Washington D.C., Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Thomas J. Curry, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Catholic Education and an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, has lauded a recent effort to increase access to and enrollment in Catholic schools for Latino children.
The initiative, backed by the Notre Dame Task Force on the Participation of Latino Children and Families in Catholic Schools, has set a goal of enrolling one million Latino children in Catholic schools by 2020, which would double the current percentage of 3 percent to 6 percent.
On Dec. 12, the task force, which includes more than 50 national leaders from the Latino community within the Church, academia, government, business, philanthropy and K-12 education, published its report, “To Nurture the Soul of a Nation: Latino Families, Catholic Schools, and Educational Opportunity.”
“The study highlights two items in particular,” said Bishop Curry in a USCCB press release on Tuesday. “Hispanic students who attend Catholic schools do better than their counterparts who do not; and Catholic schools are not attracting enough Hispanic students.”
The report also outlines four critical gaps in achievement and enrollment and also discusses the opportunities available in urban Catholic schools. Although finances are often noted as the primary factor in low enrollment, other issues such as information, culture and leadership are also causes.
“The message of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, that culture is enlivened by faith, challenges us to open for Latino children the rich opportunity of a Catholic School education,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento. Bishop Soto, who is the chairman of the USCCB Committee on Cultural Diversity and a member of the task force, also stressed the importance of welcoming immigrants and poor people.
“As in the past,” said Bishop Curry, “Catholic schools are a gift to the Catholic immigrants to America. We rejoice in and celebrate that fact.”
Fr. Allan Figueroa Deck, executive director of the USCCB Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church and a member of the task force, said that the “Latino presence, more than any other factor, offers Catholic education the opportunity to renew itself and face the vexing challenges of the 21st century. We are being presented with a fundamental choice that we ignore at our peril.”
Bishop Curry added that, “we are deeply grateful to the University of Notre Dame for this wonderful contribution to Catholic school education and for its continuing contribution to the Catholic Community in America.”
Rome, Italy, Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - L’Osservatore Romano announced this week that the Vatican Apostolic Library, which was closed for renovation on July 14, 2007, will re-open to the public on September 20, 2010.
In article published by LOR, Cesare Pasini, prefect of the Library, said its task is to “welcome scholars in a climate of reflection and with a spirit of research.”
“Upon re-opening after three years, the first thing that should be done is to thank those ahead-of-time who will return to the Vatican to study, restoring to the library its role” and giving us the joy of “ensuring the functionality of this institution.”
“We cannot hide our enthusiasm in returning to the place where we serve,” he said, adding that the real excitement is in “the presence of visitors.” Pasini noted that in November, there is scheduled to be “a congress on the Vatican as a place of research and as an institution at the service of scholars.”
He also announced that there would be a “display in the Charlemagne Wing entitled, ‘Getting to Know the Vatican. The Vatican Apostolic Library: History Open to the Future'.”
The Philatelic and Numismatic Office of Vatican City also announced it would issue special stamps to commemorate the re-opening.
San Francisco, Calif., Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - A full panel of judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments concerning the constitutionality of the San Francisco Board of Supervisor’s resolution attacking the Catholic Church for its opposition to the adoption of children by homosexuals.
The panel will review the earlier opinion of a three-judge Ninth Circuit panel that upheld the resolution.
Robert Muise, an attorney with the Thomas More Law Center, will argue on behalf of the plaintiffs, the Catholic League and two Catholic residents of San Francisco.
The Law Center in a statement charged that the resolution sounded “like a Ku Klux Klan anti-Catholic diatribe.”
It refers to the Vatican as a “foreign country” interfering in the affairs of the city. It says the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is “insulting to all San Franciscans,” “hateful,” “insulting and callous,” “defamatory” and “insensitive and ignorant.”
The Board’s resolution refers to the Inquisition and urges the Archbishop of San Francisco and Catholic Charities of San Francisco to defy Church directives.
The resolution was unanimously adopted by the Board on March 21, 2006.
The lawsuit charges that the resolution violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution on the grounds that it expresses government hostility toward the Catholic Church.
In the Thomas More Law Center’s view, the “anti-Catholic” resolution sends a clear message to the plaintiffs and other faithful Catholics that “they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.” It also tells those who oppose Catholic beliefs that they are “insiders” and “favored members of the political community.”
London, England, Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - Actor Sam Elliot has blamed the Catholic Church for stopping sequels from being made to the Golden Compass movie based on the first book of Philip Pullman’s atheistic trilogy His Dark Materials.
The film, starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Eva Green, grossed more than $380 million worldwide after its Christmas 2007 release, but took in only $85 million in the U.S. According to the Internet Movie Database, the film had a budget of $180 million.
The 65-year-old Elliot, who played a Texan “aeronaut” in the film, charged that a Catholic-led campaign against the movie stopped its sequels from being made.
“The Catholic Church happened to The Golden Compass, as far as I'm concerned,” Elliot remarked to the Evening Standard.
He said the movie did “incredible” at the box office but the Catholic Church “lambasted” the filmmakers and “scared off” New Line Cinema executives.
The movie itself is about a young heroine named Lyra who fights against an evil organization called the Magisterium, which many people see as a reference to the Catholic Church's body of teachings of the same name. The anti-religious message was reportedly toned down compared to the book.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights had charged that the books and movie sold “atheism for kids.”
He told the Evening Standard that he was “delighted that the boycott worked.”
"I knew if we could hurt the box office receipts here, it might put the brakes on the next movie,” he added.
Donohue said he protested the movie because of its “deceitful attempt to introduce Christian children to the wonders of atheism in a backdoor fashion at Christmas time.”
“Everyone agrees the film version was not anti-Catholic, but that hardly resolves the issue. The fact is that each volume in the trilogy becomes increasingly anti-Catholic,” he continued.
Pullman, the author of the book on which the Golden Compass was based, said that the likelihood of the film trilogy being completed is decreasing.
He said that Catholics’ efforts against the film “must have played a part” in the trilogy being shelved, the Telegraph reports.
Pullman has denied his series is anti-Catholic, claiming it is a warning about what religion can do “when it gets its hands on the levers of power.”
According to CinemaBlend.com, the first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy is the most mild “by far” and the movie had most of its anti-religion references stripped.
“That kind of sanitization would have been impossible when adapting later books,” the movie website continued, noting that the series “quite literally” becomes a story about homosexual angels trying to kill God.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office for Film & Broadcasting had initially published a positive review of the movie, which was later pulled.
Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput had said the film had an “aggressively anti-religious, anti-Christian undercurrent” and an “absence of joy or any real laughter.” He criticized the promotion of “this cold, angry, anti-religious fable” as holiday fare and invited Catholics to voice their concerns to New Line Cinema.
Bishop of LaCrosse, Wisconsin Jerome Listecki sent a letter about the film to his priests, urging them to warn parents about the books’ attacks on the Christian faith.
"Instead of using fantasy to lead people to truth and to God, this trilogy tries to lead them away from God," he said.
Appleton, Wis., Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - Following the release of an undercover video showing staffers at a Wisconsin Planned Parenthood clinic giving false information to a woman they believed was seeking an abortion, a state senator has called for an investigation into the organization.
An undercover video made by Live Action Films shows staffers at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic near Appleton, Wisconsin giving conflicting and unscientific information about human development.
One staffer claimed that an unborn baby has only “heart tones,” not a heartbeat, until “about seventeen or eighteen weeks” into gestation.
The fetal heartbeat actually begins at around three weeks into pregnancy.
The video also shows the abortionist saying the unborn child is “not a baby at this stage” and telling the young woman that having an abortion is “much safer” than having a baby.
Republican Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman has called for an investigation, saying legislators should make sure Planned Parenthood does not “mislead” young girls in the future.
He called for the medical board to begin an investigation into whether the abortionist should continue to have a medical license.
Wisconsin law requires women seeking abortions to receive medically accurate information, a press release from Live Action says.
Teri Huyck, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, issued a statement on Friday saying that the doctor provided “honest, medically accurate information.” She described the videos as “edited.”
Live Action has sent the full unedited footage to Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and Outagamie County District Attorney Carrie Schneider for review.
Lila Rose, the president of Live Action, charged that Planned Parenthood “poses” as a mainstream health provider but hides the facts of fetal development “so they can sell more abortions to more women.”
“An abortion is not a mere surgery. Instead, abortion determines whether a woman's unborn son or daughter will live or die,” she added.
“Planned Parenthood's pattern of medical malpractice and refusal to accept correction from scientific authorities further separates them from the rest of the medical community, who base their treatment on sound scientific guidance, not deceiving patients."
Washington D.C., Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - On Sunday the U.S. Senate approved a $447 billion omnibus bill with an altered Dornan Amendment, a ban that previously restricted funding for most abortions in the District of Columbia, the nation’s capital. Some pro-life commentators said the action contradicted past pledges to work to reduce the need for abortion.
The spending bill contained funding for dozens of federal agencies and the District of Columbia. It passed by a 57 to 35 margin after securing 60 votes to end a Republican filibuster.
A provision known as the Dornan Amendment had previously barred federal funding of abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother.
According to Cardinal Justin Rigali, the former chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, chaired by Rep José E. Serrano (D-N.Y.), didn’t totally eliminate the Dornan Amendment, but successfully gutted it.
“Instead of continuing to bar use of all congressionally appropriated funds for such abortions, the subcommittee narrowed the ban to cover only 'federal' funds so 'local' funds may be used for abortions without limit or restraint,” the cardinal wrote in a July 30, 2009 letter to the House Appropriations Committee.
“Because Congress controls and must appropriate all public funds for the District of Columbia, this distinction is a bookkeeping exercise only: The impact in terms of human lives will be exactly the same as if the amendment were reversed in its entirety,” Cardinal Rigali explained.
Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) said in a Tuesday statement that he voted against the omnibus bill because it increased spending at a “simply unsustainable” rate and because of its funding for abortions.
"Not only are Democrats trying to subsidize abortions through their health care bill, but now they are trying to change long standing policy against funding abortions in the appropriations bills,” he charged. “This is completely unacceptable and I will continue to fight against the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions."
Christa Lopiccolo, Director of Life Issues for the Archdiocese of Washington, criticized the repeal of the Dornan Amendment in a July 10 statement reacting to the passage of the bill by House and Senate committees.
She said the action “flies in the face of common sense and the will of the people.”
“With an abortion rate exceeding 40 percent in the District of Columbia, it is difficult to imagine what justification anyone could have to increase abortion funding,” Lopiccolo continued. “Not only that, but national polls show that the majority of Americans oppose abortion. It is unconscionable that their tax money now could be used to destroy innocent human life.”
Noting the stated goal of the Obama Administration and many members of Congress to reduce the need for abortions, Lopiccolo said the removal of restrictions on funding would “do nothing to achieve that goal” but likely will increase the number of abortions performed in the District of Columbia.
According to the archdiocese, the amendment has been in place for most of the past two decades.
Rome, Italy, Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - Since January of this year, Caritas Jerusalem has worked untiringly to assist more than 10,000 families in the Gaza Strip, providing food, water, shelter and medicine. In order to sustain its efforts, the organization has raised more than $2 million.
According to the Fides news agency, these families are given assistance despite restrictions enforced by the Israeli army, which only allow certain medical products and a select list of items to be imported into the area.
Caritas Jerusalem also helps with the rehabilitation of the wounded by providing prosthetics and wheelchairs, reaching out to the more than 1,000 people who have been left handicapped by the war.
Fides also noted that these patients have shown “a renewed enthusiasm for life and for returning to their activities in order to contribute to their families.”
The work of Caritas “is also essential because it restores hope to the hard-hit population of Gaza.”
Vatican City, Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - The Holy Father addressed pilgrims on Wednesday morning with a message that applied of the medieval theologian John of Salisbury's reflections on the natural law to the moral and ethical issues of today. Drawing on the English theologian's teachings, the Pope said that logic and reason still have a place in today's society, especially on the issues of abortion, euthanasia and marriage.
John began his life in Salisbury, England, but he would eventually flee the tyranny of King Henry II to France, along with St. Thomas Becket, where he would become a part of the Chartres school of theology, the Pope explained to those who were gathered in the Paul VI Hall.
In his catechesis, Pope Benedict highlighted a pair of works that were written by John that "help us to comprehend how the faith, in harmony with just aspirations and reason, pushes thought towards the revealed truth, in which is found the real good of man."
The Pontiff first drew attention to John's work called “Metaloghicon,” meaning In Defense of Logic, which proposed that human knowledge is "imperfect, as it is subject to finiteness, to the limit of man." He wrote that "only in God is there perfect science."
He elaborated, however, that believers and theologians that "deepen the treasure of the faith, open themselves to practical knowledge that guides their daily actions, that is, to moral laws and the exercise of virtue."
“Policraticus” (The Man of Government), the second work to which Pope Benedict referred, signals the existence of "an objective and immutable truth, whose origin is in God, a truth accessible to human reason and which concerns practical and social activities.” “This is a natural law," said the Pope, "from which human legislation and political and religious authorities must gain their inspiration to promote the common good."
John of Salisbury gave the name “equity” to this concept of natural law, through which every person is given his rights.
"This is the central thesis of Policraticus," said the Pope.
"The question of the relationship between natural law and positive law, as mediated by equity, is still of great importance," remarked the Pontiff. "Above all in some countries, we witness a worrying detachment between reason, that has the task of discovering ethical values tied to the dignity of the human person, and liberty, that has the responsibility of accepting and promoting these values."
If John of Salisbury were here today, conjectured the Pope, he "would remind us that only those laws that to defend the sacredness of human life and reject the legitimacy of abortion, euthanasia and unrestrained genetic experimentation are equitable, those that respect the dignity of matrimony between man and woman, and that are inspired to a correct secularism of the state - secularism that must always allow for the safeguarding of religious freedom - and that seek subsidiarity and solidarity at the national and international level."
"Otherwise," concluded the Pontiff, "we would end up with... "the dictatorship of relativism." That dictatorship "doesn't recognize anything as definite and leaves as its ultimate measure only the self and its desires."
Brasilia, Brazil, Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Brazil has condemned the murder of Father Alvino Broering, who was stabbed to death on Monday morning in the town of Itajai in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. He was chaplain at the Universitiy of Vale do Itajai.
According to police reports, Father Broering, 46, appeared to be the victim of a break-in and was attacked several times with a knife by an unknown man.
The priest was alive when rescued, but did not survive the injuries. Police are currently looking for clues to lead them to the murderer.
After Fr. Broering's wake at the Cathedral in Itajai, Archbishop Murilo Sebastiao Krieger of Florianoplis celebrated his funeral Mass.
Statement from the Brazilian bishops
In a statement released three days prior to the murder of Fr. Broering, the Brazilian bishops condemned the killing of five other priests in Brazil in 2009. They noted that the bishops’ conference “will continue to be committed to the struggle for justice and peace because Christ came that all may have life and have it in abundance.”
The bishop extended their “love and gratitude to the priests of Brazil. We pray to God that, in fidelity to Christ, they may remain persevering, faithful shepherds dedicated to the people who have been entrusted to them.”
Vatican City, Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - The prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, encouraged priests this week not to neglect prayer because it strengthens their ministry by cultivating “the intimacy of the disciple with his Master, Jesus Christ.”
“Truly without the essential nourishment of prayer, the priest becomes ill. The disciple cannot find the strength to follow the Master, and thus, he dies of starvation,” the cardinal warned in a letter.
Cardinal Hummes recalled that “prayer occupies a central place in the life of the priest,” and is a weapon for overcoming the devil, who seeks to weaken the shepherd in order to destroy the sheep.
“St. John Chrysostom warned that a decrease in shepherds always leads to a decline in the number of faithful in a community. Without shepherds, our communities will be destroyed,” he explained.
The prelate added that a lack of prayer leads to “less joy and happiness in ministry each day.” When a priest realizes “that his prayer life is weak, that is the time to address the Holy Spirit and pray.”
“The Spirit will reignite the passion and fervor for the Lord, who is always there...”
The cardinal encouraged priests to draw close to the manger in order to renew their friendship and discipleship, in order to be sent anew by Christ as his evangelizers.
Rome, Italy, Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - “The Pope denounces the ecological crisis but does not belong to the church of Al Gore," wrote Giuliano Ferrara, director of Italian daily Il Foglio, in his editorial column after reading Benedict XVI's message for the World Day of Peace. Ferrara described the papal message as being "of great culture" in its reminder that man must be valued above all other living things.
The Pontiff's message underscores the threats to the environment and the necessity of taking decisive action to find long-term, inter-generational solutions to the crises of today. It also provides parameters for the role of the Church and individual Christians in combating the environmental and economic crises, pointing to a renewal of values and morality without losing sight of the "distinctiveness and superior role" of human beings over nature.
"Benedict XVI," wrote Ferrara in his analysis, "in no way denies human abuse of nature,” but in affirming the ecological crisis, neither does he share "the environmentalist religion or environmentalism as a religion."
"The Pope has another faith," Ferrara explained, one "based on the transcendence of a God that creates man in his image and likeness to entrust nature to him ... he has, evidently, no need for replacement beliefs, of ideologies feigned as science."
The Holy Father's letter included a warning against sacrificing the sanctity of man and applying an attitude of absolutism to nature, giving it equal status to mankind. To this, the director of Il Foglio added that such a mentality of reducing the person "to nothing more than a particle of nature... excludes, (at times) even with the approval of scientific certainty, the self-conscious freedom of humanity."
The Pope credits the differentiation between humankind and other animal and plant life to the God-given unique physical and meta-physical constitution of men and women and their capacity to govern and protect the creation entrusted to their hands, explained Ferrara.
Benedict's caution against “pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone" is not merely words to be heeded by the faithful, Ferrara emphasized in the editorial. Instead, readers should also read them as a "sign of civilization and culture, an interesting syntax for us laymen and modernists (and postmodernists)."
"Indeed we too, for a long time, have been intellectually scorning and criticizing, based on rational arguments consistent with the Biblical tale, the magic environmentalism of the gurus and the militant organizations who foster a global redemption, especially when dubious, manipulating emails are exchanged as part of an idolatrous dance, supported by powerful interests with no true magic whatsoever," wrote Ferrara.
Il Foglio also published an article in its Wednesday edition on the the deception of certain scientists and politicians who have falsified statistics to sway public opinion in their favor in the global-warming debate.
Vatican City, Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) -
Following Wednesday's general audience held in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father was given honorary citizenship to Introd, a village in the Italian region of Valle d'Aosta, where he has spent his summer vacations in the past.
“I am happy to learn from the mayor's address,” said the Pontiff, “that my presence in Valle d'Aosta, and earlier that of my beloved predecessor John Paul II, has favored a growth in the faith among the people there, who are dear to me and so rich in Christian tradition and in many signs of religious vitality.”
The Holy Father thanked Augusto Rollandin, president of the Autonomous Region of the Valle d'Aosta as well as the mayor of Introd, Osvaldo Naudin, and spoke of the “unforgettable periods of rest” he has experienced “surrounded by the splendor of the alpine panorama which favors the encounter with the Creator and restores the spirit.”
Pope Benedict also lauded the pastoral work of Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta, which the Holy Father said is ever more important during this time in which “society nourishes illusions and false hopes, especially in the young generations, but which the Lord even today calls to become a 'family' of children of God who live with 'one heart and one soul.'”
La Crosse, Wisc., Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - A self-described Wisconsin Catholic group which holds that Catholics can disregard Church teaching on abortion, contraception and human sexuality is disowning its heritage, Archbishop-designate of Milwaukee Jerome E. Listecki said in a Dec. 15 statement.
The group Young Catholics for Choice, which is a part of the dissenting group Catholics for Choice, has begun collaborating with Family Planning Health Services of Wausau. Members of the group have gone on local television and also have advocated for the “Plan B” contraceptive at a press conference.
Archbishop-designate Listecki said the group is conducting an advertising campaign to convince Catholics they can disregard Church teaching and still remain in good standing.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” the archbishop-designate insisted.
He added that it is his duty as a bishop to state “clearly and unequivocally” that these views are in “grave contradiction” to Catholic teaching. By professing and disseminating such views, members of groups like Young Catholics for Choice “in fact disown their Catholic heritage,” and are “tragically distancing themselves” from communion with the Church.
“We pray that they may reconcile their position which is contrary to the Catholic Faith they claim to profess,” Archbishop-designate Listecki’s statement concluded.
Rochester, N.Y., Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - Bobby Schindler, the brother of the late Terry Schiavo, has joined the fight to help a Corning, New York woman regain custody of her husband, according the Corning Leader.
“We're trying to support her efforts to bring him home,” said Schindler on Tuesday.
Sara Harvey is attempting to regain custody of her husband Gary, who has been in a persistent vegetative state since 2006, when he fell down a flight of stairs. Harvey lost custody of her husband to Chemung County in February of 2007 after a judge ruled that she ignored medical advice and was not fit to care for him. Harvey was also accused of abusing her husband by a county attorney's office, but she denies the allegations.
Rather, Harvey claims that the county is trying to kill Gary, since it is requesting to have his feeding tube removed in May. Though the county has since withdrawn its request to remove the feeding tube, it still maintains a do-not-resuscitate order for Harvey's husband and has not relinquished custody.
Harvey is only allowed supervised visits with her husband. “I went through hell, and I'm still going though hell,” she said on Tuesday. “The government owns my husband.”
“It's horrible how they are treating this woman,” Schindler told the Corning Leader in defense of Harvey. Schindler's sister, Terri Schiavo who was in a persistent vegetative state, died in 2005 after her feeding tube was removed by a court order. “There are animals that got better treatment than my sister,” said Schindler. “All life is really sacred.”
To learn more about Bobby Schindler's efforts, visit, http://www.terrisfight.org.
Bristol, Tenn., Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - On Tuesday, Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical Association (CMA), announced that he is canceling his membership to the American Medical Association as a public protest of the group's endorsement of the House health care bill and its promotion of liberal social policies.
“I can no longer associate with or support and organization that is unscientific, unprofessional and controlled by special interests,” said Dr. Stevens in a letter to the AMA earlier this week.
Dr. Stevens has also urged the 17,000 members of the CMA to “carefully consider if they should continue their memberships,” citing reasons such as the AMA's support of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, same-sex 'marriage' and medical marijuana, as well as the recent allegations that the AMA endorsed health care overhaul legislation after “behind-closed-doors” negotiations with lawmakers.
“The AMA claims to put the needs of patients first and then meets with Senate leaders to bargain for higher physician Medicare reimbursement in exchange for support of healthcare reform legislation,” claims Dr. Stevens in his letter. “This unseemly, behind-closed-doors session trades the future welfare of our patients away for physicians' personal gain.”
“It is a violation of the doctor-patient covenant and sells out our professional heritage.”
Dr. Stevens continued to charge in his letter that the AMA “has even violated its own ethical statements in political advocacy at the behest of a vocal pro-abortion faction within the AMA.”
Reciting the AMA's resolution on right of conscience, Stevens stated that the “'AMA reaffirms that neither physician, hospital, nor hospital personnel shall be required to perform any act violative of personally held moral principles.' Yet you have worked vigorously at the federal level to overturn the only federal regulation that protects your members from this type of discrimination.”
Dr. Stevens concluded his letter to the AMA by saying “in light of radical policies, it is no wonder that AMA's membership has dropped since the 1960's from nearly three of four practicing doctors to closer to one in five.”
“Personally, I no longer see any hope of changing your radical positions by working from the inside.”
The Christian Medical Association is the largest faith-based association of doctors with 17,000 members.
Washington D.C., Dec 16, 2009 (CNA) - The U.S. Catholic bishops have again urged senators to place language restricting abortion funding into the health care bill. They noted that senators who voted against the Nelson Amendment voted “overwhelmingly” in favor of the same language in other funding bills passed on Sunday.
In its current form, the health care legislation would authorize federal funding for health plans covering elective abortions “for the first time in history,” the bishops said.
The bishops’ comments came in a Dec. 14 letter from Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
The Senate bill, Cardinal DiNardo said, has fallen short of the House version, whose language on abortion funding was “overwhelmingly approved.”
According to the cardinal’s letter, the central argument against the Nelson Amendment was that it goes too far by barring federal subsidies to entire health plans that include abortion coverage. Opponents claimed their alternative worked by “segregating” funds to allow “private” funding of abortion.
However, the letter points out, the Senate’s “overwhelming vote” that approved the Consolidated Appropriations Act also approved the same provision.
“In that vote, almost all Democrats, including almost every Senator who claimed the Nelson Amendment’s policy goes too far, voted in favor of that exact policy,” Cardinal DiNardo wrote.
Like the Nelson Amendment, the Hyde Amendment bars federal funding for “health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion,” including the “package of services covered by a managed care provider or organization.”
According to the letter, this language is paralleled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, also approved by the Senate on Sunday.
“Neither of these longstanding provisions says anything about ‘segregating’ private and federal funds within a health plan or benefits package,” commented Cardinal DiNardo.
He explained that the main substantive difference between these current provisions and the proposed Nelson Amendment is that the latter explains that it does not prevent purchasers who do not receive federal subsidies from buying a health plan that includes elective abortions.
It also explains that it does not prevent purchasers receiving federal subsidies from buying separate supplemental abortion coverage with their own funds.
“Before the Senate considers final votes on its health care reform legislation, please incorporate into this bill the longstanding and widely supported policies of current law, acknowledged and reaffirmed by the Senate itself only yesterday,” Cardinal DiNardo concluded. “Please give the American people health care reform that respects the life, health and consciences of all.”
In a separate letter Cardinal DiNardo, Bishop of Salt Lake City John Wester, and Bishop of Rockville Centre William Murphy urged support for the health care bill’s Menendez Amendment, which would give states the option to lift the five-year waiting period for legal immigrants to obtain Medicaid coverage.
Arguing in favor of that amendment, sponsored by Rep. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the bishops said legal immigrants who “work, pay taxes, and are on a path to citizenship” should have access to health care services for which they help pay. Access to Medicaid would help ensure the general public health of immigrant communities and the nation, they added.