US bishops write Obama: priority is to defend right to life.
WASHINGTON (CWNews.com) – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a letter on January 15 from Cardinal Francis George, the conference’s president, to President-elect Barack Obama, outlining the “principles and priorities that guide the [bishops’] public policy efforts” so as to offer “an agenda for dialogue and action.”
A similar letter was sent to the vice president-elect and members of Congress.
The foundational priority, according to Cardinal George, is the protection of innocent human life. “Most fundamentally,” he writes, “we will work to protect the lives of the most vulnerable and voiceless members of the human family, especially unborn children and those who are disabled or terminally ill.”
“We will consistently defend the fundamental right to life from conception to natural death. Opposed to abortion as the direct killing of innocent human life, we will encourage one and all to seek common ground that will reduce the number of abortions in morally sound ways that affirm the dignity of pregnant women and their unborn children.
“We will oppose legislative and other measures to expand abortion. We will work to retain essential, widely supported policies which show respect for unborn life, protect the conscience rights of health care providers and other Americans, and prevent government funding and promotion of abortion.
“The Hyde amendment and other provisions which for many years have prevented federal funding of abortion have a proven record of reducing abortions. Efforts to force Americans to fund abortions with their tax dollars would pose a serious moral challenge and jeopardise the passage of essential health care reform.”
Cardinal George also discusses seven other priorities:
l Economic challenges
The bishops “support strong, prudent and effective measures,” “advocate a clear priority for poor families and vulnerable workers in the development and implementation of economic recovery measures,” and “support greater accountability and oversight to address irresponsible abuses of the system that contributed to the financial crisis.”
l Health care
The bishops “urge comprehensive action to ensure truly universal health care coverage which protects all human life including pre-natal life, and provides access for all, with a special concern for the poor. Any such legislation ought to respect freedom to choose by offering a variety of options and ensuring respect for the moral and religious convictions of patients and providers.”
l International affairs
The bishops support “a responsible transition in an Iraq free of religious persecution,” “early, focused and persistent leadership to bring an end to violent conflict and a just peace in the Holy Land,” “US investments to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through increased and reformed foreign assistance,” and anti-HIV efforts that are “both effectively and morally appropriate.”
In wording that accommodates different sides of the debate on climate change, Cardinal George adds, “Recognising the complexity of climate change, we wish to be a voice for the poor and vulnerable in our country and around the world who will be the most adversely affected by any dramatic threats to the environment.”
The bishops call for “comprehensive reform” that is “based on respect for and implementation of the law,” defends “the rights and dignity of all peoples, recognising that human dignity comes from God,” offers “a path to earned citizenship,” and is attentive to the impact of trade and development policies that foster emigration.
The bishops call for a recognition of marriage as “a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman” that “must remain such in law. In a manner unlike any other relationship, marriage makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the common good of society, especially through the procreation and education of children. No other kinds of personal relationships can be justly made equivalent to the commitment of a man and a woman in marriage.”
The bishops reiterate their support for “initiatives which provide resources for all parents, especially those of modest means, to choose education which best address the needs of their children.”
l Empowerment of faith-based groups
“We will work with the Administration and Congress to strengthen these partnerships in ways that do not encourage government to abandon its responsibilities, and do not require religious groups to abandon their identity and mission.”
Don’t reverse policies protecting unborn, Chicago cardinal urges Obama
WASHINGTON (CNS) – It would be “a terrible mistake” for President-elect Barack Obama to reverse current policies on embryonic stem-cell research, conscience protection and other life-related matters, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops told him in a new letter.
Such actions “could introduce significant negative and divisive factors into our national life, at a time when we need to come together to address the serious challenges facing our people,” said Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago in a letter dated January 16 and made public on January 19.
The letter came less than a week after Cardinal George sent another letter to Obama, Vice President-elect Joseph Biden and each member of Congress outlining the bishops’ broad policy agenda as the new administration and Congress begin their work.
“I expect that some want you to take executive action soon to reverse current policies against government-sponsored destruction of unborn human life,” Cardinal George said. “I urge you to consider that this could be a terrible mistake – morally, politically and in terms of advancing the solidarity and well-being of our nation’s people.”