As the US Congress considers a bipartisan bill that addresses several aspects of the opioid crisis, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, applauded Congressional efforts to address the crisis and encouraged lawmakers not to allow politics to delay their work.
Bishop Dewane’s full statement follows:
“The opioid crisis has affected all corners of our country. Preliminary estimates by the Centres for Disease Control indicate that more than 72,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2017, which is about one death every eight minutes. In the face of the staggering challenges in confronting this tragedy, it is encouraging that lawmakers in Congress appear to be making progress in bipartisan legislation that would address many issues related to the crisis.”
“As Pope Francis has said, ‘[e]very drug addict has a unique personal story and must be listened to, understood, loved, and, insofar as possible, healed and purified. We cannot stoop to the injustice of categorizing drug addicts as if they were mere objects or broken machines; each person must be valued and appreciated in his or her dignity in order to enable them to be healed.’ Congress should press on in its work for precisely these purposes.
“The Senate passed bill is but a first step in addressing several aspects of the opioid crisis, including support for increases in research, treatment, education, and security and law enforcement. As the midterm elections and the end of the year approach, it can be difficult to complete complex legislation during the remaining time. The opioid crisis, however, cannot wait until next year. Congress is to be applauded for the bipartisan efforts that have already occurred and should swiftly work through remaining obstacles to find effective solutions that can become law.”