USCCB Chair Applauds Passage Of Immigration Reform Bill Out Of Committee; Urges Full Senate To Begin Debate As Soon As Possible
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, today applauded approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, legislation which would reform the nation’s immigration system.
“This is an important step in the legislative process,” he said May 22, the day after the committee vote. “I applaud Chairman Patrick Leahy and the committee members for their efforts and strong bipartisan cooperation,” said Archbishop Gomez. The Senate panel considered over 150 amendments during the process.
Archbishop Gomez said that the bill should be taken up by the full Senate as soon as possible, and that amendments to improve upon the legislation should be adopted. In his remarks, he specifically mentioned the need for improvements to the path to citizenship and the family immigration provisions in the legislation.
“The path to citizenship should be widened, so that the maximum number of persons can access it and come out of the shadows,” he said. “To leave a large population behind would defeat the purpose of the bill, which is to bring persons into the light so they can become full members of our communities.” The USCCB has been working to shorten the amount of time an individual must wait to apply for permanent residency, to move forward the cut-off date for eligibility, and to ease income and work requirements.
Archbishop Gomez also expressed concern over cuts to the family-based immigration system, a hallmark of the nation’s immigration laws for decades.
“We must not abandon our focus on families, which are the backbone of our society,” he said. “Family unity, based on the union of a husband and a wife and their children, must remain the cornerstone of our nation’s immigration system.”
Archbishop Gomez welcomed several amendments added to the legislation helping immigrant children. He also commended the Senators for turning back efforts to strike provisions assisting asylum-seekers and refugees.
It is expected that the full U.S. Senate will consider the legislation in June.
Abortion Center’s Latest Tactics Demonstrate Disregard for Women’s Health and Intent to Discriminate
The Center for Reproductive Rights announced today that it has filed a motion in the East Central District Court on behalf of the Red River Women’s Clinic to block implementation of SB 2305, which requires that abortionists have local hospital admitting privileges. The center also stated its intention to block the state’s prenatal anti-discrimination law.
North Dakota Catholic Conference Executive Director Christopher Dodson issued this statement in response:
It is shocking that only days after a Pennsylvania jury found abortionist Kermit Gosnell guilty of 237 counts of flaunting laws to protect women’s and children’s health, the Red River Women’s Clinic seeks to block a law enacted to prevent horrors like those committed by Gosnell.
The North Dakota legislature, taking into account the high volume of abortions conducted by itinerant physicians at the clinic, reasonably concluded that requiring physician privileges would better protect the health and safety of women seeking abortions. The clinic’s actions reveal a sad disregard for women’s health.
The Center for Reproductive Rights also announced that it will soon file a lawsuit challenging North Dakota’s new prenatal anti-discrimination law. That law, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the state legislature, prohibits abortions done solely for the purpose of sex selection or because of a genetic abnormality, such as Downs Syndrome.
It is appalling to learn that the state’s only abortion center is seeking legal license to abort children solely because of their gender or genetic traits.
These laws reflect the desire of the people of North Dakota to reject fatal discrimination and to protect women’s health and safety. Let us pray that justice prevails.
Human cloning for any purpose is inconsistent with the moral responsibility to “treat each member of the human family as a unique gift of God, as a person with his or her own inherent dignity,” said the chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“Creating new human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them is an abuse denounced even by many who do not share the Catholic Church’s convictions on human life,” said Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap., of Boston. He said this way of making embryos will also be taken up by people who want to produce cloned children as “copies” of other people. “Whether used for one purpose or the other, human cloning treats human beings as products, manufactured to order to suit other people’s wishes.” He added, “A technical advance in human cloning is not progress for humanity but its opposite.”
Cardinal O’Malley’s statement responded to the news May 15 that researchers in Oregon have succeeded in producing cloned human embryos and obtained their embryonic stem cells. He added that the researcher’s goal of producing genetically matched stem cells for research and possible therapies is already being addressed by scientific advances that do not pose the same more problems.
More information on USCCB’s position on human cloning is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/cloning/
The full text of Cardinal O’Malley’s statement follows:
The news that researchers have developed a technique for human cloning is deeply troubling on many levels. Over 120 human embryos were created and destroyed, to produce six embryonic stem cell lines. Creating the embryos involved subjecting healthy women to procedures that put their health and fertility at risk. And the researchers’ alleged goal, producing genetically matched stem cells for research and possible therapies, is already being addressed by scientific advances that do not pose these grave moral wrongs.
Creating new human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them is an abuse denounced even by many who do not share the Catholic Church’s convictions on human life. Also, this means of making embryos for research will be taken up by those who want to produce cloned children as “copies” of other people. Whether used for one purpose or the other, human cloning treats human beings as products, manufactured to order to suit other people’s wishes. It is inconsistent with our moral responsibility to treat each member of the human family as a unique gift of God, as a person with his or her own inherent dignity. A technical advance in human cloning is not progress for humanity but its opposite.
The chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called for reflection, greater respect for human life and healing in the wake of the May 13 convictions of Dr. Kermit Gosnell of Philadelphia.
“Dr. Gosnell’s trial brought much-needed attention to the tragedy of abortion,” said Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap., of Boston. “His murder convictions of newly delivered infants have caused many people to reexamine their positions on abortion.”
Among Gosnell’s 237 convictions were three counts of first-degree murder of infants born alive during attempted late-term abortions, one count of infanticide, and the involuntary manslaughter of a patient who died from complications of anesthesia administered by an unlicensed nurse at his abortion clinic. He was also found guilty of conspiracy, performing abortions beyond the legal limit in Pennsylvania, and 208 violations of the state’s informed consent law. On May 14, Gosnell was sentenced to life in prison.
“In addition to the violence against defenseless unborn and newborn children, women’s lives were endangered by his unethical practices. I hope and pray that Dr. Gosnell will come to regret and repent for his many crimes,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “Our nation needs great healing from the culture of death, of which this sad story is only one example. Let us pray for the children who have been lost and the many mothers and families who silently grieve their loss. Our Lord longs to heal every person affected by the tragedy of abortion and other violence.”
More information on the Catholic Church’s pastoral response to those who have been involved in abortion is available at HopeAfterAbortion.com. More information on nationwide efforts of prayer and fasting are available at www.usccb.org/fast.
Farm Bill Should Assist Hungry At Home And Abroad, Help Struggling Farmers, Promote Stewardship, Say Catholic Leaders In Letter
The 2013 Farm Bill is an opportunity to address outdated agriculture policies and help hungry people at home and abroad, said leaders of four Catholic organizations in May 9 letters. The letters went to leadership of the Agriculture committees of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
“This is a crucial time to build a more just framework that puts poor and hungry people first, serves small and moderate-sized family farms, promotes sustainable stewardship of the land and helps vulnerable farmers and rural communities both at home and in developing countries,” wrote Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, Carolyn Woo, Ph.D., president of Catholic Relief Services, and James Ennis, executive director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.
Bishop Blaire and Bishop Pates chair the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, respectively.
The letters outlined five priorities for the Farm Bill:
• Support for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, and other programs that help hungry people.
• Protection of funding for international emergency assistance and food security development projects. • Subsidies for farmers who truly need assistance and who comply with environmentally sound and sustainable farming practices.
• Promotion of programs for farmers to help conserve water, energy, soil and wildlife habitats. • Support for programs that help the development of urban communities.
The full text of the Senate letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/agriculture-nutrition-rural-issues/upload/Joint-Senate-Farm-Bill-Principles-and-Priorties-Ltr-2013-05-09.pdf
USCCB and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference also signed onto a May 6 letter, urging Congress to resist proposals that would weaken the SNAP program: http://frac.org/pdf/national_org_snap_support_letter.pdf
Cardinal Dolan: Suffering of migrants must end
Path to citizenship should be improved and families protected
Enforcement should guarantee basic human rights
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said in a press conference April 22 that “now is the time” to fix the nation’s broken immigration system. Cardinal Dolan was joined at the press conference by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chair of the USCCB Communications Committee.
“Let me say that now is the time to address this issue,” Cardinal Dolan said. “As we speak, persons are being deported and an untold number of families are being divided. Human beings continue to die in the American desert. This suffering must end.”
The Catholic Church has much to bring to the national immigration debate, given the Church’s history as an immigrant church, “having welcomed successive waves of immigrants into our parishes, social service programs, hospitals, and schools,” Cardinal Dolan said. “As the pastor of the archdiocese of perhaps the greatest immigrant city in the world, I know first-hand of the many efforts that have been made by the Catholic community on behalf of immigrants.”
He pledged to work with the sponsors of immigration legislation and other elected officials to “achieve the most humane legislation possible.”
In responding to recently introduced immigration reform legislation in the U.S. Senate, Archbishop Gomez said the path to citizenship for the undocumented population in the legislation is welcome, but certain requirements “could leave many behind, remaining in the shadows.” He pointed to the need to shorten the time required to obtain citizenship, to create a more generous cut-off date and to remove barriers for low-income migrants as areas for improvement.
“If the goal [of the legislation] is to solve the problem in a humane manner, then all undocumented persons should be able to participate,” Archbishop Gomez said. He also cited the need to preserve family unity as the cornerstone of the nation’s immigration system.
“This is an important and historic moment for our country and for the Church,” Archbishop Gomez added. “We hope to see the legislation improve and advance, and we will work toward that end. The lives of millions of our fellow human beings depend upon it.”
Bishop Wester said that eligibility for permanent status and citizenship should not be contingent upon enforcement initiatives contained in the legislation. He warned that it could create a de-facto permanent underclass.
Bishop Wester also called for the immigration debate to be conducted in a “civil and respectful” manner. “This is an important and historic moment for our country and for the Church,” Archbishop Gomez concluded. “We hope to see the legislation improve and advance, and we will work toward that end. The lives of millions of our fellow human beings depend upon it.”
Nearly eighty percent of Catholic voters support earned citizenship
Most Catholics support the bishops’ call to respect human rights and dignity
A large majority of Catholics support immigration reform legislation that provides a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, according to a recent survey sponsored by the Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Overall, 77 percent of Catholic voters support a proposal that allows earned citizenship through meeting requirements like registration, paying a fine, paying taxes and taking English classes, the survey shows.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, embraced the results of the survey. “It is clear that Catholics understand the importance of this issue,” Archbishop Gomez said. “As an immigrant church, Catholics from all walks of life understand the migration experience and accept the Gospel’s call to welcome the stranger.”
Most Catholics support the bishops’ call for the creation of an immigration system that respects basic human rights and dignity while ensuring the integrity of our borders, according to survey results. As immigration reform takes center stage in the public square, this data makes clear that the Catholic population is behind current efforts to reform the broken immigration system.
Archbishop Gomez called upon Catholics to engage their elected officials on behalf of immigration reform. “I encourage Catholics across the nation to contact their legislators in support of humane immigration reform, which would help our brothers and sisters come out of the shadows and become full members of our communities,” he said.
Key findings include:
- Eight-four percent agreed that requiring undocumented immigrants to register with the government as a condition to remain permanently would improve national security.
- Seventy-five percent said that enforcement of laws should be based upon humane values that deports violent criminals but finds ways to work with people who have come to find a better life.
- Sixty-one percent said that immigrants were good for the economy.
- Sixty percent agreed that an enforcement-only policy featuring deportations has a devastating social impact upon family unity.
- Sixty-nine percent agreed that the U.S. can ensure the safety of our border and treat all people humanely, even those who come illegally.
- Sixty-seven percent agreed that the Church has a moral obligation to help those in need, even if they are here illegally.
- Fifty-seven percent stated that they would cross the border in search of work in order to feed their family.
- Sixty percent of Catholics who attend Mass once a week or more rate this issue as extremely or very important to them.
In their 2003 pastoral letter, “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops outlined several policy goals for immigration reform, which include:
- A path to citizenship which is achievable and includes the maximum number of persons.
- The protection and enhancement of the family-based immigration system, including the reduction in backlogs and shortening of waiting times for husbands and wives and their children.
- A program which allows low-skilled migrant workers to enter and work in the United States legally and safely and includes appropriate wage and worker protections.
- The restoration of due process protections for immigrants.
- Policies which address the root causes, or push factors, of irregular migration, such as the absence of living wage jobs in sending communities and persecution.
More information can be found at www.justiceforimmigrants.org
Bishop David Kagan of the Bismarck Catholic Diocese thanked everyone in attendance for their “support for the cause of life.”
Kagan said with the passage of the abortion laws, “North Dakota is second to no other state in our nation” in valuing of all human life from conception to death.
Kagan chose to end his remarks with a 2005 quote by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:
“We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.”
Christopher Dodson, director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, echoed much of what Pavone told the crowd.
“This is the future of North Dakota, the future of our country,” Dodson said. “It’s a violent act (abortion); a sign that we have failed as a society. We can do better.”
Dodson said he had one thing to say to pro-choice individuals who argue that the abortion laws “turn back the clock” in North Dakota.
“That clock was broke 40 years ago,” Dodson said, in reference to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
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