The Pro-Life Majority
SURVEY SHOWS MOST U.S. ADULTS SUPPORT LAWS LIMITING OR REGULATING ABORTION
WASHINGTON—A nationwide survey commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has found that four out of five U.S. adults (82 percent) think abortion should either be illegal under all circumstances (11 percent) or would limit its legality. Thirty-eight (38) percent would limit abortion to the narrow circumstances of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother; and an additional 33 percent would limit abortion to either the first three or first six months. Only 9 percent said abortion should be legal for any reason at any time during pregnancy.
“These findings are remarkable,” said Deirdre McQuade, Assistant Director for Policy & Communications at the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. “Fewer than one in ten Americans support legal abortion for any reason at any time during pregnancy. But that is precisely the current state of abortion law under Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decisions that made abortion legal throughout the nine months of pregnancy for virtually any reason.”
The survey of 2,341 adults, conducted online December 10-12, also found that laws limiting or regulating abortion enjoyed support as high as 95 percent among those expressing support or opposition to the six kinds of laws examined in the survey:
“This research indicates how out of touch pro-abortion groups are with mainstream America,” McQuade said.
“These same widely-supported, constitutionally valid measures, some of which have been proven effective in reducing abortion rates, are now seriously threatened by abortion advocates and their allies in Congress,” McQuade said. “On behalf of children and their mothers, we will have to fight to keep such laws in place.”
“Pro-abortion groups have already sent a comprehensive 55-page blueprint for their agenda to the incoming Administration,” McQuade said. “But their agenda—including publicly-funded abortions, passage of the so-called ‘Freedom of Choice Act’ (FOCA), and attacking the Hyde amendment and other longstanding pro-life provisions in appropriations bills—won’t sell in the general public.”
“Most people agree we should work to reduce abortions, but you can’t reduce abortions by promoting abortion and eliminating all the policies that have proven effective in reducing abortions,” McQuade said. “The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will oppose all such threats to human life in whatever manner they are proposed.”
Harris Interactive® fielded the study on behalf of USCCB from December 10-12, 2008 via its QuickQuerySM online omnibus service, interviewing a nationwide sample of 2,341 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older. Data were weighted using propensity score weighting to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and propensity to be online. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
The Slave Next Door
The North Dakota Catholic Conference is working with others to get new state laws against human trafficking.
Read the story here.
New Anti-Trafficking Measure Becomes Law
WASHINGTON—Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, today hailed the enactment of H.R. 7311, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA). Passed by Congress on December 10, the legislation was signed by President Bush on Tuesday, December 23, at the White House.
“Trafficking in human persons is a horrific crime and should be combated with all the legal means and resources available,” Bishop Wester said. “The enactment of this legislation is another important step toward eradicating this scourge, both in the United States and globally.”
In his remarks, Bishop Wester thanked President Bush and Congress for their leadership on this important human rights issue, but also urged President-elect Obama and the new Congress to ensure that anti-trafficking efforts remain a high priority.
“President Bush has done much to elevate public awareness about human trafficking and should be thanked for his leadership,” Bishop Wester said. “It will be important, however, that the new Administration and new Congress remain vigilant and continue to work to end to this abominable practice.”
Julianne Duncan, associate director of Children’s Services for Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) of the USCCB, emphasized the need for governmental agencies at the national and local levels to cooperate in implementing the new law.
“It is vital that the federal and local governments better coordinate their efforts, so that more human trafficking victims, including children, are identified, rescued, and provided appropriate services,” Duncan said.
Specifically, the new law will extend services and benefits to a greater number of trafficking victims who urgently need them. Victims who have a pending application for a visa, for example, will now be eligible for benefits immediately. Additionally, children believed to have experienced a form of trafficking will receive 120 days of interim assistance as they wait to be determined eligible for assistance as victims by the federal government.
Duncan also praised provisions in the legislation which will assist vulnerable children at risk of being trafficked. Provisions include reform of the process for children applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), making more children eligible for permanent legal status and refugee program benefits; a mandate that these children are placed in least restrictive settings based on a “best interest of the child” standard; and requirements that home studies be conducted before children are released. Another important provision creates protections for children who are determined ineligible for legal status in the United States and are repatriated to their home country.
“Children, especially those without parents or guardians, are particularly susceptible to human traffickers and are unable to escape trafficking situations. The provisions targeted toward children will help ensure they are better protected and that they receive services in a timely manner,” Duncan said.
MRS/USCCB provides social services to victims of human trafficking and was part of a group of organizations that actively advocated for inclusion of the children’s provisions in the legislation. MRS/USCCB also convenes the Catholic Coalition Against Human Trafficking, a coalition that supported the legislation and includes over 20 Catholic-related agencies and religious orders.
Bishops Welcome Regulation Protecting Conscience
“Individuals and institutions committed to healing should not be required to take the very human life that they are dedicated to protecting,” McQuade said. “The enforcement of federal laws to protect their freedom of conscience is long overdue.”
“Catholic health care providers will especially welcome this mark of respect for the excellent life-affirming care they provide to all in need. But Catholics do not stand alone in opposition to the deliberate destruction of nascent human life. All health care providers should be free to serve their patients without violating their most deeply held moral and religious convictions in support of life,” McQuade said.
“The USCCB thanks Secretary Michael Leavitt for implementing this regulation,” McQuade said. “We urge the incoming Congress and Administration to honor this much-needed implementation of longstanding laws. Respect for conscience rights on abortion should be a strong point of agreement among those considering themselves ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice.’ Yet this regulation is already under attack. A month before it was even published, pro-abortion senators had introduced a bill (S. 20) to invalidate it regardless of its content.”
The USCCB issued a statement on August 21 welcoming the proposed regulation when it was first released for public comment (www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2008/08-118.shtml). Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chair of the bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, also wrote to Congress urging respect for conscience protection measures (www.usccb.org/prolife/rigali-conscience071808.pdf). Formal comments on the proposal were later submitted by the USCCB Office of General Counsel (www.usccb.org/ogc/ruleind.shtml).
Find the the document and related items here.
Covering the Children
Helping the Newcomer
The Grand Forks Herald recently highlighted how the area’s schools are helping children learn English. Some of the money needed for these programs come from the federal government, but state money is also needed. Each legislative session, the questions arise about the program. Those concerned about the Biblical instruction to welcome the newcomer should read this story.
More North Dakotans Rely on Food Stamps
Governor Releases Budget
MEDICAL COSTS: Reimbursement rates for medical providers, including doctors, dentists and chiropractors, who provide services to Medicaid patients are increased to a higher base level. Hoeven also proposes increasing those higher rates by 7 percent annually.
CHILD HEALTH CARE: North Dakota families with incomes up to twice as high as the federal poverty level would be eligible for health insurance coverage for their children. The current limit for the Children's Health Insurance Program is 150 percent of the poverty level. The proposal would make more than 3,000 children newly eligible for the program.
Hoeven's budget includes $1.1 million in state funds to increase eligibility to 200 percent, which equals an annual income of $42,400 for a family of four. The total added expense is $4.4 million. The remaining $3.3 million would be paid by the federal government.
FEDERAL MONEY: Congress is being asked to provide almost 37 percent of Hoeven's proposed $7.71 billion budget over two years. Federal money provides significant chunks of the budgets of two of the state's largest agencies, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Transportation.
CHILD CARE CHECKS: Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem's office would get $900,000 and authorization to hire five new employees to cover the Bureau of Criminal Investigation's costs for conducting criminal background checks on child care workers.
Poll Shows Overwhelming Catholic Support for Immigration Reform
The poll conducted October 17-20, included a sample of 1,000 people who self-identified as Roman Catholics and was commissioned by Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (MRS/USCCB). It had a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percentage points.
About 69 percent of Catholics polled supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, provided they register with the government; 62 percent supported the concept if they were required to learn English. The U.S. Catholic bishops have long endorsed a path to citizenship for undocumented persons that would include requirements to register with the government and to learn English.
“These results show that, like other Americans, Catholics want a solution to the challenge of illegal immigration and support undocumented immigrants becoming full members of our communities and nation,” said Johnny Young, executive director of Migration and Refugee Services of the USCCB. “It is clear that those opposed to a legalization of the undocumented are a minority,” he added.
In other findings, 64 percent of Catholics opposed the construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, while three out of four Catholics agree that the church has a moral obligation to help provide for the humanitarian needs of immigrants, regardless of their legal status.
Todd Scribner, education coordinator for MRS/USCCB, stated that the poll results demonstrated that the efforts of the U.S. bishops to educate Catholics on the realities of immigration are bearing fruit.
“Catholics are generally in agreement with their bishops that there needs to be a comprehensive and humane solution to our immigration problems,” Scribner said. “The strong educational efforts of the bishops, through the Justice for Immigrants Campaign and their own teachings, have helped generate support in the Catholic community for comprehensive reform.”
The U.S. bishops launched an educational initiative in 2005, entitled the Justice for Immigrants Campaign, to educate Catholics on the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
Cardinal George to Obama: Abortion Destroys the Common Good
“If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil.” (Psalm 127, vs. 1)
The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all. Because of the Church’s history and the scope of her ministries in this country, we want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and foster peace at home and abroad. The Church is intent on doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government and all others working for these goods.
The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.
In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any “interference” in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.
Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion. Abortion clinics would be deregulated. The Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated. FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.
FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.
On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby. Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.
The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.
This statement is written at the request and direction of all the Bishops, who also want to thank all those in politics who work with good will to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Those in public life do so, sometimes, at the cost of great sacrifice to themselves and their families; and we are grateful. We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation. The common good is not the sum total of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.
Our prayers accompany President-elect Obama and his family and those who are cooperating with him to assure a smooth transition in government. Many issues demand immediate attention on the part of our elected “watchman.” (Psalm 127) May God bless him and our country.
'We are our brothers' keepers,' remind bishops in economic statement
Statement on Economic Crisis
By Patricia Zapor
Catholic News Service
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- At a time of economic crisis, the U.S. Catholic bishops issued a statement Nov. 11 reminding people that "we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers. We are all in this together."
The brief statement issued by Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, the bishops' president, noted that "hard times can isolate us or they can bring us together."
It was drafted during the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore and approved by the body of bishops in a voice vote Nov. 11 as a statement from Cardinal George on their behalf.
"As pastors and bishops, we see the many human and moral consequences of this crisis," the statement said. Though the impact of the crisis is greater in some regions of the country, families all across the nation are losing their homes, workers are losing their jobs and health care coverage, retirement savings are threatened and people are losing the sense of hope and security, it continued.
But the church will continue to "reach out to those in need, stand with those who are hurt, and work for policies that bring greater compassion, accountability and justice to economic life," the statement said.
Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio, who suggested the statement, said at a press conference following its approval that the impetus for it came out of "the very basic concern we have as pastors" that the economic situation be met with understanding, compassion and a sense of solidarity with one's neighbors.
A day earlier in his home state, he noted, another major employer announced dramatic job cuts. DHL, the international shipping company, announced it was eliminating 9,500 jobs, about 7,000 of them located in Wilmington, Ohio.
"Our people are hurting and the bishops want to be with people as they're hurting," Bishop Blair said.
Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco, who chairs the bishops' communications committee, said the bishops felt it was important to raise people's consciousness about the needs of their neighbors.
Even before the recent economic downturn, many dioceses were hit hard financially by payouts of settlements for sexual abuse claims, Archbishop Niederauer noted. But in times like these, helping people in need is far less about the diminished assets of a diocese than it is about "calling people to come forward" to help their neighbors, he said.
Bishop Blair said Toledo has a long tradition of people helping people, particularly at the parish level, and he doesn't see that being particularly affected by diocesan financial situations.
"If all politics is local, a lot of charity is also local," said Archbishop Niederauer.
Parish collections, the annual diocesan charity appeals, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and local food pantries are the kind of help that people have generously supported to help their neighbors in the past and that the bishops hope to encourage with the statement, he said.
The statement noted that Pope Benedict XVI in his message for the 2008 World Day of Peace said families need to have "a home, employment and a just recognition of the domestic activity of parents, the possibility of schooling for children and basic health care for all." The pope, it said, "also insists that society and public policy should be 'committed to assisting the family in these areas.'"
The bishops concluded by offering prayers for families and individuals, "our sisters and brothers, who are hurting, anxious or discouraged in these difficult times. We also pledge our prayers for our wounded nation and suffering world. We pray that, working together, we can find the courage, wisdom and ways to build an economy of prosperity and greater justice for all."
11/11/2008 2:14 PM ET
Copyright (c) 2008 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Bans Abortion
Putting aside for now the procedural questions and Roe, it is difficult to see how it would violate the Violence Against Women Act since that act does not mandate abortion procedures. The religious imposition claim also makes no sense. The mere fact that some or even a majority of citizens rely on a religious belief in support of a particular policy does not make the policy invalid.
There's Still Time to Order Voter Cards!
There are still some parishes that have not ordered their cards. This is the Catholic voter publication approved by the bishops of North Dakota. There is no charge for the cards.
You can place orders on-line at: http://www.yourfaithyourvote.org/getcards/index.html, by calling the North Dakota Catholic Conference at 701-223-2519 or 1-888-419-1237, or by emailing us at email@example.com.
Find Your Polling Station
Should the Church be involved in agriculture policy?
Urgent: FOCA Opposition Resources
Also just released is a Fact Sheet on the dangers of FOCA.
Register for ND Catholic Health Care Annual Conference
The theme for this year’s conference is: Faithfully Facing our Future: Challenges and Choices in Catholic Health Care in North Dakota.
The program features:
Carl Middleton, Vice President of Theology and Ethics, Catholic Health Initiatives
Lynette Dickson, Program Director of the Center for Rural Health, University of North Dakota
Christopher Dodson, Executive Director, North Dakota Catholic Conference
Registration is open to the public.
Go here to register online.
Two Timely Stories from Rome
Cardinal Bertone Defends Religion in Public Square
“The cardinal stressed that it is "totally legitimate" for Christians ‘to participate in the public debate. If not, theist and religious arguments and reasoning could not be invoked publicly in a democratic and liberal society, while rationalist and secular arguments could be invoked -- clearly violating the principle of equality and reciprocity, which is at the base of the concept of political justice.’”
Vatican Aide: Put Man at the Center of the Economy
“The financial crisis under way in the United States should remind us that the human person must be at the center of the economy, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. . .”
Cardinal Rigali Urges Respect for Human Life, Opposition to ‘Freedom of Choice’ Act
WASHINGTON—In a statement to mark Respect Life Sunday, October 5, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia urged Catholics “to help build a culture in which every human life without exception is respected and defended.”
“Let us rededicate ourselves to defending the basic rights of those who are weakest and most marginalized: the poor, the homeless, the innocent unborn, and the frail and elderly who need our respect and our assistance,” he said. Cardinal Rigali chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Cardinal Rigali cited encouraging trends that “most Americans favor banning all abortion or permitting it only in very rare cases,” and that the U.S. abortion rate declined 26 percent between 1989 and 2004, with a 58 percent decline among girls under 18. He also addressed the threat posed by “FOCA,” a federal “Freedom of Choice Act” which, he said, “if enacted, would obliterate virtually all the gains of the past 35 years and cause the abortion rate to skyrocket.”
“We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives. We cannot subject more women and men to the post-abortion grief and suffering that our counselors and priests encounter daily in Project Rachel programs across America,” Cardinal Rigali said.
He hailed therapeutic successes using adult stem cells and umbilical cord blood.
“The Catholic Church strongly supports promising and ethically sound stem cell research – and strongly opposes killing week-old human embryos, or human beings at any stage, to extract their stem cells,” he said.
Cardinal Rigali also noted the continuing need to protect vulnerable patients at the end of life. Legalizing physician-assisted suicide, as proposed in a Washington State ballot initiative this November, would “betray the ideal of America as a compassionate society honoring the inherent worth of every human being.”
The Respect Life program, begun in 1972, stresses the value and dignity of human life. It is observed in the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States. This year’s theme is “Hope and Trust in Life!” The full statement follows.
STATEMENT FOR REPECT LIFE SUNDAY
Cardinal Justin F. Rigali
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Pro-life Activities
September 30, 2008
On October 5, 2008, Catholics across the United States will again celebrate Respect Life Sunday. Throughout the month of October, Catholic parishes and organizations will sponsor hundreds of educational conferences, prayer services, and opportunities for public witness, as well as events to raise funds for programs assisting those in need. Such initiatives are integral to the Church’s ongoing effort to help build a culture in which every human life without exception is respected and defended.
Education and advocacy during Respect Life Month address a broad range of moral and public policy issues. Among these, the care of persons with disabilities and those nearing the end of life is an enduring concern. Some medical ethicists wrongly promote ending the lives of patients with serious physical and mental disabilities by withdrawing their food and water, even though – or in some cases precisely because -- they are not imminently dying. This November, the citizens of Washington State will vote on a ballot initiative to legalize doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. In neighboring Oregon, where assisted suicide is already legal, the state has refused to cover the cost of life-sustaining treatments for some patients facing terminal illness, while callously informing them that Oregon will pay for suicide pills. Such policies betray the ideal of America as a compassionate society honoring the inherent worth of every human being.
Embryonic stem cell research also presents grave ethical concerns. The Catholic Church strongly supports promising and ethically sound stem cell research – and strongly opposes killing week-old human embryos, or human beings at any stage, to extract their stem cells. We applaud the remarkable therapeutic successes that have been achieved using stem cells from cord blood and adult tissues. We vigorously oppose initiatives, like the one confronting Michigan voters in November, that would endorse the deliberate destruction of developing human beings for embryonic stem cell research.
Turning to abortion, we note that most Americans favor banning all abortion or permitting it only in very rare cases (danger to the mother’s life or cases of rape or incest). Also encouraging is the finding of a recent Guttmacher Institute study that the U.S. abortion rate declined 26% between 1989 and 2004. The decline was steepest, 58%, among girls under 18. An important factor in this trend is that teens increasingly are choosing to remain abstinent until their late teens or early 20s. Regrettably, when they do become sexually active prior to marrying, many become pregnant and choose abortion -- the abortion rate increased among women aged 20 and older between 1974 and 2004, although the rate is now gradually declining.
Today, however, we face the threat of a federal bill that, if enacted, would obliterate virtually all the gains of the past 35 years and cause the abortion rate to skyrocket. The “Freedom of Choice Act” (“FOCA”) has many Congressional sponsors, some of whom have pledged to act swiftly to help enact this proposed legislation when Congress reconvenes in January.
FOCA establishes abortion as a “fundamental right” throughout the nine months of pregnancy, and forbids any law or policy that could “interfere” with that right or “discriminate” against it in public funding and programs. If FOCA became law, hundreds of reasonable, widely supported, and constitutionally sound abortion regulations now in place would be invalidated. Gone would be laws providing for informed consent, and parental consent or notification in the case of minors. Laws protecting women from unsafe abortion clinics and from abortion practitioners who are not physicians would be overridden. Restrictions on partial-birth and other late-term abortions would be eliminated. FOCA would knock down laws protecting the conscience rights of nurses, doctors, and hospitals with moral objections to abortion, and force taxpayers to fund abortions throughout the United States.
We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives. We cannot subject more women and men to the post-abortion grief and suffering that our counselors and priests encounter daily in Project Rachel programs across America.
For twenty-four years, the Catholic Church has provided free, confidential counseling to individuals seeking emotional and spiritual healing after an abortion, whether their own or a loved one’s. We look forward to the day when these counseling services are no longer needed, when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law. If FOCA is enacted, however, that day may recede into the very distant future.
In this Respect Life Month, let us rededicate ourselves to defending the basic rights of those who are weakest and most marginalized: the poor, the homeless, the innocent unborn, and the frail and elderly who need our respect and our assistance. In this and in so many ways we will truly build a culture of life.
Register for ND Catholic Health Care Annual Conference
The theme for this year’s conference is: Faithfully Facing our Future: Challenges and Choices in Catholic Health Care in North Dakota.
The program features:
Carl Middleton, Vice President of Theology and Ethics, Catholic Health Initiatives
Lynette Dickson, Program Director of the Center for Rural Health, University of North Dakota
Christopher Dodson, Executive Director, North Dakota Catholic Conference
Registration is open to the public.
Go here to register online.
Another Faithful Citizenship Resource
USCCB Giving Away iPod!
Mental Health Bill Included in Senate Tax Measure
Bishop Samuel Aquila cites Sen. Joseph Biden’s “lack of knowledge and understanding of Catholic teaching on abortion”
During a Sept. 7 interview on Meet the Press, Biden said he accepted Catholic teaching that life begins at conception but would not “impose that judgment on everyone else.” Bishop Aquila, who has frequently cautioned Catholics about separating their faith from their public life, responded firmly to Biden’s statement, noting that both Pelosi and Biden, who are Catholics, misrepresented Church teaching and disregarded science.
“Senator Biden, and all others who mistakenly claim that the beginning of life is a matter of religious opinion confuse matters more by implying that the time of when life begins is a matter of faith, and not that of science, the natural law, or truth,” Bishop Aquila wrote in a Sept. 10 letter to priests which was posted on the diocesan Web site. “Any person who has studied biology, whether they are a Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Christian, agnostic or atheist, knows that human life begins at the moment of conception.”
Bishop Aquila asked priests to share with people in their parishes the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fact sheet, “Respect for Unborn Human Life: The Church’s Constant Teaching” which was written in response to Pelosi’s Aug. 24 comments and to “address this clarification of teaching from the pulpit.”
The bishop noted the responsibility of priests to “clearly articulate the truths of natural reason and the teaching of the Church and help all of our faithful understand the teaching.”
“We cannot be silent in the face of such a holocaust of innocent human life,” Bishop Aquila added.
The full text of Bishop Aquila’s letter can be found at www.fargodiocese.org.
Bishops to Homeland Security: Stop the Raids!
Speaking on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Bishop John C. Wester, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Migration, urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and President Bush to reexamine the use of worksite enforcement raids as an immigration enforcement tool.
“The humanitarian costs of these raids are immeasurable and unacceptable in a civilized society,” Bishop Wester said. “While we do not question the right and duty of our government to enforce the law, we do question whether worksite enforcement raids are the most effective and humane method for performing this duty, particularly as they are presently being implemented.”
The statement, released September 10, addresses the increase in worksite enforcement raids across the nation over the last year, in which DHS has targeted employers who hire unauthorized workers by using force to enter worksites and arrest immigrant workers. During the process of these raids, U.S. citizen children have been separated from their parents, immigrants arrested have not been afforded the rights of due process, and local communities, especially relatives including legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens, have been left to cope with the aftermath.
“We have witnessed first-hand the suffering of immigrant families and are gravely concerned about the collateral human consequences of immigration enforcement raids on the family unit,” say the bishops in the statement. “Many families never recover; others never reunite.”
In the absence of comprehensive reform, the U.S. Catholic Bishops have sought to work collaboratively with DHS to ensure humanitarian considerations in executing workplace raids. The statement calls for refraining from enforcement activity in certain areas that provide humanitarian relief such as churches, hospitals, community health centers, schools, food banks, and other charitable services. It also calls for the release of caregivers who have dependents offering a variety of release mechanisms available under the law; access to legal representation; respect for basic human dignity; and, mechanisms for families to remain together and locate each other following an enforcement raid. It also states that non-profit and community groups should be engaged in this effort.
“Absent the effective implementation of these safeguards, we believe that these enforcement raids should be abandoned,” the statement reads, adding that “[i]mmigration enforcement raids demonstrate politically the ability of the government to enforce the law. They do little, however, to solve the broader challenge of illegal immigration. They also reveal, sadly, the failure of a seriously flawed immigration system, which, as we have consistently stated, requires comprehensive reform.”
The bishops urged the two presidential candidates “to engage the issue of immigration in a humane, thoughtful, and courageous manner” and to turn away from enforcement-only methods.
Complete text of statement follows.
Statement of Most Reverend John C. Wester
Bishop of Salt Lake City
Chairman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration
Worksite Enforcement Raids
September 10, 2008
On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), I call upon the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and President Bush to reexamine the use of worksite enforcement raids as an immigration enforcement tool. The humanitarian costs of these raids are immeasurable and unacceptable in a civilized society.
In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, we have sought to work collaboratively with DHS to ensure that raids are carried out humanely. It seems to us that DHS has attempted to abide by several humanitarian considerations in executing some of the workplace raids.
However, we believe that DHS has not gone far enough to ensure that human rights protections are consistently applied in all enforcement actions.
For over a year now, DHS has targeted employers who hire unauthorized workers by using force to enter worksites and arrest immigrant workers. During the process of these raids, U.S.-citizen children have been separated from their parents for days, if not longer; immigrants arrested have not been afforded the rights of due process; and local communities, including legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens, have been disrupted and dislocated. The sweeping nature of these raids---which often involve hundreds of law enforcement personnel with weapons---strike fear in immigrant communities and make it difficult for those arrested to secure basic due process protections, including legal counsel.
We have witnessed first-hand the suffering of immigrant families and are gravely concerned about the collateral human consequences of immigration enforcement raids on the family unit. Many of our local parishes have helped respond to human needs generated by these enforcement actions, providing counseling and legal services to parents and children and basic needs assistance to immigrant communities.
Raids strike immigrant communities unexpectedly, leaving the affected immigrant families to cope in their aftermath. Husbands are separated from their wives, and children are separated from their parents. Many families never recover; others never reunite.
As our government confronts the challenges of immigration, let it not forget one of its core duties: protecting the family unit as the fundamental institution upon which society and government itself depends.
While we do not question the right and duty of our government to enforce the law, we do question whether worksite enforcement raids are the most effective and humane method for performing this duty, particularly as they are presently being implemented. In this regard, we ask DHS to immediately pledge to take the following actions to mitigate the human costs of these raids:
- DHS should refrain from enforcement activity in certain areas that provide humanitarian relief—churches, hospitals, community health centers, schools, food banks, and other community-based organizations that provide charitable services;
- Primary, not simply sole, caregivers should be released following an enforcement action to care for their children. A variety of release mechanisms, including parole in the public interest, release on recognizance, bail, and alternatives to detention should be utilized for this purpose:
- DHS should facilitate access to meaningful legal representation for arrested individuals so that they are aware of their legal rights and options;
- Enforcement actions should be conducted in a manner which preserves basic human dignity: immigrants who are working to survive and support their families should not be treated like criminals.
- Mechanisms should be instituted to allow family members to remain together and to locate each other during and following an enforcement action. Non-profit and community groups should be engaged in this effort.
- Absent the effective and immediate implementation of these safeguards, we believe that these enforcement raids should be abandoned.
- Immigration enforcement raids demonstrate politically the ability of the government to enforce the law. They do little, however, to solve the broader challenge of illegal immigration. They also reveal, sadly, the failure of a seriously flawed immigration system, which, as we have consistently stated, requires comprehensive reform.
As they begin their general election campaigns, we urge the two presidential candidates to engage the issue of immigration in a humane, thoughtful, and courageous manner.
We urge our elected and appointed officials to turn away from enforcement-only methods and direct their energy toward the adoption of comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
Bishops Respond to Senator Biden’s Statements Regarding Church Teaching on Abortion
Recently we had a duty to clarify the Catholic Church’s constant teaching against abortion, to correct misrepresentations of that teaching by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on “Meet the Press” (see www.usccb.org/prolife/whatsnew.shtml). On September 7, again on “Meet the Press,” Senator Joseph Biden made some statements about that teaching that also deserve a response.
Senator Biden did not claim that Catholic teaching allows or has ever allowed abortion. He said rightly that human life begins “at the moment of conception,” and that Catholics and others who recognize this should not be required by others to pay for abortions with their taxes.
However, the Senator’s claim that the beginning of human life is a “personal and private” matter of religious faith, one which cannot be “imposed” on others, does not reflect the truth of the matter. The Church recognizes that the obligation to protect unborn human life rests on the answer to two questions, neither of which is private or specifically religious.
The first is a biological question: When does a new human life begin? When is there a new living organism of the human species, distinct from mother and father and ready to develop and mature if given a nurturing environment? While ancient thinkers had little verifiable knowledge to help them answer this question, today embryology textbooks confirm that a new human life begins at conception (see www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/fact298.shtml). The Catholic Church does not teach this as a matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact.
The second is a moral question, with legal and political consequences: Which living members of the human species should be seen as having fundamental human rights, such as a right not to be killed? The Catholic Church’s answer is: Everybody. No human being should be treated as lacking human rights, and we have no business dividing humanity into those who are valuable enough to warrant protection and those who are not. This is not solely a Catholic teaching, but a principle of natural law accessible to all people of good will. The framers of the Declaration of Independence pointed to the same basic truth by speaking of inalienable rights, bestowed on all members of the human race not by any human power, but by their Creator. Those who hold a narrower and more exclusionary view have the burden of explaining why we should divide humanity into those who have moral values and those who do not and why their particular choice of where to draw that line can be sustained in a pluralistic society. Such views pose a serious threat to the dignity and rights of other poor and vulnerable members of the human family who need and deserve our respect and protection.
While in past centuries biological knowledge was often inaccurate, modern science leaves no excuse for anyone to deny the humanity of the unborn child. Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice.
Food Crisis Resources
Church Teaching Against Abortion Constant Through Centuries, Says New Resource
Public debate on the topic was prompted by misleading remarks by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, August 24 in an interview on Meet the Press. On August 26, Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William Lori, chairman of their Committee on Doctrine, issued a statement to correct her remarks. Other Catholic bishops released similar statements.
“This well documented fact sheet will help Catholics and others form their consciences in accordance with the Church’s unchanging teaching in defense of unborn human life,” said Deirdre McQuade, Assistant Director for Policy and Communications at the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.
Among other points, the fact sheet states that “modern science has not changed the Church’s constant teaching against abortion, but has underscored how important and reasonable it is, by confirming that the life of each individual of the human species begins with the earliest embryo.”
The full text of “Respect for Unborn Human Life: The Church’s Constant Teaching” is available online at www.usccb.org/prolife/constantchurchteaching.shtml.
Pelosi - Wrong on History, Wrong on Science
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops statement setting the record straight is here. (Currently on the web site’s front page.)
Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, and Denver auxiliary Bishop James Conley have issued a statement here, which Fargo Bishop Samuel Aquila has endorsed in a letter to all the priests, deacons, and diocesan staff.
And: New York Archbishop Edward Cardinal Egan responds here.
And: Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl responds here.
Image: The Apostles enjoy the Didache. (The Didache is Church manual from the first century which rejects abortion.)
Bishops Welcome HHS Regulations Protecting Conscience Rights In Health Care
“Doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel face pressure to participate in abortion – a practice that many find abhorrent in good conscience,” McQuade said. “The enforcement of federal laws designed to protect their freedom of conscience is long overdue.”
“This is not just about Catholic health care. Catholics do not stand alone in opposition to the deliberate destruction of nascent human life. All health care providers should be free to serve their patients without violating their most deeply held moral and religious convictions on the value of life,” McQuade said.
“Organizations calling themselves ‘pro-choice’ are actually pro-coercion in seeking to deny the freedom of doctors and nurses,” McQuade said. “Don’t doctors have the right to choose not to participate?”
“Over the coming thirty days of public comment, the bishops urge the pro-life American public to thank Secretary Leavitt and encourage HHS to implement the strongest possible regulations,” McQuade said.
On July 18, Cardinal Rigali, chair of the bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, wrote to Congress urging all Senators and Representatives to support conscience protection measures. The full text of his letter may be found at:
Bishops Ask Catholics To Pray Election Novena
Joan Rosenhauer, Associate Director for the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, said that the special novena is part of “the bishops’ campaign to help Catholics develop well-formed consciences for addressing political and social questions.” The bishops issued their statement on forming consciences for faithful citizenship in November 2007.
Helen Osman, USCCB Secretary of Communications, expressed hope that the novena could help “Catholics enter into prayerful reflection as they prepare to vote.” Seventy-one percent of all visitors to the USCCB’s web site download the free podcasts of the daily NAB readings. These same visitors are encouraged to use the novena podcast for prayer. Osman said that the USCCB wants to support Catholics as they weigh pre-election issues and that “providing a prayer resource on the Web can help us focus on our common values and identity as Catholics.” The novena emphasizes the dignity of life, justice, and peace.
The Novena for Faithful Citizenship runs for nine days and can be used consecutively, one day each week, for nine days prior to the election, or “in any way that works best for a community or individual,” said Rosenhauer.
The novena will be available for download until the election and it can be downloaded online at http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org/resources/podcasts.
Annual Labor Day Message Calls for Action on Just Economy, Dignity, Workers' Rights
Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the statement to highlight the needs of the nation’s workers, economic inequalities and the responsibilities of all citizens to help improve working conditions.
He drew inspiration from the late Monsignor George Higgins, the “labor priest” who worked for fifty-plus years for workers’ rights and was an outspoken bridge between the Catholic Church in the United States and the labor movement. He described how Monsignor Higgins might address current economic stresses.
“Above all, Monsignor Higgins would be concerned about the worker, the person, and the family whose lives are affected by a host of factors,” Bishop Murphy said. “He would weigh up and measure all those factors by their overall impact on human beings. Monsignor would have pointed out the lack of union representation in so many of the emerging industries and workplaces where exploitation has been most evident.”
The Church, Bishop Murphy said, continues to focus on the dignity of the worker as “the cornerstone of Catholic teaching on economic life.” The “challenge of overcoming poverty brings the Catholic community together,” he said.
Given the coming national elections, the Labor Day statement reminds Catholics to use Catholic social and moral teaching to assess issues of economic justice, human life and dignity. Bishop Murphy cited the bishops’ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, a document updated every four years, in stressing the need to form a correct conscience in decision-making, based not on personal feelings or individual popularity, but on the truth of the human person and human society. Bishop Murphy said this is determined by examining “candidates and issues from the perspective of human life and dignity, the true good of society, the common good of us all in our nation and in this world.”
The Labor Day statement highlights Faithful Citizenship’s words on economic justice, work and workers’ rights. It outlines what comprises a just economy and “makes both links and distinctions between the fundamental duty to oppose what is intrinsically evil (i.e., the destruction of unborn life) and the obligation to pursue the common good (i.e., defending rights of workers and pursuing greater economic justice),” Bishop Murphy said.
New Web Resource for the November Election
Catholic Health Care Conference
North Dakota’s Catholic Health Care providers will gather for their annual conference on October, 14, 2008 in Bismarck.
This year’s conference will focus on how to preserve mission and make ethically-based choices in an increasingly difficult financial environment. Guest speakers include:
Vice President, Theology and Ethics
Catholic Health Initiatives
Project Director for the State Office of Rural Health (SORH) Grant Program at the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota (UND)
The conference is open to the public.
For registration information, call 1-800-419-1237 or contact the North Dakota Catholic Conference.
Cardinal Urges Respect for Conscience
Responding to objections to anticipated federal HHS regulations protecting health care providers’ fundamental rights of conscience, Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, today wrote to all members of Congress defending “efforts to reaffirm and implement laws on conscience protection.”
The New York Times on July 15 reported that it had obtained an alleged draft of regulations soon to be issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, to clarify and enforce federal laws on respect for the moral and religious convictions of health care personnel in programs receiving federal funds. Pro-abortion organizations and some members of Congress have already attacked the as-yet-unpublished regulations, saying they are unwarranted and could limit “access” to abortion and birth control.
Reacting to these criticisms, Cardinal Rigali said this “should be a matter of agreement among members who call themselves ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’: the freedom of health care providers to serve the public without violating their most deeply held moral and religious convictions on the sanctity of human life.”
A copy of the letter is here: http://www.usccb.org/prolife/rigali-conscience071808.pdf
Lawsuit against Dakota Boys Ranch Dismissed
Urge Senators to Support the Jubilee Act to Relieve the Debt of Poor Countries!
BACKGROUND: While major progress has been made in reducing poor country debt, a substantial number of the poorest countries continue to shoulder heavy debt burdens that draw precious government resources away from critical investments in health care, education, water and other sectors necessary to improve lives. Many poor countries have seen their debts reduced through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative that was adopted in 1996 and expanded in 1999 in response to successful advocacy by the global Jubilee 2000 movement, in which the Catholic Church played a major role. In the succeeding years, it became apparent that further efforts were required, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) continued its advocacy. USCCB strongly supported the new debt relief program called the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) that was approved under U.S. leadership in 2005. This provided major new debt cancellation for HIPC countries. Nevertheless, more than twenty very poor countries still are unable to benefit from HIPC or MDRI debt relief.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
Senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan are not already cosponsors of the Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation of 2007 (S. 2166). Contact them and urge them (1) to become cosponsors today and (2) to support bringing the bill to the Senate floor for a vote on final passage as soon as possible.
Senate Approves Medicare Bill
Science and Tech Growth the Right Way
What is not mentioned is that North Dakota made this improvement without legalizing and funding embryonic stem cell research and human cloning. Proponents of embryo research make it sound as though unless a state jumps on the funding bandwagon, it will be left behind. The data shows the contrary. Indeed, some states that expressly prohibit such activities do rather well in the study, while states that have sunk public funding into human cloning, like California and New Jersey, fell in the rankings.
Action Alert: AIDS Relief
MILLIONS OF LIVES ARE AT STAKE:
SENATORS, MOVE THE GLOBAL AIDS BILL FORWARD
TAKE ACTION NOW!
Contact your Senators now (http://actioncenter.crs.org) and express your disappointment that they have not yet reached bipartisan consensus to move forward with the reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Urge them to complete their work on PEPFAR when they return from the July 4th recess. Millions of lives are at stake!
WHY IS PROGRESS ON THE GLOBAL AIDS BILL STALLED?
Despite our many efforts to advocate for the Senate to complete its work on the bill to reauthorize PEPFAR, known as S. 2731, Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act, they failed to move the bill forward before recessing for the July 4th holiday. While the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) are disappointed that an agreement has not been finalized, we must now redouble our efforts to ensure that the Senate will find a bipartisan consensus and vote on the bill when they return from recess the week of July 7.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE GLOBAL AIDS BILL DOESN’T MOVE FORWARD?
Millions of lives are at stake if the Senate fails to reauthorize PEPFAR this year. CRS, a major provider of HIV care, prevention and treatment in many of the poorest countries in the world, along with many other providers depends on the PEPFAR program to save millions of lives. Without a firm commitment to reauthorize PEPFAR, CRS and other providers cannot plan for future activities. The risk of suspending funding, however brief, could disrupt HIV treatment, undermine the credibility of healthcare institutions providing HIV services, and endanger lives.
WHAT HAS PEPFAR ACHIEVED SO FAR?
Because of PEPFAR, CRS has saved more than 115,000 lives through antiretroviral treatment and provides care and support services for another 175,000 HIV positive people. Men and women who were on the brink of death are now leading normal lives, caring for their children and contributing to their communities. More than 60,000 orphaned children are being cared for, going to school and embracing a bright future. Nearly 350,000 youth have been educated about risky behaviors and how abstinence-until-marriage and mutual fidelity within marriage are the most effective ways to prevent HIV infections. Visit the CRS Web site (http://crs.org/public-policy/hiv_aids.cfm) for more information.
WHAT DOES PEPFAR HAVE TO DO WITH MY FAITH?
Our faith as Catholics requires us to care for “the least of these” and to uphold the life and dignity of all people. People affected by HIV or suffering from AIDS need and deserve our love and care, just as Jesus called on us to care for those who are hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill. Catholic social teaching instructs us to live in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world. Pope Benedict XVI, in his World AIDS Day message in 2007 stated: “I wish to exhort all people of good will to increase their efforts to halt the spread of the HIV virus, to combat the disdain which is often directed towards people who are affected by it, and to care for the sick, especially those who are still children."
WHAT IS THE CHURCH’S POSITION ON PEPFAR?
The Catholic Church in the United States strongly supports moving forward with a PEPFAR bill that retains the program’s current focus on saving the lives of poor people affected by HIV and living with AIDS and continues to include provisions supporting a morally appropriate approach to combating the disease. Bishop Wenski, Bishop of Orlando and Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, reiterated the Church’s support for the PEPFAR program in a recent opinion editorial, stating: “Not only has PEPFAR saved lives, the world has seen in PEPFAR a true act of American compassion and leadership. This U.S. global initiative has also raised the bar for other donor countries to respond with generosity to the AIDS pandemic.”
Senate Vote Falls Short on House Approved Medicare Package
The Senate cloture vote that would have led to passage of the House approved Medicare bill (HR 6331) failed, 58-40, falling short of the 60 votes required. Senate Majority Leader Reid only allowed a floor vote on the House approved Medicare bill and did not bring the tentative Medicare compromise worked out earlier in the week between Senator Max Baucus, D-MT, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, to the floor for a vote. Senate Democratic leadership believed that with the overwhelming veto proof vote in the House, the Senate would be able to muster the 60 votes.
The House voted earlier this week 355-59 to approve the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act, H.R. 6331, that would block a July 1 physician payment cut, strengthens low-income beneficiary protections, and includes a number of hospital provisions. The bill would freeze physician payments for 2008 and provide a 1.1% increase for physicians in 2009. Similar to the legislation sponsored by Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), the bill also would extend the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility grant program; provide rebasing for sole community hospitals; extend and expand the outpatient hold-harmless provision for small rural and sole community hospitals; and extend Section 508 reclassification. In addition, the House bill would delay for 18 months the competitive bidding program for Durable Medical Equipment (DMEPOS).
With the cuts to physician rates now scheduled to go through, Congress will have the option of returning after the recess and passing a retroactive bill that will restore payment rates and make up for the cuts. That will likely create an administrative headache, however, and had long been seen as an undesirable outcome.
Torture is a Moral Issue
Important Ruling on the Death Penalty
Catholic Charities USA Midwest Floods Reliefs Efforts
Flooding in the Midwest is the biggest disaster to hit the United States since Hurricane Katrina three years ago. Nearly 35,000 people have been displaced and 24 people have been killed.
According to Catholic Charities USA Disaster Response Office, people are depressed and anxious as a result of all the devastation that surrounds them. The need for mental health counseling will only grow as more people return home.
Catholic Charities USA’s Response
Catholic Charities USA's (CCUSA) Office of Disaster Response is on the ground in the Midwest helping local Catholic Charities agencies assess, develop and implement recovery efforts. We also are working closely with our partners, including FEMA, local Red Cross and church groups to help address the needs of victims.
Drawing on our experiences with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, plans are underway to train and deploy volunteer coordinators and crews to help with the cleaning up and gutting of damaged homes in the hard-hit areas of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana.
Catholic Charities USA has provided $10,000 grants to three local agencies impacted by the floods to help them meet immediate needs.
Please visit www.CatholicCharitiesUSA.org for further updates.
Bishops Speak Against Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Sister Susan Berger, Friend of Conference
More information here.
State Chief Justice Wants Guardianship Need Study
I am growing more and more concerned about the need for and how the courts deal with guardianships and public administrators. With our aging population, it will become an issue of ever greater importance. I think that it may be especially acute in North Dakota because many of the family members who would normally provide care to elderly relatives are no longer residing in North Dakota. I intend to approach the legislature with these concerns and ask them to consider a study on population and aging issues. If this resolution should be accepted for interim study, I expect the legislature will look to the Bar for its input.
The full address can be found here.
SCHIP Expansion Approved
Faithful Citizenship Videos
Farm Bill Summary
ND Office for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
Health Care Directive Workshop
New Items on Papal Visit
White House Papal Visit includes a reflection by Christopher Dodson prepared for the diocesan newspapers, a photo gallery, and the text of the Holy Father's and the President's remarks.
Was the Pope's Visit Political? examines whether the Pope's visit was political and what it means to be political. It is the monthly column for the diocesan papers.
Farm Bill - Joint Letter to Congress
Help Families in Myanmar Devastated by Cyclone Nargis
CRS is supporting the emergency relief and response efforts of the Caritas Internationalis network in the most affected areas of Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis brought a deadly tidal surge across the low-lying coastal areas of the country on Saturday.
The latest reports are that 60,000 people are dead or missing and 1 million are homeless. These numbers are expected to rise. The level of devastation is still difficult to assess as communications remain spotty and news trickles out of the country. Conditions are dire. Food, water and basic shelter are urgently needed.
Please donate now to help CRS provide relief to the thousands of families affected by this tragic disaster.
For more than 60 years, CRS has supported long-term development programs and emergency relief efforts—including responses to cyclones and other natural disasters—in the regions of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
USCCB Official Praises Senate Passage of ‘Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act’
Deirdre McQuade, Assistant Director for Policy and Communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, praised its passage.
“Today the Senate took a stand for some of the most vulnerable members of the human family, whether born, yet to be born, or placed for adoption. No one should be discriminated against on the basis of genetic testing,” McQuade said.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a nearly identical bill by a vote of 420 to 3 on April 25, 2007.
“The Pro-Life Secretariat is particularly grateful to Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) for ensuring that this bill’s protection against discrimination will cover the families of unborn children with adverse prenatal diagnoses, as well as children being adopted,” she said. “His advocacy on their behalf will empower families to welcome vulnerable children with special needs into their lives.”
“After minor technical differences between the House and Senate bills are resolved, we look forward to President Bush signing into law this important protection for American families,” McQuade said.
Catholic Conference Director Attends White House Ceremony for Pope
The invitation-only event on the White House south lawn was the official welcome to the Pope on his first visit to the United States since assuming the pontificate. It was only the second visit of a pope to the White House in United States history.
President Bush and first lady Laura Bush welcomed the Pope in a ceremony that included a 21-gun salute, a fife and drum band, and a singing of the Lord’s Prayer. Following the official ceremony, the band led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to the Pope, who turned 81 on Wednesday.
“Both the President and the Holy Father spoke of the importance of faith, virtue, and religious liberty in a democratic society,” said Dodson. “The whole event instilled a sense of pride and appreciation at being both Catholic and American,” added Dodson.
Dodson received the invitation because of his position as the public policy liaison for the state’s Roman Catholic bishops. He will be available for interviews.
Papal Visit Coincides with Important Vote on Debt Relief
Please use this action alert and urge your Representative Earl Pomeroy to support the Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation of 2007 (HR 2634).
Thanks to advocates like you substantial debt burdens have already been lifted off the backs of the poor and this legislation will build on that important work. Let's finish the work we have done on debt relief for poor people around the world.
Represenative Earl Pomeroy
Washington: United States House of Representatives
1501 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Telephone: (202) 225-2611
FAX: (202) 226-0893
Bismarck: Telephone: (701) 224-0355
Fargo: Telephone: (701) 235-9760
New Health Care Directives and Website
The Catholic health care directive proved very popular. Thousands were requested and sent out from our office. Other state Catholic conferences and diocese have used the documents as a model for their own advance directives.
We have now revised the Catholic health care directive. Don’t worry if you used the 2005 version. It is still good. The new version merely incorporates some facts we learned during the last three years, makes it more user-friendly, and even a little shorter.
We have also created a new website. The new site has an easy to use order/download form. You can download the copies you need or order multiple copies from the conference at no charge. The website also contains useful information on directives, end-of-life care, Catholic principles on health care decisions, bulletin inserts and links to additional information.
Please visit the new site and take advantage of this opportunity to ensure that health care decisions conform to your Catholic wishes.
Number of Food Stamp Recipients in North Dakota Increases in 2007
According to the report, nearly 47 percent of all food stamp recipients were 18 years or younger.
As Christians, we have obligations toward the common good. For that reason, we have a duty to pay taxes. Jesus did not consider it unjust to pay taxes to Caesar. (Mk 12:13-17; Mt 22:15-22; Lk 20:20-26) Saint Paul insisted on the civic duty to pay taxes. (Rm 13:7) The Catechism says: Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes . . .” (Catechism, No. 2240.)Read more . . .
National Catholic Rural Life Conference Names New Executive Director
Ennis passionate about sustainable agriculture, ingenuity of rural people
Des Moines, Iowa -- Today Most Reverend Ronald Gilmore, president of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC), named James F. Ennis, executive director of the Des Moines-based nonprofit Catholic organization. "We look forward to Jim Ennis’ professional experience, business skills, and faith experience to help NCRLC apply the teachings of Jesus Christ for the social and economic development of rural America," said Gilmore, Bishop of the Diocese of Dodge City, Kansas.
Ennis is currently Director for Food Alliance Midwest, a St. Paul, Minnesota-based affiliate of the national Food Alliance. Food Alliance operates a sustainable agriculture certification program for farms, ranches, and other food-based businesses interested in using ‘sustainability’ and related claims to differentiate and add value to food products, and to protect and enhance brands. Operating within 8 Midwest states, the program has grown under Ennis’ leadership from four farms in 2000 to over 75 certified farms and processors throughout the Midwest in 2007.
Ennis has over 18 years of marketing and project management experience, leading cross-functional teams in marketing both food and consumer products with The Pillsbury Company and The Clorox Company, respectively. Ennis earned an MBA degree, with an emphasis in marketing from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Davis, where he studied agricultural and managerial economics.
"I’m as passionate about sustainable agriculture as I am about the Catholic faith," said Ennis who spent six years in Christian ministry to college students including two years as a missionary assistant in Lusaka, Zambia in the late 1980s. "I look forward to providing spiritual, educational, and advocacy leadership to NCRLC as we support the ingenuity of rural people to shape their own destinies and lead lives of dignity," he added.
Ennis follows Br. David Andrews, CSC, as executive director of the organization that has been the rural voice of the Catholic Church for 85 years.
HHS Secretary Leavitt Praised For Defending Physicians’ Conscience Rights
The attack was prompted by a March 14 letter from Secretary Leavitt to the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG), expressing concern about a new ethics opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) calling on conscientiously opposed physicians to perform or refer for abortions. Ms. McQuade’s statement follows.
“Secretary Leavitt should be commended for defending federal laws protecting the conscience rights of physicians. The new ACOG ethics opinion calling on pro-life OB/GYNs to perform or refer for abortions is in direct conflict with the policy reflected in federal law since 1973. Indeed, just yesterday, a federal judge in California dismissed a challenge to a federal law protecting physicians in government programs from being forced to do abortion referrals.
“If the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology relies on the ACOG opinion when deciding whether to grant board certifications, hospitals could find themselves illegally discriminating against perfectly qualified physicians who have been denied certification for ideological reasons. Any HHS Secretary should be concerned about the possibility of federal health care institutions placing themselves in conflict with federal law.
“The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights (RCRR), formerly known as the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, has nonetheless launched a personal attack on Secretary Leavitt for doing his job. RCRR’s March 18 news release accuses the Secretary of displaying a ‘narrow view of conscience,’ ‘disregard’ for women,’ and a ‘dogmatic indifference to the patient.’
“But it is RCRR that has a narrow view of conscience – so narrow as to recognize a genuine conscience claim only among those who happen to agree with RCRR about abortion. In fact, women and men, physicians and non-physicians, have a fundamental right not to be forced to participate in actions they believe are gravely wrong, especially actions involving the taking of an innocent human life. Moreover, most OB/GYNs in training today are themselves women, and these women have rights, too.
“The abortion industry -- and its allies in medical groups -- have often complained that so few doctors are willing to perform abortions, but that is no excuse for coercing pro-life physicians to do their dirty work. The movement that used to call itself “pro-choice” is becoming a parody of itself.”
Letter on Contraceptive Programs - with Citations
Planned Parenthood’s Amy Jacobson argues that North Dakota needs more subsidized family planning to reduce unplanned pregnancies and abortions. Her letter, however, overlooks some important facts.
For one thing, North Dakota and the federal government already spend over two million dollars a year for family planning services in the state. 1
Predictably, Planned Parenthood, a major recipient of government funding nationally, thinks two million dollars is not enough and wants North Dakota’s taxpayers to spend more money. We should not be fooled. Ample evidence now exists showing that the contraception and “comprehensive sex education” campaigns cannot achieve their alleged goals of reducing abortions and unplanned pregnancies.
A report from Planned Parenthood’s own research arm, the Guttmacher Institute, shows that states that most aggressively promote contraceptives have some of the highest abortion rates in the country. States that do not, like Kansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota, have the lowest abortion and teen pregnancy rates. 2 Studies from other countries also show the ineffectiveness of contraceptive programs.3 Concludes one recent overview: “Most studies that have been conducted during the past 20 years have indicated that improving access to contraception did not significantly increase contraceptive use or decrease teen pregnancy.”4 New studies also show that large part of the reduced abortion rate in recent years is due to an increase in the number of teens nationwide who delay initiating sexual activity,5 in effect, responding to the very “abstinence only” initiatives Planned Parenthood wants to eliminate.
Finally, we cannot ignore that in Planned Parenthood’s view, “comprehensive reproductive health care” includes unfettered access to, and taxpayer funding for, abortion. Policies that limit abortion, however, such as restricting public funding, ensuring informed consent for women seeking abortions, and protecting parental rights in the case of minors seeking abortions, have a well-documented and significant effect of reducing abortions.6
In short, Planned Parenthood says it wants to reduce abortion, but proposes only failed, and ultimately flawed, government programs.
North Dakota Catholic Conference
1. (Public Funding for Family Planning, Sterilization and Abortion Services, FY 1980–2006; Adam Sonfield, Casey Alrich and Rachel Benson Gold; Guttmacher Institute, January 2008)
3. David Paton, “The Economics of Family Planning and Underage Conceptions,” Journal of Health Economics, 21.2 (March 2002): 207-225; abstract available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V8K-4537PJR-3/2/7b0ac0ed4b84065fae3119e1663e50bc; Edgardh, K. et al. Adolescent Sexual Health in Sweden, Sex Trans Inf 78 (2002): 352-6, available at http://sti.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/78/5/352
4. Douglas Kirby, “Reflections on Two Decades of Research on Teen Sexual Behavior and Pregnancy,” Journal of School Health 69.3 (March 1999.)
5. JK Mohn et al. “An analysis of the causes of the decline in non-marital birth and pregnancy rates for teens from 1991-1995,” Adolescent and Family Health 2003; 339-47; available at www.afhjournal.org; National Campaign to Reduce Teen Pregnancy, “Science Says: Pregnancy Among Sexually Experienced Teens, 2002,” No. 23, April 2006, available at www.teenpregnancy.org/press/pdf/sciencesays23.pdf.
6. Theodore Joyce et al., “Changes in Abortions and Births and the Texas Parental Notification Law,” New England Journal of Medicine, 354: 1031-1038 (March 9, 2006); available at http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/354/10/1031; [The authors. found a reduction in abortion rates among minor teens in Texas following enactment of that state’s parental notification law. “[A]bortion rates fell by 11 percent among 15-year-olds, … 20 percent among 16-year-olds, and 16 percent among 17-year-olds, … relative to the rates among 18-year-olds.” Joyce et al. also report: “Results from [five] previous studies have indicated that the abortion rate of minors decreases 13 to 42 percent after enforcement of a parental notification or consent law, if abortions are measured according to state of occurrence.”]; J. “Impact of Minnesota Parental Notification Law on abortion and birth,” American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 81, Issue 3, 294-298. See also Michael New, “Analyzing the Effects of State Legislation on the Incidence of Abortion During the 1900s,” Heritage Foundation Data Analysis Report #04-01 (2004), available at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/CDA04-01.cfm. [“The pre-enactment to post-enactment change in the Minnesota abortion rate reflected a greater decline for minors (less than or equal to 17 years old) than for 18-19 year-olds (who were not under the law). An increase in abortion rate occurred for women ages 20-44. The law appeared to have had no impact on birth rate in minors. … These data suggest that parental notification facilitated pregnancy avoidance in 15-17 year-old Minnesota women. Abortion rates declined unexpectedly while birth rates continued to decline in accordance with a long-term trend.”]; M. New, "Analyzing the Effect of State Legislation on the Incidence of Abortion Among Minors," Heritage Foundation Data Analysis Report #07-01 (2007), available at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/CDA07-01.cfm; M. New, “Using Natural Experiments to Analyze the Impact of State Legislation on the Incidence of Abortion,” Heritage Center for Data Analysis Report #06-01 (January 23, 2006); available at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/cda06-01.cfm.
Action Alert: Anti-Torture Provisions
Why this issue is important? The Church stands firm in denouncing torture as it undermines and debases the dignity of both victims and perpetrators. Pope Benedict XVI said “the prohibition against torture cannot be contravened under any circumstance.”
The Senate voted 51-45 to pass HR 2082, the FY2008 Intelligence Authorization Act, which contains anti-torture legislation (Section 327) expanding the prohibition against torture of detainees to all U.S. intelligence agencies and their agents. We urge you to contact the White House and express your support for the anti-torture provisions of HR 2082 into law.
Background: USCCB was successful in joining with other organizations in pressing the Senate to pass HR 2082 on February 13, 2008 with its anti-torture provisions intact. It was a triumph as it prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners held by U.S. intelligence agencies. Earlier legislation supported by USCCB had prohibited torture of those held by U.S. military and required that interrogation techniques conform to the standard now offered by the U.S. Army Field Manual. While the Conference cannot presume to be experts on the Manual, one of its guiding principles which USCCB supports echoes the Golden Rule, i.e. we should not use any technique against an enemy that we would not like to have used against our own military or civilians.
While USCCB does not take positions on the more technical and other provisions of the Intelligence Authorization Act, we believe the adoption of the anti-torture provision (Section 327) in HR 2082 would go a long way to restoring U.S. credibility in the international community by helping the U.S. regain the moral high ground. Respect for the dignity of every person, ally or enemy, must serve as the foundation of security, justice and peace. We cannot win the war against terror by abandoning fundamental moral values.
ACTION REQUESTED: Ask your members to call the White House at 202-456-1111 or send an email to President Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org to express support for the anti-torture provisions in HR 2082 and urge him to sign this legislation.
White House Report on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
(click on the image)
Senate Approves Pro-Life Vitter Amendment -- North Dakota Senators Voted Against
Senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan voted AGAINST the amendment.
Please contact them and express your disappointment that they did not support this amendment to ensure that taxpayer funds are not used for abortion on demand.
Senator Byron L. Dorgan
Washington: (202) 224-2551
Bismarck: (701) 250-4618
Toll Free: 1-800-666-4482
Fargo: (701) 239-5389
Grand Forks: (701) 746-8972
Minot: (701) 852-0703
Senator Kent Conrad
Washington: (202) 224-2043
Bismarck: (701) 258-4648
Toll Free: 1-800-223-4457
Fargo: Telephone: (701) 232-8030
Grand Forks: Telephone: (701) 775-9601
Minot: Telephone: (701) 852-0703
Dodson Responds to Torture Letter
In his Feb. 19 letter defending the use of waterboarding and other harsh techniques, Raymond Lottie makes a statement that is all too common today. He states: The relevant question for waterboarding is not whether it's torture, but whether it is effective.
That is precisely not the question we should ask. When effectiveness determines whether our government will engage in a particular interrogation technique, we stoop to a policy of the "end justifies the means." Is not rejection of such a philosophy one reason our nation fought World War II and the Cold War?
Most importantly, appeal to "effectiveness" and "results" glosses over the fact that a human person suffers. The use of physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty or obtain information violates the dignity of the human person and is always morally wrong.
Effective? Maybe. What, however, does it profit a nation to gain results, but lose its soul in the process?
New Faithful Citizenship Site -- with Podcasts
Update on Vitter Amendment
Pending since January 22 is an amendment by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) that would incorporate the language of the Hyde Amendment into the authorizing legislation. NCHLA issued an Action Alert in support of the Vitter Amendment on January 18. Please take whatever last minute efforts you can to urge your two Senators to vote for the Vitter Amendment. For NCHLA’s latest alert, see: nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=259. Thanks!
For the earlier alert see: http://ndcatholic.org/2/index.html#unique-entry-id-432
Key to Farm Bill Reform -- Who is a Farmer?
Internationally Known Speaker Wesley Smith Coming to North Dakota
Here is the announcement on his visit:
The Hankinson Chapter Right for Life is sponsoring a Gift of Life conference on Sunday, March 2, from 1:30 to 5 p.m. at the St. Francis Convent Gym in Hankinson. The conference features guest speaker, Wesley J. Smith.
Smith is an international lecturer and public speaker, appearing frequently at political, university, medical, legal, disability rights, bioethics, religious, and community gatherings across the United States, Europe, Canada, South Africa, and Australia.
The conference is free to the general public. Three contact hours are available for nurses and social workers at a cost of $10 per contact hour. Pre-registration by February 15 is helpful, walk-ins are welcome. For more information or to register, contact HCRL at email@example.com or (701) 242-7196.
U.S. Bishops Urge Priority For Poor Families In National Response To Economic Stress
In a letter dated January 23, Bishop William Murphy, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on government leaders to find effective ways to protect the poorest families and low wage workers from financial hardship during this economic downturn.
The letter also expressed support for strengthening existing programs such as unemployment compensation, food stamp benefits, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) as effective means to assist families and help the economy.
In a time in which a growing number of Americans are facing increasing financial hardship due to a slowing economy, rising unemployment and an inability to meet mortgage obligations and consumer bills, the bishops reminded leaders of the moral obligations we all share to care for the neediest among us.
A good society, Bishop Murphy wrote, is measured by the extent to which those with responsibility attend to the needs of the weaker members, especially those most in need. Economic polices that help lower-income working families live in decency and with dignity should be a clear and common priority.
He concluded by reminding the nations leaders that the poor working people and their families will be disproportionately hurt by this declining economy.
Urgent Action Alert
On Tuesday, January 22, the U.S. Senate is expected to take up a reauthorization bill for the Indian Health Service. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) is prepared to offer the Hyde Amendment language as an amendment to this bill. The amendment would, as is the case of all other federal programs, prohibit the use of Indian Health Service funds to pay for abortions except to save the life of the mother, and in cases of rape or incest.
It is especially important to reach Senator Byron Dorgan. Senator Dorgan has supported the Hyde Amendment in the past. However, as sponsor of the Indian Health Service reauthorization bill and chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, he may resist any floor amendments to the bill. Urge Senator Dorgan to not resist the Vitter Amendment and to support the amendment when it comes to a vote.
Message: Please support the Vitter Amendment to the Indian Health Services bill, to limit taxpayer funding for abortion.
When: Now! The Senate will vote on this as early as Tuesday. Note: Monday is a federal holiday.
Who: Senator Byron Dorgan and Senator Kent Conrad
Senator Byron L. Dorgan
Washington: (202) 224-2551
Bismarck: (701) 250-4618
Toll Free: 1-800-666-4482
Fargo: (701) 239-5389
Grand Forks: (701) 746-8972
Minot: (701) 852-0703
Senator Kent Conrad
Washington: (202) 224-2043
Bismarck: (701) 258-4648
Toll Free: 1-800-223-4457
Fargo: Telephone: (701) 232-8030
Grand Forks: Telephone: (701) 775-9601
Minot: Telephone: (701) 852-0703
Click here for more information on the Vitter Amendment.
North Dakota and Culture of Life: Maps Tell a Story
National Migration Week
WASHINGTON – ‘From Many, One Family of God’ is the theme for this year’s National Migration Week, sponsored by Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB/MRS), and to be observed January 6-12. These words are accompanied by an image from the Gospel of Mark of Jesus feeding the crowds with multiplied loaves and the fishes. The message is one of assurance of the providence of God as well as a reminder that His abundance is meant to be shared with all people. This year’s celebration marks the 27th annual National Migration Week observance.
Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, new chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, said that this year’s theme “reminds us that though we come from many cultures and places, we are all part of one human family and members of the one Body of Christ. Sadly, rather than embracing newcomers to our land whose circumstances have compelled them to seek new lives among us, we too often respond in fear and harbor attitudes of resentment and suspicion.”
“The miracle of the loaves and fishes is God's promise not only to the disciples but to us as well. If we fail to minister to the needs of these newcomers, we fail our Lord himself,” Bishop Wester said. “National Migration Week 2008 is a celebration of the diversity and richness of the family of God…When we set aside our concerns and share our resources, God’s blessings extend to all of us.”
After failure by the U.S. Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform last summer, the Catholic Bishops have vowed to continue raising their “prophetic voice calling the faithful and all people of goodwill to reach out in love and understanding to our migrant brothers and sisters. We must learn of the realities that cause them to leave all that is precious behind for an uncertain future, learn the truth about the many contributions they make and gifts they bring to our society, and work to reform our immigration laws that cause family disintegration and strife within communities,” the bishops say.
The Migration and Refugee Services of the USCCB has made several materials available to facilitate the observance of National Migration Week 2008. These materials include a prayer for migrants and refugees, bulletin inserts explaining the meaning and purpose of the celebration, a bilingual poster and a calendar for reflection for each day during the week of observance. Each day is devoted to one particular topic and contains a Scripture passage and suggestions for action.
Information and materials for National Migration Week 2008 can be found at www.usccb.org/mrs/nmw.shtml.