Catholic leaders protest D.C. funding for abortions, same-sex ‘marriage' decision

Cardinal Justin Rigali
Cardinal Justin Rigali


Pro-lifers and defenders of marriage reacted critically on Tuesday to an Obama administration proposal to use taxpayer funds for abortions in the District of Columbia and to a federal court's denial of a referendum involving same-sex “marriage.”

Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia and chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a Tuesday letter that no one can support funding abortions in the nation’s capital and still claim to support reducing abortions.

“The evidence is overwhelming, and universally recognized by groups on all sides of the abortion issue, that the availability of public funds for abortion greatly increases abortions,” he wrote.

The budget alterations proposed by the Obama administration and passed by a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee permit “local” but not “federal” tax dollars to be used in the District of Columbia. It will also expand exemption from cases of rape or endangerment of the mother’s life to any cases in which a woman suffers from “a physical disorder, physical injury or physical illness.”

The subcommittee’s action “effectively nullifies” the Dornan Amendment, Cardinal Rigali charged, explaining that the amendment has prevented public funding of elective abortions in Washington, D.C. in most years since 1989. He criticized the proposed budget’s distinction between “federal” and “local” funds as a “bookkeeping exercise,” saying Congress already controls and appropriates public funds for the District of Columbia.

“The impact in terms of human lives will be exactly the same as if the amendment were reversed in its entirety,” he remarked.

The cardinal said “numerous surveys” showed that public funding of abortion is rejected by the American people. He also cited “tens of millions of postcards” Catholics sent to their Congressional representatives opposing “any weakening or reversal” of appropriations riders on abortion.

Cardinal Rigali also warned that funding abortion came at “the worst of all possible times” when Congress must win broad support to enact “major” health care reform.

The House Appropriations Committee will hold a full committee hearing on the Financial Services appropriations bill, which includes the D.C. funding, after the Fourth of July congressional break.

The issue of same-sex “marriage” has also come to the fore in the district.

The District of Columbia Catholic Conference said it was “deeply disappointed” by the D.C. District Court’s Tuesday’s decision to deny district citizens the right to hold a referendum on whether to recognize same-sex “marriages” contracted outside of the district.

“This once again denies residents of the city a voice on the important issue of marriage,” The Conference said.

Last month, the D.C. City Council voted 11-1 to recognize same-sex “marriages.” The decision was especially opposed by the city’s African American citizens and religious leaders.

The district’s Catholic Conference argued that the city council’s decision “disenfranchised” residents by bypassing hearings and public input.

“Civil governments have recognized marriage throughout time as between a man and woman because of its unique purpose: to form a stable unit where children are created and raised with the complementary gifts of father and mother,” the Conference’s statement continued. “This stability for children in turn forms a stable foundation for society.

“The DC Catholic Conference will continue to strongly advocate for the long-standing and proper definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman.”

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