Archive for the ‘Obama Administration’ Category
Self-described Catholic groups who endorsed the health care bill despite objections “severely damaged” the common good and diluted the pro-life witness of the U.S. bishops and the Catholic faithful, asserted Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota in a recent statement.
Bishop Aquila said it was “truly tragic” that some “so-called ‘Catholic’ groups” came out in support of the legislation.
“The Catholic Health Association (CHA), Catholics United and some small groups of religious orders have supported the Act,” the bishop explained. “In recent days, most sadly of all, these groups have received gratitude from pro-abortion forces.”
These groups, Bishop Aquila stressed, acted “in direct contradiction to the bishops” who are the “guardians” of authentic Christian teaching.
“The actions of these groups have betrayed the common good, undermined the teaching authority of the Church, and have disregarded the courageous witness by the Bishops and the many millions of faithful Catholics to the gift and dignity of human life,” he continued. “We now face the reality of severe damage to the common good by the expansion of abortion throughout our land because of the counter-witness of these groups.”
Additionally, the bishop said, these groups and some Catholic legislators and laity have “weakened the bonds of communion” within the Church and diluted “her witness to justice for all, from the moment of conception until natural death.”
He then reported that the groups’ influence was evident in North Dakota, whose U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy cited the encouragement of “Catholic nuns” to defend his vote for the legislation.
Bishop Aquila lamented that some Catholics are “more faithful to their political parties and ideological beliefs than to the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church.”
“Rather than being a leaven in their respective party and in society for the good, by ignoring the primacy of the truths of our Catholic faith, they pave the way for secularism and a culture of death.”
Speaking about the effects of the health care reform bill itself, the bishop said although it seeks to expand access to health care especially for the poor and uninsured, at the same time it “allows for the violation of the sacredness of human life” by expanding federal funding for abortion.
“As Catholics, we cannot support something which helps some people while, at the same time, allows and funds, in part, the destruction of the most innocent among us, the unborn, and does not provide adequate conscience protection for those who are pro-life,” he added.
The executive order purporting to apply Hyde Amendment restrictions to the legislation “falls short,” in the bishop’s view, as its efforts to address shortcomings are “highly likely” to be legally invalid.
“The legal and policy advisors of the U.S. Catholic Bishops have noted the executive order cannot and does not fix the statutory problems of funding abortion, it cannot and does not make up for the absence of conscience protections that are missing from the statute, and it does not strengthen existing conscience protections,” he explained.
Bishop Aquila’s statement concluded by calling for Catholics to “remain steadfast” in witnessing to the human dignity of the unborn child and to the need for conscience protections for pro-life medical professionals and institutions.
Bishop Tobin of Providence, RI and Bishop Brandt of Greensburg, PA take actions against religious Sisters and Catholic Health Association over stand on health reformWednesday, April 21st, 2010
WASHINGTON (CNS) — At least two U.S. bishops have taken actions to indicate their disapproval of the support some women’s religious communities and the Catholic Health Association gave to the final version of health care reform legislation. Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt of Greensburg, Pa., has directed diocesan offices, parishes and the diocesan newspaper not to promote the “vocation awareness program of any religious community” that was a signatory to a letter urging members of the House of Representatives to pass the health reform bill. In Providence, R.I., Bishop Thomas J. Tobin asked the Catholic Health Association to remove the diocesan-sponsored St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island from its membership rolls, saying that CHA leadership had “misled the public and caused serious scandal” by supporting health reform legislation that the bishops opposed. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was against the measure because its provisions on abortion funding and conscience protections were morally unacceptable. When the bill passed, the bishops reiterated their decades-long support for providing access to health care for all but expressed regret that health care reform came with the possibility of expanded abortion funding and urged vigilance that an executive order by President Barack Obama would, as promised, ensure no federal funds will be spent on abortion. Some Catholic groups reacted with enthusiasm to the passage of health reform and Obama’s executive order, and others said the order would have no effect on abortion funding.
FROM THE CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY:
Dec 11, 2009 / 06:29 am (CNA).- A total of fifteen self-described Catholic Senators voted to table the Nelson-Hatch-Casey Amendment, which would have significantly restricted abortion funding from the Senate health care bill.
The Amendment failed by a 54-45 vote on Tuesday. It was co-sponsored by Democrats Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania, who were joined by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Senator Nelson is a Methodist, Sen. Hatch is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Sen. Casey is a Catholic.
Besides Sen. Casey, Sen. Ted Kaufman of Delaware was the only other Catholic Democrat to vote against tabling the Nelson Amendment. Sen. Kaufman replaced Sen. Joseph Biden when he became the Vice-President of the United States.
The Catholic Democratic Senators who voted against the Nelson Amendment were Patrick Leahy of Vermont, John Kerry and Paul Kirk of Massachusetts, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington state, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Mark Begich of Alaska.
Sen. Kirk, appointed to replace Sen. Edward Kennedy, is the great-nephew of Archbishop of Boston William Henry Cardinal O’Connell.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the only Catholic Republican to vote to table the Nelson Amendment.
In a Dec. 7 statement, Sen. Mikulski argued that the Nelson Amendment went “too far” and claimed the unamended bill is pro-life.
“Making it a debate about abortion is misguided and wrong,” she said.
In her view, the bill’s aims of providing universal access to health care, ending the denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions and strengthening Medicare are “pro-life principles.”
She claimed that the Nelson Amendment’s allowance of a woman to buy an “abortion rider” to specially cover abortions was “like putting a scarlet ‘A’ on a woman’s forehead.”
“No woman or family will buy such a plan – because no woman expects or intends to have an abortion,” Sen. Mikulski said.
Jason Jones, founder of IAmWholeLife.com, said Sen. Mikulski’s statement showed a “fundamental misunderstanding.”
“There is no social justice when the life of an innocent child is taken by abortion; abortion destroys a whole life and protects no one,” Jones continued. “The greatest threat to human dignity in the United States is the destruction of human life in the womb, not a lack of ‘health care reform.”
Jones urged Sen. Mikulski to take a pledge recognizing that all human rights are based on a respect for all human life, “especially at its earliest stages in the womb
Bishops’ concerns include abortion, conscience, immigrants, affordability, reaffirm commitment to work for reform that respects life and dignity of all
U.S. Bishops: Current Health Care Bills Violate Essential Principles; Will Seek Changes Or Have To Oppose
WASHINGTON—Three chairmen of the bishops’ committees working on health care reform urged the U.S. Congress to improve current health care reform legislation, expressing their “disappointment that progress has not been made on the three priority criteria for health care reform” cited in their previous letters.
The October 8 letter from Bishop William Murphy, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop John Wester reiterated the bishops’ main concerns: that no one should be forced to pay for or participate in an abortion, that health care should be affordable and available to the poor and vulnerable, and that the needs of legal immigrants are met.
Bishop Murphy, Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Wester chair the U.S. bishops’ committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Pro-Life Activities and Immigration, respectively.
The bishops reaffirmed their commitment to working with Congress and the Administration toward genuine health care reform, but stated, “If final legislation does not meet our principles, we will have no choice but to oppose the bill.”
“We sincerely hope that the legislation will not fall short of our criteria,” wrote the bishops. “However, we remain apprehensive when amendments protecting freedom of conscience and ensuring no taxpayer money for abortion are defeated in committee votes.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has advocated for health care reform for decades. The bishops wrote that “Catholic moral tradition teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential to protecting human life and dignity. Much-needed reform of our health care system must be pursued in ways that serve the life and dignity of all, never in ways that undermine or violate these fundamental values. We will work tirelessly to remedy these central problems and help pass real reform that clearly protects the life, dignity and health of all.”
For the letter in its entirety, click here: http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/2009-10-08-healthcare-letter-congress.pdf
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, CO: We have a duty to pray for President Obama– and to oppose him!Monday, May 25th, 2009
“We have a duty to pray for his wisdom and for the success of his service to the common good — insofar as it is guided by right moral reasoning. We also have the duty to oppose him when he’s wrong on foundational issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research and similar matters.”
Most graduation speeches are a mix of piety and optimism designed to ease students smoothly into real life. The best have humor. Some genuinely inspire. But only a rare few manage to be pious, optimistic, evasive, sad and damaging all at the same time. Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president, is a man of substantial intellect and ability. This makes his introductory comments to President Obama’s Notre Dame commencement speech on May 17 all the more embarrassing.
Let’s remember that the debate over President Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame was never about whether he is a good or bad man. The president is clearly a sincere and able man. By his own words, religion has had a major influence in his life. We owe him the respect Scripture calls us to show all public officials. We have a duty to pray for his wisdom and for the success of his service to the common good — insofar as it is guided by right moral reasoning.
We also have the duty to oppose him when he’s wrong on foundational issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research and similar matters. And we also have the duty to avoid prostituting our Catholic identity by appeals to phony dialogue that mask an abdication of our moral witness. Notre Dame did not merely invite the president to speak at its commencement. It also conferred an unnecessary and unearned honorary law degree on a man committed to upholding one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in our nation’s history: Roe v. Wade.
In doing so, Notre Dame ignored the U.S. bishops’ guidance in their 2004 statement, Catholics in Political Life. It ignored the concerns of Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Notre Dame’s 2009 Laetare Medal honoree – who, unlike the president, certainly did deserve her award, but finally declined it in frustration with the university’s action. It ignored appeals from the university’s local bishop, the president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, more than 70 other bishops, many thousands of Notre Dame alumni and hundreds of thousands of other American Catholics. Even here in Colorado, I’ve heard from too many to count.
There was no excuse – none, except intellectual vanity – for the university to persist in its course. And Father Jenkins compounded a bad original decision with evasive and disingenuous explanations to subsequently justify it.
These are hard words, but they’re deserved precisely because of Father Jenkins’ own remarks on May 17: Until now, American Catholics have indeed had “a special expectation, a special hope for what Notre Dame can accomplish in the world.” For many faithful Catholics – and not just a “small but vocal group” described with such inexcusable disdain and ignorance in journals like Time magazine — that changed Sunday.
The May 17 events do have some fitting irony, though. Almost exactly 25 years ago, Notre Dame provided the forum for Gov. Mario Cuomo to outline the “Catholic” case for “pro-choice” public service. At the time, Cuomo’s speech was hailed in the media as a masterpiece of American Catholic legal and moral reasoning. In retrospect, it’s clearly adroit. It’s also, just as clearly, an illogical and intellectually shabby exercise in the manufacture of excuses. Father Jenkins’ explanations, and President Obama’s honorary degree, are a fitting national bookend to a quarter century of softening Catholic witness in Catholic higher education. Together, they’ve given the next generation of Catholic leadership all the excuses they need to baptize their personal conveniences and ignore what it really demands to be “Catholic” in the public square.
Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George has suggested that Notre Dame “didn’t understand” what it means to be Catholic before these events began. He’s correct, and Notre Dame is hardly alone in its institutional confusion. That’s the heart of the matter. Notre Dame’s leadership has done a real disservice to the Church, and now seeks to ride out the criticism by treating it as an expression of fringe anger. But the damage remains, and Notre Dame’s critics are right. The most vital thing faithful Catholics can do now is to insist – by their words, actions and financial support – that institutions claiming to be “Catholic” actually live the faith with courage and consistency. If that happens, Notre Dame’s failure may yet do some unintended good.
Bishop Finn of Kansas City, MO: President Obama’s position on abortion is irreconcilable with Catholic ChurchMonday, May 25th, 2009
KANSAS CITY, Missouri, MAY 22, 2009 –
Although University of Notre Dame president, Fr. Jenkins, spoke hopefully about dialogue, President Barack Obama threw that desire “back in his face,” according to Bishop Robert Finn.
The Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph affirmed this Monday in an interview with the diocesan newspaper regarding the University of Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Obama at last Sunday’s commencement ceremony.
To date, 83 prelates have publicly denounced the decision as going against 2004 guidelines set by the U.S. bishops’ conference for Catholic institutions of higher education, which state that schools should not bestow honors on individuals who “act in defiance” of the Church’s fundamental teachings.
We cannot give up working with the administration, Bishop Finn said, but “we’re fighting for our lives — literally.”
He continued: “We are attempting to protect real unborn children by the thousands. We’re fighting for the right to exercise a rightly formed conscientious difference with public policy.”
“We shouldn’t underestimate the danger of dragging our feet in this effort, or taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. If we are not ready to make a frontal attack on the protection of conscience rights, the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, and the primacy of authentic marriage, we will lose in these areas.” He added, “If we sit back and allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of peace and cooperation in regards to these things, then we will lose these battles and, later, wonder why.”
The prelate commented on the commencement speech by the university president, Father John Jenkins, who employed a series of “very hard words,” such as “division, pride, contempt, demonize, anger, distort, hateful, condemn, hostility.”
These words, he said, might be understood as a “caricature” of the bishops who spoke out against the invitation.
Bishop Finn noted that Father Jenkins’ address focused on encouraging dialogue, and to this end, it referenced Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II’s “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” and the Second Vatican Council.
The prelate affirmed, “Dialogue is important, but the question is fairly raised, ‘May we negotiate about things that are intrinsic evils?’ and I think the answer is no.”He continued: “The bishops realize the very destructive decisions that President Obama promised to make concerning the life issues, and now has been making in connection with abortion and human embryonic stem cell research. This is serious business; it is about life and death.”
The bishop explained that the scandal of Notre Dame’s decision arises from its “potential of confusing people concerning the Catholic teaching against abortion, and on the priority of abortion among other issues of public policy.”
He noted that in the commencement address, Obama “said that the differences that we have on abortion — namely the Catholic Church’s staunch opposition to abortion and his staunch support of abortion were ‘irreconcilable.'”
“And at that moment,” the prelate stated, “it would seem to me that the dialogue came to a screeching halt.”
“Father Jenkins’ expressed desire for dialogue, whether it was well-founded or justified, at that point got thrown back in his face,” he added.
Bishop Finn explained: “The president shut the door on dialogue by saying that there was not going to be any change in his position on abortion and he understood that there was not going to be any change in the Church’s position on abortion.
“To me, that was the lesson of the day. I am glad that Mr. Obama was so clear.”
Although some may have seen it as a positive step that Obama spoke about “reducing unintended pregnancies,” the bishop said, “I fear” this will be through the “promotion of Planned Parenthood and contraceptive services.”
He noted the president’s support for the Prevention First Act, which is “not about abstinence education” but rather about “promoting contraception and giving Planned Parenthood a huge blank check.”
“If Catholics don’t see a problem with this,” said Bishop Finn, “then I don’t think they understand the threat it represents to the meaning of marriage, to fidelity, to chastity, to the very sanctity of human life and intimate love.”
.- Bishop John M. D’Arcy has issued a statement saying that he won’t be attending Notre Dame’s commencement exercises, which will feature President Obama as the keynote speaker and honor him with a doctor of laws degree.
The Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, said that he was not informed of the decision to allow Obama to speak and be awarded a degree until just before the White House announced the news.
Of particular concern to the bishop is the fact that “President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred.
“While claiming to separate politics from science,” said D’Arcy, “he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life.”
Pointing to a 2004 U.S. Bishops’ statement that calls on Catholic institutions not to honor those who thwart Church beliefs, Bishop D’Arcy said that “the measure of any Catholic institution is not only what it stands for, but also what it will not stand for.”
Notre Dame has also announced that it plans to award former Ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon with its Laetare Medal. Bishop D’Arcy explained that he encouraged her to accept the medal and use the opportunity to teach, presumably about Church’s defense of all human life.
Bishop D’Arcy’s boycott of the event joins some 50,000 people who have already signed a petition asking Notre Dame’s president to withdraw Obama’s invitation to speak at the Catholic institution.
The full statement of Bishop D’Arcy follows.
Concerning President Barack Obama speaking at Notre Dame
graduation, receiving honorary law degree
March 24, 2009
On Friday, March 21, Father John Jenkins, CSC, phoned to inform me that President Obama had accepted his invitation to speak to the graduating class at Notre Dame and receive an honorary degree. We spoke shortly before the announcement was made public at the White House press briefing. It was the first time that I had been informed that Notre Dame had issued this invitation.
President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred. While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life.
This will be the 25th Notre Dame graduation during my time as bishop. After much prayer, I have decided not to attend the graduation. I wish no disrespect to our president, I pray for him and wish him well. I have always revered the Office of the Presidency. But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith “in season and out of season,” and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.
My decision is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life.
I have in mind also the statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 2004. “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” Indeed, the measure of any Catholic institution is not only what it stands for, but also what it will not stand for.
I have spoken with Professor Mary Ann Glendon, who is to receive the Laetare Medal. I have known her for many years and hold her in high esteem. We are both teachers, but in different ways. I have encouraged her to accept this award and take the opportunity such an award gives her to teach.
Even as I continue to ponder in prayer these events, which many have found shocking, so must Notre Dame. Indeed, as a Catholic University, Notre Dame must ask itself, if by this decision it has chosen prestige over truth.
Tomorrow, we celebrate as Catholics the moment when our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, became a child in the womb of his most holy mother. Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for the university named in her honor, that it may recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige.
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