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Faith 'compels us' to fight scourge of opioid crisis, says bishop


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GREENSBURG, Pa. (CNS) -- Bishop Edward C. Malesic of Greensburg in a pastoral letter called the opioid crisis in this country a scourge and urged the people of his diocese to take action against it.

In "A Pastoral Letter on the Drug Abuse Crisis: From Death and Despair to Life and Hope" issued June 29, he addressed the epidemic that last year killed more than 300 people in the four counties that comprise the Diocese of Greensburg and outlined the Catholic Church's local response to the crisis.

Besides efforts that focus on prayer and education, he also discussed the church's cooperative efforts with government and social service agencies that are already engaged in the fight against addiction.

Noting that rarely a day goes by without news of a death from a drug overdose, he wrote, "One especially deadly expression of the crisis of addiction, which is becoming more and more prevalent in our communities, is the current opioid epidemic."

In the four counties of the diocese -- Armstrong, Fayette, Indiana and Westmoreland -- 319 deaths in 2016 were directly related to opioid addiction, he said.

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