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Bishops speak on 'travel ban' injunction, health care, death penalty

A round-up of what Catholic bishops are saying, doing about current events

Bishop welcomes continued injunction on ‘travel ban’

INDIANAPOLIS | On June 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit largely affirmed a nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of sections of the administration’s executive order that attempted to suspend and limit the U.S. refugee resettlement program and also attempted to ban the entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries.

A statement from Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration regarding the Ninth Circuit ruling follows:

“I am heartened by the decision of the Ninth Circuit to maintain the temporary halt implementing certain provisions of the March 6 Executive Order. Upholding the injunction will allow us to continue welcoming and serving refugees fleeing persecution. Together with my brother bishops, we believe it is possible to simultaneously provide for the security of our country and have a humane refugee policy that upholds our national heritage and moral responsibility. We remain dedicated to accompanying and supporting our brothers and sisters who for various reasons have been forced to leave their homeland. We follow the example of Pope Francis and pledge to them ‘a duty of justice, civility and solidarity’.”

 

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Bishops offer moral principles for health care reform

WASHINGTON | As the U.S. Senate begins to discuss health care reform, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin provided moral principles to help guide policymakers in their deliberations.

In a letter sent June 1, the bishops commended the bill passed by the House of Representatives, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), for its protections for unborn children. But they emphasized its “many serious flaws,” including unacceptable changes to Medicaid. 

“The Catholic Church remains committed to ensuring the fundamental right to medical care, a right which is in keeping with the God-given dignity of every person, and the corresponding obligation as a country to provide for this right,” the bishops wrote. “[T]hose without a strong voice in the process must not bear the brunt of attempts to cut costs.”

Cardinal Dolan is chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Lori chairs the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Dewane heads the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Vásquez is the chairman of the Committee on Migration.

The bishops outlined key principles for senators such as universal access, respect for life, true affordability, the need for high quality and comprehensive medical care, and conscience protections. Specifically, they called on the Senate to: reject dramatic changes to Medicaid; retain the AHCA’s life protections; increase the level of tax assistance, especially for low-income and older people; retain the existing cap on costs of plans for the elderly; protect immigrants; and add conscience protections, among other things.

The full letter to Congress can be found here: http://bit.ly/2s5Ltss.

 

Withdrawal from Paris Agreement called ‘deeply troubling’

WASHINGTON | Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, responded June 1 to President Donald J. Trump’s announcement that the United States will not honor the Paris agreement on climate change. The United States and China, the two largest carbon emitters, and 195 other nations, signed the agreement that was ratified in November 2016.

In his statement, Bishop Cantú stressed that, although the Paris agreement is not the only possible mechanism for addressing global carbon mitigation, the lack of a current viable alternative is a serious concern.

“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with Pope Francis and the entire Catholic Church, have consistently upheld the Paris agreement as an important international mechanism to promote environmental stewardship and encourage climate change mitigation. The President’s decision not to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement is deeply troubling.”

He noted that the U.S. bishops have voiced support for prudent action and dialogue on climate change since their 2001 statement, “Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good.” In a letter to Congress in 2015, the bishops, along with the presidents of Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services, encouraged the United States to sign the Paris agreement. They have since reiterated their support on several occasions, as have Pope Francis and the Holy See. 

Florida bishops: Sign petition to end death penalty

The Florida bishops invite the Catholic faithful to join them in their promise to educate, advocate and pray for an end to the use of the death penalty. Administered by the Catholic Mobilizing Network, the National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty was initiated at the U.S. bishops' offices in Washington, D.C., and Florida's bishops were among the first signatories.

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The Church stands in support of people who have been victims of crime and acknowledges the pain and loss they suffer. At the same time, the Church proclaims the human dignity of all people, even those who have done grave harm. As people of faith, we are called to make known the mercy of God in a modern society where the death penalty is not needed to maintain public safety.

"By this pledge campaign it is hoped that American Catholics will join together with people of goodwill to work to end the death penalty in the United States," said Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

You can sign the pledge here: https://catholicsmobilizing.org/action/pledge.

 

Bishop encourages broadening HHS mandate exemption

WASHINGTON | Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, has issued an initial response to the apparent draft interim final regulations that were recently leaked, pertaining to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions: 

“While they have yet to be formally issued and will require close study upon publication, the leaked regulations provide encouraging news. If issued, these regulations would appropriately broaden the existing exemption to a wider range of stakeholders with religious or moral objections to the mandated coverage — not just houses of worship. This not only would eliminate an unwarranted governmental division of our religious community ‘between our houses of worship and our great ministries of service to our neighbors,’ but would also lift the government-imposed burden on our ministries ‘to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions.’ (United for Religious Freedom 2012).  

“Relief like this is years overdue and would be most welcomed. Regulations like these reflect common sense, and what had been the consistent practice of the federal government for decades to provide strong conscience protection in the area of health care. We look forward to the final version of the regulations with hope that they will remain strong. At that time, we will analyze those regulations more carefully and comment on them more formally. Throughout, our goal will remain to protect both the conscience of individuals and our mission of sharing the Gospel and serving the poor and vulnerable through our ministries.” 

This HHS mandate was first announced in 2011, triggering dozens of lawsuits, including by the Little Sisters of the Poor.

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