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Bishop Christopher J. Coyne

Bishop Christopher J. Coyne

Bishop's statement on St. Albans shooting

On Thursday, Feb. 23, a shooting took place in the parking lot of Holy Angels Church in St. Albans. The victim remains in critical condition in a hospital, and the police have arrested at least one suspect. According to one report, the incident was connected to a drug deal gone bad. The fact that the crime occurred in one of our parking lots appears to be a coincidence.
 
Obviously, the illegal use of drugs as well as any act of violence against any person is condemned by Catholic teaching. Illegal use of drugs is never a good choice. Violent acts, whether they take place in a church parking lot or anywhere else, are rightly to be condemned.
 
Nevertheless, the shooting did take place on church property in a busy and dense neighborhood. People were out walking in the good weather. Children were making their way home from school. Normal parish and Vermont Catholic Charities business was taking place in the parish center when the six shots were fired. Luckily, none of them was struck by a bullet. But anyone in the area has been “struck” by violence, from those who tried to help and comfort the shooting victim, to the parents of the children on the street, to the neighbors whose quiet afternoon was suddenly punctuated by the sound of gunfire. For all of them, their neighborhood does not seem quite as safe as it once did.
 
I ask the Catholic community to stand resolutely against gun violence and illegal drug use and to continue to support our law enforcement officials in carrying out their work as they serve the common good. I urge us all to be watchful in our neighborhoods and families for the signs of illegal drugs while at the same time being supportive of families who are dealing with addiction as well as those who are recovering from addiction.
 
Finally, I offer my prayers for all whose lives have been impacted by the shooting, for the victim himself and for his recovery, yes, but also the other victims -- the neighbors, the workers, the parish staff, for all whose quiet day suddenly became one of turmoil and fear.
 
Mary, Queen of Angels, pray for us. 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

A Catholic Christmas and new year

This will be my second celebration of Christmas as the bishop of the Diocese of Burlington. I feel very much at home here. Over the past two years, I have met a lot of very wonderful and good people, some who share our Catholic faith, others who do not. There is a large network of men and women in our state who are dedicated to doing good works, whether it is helping the neediest and most vulnerable in our midst, striving for affordable housing, feeding the hungry and the homeless, providing resources for people and families who are finding it difficult to make ends meet or working tirelessly to protect our water and our environment. Much of this is reported in the 2016 winter issue of Vermont Catholic in which we acknowledge the good deeds and works that are being carried out by faithful Catholics here in Vermont.
 
This is what we Catholics do. We feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, comfort the sorrowing, welcome the stranger, visit the prisoner and clothe the needy. We do it because we know the meaning of Christmas: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son...” (Jn 3:16). The conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb and His later birth in the manger which we celebrate at Christmas remind us that God was born among us to bring reconciliation between God and man and reconciliation between all of us as brothers and sisters. Jesus’ later preaching of the Kingdom of God was a call to communion with Him and with one another. That communion calls us to be merciful, doing unto others as we would have done to ourselves.
 
So, I wish you all a merry Christmas as we contemplate the merciful love of God for each of us, and I wish you all a new year of faith in which we renew our call to serve God through loving acts of mercy for others.
 
On another note, I invite you to join with me in celebrating 2017 as a “Year of Creation” in our diocese. On May 24, 2015, Pope Francis published his encyclical on the environment entitled “Laudato Si’” subtitled, “On care for our common home.” In this encyclical, he states that concern for the natural world is no longer “optional” but is an integral part of Church teaching on social justice. While it has been nearly two years since its publication, I think it is time for the Church here in Vermont to study, ponder and begin to implement much of what the pope calls for in “Laudato Si’.” As such, a number of resources, events and programs have been created for both parish and diocesan venues to help us do so. More will follow over the next few months, but I hope you will join me in this endeavor.
 
Yours in Christ,
 
The Most Reverend Christopher J. Coyne
 
Bishop of Burlington
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Bishop Coyne's statement on the recent elections

It has been over a week now since the recent national, state, and municipal elections, a week which has allowed me, and I hope you, an opportunity for prayer and reflection on the outcomes. Out of this, I now write to the Catholic community of the Diocese of Burlington words of encouragement and challenge.

First, allow me to commend the citizens and candidates of the state of Vermont for the positive manner in which the state and local campaigns and elections were carried out. While there was some negative campaigning at times, the general overall tenor of the campaigns was respectful and civil.

However, as we all know, such was not the case nationally. This past presidential election was brutal, nasty, and angry. It has left our country divided and a lot less civil. Last Wednesday morning, I found myself thinking, “What just happened? How did we ever get to this point as fellow citizens of this great country?” Please know that I am not talking about the results of the election. I found both candidates to be an appalling choice. I am talking about the process and its aftermath.

We are now faced with a president entering office with a high “unfavorable” rating. This would have been the case for either candidate. Consider this statistic: 61% of those who voted for Mr. Trump did so because they didn’t like Mrs. Clinton while 61% of those who voted for Mrs. Clinton did so because they didn’t like Mr. Trump. That has never happened before. How does one govern and lead with that kind of a handicap going into office? And what does that do to our national psyche and our trust in government? There is more division, more anger, and more angst in our country then ever before.

That was where I found myself early last Wednesday. But later in the day I found a place of encouragement and solace in the first reading of the Mass of the day – Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – in a vision of the prophet Ezekiel. An angel has brought Ezekiel to the temple in Jerusalem where he stands and sees water flowing from the gates of the temple, in all directions, bringing life, healing, and freshness to whatever the waters touch. This vision has been seen within the Church’s tradition as a vision of the Church herself from which the waters of baptism and the gift of salvation flow to all of creation.

I thought of how necessary this vision is now, both communally and personally. We as a Church, the Catholic community in Vermont, need to see ourselves as baptized people who seek to bring life and healing to all of creation. I thought of how I need to see myself as someone who brings “good news” to everyone I meet. I thought of the words from a well-known song, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me” and how that needs to be my mantra.

Can we be a people who bring peace, not anger? Can we be a people who stand up for what is right while lifting up what is good? Can we be a people who talk “policies” and not “persons?” Can we be the salt, the leaven, the seeds of goodness in our culture? Can we be “living water” that flows out in words and gestures of healing and charity?

Yes, if we do so united in our faith, supporting each other in prayer and worship, and with the grace of God.

God bless America.



Bishop Christopher J. Coyne



[Statement originally published on Bishop Coyne's blog, Nov. 16, 2016: http://bishopcoyne.org/statement-on-the-recent-elections/.]
  • Published in Diocesan

Bishop Coyne's Statement on the Upcoming General Election

I write to you, my brothers and sisters, with words of encouragement as your bishop and fellow citizen of this great country.
 
My first encouragement is that each of us who can vote in this November’s election do so. Do not abdicate your right to vote. It is a privilege and a duty. I give thanks to God that my family and I live in the United States of America as free citizens who can exercise the right to vote without coercion or concern that our government or any agency would work to thwart either my right to vote or the intention of my vote.  With that in mind, we must exercise that right to vote and have our voices heard. This is especially true here in Vermont where many are standing for local and state offices, positions that often have a greater impact on our day to day lives than national offices.
 
Secondly, I ask that as people of faith we not leave that faith in Jesus Christ and in his Church at the door of the voting booth but allow that faith to inform the choices we make in that booth.  I encourage you to spend some time in prayer prior to voting, asking the Holy Spirit to infuse you with her guidance in making choices that are in keeping with our faith and the common good of all.  This is especially true in making choices that, as Cardinal Dolan of New York recently wrote, promote the dignity of the human person, as something “to be defended and promoted as a first priority, a dignity not dependent upon race, green card, stock portfolio, age, or health; [and] the sacredness of human life, from the instant of conception to the holy moment of natural passing, to be defended vigorously rather than diluted and then discarded.”
 
My final encouragement is to be people of “Good News,” doing and saying only the good things that men and women need to hear, things that will lift them up. There is already too much anger, vitriol, and incivility in our culture today. We do not need to add to it but instead apply a cure: kindness, charity, and mutual respect for each other as brothers and sisters created in the image of God.
 
May God bless America.




Bishop Christopher J. Coyne

 
[For those who are interested in further instruction and guidance from the Church on these matters, I direct you to the US Bishops’ teaching on “Faithful Citizenship” at www.faithfulcitizenship.org]
 
  • Published in Diocesan
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