Posts Tagged ‘USCCB’

Statement of the USCCB on HHS Mandate

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The following press release was issued today by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Mandate.

BISHOPS PROMISE TO CONTINUE ‘VIGOROUS EFFORTS’ AGAINST HHS VIOLATIONS OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN HEALTH CARE REFORM MANDATE

Declare government has no place defining religion, religious ministry
Seek protection for conscience rights of institutions, individuals
Stress action with the public, White House, Congress, courts

WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops are strongly united in their ongoing and determined  efforts to protect religious freedom, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said in a March 14 statement.

The Administrative Committee, chaired by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the USCCB, is the highest authority of the bishops’ conference outside the semi-annual sessions of the full body of bishops. The Committee’s membership consists of the elected chairmen of all the USCCB permanent committees and an elected bishop representative from each of the geographic regions of the USCCB.

The full statement can be found at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Admin-Religious-Freedom.pdf

The Administrative Committee said it was “strongly unified and intensely focused in its opposition to the various threats to religious freedom in our day.” The bishops will continue their vigorous work of education on religious freedom, dialogue with the executive branch, legislative initiatives and efforts in the courts to defend religious freedom. They promised a longer statement on the principles at the heart of religious freedom, which will come later from the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty.

The bishops noted that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that forces all private health plans to provide coverage of sterilization and contraceptives – including abortion-inducing drugs – called for an immediate response. Of particular concern, they said, are a religious exemption from the mandate that the bishops deem “arbitrarily narrow” and an “unspecified and dubious future ‘accommodation’’’ offered to other religious organizations that are denied the exemption.

The bishops thanked supporters from the Catholic community and beyond “who have stood firmly with us in our vigorous opposition to this unjust and illegal mandate.”

“It is your enthusiastic unity in defense of religious freedom that has made such a dramatic and positive impact in this historic public debate.”

The bishops said this dispute is not about access to contraceptives but about the government’s forcing the Church to provide them. Their concerns are not just for the Catholic Church but also for “those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block.”

“Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the Church – consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions – to act against Church teachings,” they said.

The Church has worked for universal healthcare in the United States since 1919, they added, and said the current issue “is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue.”

The bishops called the HHS mandate “an unwarranted government definition of religion,” with government deciding who is a religious employer deserving exemption from the law.

“The introduction of this unprecedented defining of faith communities and their ministries has precipitated this struggle for religious freedom,” the bishops said.

“Government has no place defining religion and religious ministry,” they said.

“If this definition is allowed to stand, it will spread throughout federal law, weakening its healthy tradition of generous respect for religious freedom and diversity,” they said.

The bishops said the government’s foray into church governance “where government has no legal competence or authority” is beyond disturbing. Those deemed by HHS not to be “religious employers,” the bishops said, “will be forced by government to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions. This is not only an injustice in itself, but it also undermines the effective proclamation of those teachings to the faithful and to the world.”

The bishops also called the HHS mandate “a violation of personal civil rights.”  The new mandate creates a class of people “with no conscience protection at all: individuals who, in their daily lives, strive constantly to live in accordance with their faith and values,” the bishops said. “They too face a government mandate to aid in providing ‘services’ contrary to those values – whether in their sponsoring of, and payment for, insurance as employers; their payment of insurance premiums as employees, or as insurers themselves – without even the semblance of exemptions.”

The bishops called for the Catholic faithful, and all people of good will throughout the nation to join them in prayer and penance “for our leaders and for the complete protection of our First Freedom – religious liberty.”

“Prayer is the ultimate source of our strength,” the bishops said, “for without God we can do nothing. But with God all things are possible.”

Statement of the USCCB on Religious Liberty

Friday, February 10th, 2012

I would like to share with you the statement that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released to the press today regarding religious liberty.

The following press release was issued today by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, quoting Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and president of the USCCB.

Begin USCCB Release:

BISHOPS STUDYING INITIAL WHITE HOUSE MOVEMENT ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

New opportunity to dialogue with executive branch, obtain details
Too soon to tell whether and how much improvement on core concerns
Commitment to religious liberty for all means legislation still necessary

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sees initial opportunities in preserving the principle of religious freedom after President Obama’s announcement today. But the Conference continues to express concerns. “While there may be an openness to respond to some of our concerns, we reserve judgment on the details until we have them,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The past three weeks have witnessed a remarkable unity of Americans from all religions or none at all worried about the erosion of religious freedom and governmental intrusion into issues of faith and morals,” he said.

“Today’s decision to revise how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable to religious entities and people of faith is a first step in the right direction,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said. “We hope to work with the Administration to guarantee that Americans’ consciences and our religious freedom are not harmed by these regulations.”

-30-

Gratitude to Mathew Schmalz

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Let me share with you a blog Mathew N. Schmalz wrote in the Washington Post on my inaugural address at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops General Assembly.

Here is an excerpt from his blog:

In content and in tone, Archbishop Dolan’s address was not a call to arms to fight an external threat. Instead, it was an invitation to look inward. His remarks began by focusing on the phrase “love for Jesus and His Church must be the passion of our lives.” This love must be reclaimed at a time when fewer people realize that “Jesus and His church are One.” A challenging task, as Archbishop Dolan made clear, especially since the Catholic Church is perceived as a church of “sinners.”

Instead of taking refugee in the equivalent of a rhetorical bunker, Archbishop Dolan readily admitted the sinfulness of the church’s members. Indeed, it is precisely because we are all sinners that we need the church: not just as teacher, but also as community. The talk was interspersed with references to Graham Greene and Dorothy Day, who both explored in their writings how and why the church persists in spite of, and yet because of, its failings. Dysfunctional it may be, but the church is nonetheless a family—both earthly and supernatural.

Click here to read his whole blog.

 

Christ and His Church Are One

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is meeting this week in our premier see, Baltimore.  I thought you might want to see a copy of my opening address to my brother bishops — my first as conference President.

Here is an excerpt:

You and I believe with all our heart and soul that Christ and His Church are one.

That truth has been passed on to us from our predecessors, the apostles, especially St. Paul, who learned that equation on the Road to Damascus, who teaches so tenderly that the Church is the bride of Christ, that the Church is the body of Christ, that Christ and His Church are one.

That truth has been defended by bishops before us, sometimes and yet even today, at the cost of “dungeon, fire, and sword.”

That truth — that He, Christ, and she, His Church, are one — moistens our eyes and puts a lump in our throat as we whisper with De Lubac, “For what would I ever know of Him, without her?”

Each year we return to this premier see of John Carroll to gather as brothers in service to Him and to her.  We do business, follow the agenda, vote on documents, renew priorities and hear information reports.

But, one thing we can’t help but remember, one lesson we knew before we got off the plane, train, or car, something we hardly needed to come to this venerable archdiocese to learn, is that “love for Jesus and His Church must be the passion of our lives!”

 

small image of PDF Icon  Click here to read the whole presidential address.

Letter to the President on the Sacredness of Marriage

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Let me share with you a letter that I wrote to President Barack Obama about the Defense of Marriage Act.

“The institution of marriage is built on this truth, which goes to the core of what the Catholic Bishops of the United States, and the millions of citizens who stand with us on this issue, want for all children and for the common good of society. That is why it is particularly upsetting, Mr. President, when your Administration, through the various court documents, pronouncements and policies identified in the attached analysis, attributes to those who support DOMA a motivation rooted in prejudice and bias. It is especially wrong and unfair to equate opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination, as your Administration insists on doing.

We as Bishops of the Catholic Church recognize the immeasurable personal dignity and equal worth of all individuals, including those with same-sex attraction, and we reject all hatred and unjust treatment against any person. Our profound regard for marriage as the complementary and fruitful union of a man and a woman does not negate our concern for the well-being of all people but reinforces it. While all persons merit our full respect, no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides. The law should reflect this reality.”

Click here to read the whole letter and the USCCB Staff Analysis of Recent Federal Threats to Marriage.

Haiti Update

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

As you may know, in addition to serving as Archbishop of New York, I am also the Chairman of the Board of Catholic Relief Services.  In that role, I joined last week with the Chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Latin America, Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio, in updating our brother bishops on the on-going situation in Haiti.  I thought you might also be interested in knowing where things stand, and  the plans for the future.  Our letter is attached.

A blessed Holy Week.

Click here to view the letter.

Keeping Health Care Universal, Part 2

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

On Monday I posted some thoughts on the health care reform bill being considered by Congress, and the need to make certain that reform is truly universal by not eliminating the protection of the unborn currently found in the Hyde Amendment.

There are a few other pieces that I’d like to bring to your attention.

Cardinal Francis George, the President of the United States Catholic Conference, released an excellent statement, The Cost is too High; the Loss is too Great. Please take the time to read the full statement; I know it’s been linked to elsewhere on the site, but it is so powerful I wanted to bring it to your attention again.  Cardinal George concludes his insightful analysis this way:

Two basic principles, therefore, continue to shape the concerns of the Catholic bishops: health care means taking care of the health needs of all, across the human life span; and the expansion of health care should not involve the expansion of abortion funding and of polices forcing everyone to pay for abortions. Because these principles have not been respected, despite the good that the bill under consideration intends or might achieve, the Catholic bishops regretfully hold that it must be opposed unless and until these serious moral problems are addressed.

Bishop William Murphy, Chairman of the USCCB Domestic Justice and Human Development Committee, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Chairman of the USCCB Pro-Life Activities Committee, and Bishop John Wester, Chairman of the USCCB Migration Committee, published a piece in the Washington Post’s On Faith blog, headlined Health Care for Life and for All. They write:

For decades, the United States Catholic bishops have actively supported universal health care. The Catholic Church teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential for human life and dignity. Our community of faith provides health care to millions, purchases health care for tens of thousands and addresses the failings of our health care system in our parishes, emergency rooms and shelters. This is why we as bishops continue to insist that health care reform which truly protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all is a moral imperative and urgent national priority….

… The House Democratic leadership is ignoring the pleas of pro-life and Hispanic members of their caucus. Apparently they will not even try to address the serious problems on abortion funding, conscience protection and fair treatment of immigrants. On the other hand, Republicans pledge to do all they can to defeat the legislation by threatening to object to any improvements in the Senate bill, further complicating the process. The White House, admirably concerned for the many millions without insurance and for those who cannot purchase it, seems willing to accept even a bill which leaves immigrants worse off and undermines the President’s pledge to retain existing protections on abortion funding and freedom of conscience.

Finally, yesterday saw another good piece in the same On Faith blog, this time by Sister Mary Ann Walsh, the USCCB’s media relations director, called Why is Senate Hiding from Hyde? Sister Mary Ann gets right to the heart of the matter.

Why would any member of Congress want to use health care reform to promote elective abortion? And why has the Senate designed a system that lets insurance companies force people to pay for abortion services they do not want and find morally repulsive – and gives federal subsidies to those companies to help them do it?

All this and more information on this very crucial matter can be found at the USCCB website.

Important Statements on Health Care Reform

Friday, December 11th, 2009

I would like to draw your attention to what I believe are powerful recent statements on the debate over health care reform legislation, in case you may have missed them.

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles wrote an op-ed article published in the New York Times that focuses on “the lack of adequate health care for immigrants who live in our midst but who do not yet have legal standing.”  The full text is here.

Also, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a combined statement on the Senate Vote to table the Nelson-Hatch-Casey Amendment.  The statement was from the President of the Conference, Cardinal Francis George, and three committee chairmen: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo (Pro-Life Activities), Bishop William Murphy (Domestic Justice and Human Development), and Bishop John Wester (Migration).  Their statements are on the USCCB website, and can be found here.

Broadcasting from the Bishops Conference

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

My program for The Catholic Channel on Sirius XM Satellite Radio is normally produced from my residence on Madison Avenue in New York, but since I’m in Baltimore this week for the annual USCCB meeting we decided to produce the show from here. Because of the full schedule we keep, the best time for us to tape the show was 7:00 a.m. Tuesday morning!  I’m not complaining at all, because I was particularly privileged to have with me Cardinal Egan, who founded The Catholic Channel during his time as Archbishop, and was also my predecessor on this program.  It was great to have him on for the hour!  Joining us were Father James Wehner, Rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, and Monsignor James Checchio, Rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome.  It was inspiring to hear about the enthusiasm of the young men currently preparing themselves to answer God’s call to the priesthood.  I think you’ll find it an interesting program.  It airs Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time, and then at various times during the weekend.

Broadcast1

With Edward Cardinal Egan and Rob Astorino at the taping of the show

Broadcast2

Father Wehner of the Josephinum with Rob Astorino

Broadcast3

Edward Cardinal Egan and me

Broadcast4

Monsignor Checchio of the North American College joins in

photos by Emily Marlow

Cardinal George on Health Care Reform

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued an excellent statement on the current health care reform debate.  It is well worth reading, and I encourage you all to do so.

small image of PDF IconCardinal George’s Health Care Statement