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Thursday, August 19, 2021

local bishops remain largely silent as southern states restrict voting rights

As Southern states restrict voting rights, local bishops remain largely silent

Local Catholic bishops' conferences in Georgia, Florida and Texas have chosen not to speak out or take positions on the "election integrity" bills that their states' Republican-controlled legislatures passed this year to impose new voting restrictions, which civil rights organizations say target Black and minority communities, NCR’s staff reporter, Brian Fraga reports.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has also declined to directly address nationwide changes to voting rights, such as those that make mail-in voting and early voting at drop boxes more difficult, impose stricter voter ID requirements and make faulty voter purges more likely.

"The silence is very noticeable, and it's sad and disappointing," said Sr. Anita Baird, a member of the Religious Congregation of the Society of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary who serves on the board of directors for the National Black Sisters' Conference.

State legislatures in Georgia and Florida passed and Republican governors in both states signed controversial broad omnibus bills that civil rights groups and others describe as voter suppression laws. In Texas, two similar voting restriction bills have been introduced in a special session of the state legislature, but House Democrats have fled the state to deprive their chamber of the quorum required to pass legislation.

Read Brian Fraga’s full report on the bishops’ silence here.

More background:

Sisters scramble to respond to delta variant amid longstanding local and global problems

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached a critical and even alarming point, say Catholic sisters and humanitarian leaders who are responding to the fast-spreading delta variant amid multiple problems.

"Just pick your continent, and we have some incredible challenges," said Sr. Carol Keehan of the Daughters of Charity, who heads a health task force for the Vatican COVID-19 Commission. "The pandemic is a mess."

Sean Callahan, president and chief executive officer of Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services, said the situation is worse than ever in many different places. "There's a combination of problems going on that we need to address," he told Global Sisters Report.

Read the entire story from GSR’s Chris Herlinger here.

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