“The president and Congress can no longer wait to address this important issue,” Archbishop Gomez said. “In the absence of comprehensive reform, many states and localities are taking the responsibility of enforcing immigration law into their own hands. This has led to abuses and injustices for many U.S. families and immigrant communities.”The USCCB has consistently advocated for comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration policies that secures U.S. borders and gives undocumented immigrants the chance to earn permanent residency and eventual citizenship.Archbishop Gomez said that any comprehensive reform must include a path for currently undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship. He repeated the bishops’ call for an end to federal enforcement policies that are harmful to families.“Our current policies are breaking up families in the name of enforcing our laws. That should not be. We should be reuniting and strengthening families — not separating wives from husbands and children from their parents.”Archbishop Gomez said that immigration reform is long overdue and requires bipartisan cooperation and leadership.“Congress and the President have a responsibility to come together to enact reform that corrects this humanitarian problem, respects the dignity and hard work of our immigrant brothers and sisters, and reflects America’s proud history as a hospitable society and a welcoming culture.”Bishops urge Senate to protect needs of poor as budget is debatedWASHINGTON (CNS) — Acknowledging that Congress and the administration face "difficult challenges" in tackling the country's massive budget deficit, the U.S. bishops reiterated their call that the needs of poor and vulnerable people must be protected in any budget decisions. The bishops urged lawmakers to protect human life and dignity as the budget debates unfold in a May 5 letter to each member of the Senate. The letter was signed by Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace. "The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless or poor are treated," the bishops wrote. "Their voices are too often missing in these debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources." Saying they were offering their views as "pastors and teachers, not experts or partisans," the bishops acknowledged that the decisions ahead will be difficult. The discussion "requires wise bipartisan leadership, clear priorities, and moral clarity," they wrote. The bishops reminded lawmakers that "a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons." Vatican working group calls for concrete steps to combat climate changeVATICAN CITY (CNS) — Nations and individuals have a duty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enact policies that mitigate global warming, said a Vatican-sponsored working group. "The business-as-usual mode will not be possible because of both resource depletion and environmental damages," the group said in a report released by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences May 2. The cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing reforestation, cutting air pollutants and helping poor regions adapt to climate change "pales in comparison to the price the world will pay if we fail to act now," it said. "We call on all people and nations to recognize the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and by changes in forests, wetlands, grasslands, and other land uses," it said. The 15-page report on the impact human beings have on the environment was titled, "Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene," and was compiled and signed by 23 internationally renowned scientists, mountaineers, and lawyers. The academy's chancellor, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, was also a signatory of the working group report. Catholic bishop says Egyptian police must respond quicker to violenceLONDON (CNS) — Egyptian police must act more quickly against Muslim rioters, a Catholic bishop said after 12 people were killed and two churches burned in a night of violence. Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina of Giza said Egypt would descend into anarchy if such outbreaks of violence were allowed to go unpunished. "The police need to say clearly to those who have done this: 'You cannot do this. It is not allowed,'" he said in a May 9 telephone interview with the British branch of Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity helping persecuted Christians. "Without action from the police and the army, it will be chaos, complete anarchy," the bishop said. "The army will not stand up against the people who do this sort of thing," he said. "They want to stay neutral. The police appear, but very slowly. They are frightened. They have not been strong enough." The bishop added: "We cannot make peace and reconciliation without first bringing people to justice. Otherwise, the reconciliation is just theater, and the problems will remain." Bishop Mina's remarks followed violence in Cairo May 7 triggered by claims that a Christian woman who wanted to convert to Islam was being held against her will in the Orthodox Church of St. Mina in the Cairo suburb of Imbaba. Charges dropped against protesters at 2009 Notre Dame commencementWASHINGTON (CNS) — A prosecutor dropped charges May 5 against 94 people arrested for trespassing on the University of Notre Dame's campus while protesting President Barack Obama's 2009 commencement address. The university decided not to continue pressing charges and Prosecutor Michael Dvorak of the St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office said he would not stand in the way of that request and agreed to drop all charges. Notre Dame's president, Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, said in a statement that he was "sincerely pleased" that the charges were dismissed. "From the start, everyone involved in this difficult matter has been in complete accord on the sanctity of human life, and we all remain committed to continuing our work to support life from conception to natural death," he said. The 2009 protesters had objected to the school's decision to allow Obama to give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree, saying his support for keeping abortion legal made him an inappropriate choice at a Catholic university. They were arrested on criminal trespassing charges and transported to the St. Joseph County Jail after they ignored orders to stay off campus. Father Jenkins said in a statement last year that the group had been "given repeated warnings by law enforcement officials, and then, when they persisted, they were arrested and charged with criminal trespass."