WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the Senate to make essential changes its health reform bill in order to keep in place federal law on abortion funding and conscience protection on abortion, protect access to health care for immigrants and include strong provisions for adequate affordability.
The bishops called the Senate health care bill an “enormous disappointment” that creates new and unacceptable federal policy for funding and coverage of abortions, as well as rights of conscience. Bishop William Murphy, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and Bishop John Wester voiced their wish for better health care reform legislation in a November 20 letter to the Senate. They chair the bishops’ Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Pro-Life Activities and Migration, respectively.
The letter, which was accompanied with a fact sheet on the House Stupak Amendment (http://www.usccb.org/mr/mediatalk/StupakAmendmentFactsheet.pdf), urged Senators to improve the Senate health care bill in the key areas of affordability, immigration, federal funding and coverage of abortion and conscience rights.
According to the bishops, the bill “does not live up to President Obama’s commitment of barring the use of federal dollars for abortion and maintaining current conscience laws.” They cited an “abortion surcharge” that would force insurance purchasers to pay for other people’s abortions, provisions that would allow the HHS Secretary to mandate unlimited abortion coverage nationwide, and that the bill does not even allow for religious institutions to offer their own employees coverage that conforms to their institution’s teaching.
“The Catholic bishops have advocated for decades for affordable and accessible health care for all, especially the poor and marginalized,” the bishops said. “The Senate bill makes great progress in covering people in our nation. However, the Senate bill would still leave over 24 million people in our nation without health insurance. This is not acceptable.”
The bishops encouraged expanding Medicaid eligibility for those living at 133 percent or lower of the federal policy level. They also urged an end to the five-year ban on legal immigrants for accessing federal health benefits programs and said that undocumented persons should not be barred from purchasing insurance plans with their own money.
“Providing affordable and accessible health care that clearly reflects these fundamental principles is a public good, moral imperative and urgent national priority,” said the bishops.
The text of the letter can be found online at http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/2009-11-20-ltr-usccb-health-care-to-senate.pdf and in Spanish at http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/SP_1080_hc_reform_Sen_1120.pdf.
Friday, November 20, 2009
USCCB - (Office of Media Relations) U.S. Bishops Voice Disappointment in Abortion-Funding Provisions in Senate Health Bill, Urge Better Care for Immigrants and Affordability
Saturday, November 14, 2009
From the USCCB web site
Good luck and God Bless you Archbishop Listecki.
WASHINGTON—Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop Jerome E. Listecki of La Crosse, Wisconsin, 60, as Archbishop of Milwaukee. . . .
Archbishop-designate Listecki was born in Chicago, March 12, 1949. He attended Quigley South High School, Loyola University, and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1975, and named an Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago in 2000, and Bishop of La Crosse in 2004. He holds a Doctorate in Canon Law from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University, both in Rome.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has 4,758 square miles. It has a population of 2,303,859 people, with 643,775, or 26 per cent, of them Catholic.
Good luck and God Bless you Archbishop Listecki.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Letter from Bishop Tobin I'm including the whole letter here.
Dear Congressman Kennedy:
“The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” (Congressman Patrick Kennedy)
Since our recent correspondence has been rather public, I hope you don’t mind if I share a few reflections about your practice of the faith in this public forum. I usually wouldn’t do that – that is speak about someone’s faith in a public setting – but in our well-documented exchange of letters about health care and abortion, it has emerged as an issue. I also share these words publicly with the thought that they might be instructive to other Catholics, including those in prominent positions of leadership.
For the moment I’d like to set aside the discussion of health care reform, as important and relevant as it is, and focus on one statement contained in your letter of October 29, 2009, in which you write, “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” That sentence certainly caught my attention and deserves a public response, lest it go unchallenged and lead others to believe it’s true. And it raises an important question: What does it mean to be a Catholic?
“The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” Well, in fact, Congressman, in a way it does. Although I wouldn’t choose those particular words, when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church. This principle is based on the Sacred Scripture and Tradition of the Church and is made more explicit in recent documents.
For example, the “Code of Canon Law” says, “Lay persons are bound by an obligation and possess the right to acquire a knowledge of Christian doctrine adapted to their capacity and condition so that they can live in accord with that doctrine.” (Canon 229, #1)
The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” says this: “Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles, ‘He who hears you, hears me,’ the faithful receive with docility the teaching and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.” (#87)
Or consider this statement of the Church: “It would be a mistake to confuse the proper autonomy exercised by Catholics in political life with the claim of a principle that prescinds from the moral and social teaching of the Church.” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2002)
There’s lots of canonical and theological verbiage there, Congressman, but what it means is that if you don’t accept the teachings of the Church your communion with the Church is flawed, or in your own words, makes you “less of a Catholic.”
But let’s get down to a more practical question; let’s approach it this way: What does it mean, really, to be a Catholic? After all, being a Catholic has to mean something, right?
Well, in simple terms – and here I refer only to those more visible, structural elements of Church membership – being a Catholic means that you’re part of a faith community that possesses a clearly defined authority and doctrine, obligations and expectations. It means that you believe and accept the teachings of the Church, especially on essential matters of faith and morals; that you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish; that you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly; that you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially.
Congressman, I’m not sure whether or not you fulfill the basic requirements of being a Catholic, so let me ask: Do you accept the teachings of the Church on essential matters of faith and morals, including our stance on abortion? Do you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish? Do you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly? Do you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially?
In your letter you say that you “embrace your faith.” Terrific. But if you don’t fulfill the basic requirements of membership, what is it exactly that makes you a Catholic? Your baptism as an infant? Your family ties? Your cultural heritage?
Your letter also says that your faith “acknowledges the existence of an imperfect humanity.” Absolutely true. But in confronting your rejection of the Church’s teaching, we’re not dealing just with “an imperfect humanity” – as we do when we wrestle with sins such as anger, pride, greed, impurity or dishonesty. We all struggle with those things, and often fail.
Your rejection of the Church’s teaching on abortion falls into a different category – it’s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you’ve re-affirmed on many occasions. Sorry, you can’t chalk it up to an “imperfect humanity.” Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.
Congressman Kennedy, I write these words not to embarrass you or to judge the state of your conscience or soul. That’s ultimately between you and God. But your description of your relationship with the Church is now a matter of public record, and it needs to be challenged. I invite you, as your bishop and brother in Christ, to enter into a sincere process of discernment, conversion and repentance. It’s not too late for you to repair your relationship with the Church, redeem your public image, and emerge as an authentic “profile in courage,” especially by defending the sanctity of human life for all people, including unborn children. And if I can ever be of assistance as you travel the road of faith, I would be honored and happy to do so.
Thomas J. Tobin
Bishop of Providence
Monday, November 9, 2009
Another from Catholic News Agency
Pope Benedict XVI touched on the importance of the Sacrament of Baptism on Sunday, saying that “living our Baptism means remaining firmly united to the Church, even when we see her face darkened by certain shadows and stains.”
Speaking at the parish of St. Anthony in Concesio, Italy, where Pope Paul VI was baptized, the Holy Father recalled the words of his predecessor on the human tendency to dismiss the faith as useless or antiquated. There is “a temptation to believe that the faith is a tie, a chain to be thrown off, something old and outdated which serves no purpose,” Benedict quoted, adding that man can falsely begin to believe that “economic and social life is enough to respond to all the aspirations of the human heart.”
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I submitted the following for our monthly Knights of Columbus newsletter.
In late September and early October I was able to accompany Bishop Warfel on a trip to India. It truly was an eye opening experience. I think it gives a whole new perspective of have vs. have not.
The area we visited had a literacy rate of about 30%. I visited a home for a family of four. The room was about 14 feet by 25 feet. One corner had a floor drain and a 1/3 height cement wall to cordon off the area for bathing and doing dishes from the rest of the house. They had electricity. This was nice compared to the rural areas where the houses were huts with no water or electricity. Water could be 100 yards away, or a half mile away. Bathing was often done at the local water pump, or in a river, or puddle of stagnant water. A lot of people walked, some used oxes or motorcycles to get around. A few had cars in the rural areas.
Sometimes we think that we are missing a lot in life. We have education. We have multi-room houses with running water and electricity. We have the ability to have hot showers in our private bathrooms. We have means to travel around town, around the state and even around the country.
As we look ahead to the end of the month, perhaps we should take a moment or two to think about why we should be giving thanks. If we think about things we want, it might again be a time to ask are they things that we need. As we look at what we have, perhaps we can think about helping those who have not.
Friday, November 6, 2009
I know, I'm busy this morning.
This is from the USCCB
This is from the USCCB
Questions and Answers
Question: The Catholic bishops support health care reform. What are the bishops’ key criteria for health care reform?
Answer: The bishops have been consistent advocates for comprehensive, life-affirming reform to the nation’s health care system. Health care reform needs to reflect basic moral principles. The bishops believe access to basic, quality health care is a universal human right not a privilege. In this light they offer four criteria to guide the process: a truly universal health policy that respects all human life and dignity, from conception to natural death; access for all with a special concern for the poor and inclusion of legal immigrants; pursuing the common good and preserving pluralism including freedom of conscience and variety of options; and restraining costs and applying them equitably across the spectrum of payers.
Question: Why are the bishops so vocal about health care reform?
Answer: One out of three Americans under the age of 65 went without health insurance for some period of time during 2007 and 2008. Of these, four out of five were from working families. Sixty four percent of the uninsured are employed full time, year round. This state of affairs is unacceptable. In the Catholic tradition, health care is a basic human right not a privilege. It is a fundamental issue of human life and dignity.
Question: Are the bishops trying to promote an anti-abortion agenda through health care reform?
Answer: The bishops will continue to fight against the evil of abortion by all means available. But they have not demanded that urgently needed health care reform become a vehicle for advancing the pro-life cause, and they likewise believe it should not be used to advance the cause of abortion. In this sense, the bishops have asked that health care reform be “abortion neutral,” this is, that existing laws and policies with regard to abortion and abortion funding be preserved, allowing health care reform to move forward and serve its legitimate goals.
Question: Why are the bishops insistent that healthcare reform be “abortion neutral”?
Answer: Abortion advocacy groups are trying to use health care reform to advance their agenda, by having Congress or a federal official establish abortion as a “basic” or “essential” health benefit, guaranteeing “access” nationwide and requiring Americans to subsidize abortion with their tax dollars or insurance premiums. This would reverse a tradition of federal laws and policies that have barred federal funding and promotion of abortion in all major health programs for over three decades (e.g., the Hyde amendment, 1976), and have respected the right of health care providers to decline involvement in abortion or abortion referrals. This agenda would also endanger or render irrelevant numerous local and state laws regulating abortion. The bishops cannot, in good conscience, let such an important and pressing issue as health care reform be hijacked by the abortion agenda. No health care reform plan should compel anyone to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion. Any such action would be morally wrong and politically unwise.
Question: Are the bishops promoting socialized medicine by advocating for universal access?
Answer: All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage in life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born. There may be different ways to accomplish this, but the Bishops’ Conference believes health care reform should be truly universal and genuinely affordable.
Question: Health care is already expensive. Why advocate for legal immigrants to be covered too?
Answer: Legal immigrants pay taxes and contribute to the U.S. economy and social life in the same manner as U.S. citizens do. Therefore, there should be equity for legal immigrants in access to health care. In the Catholic tradition, health care is a basic human right, like education, and having access to it should not depend on where you were born. Achieving equality in this case, for instance, means repealing the five year ban currently in effect for legal immigrants to access Medicaid, and ensuring that all pregnant women in the United States, who will be giving birth to U.S. citizens, are eligible along with their unborn children for health care.
Question: What kind of actions do the bishops recommend to make quality healthcare accessible for all and genuinely affordable?
Answer: Many lower income families simply lack the resources to meet their health care expenses. For these families, significant premiums and cost sharing charges can serve as barriers to obtaining coverage or seeing a doctor. Medicaid cost-sharing protections should be maintained and new coverage options should protect the lowest income enrollees from burdensome cost sharing. The bishops have urged Congress to limit premiums or exempt families earning less then 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level from monthly premiums; they also recommend limiting co-payments and other costs which could discourage needed care, and increasing eligibility levels for Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program). They have urged Congress to provide states with resources to expand coverage and ensure sufficient funding for safety net clinics, hospitals and other providers serving those who will continue to fall through the cracks even after the system is reformed.
U.S. Bishops To Vote On Revision Of Ethical Directive On Nutrition And Hydration At November Meeting
From the bishop's web site.
WASHINGTON—The full body of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will take into account the most recent Catholic teaching on care for the chronically ill and dying when they vote on a proposed revision of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services at their November 16-19 general assembly in Baltimore. The proposed revision states more definitively the moral obligation to provide medically assisted nutrition and hydration to patients in a “persistent vegetative state.”
The revision draws from Pope John Paul II’s March 2004 Address to the Participants in the International Congress on "Life- Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas" and the Congregationfor the Doctrine of the Faith's August 2007 Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration. The current Ethical and Religious Directives, which predate both documents,reference only the conclusions of "some state Catholic conferences, individualbishops, and the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities."
“It would be useful to update the Ethical and Religious Directives by inclusion of references to these authoritative documents as well as byincorporation of some of their language and distinctions,” said Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, Chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine. “It is particularly appropriate to do so since the recent clarifications by the Holy See have rendered untenable certain positions that have been defended by some Catholic ethicists.”
The current Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services says, “There should be a presumption in favor of providing nutrition and hydration to all patients, including patients who require medically assisted nutrition and hydration, as long as this is of sufficient benefit to outweigh the burdens involved to the patient.” Along with other changes, the proposed revision says, “As a general rule, there is an obligation to provide patients with food and water, including medically assisted nutrition and hydration for those who cannot take food orally. This obligation extends to patients in chronic conditions (e.g., the ‘persistent vegetative state’) who can reasonably be expected to live indefinitely if given such care.”
To be adopted, the proposed revision must be approved by a majority of bishops present and voting at the November meeting. The revision has been undertaken with the collaboration of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities and in consultation with the Task Force on Health Care Issues, the Catholic Health Association, the Catholic Medical Association, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and the National Catholic Partnership on Disability.
Another story from Catholic News Agency
San Francisco, Calif., Nov 6, 2009 / 06:17 am (CNA).- Pennsylvania Catholic priest Fr. Larry Richards, aiming to clear up “gender confusion” and to challenge men to pursue holiness, has released a new book titled “Be A Man: Become the Man God Created You to Be.”
In the book, Fr. Richards recounts his own efforts to learn “true manhood” and shares inspiring stories from men he has counseled and served in his decades as a priest, a press release from Ignatius Press says.
He encourages men to appreciate the differences between men and women, to set the right goals in life, to acknowledge personal faults and limitations, and to be masculine without being “macho.”
“Would you take a bullet if someone was raping your wife?” is one of his provocative questions to men.
Be A Man looks at King David, St. Paul, and Jesus as role models for men.
“Jesus Christ Himself reveals to us what it is to be a man,” Fr. Richards said. “It is about taking the one life that God has given us and give it away. When men are invited to die for others, they put others’ needs above their own. To be like Christ, and like all great men, will cost men their very lives.”
“There is a difference in the way men and women were created,” he remarked. “Men are not called to be women and vice versa. We are different – not better, but different – and men are called to be fully men. This needs to be dealt with up front because it’s a problem – in the Catholic Church and in the world itself.”
Fr. Richards said he encourages men to become men of “true love and wisdom” and to pursue holiness and find strength in faith and love. Each chapter of his book ends with a list of tasks that must be accomplished and questions for discussion and reflection.
“Read the book. Accomplish the tasks at the end of each chapter, no matter how hard or how “hokey” you may think them to be,” Fr. Richards urged. “I guarantee that if a man commits himself to each task and challenge, in the end his life will be changed forever!”
Be A Man is published by the San Francisco-based Ignatius Press.
This is from Catholic News Agency
Check out the rest of the story.
London, England, Nov 6, 2009 / 12:24 am (CNA).- Members of The Traditional Anglican Church in Great Britain have announced that they will enter into communion with the Vatican under Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans.
According to the group's website, members met on October 29 for their October 2009 Assembly. They scrapped their initial itinerary for the meeting following the Vatican's Oct. 20 announcement that an Apostolic Constitution was being prepared in response to requests from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful wanting to enter into full communion with the Church. Instead, the assembly focused on what the news from the Vatican meant for the small group of Anglicans who are part of the Traditional Anglican Communion.
Anglican Bishop David Moyer released a statement describing the October Assembly as “grace-filled,” noting that everyone in attendance became “aware of the movement of the Holy Spirit.”
“The bishops, priests, ordinands, and lay representatives were brought to a place of 'being in full accord and of one mind,' as St. Paul prayed for the Church in Philippi,” Bishop Moyer wrote.
Check out the rest of the story.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
From "The Black Biretta" blog hosted by Padre Giovanni Trigilio
Director Roland Emmerich admitted that he has no time for organized religion. His latest movie 2012 is based on a pagan Mayan prophecy that the world ends that calendar year (December 21). Bad enough he gives credence to ancient folklore, worse yet he trashes Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism, while leaving Islam unscathed. One scene has Saint Peter's Basilica rolling onto the multitude of clergy and laity praying for divine assistance. Every national monument and religious icon is destroyed EXCEPT the the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure located in the center of Mecca, the site of the Hajj. Why? Is the director a Muslim? No. But he fears offending Muslims and incurring a fatwa. So, no Islamic symbol is pulverized in the movie but Christian ones fall like dominoes. PATHETIC. Would a threat of excommunication saved the Vatican? I doubt it. Today, the atheists, agnostics and secular progressives and politically correct FEAR offending anyone of the Muslim faith. How about offending NO ONE, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or Muslim? How about not offending any religion? Either all are exempt or all are fair game. If the bishops and clergy called for a boycott of the movie, some Catholics would go just to be defiant; others out of pure curiosity. REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE !!! One thing you will NEVER see Hollywood ever depict: an apparition of the Virgin Mary calling all men and women on earth to pray the rosary to avert the great chastisement. Why? Just too Catholic. You can show the Devil and the Anti-Christ and aliens and now pagan mythologies but not anything too Christian and certainly not too Catholic.
Growing up, me and my younger brother Joe (who was killed at the age of 33 by a 19 year old underage drunk driver) used to watch the old Hammer Studios horror movies every Friday night. They were all B movies, no gore but plenty of scare (from your own imagination). Greats like Vincent Price (who died a Catholic), Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, et al., would always have a battle between good and evil. Good always won and whenever Satan was being fought, the hero always turned to the local parish PRIEST (not the minister) since he needed Holy Water, or silver blessed in Latin (to make bullets), etc. Even Dracula was defeated by the town's Monsignor who knew that anything holy could destroy vampires or calling out the baptismal name could cure the werewolf. Crosses were good, but crucifixes were better and more efficient. Sure, all fantasy, sci-fi, horror film but the church and the clergy came off as competent authorities on how to defeat evil. That lasted through the gore of the Exorcist and the Omen but then Hollywood decided to make the priest and the Catholic Church the idiotic fools who no longer believe in the devil and diabolical evil OR who have no faith in the supernatural. The heroes now turn to the Evangelical pastor for wisdom and guidance. Then the university professor who is either agnostic or atheist becomes the next expert. He can help translate pagan languages and interpret the pagan rituals of pre-Christian cultures which now Hollywood portrays as the real saviors. Pagans or aliens or technology are held up as sources of hope in the battle between good and evil. Organized religion is seen as part of the problem, not part of the cure. So, movies now have Christians, particularly Catholic clergy being the first to die or mess up or be the token zealot, while the new college scholar or scientist or pagan shaman saves the day. Of course, never cast a shadow on anyone or anything of Islam lest you get a fatwa. But trash the Vatican, Opus Dei, priesthood, sacraments, etc. That is what is shown today on the silver screen. And I think the Devil quite enjoys it.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Some thoughts on Health Care Reform
Denver, Colo., Nov 2, 2009 / 06:39 pm (CNA).- Stressing that “there is very little time to act,” Bishop James Conley, the Auxiliary Bishop of Denver, told CNA in an exclusive interview on Monday that now is the time for President Obama to prove his critics wrong and show them that he really meant it when he said abortions would not be funded in the health care reform bill.
Bishop Conley added, “If we don't demand honesty from our public officials and responsiveness to the serious concerns of the Catholic community, nobody will do it for us -- and we, our beliefs and our institutions will be the losers.” The full interview between CNA and Bishop Conley follows.