Colorado Catholic Conference Statement on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health

Today we celebrate a major victory for life at the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the tragically unjust precedent created by Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). The Supreme Court has returned abortion regulation back to the states in a 5-4 decision with another concurring, effectively making it a 6-3 to overrule Roe and Casey.

All Americans who value the sanctity of human life should celebrate the end of nearly half a century of extreme judicial overreach on abortion, which cost the lives of millions of preborn children. Today, we celebrate our country embarking on a path toward embracing life at every stage and condition!

The Colorado bishops offered the following reactions on today’s ruling:

“So many of us have spent countless hours praying for this moment, holding vigil outside of abortion centers, silently accepting ridicule and speaking up for the voiceless unborn children. Today, we can rejoice that an unjust and cruel permission for abortion has been withdrawn,” said Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver.

“We have worked and prayed hard for this dawning of hope for our pre-born children and our society. We know that God is hearing our prayers for our most vulnerable and invisible sisters and brothers. We must continue our work that the precious gift of life for all God’s children be ever more protected and nurtured in all its stages. In gratitude for the gift of our children, and that communities turn to ever more support our youth and our families, we pray to the Lord,” said Bishop Stephen J. Berg of Pueblo.

“During this important time we pray for God’s blessings and guidance so that the Church may continue in her mission of protecting the most vulnerable of human persons,” said Bishop James R. Golka of Colorado Springs.

“To defend the life of the unborn amid a culture of death will require heroism: courage and suffering. To defend the life of the unborn is a reality that cannot accept delay or hesitation and demands boldness and action. Today we must bless God and thank those great people who have been leading our country back to the culture of life, where the life of our unborn brothers and sisters is valued, cherished and protected,” said Bishop Jorge Rodríguez of Denver.

However, while we celebrate, we must still acknowledge the work that needs to be done in Colorado. Now that Roe and Casey are overturned, the question of pre-viability abortion will return to the states, and Colorado’s new Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), which was signed into law by Governor Polis on May 4, 2022, will ensure Colorado continues to be extreme on abortion policy.

The Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) (formerly H22-1279) ensures that Colorado will remain an abortion up-to-birth state, and it goes beyond Roe in stating that preborn children at all stages of development have “no individual and derivative rights” in Colorado. Pro-abortion activists are also planning to push a ballot initiative in 2024 to allow for Colorado taxpayer funds to be used for abortion.

In response to RHEA, 21 pro-life non-profits, including the Colorado Catholic Conference and diocesan Respect Life offices, joined together as the Pro-Life Colorado coalition to continue to fight RHEA, prepare for the 2024 ballot battle, and promote legislation that values the sanctity of life.

Dobbs overturn of Roe and Casey is an example of proper Judicial Review, consistent with the text of the Constitution and judicial powers enumerated therein. Dobbs is not only correctly decided, it is also a pivotal case for millions of preborn children every year and for all Americans who value the dignity of human life.

Because over 1 million babies are being killed in the womb every year in the U.S., one fifth of the millennial/Gen Z generation is missing. Yet, a recent survey by The Institute for Pro-Life Advancement found that over 70 percent of registered voters age 18-34 favor some limits on abortion, which is why this generation is going to be aptly called: “the Post-Roe Generation.”

Mothers also have more resources than ever before. Students for Life America recently launched www.standingwithyou.org/, which provides a reference tool for mothers and families to find pre-and-postnatal centers near them as alternatives to abortion. Today, 2,752 pro-life pregnancy centers exist across the country compared to 600 Planned Parenthood locations.

All three Colorado dioceses operate several pregnancy centers and ministries that care for women and families prenatal and postnatal. For example, the Archdiocese’s Catholic Charities provides a continuum of care for more than 2,000 clients annually, the Diocese of Pueblo hosts 19 Caring Pregnancy Centers that serve over 1,500 families annually and the Diocese of Colorado Springs supports Life Network’s pregnancy centers and is building a new Maternity Home, Mater Filius, that will house and support pregnant and homeless moms.

Despite the current law in Colorado, the end of Roe means the culture of life is expanding across the nation. The Catholic bishops of Colorado and the three dioceses are committed to doing their part to help pregnant mothers who are considering abortion through the ongoing expansion of medical services, housing, counseling, and resources, both during their pregnancy and after.

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Most Reverend Stephen J. Berg

Bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo

Most Reverend Stephen Berg is a native of Miles City, Montana. He is the son of Connie and Jeanne Berg and the oldest of 10 children. He attended Catholic schools in Miles City, graduating from Sacred Heart High School in 1969. He earned a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1973 and a Master of Music from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales in 1975. Upon graduation, Bishop-designate Berg taught music at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth. Subsequently, he worked 14 years in the retail nursery industry as vice president or general manager for divisions of Sunbelt Nursery, Inc. in Fort Worth, Southern California, Phoenix and Atlanta.

Bishop-designate Berg entered Assumption Seminary in San Antonio in 1993 where he received a Master of Divinity degree from Oblate School of Theology in 1999. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1999 by his maternal uncle Bishop Joseph L. Charron, C.PP.S, S.T.D, now the Bishop Emeritus of Des Moines. After his ordination, Bishop-designate Berg served as parochial vicar of St. Michael Catholic Church in Bedford, Texas from 1999 to 2001. In 2001, he became parochial vicar of St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in North Richland Hills, Texas. From 2002 to 2008, he was pastor of four rural parishes: St. Mary in Henrietta, St. Jerome in Bowie, St. William in Montague and St. Joseph in Nocona. In 2008, Bishop Kevin Vann appointed him vicar general of the Diocese of Fort Worth and concurrently he served as pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church. In 2010, he became the Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese under Bishop Vann and also served as administrator of Holy Name of Jesus parish. Upon Bishop Vann’s installation as Bishop of Orange, then Monsignor Berg was elected diocesan administrator in December 2012 by the College of Consultors for the Diocese. Bishop Berg was ordained and installed as Bishop of Pueblo on February 27, 2014, by Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila at a Mass in Pueblo.

Most Reverend James R. Golka

Bishop of the Diocese of Colorado Springs

Bishop Golka is the fourth of ten children born September 22, 1966, to Robert and Patricia Golka. He was born and raised in Grand Island, NE. He graduated from Grand Island Central Catholic High School in 1985. He graduated from Creighton University in 1989 with degrees in Philosophy and Theology. He then spent one year as a Jesuit lay missionary volunteer at Red Cloud Indian School on the Native American Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

After applying as a seminarian for his home diocese of Grand Island, Bishop Golka enjoyed seminary formation at the St. Paul Seminary, School of Divinity, of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, where he received both a Masters of Divinity degree and a Masters of Arts degree in Sacramental Theology.

He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Grand Island on June 3, 1994. He has served as a Parochial Vicar and Pastor in various parishes. He has served the diocese in various capacities including Director of Ongoing Formation of Clergy, Chair of the Personnel Board, member of the Diocesan Finance Council, the Presbyteral Council, and as a member of the Diocesan College of Consultors. At the time of his election, he was serving as Rector of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Grand Island, NE. He was also serving as the Vicar General for the Diocese of Grand Island.

Bishop Golka says that he greatly enjoys the pastoral ministry which is provided in a parish setting. Working with people at all stages of life and allowing the gift of our Catholic faith to provide direction, support and new life is greatly rewarding. He also enjoys helping to provide ongoing formation events for the clergy of the diocese to care for the wellbeing of his brother priests.

Bishop Golka has worked with national consultants to better help parishes develop stewardship as a way of life. He has offered numerous retreats across the country preaching the blessings of ordering our lives in recognition that all we are and all we have is a gift from God. A guiding scripture passage is Psalm 116:12 which proclaims: “How can I repay the LORD for all the great good done for me?”

Bishop Golka was Ordained a Bishop in Colorado Springs on June 29, 2021. The Diocese of Colorado Springs has approximately 183,150 Catholics in 39 parishes and missions. The diocese has 82 priests, 85 Deacons and 15 men in seminary formation. The diocese and its parishes provide religious education and formation to more than 9,000 students. There is one private Catholic high school in the diocese that currently serves approximately 254 students, while an additional 1,325 students receive instruction through five parish-based elementary schools. In total, there are more than 5,414 Catholic youths under religious instruction in the Diocese of Colorado Springs.

Bishop Golka looks forward to continued growth and expansion in the diocese. With God’s grace and with the support of the faithful, the Diocese of Colorado Springs will know many more years of serving the mission of the Church in Colorado.

Most Reverend Bishop Jorge H. Rodríguez

Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Denver

Bishop Rodriguez was born March 22, 1955, in Merida, Mexico, located in the state of Yucatan. He is the son of Nery Maria Novelo and Ramon Rodriguez (deceased), and he has one brother and four sisters, who live in Merida. In Merida he attended a primary school run by the Maryknoll Sisters, and then secondary and preparatory schools run by the Marist Brothers. When he finished high school, he joined the Legionaries of Christ to study and become a priest. He was ordained Dec. 24, 1987.

He was awarded a Doctorate in Sacred Theology by the Gregorian in Rome in 1994. He also has a licentiate in philosophy from the same pontifical university, and a diploma in Mariology from the Marianum in Rome.

He was the dean of the Theology Department of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome (1994-1997). He has taught theology at the Pontifical Lateran University, at the Pontifical Institute Regina Mundi and at the Institute for Religious Sciences at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

In 1999, he was invited by then Archbishop Charles Chaput to teach in the newly launched St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, and to serve as Associate Pastor of St. Therese Parish in Aurora.

In 2002, he returned to Rome to serve as Associate Pastor of Stella Maris Parish in the Diocese of Rome, but then returned to Denver in 2006 to be a professor at St. John Vianney.

From 2007-2014, Father Rodriguez served as vice-rector of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. He was incardinated as a priest of the Archdiocese of Denver in 2008.

Since 2014, he has served as pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Thornton, Colorado, and he continues to teach the seminarians as well as the permanent diaconate candidates.

Pope Francis appointed Father Rodriguez as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Denver on August 25, 2016 and was ordained on November 4, 2016 on the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, the patron saint of bishops. He is also currently the pastor at St. Joseph parish in Denver.

He speaks Spanish, English and Italian, and reads French, and is the author of various theological publications.

Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila

Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Denver

Samuel J. Aquila was born on September 24, 1950, in Burbank, California.  He was ordained to the priesthood in Denver, Colorado, on June 5, 1976, and served in parish ministry for 11 years.  In 1987, he began graduate studies at San Anselmo University in Rome, earning a Licentiate in Sacramental Theology in 1990.

He served as Director for the Office of Liturgy and Master of Ceremonies in the Archdiocese of Denver from 1990 until 1995.  He served the archdiocese as Co-director for Continuing Education for Priests, as an advisor to the Bishop’s Committee on the Liturgy, and as Assistant Secretary for Catholic Education before being named Secretary for Catholic Education, a position he held from 1995 until 1999.

From 1999-2001, he served as the first Rector of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver and Chief Executive Officer of Our Lady of the New Advent Theological Institute.  In 2000, he was named a Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II, receiving the honorary title of Monsignor.

He was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Fargo on June 12, 2001, and his Episcopal Ordination Mass was celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo on August 24, 2001.  On March 18, 2002, he became Bishop of Fargo, and from 2005 to 2006 he also acted as Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Sioux Falls. On July 18, 2012 he was installed as the Archbishop of Denver, returning to lead the Archdiocese where he had originally served as a priest for 25 years.

Archbishop Aquila serves on numerous boards and committees, including the Papal Foundation, the Bishops’ Advisory Council for the Institute for Priestly Formation and the Board of Trustees for the Augustine Institute.  He is a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in which he has served as a member of various committees. Archbishop Aquila’s episcopal motto comes from the Blessed Virgin Mary’s instructions at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you (Jn 2:5).”