Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bishops Behaving Boldly

Because the myopic vision of those who insist on only passing along negative news about the Bishops represents a tiny minority of what our Shepherds do.

If you support access to health care, then you need to protect conscience rights.

This is the line of reasoning offered by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Congress and the White House.

In what the bishops are calling an "open letter" from 20 national Catholic organizations, the USCCB is asking Congress and the administration "to protect conscience rights in health care."

The HHS aims to force private health care plans to include contraception, sterilization and abortifacients as "preventive care."

The USCCB letter notes that "as written, the [HHS] rule will force Catholic organizations that play a vital role in providing health care and other needed services either to violate their conscience or severely curtail their services. This would harm both religious freedom and access to health care."

The letter also says the HHS has put "many faith-based organizations and individuals in an untenable position" and will "undermine … respect for religious liberty and freedom of conscience."

USCCB criticism of the new HHS regulation focuses on the narrow exemptions for "religious" employers, which fail to cover the vast majority of faith-based organizations, including Catholic hospitals, universities and other service organizations.

The letter can be utilized by local churches, dioceses and other Catholic groups as a bulletin insert or advertisement. It ran Tuesday as a full-page ad in two D.C. dailies. Signatories include the presidents of Notre Dame and the Catholic University of America, and the presidents of the Catholic Medical Association and Catholic Relief Services.

The site provides more information in handy formats, and suggests that Catholics write to Congress in support of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. It notes that the HHS received more than 57,000 comments generated through the bishops' campaign before the administration's Sept. 30 deadline.

Pennsylvania bishops: school choice a ‘defining social justice issue’

Following a statement in which the bishops of Pennsylvania called school choice “a defining social justice issue of our society,” the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference has lent its support to Governor Tom Corbett’s plan to introduce school vouchers and expand the state Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC).

Under the governor’s school choice plan, parents would have access to more educational options for their children. EITC scholarships that already allow low and middle income parents to send their children to non-public schools would expand. With vouchers, qualified parents could move their children from a failing school to another public school, a charter school or a non-public school.

“Two weeks ago, the Catholic Bishops of Pennsylvania called school choice ‘a defining social justice issue for our society.’ Educating each and every child to his or her potential is our moral obligation,” added O’Hara. “The Bishops do not see school choice as a public versus non-public school issue, but a family and child issue. Each family should have a full range of educational options for their children; it is a civil right for every parent.

“School choice reinforces that parents – not the state – are the primary educators of their children. Now is the time for the Pennsylvania legislature to ensure that ideal educational opportunities are accessible and available to all. The Catholic community applauds Governor Corbett for his leadership on school choice. There are few priorities more important than educating for the future.”

Pennsylvania’s 500 plus Catholic schools together are the largest provider of non-public education in the Commonwealth. These schools educate both Catholics and non-Catholics in an academically excellent and nurturing environment. This essential service not only helps to create new generations of productive and engaged citizens, but also by saves over $4 billion tax dollars annually.

Action urged on Protect Life Act

The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA)--which works closely with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on abortion-related legislation--is urging pro-life Americans to contact members of the House of Representatives on behalf the Protect Life Act, which is scheduled for a vote on October 13.

The Protect Life Act would remove the possibility of abortion funding from healthcare legislation approved last year and would also apply conscience-protection provisions to the legislation.

The Protect Life Act makes it clear that no funds authorized or appropriated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), including tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, may be used to pay for abortion or abortion coverage. It specifies that individual people or state or local governments must purchase a separate elective abortion rider or insurance coverage that includes elective abortion but only as long as that is done with private funds and not monies authorized by Obamacare.

The bill also specifies that insurance issuers may offer health plans that include elective abortion and may offer separate elective abortion riders, so long as they ensure PPACA funds are not used for premiums or administrative costs. The bill also clarifies that issuers who offer elective abortion coverage must also offer a qualified health benefits plan that is identical except that it does not cover elective abortion.


  1. Had the bishops opposed the PPACA in the first place, they would not have to be backing and filling now.

  2. trying to climb out of a hole they dug themselves

  3. Unfortunately, the bishop's voting guide still misses the point. Catholics are being attacked in an all out war by this administration. This is not just about freedom of conscience. Dear Bishops, please, as a united USCCB come out publicly condemning the actions of "Catholic' pro-abortion politicians. Put the social justice concerns on the back burner and save the Faith in America.