Monthly Archives: January 2010
Judie Brown, President and Co-Founder of American Life League, has written a beautifully constructed letter to the American bishops. Brown admonishes Catholic politicians for their waywardness from Church teaching, their pomposity, and arrogance. She, likewise, admonishes Catholic bishops for their silence and lack of leadership.
Brown challenges Catholic bishops and priests to exhort publicly those Catholic politicians who persist in their belief that abortion funding should be included in the health care reform bill. She calls for them to lead, to show the wayward how they are separating themselves from the faithful by their actions and endangering their very souls.
Catholics, no matter their station in life, are asked to be a “moral presence” to others, according to Brown. Those in public office have a special mission; they are tasked to provide, “by personal example, witness to the truth concerning human life.”
Dear Catholic Bishops: The Time For Bravery is at Hand
By Judie Brown writing for RenewAmerica
In a May 10, 2004 letter to Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, http://lifeissues.net/writers/mis/mis_16letterCathCongress.html 48 pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians, including the ever-puerile Nancy Pelosi, wrote, “If Catholic legislators are scorned and held out for ridicule by Church leaders on the basis of a single issue, the Church will lose strong advocates on a wide range of issues that relate to the core of important Catholic social teaching.”
This infamous letter came to mind in light of the current debates over “health care reform” and the seeming lack of proper instruction by some Catholic bishops in their communications with these pro-abortion “Catholics” and other supposedly Catholic public figures. If one examines statements such as Pelosi’s recent erroneous claims or the statements in this 2004 letter, it is obvious that something has gone awry in such individuals’ thought process.
Or maybe it hasn’t. At the time the letter was made public, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus was quick to point out that http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?id=16
this message from 48 Catholic Democrats in the U.S. Congress is a classic case of political obfuscation by those who see nothing beyond politics and believe in nothing that transcends politics. They seem not to understand that if the Church is to bear any sort of credible public witness, she must begin by protecting her own members from the confusion caused by the public scandals of her politically wayward children. And she must end by doing everything in her power to save these same children’s wayward souls.
It seems unlikely that that these politicians are simply ignorant about the fact that, through their support of aborting children, in a sense they are already separated from the Church by their very actions. While one could also suggest that they are either unaware of the reasons why they should be refused Holy Communion until they repent of their sinful support of abortion, or that they have no clue that abortion is an act of murder and thus intrinsically evil, these possibilities are even more unlikely.
In a letter to members of the U.S. House, the National Right to Life Committee is asking for revisions to be made to a number of issues contained in the Senate version of the health care bill. The NRLC firmly believes, if not adjusted, the Senate bill will result in an expansion of abortion. On the other hand, the House bill would maintain current and long-standing federal policies on abortion.
If the Senate bill is presented for a vote without major corrections to its policies, it would mandate that enrollees in federally -subsidized health care plans covering elective abortions would also pay a second monthly payment solely for the purpose of funding them. The Stupak-Pitts amendment, contained in the House version of the bill, would prevent subsidies from being paid to fund abortions.
Let us pray that the select members from the Congress, who are meeting to reach a compromise on the House and Senate versions of the Health Care Bill, are mindful that they represent their constituents back home, most of whom do “not” want the federal government to subsidize the killing of innocent human life.
Letter Asks Congressmen to Correct Major Abortion-Related Problems in Senate Bill
Washington D.C., Jan 13, 2010 / 04:29 am (CNA).- The National Right to Life Committee has sent letters to numerous members of the U.S. House, urging them to oppose any final health care bill that fails to correct six “major” abortion-related problems in the Senate version of the health care bill.
In the view of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the Senate bill will result in “substantial expansion of abortion” through federal administrative decisions and federal subsidies.
The House bill, according to the NRLC, will preserve “long-standing federal policies on abortion” and “fully address” the organization’s concerns.
The Jan. 9 NRLC letter says that the Senate bill would create a new program under which the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) would administer two or more multi-state insurance plans. The bill says that “at least one” of the plans would be subject to limitations on abortion coverage.
In the NRLC’s view, this implies that other federally administered plans could cover elective abortions or be required to do so by the federal administrator. The Right to Life committee argued that any OPM-run plans should be barred from covering elective abortions.
By Deal Hudson
Among political consultants in Washington, DC, there are a few who are principled, most are pragmatic, and a few crawl out from under a rock to go to work.
Bob Shrum, consultant to the losing presidential campaigns of Gore and Kerry, emerged from beneath his rock recently to post a tirade against Bart Stupak and the Catholic bishops.
A graduate of two Jesuit universities, Shrum deems himself qualified to pronounce the position of Stupak and the bishops on abortion in the health care bill to be “at odds with the social teachings I learned in Catholic school.”
Even worse, the insistence of Stupak and the bishops to keep federal funding for abortion out of the bill “transgresses the line drawn by JFK in 1960.”
Half a century later, the bishops are attempting to achieve by indirection what they cannot achieve outright—a partial ban on a woman’s right to choose. Having abetted thousands of priests in molesting children, they’re now set on abusing health reform.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, understands guys like Shrum better than anyone I know. Donohue, a native New Yorker, grew up in the generation of fashionable dissent at the “elite” Catholic universities that produced Shrum and his heroes, Ted Kennedy and Mario Cuomo. Donohue is never surprised by mud-slinging of this kind — he doesn’t miss a step or take a deep breath:
Now if the standard of discourse allows for this kind of commentary, it finishes the prospects for civil conversation. Imagine an opponent of gay marriage citing gay leaders who abet the frequent use of bathhouses, the lethal sex acts that take place there, and the diseases they generate. Any group can be smeared.
I would think anyone who cares about the future of the Democratic Party would want to apply a little soap to guys like Shrum — and I don’t mean their dirty hands.
Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia, preaching at the annual pro-life Mass, celebrated on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, did not mince his words: “Herod distinguished himself by the cold-blooded murder of innocent babies, in a vain effort to secure his throne against any rivals . . . . We do not know their number, but they are venerated as martyrs because they died in the place of Christ. In a similar way we can consider all the unborn who die in the womb as silent witnesses to Christ and his infinite power to save.”
Community health centers could receive $7 billion dollars in funding for abortions due to a provision in Harry Reid’s “manager’s amendment” to the health care bill. This big gift to pro-abortion groups, like Planned Parenthood, was one of the provisions added in the back-room, secret meetings of Congressional Democrats.
As a “direct” appropriation in the health care bill, these funds are not subject to annual allotments to Departments of Health and Human Services. Thus, they are not covered by Hyde Amendment restrictions which are attached to funding HHS appropriation bills.
Community health centers are not bound by any federal laws to withhold abortion services, and with a possible $7 billion in additional funding, what’s to stop them?
Faithful Catholics and other pro-lifers must see to it that the final health care reform bill includes the Stupak-Pitts amendment so that our community health centers do not become the scene of countless murders of the unborn.
Senate Health Care Bill Gives $7 Billion to Health Centers, Could Fund Abortions
By Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new analysis of the Senate health care bill finds a section of the manager’s amendment Senate Leader Harry Reid added to the bill that could find billions of dollars going to abortion funding. The little noticed provision could open a new door to direct taxpayer funding of abortions.
During the closing stages of the Senate’s deliberations on its health care bill, HR 3590, Reid got his lengthy manager’s amendment added to the measure.
That contained language designed to secure the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster against the bill and it included the Nelson-Reid deal that allows states to force taxpayers to fund abortions.
Now, in a memo the National Right to Life Committee has furnished LifeNews.com, a new analysis of the manager’s amendment reveals $7 billion in funding for Community Health Centers buried deep in Section 10503 of the 383-page amendment.
NRLC says the money could be funneled to abortion businesses to pay for abortions and will not be subject to provisions like the Hyde Amendment that stops abortion funding.
As a follow-up to their nationwide campaign against federal funding of abortion, the USCCB is, again, placing inserts in Church bulletins, calling for a prayer campaign, and asking parish priests to make announcements to their flocks encouraging the faithful to let their lawmakers know that federal funding of abortion is unacceptable.
Though the House version of the health care reform bill includes the Stupak Amendment prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortion, the Senate version allows for federal funding in the form of subsidies to insurance companies. In fact, the Senate version “requires” the use of federal funds to cover “preventative care” which includes abortion.
The U.S. bishops realize that little time is left before the small group of House/Senate Democrat members present a final health care reform bill. Therefore, the bishops are pressing hard to educate Church attending Catholics, and to encourage them to contact their senators and representatives, whether Catholic or not, to protest “any” funding of abortion.
This is precisely the kind of action the Catholic laity needs from their bishops in the face of the threat to unborn life.
U.S. Bishops Reactivate Nationwide Campaign Against Federal Abortion Funding
Washington D.C., Jan 11, 2010 / 05:57 pm (CNA).- With House and Senate leaders meeting behind closed doors to forge a health care overhaul bill, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has reactivated its grassroots campaign to encourage Catholics nationwide to tell lawmakers they oppose federal funding of abortion.
Bulletin inserts, a prayer campaign and pulpit announcements are all part of the effort to help ensure that the final version of the health care reform bill sent to President Obama will include Hyde amendment protections explicitly preventing the use of federal money in promoting, performing, or paying for abortions.
The bulletin insert, distributed to over 19,000 parishes, notes that the House health care bill, passed on November 7, 2009, “reaffirms the essential, longstanding and widely supported policy against using federal funds for elective abortions and includes positive measures on affordability and immigrants.”
By Deal W. Hudson
The Catholic Health Association, readers will recall, recently insisted there was no “disagreement” between its position on abortion funding and the bishops’ conference. CHA had appeared to endorse the Senate version of the health care bill containing unprecedented federal funding for abortion but was forced to backtrack in response to criticism.
Now an article has appeared, “Ethics—Cultural Addictions Trump the Common Good,” written by Ron Hamel, the senior director of ethics at CHA. Hamel’s thoughts were published in the most recent edition of CHA’s journal, Health Progress (January-February 2010).
Hamel’s title provides both the flavor and the substance of his argument – people who disagree with the present form of health care reform are suffering from a moral deficiency:
The debate about health care reform has not exactly been one of America’s shining moments. What the country has displayed for the entire world to see is that, when all is said and done, we are essentially a people marked by individualism, self-interest, greed and an obsession with choice.
It has long been the habit – dare I say “addiction” – of those on the political left to attribute moral inferiority to those who disagree with them.
What do you do, however, when the majority of the American public takes a different view on health care from a vested interest like CHA (a lobbying organization for Catholic hospitals)? You pull out the language of vice and virtue and, as Hamel does, slap the former on the “politicians, various interest groups, pundits, bloggers, and so many others trying to undermine meaningful reform.”
But being a Catholic ethicist, Hamel doesn’t stop with accusing health dissenters of mere selfishness – they are committing the cardinal sin against the left’s view of Catholic social teaching: they are denying THE COMMON GOOD. Hamel cites with agreement a recent article by Daniel Callahan in Commonweal, asserting a lack of a “common-good tradition” in America, a dominance of individuality, and unwillingness to “sacrifice.” As a result, Callahan summarizes, the idea of rationing health care “is objectionable to most Americans.”
The notion of the common good is the conceptual heart of Catholic social teaching. The Catechism (#1906) states, “[B]y common good is to be understood ‘the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.’ The common good concerns the life of all. It calls for prudence from each, and even more from those who exercise the office of authority.”
Hamel talks as if there is no acceptable “prudence” other than his own, connecting the demand of the common good to this particular health care bill. All the questions that have been raised by the Catholic Medical Association, among others, about its impact on the quality of health care for all, on the doctor-patient relationship, on the development of medical technology and drugs, on the impact of rationing on the elderly, etc., are nothing more than efforts to avoid the moral generosity Hamel exhorts.
Possessing the only true Catholic prudence on health care, Hamel registers surprise that a CHA colleague was met with hostile questions about the “right to health care” from an audience at a meeting sponsored by a state Catholic conference. “And this was a Catholic social justice conference!” Hamel’s explanation of the hostility was to denigrate their understanding of Catholic social teaching while attributing their indifference to the way that “the dominant values of American society [have] eclipsed the values of Catholic social teaching.”
For Hamel, the “dominant values,” that is, our “cultural addictions,” are “American individualism and self-interest.” These addictions point to an issue more “fundamental for American Catholics”:
[W]hat are the “stories,” the interpretations of reality, that we actually live by? The beliefs and values at the heart of Catholicism and Catholic health care serve to shape a particular worldview that should make a difference in how these individuals see, interpret, value, choose, and act.
I couldn’t agree with Hamel more: He should begin with the “story” that everyone who disagrees with him about health care suffers from addictive selfishness, refuses to make sacrifices for others, rejects Catholic social teaching, and is more American than Catholic.
I would add one more story Hamel should examine, that being his story about America itself, which he portrays as being at odds with the Catholic faith in some extraordinary way. Is it easier to be a good Catholic, according to Hamel, in a socialist country? Evidently. If so, how does that square with the stark decline of the Church in post-war socialist Europe and the continued strength of the Church in the United States?
What Hamel does not recognize is that the core of the popular resistance to this health care bill is resistance, not to helping others, but to handing something as personal as our medical care over to government control. Yes, Americans value their freedom as a good thing for human fulfillment, not as “obsession with choice,” as Hamel describes it.
That freedom is not an American “addiction,” by the way; it is the first of the three essential elements of the Catholic conception of the common good:
In particular, the common good resides in the conditions for the exercise of the natural freedoms indispensable for the development of the human vocation, such as ‘the right to act according to a sound norm of conscience and to safeguard . . . privacy, and rightful freedom also in matters of religion.’ (Catholic Catechism #1907)
CNS gives a good accounting of Congressman Chris Smith’s (R-NJ), efforts on behalf of human rights over the past 28 years. He is ranked 3 of 435 members of the House for the number of bills he has had passed during his tenure.
At the core of Smith’s legislative work is his faith, fostered since childhood by a strong, Catholic upbringing. His belief in helping those in need led Congressman Smith to advocate tirelessly for the return of David Goldman’s son, Sean, from Brazil after having been abducted by his now deceased mother five years ago. Smith saw the return of Sean to his biological, “left-behind” father, as a human rights’ mission.
In July he introduced a bill, the International Child Abduction Prevention Act, which would apply strong sanctions on countries for noncompliance in returning abducted children home. Smith is determined that this legislation will pass, providing much needed leverage and support for the parents of the 2,800 abducted children now residing outside the U.S.
Pro-Life Catholic Congressman Advocates for Left-Behind Parents
Lois Rogers, Catholic News Service
TRENTON, N.J. – In scores of news photographs documenting David Goldman’s legal quest to bring his young son home to New Jersey from Brazil, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., was a frequent presence.
Sometimes he appeared solemn-faced and off to the side at press conferences while an obviously distraught Goldman pleaded for the return of his 9-year-old son, Sean. Other times he was in front of the microphone, making the case for Goldman’s parental rights.
The boy was taken to Brazil five years ago by his mother and kept there even after her death by her wealthy second husband and powerful family through a convoluted series of legal maneuvers. It was a human drama that captivated the world and led to the American father’s reunion with his son on Christmas Eve.
But for Smith, who is Catholic, it was a process that was “enveloped in prayer.”
In a Dec. 29 interview with The Monitor, Trenton diocesan newspaper, Smith recalled spending three hours with Goldman in the Brasilia cathedral on Feb. 24, 2008.
“While we were there,” he recalled, “there was a novena to St. Faustina and we sat through it listening to the singing in Portuguese. The phraseology sounded like an encouragement … not bells and whistles you understand, but an encouragement.”
Smith would be the first to say that faith drives him. “Not the kind you wear on your sleeve,” he said. “I’ve never worn my faith on my sleeve and I never will.
“But when you ask me if I do (this work) as a believer, I will tell you that I do it as faithfully as I can,” he said.
As CNS reports, Pope Benedict XVI, meeting today in the Vatican with diplomats from 178 countries, told those assembled that, “The denial of God distorts the freedom of the human person, yet also devastates creation.”
Much of the pope’s address was concerned with the environment, wars, military spending, the arms trade, and restrictions of religious freedom, but he also commented on attacks on the unborn and attempts by the West, primarily, to recognize homosexual marriage.
Concerning life, the pope said, “If we wish to build true peace, how can we separate or even set at odds the protection of the environment and the protection of human life, including the life of the unborn?” On the West’s endeavor to acknowledge same-sex unions, the pope remarked that… “they ignore the natural order of creation and the differences between the sexes.”
Selfishness, Lack of Respect for Life, Lead to Destruction, Pope Says
Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — War, hunger, oppression, environmental degradation and the current global financial crisis are all the result of selfishness and a lack of respect for the human person created in God’s image, Pope Benedict XVI told diplomats from around the world.
The pope told the diplomats that a “self-centered and materialistic way of thinking,” which ignores the fact that human beings are creatures and not gods, triggered the current global economic crisis and is also the attitude behind the devastation of the environment.