Every public assistance program should be informed by charity and as St. John Chrysostom reminded us as far back as the Fourth Century: “Charity is so called because we give it even to the unworthy.”
On Monday the North Dakota Catholic Conference joined legislators, administrators of social service programs, and child advocates to oppose legislation to mandate drug testing for all applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Christopher Dodson, executive director of the conference stated: “A fundamental criterion for our state’s welfare policy should be protecting human life and human dignity in the spirit of charity. We feel House Bill 1385 fails this test.”
“While drug use may interfere with a parent’s ability to obtain and keep a job, denying the parent needed assistance and returning him or her to the streets benefits neither the individual nor society. It is especially counterproductive and unwise to deny and delay benefits to a parent willing to immediately enter treatment,” Dodson told the House Human Services Committee.
The most important reason to defeat the bill is that it violates the spirit of charity that should guide any public assistance program. Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, Dodson stated: “If any government assistance exists, however, the dignity of the human person requires policies in conformity with principles of charity rather than paternalist social assistance that is demeaning to those in need.”
“The pope was writing about developing nations after the end of the Cold War, but change a few words and it could apply to Western North Dakota. . . . Indeed, Western North Dakota is facing many of the same type — though not perhaps the same scale — of “irregularities and imbalances” that developing nations experience, such as wealth disparity, demographic changes, urbanization, burdens on infrastructure, and threats to natural resources.”
Read more . . .
|The recent HHS mandate requires virtually all employers to include sterilization, abortifacient drugs and contraceptives among the benefits covered in the healthcare plans they offer employees. In the face of this unprecedented new threat, and since prayer is central to the Church’s observance of Respect Life Month, we hope that many will participate in these October prayer initiatives on behalf of religious liberty and conscience. In particular, the “Rosary Novena for Life and Liberty” will inspire Catholics to learn more about our courageous forebears in the faith and even consider making a pilgrimage to one of the many shrines and devotional sites throughout the United States.
Rosary Novena for Life and Liberty
The “Rosary Novena for Life and Liberty” highlights the courageous witness of the saints commemorated during these nine days. They are witnesses to our faith, to the sanctity of every human life and to religious liberty and conscience. Among these men and women are the North American Martyrs, St. Isaac Jogues and companions, who were slain between 1642 and 1646 near present-day Auriesville, NY. We also look to the witness of three new American saints who will be canonized on October 21. Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk maiden, was persecuted for her faith and devoted herself to prayer and acts of charity, ignoring the limitations of her own disabilities. Mother Marianne Cope, OSF spent 35 years caring for the physical and spiritual needs of women and girls afflicted with leprosy in Hawaii. Pedro Calungsod, a missionary catechist, was martyred in Guam while still in his teens.
|Parish Social Ministry Regional Training
in Paynesville, MN
October 12-13, 2012
Koronis Conference & Retreat Center
Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Saint Cloud, and the Diocese of Duluth invites you to a training you do not want to miss, featuring a Bridges Out of Poverty workshop led by Jodi Pfarr of Minneapolis, inspiring keynote addresses, a Leadership Development track, Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s program “Voices of the Poor,” and professional networking opportunities!
We welcome anyone interested in learning more about Parish Social Ministry (PSM). This is a great opportunity for new or seasoned PSM committee members, parish council volunteers, and others who seek to discover the connections between parish life and actions of charity and justice.
Registration is now open!
The beginning of a new year, God’s gift to humanity, prompts me to extend to all, with great confidence and affection, my heartfelt good wishes that this time now before us may be marked concretely by justice and peace.
With what attitude should we look to the New Year? We find a very beautiful image in Psalm 130. The Psalmist says that people of faith wait for the Lord “more than those who watch for the morning” (v. 6); they wait for him with firm hope because they know
that he will bring light, mercy, salvation. This waiting was born of the experience of the Chosen People, who realized that God taught them to look at the world in its truth and not to be overwhelmed by tribulation. I invite you to look to 2012 with this attitude of confident trust. It is true that the year now ending has been marked by a rising sense of frustration at the crisis looming over society, the world of labour and the economy, a crisis whose roots are primarily cultural and anthropological. It seems as if a shadow has fallen over our time, preventing us from clearly seeing the light of day.
In this shadow, however, human hearts continue to wait for the dawn of which the Psalmist speaks. Because this expectation is particularly powerful and evident in young people, my thoughts turn to them and to the contribution which they can and must make to society. I would like therefore to devote this message for the XLV World Day of Peace to the theme of education: “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace”, in the conviction that the young, with their enthusiasm and idealism, can offer new hope to the world.
Read the address . . .
North Dakota Catholic Conference Director responds to Forum letter:
Gene Reierson’s letter (Oct. 30) attacking the Catholic bishops of North Dakota contains several inaccurate claims and lacks a basic understanding of the principles at stake.
Read the letter . . .
In advance of the 2012 elections, the U.S. bishops reaffirmed their 2007 document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, in this coming election cycle and beyond, as the “continuing teaching of our Bishops’ Conference and our guidance for Catholics in the exercise of their rights and duties as participants in our democracy.”
Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), joined the chairs of nine USCCB committees in offering an Introductory Note to the document. The bishops discussed this action at their June meeting and authorized it at the September meeting of the USCCB Administrative Committee. Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship was approved overwhelmingly by the U.S. bishops in 2007.
“We urge our Catholic pastors and people to continue to use this important statement to help them form their consciences, to contribute to civil and respectful public dialogue, and to shape their choices in the coming election in the light of Catholic teaching,” the bishops wrote. “It does not offer a voter’s guide, scorecard of issues or direction on how to vote. It applies Catholic moral principles to a range of important issues and warns against misguided appeals to ‘conscience’ to ignore fundamental moral claims, to reduce Catholic moral concerns to one or two matters, or to justify choices simply to advance partisan, ideological or personal interests.”
The Introductory Note does not modify or interpret the document itself and emphasizes the importance of religious freedom. It raises six “current and fundamental problems, some involving opposition to intrinsic evils and others raising serious moral questions.” These are: abortion and threats to the lives and dignity of the vulnerable, sick or unwanted; threats to Catholic ministries, including health care, education and social services, to violate their consciences or stop serving those in need; intensifying efforts to redefine marriage; unemployment, poverty and debt; immigration; and wars, terror and violence, particularly in the Middle East.
The USCCB is launching a new website for Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/. It will offer a wide range of web-based and written materials and tools to assist pastors, parishes, Catholic organizations and individuals. The document with the new Introductory Note will be available in print by the end of October and is already available online:www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/upload/Forming-Consciences-for-Faithful-Citizenship-2011.pdf
The USCCB committee chairmen who signed the Introductory Note with Archbishop Dolan were: Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, International Justice and Peace; Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, Doctrine; Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Pro-Life Activities; Bishop Thomas J. Curry, Catholic Education; Bishop Gabino Zavala, Communications; Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; Bishop Jaime Soto, Cultural Diversity in the Church; and Archbishop José H. Gomez, Migration.
The National Catholic Rural Life Conference is offering a new educational resource titled “Food Security and Economic Justice: A Faith-Based Study Guide on Poverty and Hunger.” The faith-based study guide and companion leader’s guide applies Catholic social teaching to the problems of hunger and poverty in a world of abundance, and how we can act to resolve this contradiction. The Food Security guide is now available online at NCRLC’s website.
WASHINGTON—Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed his “support for and solidarity” with the Wisconsin bishops’ statement on the rights of workers.
In a February 23 letter to Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee, Bishop Blaire wrote, “You and our brother bishops in Wisconsin are offering a timely reminder of what the Church teaches on the rights and duties of workers, including the right to form and belong to unions and other associations, and the obligation to address difficult problems with respect for the rights and needs of all. As you insist, ‘hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers.’”
“Catholic teaching and your statement remind us these are not just political conflicts or economic choices; they are moral choices with enormous human dimensions. The debates over worker representation and collective bargaining are not simply matters of ideology or power, but involve principles of justice, participation and how workers can have a voice in the workplace and economy.”
Recalling the teachings of Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II on unions and the rights of workers, Bishop Blaire praised the Wisconsin bishops for consistently sharing the “teaching of the Church in the midst of this controversy” and made a call to everyone involved to overcome differences and put the common good first.
“We pray that the leaders and people of Wisconsin—and across our nation—will respond to your “appeal to everyone—lawmakers, citizens, workers, and labor unions—to move beyond divisive words and actions and work together, so that Wisconsin can recover in a humane way from the current fiscal crisis.”
Full text of letter follows.
February 23, 2011
The Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki Archdiocese of Milwaukee 3501 S. Lake Drive P.O. Box 070912 Milwaukee, WI 53207-0912
As Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I write to express support for and solidarity with your clear statement, on behalf of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, of February 17, 2011, articulating traditional Catholic teaching on workers, their rights and the common good. You and our brother bishops in Wisconsin are offering a timely reminder of what the Church teaches on the rights and duties of workers, including the right to form and belong to unions and other associations, and the obligation to address difficult problems with respect for the rights and needs of all. As you insist, “hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers.”
You point out that Pope Benedict XVI, in Caritas in Veritate, states, “The repeated calls…for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honoured today even more than in the past.” (#25) In Laborem Exercens, Pope John Paul II calls labor associations “an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies,” but also reminds unions “to secure the just rights of workers within the framework of the common good of the whole of society.” (#20)
The situation in Wisconsin is not unique. Other states and the federal government also face daunting challenges of growing budget deficits and how to allocate burdens and share sacrifice in ways that reflect principles of social justice, economic fairness and wise stewardship. Your efforts to share the consistent teaching of the Church in the midst of this controversy are an example for all of us on how to apply our moral principles to the “signs of the times.”
Catholic teaching and your statement remind us these are not just political conflicts or economic choices; they are moral choices with enormous human dimensions. The debates over worker representation and collective bargaining are not simply matters of ideology or power, but involve principles of justice, participation and how workers can have a voice in the workplace and economy. As you point out, “It does not follow from this that every claim made by workers or their representatives is valid. Every union, like every other economic actor, is called to work for the common good, to make sacrifices when required, and to adjust to new economic realities. However, it is equally a mistake to marginalize or dismiss unions as impediments to economic growth. As Pope John Paul II wrote in 1981, ‘[a] union remains a constructive factor of social
order and solidarity, and it is impossible to ignore it.’” (Laborem Exercens #20, emphasis in original)
We pray that the leaders and people of Wisconsin–and across our nation–will respond to your “appeal to everyone–lawmakers, citizens, workers, and labor unions–to move beyond divisive words and actions and work together, so that Wisconsin can recover in a humane way from the current fiscal crisis.”
I write to assure you that your brother bishops stand with you as you share Catholic teaching on workers and unions and call for dialogue, mutual respect and the search for the common good as a way forward in these difficult days.
Most Reverend Stephen E. Blaire Diocese of Stockton Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
This engaging new activity challenges high school, college and adult learners to reflect on the major social teaching documents and their responses to the signs of the times over the last 120 years. This creative learning activity is for individuals and small groups alike. Go to resource .