October 28, 2021 

His Excellency, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, announces the following appointments, effective as follows:

Reverend Gregory F. Loughney, from Pastor, Most Holy Trinity Parish, Cresco, effective October 28, 2021.

Reverend Sean G. Carpenter, to Administrator Pro Tem, Most Holy Trinity Parish, Cresco, effective October 28, 2021.  Father Carpenter will continue to serve as Pastor, Saint Maximilian Kolbe Parish, Pocono Pines.


SCRANTON (October 23, 2021) – On Friday evening, October 22, 2021, the Diocese of Scranton learned that Father Gregory F. Loughney, pastor, Most Holy Trinity Parish, Cresco, was arrested by members of the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department. Four criminal charges – all connected to alleged inappropriate contact with a minor– were filed against Father Loughney on the morning of Saturday, October 23, 2021.

Under its longstanding zero-tolerance policy, the Diocese of Scranton immediately removed Father Loughney from active ministry pending the outcome of the investigation. The Diocese of Scranton will cooperate fully with law enforcement officials in their investigation.

Diocesan policy also involves notifying parishes, schools and other diocesan facilities where Father Loughney ministered to alert them of the charges.

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera is asking for prayers for all people who have been affected by this situation.

“Learning the details of the behavior with which Father Loughney has been charged is extremely upsetting,” Bishop Bambera said. “In no way is this alleged behavior to be tolerated in the life and ministry of a priest.”

Anyone who might have relevant information is urged to call the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department at (570) 895-2400, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office at (570) 517-3052, or any local law enforcement agency.

The Faithful of Most Holy Trinity Parish should be assured that the Diocese of Scranton will provide for the celebration of Mass and the sacraments and all other pastoral needs.




Declaración sobre el arresto del sacerdote diocesano

SCRANTON (23 de octubre de 2021) – El viernes 22 de octubre de 2021 por la noche, la Diócesis de Scranton se enteró de que el padre Gregory F. Loughney, párroco de Most Holy Trinity Parish, Cresco, fue arrestado por miembros del Departamento de Policía Regional de Pocono Mountain. En la mañana del sábado 23 de octubre de 2021, se presentaron cuatro cargos penales, todos relacionados con un presunto contacto inapropiado con un menor, contra el padre Loughney.

Bajo su política de tolerancia cero de larga data, la Diócesis de Scranton inmediatamente destituyó al Padre Loughney del ministerio activo en espera del resultado de la investigación. La Diócesis de Scranton cooperará plenamente con los funcionarios encargados de hacer cumplir la ley en su investigación.

La política diocesana también implica notificar a las parroquias, escuelas y otras instalaciones diocesanas donde el Padre Loughney ministró para alertarlos de los cargos.

El obispo Joseph C. Bambera pide oraciones por todas las personas que se han visto afectadas por esta situación.

“Conocer los detalles del comportamiento del que se ha acusado al padre Loughney es extremadamente perturbador”, dijo el obispo Bambera. “De ninguna manera se debe tolerar este supuesto comportamiento en la vida y el ministerio de un sacerdote”.

Se insta a cualquier persona que pueda tener información relevante a llamar al Departamento de Policía Regional de Pocono Mountain al (570) 895-2400, a la Oficina del Fiscal de Distrito del Condado de Monroe al (570) 517-3052, oa cualquier agencia local de aplicación de la ley.

Los feligreses de la parroquia Most Holy Trinity deben estar seguros de que la Diócesis de Scranton proporcionará la celebración de la Misa y los sacramentos y sus necesidades pastorales.


The Father Mullally Memorial Committee: Toni and Deacon Thomas Spataro, Karen and Ed Loeschorn, Kate Burns, Father Joseph Manarchuck, Rosemary Walsh, Carol and Ray Proulx, Jack Boyle, Deacon Mike Calafiore and Commissioner Matt Osterberg (absent from photo).


MILFORD – Bright sunshine reflected the joyous spirit of all in attendance recently as Saint Patrick’s Church in Milford dedicated the Father Gerald T. Mullally Memorial Garden, featuring a beautiful new statue of Madonna Della Strada (Our Lady of the Streets).

The memorial garden celebrates the life of the late, beloved pastor who led the parish for 23 years. The garden, which includes benches and raised beds for seasonal plantings, was envisioned as a place where people can gather before Mass and at other times for quiet reflection and sharing. Included are plaques featuring excerpts from some of Father Mullally’s memorable homilies.

The day began with the celebration of Mass by current pastor, Rev. Joseph Manarchuck. In his homily, Deacon Thomas Spataro vividly recalled the enormous impact of Father Mullally as a charismatic and caring shepherd. Mass was followed by a formal blessing of the garden and statue by Father Manarchuck.

Mr. and Mrs. Brian Mullally

Among the many parishioners and guests in attendance were: Mr. and Mrs. Brian Mullally, major donors to the project. In remarks following the dedication, Mr. Mullally, Father Mullally’s cousin, who flew in from California for the occasion, called the memorial a truly beautiful space.

“Father would have been very excited to see so many of God’s faithful here for the Mass and Dedication,” Mr. Mullally said, adding, “We hope this can be a spark that helps usher in a new and exciting era at the church and parish that Father loved so much.”











An offering is seen at the site of the former Brandon Indian Residential School June 12, 2021. Researchers — partnered with the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation — located 104 potential graves at the site in Brandon, Manitoba. On Sept. 24, Canada’s Catholic bishops “unequivocally” apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system. (CNS photo/Shannon VanRaes, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis is willing to travel to Canada as part of “the long-standing pastoral process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” the Vatican press office said.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited the pope to visit the country, the press office said Oct. 27, although no date or time frame for the trip was mentioned.

A delegation of Indigenous leaders, accompanied by several bishops, is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican in December to listen to their experiences of how they and their people have been treated by Catholics in Canada, with special attention to the impact on the Indigenous communities of Canada’s residential schools, many of which were run by Catholic religious orders or dioceses.

“Pope Francis will encounter and listen to the Indigenous participants, so as to discern how he can support our common desire to renew relationships and walk together along the path of hope in the coming years,” the bishops’ conference said in a statement after their September meeting.

“We pledge to work with the Holy See and our Indigenous partners on the possibility of a pastoral visit by the pope to Canada as part of this healing journey,” the bishops said.

The statement was part of the first formal apology the bishops as a conference made to Canada’s Indigenous people.

Acknowledging the “grave abuses” perpetuated, the bishops acknowledged “the suffering experienced in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. Many Catholic religious communities and dioceses participated in this system, which led to the suppression of Indigenous languages, culture and spirituality, failing to respect the rich history, traditions and wisdom of Indigenous peoples.”

In 2015, the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action asked for such an apology from the entire church in Canada.

It also said: “We call upon the pope to issue an apology to survivors, their families and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this report and to be delivered by the pope in Canada.”

Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina, Saskatchewan, who will travel with the Indigenous representatives in December, told Catholic News Service in June that the pope’s involvement is important for many Indigenous people.

First of all, he said, “most Indigenous people, especially Indigenous Catholics, see the pope as the chief,” and “when there is a wound between families, the fathers are engaged in the reconciliation process.”

So, he said, many Indigenous Canadians are looking to the pope “to be connected, to take some ownership and to speak on behalf of the church.”

Asking the pope to make the apology formally on Canadian soil is not an arbitrary request, the archbishop said. “The land is so central to Indigenous spirituality, to meet people on their land is vital in terms of a relationship.”

The residential schools have long been at the heart of discussions and reconciliation efforts between Indigenous Canadians and the Catholic Church. The issue gained urgency in late May when the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation reported that using ground-penetrating radar an estimated 215 bodies had been found in unmarked graves at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, run by a Catholic religious order until 1969. Similar discoveries followed at the sites of other residential schools.


WASHINGTON (CNS) – Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, New Jersey, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, is encouraging dioceses to use National Vocation Awareness Week, Nov. 7-13, as a time to foster vocations in their local faith communities.

“Studies of those recently ordained and religiously professed consistently show that the encouragement of the parish priest is the most influential factor in vocational discernment,” Bishop Checchio said in an Oct. 20 statement about the upcoming weeklong observance.

“But the accompaniment of the whole faith community is key for genuine vocational discernment — from one’s parents and family members, to the Catholic educators, as well as the vital role that youth ministers and fellow parishioners play as the early encounters for young people to the faith,” he added.

National Vocation Awareness Week is an annual celebration of the U.S. Catholic Church dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and calling the faithful to pray for and support those who are considering such a vocation.

Resources for dioceses to utilize during National Vocation Awareness Week, including homily aids in English and Spanish, recommended reading and discernment tips, prayers of the faithful in English and Spanish, and bulletin-ready quotes are available online at https://bit.ly/3jCqTcS.

The observance of National Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U.S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year to call attention to the importance of upholding vocations and praying for those discerning a religious vocation and celebrating those who were in ordained ministry and consecrated life.

In 1997, the celebration was moved to the feast of the Baptism of the Lord and in 2014, the USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations moved the observance to November to influence youth and young adults by engaging Catholic schools and colleges.

In his message for the 58th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations April 25, Pope Francis offered St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, as a model for vocational discernment.

He urged the church “to look to St. Joseph as an ‘outstanding example of acceptance of God’s plans.'”

“For St. Joseph, service — as a concrete expression of the gift of self – did not remain simply a high ideal, but became a rule for daily life,” the pope said in his message. “I like to think, then, of Saint Joseph, the protector of Jesus and of the church, as the protector of vocations. In fact, from his willingness to serve comes his concern to protect.”

Pope Francis added: “What a beautiful example of Christian life we give when we refuse to pursue our ambitions or indulge in our illusions, but instead care for what the Lord has entrusted to us through the church! God then pours out his Spirit and creativity upon us; he works wonders in us, as he did in Joseph.”


WASHINGTON (CNS) – The chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life and religious liberty committees urged U.S. Senate leaders Oct. 22 to include the Hyde and Weldon amendments and “other long-standing, bipartisan pro-life provisions” in appropriations bills being advanced in the chamber.

By eliminating these provisions, “the Senate is staking out an extreme position of forcing taxpayers to pay for the taking of innocent unborn human life and forcing health care providers to participate in this injustice” against their deeply-held beliefs, the prelates said in a joint statement.

In addition, employers and insurers will be forced to cover and pay for abortion, they added.

On Oct. 19, the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Appropriations released the text of several appropriations bills which, “like their House counterparts,” they said, currently exclude pro-life measures, such as the 46-year-old Hyde Amendment, which have long enjoyed bipartisan support.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued their statement in response to the Senate committee’s action.

“We recognize and appreciate that these bills also include many life-affirming provisions that help vulnerable people, including pregnant moms, refugees, low-income families and the elderly,” they said. “The laudable concern and support these provisions represent must also extend to our vulnerable brothers and sisters in the womb.”

“We reiterate the fact that funding the destruction of innocent unborn human lives, and forcing people to participate, are grave abuses of human rights,” Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Naumann added. “We call on the Senate to prevent this injustice by passing appropriations bills that fully support and protect human dignity, and the most vulnerable among us.”

Their statement reiterated a number of earlier statements issued by U.S. bishops over the past several months urging both House and Senate to keep Hyde, Weldon and other pro-life provisions intact in spending bills.

In July, the U.S. House rejected several pro-life riders to spending bills offered by pro-life House members, including Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., and supported by the U.S. bishops and various pro-life organizations.

Hyde first became law in 1976 to prohibit federal funds appropriated through the Labor Department, the Health and Human Services Department and related agencies from being used to cover abortion or fund health plans that cover abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman would be endangered.

Hyde has been reenacted in spending bills every year since it was first passed.

The Helms Amendment — what Smith called “the Hyde Amendment for the rest of the world” — has prohibited using U.S. taxpayer funds to directly pay for abortions in other countries since 1973.”

The Weldon Amendment has been included in the annual appropriation for Health and Human Services since 2005. It allows health care providers as well as insurance plans to refuse to provide abortions, pay for them or refer women to abortion clinics.

An early version of the Senate’s $3.5 trillion spending plan did pass with a pro-life amendment offered on the Senate floor by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. It was approved in a largely party-line vote of 50-49, with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., joining Republicans to support it.

The Lankford Amendment included Hyde language to prohibit federal funding for abortions and Weldon Amendment language to provide conscience protections for health care providers and medical professionals who object to performing abortions.

But the $3.5 trillion bill is stalled and ongoing negotiations are aimed at trimming the bill; Manchin, whose “yes” vote Democrats would need to pass it, said he won’t vote for anything higher than $2 trillion and is pushing for less.

Though Hyde and the other provisions have for years enjoyed bipartisan support, a number of Democrats in the House and Senate now claim the provisions “discriminate against low-income women who depend on Medicaid and other federal funding for health care and places a disproportionate burden on women of color, especially Black and Hispanic women,” according to an Oct. 6 article in The Hill, a daily news outlet.


SCRANTON – Calling the moment “historic,” Bishop Joseph C. Bambera celebrated an opening Mass for the 2023 Synod of Bishops locally on Oct. 17 at the Cathedral of Saint Peter. Faithful from around the diocese participated in the Mass in-person and via Catholic Television.

“We join with dioceses from around the world at Pope Francis’ request to begin a process of reflection, a process of dialogue and a process of discernment, as we as a local Church, contribute our perspective, our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams, our prayers, to a worldwide Synod of Bishops that will convene in Rome in 2023,” Bishop Bambera said.

Over the next six months, the Diocese of Scranton will encourage all people – including those in parishes, schools and other diocesan structures – as well as those who have fallen away from the Church or are on the margins of society to offer their thoughts on various aspects of Church life. The process will include both in-person listening sessions and an online survey that will be made available to everyone in the Diocese of Scranton.

“From the earliest days of Christianity as noted in the Acts of the Apostles, the Church has sought to listen to the voice of Christ alive in each member of the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit,” Bishop Bambera said during his homily. “Today, under the leadership of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and with the Church throughout the world, we begin here in the Diocese of Scranton, that process of listening; listening to the hearts of the people of God and the movements of the Holy Spirit found therein.”

After the local listening sessions are complete, the Diocese of Scranton – and all other dioceses in the United States – will submit a summary of local discussions by April 1 to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. That information will then be synthesized at the national level and forwarded to the Vatican.

“By virtue of our Baptism, all of us are called to be active participants in the life of the Church through discernment, participation and co-responsibility,” Bishop Bambera noted. “By means of a process of careful listening, our participation in the Synod process will hopefully enable us to better understand how the entire Christian community is called to participate in the life of our Church and how that shared participation among our members might grow in the future.”

In addition to sending the summary of listening sessions to the USCCB, the Diocese of Scranton also plans to utilize the feedback provided locally.

As he reflected on Jesus’ life and ministry, Bishop Bambera reminded the faithful that He spent a great deal of time listening.

“The Holy Father’s hope, which is my prayer as well, is that the experience of this unique worldwide opportunity will bring about a new springtime for listening, discernment, dialogue and decision-making in our Church,” the bishop noted.


SCRANTON – Parishioners in the Diocese of Scranton are invited to participate in a Pontifical Mass in celebration of World Mission Sunday on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, at 12:15 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will be the principal celebrant. Father Brian J.T. Clarke, Diocesan Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, will concelebrate. The homilist will be Father Stephen A. Asomah, Parochial Vicar, Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Clarks Summit.

Father Stephen A. Asomah was born and raised in Ghana, West Africa. Desiring to be a priest, he attended St. James Seminary High School and continued his seminary formation in St. Paul’s Major Seminary, Sowotuom, Accra, for spirituality and philosophy and St. Peter’s Regional Seminary, Pedu, Cape Coast, for theological studies. He was ordained on July 12, 2008. Prior to moving to the Diocese of Scranton in 2020, Father Stephen served in the Archdiocese of New York as a missionary from 2012-2019.

For those unable to attend the Mass in-person, CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton will broadcast the Mass and provide livestreaming through the Diocese of Scranton website and social media platforms.

The Pontifical Mass will follow a special collection for World Mission Sunday that is taken up annually in parishes across the Diocese of Scranton on Oct. 23 & 24. The World Mission Sunday collection supports the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, which supports the work and witness of the Mission Church, as it provides for priests, religious and lay leaders who offer the Lord’s mercy and concrete help to the most vulnerable communities.

In his message for World Mission Sunday, Pope Francis said compassion and a constant effort to reach out to others are essential elements of being “missionary disciples,” even in the midst of a pandemic.

“In these days of pandemic, when there is a temptation to disguise and justify indifference and apathy in the name of healthy social distancing, there is urgent need for the mission of compassion, which can make that necessary distancing an opportunity for encounter, care and promotion,” Pope Francis wrote.

The theme chosen for the 2021 celebration is taken from the Acts of the Apostles: “We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard.

To read Bishop Bambera’s Letter for World Mission Sunday, please click here.



My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Just a few days ago on October 3, we celebrated the feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Affectionately known to many as the “Little Flower,” St. Thérèse is the patroness of the Missions. Perhaps the great paradox of her patronage is that Thérèse never left her cloister. Her entire religious life was lived out in her humble convent in Lisieux, France. Though she desired so deeply to be a missionary, she was compelled to live a life of relative obscurity, to become a missionary through her prayer, her sacrifice and the “little way” that defined her life and has inspired the lives of many.

Thérèse’s simple life reminds me of a quotation from another saintly missionary, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “do small things with great love.” Each of us has been compelled to encounter how to carry out the Christian way of life in our own “cloisters” as pandemic restrictions had us holed up in our homes in the early months of COVID-19. Somehow, our lives as people of faith and as disciples of Jesus Christ had to carry on. Admittedly, to do so we had to find creative ways to be faithful to our worship and acts of prayer as our public worship was curtailed. We found ways to reach out to family and neighbors even as we were limited in our physical contact with them and discovered opportunities to support the poor and vulnerable as so many religious and social service agencies found it challenging to meet their needs.

This is the crux of missionary discipleship. Certainly, many have and will continue to travel to places throughout the world to serve as missionaries. Indeed, in our own country, missionaries will continue to serve the needs of the poor and marginalized as they seek to alleviate their burdens. And, yes, many will continue to serve with a missionary zeal in a spirit of servant leadership from their homes. Not everyone—whether it’s because of illness, age, or other circumstances—can leave their homes to engage the mission entrusted to them. Much can be learned from the example of St. Thérèse who, despite never leaving her cloister, is among the most notable missionaries in our Church.

In his message for World Mission Sunday, Pope Francis spoke of “a temptation to disguise and justify indifference and apathy in the name of healthy social distancing…” However, he went on to highlight that there is an “urgent need for the mission of compassion, which can make that necessary distancing an opportunity for encounter, care and promotion.” Surely, even from a distance we can serve and can encounter. Let us endeavor to do so spurred on by the life of St. Thérèse and the Gospel mandate to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19).

Faithfully yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton


The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver is seen Oct. 10, 2021, after it was vandalized. Since February 2020, the Archdiocese of Denver is aware of 25 parishes or ministry locations in northern Colorado that have been the target of vandalism, property destruction or theft. (CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Denver)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The Oct. 10 vandalization of Denver’s cathedral basilica that resulted in satanic and other “hateful graffiti” being scrawled on its doors and at least one statue brought to 100 the number of incidents of arson, vandalism and other destruction that have taken place at Catholic sites across the United States since May 2020.

That month the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty began tracking such incidents, according to an Oct. 14 USCCB news release.

“These incidents of vandalism have ranged from the tragic to the obscene, from the transparent to the inexplicable,” the chairmen of the USCCB’s religious liberty and domestic policy committees said in a joint statement included in the release.

“There remains much we do not know about this phenomenon, but at a minimum, they underscore that our society is in sore need of God’s grace,” they said, calling on the nation’s elected officials “to step forward and condemn these attacks.”

“In all cases, we must reach out to the perpetrators with prayer and forgiveness,” said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

“Where the motive was retribution for some past fault of ours, we must reconcile; where misunderstanding of our teachings has caused anger toward us, we must offer clarity; but this destruction must stop. This is not the way,” they said.

“We thank our law enforcement for investigating these incidents and taking appropriate steps to prevent further harm,” Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Coakley said. “We appeal to community members for help as well. These are not mere property crimes — this is the degradation of visible representations of our Catholic faith. These are acts of hate.”

In a July 2020 joint statement, Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, then acting chairman of the religious liberty committee decried the growing number of incidents of church vandalism.

“Whether those who committed these acts were troubled individuals crying out for help or agents of hate seeking to intimidate, the attacks are signs of a society in need of healing,” the two archbishops said.

“In those incidents where human actions are clear, the motives still are not. As we strain to understand the destruction of these holy symbols of selfless love and devotion, we pray for any who have caused it, and we remain vigilant against more of it,” they said.

“Our nation finds itself in an extraordinary hour of cultural conflict,” they added. “The path forward must be through the compassion and understanding practiced and taught by Jesus and his Holy Mother. Let us contemplate, rather than destroy, images of these examples of God’s love. Following the example of Our Lord, we respond to confusion with understanding and to hatred with love.”

These incidents have ranged from a man crashing his van through the doors of a Catholic church in the Diocese of Orlando, Florida, and setting the interior ablaze, to a St. Junípero Serra statue outside Mission San Rafael in San Rafael, California, in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, being desecrated with red paint and toppled, leaving just the saint’s feet in place.

In response to such attacks, the Committee for Religious Liberty launched the “Beauty Heals” project featuring videos from various dioceses discussing the significance of sacred art.

At least 10 videos are available on YouTube; a link to the play list of all the videos can be found at https://bit.ly/3peNq3o.

In a June 1, 2021, letter to the respective chairs and ranking members of the Appropriation Committee in the House and Senate , the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty joined with several other faith groups calling for more funding for appropriations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program in fiscal year 2022.

The text of the letter can be found at https://bit.ly/3n6Rz6t.

“As organizations representing Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Catholic, Episcopal, Evangelical, Lutheran, Protestant, Seventh-day Adventist, and other Christian and communities of faith across the United States, we believe that all people ought to be free from fear when gathering for religious worship and service,” they wrote, urging more funds for the FEMA grant program.

The grants provide funds for “target hardening and other physical security enhancements and activities” for, as the letter stated, “at-risk nonprofits from urban settings to suburban neighborhoods and rural communities, including houses of worship, religious schools, community centers and other charities.”

“There is a critical need and urgency for these grants,” the faith groups said. “Our sacred spaces have been desecrated, and our faithful murdered.”

In a 20-year period starting in mid-1999, there were shootings at an estimated 19 houses of worship resulting in fatalities.