Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Pope Calls Health Care An ‘Inalienable Right,’ Urges World Governments To Provide Universal Coverage

By Alex Seitz-Wald

At an international papal conference on health care yesterday at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI and other Catholic church leaders said it is the “moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay.” Saying access to adequate medical care is one of the “inalienable rights” of man, the pope said, “Justice in health care should be a priority of governments and international institutions”.

The pope lamented the great inequalities in health care around the globe. While people in many parts of the world aren’t able to receive essential medications or even the most basic care, in industrialized countries there is a risk of “pharmacological, medical and surgical consumerism” that leads to “a cult of the body,” the pope said.

“The care of man, his transcendent dignity and his inalienable rights” are issues that should concern Christians, the pope said.

Because an individual’s health is a “precious asset” to society as well as to himself, governments and other agencies should seek to protect it by “dedicating the equipment, resources and energy so that the greatest number of people can have access.”

In a separate statement, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said, “Justice requires guaranteed universal access to health care,” adding that minimal levels of medical care are “a fundamental human right.” “Governments are obligated, therefore, to adopt the proper legislative, administrative and financial measures to provide such care,” the cardinal explained, saying that, “The governments of richer nations with good health care available should practice more solidarity with their own disadvantaged citizens.”

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Catholic Republicans often demand that Catholic voters set aside concerns such as worker rights, racial fairness, world peace, social justice and care for the poor to vote solely on the abortion issue.  While many Catholics reject the idea that every other issue needs to be forgotten about, increasingly even when just considering the abortion issue, some Catholics are concluding President Obama is the better candidate.  Mitt Romney has more positions on abortion than fingers on a hand, but most recently said he had no abortion issues on his agenda should be become President.

Professor Charles J. Reid, who teaches law at the Catholic St. Thomas University makes the case that Obama is the pro-life candidate here:

And in another article, it is reported many Catholics say President Obama is actually a pro-life hero.

More here:,_pro-life_hero

Polls actually show that a substantial number of pro-lifers are voting for the President.  Romney has also caused concerned among authentic pro-life Americans by his opposition to controlling Mercury and other poisons that cause abortions for pregnant women. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Catholics for Common Sense, a grassroots organization of everyday Catholics announced that it is endorsing Barack Obama for president of the United States.

“President Obama’s work digging out of the myriad messes he inherited is impressive. His stimulus package prevented the country from falling into another Great Depression and has helped fuel 31-straight months of job growth. His Affordable Care Act means greater health for all Americans as well as increased financial security for all Americans as the threat of going bankrupt due to sickness is now diminished. His record lowering taxes on small businesses and the middle class is unprecedented. Moreover, all this was accomplished while he was ending the war in Iraq and bringing the most-feared terrorist in the world to justice,” said Catholics for Common Sense board chairman Michael McGonigle.

“Mitt Romney has not presented a coherent vision to the nation. He seems to alternate between extreme-right platitudes and audience pandering that has put him on both sides of many issues – several times each. Above all, though, Mr. Romney’s insistence on returning to the disastrous trickle-down policies of George W. Bush is nothing less than frightening – particularly as it relates to his mathematically impossible tax plan that will balloon the nation’s deficit" McGonigle said.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


California bishops laud Obama's dedication of national monument to Cesar Chavez

California's Catholic bishops said they were grateful that a President Obama declared a national monument to be dedicated to farmworker labor leader Cesar Chavez, who "was profoundly influenced by Catholic social justice teaching."

Chavez, who co-founded the United Farm Workers union in 1962, "strived to be a good disciple of the Lord Jesus by bringing the kingdom of God to the vineyards, fields and groves of America," they said in a statement released Oct. 3. President Obama led the dedication on Oct. 8.

"Seeing the hard plight of migrant laborers, he became a community organizer in 1952, and eventually the founder of the United Farm Workers in 1962," added the bishops. "Through his influence and dedication, countless farm laborers today have basic protections -- from clean drinking water and safe working conditions to minimum wages and access to health care."

President Obama toured the Chavez Memorial Garden and placed a red rose at the gravesite where Cesar Chavez was laid to rest in 1993.  Obama issued a presidential proclamation establishing what is now known as the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, to be maintained by the National Park Service. The property is known as Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz, Spanish for Our Lady Queen of Peace. In the UFW, it was known simply as La Paz.
"At La Paz, the UFW grew and expanded from its early roots as a union for farmworkers to become a national voice for the poor and disenfranchised," Obama said in the proclamation. "For Cesar Chavez, La Paz also provided the respite he needed to continue serving the farmworker movement. His attachment to La Paz as both a refuge and a place where he engaged in his life's work grew stronger over the years."

La Paz now "joins a long list of national monuments stretching from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon," the president said. "It's a story of people, of determined, fearless, hopeful people," like Chavez, he added, "who have always been willing to devote their lives to making this country a little more just, a little more free."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Catholic Right Gives Up on Telling Catholics to Vote Pro-life. Now Just Says “Vote Republican.”


After years of telling Catholics that abortion policy is a “non-negotiable” principle, but that policies for the poor, working families and world peace can be ignored and dispensed with, Right-wing groups claiming a Catholic identity have not expressed any problem with Romney abandoning any anti-abortion agenda. The Right is still telling Catholics to vote Republican even when it does nothing to protect the unborn.

On Wednesday, Romney’s campaign released a new ad aimed at pro-choice women. “You know, those ads saying Mitt Romney would ban all abortions and contraception seemed a bit extreme, so I looked into it,” says a young woman identified as Sarah Minto. “Turns out Romney doesn’t oppose contraception at all. In fact, he thinks abortion should be an option in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother’s life.” And last week, he told the Des Moines Register’s editorial board, “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”

Romney declared that “Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.” He also said employers should not be able to bar women from receiving such insurance, an apparent reversal of his previous position on that hot-button topic.

And Romney’s new found (or re-found from his days as Governor) pro-choice position has not met with any objection from social conservatives.

“If it’s hurting him to bring up the abortion issue, then I’m OK if he doesn’t,” said Bradley Mattis, head of the Life Issues Institute in Cincinnati. Rev. Frank Pavone, head of “Priests for Life” also justified support for Romney despite the GOP nominee’s position that the right to an abortion is a “settled” matter of law.

The ultraright “Catholic Vote” has even moved beyond not caring about Romney’s position on abortion to becoming a total Republican front group even when it means condoning the killing of unborn life. While their arguments for Romney vary from a claim he told funnier jokes than Obama at the Al Smith dinner to advocacy for Austrian School economics, the kicker is in their most recent attack on Obama for being “anti-coal.” In fact what the President supports is controls on Mercury pollution which, among other health hazards, causes the death of too many unborn lives. They are even ready to defend abortion/miscarriages when it is part of the GOP agenda of opposition to regulation.

Sunday, October 21, 2012



A new study by the Pew Research Center revealed that three-quarters of Latino Catholics are President Barack Obama supporters while only 19% say they will vote for Romney. Strong support for the President exists among most elements of Latino Catholics including the most frequent church-goers. Catholics Latinos are more likely to support Obama than Latinos in general. The nonprofit research organization also found that 71 percent of Hispanics who are Catholic are Democrats, while 21 percent are Republicans.

The research also revealed that Latino evangelical Protestants support Obama 50 percent, while they support Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney 39 percent. Thus is far more favorable the white evangelical Protestants who support Romney often have hostile views towards issues important to Latinos such as the DREAM Act.

While the strong support from these Catholics is very welcome, it also presents a strategic advantage.  Churches and non-profit groups are free to engage in non-partisan voter turnout efforts, including calls from the pulpit, church bulletin or by other means.  Maximizing turnout at Latino Catholics parishes means at least 75% of the votes will go to the President.  Let's do all we can at our Latino parishes to turn out the vote!

Saturday, October 20, 2012



While there has been a concerted effort by Republican leaders to erect new barriers to voting, often impacting the poor, minorities and working families the toughest, there have been almost no actual examples of in person voter fraud.

Nevertheless, the first and only arrest this year we are aware of voter fraud has been by a Catholic Republican activist, we are sad to report. Colin Small got his political education with the Right-Wing Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, headed by anti-gay rights activist Austin Ruse. Small then was hired by a Republican voter registration effort as a supervisor, where he destroyed voter registration applications. The sheriff’s office in Harrisonburg, VA, said Small had been charged with 13 counts of destruction of voter registration applications, disclosure of voter registration information, and obstruction of justice.

Virginia has a long history of obstructing the rights of racial minorities and workers from participating in the political process. It is unfortunate this tradition is being carried out, now by illegal means, by a activist in the Catholic Right.

Friday, October 19, 2012



In a time of a sorry lack of civility in political discourse, it is a blessing that the Al Smith Dinner for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York brings together both candidates, the leaders of the Catholic Church including USCCB President/Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan and many people of good will. 

Governor Romney showed great dignity in his remarks that ""Don't tell anyone I said so, but our 44th president has many gifts and a beautiful family that would make any man proud. ... In our country, you can oppose someone in politics and make a confident case against their policies without any ill will. And that's how it is for me."

President Obama received a standing ovation when he rose to speak at the Catholic Charities gala.  At the usually lighthearted event, both men made jokes at their own expense, but President Obama ended on a serious note, proclaming in the words of Saint Paul:  “It’s written in Scripture that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:4)

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Paul Ryan Absent At Soup Kitchens, Shelters In His District, Says Catholic Charities

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Paul Ryan's awkward visit last week to a Youngstown, Ohio, soup kitchen made national headlines and has been the butt of late-night jokes. The head of the charity that runs the soup kitchen complained to The Washington Post that Ryan and Co. "ramrodded their way" in for an unauthorized photo-op.

Ryan's surprise visit was an even bigger shock to people who run organizations dedicated to serving the needy back in his Wisconsin congressional district...

Ryan, despite more than 13 years in Congress, appears to be very much a stranger to those charities. None of the food pantry or shelter workers interviewed by The Huffington Post could recall Ryan having visited...
Carol Hulburt, a coordinator at a food pantry in Milton, Wis., said Ryan has not once visited in the roughly 15 years she has worked there...

A worker who answered the phones at the House of Mercy family shelter said she has not seen the congressman come through its doors in the 10 years she has worked at the facility...

Eric Levitt, Janesville's city manager, has volunteered with House of Mercy for nearly two years. He said he has not seen Ryan there...

Even when invited, Ryan hasn't shown up. Robert Borremans told The Washington Post in August that in the nine years he has run Janesville's Rock County Job Center, multiple invitations have failed to secure a visit from Ryan. "I've reached the point I don't ask anymore," Borremans said.

Read more here:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


By Conor Humphries, GRAIGUENAMANAGH, Ireland, Oct 16 (Reuters) -

In the land of his ancestors, Paul Ryan's Irish charm is failing him

Despite his name, Roman Catholic faith and immigrant-made-good family history, the Irish half of the Republican ticket is failing to win the allegiance of the old country from Barack Obama, a skilled hand at playing the Irish card.

Obama struck public relations gold last year by sharing a Guinness with a distant cousin in the village of Moneygall after an amateur genealogist traced his ancestors there. Pictures of cheering Irish crowds were beamed across the United States.

But 100 kilometers (60 miles) down the road, Ryan's ancestral hometown is feeling the cold shoulder and like Ireland as a whole, most of the locals are rooting for his Democratic presidential rivals.

"He doesn't have the charisma, he hasn't connected with the people," said Pat Nolan as he strolled passed the 13th century stone church in the village of Graiguenamanagh where Ryan's great-great grandparents were married.


Despite the Ryan connection, few locals are hoping for a Republican victory across the ocean.

"It would give a boost to a nice small town like this, but I would forgo it. I wouldn't want to inflict him on the American people," said Margaret, a 64-year-old cashier, upset by Ryan's plans to cut welfare and Medicare health cover for the elderly. She withheld her family name to avoid angering her employer.

A straw poll of 20 people on a recent afternoon found 12 Obama supporters and none for Ryan and running mate Mitt Romney.

Ninety-six percent of people in Ireland who have decided would back Obama and Irish Catholic running mate Joe Biden if they had a vote, according to a September poll of 1,000 people by Gallup International.

"He's too far right-wing for this part of the world," said Martin Brett, the former mayor of the county's capital Kilkenny, who hosted Ryan's uncle when he came to trace his roots in the region a few years ago.


The Wisconsin congressman has not endeared himself to his kin by holding their country up as a cautionary tale of bad practice.

Ryan's web site refers to Ireland 11 times, eight as an example of the economic doom facing the United States if it doesn't address its budget deficit and three as a rival to the Cayman Islands as a tax haven threatening American jobs.

When Ryan told a crowd in his home state how his great grandfather had fled the Irish potato famine with just the shirt on his back, the crowd lapped it up.

But an Irish historian of the famine, John Kelly, rebuked him days later for espousing a laissez faire economic philosophy he said was strikingly similar to that of British policymakers whom many in Ireland blame for the deaths of millions.

Read more here:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Nuff Said...



Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said that the Romney campaign last week “ramrodded their way” into the group’s Youngstown soup kitchen so that GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan could get his picture taken washing dishes in the dining hall.  He called the use of this Catholic charity to be a ‘publicity stunt’ for the GOP ticket.

Juanita Sherba, St. Vincent’s Saturday coordinator for the dinning hall, had equally harsh words about Ryan’s visit.  The event “was a photo op,” she told the Youngstown Vindicator.  “It was the phoniest piece of baloney I’ve ever been associated with. In hindsight, I would have never let him in the door.”

Antal added: “The photo-op they did wasn’t even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”

The campaign had not contacted the St. Vincent de Paul Society in advance of the stunt, but just barged into the soup kitchen without permission, bullying their way past a volunteer.  The good Catholics had finished serving the hungry and washing up afterwards. Ryan grabbed an apron and began washing an already clean pot, posing for campaign photographers. Since all of the guests of the soup kitchen had been served and left, Ryan did not have to come into direct contact with any of the poor and hungry.

Monday, October 15, 2012



Former Republican National Chairman and current Romney Catholic outreach advocate Ed Gillespie went on FOX News Sunday unable to explain Romney's statement that pro-life legislation would not be on his agenda if he were President. 

After a career of flip-flops on the abortion issue, Romney's most recent statement is that he has no abortion legislation on his agenda.  Campaign officials have been unable to explain this comment, made to the Des Moines Register and Romney has not retracted it.  Right-wing groups like "Catholic Vote" and the "Catholic Association" have gone into a deep silence on this matter. 

On Sunday, Gillespie was reduced to mostly blather.  He said, “Life is a very important issue in this election—as is the economy and as it national security, all these issues always play a very important role."  He also assured viewers that Romney is personally pro-life.

Okay, Ed.  But explain Romney's statement. 

Gillespie then tried to pivot, saying the election is more about the economy than about social issues.

Sunday, October 14, 2012



Right Wing Catholics are still in a fit that Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York has invited Barack Obama to the annual Al Smith Dinner, a fundraiser for the Catholic Church in New York.  A first they were in an outrages at the mere invitation.  Now they are demanding that Cardinal Dolan slam the President in his remarks.  “[We Republicans are] going in hopes that the cardinal’s going to slam him,” said state Sen. Marty Golden, a Brooklyn Republican attending the annual Al Smith Dinner. “It’s insulting that [Obama is] coming... it’s reprehensible.”

According to the New York Post, conservative Catholics are worried that Obama’s appearance will be misinterpreted as a church endorsement.

Jim Sedlak, vice president of the American Life League,almost had smoke coming out of his nostrils as he bellowed “Our whole objection is inviting Obama to this dinner about 18 days before the election.”

Some conservatives are boycotting the dinner and not contributing to Catholic Charities such as Jerry Kassar, chairman of the Brooklyn Conservative Party and Mike Long, chairman of the Conservative Party of New York State, who usually attends the dinner with Kassar.  Instead, they are re-directing their giving to a right wing political group.

Saturday, October 13, 2012



As pro-Romney Catholics have gone silent following Romeny's most recent flip-flop on abortion, Catholic efforts for the Obama-Biden effort far exceed the Republicans.

Catholics for Obama - Biden organized debate watch parties throughout the country Thursday night. 

And it’s not the only way the Obama campaign and liberal groups are using Thursday’s debate to organize Catholic voters, one of the country’s big swing voting constituencies.

Beyond encouraging Catholic watch parties, the Obama campaign has been visiting Catholic colleges in swing states and dispatching Catholic campaign surrogates to address Catholic groups in the leadup to the debate.  Romney has made no apperences at Catholic colleges.

President Obama has regular briefings on the campaign's Catholic outreach with Roderick Johnson, the campaign's Catholic outreach director. 

Independent Catholic groups that aren’t officially connected to the Obama campaign have been even more vocal in attacking Ryan from a Catholic perspective.  “Some of his positions are fundamentally at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church,” said a Ryan critique issued this week by dozens of Catholic theologians and other Catholic scholars.

With Paul Ryan, progressive Catholic groups have taken particular aim his proposed budget, which passed the House but not the Senate.

A letter to Ryan from faculty at Georgetown, a Catholic university, summed up the Catholic opposition to the proposal: “We would be remiss in our duty to you and our students if we did not challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few.”

And then there is the “nuns on the bus tour” to decry the Ryan budget’s slashing of programs for the poor.  This week, the nuns reprised the tour, criss-crossing Ohio just in time for the vice presidential debate. “He clearly has not been where I’ve been," Sister Simone Campbell, an organizer of the tour, told MSNBC of Ryan. “He just is out of touch.”

The Romney campaign rolled out a Catholic outreach effort much later than the Obama-Biden campaign and has been hurt by the stridency and harsh rhetoric of their right-wing Catholic supporters.  The Romney campaign continues to approach nervously those who tell undecided Catholics they will go the Hell or be denied Communion if they vote for the President.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012



The GOP presidential nominee told the Des Moines Register yesterday that he doesn't intend to pursue legislation to restrict abortion if he is elected president. "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda," Romney told the Register's editorial board.

Romney's position on abortion has changed over the years, and has been at the heart of charges that he flip-flops on issues. When he ran for Massachusetts governor in 2002, Romney said he would "preserve and protect" a woman's right to choose an abortion.

Romney's new statement confirms the assurance his sister gave to women delegates at the Republican National Convention that Romney would never take away a woman's right to an abortion.

On other issues related to the lives the unborn, Romney is considered a danger to many social programs that help mothers choose life for their unborn child.  He also said he would repeal a recent EPA rule on Mercury that saves as many unborn lives as the number of surgical abortions in this country.  When the question of termininating unborn life has been not by a woman in a problem pregancy but by Big Business, Romney has a strong pro-abortion record as seen by his profiteering from an "abortion waste" company as well as by the Mercury abortion issue.

This blog also finds the President's views on abortion disappointing, but finds little difference between the two candidates in what they would do. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Biden Ryan House party header

The Catholic Vice Presidential Debate:

An Historic Moment - Two World Views of the Catholic Social Justice Tradition and Public Policy

Thursday, October 11, 2012

An Historic Day-50th Anniversary of the
Convening of Vatican II

Host or Attend a Catholic Debate Watch Party

Pre-Debate Conference Call: 8:00 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. EDT

Vice Presidential Debate: 9:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EDT

More information here:

(UPDATE: Sr. Simone Campbell will be on the conference call)

Dear Friends,

Thursday, October 11th will be an historic day. For the first time in American history, two Catholic candidates on the presidential ticket will debate each other. Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) will have the opportunity to speak to the American public about their vision for the future of the country.

In addition to this first-time political event, October 11th is the 50th anniversary of the convening of Vatican II under Pope John XXIII as well as the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church under Pope John Paul II. The debate and the day, taken together, will provide a special context for the stark contrast between Vice President Biden and Rep. Ryan as it relates to their different world views on public policy and the rich Catholic Social Justice Tradition.

We know what inspires Vice President Biden as a Catholic political leader. In his book Promises to Keep, Vice President Biden wrote, "the nuns were my first teachers.... they taught reading and writing and math and geography and history, but embedded in the curriculum also were the concepts of decency, fair play, and virtue." We also know who Representative Ryan looks to regarding political morality. In 2009, he filmed a video in which he said, "Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and this to me is what matters most."

Many of you have told us the sense of alienation you feel within the Church today, and for many, even in your own parishes. So we're offering you a reason and a means to join in solidarity with other supporters of Catholic Democrats on this historic day. Please let us know if you would like to either host or attend a house party for the Vice Presidential Debate by completing The Catholic VP Debate & Conference Call Request Form (it only takes a minute). We will connect you to one another by early next week in consultation with those who volunteer to host an event. If you are so inclined to host an event, please know that it is easy and just requires offering a little hospitality to some kindred spirits.

Additionally, we will also sponsor a conference call prior to the debate to help provide you with some additional context in light of the two world views - represented by Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan - on the Catholic Social Justice Tradition. The conference call will feature a special guest that we will announce in a few days. Participation on the call will be on a first come, first serve basis, as space is limited.

October 11th will be an important day for Catholics, our nation, and the life of the Church. We are looking forward to sharing it with you and to help you share it with one another. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at

Warm Regards,

Catholic Democrats

PS Please consider making a donation at this time to help us serve you and to make sure that the Romney-Ryan budget and tax plan will never hurt millions of the most vulnerable in our society and to promote a network of vibrant Catholic Democrats communities that advance the common good across the country.

Monday, October 8, 2012



 “A new scourge threatens…. It strikes most heavily at those who are the most tender and are Our most dearly beloved; upon the children, the proletariat, the artisans and the ‘have-nots.’ We are speaking of the grave financial crisis which weighs down the peoples and is accelerating in every land the frightful increase of Unemployment...”

"There is every reason to fear that the plague of Unemployment, which We have already mentioned, will worsen, to such an extent that poverty may push—though God forbid it!—many a misery-stricken household to exasperation…. As an effect of rivalry between peoples there is an insensate competition in armaments which, in its turn, becomes the cause of enormous expenditure, diverting large sums of money from the public welfare; and this makes the present crisis more acute…. We exhort you all, Venerable Brethren, to busy yourselves with the work of enlightening public opinion in this matter, by all the means at your disposal, including both pulpit and press, so that the hearts of men may be turned towards the dictates of right reason, and, still more, to the laws of Christ."

--- His Holiness Pius XI, October 2, 1931, Speaking from the Throne of Saint Peter

Sunday, October 7, 2012


A Catholic Case for the Reelection of President Obama

Donald P. Kommers, University of Notre Dame

Unlike the election of 2008, economic and fiscal rather than cultural issues are dominating the federal election campaign of 2012, and there is no evidence to suggest that Catholics will divide differently on these matters than other segments of the American electorate. But Catholics who take the social teachings of their church seriously will almost surely reject the presidential candidate who would denigrate programs that assist the poor, adulterate social security, lessen the coverage of medicare or medicaid, oppose a redistributive tax code, and disdain the creative role of government in the face of unrelenting poverty and massive unemployment.

More here:

Saturday, October 6, 2012



Facing opinion polls that show President Obama respectably ahead among Catholic voters, conservative Catholics, financed by wealthy Republican operatives, are unleashing an effort to lessen the Catholic support for the President. Republican millionaires and businesses are funding over one million pro-Romney “Catholic Voter Guides” to be distributed by the Right-Wing Catholic Association. Based on focus group results rather than Catholics principles, the Guides do not mention abortion. Instead they push the right of bosses to decide if women can have contraceptive coverage in their health care plans.

The Obama administration has exempted the Catholic Church from the contraceptive mandate. Going beyond the definition of religious employer in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Administration has also offered an accommodation to church related organizations. The “Catholic Association” seeks to make every woman worker in private industry have to ask her boss and get his permission to including contraceptive coverage in her health care plan.

Thursday, October 4, 2012



This Sunday, some Right-Wing groups have announced “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” They say they are challenging IRS rules that prohibit 501(c)3 organizations from endorsing candidates. In fact, they tried this stunt before and despite a lot of fanfare in advance, all of their participating churches chickened out and did not explicitly endorse a candidate (so much for civility and truthfulness).

No Catholic parishes are participating in this conservative stunt. In fact the Catholic Church forbids the Mass to be used as a means of endorsing a political candidate and forbids Church funds from being used to promote the election of a candidate. This is not something imposed by the IRS on the Catholic Church but a position of principle she freely embraces and would practice even absent any IRS regulations.

But let us review exactly what the Protestant Pulpit Freedom folks are talking about.

First of all, this is not about taxing churches. Churches can apply for a variety of tax exempt statuses. A non-profit organization can engage in politics and support or oppose candidate. That is what the Republican National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Romney for President Committee, the SuperPACs and most political organizations do. All of them have 501(c)4 or related tax exempt status. Any church organization could choose this status and be tax exempt.

However, what most religious organizations do is choose a different tax status of 501(c)3 or related. This not only exempts the organization from taxation, but also allows it’s contributors who itemize on their tax returns (most people do not itemize) to claim a tax deduction as well.

The Catholic Church agrees with this blog that it is a matter of justice that the Church not be taxed. However, it is a matter of prudential judgment to give the further benefit of allowing a minority of private persons a tax deduction for their donations. To be granted this extra benefit (not for the Church herself, but for some of her donors) an organization must apply for the status and agree to the conditions including that the organization not endorse or oppose candidates for office.

This does not mean the Church cannot speak out on important (or unimportant) issues of the day. But it must be about issues and not elections. It also does not mean that clergy in their private capacity can do what they want as private individuals including being involved in political campaigns. But it can be fairly said that for a church to apply for a special tax status that not only exempts itself from taxation but also lets her contributors take itemized deductions and then disregard the conditions it had sworn to, is dishonest and sinful.

We will hear a lot of crazy talk from Right-Wing Protestant organizations on Pulpit Freedom Sunday. I hope this sober explanation is helpful in cutting through the silliness they expound.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Faith in the 21st Century: "Intrinsic" fallacy

Faith in the 21st Century: "Intrinsic" fallacy: I'm quoting very generously from Fr. Richard McBrien's 2009 article, "Intrinsic Evil vs. Run-of-the-mill Evil" ( National Catholic Repor...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Cardinal Dolan Photo Sept 2012
Feast of St. Vincent DePaul

My brother bishop, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn, joins me in issuing this statement.

Today is the feast day of St. Vincent DePaul, considered by many to be the “star” saint of Christian charity and concern for the poor. Many people, including those who don’t know that much about this great saint from the 17th century, know of the work of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, which is active in so many parishes and dioceses around the world bringing direct help to people in need.

Recent statistics sadly remind that today the poor do need a champion. Michael Powell, writing earlier this week in the New York Times “Gotham” blog, notes that while economic conditions have started to improve for some, there are still a shocking number of other people for whom poverty persists, if not worsens, and a recovery is nowhere in sight. The statistics are overwhelming. For instance, Powell notes that both The Bronx and Brooklyn have unemployment rates above 13 percent, and, he adds, “Fully 21 percent [of New Yorkers] live below the poverty line; median income declined in nearly every group; 1.8 million New Yorkers now rely on food stamps.”

You can find great contrasts within a few miles of each others. In some communities families are finding decent jobs and earning sufficient income to provide for themselves and their families. Thanks be to God. However, close by, many other families do not have enough to eat, face the threat of eviction because of the disparity between their income and the rent payment. One poignant statistic – in one zip code on the East Side of Manhattan the average household income is about $101,000. In the South Bronx another zip code’s average income is about $19800.

This is not something confined to New York City, of course. The basics human needs of good jobs, food, and housing continue to challenge tens of millions throughout this country.

At the same time we are fortunate that as a society we do try to provide for those struggling. Government programs provide enormous support to poor Americans. In addition generous Americans contribute billions to charities each year. And so there is much to be grateful for.

However, two things must be said.

1) It is not enough. Even with the generosity of the American people, and the work of groups like the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and so many others, much more needs to be done, and not just by private charity. The government must continue to play its part as well.

2) There are very dark clouds. Too much rhetoric in the country portrays poor people in a very negative way. At the same time, this persistent sluggish economic and slow pace of recovery does two things that hurt the poor: it does not provide sufficient jobs for poor people to earn decent living to support themselves, and it provides less resources for government to do its part for Americans in need.

This is creating a situation that is devastating to struggling families throughout the country.

As the Church celebrates the feast of St. Vincent DePaul, we affirm that the poor must receive our special attention to ensure that they have basic necessities of life. While St. Vincent de Paul may be the “star” saint, the commitment of the Church to the poor comes directly from Jesus and was first formally recognized by the appointment of deacons to cares for the Greek speaking widows. Throughout the history of the Church there has always been a preferential option for the poor. Archbishop Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, said it simply and straightforwardly: “Jesus tells us very clearly that if we don’t help the poor, we’re going to go to hell.”

This commitment and dedication continues and grows today throughout Catholic hospitals, charities and educational institutions. All of these in their own way make service to the poor the hallmark of their work in building the common good. Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn serve literally hundreds of thousands of people each year – the neglected child, the homeless family, the hungry senior, the new immigrant to our shores – through our soup kitchens, homeless shelters, family and youth services, and so much more.

There is too much finger pointing and not enough joining hands. Solidarity is critical to ensure the dignity of all.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Buckeye Catholics for Obama

by Mark Silk, Religion News Service
Oct 1, 2012

Like their co-religionists across the border in Pennsylvania, Catholics in Ohio have flipped from opposing Barack Obama four years ago to supporting him today. According to the latest poll by the Columbus Dispatch, they now back him over Mitt Romney by four percentage points, 49-45. In 2008, they ended up favoring John McCain by five points.

That's a telling switch, because Ohio Catholics have a distinctly conservative streak. They are less likely to be unionized than Catholics in Michigan (who preferred Obama over McCain 52-46), and a disproportionately large number trace their ethnic origins to Germany. On social issues, German Catholics skew to the right.

So once again we need to conjure with the ineffectuality of the Catholic bishops' campaign to paint the Obama administration as an enemy of religion in general and Catholicism in particular...

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