Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Catholics Demand Health Care Reform NOW!

Catholics are joining with President Obama to demand health care reform now. Catholic Charities, the Catholic Health Association and the St. Vincent de Paul Society – the three leading Catholic organizations involved in caring for the sick – have produce a compelling video on the need for action along the lines of the President’s plan. See the video here:

Catholics including these groups and social action organizations like Catholics United are asking the faithful to call and e-mail members of Congress to express support for Congress to enact health care reform now.

Thanks to these organizations and other Catholic leaders, we are maintaining the momentum for health care reform efforts despite vicious attacks by Right Wing groups opposing every plan before Congress than would insure the uninsured while controlling costs.

Right Wing groups also have tried to pressure the Catholic bishops to stop Catholics from supporting health care reform. Roger Playwin, the National Executive Director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society rejected false claims by Right Wing partisans, telling a conservative activist criticizing the plan, "The bishops' office has advised us that that's not accurate.”
Catholic Charities has been in the lead of efforts as well. Catholic Charities president Fr. Larry Snyder has sent a letter urging Congress to enact health care reform.

Catholic Health Association President Sister Carol Keehan has visited the White House to represent CHA and to help the President with his health care plan. Sister declared “We know how urgently change is needed for both moral and economic reasons.” President Obama appears in a video CHA has developed in support of health care reform.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bishops Issue Guidelines Respecting Union Rights at Catholic Hospitals

From the Catholic Labor Network:

As many of you have heard, a major break through was recently announced between the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Health Association, and trade unions who have been active in organizing Catholic hospitals.

As was noted in the USCCB Press Release, "The result of more than ten years of work, this document offers guidance for Catholic health care employers and unions on how to create a fair process for health care workers to decide whether or not to form a union. The three-way dialogue between the Catholic bishops, Catholic health care leaders, and leaders of organized labor used Catholic social teachings to establish common ground on alternative approaches to protect the rights of workers."

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said:

This is a landmark moment for health care workers. The foundation for reaching this agreement was mutual respect for the histories of both Catholic health care and workers' rights. Because of their willingness to engage in dialogue, the bishops and the leaders of Catholic health care displayed real courage and leadership and have set an example for all to follow.

Pope Benedict XVI recently noted that Catholic social teachings are strongly supportive of workers' freedom to form unions and recognized the importance of workers' rights in a modern economy. Unfortunately, recent studies show the freedom to form a union is at risk from a legal climate that allows management harassment and intimidation. The principles put forward by the Catholic bishops are an important response to these trends in the workplace.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Obama Picks Catholic Leader as Surgeon General

Dr. Regina Benjamin

President Obama has nominated a Catholic health care leader to serve as Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin. She is a graduate of Xavier University in Louisiana, founded by St. Katharine Drexel.

Whispers in the Loggia writes about her:

Founder of a rural Alabama health clinic for the poor that was devastated three times (twice by hurricanes, once by fire) since its founding in 1990, Dr Regina Benjamin was reelected to a second term on the board of the US' Catholic Health Association at its yearly assembly last month in New Orleans. Even more notably, though, Benjamin's work both at home and nationally were recognized in 2006 when Pope Benedict awarded her the papal cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice ("For the Church and the Pontiff") -- the Roman accolade reserved for laity, religious and permanent deacons who've given distinguished service to the church.

The first African-American woman to lead a state medical association, the 53 year-old nominee -- whose grandmother helped found a Black Catholic parish, its first Masses offered in her living room -- must be confirmed by the Senate before she can become the nation's "top doc."

In the meantime, CHA President Sr Carol Keehan "rejoice[d] for the nation" in a statement released just after this morning's announcement:

In Dr. Benjamin, we have a brilliant physician who understands health care, nationally and internationally; but even more important, she knows the health care needs of the people of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, who she meets on a daily basis.Dr. Benjamin will enrich the nation because she brings competence and integrity to this very important role. This is coupled with the daily experience of trying to meet the health care needs of a very vulnerable community. Our nation will greatly benefit from her leadership and her background in national and international efforts to deliver quality health care.CHA congratulates Dr. Benjamin and looks forward to working with her to improve the health of our great country.

Friday, July 10, 2009


The Pope very much wanted to meet with the President and scheduled an unusual afternoon meeting to accommodate him at the end of his Italian stay for a G-8 summit meeting. In the tradition-conscious Vatican, most such meetings are held earlier in the day. The Vatican also arranged live television coverage of the open session of the meeting after their private talks.

Benedict also broke Vatican protocol the day after Obama was elected by sending a personal note of congratulations rather than waiting and sending the usual brief telegram on Inauguration Day.
The First Lady and their daughters, Malia and Sasha, joined him at the end of the meeting, and gifts were exchanged. The President gave the Pope a stole that is a relic of St. John Neumann, CSSR, an American saint and immigrant. Several senior White House staff members also met the pope, with some either shaking his hand or kissing his ring.
According to the Pope's official spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, the pope was "very impressed" by Obama and that the pontiff was "extremely satisfied" with the talks. Father also said that "Obama told the pope of his commitment to reduce the number of abortions and of his attention and respect for the positions of the Catholic Church."
The pope also gave the president a copy of his latest encyclical, "Charity in Truth," which called for a "world political authority" to manage the global economy and for more government regulation of national economies to pull the world out of the current crisis and avoid a repeat.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Papal Encyclical: Workers’ Rights to Form Unions Must Be Honored

by Seth Michaels, Jul 8, 2009

In a new encyclical released yesterday by Pope Benedict XVI, the leader of the Catholic Church discusses the challenges of a global economy. He notes that workers’ ability to form a union and bargain is at risk and makes it clear it’s a matter of moral imperative to preserve that freedom.
Here’s what the pope has to say on the need for workers to have the freedom to form unions:

Through the combination of social and economic change, trade union organizations experience greater difficulty in carrying out their task of representing the interests of workers, partly because Governments, for reasons of economic utility, often limit the freedom or the negotiating capacity of labor unions. Hence traditional networks of solidarity have more and more obstacles to overcome. The repeated calls issued within the Church’s social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum, for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honored today even more than in the past, as a prompt and far-sighted response to the urgent need for new forms of cooperation at the international level, as well as the local level.

The Vatican and a wide variety of Catholic leaders have continued to express support throughout the year for workers’ freedom to form unions, and many Catholic scholars and organizations like the Catholic Labor Network and Catholics for Working Families have come out in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day




Cardinal Praises President Obama

Cardinal George Cottier, former theologian of the papal household under Pope John Paul II, praised the President's "humble realism." Styled as an analysis of two Obama speeches – his May 17 commencement address at the University of Notre Dame and his June 4 speech to the Islamic world in Cairo – His Eminence was overwhelmingly positive, repeatedly arguing that Obama’s “realism”, as well as his commitment to finding “common ground”, resonate with Christian tradition and the social teaching of the Catholic church.

The Cardinal compared Obama’s Notre Dame address to Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, in its accent on dialogue and common ground, and to the document Dignitatis Humanae of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) on conducting the search for truth in a pluralistic society. Christians, Cottier wrote, “can be in agreement” with Obama’s “way of framing the search for solutions.”

full story here: