U.S. bishops are pleading for an end to violence following the ongoing attacks on Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers.

“In light of this, we urge our elected officials to take a strong stand against this violence, and our law enforcement authorities to increase their vigilance in protecting those who are in increased danger,” Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore wrote in a statement released Monday.

The U.S. bishops have tracked 139 church attacks since 2020 — a number that has increased significantly since the May 2 leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion in the abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

“Only rarely have the motives been clear; when they were, it was often opposition to the Church’s teachings on life in the womb,” wrote Dolan, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Religious Liberty and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

Since the leak in Dobbs, a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, “charities that support pregnant mothers in need have been firebombed, and pro-life organizations have been attacked almost daily and terrorized, and even the lives of Supreme Court justices have been directly threatened,” the U.S. Church leaders noted.

Dolan and Lori urged that, in response, “each of us must choose the path of peace and open our hearts to the love that God has for his children.”

The bishops explained the Catholic Church provides a great service to all in need.

“The Catholic Church has a long history of service to those who are most vulnerable, including both mother and child, and remains the largest private provider of social services in the United States,” the two stressed. “From religious communities to pregnancy care centers, from refugee resettlement services to foster care and adoption agencies, and from maternity homes to parish-based ministries, the Church consistently bears witness in word and deed to the beauty and dignity of every human life.”

This press release follows the U.S. bishops’ recent announcement of their upcoming Religious Freedom Week. Starting June 22, they invite the faithful to pray in a special way for a culture of life amid the attacks targeting churches.