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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR) Greatest Hits

By Matt Smith

Deal Hudson recently asked the question – “Why Did the USCCB Join This Civil Rights Organization?”

In his article about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) membership in the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR), he cited how member groups “must share LCCHR’s principles and purposes.” The USCCB has joined other coalition members of the LCCHR including the Human Rights Campaign, National Organization for Women, People for the American Way, and Service Employees International Union. They signed up to support “Equal rights, equal opportunities and equal justice with regard to race, religion, ethnic origin, gender, disability, age, or sexual orientation; and in which every group is accorded an equal opportunity to enter fully into the general life of the society with mutual acceptance and regard for difference.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) membership, and the ability of LCCHR to use that membership to present a viewpoint to a Catholic member of Congress, could lead to some confusion on where the bishops stand on an issue.

Catholic Advocate wanted to provide our members a short summary of a few of LCCHR’s Greatest Hits and what it means in relation to other activities of the Bishops’ Conference.

Greatest Hit 1 & 2:

Two of LCCHR priorities for the 111th Congress include “Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)” and “passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).”

What it means…

CEDAW includes a provision in Article 12 “access to health care services, including those related to family planning” which would counter the Hyde amendment and the Stupak-Pitts amendment language the Bishops’ Conference worked to support. Also under CEDAW, “Countries that restrict or outlaw abortion are reprimanded and instructed to change their laws.” ENDA would require Catholic churches or institutions affiliated with the Church to hire individuals who do not share the Church’s beliefs. Both of these LCCHR priorities run counter to efforts by the Bishops’ Conference.

This clearly is diametrically opposed to the basic declaration found on the USCCB website – “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” Many in the Catholic church believe the sanctity of human life is the civil and human rights issue of our generation. Yet, the Bishops’ Conference belongs to an organization with the words in their name and without the support for the most basic of civil rights in their actions.

Greatest Hit 3:

LCCHR opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment

What it means…

On July 14, 2004, Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at the time stated:

“The Bishops of the United States are extremely disappointed that the Senate failed to close off the debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment, thereby preventing a vote on the substance of the amendment. Marriage, the union of one man and one woman, has always been recognized as the foundation of human society, but today marriage is sadly in need of protection. It is a shame that the Senate did not have the opportunity to vote on this amendment that is so necessary to the well-being of our nation.”

At the same time the Bishops’ Conference was working on passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment, it was paying dues to an organization out rallying groups in opposition to the same amendment.

We could continue with the list of “Greatest Hits,” but it is more of the same type of music you would not want to download.

Even if the USCCB claims they do not sign onto every coalition letter led by LCCHR, the organization does not delineate with their press releases or other materials which group has joined their voice on a particular issue. The Bishops’ Conference claims “non-partisanship,” however, when you read through the legislative priorities and past actions by the LCCHR it lines up with the Democrat National Committee platform. The Bishops’ Conference paying dues and being listed as a “coalition member” raises serious concerns about the type of representation being made of Catholic teachings to the Congress and Executive branch. Further participation with such groups will continue to highlight questions of neutrality and effectiveness in articulating the teachings of the Church in Washington.

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