Lansing Update: Bishops Express Grief, Hope After Prop 3 Passes

In this update:

Voters Approve Proposal 3; Catholic Leaders Reiterate Commitment to Protecting Life

Despite the immense grassroots efforts of Catholics and others across Michigan dedicated to protecting human life, Proposal 3 was unfortunately approved this week by voters.

Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) released the following statement from MCC President and CEO Paul A. Long about the election results and the path forward:

“This is a tragic day for Michigan and for the cause of protecting and upholding the inherent dignity of all human life. Despite the tremendous hurdle this constitutional amendment presents, we will continue to support policies that uphold parental rights and the sanctity of human life as well as those that offer assistance to women in need. Regardless of what abortion laws and policies are in place, we continue to pray for and work toward a day where human life is welcomed as a gift and where abortion is considered an unthinkable option.

“The mandate now before us is to accelerate a mission of love and mercy where all life is respected and supported, before, during and after birth. We will expect policymakers to address with substance and empathy the women and families in our state who are in need of support and compassion to ensure they have the help and life-affirming care needed to live with their children in dignity and joy.

“We are grateful to our bishops, clergy, religious and the Catholic faithful across Michigan for their bold and courageous stand to speak the truth in love through this campaign. The outpouring of support and action from Catholic parishes and grassroots citizens across the state demonstrated the strength, size, and dedication of the pro-life movement. Even in difficult circumstances we remain committed to uphold and proclaim that unborn children demand respect and are worthy of legal protection from the moment of conception.”

In addition to comments from MCC, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Archdiocese of Detroit also released a statement following the election that emphasized renewing “our commitment to accompanying women and families in need, with greater resolve than ever.”

Archbishop Vigneron added that “we will continue our efforts to build a culture of life in which abortion is unthinkable, all families receive the support they need, and the dignity of all people is recognized. We do this with confidence in the ultimate victory of Christ, whose resurrection to life has defeated the powers of death.”

The bishops who lead Michigan’s other six dioceses also spoke out after the election, offering similar remarks that express grief over the results but also comfort and hope to Catholics who worked hard to defeat the proposal and are understandably worried about the future of the state. Below are links to their remarks with a few excerpts:

“Your petitions and your labors are not in vain. Together we will continue to build and, if needs be, rebuild a culture of life in Michigan and beyond.” —Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing

“The passage of Proposal 3 in no way diminishes our commitment to pray for and support human life at all stages of existence.” —Bishop David Walkowiak of the Diocese of Grand Rapids

“We must especially support legislation that protects those most vulnerable and pray fervently for a change of heart in our State, so that we can soon regain our reputation as a State that holds each person as precious and worthy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, no matter how vulnerable or at what stage of their existence they may be.” —Bishop Paul Bradley of the Diocese of Kalamazoo

“Although this is a heartbreaking and difficult defeat, and a setback in our defense of the unborn, we will not be discouraged nor deterred from defending life at all stages. We are an Easter People. It looked like complete defeat on Good Friday, but the reality of Jesus’ Resurrection teaches us that, in the end, life prevails.” —Bishop Robert Gruss of the Diocese of Saginaw

“As disciples of Christ, our mission must always be to receive life as a gift from God, heal those broken by the sin of abortion, and walk with moms in need.” —Bishop Jeffrey Walsh of the Diocese of Gaylord

“Let us by the grace of God foster a civilization of life and love where the grave evil of abortion is unthinkable.” —Bishop John Doerfler of the Diocese of Marquette

A Recap of Michigan’s Election Results

The major story out of Tuesday’s results is that the Democratic party will control the House, Senate and Governor’s office in Michigan for the first time in roughly 40 years.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson all won re-election against their Republican challengers.

Both the state House and state Senate will change to Democratic control.

The House is currently 56-53 in favor of Republicans, but when the new session begins in January 2023, the Democrats will control the chamber 56-54. Democrats this week chose Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit) to be the next House speaker, and Tate will be the first Black man to ever hold the position. Republicans selected Rep. Matt Hall (R-Comstock Township) as the next House Minority Leader.

The state Senate is currently 22-16 in favor of Republicans but will change to 20-18 in the new session in favor of Democrats. On Thursday, the Senate Democrats chose Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) as the next Senate Majority Leader, and she will be the first-ever woman to hold the position. Republicans agreed on Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) as the Senate Minority Leader.

The Michigan Supreme Court will remain 4-3 in favor of justices nominated or appointed by Democrats.

Both incumbent Michigan Supreme Court justices on the ballot — Richard Bernstein and Brian Zahra — were re-elected. Bernstein was nominated by Democrats and Zahra by Republicans.

In congressional races, every incumbent who ran for re-election won. In open races, Democrat Hillary Scholten defeated John Gibbs in the Third Congressional District, Republican John James beat Democrat Carl Marlinga for the 10th Congressional District, and Democrat Shri Thanedar defeated Republican Martell Bivings for the 13th Congressional District.

Altogether, that means Michigan will send seven Democratic congressional representatives and six Republican congressional representatives to Washington, D.C.

The other statewide proposals — Proposals 1 and 2 — were also approved by voters. MCC took no position on these ballot proposals.