common good. Just last week, I joined over 1,000 young people from our diocese at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., where we publicly witnessed to the dignity of the unborn child. It was a joy to bear witness to the Gospel of Life.

Our commitment to the Gospel of Life also includes the defense of the lives of so many innocent people who are victims of violence, war, religious persecution, and terrorism. The number of refugees in the world today, persons who have had to flee their homes because their lives are in danger, is staggering. The Church has been a leading agent in caring for and helping refugees, including resettling so many men, women, and children in our country. I am proud of the excellent work of our own diocesan Catholic Charities in this area of service to these “least of our brothers and sisters.”

I am saddened by the Executive Order of our president which suspends the entry of refugees into our country for 120 days, which indefinitely stops the admission of Syrian refugees, and which bars people from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days. Many refugees are fleeing from ISIS and other extremists. They are victims and are looking for safety. Many are children. I cannot imagine what it must be like for a father or mother to be in such desperate straits, only desiring the safety and wellbeing of their family.

Clearly our government has a responsibility to protect the safety and security of the United States. Certainly we must be vigilant lest terrorists infiltrate the refugee population. But, as many attest, including our Church agencies involved in refugee settlement, “the U.S. is already using a thorough vetting process for refugees, especially for those from Syria and surrounding countries” (Sean Callahan, CRS President). Fear should not lead us to forsake the innocent, of whatever nation or religion, whose lives are in danger.

We must remember the criteria by which Jesus said we will be judged, including whether or not we welcomed the stranger among us. “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me,” Jesus said, in the parable of the last judgment, to those granted entry into His Kingdom. “I was a stranger and you gave me no welcome,” Jesus said to those who were sent to eternal punishment.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind our responsibility to work for and promote the common good. The common good is not only the good of our nation, but also the good of the human family, the universal common good. Our brothers and sisters in the human family who are refugees are crying out for our compassion and love. Let us pray fervently for refugees, for their safety, and for a renewed openness in our country to welcoming these brothers and sisters in need.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Regarding the Orlando shooting

"I encourage all the faithful of our diocese to pray for the victims of the terrible massacre in Orlando and for their families and friends. We condemn such hate-inspired violence while also reaffirming the need to counter such violence with love and respect for the life and dignity of all people as children of God. In our sorrow over this senseless tragedy, we turn to the Lord with faith that His goodness and love triumphs over evil and hatred." — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades

Monday, March 14, 2016

Concerning the decision of Notre Dame to honor Vice-President Biden and former Speaker Boehner with the Laetare Medal


In response to many inquiries, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the diocese where the University of Notre Dame is located, offers the following statement about the granting of the Laetare Medal by the University of Notre Dame to Vice-President Joseph Biden and former Speaker of the House John Boehner:

The Laetare Medal is given by the University of Notre Dame ‘in recognition of outstanding service to the Church and society.’ Several months ago, Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., the president of the university, discussed with me his consideration of conferring the Laetare Medal upon Vice-President Joseph Biden and former House Speaker John Boehner, two Catholics who have served in public office for many years, elected officials of different political parties. Father Jenkins made it clear to me that in recognizing Vice-President Biden and Speaker Boehner, Notre Dame would not be endorsing the policy positions of either, but rather, would be honoring them for their public service in politics. I know that this honor is also an attempt to recognize two Catholics from different political parties at a time when our national politics is often mired in acrimonious partisanship. I appreciate Notre Dame’s efforts to encourage civility, dialogue, mutual respect and cooperation in political life.

While I understand Notre Dame’s intentions in conferring the Laetare Medal upon Vice-President Biden and Speaker Boehner, I disagree with the decision. In dialogue with Father Jenkins about this matter some months ago, I shared with him my concerns with honoring the Vice-President. I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any “pro-choice” public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service, since direct abortion is gravely contrary to the natural law and violates a very fundamental principle of Catholic moral and social teaching: the inalienable right to life of every innocent human being from the moment of conception. I also question the propriety of honoring a public official who was a major spokesman for the redefinition of marriage. The Church has continually urged public officials, especially Catholics, of the grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that supports or facilitates abortion or that undermines the authentic meaning of marriage. I disagree with awarding someone for ‘outstanding service to the Church and society’ who has not been faithful to this obligation.

I realize that Notre Dame is trying to separate or distinguish the conferral of the Laetare Medal upon the recipients from their positions on public policies. I do not think this is realistically possible or intellectually coherent. To accomplish the goal of promoting cooperation, civility, and dialogue in American politics, I think it would have been better if Notre Dame had invited Vice-President Biden and Speaker Boehner to speak at Notre Dame on this topic rather than bestow an honor that can provoke scandal. My principal concern about this whole matter is scandal. In honoring a “pro-choice” Catholic who also has supported the redefinition of marriage, which the Church considers harmful to the common good of society, it can give the impression to people, including Catholics in political office, that one can be “a good Catholic” while also supporting or advocating for positions that contradict our fundamental moral and social principles and teachings.

Notre Dame serves the Church and my diocese in many exemplary ways and I strive to serve the community of Notre Dame through my active presence and involvement on campus. For the sake of the unity of the Church and the Church’s witness in society, I wish we could overcome disagreements which, at least in the public eye, can overshadow the good collaboration that goes on in other areas of Catholic life and mission.

We need to reflect more deeply on the meaning and significance of the bestowal of honors in relation to the Catholic identity and mission of our institutions. I would encourage Notre Dame and other Catholic colleges and universities to “raise the bar” in considering the granting of honors. I believe a higher standard is needed. There are many important values which we seek to teach, uphold, and live in our Catholic colleges and universities. These are the values we should look for in the lives of those we wish to honor. We should seek to honor those who act to protect human life and dignity from conception to natural death, who respect true marriage and the family, who promote peace, justice, religious freedom, solidarity, the integral development of the poor, the just treatment of immigrants, and care for creation. We should not honor those who may be exemplary in one area but gravely irresponsible in another.

If we honor Catholic politicians or public officials, we should make sure there is a basic consistency between their political decisions and sound Catholic moral and social teaching. We should not honor those who claim to personally accept Church teaching, but act contrary to that teaching in their political choices. We should choose for honors those whose lives and work are exemplary in witnessing to the Gospel and disqualify those who dissent from the truths and values we profess and hold dear. When we do so, when we “raise the bar,” so to speak, we not only avoid scandal, but we also have an opportunity to recognize and thank authentic witnesses to the Catholic faith for their fidelity. We also lift them up in a way that may inspire others to imitate their example.

Pope Francis is calling all of us to embrace the challenge of a missionary spirituality. He refers to “a sort of inferiority complex which leads to relativizing or concealing our Christian identity and convictions.” He also warns against a “spiritual worldliness that consists in seeking not the Lord’s glory but human glory.” I think this counsel is also relevant in decisions about conferring honors.

I recommend to all the document of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. Though it does not directly address the issue of awards to public officials, I believe it gives important principles relevant to this matter and can be a helpful guide in discerning criteria for bestowing honors.