Yearly Archives: 2010
A member of the Catholic Advocate community asked “why the call for a National Collection for Life?”
Catholic Advocate has raised questions in recent weeks regarding grants made to non-Catholic organizations from the proceeds of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) national collection held the weekend before Thanksgiving each year. As Catholic Advocate Vice President Matt Smith wrote on February 19, “The issue we, along with others, are raising is simple. Money donated by an ‘official’ entity of the Church should not be used to work against the teachings of the Church.”
The goal of the CCHD collection is to support anti-poverty programs. The research done by other organizations has demonstrated grants have been distributed to some organizations advocating for public policy or supporting initiatives that contradict non-negotiable Church priorities.
What have we asked our Bishops to consider?
- Suspend CCHD grants.
- Conduct an independent audit and review of all the organizations that have received CCHD grants during the past ten years to ensure programs, support for public policies, and affiliations are consistent with the teachings of the Church.
- Develop and publicly distribute new policy guidelines to Diocesan offices for the vetting and approval of CCHD grant proposals.
- Review the participation by USCCB staff in outside organizations and develop a conflict of interest policy that prevents such participation from supporting groups that work against the teachings of the Church.
As of the announcement of the National Collection for Life, neither the Bishops nor their lay staff have responded to our questions. Some defenders of the CCHD program have chosen to level personal attacks because we are speaking out on these issues with the program. We promise the Catholic Advocate community to remain in optimistic prayer they will work with us to reform the CCHD program and return it to funding programs to assist the poor instead of non-Catholic groups supporting same-sex marriage and abortion-related policies.
The leadership of Catholic Advocate, in the process of examining the source of CCHD funding from the annual national collection program, noticed something obvious in the list of national collections – the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops DID NOT have a National Collection for Life.
The leadership of Catholic Advocate felt it was important to also focus on having a beneficial impact on building a culture of life in our society. Yes, it is important to reform the CCHD program to prevent pro-abortion groups from receiving Catholic donations. It is equally important to also seek support for the positive efforts our Bishops undertake with their pro-life activities.
Why support the bishops’ pro-life activities?
“The Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, under the guidance and direction of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, works to teach respect for all human life from conception to natural death, and organize for its protection. The Secretariat is involved with positive educational campaigns and advocacy we as Catholics can support.”
Some of their programs include:
- Develop educational material on pro-life issues
- Conduct educational campaigns in the Church – e.g.,
- Respect Life Program that begins on the first Sunday of each October
- Conduct educational campaigns in the public square – radio, print, exhibit
- Circulate fact sheets and other information on critical issues
- Publish Life Issues Forum, a biweekly column for Catholic newspapers
- Publish Life Insight newsletter
- Encourage and enable programs to meet the needs of pregnant women, children, persons with disabilities, those who are sick or dying, and all who have been involved in abortion
- Provide dioceses with pro-life liturgical suggestions each month
- Coordinate/advise on public policy efforts concerning these issues
- Assist dioceses to implement major pro-life programs
Our Catholic values are under attack each and every day from outside and, tragically, sometimes within the Church. We must remain vigilant against the efforts to undermine and work equally hard to sustain the effective programs making a difference defending the sanctity of life.
We as Catholics have a responsibility to support programs and policies working to advance the mission of our Church.
Supporting a National Collection for Life sends a positive message to our bishops that we will pro-actively stand with them when we know our contributions will be used to further the cause for life.
By Brenda Steele
Planned Parenthood is at it again. This time, in Springfield, IL they’re offering “do-it-yourself” abortions through the use of drugs so that women can “complete” the killing of their babies within the comfort of their own homes. Oh, and I forgot to mention, at the bargain basement price of only $435.
An article in The State Journal-Register offers a very unbiased report on this new effort by Planned Parenthood to make abortion accessible to all. Citing that “some residents have had to drive at least 90 minutes to abortion providers” Stephanie Cox, a PP nurse -practitioner, notes that she is “relieved” this will no longer be necessary.
“I have seen so many women just devastated that they have to travel,” she said. “I just know it’s very burdensome for some women, especially women with small children already, or who can’t get off work.”
These “medication abortions” are by appointment only at the Springfield, IL PP health center. Once there, the “patient” is given one drug in pill form, mifepristone (RU-486), to be taken at the clinic. They are sent home with another pill, misoprostol, to consume, which should cause the baby to be aborted within 24 – 48 hours. Just think, you’re in and out in a short period of time, armed with meds to “do the job,” and headed for home.
Enter Shirley Caldwell Smith and Springfield Right to Life, thank goodness! They’ve already held a prayer vigil at the PP clinic and aired a minute long radio ad asking community members to pray for the lives of these unborn babies who will die if abortion comes to Springfield. Let’s hope they keep up the protests, and let’s all pray that their efforts will change the hearts of some of these women considering aborting their babies.
By Brenda Steele
Was President John F. Kennedy instrumental in “privatizing” religion? Russ Shaw, writing for InsideCatholic.com thinks that is the case. In his piece titled “Privatizing Religion” Shaw recalls that JKF’s assurance that his religious views were his “own private affair” has allowed future Catholic politicians to pick up his mantra.
Case in point, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. We all recall her Newsweek interview when she whined that she “mourned” a “difference of opinion” but that her own free will allowed her this. Pelosi is hardly the only Catholic politician to exercise this idea of separating faith from the public square. Others come to mind, such as John Kerry and Ted Kennedy. The list is long, and you know who to add.
So, the question begs to be asked, “How does one proclaim to be a faithful Catholic and yet “separate” the teachings of their faith from day to day decisions, whether these be concerned with family issues, work issues, or political ones? It is not enough to be a “good” Catholic by attending, at a minimum, Sunday Mass and, perhaps, participating in the life of the Church, and then dismiss Church teachings on Monday in favor of a “separatist” attitude.
This insistence of “my faith is personal,” subscribed to by far too many Catholic politicians, makes me wonder if they have split personalities! Can you have a movie without popcorn, an Oreo without a glass of milk? No, of course not, just as you cannot be one person in church and another outside of church. Our beliefs determine “who” we are at all times, whether in the public square, in church, or within our families.
I say to all Catholic politicians, let the beliefs of your True Catholic faith shine through, guide all you do and say, and give glory and honor to our Lord. Don’t be a Jekyll and Hyde.
The following is a list of those attending the February 25, 2010 Blair House health care summit:
- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, Nevada)
- Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin* (D, Illinois)
- Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (D, New York)
- Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray* (D, Washington)
- Senator Max Baucus (D, Montana), Senate Finance Committee Chairman
- Senator Chris Dodd* (D, Connecticut), Senate Banking Committee Chairman
- Senator Tom Harkin* (D, Iowa), Senate HELP Committee Chairman
- Senator Jay Rockefeller (D, West Virginia), Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care Chairman
- Senator Kent Conrad (D, North Dakota), Senate Budget Committee Chairman
- Senator Ron Wyden (D, Oregon)
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Kentucky)
- Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (R, Arizona)
- Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (R, Tennessee)
- Senator Chuck Grassley (R, Iowa), Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member
- Senator Mike Enzi (R, Wyoming), Senate Help Committee Ranking Member
- Senator John McCain (R, Arizona), HELP Committee
- Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R, Oklahoma), HELP Committee
- Senator John Barrasso, M.D. (R, Wyoming)
- Speaker Nancy Pelosi* (D, California – 8th)
- House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D, Maryland – 5th)
- House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D, South Carolina – 6th)
- House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel* (D, New York – 15th)
- House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller* (D, California – 7th)
- House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D, California – 30th)
- House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Emeritus John D. Dingell* (D, Michigan – 15th)
- Vice Chair of House Democratic Caucus Xavier Becerra* (D, California – 31st)
- House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D, New York – 28th)
- Congressman Rob Andrews (D, New Jersey – 1st)
- Congressman Jim Cooper (D, Tennessee – 5th)
- House Minority Leader John Boehner* (R, Ohio – 8th)
- House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R, Virginia – 7th)
- House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Dave Camp* (R, Michigan – 4th)
- House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Joe Barton (R, Texas – 6th)
- House Education and Labor Committee ranking member John Kline (R, Minnesota – 2nd)
- Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R, Tennessee -7th)
- Congressman Charles Boustany, M.D. (R, Louisiana -7th)
- Congressman Peter Roskam (R, Illinois – 6th)
- Congressman Paul Ryan* (R, Wisconsin -1st)
*denotes Catholic (12 total)
Note: This list is current as of Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. If additional Members of Congress confirm attendance, Catholic Advocate will update the list.
By Matt Smith
President Obama campaigned on working with both sides of the aisle to achieve “progress” for America. He played into Americans’ growing frustration at Washington grid-lock, making promises he has not kept. Many members of the minority party have consistently been denied access to the one-sided, one-political party work on health care legislation while it has been fumbled by the President’s own party. Then, a year into office, President Obama issued this call during his State of the Union:
“… if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. Let me know. Let me know. I’m eager to see it.”
The bold State of the Union dare was followed by publicly inviting members of Congress down to a health care summit being held this week.
One of the first mistakes President Obama made was leaving the crafting of the health care legislation solely to Congress. This signature domestic policy issue of President Obama spent the majority of 2009 mired in a lack of direction, focus, and attempts to make the legislation a vehicle for radical social change. Normally, when the White House has a policy priority it is communicated, both officially and unofficially, with the Congress what they want in the legislation, taking a leadership position in negotiations.
At the beginning of 2010, Catholic Advocate called on President Obama to start over on health care reform. The premise for our call was the White House endorsement of the Christmas Eve Senate language which all will remember included the pro-abortion Senator Ben Nelson Nebraska-compromise. Now, 13 months into office the President has finally chosen to lead by advancing his own 11-page health care proposal. Unfortunately, the “new proposal,” deliberately released prior to the supposed “bi-partisan” health care summit, is just a repackaging of the previously passed Senate version.
Recycling bad policy is not leadership. Maintaining the Senate language is unacceptable to the non-negotiable teachings of the Catholic Church on the sanctity of human life.
President Obama declared eight times during his campaign for the presidency that he would open negotiations on health care reform for all Americans to watch on C-SPAN. C-SPAN’s CEO Brian Lamb even sent a letter to the President asking him to open any negotiations to cameras. Once again, 13 months later, the President is finally implementing a promise…well sort of. But, like a bad reality show, Thursday’s summit will just be staged political theater. Except, in this situation no one will be receiving any roses, and the only thing that should be voted off the island is the persistence of bad policy.
By introducing this proposal in advance of the summit he is hosting to listen to members of Congress, the President has essentially told them he is not open to new ideas, just the same flawed policies from last year.
What specifically should concern American Catholics?
The Senate legislation does not include the Stupak-Pitts language. The approach, endorsed by the White House on February 22, 2010, allows subsidies for abortion coverage and even directly funds abortion through grants to community health centers. National Right to Life pointed out that by increasing funding for community health centers to $11 billion without ensuring funds cannot be used to pay for abortion, the President’s proposal actually expands abortion, with more money than the previous version included. Additional concerns, including conscience protection issues and back door abortion mandates, also remain within the President’s proposal to the same extent as they existed in the Senate bill.
A famous quote of candidate Obama included:
”You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.
“You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It’s still gonna stink.
“We’ve had enough of the same old thing.”
In this situation, I could not agree with you more, Mr. President. Let us pray members of Congress involved with supporting the Stupak-Pitts amendment in the House have the courage to speak up later this week when the cameras are finally rolling.
Dear Catholic Advocate Community,
Catholic Advocate has just discovered a mistake in our Catholic Scorecard. Bart Stupak is listed as having “not” voted with the Catholic vote on item #3 for the 110th Congress, “The Smith-Stupak Amendment to Protect the Mexico City Policy.” Obviously, this is an error, and for this slight to Bart Stupak we are most regretful.
We are currently updating and revising the Catholic Scorecard (you will like it!) as it will be much more user friendly and interactive.
This change in Congressman Stupak’s voting record gives him a 71 percent pro-life score rather than the 57 percent as noted on the scorecard.
Our humble apologies are extended to Congressman Bart Stupak for this error and to our community for giving you incorrect information.
By Deal Hudson
Over 750 “tea parties” were held on April 15 of last year, protesting the excesses of the Obama administration — in particular, the pork-stuffed stimulus bill. Initially, the mainstream media tried to ignore the movement. They downplayed its size and influence, until the steady slide of President Obama’s popularity, the growing opposition to Congress’s health-care reform proposals, and Republican victories in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts forced them to acknowledge its influence.
Since then, the media strategy has been to portray the tea party as a gathering of disgruntled extremists, in spite of the fact that the limits on government spending they advocate would have been considered common sense in both political parties only a decade ago.
For American Catholics, the equivalent of centralized federal power is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The USCCB, the kind of episcopal conference authorized by Vatican II, has no canonical authority of its own. But its voice is considered authoritative by the media, and it is treated as such by those who applaud its lobbying efforts in Congress and the White House.
Criticism of the USCCB among lay Catholics, as well as many priests and bishops, has been a constant since its march to the political left in the years after its creation in 1966. Pastoral letters, including the ones on the economy (1986) andwar and peace (1983), created a clear line of demarcation between the liberal politics of the conference (aligned with the Democratic Party) and the Catholics, both lay and religious, who interpreted the Church’s social teaching differently (in a way inclining them toward conservatism and the GOP.)
The pro-life advocacy of the conference, along with its opposition to same-sex marriage, has always set it apart from other politically liberal institutions. Unfortunately, the USCCB’s choice of coalition partners and memberships often threaten to undermine the clarity of its witness.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the series of reports from the Reform CCHD Now Coalition. These reports show two things clearly:
1. Bishops have given Catholic money to organizations advocating abortion and same-sex marriage (two such organizations were defunded last November).
2. The bishops have joined coalitions, like the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, that also advocate abortion and same-sex marriage.
These reports differ from previous attempts to address the politics of the USCCB in two ways: First, their Internet links allow anyone to read the various smoking guns unearthed by the research. The second factor is timing — the reports come after both the 2008 presidential election and the furor surrounding Notre Dame’s decision to bestow an honor on a pro-abortion president.
The Notre Dame incident brought home to thousands of Catholics, in a way they had never understood before, that many venerable mainstream Catholic institutions were strongholds of dissent.
Yet the Notre Dame story might not have gone so far if many Catholics were not already furious with the role a bishops’ document played in the election of Barack Obama in the first place.
The 2007 version of the bishops’ “Faithful Citizenship” document, prepared in advance for distribution for the 2008 election, contained several passages that, if taken out of context, gave the green light to Catholic voters to ignore Obama’s aggressively pro-abortion stance. (Obama won the self-identified Catholic vote over Sen. John McCain 54 percent to 44 percent, though among religiously active Catholics he lost by 1 percentage point.)
That document did not emerge from the USCCB without a fight — a number of bishops opposed it; I am told that Archbishop Raymond Burke, then still in St. Louis, was literally shouted down when he tried to explain his opposition to the problematic passages. The best any bishop has been able to say to me regarding “Faithful Citizenship” is that “it was difficult, it was a compromise.”
But such compromises are brewing a tempest for a potential tea party revolution among the faithful. In some ways, the very notion of a tea party goes against the grain for Catholics, with their inbred sense of deference to authority. Those same Catholics, however, are beginning to realize that there are some matters where they can speak out without acting in disobedience to the authority of their bishop.
In response to my recent story on the USCCB’s membership in a pro-abortion civil rights organization, a Notre Dame alumnus from the class of 1965 sent me this message: “Is it time for us to start throwing tea bags at the USCCB?” This is a man who, ten years ago, would not tolerate a word uttered against either Notre Dame or the bishops. The times may be changing.
By Brenda Steele
Lila Rose and Live Action have succeeded in getting an Alabama Planned Parenthood abortion clinic put on probation. The clinic in Montgomery, AL has one week to answer charges it has provided abortions to underage girls, as young as 13-15, without parental consent. They must come up with a plan to address these state violations in the future or risk being closed.
A member of Live Action, the pro-life, youth led movement based in California, posed as a 14 year old seeking an abortion without the consent of her parents. She was told by a clinic worker that “someone else besides a parent could give consent.” This advice and counsel were caught on an audio tape the activist participating in the sting was concealing.
Live Action, a non-profit student group, led by 21 year old president, Lila Rose, has visited dozens of abortion clinics across the country. Members pose as underage pregnant girls seeking abortion counseling.
According to Lila Rose it is “routine at Planned Parenthood abortion clinics to be told medical lies and to be subjected to manipulative counseling.”
“They will do or say anything in order to sell more abortions to more women, whether it is covering up sexual abuse or lying to women about medical facts,” says Rose. “Our team has visited dozens of Planned Parenthood clinics undercover. Planned Parenthood, while claiming to support patient self-determination, operates with an ‘abortion-first mentality.’”
Lila Rose and her youth-led movement are “dedicated to building a culture of life and ending abortion, the greatest human rights injustice of our time.” They employ sting operations at abortion clinics throughout the nation, gathering information and proof that many are providing inaccurate medical counseling and abortion services to underage girls.
Planned Parenthood take notice: Lila Rose and the pro-life youth of Live Action who work alongside her, will find you out if, in fact, you are dealing in unlawful abortion practices.
Kudos to Lila Rose, to Live Action, and to all the other young pro-lifers in America who are becoming a pro-active voice in helping to stop abortion. They have courage, conviction, and commitment, but most of all they have a strong faith, and know what they are doing is God’s work.
By Deal W. Hudson
Move over Sarah Palin – the GOP has a new star on the rise! Former speaker of the Florida house, Marco Rubio, has pulled twelve points ahead of Florida Governor Charlie Crist in the GOP senatorial race.
Although the election is not until August, some political observers are speculating Crist will pull out of the race in time to get back in it as a Democrat or an Independent. Crist’s support has fallen from 53 percent in August to 37 percent as of February 1.
Rubio’s rise has been so meteoric he was pictured on the cover of New Times Magazine (1/6/10) under the headline, “The First Senator from the Tea Party?” The answer to that question, in my opinion, is “No” for several reasons. The first being the article’s implication that Rubio’s candidacy is appealing to some sort of extreme political element, when, in fact, Rubio is a fiscal and social conservative with strong appeal to moderates and independents.
Only 38 years old, Rubio, the son of a bartender and maid, is the father of four young children. When I met him for dinner a few weeks ago in DC, Rubio left the table to call home and tell his children ‘goodnight’ just before bedtime. Rubio, from the Cuban community of Miami, obviously didn’t do this for show — he often spoke in a self-effacing way about his wife, Jeanette, who reminds him to take out the garbage and “move those boxes.”
A few days ago I caught up with Rubio as he drove from Miami to Melbourne for a series of four appearances on the Friday before the Super Bowl. Football (Dolphins & Gators), by the way, is one of Rubio’s few hobbies. A former high school and college defensive back, he would play flag football on the weekends, when he had time. “I read a lot, “ Rubio says, “Right now I am reading, Peggy Noonan’s When Character Matters.”His choice of reading didn’t surprise me.
The old-fashioned virtues are important to Marco Rubio. His home, in a working class neighborhood of West Miami, is close to the home his parent’s bought in 1984 after moving back from Las Vegas. “The neighborhood is just home, close to my family, where I grew up, and where I feel comfortable.”
Cubans are known for having close ties to their families. For Rubio, being a father is the “most important” job he has. “As my kids gets older, if I get that job wrong I will regret it the rest of my life.” His children, ages 2 through 9, are two boys and two girls. His wife, Jeanette Dousdebes Rubio, a Miami Dolphins’ cheerleader in 1997, was born in Miami to Columbian parents.
Rubio doesn’t think the surge of support for his candidacy is about him personally:
“I think it’s about our message. On multiple fronts, the American people think this administration is going in the wrong direction. They want to elect people to go to Washington, stand against this agenda, and offer a clear alternative.”
The Obama administration, for Rubio, lacks a belief in what has made this country the most free and prosperous country in history, the American free enterprise system. “The White House,” he argues, “has enacted policies that hurt the environment for business. Government should help investment,” Rubio explains, “with a reasonable tax policy, predictable, without an overly burdensome regulatory system — one that ensures the public safety and welfare.”
He points out that Gov. Crist praised Obama’s stimulus package. Rubio opposed it because he doesn’t believe that government should be spending money “we don’t have,” adding, “The debt we are saddling our children with is unconscionable.”
For Rubio, Obama’s lack of awareness of how his policies are impacting individuals and families also explains the negative reaction to health care reform. “People are reacting to the notion that the state is going to be in charge of another aspect of our lives.” Everyone understands that people need broader health insurance, but they are “not prepared to turn over their liberties to get it — they don’t want to live in such a country.”
Rubio has not been shy about mentioning his Catholic faith on the campaign trail. He told me that he hasn’t met any objections: “I don’t think my views should offend anyone — you can’t force religious views on anybody, but it’s an essential part of who I am, how I view the world, how I try to live, and part of that is we are all flawed and need forgiveness.”
We talked briefly about Catholic politicians who are elected and then cave in on issues like abortion, euthanasia, and the protection of marriage. “I have a consistent record on those issues, and they are not going to change with the polls or the times. Roe is morally and constitutionally wrong and should be overturned. Marriage is between a man and woman; it is the cornerstone of society, the best way to raise children, the product of a thousand years of wisdom.”
For Rubio, his pro-life convictions are the “cornerstone” of everything else. “A society that does not respect the sanctity of life cannot make sense of anything else, and it leads to absurd and dangerous policies.” Without a belief in protecting preborn life, “the entire society is endangered, and social justice cannot be the outcome of such an unjust system.”
As the son of Cuban exiles, Rubio’s core beliefs were shaped, not just by his Catholic upbringing, but by his parents’ stories, and the stories of many in the Cuban community of Miami.
“We are not just immigrants, we are immigrants of a unique kind –- the Cuban exile community has a real passion for liberty because we know that politics matters and has consequences. This awareness runs through the veins of our community, that liberty is not something that is self-perpetuated.”
Yes, Rubio is articulate. He still has the dash and charm of a young man. But he’s a seasoned politician, having just finished eight years in the Florida legislature rising to Majority Whip, Majority Leader, and Speaker of the House.
Keep your eye on Rubio; he’s got a personality, quickness of mind, and fearlessness, not often found in politics.