Medical workers discuss patient care Feb. 11 while making rounds in the cardiothoracic intensive care unit at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, N.Y. Bishop O'Connell continues to ask for prayer on the first anniversary of the pandemic, including for all health care professionals. CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz
Medical workers discuss patient care Feb. 11 while making rounds in the cardiothoracic intensive care unit at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, N.Y. Bishop O'Connell continues to ask for prayer on the first anniversary of the pandemic, including for all health care professionals. CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz
" On this first anniversary of the World Health Organization’s March 11, 2020, declaration of COVID-19 as a world-wide pandemic, we continue to confront the challenges it has imposed. " Bishop O'Connell

On this first anniversary of the World Health Organization’s March 11, 2020, declaration of COVID-19 as a world-wide pandemic, we continue to confront the challenges it has imposed.  

I ask the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Trenton to pray for all those who have died from COVID-19 this past year and their families and loved ones; to pray for all those who still suffer from the pandemic and those caring for them; to pray for all health care professionals, support staff and first responders who have been and continue to be truly heroic throughout this difficult time; to pray for all those who are working to prevent COVID-19 from spreading further.  May God help us all remain healthy and safe.

As Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, I join my colleagues in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in supporting the following statement they released on March 10, 2021, regarding the American Rescue Plan, passed by Congress earlier that day:

“As the American Rescue Plan Act was being written, Catholic bishops reached out to every House and Senate office to express our support for providing additional relief to help poor and vulnerable people who are most at risk of harm from this pandemic, and our strong conviction that this relief should also protect the unborn and their right to life. 

“We are grateful this legislation addresses many positive provisions including unemployment assistance, child and earned income tax credit enhancements, nutrition funding, vaccine distribution funding, health care funding, housing assistance, international assistance to regions stricken by COVID, conflict, and hunger. There are provisions in this bill that will save people from extremely desperate situations and will likely save lives. 

“However, it is unconscionable that Congress has passed the bill without critical protections needed to ensure that billions of taxpayer dollars are used for life-affirming health care and not for abortion. 

“Unlike previous COVID relief bills, sponsors of the American Rescue Plan Act refused to include the longstanding, bi-partisan consensus policy to prohibit taxpayer dollars from funding abortions domestically and internationally. The policy was needed because this bill includes many general references to health care that, absent the express exclusion of abortion, have consistently been interpreted by federal courts not only to allow, but to compel, the provision of abortion without meaningful limit.   

“The many important, life-saving provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act have been undermined because it facilitates and funds the destruction of life, which is antithetical to its aim of protecting the most vulnerable Americans in a time of crisis.”