Action Alert: Protect deserving, carefully vetted Syrian and Iraqi refugees and their families fleeing violence and death
Protect deserving, carefully vetted Syrian and Iraqi refugees and their families fleeing violence and death
Contact your U.S. Senators NOW
Background: The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 4038, The American Security against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, which would effectively halt all resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States for a protracted indefinite time.
The week after Thanksgiving, the same bill or similar legislation will likely be introduced and voted on in the U.S. Senate. Meanwhile, some federal lawmakers may also try to use the Omnibus appropriations bill that must be passed by December 11th as a vehicle for passing the SAFE Act or similar legislation.
On November 17th, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued a statement which said, in part, “I am disturbed…by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. These refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of a terrorist organization.”
Moreover, Bishop Elizondo urged that, “Instead of using this tragedy to scapegoat all refugees, I call upon our public officials to work together to end the Syrian conflict peacefully so the close to 4 million Syrian refugees can return to their country and rebuild their homes. Until that goal is achieved, we must work with the world community to provide safe haven to vulnerable and deserving refugees who are simply attempting to survive. As a great nation, the United States must show leadership during this crisis and bring nations together to protect those in danger and bring an end to the conflicts in the Middle East.”
Your U.S. Senators need to hear from you, your neighbors and fellow parishioners that you oppose H.R. 4038 and other bills that would stop or halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
Action: Send the following message to your U.S. Senators:
Please oppose H.R. 4038 or similar legislation that would unnecessarily halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the U.S.
Senator John Hoeven:
Senator Heidi Heitkamp:
Question: What do Pope Francis and North Dakotans have in common? Answer: A fondness for cooperatives.
North Dakotans are familiar with cooperatives. The Quentin Burdick Center for Cooperatives at North Dakota State University estimates that there exist over 500 cooperatives in the state. We have cooperatives involving agriculture, telecommunications, financing, insurance, electricity, and more. The state has often been called the nation’s leader in the cooperative movement.
Like many legal and economic developments, cooperatives often sprung from necessity. Farmers, for example, sometimes had to join forces to reduce purchasing costs. At other times, producers needed to work together to have sufficient bargaining power when dealing with monopolies like the railroads. Cooperatives have also allowed members to access needed resources for investment.
Cooperatives offer local control, direct ownership, and equitable distribution of the fruits of labor. Interestingly, support for these principles, and cooperatives themselves, are found in Catholic teaching.
Although often mislabeled as a document on climate change, Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si is really an exploration of what the Christian faith means for the economy. It is worth noting that cooperatives are praised twice in the document, once in relation to agricultural cooperatives and again concerning energy cooperatives — two segments of the cooperative model with which North Dakotans are familiar.
Pope Francis has repeatedly hailed cooperatives. Speaking to an audience in Rome, the pope said: “Cooperatives should continue to be the motor that raises and develops the weakest part of our communities and civil society.” In Bolivia he spoke of how he has seen how cooperatives “were able to create work where there were only crumbs of an idolatrous economy.” He has often spoke about how he developed an enthusiasm for cooperatives when, as a teenager, he heard his father talk about “Christian cooperativism.” Indeed, Paul Hazen of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council, has dubbed Francis, the “co-op pope.”
Pope Francis, however, is not unique when it comes to expressing the Catholic preference for cooperative models of ownership and production. Catholic monasteries have operated as cooperatives for centuries. Cooperatives got a significant boost in popularity after Pope Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum in 1891. It was the first “social encyclical” and rejected by unbridled capitalism and state socialism. Cooperatives provided an alternative. As Pope Francis puts it: cooperatives “are the concrete expression of the solidarity and subsidiarity that the social doctrine of the Church has always promoted between the person and the state.” Nearly ever pope since then, especially the last five, has promoted cooperatives as an alternative to systems where all the economic power is held by those who own the capital, rather than the workers, producers, or consumers.
Catholics have been putting the cooperative alternative into practice.The first credit union in the United States was founded by New Hampshire French-speaking Catholics in 1908. The world’s largest network of worker-owned cooperatives was started by a Catholic priest in Spain. Dorothy Day, one of the four “great Americans” mentioned by Pope Francis in his address to Congress, promoted and founded cooperatives in the United States as an alternative to communism and a form of uncaring, detached capitalism. Even today, Catholic bishops, aid organizations, and lay groups promote and create cooperatives around the world.
Several themes run throughout Scripture and the church’s social doctrine that make cooperative models and worker ownership appealing. As already noted, they can be an alternative between collectivism and individualism run amuck. They also represent ways to respect both solidarity and subsidiarity, stewardship of the land, the dignity of labor and workers, respect for private property and the universal destination of goods, and the ecological integrity Pope Francis discusses in Laudato si.
Cooperatives may not work in every situation. Pope Francis warns that cooperatives, like other types of ownership can succumb to the temptation to put profit before people and thus become “false cooperatives.” Nevertheless, our experience with cooperatives might place North Dakotans in a better position to help create what Pope Francis calls a “healing” “economy of honesty.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking for your help in urging Congress to protect the right of conscientious objection to abortion.
Can you imagine if you had spent years training to help the sick as a nurse – only to find that to keep your job, you must take part in the killing of a defenseless five-month-old unborn child? This happened to Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo, RN, who was forced by her employer to participate in a late-term abortion against her deeply held pro-life beliefs. What’s worse, she found she had no right to go to court to keep this from happening to others. Check out this Youtube video to hear from Cathy about the situation.
The need for the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) has grown more urgent since last year, when the state of California started forcing almost all health plans in the state, including churches, to pay for elective abortions.
As we approach the Dec. 11 deadline for Congress to agree on a “must pass” year-end spending bill, we are working to include ANDA as a part of the package. To send a message to your members of Congress, go to www.nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=292.
Thanks for your help with this.
Nov. 17, 2015
BALTIMORE — Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued a statement on Syrian refugees during the Bishops’ annual General Assembly in Baltimore Nov. 17.
Full text of the statement follows:
Statement on Syrian Refugees and the Attacks in Paris
On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, I offer my deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the November 13 attacks in Paris, France and to the French people. I add my voice to all those condemning these attacks and my support to all who are working to ensure such attacks do not occur again—both in France and around the world.
I am disturbed, however, by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. These refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of a terrorist organization.
Moreover, refugees to this country must pass security checks and multiple interviews before entering the United States—more than any arrival to the United States. It can take up to two years for a refugee to pass through the whole vetting process. We can look at strengthening the already stringent screening program, but we should continue to welcome those in desperate need.
Instead of using this tragedy to scapegoat all refugees, I call upon our public officials to work together to end the Syrian conflict peacefully so the close to 4 million Syrian refugees can return to their country and rebuild their homes. Until that goal is achieved, we must work with the world community to provide safe haven to vulnerable and deserving refugees who are simply attempting to survive. As a great nation, the United States must show leadership during this crisis and bring nations together to protect those in danger and bring an end to the conflicts in the Middle East.
North Dakota once welcomed Syrians seeking a better life. They were Catholic (Melkite and Maronite), Orthodox, and Muslim. Below is a piece from Sophia, a publication of the Melkite Diocese of the U.S. about this period in our state’s history.A Journey Through Time
Now is the time to urge Congress to protect the right of conscientious objection to abortion. Please urge your elected representatives to support the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA). This proposal is part of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (HR 940), and is now included in the House’s Labor/Health and Human Services appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2016 (HR 3020, secs. 530 (d) and (e)). Ask members to include this language in final must-pass funding legislation this year. Please take action today through the link below.
The need for this legislation has grown more urgent since last year, when the state of California started forcing almost all health plans in the state to pay for elective abortions, even late-term abortions. There is no exemption for religious or moral objections. A mandate for hospitals, even religious hospitals, to perform abortions could be next.
California’s coercive policy clearly violates a federal law known as the Weldon amendment, which forbids governments receiving federal health care funds to discriminate against those who decline to take part in abortion. Unfortunately, this and other existing laws have loopholes and legal weaknesses that make them ineffective against such challenges. For example, nurses threatened with loss of their jobs unless they assist in abortions have found they have no right to go to court to see the law enforced. Congress should reaffirm a principle that has long enjoyed broad bipartisan support: Government should not force hospitals, doctors, nurses and other providers to stop offering much-needed health care because they cannot in conscience participate in destroying a developing human life.
Recommended Actions to take immediately:
- Send e-mails through NCHLA’s Grassroots Action Center: Click Here.
- Contact your Representative and Senators by phone. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, or call their local offices. Members’ mailing addresses may be found at www.house.gov or www.senate.gov
- Follow us on Twitter @nchla and retweet our posts. Repost this alert to Facebook or other social media platforms.
Suggested Message: “Please help ensure that the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA), now included in the House’s Labor/HHS appropriations bill (Secs. 530 (d) and (e) of HR 3020), is enacted as part of end-of-year must-pass legislation. Government must not force Americans to violate their religious and moral beliefs about respect for life when they provide health services”.
For a letter, fact sheet, and video on this legislation, and other information on conscience rights, see www.usccb.org/conscience.
The Gospel story of the rich young man can teach us how to deal with our political possessions.
The gospels tell us that the man asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus restates the commandments. The man replies that he has observed the commandments since his youth. Mark’s account says that Jesus looked at the man, “loved him,” and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” The man went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Most reflections on the story focus on how merely following the commandments was considered insufficient – at least for the young man — and on Jesus’ warning, immediately after the departure of the young man, that it is “easier for a camel to pass through eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” There is, however, more to the story.
It would be a mistake to think that Jesus was instructing everyone to give all their possessions to the poor. He said that possessions would make it difficult, but not impossible, to receive eternal life. Jesus instructed this particular young man to sell all that he had. Why? I think the answer is found in Mark’s explanation that Jesus looked at the man and loved him. It was a very personal message by the only one who can see straight into a person’s heart. Jesus saw that with this man, adherence to the commandments would not be enough. The man’s attachment to possessions would always be a barrier to giving his life fully to God.
For that reason, we should consider the story to be about more than material wealth. We all have attachments and possessions to which we hold on, even as we follow the commandments and precepts of the church.
Political and ideological beliefs can become such possessions. People can buy-in to certain philosophies and partisan positions to the point that they cling to them like the young man and his wealth.
Read the rest . . .
Echoing Pope Francis, Migration Committee Member tells Congress to Apply the Golden Rule to Children and Families Fleeing Violence in Central America
The humanitarian outflow, driven by organized crime in the northern triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, continues, with nearly 40,000 unaccompanied children and an equal number of mothers with children having arrived in the United States in Fiscal Year 2015.
“If we do not respond justly and humanely to this challenge in our own backyard, then we will relinquish our moral leadership and moral influence globally,” Bishop Seitz said.
Bishop Seitz pointed to the human consequences of U.S. policies which are designed to deter migration from the region, including U.S. support for Mexican interdiction efforts which are intercepting children and families in Mexico and sending them back to danger, in violation of international law.
Bishop Seitz recommended an end to these interdictions and the introduction of a regional system which would screen children and families for asylum in Mexico and other parts of the region. He also called for Congress to approve and increase a $1 billion aid package proposed by the Administration.
“If we export enforcement,” Bishop Seitz said, “we also must export protection.”
Bishop Seitz recalled the words of Pope Francis before Congress in September, when he invoked the golden rule in guiding our nation’s actions toward those seeking safety in our land.
Quoting the Holy Father, Bishop Seitz repeated to the committee, “’The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.’”
“Mr. Chairman, I pray that time, and history, will conclude that we honored this rule in meeting this humanitarian challenge,” Bishop Seitz concluded.
Bishop Seitz’ testimony can be found at http://www.usccb.org//about/migration-policy/congressional-testimony/upload/seitz-ongoing-migration.pdf
Cardinal Seán OMalley of Boston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), responded on October 6 to Governor Jerry Browns signing of the new California law legalizing assisted suicide.
Cardinal OMalley called the governors decision a great tragedy for human life, and a tragedy compounded by confusion among those who supported this law.
A government that legalizes assisted suicide sends the terrible message Pope Francis has so eloquently warned us against, that there is such a thing as disposable people, Cardinal OMalley said. I am sure the Catholic Church in this country will redouble its efforts to protect innocent life at its most vulnerable stages, and to promote palliative care and other real solutions for the problems and hardships of terminally ill patients and their families.
The full text of Cardinal OMalleys statement follows:
Governor Browns decision this week to sign a bill legalizing doctor-assisted suicide in California is a great tragedy for human life. As a result, in all the West coast states, seriously ill patients suffering from depression and suicidal feelings will receive lethal drugs, instead of genuine care to help alleviate that suffering.
The tragedy here is compounded by confusion among those who supported this law.
For example, Governor Brown said he signed this law because it should not be a crime for a dying person in pain to end his life. But suicide itself is a tragedy, not a crime. The crime is for people in authority such as physicians to facilitate the deliberate deaths of other, more vulnerable people. That crime will now be permitted in California. And where such assistance is legal, most people taking the lethal drugs do so not because of pain but because they feel they are helpless and a burden on others. The state of California in effect is now confirming this judgment. A government that legalizes assisted suicide sends the terrible message Pope Francis has so eloquently warned us against, that there is such a thing as disposable people.
With the bishops of California I grieve for this deeply flawed action. I am sure the Catholic Church in this country will redouble its efforts to protect innocent life at its most vulnerable stages, and to promote palliative care and other real solutions for the problems and hardships of terminally ill patients and their families.
For more information on the bishops advocacy against assisted suicide, including their 2011 statement, To Live Each Day with Dignity, see: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/assisted-suicide/to-live-each-day.