Be Who God Meant You To Be And you Will Set The World On Fire

Bishop's Statement on Religious Intolerance

November 17, 2016

My dear friends,

Saddened by the continuing news of division within our great nation, a division which has been revealed most recently through renewed acts of hatred, discrimination and religious intolerance, I write you this day as an act of solidarity with others in the faith community.

While we may think these problems only occur elsewhere, the local news from the past week reporting on anti‐Jewish graffiti at Mt. Tom, as well as a lesser reported but no less threatening incident at the West Springfield mosque in which a group of young people recently went to this sacred space, breaking bottles of alcohol outside the mosque, serve as sad reminders that this is a trouble much closer to home.

Such actions not only cause fear, anger and anxiety among those targeted, but are also a stain against the whole of our civilized society. As a people of faith, we have a moral obligation to speak out and reject such divisive actions and not remain silent. Parents have a special and unique obligation to speak with their children about the harm such actions can cause.

And so I join my voice with those of other local interfaith and ecumenical leaders, speaking out in solidarity against acts of hatred, discrimination and intolerance, those which occur locally and those that happen across our nation. I urge all in the Catholic community to join me in prayer and solidarity with our interfaith and ecumenical neighbors, standing together as a sign of hope in these turbulent times.

This weekend as the Catholic Church prepares to close out this Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us not forget that our commitment to acts of mercy is ongoing, and always extended to all our neighbors in need.

In the coming days as we gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, let our common prayer be for a true healing of the divisions that exist within our county, so that we can be truly a united nation.

Bishop's Statement on Question 4

October 17, 2016

Dear Catholic educators, catechists and families,

As Americans we are called upon to actively participate in our democratic process through the exercising of our right to vote. With the November 8 Election Day now fast approaching there are indeed many candidates and issues competing for our attention. I am writing you today regarding one issue which will be placed before voters, a matter of great importance for our young people and families.

On Election Day Massachusetts citizens will be asked to vote on a proposal to legalize recreational use of marijuana, listed a Question 4. If approved, this referendum could have an extremely devastating and dangerous impact on our society, particularly children and young adults.

As our society battles the devastating opioid crisis, which every day claims the lives of those who have been snared in the trap of addiction, it is beyond reason that we should legalize a gateway drug that, in addition to its own damaging effects, has led far too many users down the escalating path of drug abuse and the destruction of opioids.

On the reverse side of this letter, I am providing you with a statement the Massachusetts Catholic Conference has issued in response to Question 4, one which provides facts and citations from numerous research studies concerning the detrimental effects that follow from the legalization of marijuana. These concerns are shared by many law enforcement, public safety and community leaders including Governor Baker and Attorney General Healy.

I urge you to carefully read and share this statement.

Thank you for your consideration and thoughtful review of this issue and for your dedication, commitment and genuine care for our young people.

Prayerfully yours,

Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski

Bishop of Springfield



Marijuana represents a significant part of substance use in America and adversely affects the health of millions of Americans. According to a recent report1 issued by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.2 Its widespread use and abuse, particularly by young people under the age of eighteen, is steadily increasing while scientific evidence clearly links its long term damaging effects on brain development. “When marijuana users begin using as teenagers, the drug may reduce thinking, memory and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions. Marijuana’s effects on these abilities may last a long time or even be permanent.”3

Legalizing a drug for recreational use that causes these effects on the human body, particularly our youth, is not a path civil society should choose to take. It has been well documented in Massachusetts and across the country that the nation is currently waging a losing battle against opioid abuse. Our attention must not be diverted from that health crisis, nor do we want to add fuel to it by contributing to the risks for the use of other illegal/illicit/proscribed substances through the legalization of marijuana. The availability of marijuana for adolescent users already constitutes an environmental factor for the later use of other illicit drugs.4 Its legalization will only serve to worsen this problem.

One only has to examine the devastating impact felt in Colorado since 2013, when recreational use of marijuana was legalized, to fully grasp what would be in store in Massachusetts. A comprehensive report5 issued last month by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area states that, since marijuana has been legalized, traffic deaths have increased by 48 percent. Recent statistics show that of all traffic deaths in Colorado, 21 percent of those individuals killed tested positive for marijuana. Marijuana related hospitalizations in Colorado have doubled from 2011 to 2014.

Marijuana use and abuse by the youth of Colorado has increased by 20 percent since legalization. Young people in Colorado rank first in the nation for marijuana use – an illegal activity for anyone under the age of 21. Strikingly, this has negatively affected their family life,

social life and school performance where expulsions and drop-out rates have spiked significantly. Do we really want to bring these issues to Massachusetts?

The Catholic Church teaches “the use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense.”6

The Roman Catholic Bishops of Massachusetts join Governor Baker and many other elected officials along with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) in opposing the legalization of marijuana. We urge the voters of Massachusetts to vote NO on Question 4 on November 8, 2016.

His Eminence Seán P. O’Malley, OFM, Cap. Archbishop of Boston

Most Reverend Mitchell T. Rozanski Bishop of Springfield

Most Reverend Robert J. McManus Bishop of Worcester

Most Reverent Edgar M. da Cunha, SDV Bishop of Fall River

World Mission Sunday 2016

Office of the Bishop

76 Elliot Street – P.O. Box 1730
Springfield, Massachusetts 01102-1730



My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“Mercy Changes the World!”

On World Mission Sunday, October 16, Pope Francis invites each of us to be part of that change for our world of great need, calls us to announce the mercy of God, “the beating heart of the Gospel” (Misericordiae Vultus, 12).

On this 90th World Mission Sunday, our (arch)diocesan family joins our brothers and sisters around the world who will gather at the Lord’s Table to celebrate, with great joy, our common vocation as missionaries. Our prayers and financial help, through the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, support the work of the Mission Church, its witness to Christ and service to the poor.

“Let us not close our hearts within our own particular concerns, but let us open them to all of humanity.”
Message for World Mission Sunday, 2016

I echo these words of our Holy Father, asking you to open your hearts as you connect on World Mission Sunday with every corner of the globe… with the Americas, where catechists travel to remote areas to bring the Good News of God’s great love to families; with Europe, where new churches are being built to welcome faith communities, renewed after years of persecution; with Asia, where six million children receive an education from Religious Sisters in some 16,000 Church-run elementary schools; with the Pacific Islands, where 1,000 young men are preparing for the priesthood, to bring the Lord’s healing hope and peace to those in need; with Africa, where those who are sick are provided with loving care at 6,400 Catholic hospitals and small clinics.

You can also continue this connection with the Missions all year long, through MISSIO, online at or on your phone.

Grateful always for your generosity of spirit and heart, and confident of your missionary commitment to share the joy of the Gospel and help the poor, I pray for blessings for you and your families!

Faithfully yours in the Lord,

Most Reverend Mitchell T. Rozanski
Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield

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