Pennsylvania

Statement on Racism – “A Prayer for Pittsburgh: A Prayer for Peace”

Msgr. Ronald P. Lengwin, spokesman for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, recently offered these remarks at “A Prayer for Pittsburgh: A Prayer for Peace,” an interfaith gathering at the City-County Building. He spoke on behalf of Bishop David A. Zubik, who was unable to attend. The full statement reads:

Every human being has God-given dignity and is worthy of respect, but not every cause is worthy of respect.

White supremacy, for example, is such a cause because it exists to deprive others of the dignity and respect that are theirs as children of God. It’s fundamentally evil, as are the beliefs it has fostered, including slavery, Jim Crow laws; and Nazism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia in all their forms. Such causes are incompatible with Christianity and with the mission and message of Jesus.

His parable of the Good Samaritan tells of a man from a culture and religion that Jesus’ listeners had been taught to despise. Yet, Jesus said, this man came to the rescue of one of them, a stranger whose own people had left him to die at the hands of robbers. The Good Samaritan is a lesson about ethnic, religious and cultural reconciliation, showing we can care for each other even when we don’t agree with each other. It’s about what it means to be neighbors.

We in the city of Fred Rogers know about neighbors. We know neighbors should celebrate their traditions, and do so in ways that make everyone from every neighborhood feel welcome.

For instance, some of us – even though our ancestors weren’t German – might enjoy participating in Oktoberfest, when German culture is celebrated with brass bands, beer and apple strudel. The fact that many Americans feel the same way after two wars with Germany is a sign of healing. This kind of reconciliation shows America at her best. However, if someone proposed celebrating German heritage with Nazi flags and a re-enactment of the Nuremberg rallies, virtually everyone would be horrified.

Nazism is an evil ideology that declares some people are unworthy of life, and is directly responsible for the deaths of millions of people in concentration camps, on battlefields and in the rubble of war. There is a world of difference between celebrating a cultural heritage and promoting an evil cause that once festered in that culture. Our nation is still struggling to emerge from the criminal inequality born in slavery, raised in segregation and that still taints our best vision of America.

But, no matter what anyone says or does to deny it, in God’s eyes we are all equal. Speaking to the deepest divisions of the society in which he labored to spread Christianity, the Apostle Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Pope Francis said in 2013, “The problem of intolerance must be confronted in all its forms: wherever any minority is persecuted and marginalized because of its religious convictions or ethnic identity, the wellbeing of society as a whole is endangered and each one of us must feel affected.” Racism wounds all of us. Let’s come together as neighbors.

Let’s counter hatred with love. Let’s show how much good we can do when we are united in our response to evil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/statement-on-racism-a-prayer-for-pittsburgh-a-prayer-for-peace/

Diocese of Greensburg leads ‘a year of help’ in wake of August 2016 flash flood

The Diocese of Greensburg, led by Catholic Charities, responded immediately to help individuals and families after a flash flood hit the Connellsville and Bullskin Township areas of Fayette County last summer.

Nine months later, the agency has concluded its efforts after providing $185,374 of assistance to 61 families in the form of new furnaces, water heaters and oil tanks and repairs to furnace and air conditioning systems.

“The church reaches out to help people in their time of need every day, and this particular effort shows that,” said Greensburg Bishop Edward C. Malesic. “I am proud of all the people of Connellsville, especially our parishioners, who have worked with no expectation of personal recognition to help their neighbors these many months. I am especially proud of the contributions by Catholic Charities. This is what it means to be Catholic.”

A torrential rainstorm dumped approximately 5 inches of rain in the area in just a few hours the night of Aug. 28, forcing several small creeks out of their banks and into surrounding neighborhoods, damaging 165 homes, according to reports in the Tribune-Review.

The Dutch Bottom neighborhood in Connellsville, a neighborhood along Breakneck Road in Bullskin Township, and homes along U.S. Route 119 in Connellsville Township were especially hard hit.

Donna Hagan, supervisor of information and referral services for Catholic Charities, made multiple trips to meetings of the Connellsville Flood Relief Fund Committee and VOAD, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

In November, Hagan said, “We will continue to help people until our last available dollar is distributed.”

That last dollar was distributed June 6.

The final report showed that Catholic Charities helped repair 17 furnaces and provide 40 new furnaces and air conditioning units, 18 new hot water tanks and two new oil tanks.

*Article contributed by Jerry Zufelt, Editor, The Catholic Accent.

 

 

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/diocese-of-greensburg-leads-a-year-of-help-in-wake-of-august-2016-flash-flood/

In Wake of Charlottesville Violence, Archbishop Charles Chaput Releases Statement

In Wake of Charlottesville Violence, Archbishop Charles Chaput Releases Statement

On August 13, 2017, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. CAP. released the following statement in wake of the Charlottesville, Va. act of violence in which one woman was killed and 19 were injured when a group of counter-protesters were attacked at a “Unite the Right” rally.

“Racism is a poison of the soul.  It’s the ugly, original sin of our country, an illness that has never fully healed.  Blending it with the Nazi salute, the relic of a regime that murdered millions, compounds the obscenity.  Thus the wave of public anger about white nationalist events in Charlottesville this weekend is well warranted.  We especially need to pray for those injured in the violence.

But we need more than pious public statements.  If our anger today is just another mental virus displaced tomorrow by the next distraction or outrage we find in the media, nothing will change.  Charlottesville matters.  It’s a snapshot of our public unraveling into real hatreds brutally expressed; a collapse of restraint and mutual respect now taking place across the country.  We need to keep the images of Charlottesville alive in our memories.  If we want a different kind of country in the future, we need to start today with a conversion in our own hearts, and an insistence on the same in others.  That may sound simple.  But the history of our nation and its tortured attitudes toward race proves exactly the opposite.”

In addition, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops called for prayer and unity in response to the attack. An excerpt reads:

“We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love’s victory over every form of evil is assured. “

 

 

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/in-wake-of-charlottesville-violence-archbishop-charles-chaput-releases-statement/

With Pa. as a Model, Education Tax Credits May Come to Federal Budget

From the Catholic News Service — Health care wasn’t the only issue before Congress this summer even though it grabbed most of the headlines. Lawmakers also held budget talks that included proposed cuts to education spending.

In mid-July, members of the House Appropriations Committee voted to advance a bill to cut $2.4 billion from the U.S. Department of Education’s budget primarily through trimming teacher training programs.

And even though two school choice initiatives — $1 billion public school choice program and a $250 million private school choice program — were missing from the education spending bill, that didn’t seem to cause panic among Catholic leaders who have supported school choice initiatives.

That’s because there is a new emphasis in school choice — tax credit scholarship programs — that have been gaining momentum on the state level and getting more bipartisan support than standard school voucher legislation.

Catholic leaders, hoping to move on this trend, are optimistic that a federal tax credit scholarship program is not far behind, possibly as part of a broader tax-reform package. Members of the Secretariat of Catholic Education of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and House members over the summer to talk about the potential of such a program.

“We want to keep the drum beating about this,” said Greg Dolan, associate director for public policy for the USCCB’s education secretariat.

He told Catholic News Service July 27 that federal tax credits are appealing because they do not directly involve the government with school tuition aid.

With vouchers, parents receive funds directly from the state to pay for part, or all, of their child’s education. Scholarship tax credits remove the state as middle man since corporations or donors contribute to scholarship grant organizations charged with dispersing funds to families for tuition payments. For these contributions, the companies and other donors receive a tax credit.

Opponents of tax credit scholarships claim they are a back door to vouchers and question if there is enough accountability or inclusion of students with disabilities with such a program.

Currently, 17 states offer some type of scholarship tax credit, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The programs in these states differ in the types of scholarships or tax credits offered, student eligibility requirements and in allowing mission-based, or religious, schools to participate.

Backed by the success of some state tax credit scholarship plans, the bishops’ education office would like to see a similar program take place on a federal level as long as it includes Catholic schools’ participation.

In early June, Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the U.S. bishop’s Committee on Catholic Education, wrote to Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Indiana, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, about the federal tax scholarship bills they have reintroduced in Congress.

The bishop thanked them for their “leadership in encouraging true choice for parents and their children” and said tax credit scholarships have “enormous potential to improve the lives of all children.”

But he also urged them to include certain provisions in the proposed legislation. Namely, schools that accept scholarship students “must retain their autonomy” in their religious identity and character and they also need to be able to keep “control of mission-driven hiring, academically stringent admissions and curriculum.”

Bishop Murry stressed that any federal tax credit program should “ensure real opportunity to access non-government education” and should be available for qualifying families across the country with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

The program’s success, he said, should be evaluated by participating families and by the number of families renewing scholarships, student graduation rates and acceptance into college.

If the government is looking at a particular state as a model for a nationwide tax credit program they should look at Pennsylvania, said Dolan, noting that it allows scholarship donations to be given to religious schools.

The state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program, that began in 2001, offers corporations tax credits for donating to organizations that provide low- and middle-income families private school scholarships.

Amy Hill, communications director for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, said the program has helped tens of thousands of students to attend nonpublic schools — noting that Catholic schools are a choice, but not the only choice, for qualifying students.

“It empowers parents who might not feel they have the means on their own,” to send their children to nonpublic schools, she added.

Hill said the program has bipartisan support and has expanded its funding for the next year.

In Illinois, the state’s Catholic conference has been promoting a scholarship tax credit program for the past two years. This summer, Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich met with the governor to promote this the effort.

Jim Rigg, superintendent of schools in the Chicago Archdiocese, sent parents an email blast in late July saying there is “some hope” that tax credit scholarships will be included in an education funding compromise.

For now, advocates of tax credit scholarships see the state efforts as encouraging, but not enough.

As Dolan pointed out: “A more uniform policy is needed.”

 

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/with-pa-as-a-model-education-tax-credits-may-come-to-federal-budget/

Very Rev. Andriy Rabiy Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia

Very Rev. Andriy Rabiy of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference extends congratulations and best wishes to Very Rev. Andriy Rabiy who was named this week as Auxiliary Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. He has been assigned the Tutular See of Germaniciana. Pope Francis concurred with the recommendation of the appointment offered by the Synod of the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops.

Auxiliary Bishop-Elect Andriy Rabiy has studied for the priesthood at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Seminary, receiving his philosophical and theological studies at The Catholic University of America and the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. He was ordained to the priesthood within the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadlephia and has served with enthusiasm and dedication at a number of parish assignments. He returned to The Catholic University of America for advanced studies in canon law and has served in our Archeparchial Marriage Tribunal. His care and concern for the souls of faithful living in locations not close to existing parishes resulted in his beginning a successful new mission parish in Lancaster, PA, St. Andrew the Apostle Ukrainian Catholic Mission Parish. Recently, he successfully transferred the location of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church from a downtown location to a more suitable suburb location offering a full range of facilities for the parish. Very Rev. Andriy Rabiy serves as Vicar General and Vice-Chancellor of our Archeparchy, in addition to his ministry at his parishes. The Auxiliary Bishop-Elect has also served the PCC as a member of the Communications Department and the Administrative Board.

May God bless him in his new important role!

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/very-rev-andriy-rabiy-appointed-auxiliary-bishop-of-the-ukrainian-catholic-archeparchy-of-philadelphia/

Insurance Department Releases Brochure Outlining Coverage of Opioid Addiction and other Substance Use Disorder Treatment, Depending on How Consumers Get Health Insurance

Greensburg Bishop Edward C. Malesic is interviewed by local media at a recent ‘Prayer and Support’ session held in the diocese on the Catholic Church’s response to the opioid epidemic.

From the Pennsylvania Insurance Department – As part of Governor Wolf’s effort to battle the opioid crisis, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department released a brochure to help people battling opioid addiction understand what substance use disorder treatment (SUD) is covered by their plan, depending on how they get their health care coverage.

“The coverage available for substance use disorder treatment varies by the type of health care coverage an individual has, so it’s important for anyone needing treatment and their families and support group to understand how this coverage may vary,” Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller said.

The brochure, “Substance Use Disorder and Your Insurance Coverage”, was first made available today at a meeting on the opioid crisis held by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg, at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Greensburg, Westmoreland County.

The brochure outlines how the source of health care coverage impacts what SUD treatment coverage options an individual has, or whether this treatment is covered at all.

If you have coverage through government programs:

  • If you have Medicaid (also called Medical Assistance) or CHIP, you have SUD coverage.  Check with your program to find out exactly what benefits you have.
  • If you have Medicare, you may have coverage depending on the type of treatment you need.  Check with your program to see if you are covered.

If you have coverage through the individual market:

  • If you buy health insurance yourself at healthcare.gov, or directly through an insurance company or agent, you are covered for SUD treatment as long as the plan complies with the Affordable Care Act.

If you have coverage through an employer, you may or may not be covered.

  • Many companies are self-insured, meaning the company pays the claims itself even if it hires someone else to do the paperwork.  Self-insured companies are NOT required to provide SUD coverage, but many do.
  • If your company buys coverage from a commercial insurer, Pennsylvania law guarantees you are covered for SUD treatment.
  • Talk with your human resources department to find out if your company provides SUD treatment.

“Another important point explained in the brochure is that if you do have SUD coverage, the insurance plan must offer the same level of benefits as it does for medical or surgical treatment.  This is called parity,” Commissioner Miller said.

Examples of services that are subject to parity rules and must be covered at the same level as medical or surgical benefits are:

  • The number of outpatient visits
  • Out-of-pocket costs, such as co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance
  • Prior authorizations requirements
  • Your provider network for out-of-network services
  • Criteria used to determine medical necessity

“Governor Wolf’s expanded Medicaid program and the availability of individual plans through the Affordable Care Act are providing access to SUD care for approximately 175,000 Pennsylvanians.  Understanding what treatment consumers can get under their coverage is a vital part of accessing this care,” Commissioner Miller said.

The “Substance Use Disorder and Your Insurance Coverage” brochure is available on the Insurance Department website: www.insurance.pa.gov.

 

 

 

 

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/insurance-department-releases-brochure-outlining-coverage-of-opioid-addiction-and-other-substance-use-disorder-treatment-depending-on-how-consumers-get-health-insurance/

Pennsylvania Senator Unveils Plan to Empower Children with Educational Opportunity

State Senator John DiSanto outlines a plan to provide educational opportunities for at-risk students in Pennsylvania.

“My mom wanted something better for us so she sent us to the Joshua Group,” says Lance Deane “Through God’s work … my brother and I were the first in our family to graduate from college. I didn’t come from much; all I wanted was an opportunity.”

It was school choice that gave Deane that opportunity. In high school he received a tax credit scholarship through the Joshua Group, a nonprofit organization focused on the guidance of at-risk youth in Harrisburg through mentoring and positive role models. Deane’s young single mother took advantage of school choice so he could graduate from Bishop McDevitt High School, and now he is a recent graduate of Kutztown University. Deane credits his success today to the opportunity he was afforded upon changing schools after 8th grade.

Lance Deane tells his story of success that he credits to the educational opportunities afforded to him through a tax credit scholarship program.

Deane told his story to State Senator John DiSanto (R-Dauphin) and many parents, students, school officials, community leaders, and other lawmakers who gathered to show support for DiSanto’s proposed Education Savings Account legislation. Senate Bill 2 aims to help at-risk students just like Deane.

The proposed SB 2 would create state-funded, flexible, spending accounts for individual students. Parents can use the funds to pay for Department of Education-approved educational expenses such as non-public school tuition, higher education tuition, textbooks and curriculum, testing and industry certifications. Eligible expenses for children with disabilities would also include occupational, physical, speech and behavioral therapies. Parents will receive a portion of the statewide average funding per pupil (between $5,000 and $6,000), and students with special needs will be eligible for additional support based on their disability. Unused funds roll over from one year to the next. Unspent ESA dollars can even be used to pay for college.

Under DiSanto’s plan, families in the low-performing school districts would have access to a state-funded, flexible spending account through an ESA. Families could direct the funds to a qualified school that best meets the needs of their child or to pay for other support to help their child succeed.

Shannon Lawson, whose daughter is able to attend her school of choice through Pennsylvania’s Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program, also applauded the proposal, “We needed an educational opportunity outside of what we were given. Because of that, we weren’t held by our zip code, we weren’t held by our income to get her the education she needed to excel.”

Lance Deane is now a mentor and tutor for the Joshua Group programs. He is giving back to the community that helped him. Lawson’s daughter is an honor roll student and aspiring author. Senate Bill 2 aims to give many more students the same chance for success.

“Too many Pennsylvania children are consigned to chronically underperforming schools that fail to prepare students for college or careers. Families without the means or good fortune face significantly limited educational opportunities,” said Senator DiSanto. “Waitlists for charter schools and tax credit scholarships are in the tens of thousands. ESAs significantly expand opportunities for students seeking a better education.”

 

 

 

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/pennsylvania-senator-unveils-plan-to-empower-children-with-educational-opportunity/

Why is HHS Contraception Order Still Standing? Trump Said it ‘Would Soon Be Over’

From USCCB president, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo – After meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office on May 4, I sat in the Rose Garden and listened as the president promised the Little Sisters of the Poor that their “long ordeal” with the government’s contraceptive mandate “would soon be over.” Yet here we are, nearly three months later, and the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate still stands.

For four years, the Little Sisters and many other faith-based nonprofit groups have patiently asked the government to do the right thing and let them serve the poor. In a pluralistic society like ours, people should be free to serve the common good without compromising their moral or religious convictions. The HHS mandate, requiring employers to cover contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, has tested this country’s commitment to a healthy pluralism.

President Trump asked some of the Little Sisters to stand next to him on May 4 while he signed an executive order “promoting free speech and religious liberty,” and he promised that “we are ending the attacks on your religious liberty.”

The HHS mandate tries to force faith-based employers — including religious charities, schools and pro-life advocacy organizations such as the March for Life — to facilitate the coverage of drugs and devices that go against our moral mandate to respect the dignity of every human person, born and unborn. If a solution is not reached, these nonprofit organizations could face millions of dollars in fines from the federal government for non-compliance with the HHS mandate.

The president’s promises were not just in his speeches. The text of the executive order itself directs the secretary of Health and Human Services to “consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate.”

Yet the onerous regulations that are still on the books have not been amended.

In a diverse society like ours, people will disagree on moral issues. A majority should not be able to impose its way of life on others by using the government to coerce people into violating their consciences. The Catholic Church teaches that religious freedom has to do with immunity from coercion. Immunity from government coercion is a right that all citizens in this country should enjoy. So in asking for an exemption to the HHS mandate to fully accommodate deeply held moral and religious beliefs, we are simply asking that the government give us the space to fully participate in American life.

Following the signing ceremony, I said that the executive order “begins a process.” It is now time for the administration to take the next steps in the process of ensuring that the Little Sisters, and all those who seek to abide by their religious beliefs or moral convictions, would be able to continue to serve their fellow citizens in accordance with their consciences.

Religious freedom is a fundamental right, not a political football. Freedom belongs to us by human nature, not by government dictate. A government that serves its citizens is one that respects the right to religious freedom.

President Trump suggested that he understood the stakes when he said, “Freedom is not a gift from government. Freedom is a gift from God.”

The HHS mandate puts an unnecessary burden on religious freedom, a burden that the administration has the power to lift, a burden that the administration has promised to lift. And yet the burden has not been lifted.

Mr. President, please lift this burden.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, is president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

 

 

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/9173-2/

Why is HHS contraception order still standing? Trump said it ‘would soon be over’

From USCCB president, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo – After meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office on May 4, I sat in the Rose Garden and listened as the president promised the Little Sisters of the Poor that their “long ordeal” with the government’s contraceptive mandate “would soon be over.” Yet here we are, nearly three months later, and the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate still stands.

For four years, the Little Sisters and many other faith-based nonprofit groups have patiently asked the government to do the right thing and let them serve the poor. In a pluralistic society like ours, people should be free to serve the common good without compromising their moral or religious convictions. The HHS mandate, requiring employers to cover contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, has tested this country’s commitment to a healthy pluralism.

President Trump asked some of the Little Sisters to stand next to him on May 4 while he signed an executive order “promoting free speech and religious liberty,” and he promised that “we are ending the attacks on your religious liberty.”

The HHS mandate tries to force faith-based employers — including religious charities, schools and pro-life advocacy organizations such as the March for Life — to facilitate the coverage of drugs and devices that go against our moral mandate to respect the dignity of every human person, born and unborn. If a solution is not reached, these nonprofit organizations could face millions of dollars in fines from the federal government for non-compliance with the HHS mandate.

The president’s promises were not just in his speeches. The text of the executive order itself directs the secretary of Health and Human Services to “consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate.”

Yet the onerous regulations that are still on the books have not been amended.

In a diverse society like ours, people will disagree on moral issues. A majority should not be able to impose its way of life on others by using the government to coerce people into violating their consciences. The Catholic Church teaches that religious freedom has to do with immunity from coercion. Immunity from government coercion is a right that all citizens in this country should enjoy. So in asking for an exemption to the HHS mandate to fully accommodate deeply held moral and religious beliefs, we are simply asking that the government give us the space to fully participate in American life.

Following the signing ceremony, I said that the executive order “begins a process.” It is now time for the administration to take the next steps in the process of ensuring that the Little Sisters, and all those who seek to abide by their religious beliefs or moral convictions, would be able to continue to serve their fellow citizens in accordance with their consciences.

Religious freedom is a fundamental right, not a political football. Freedom belongs to us by human nature, not by government dictate. A government that serves its citizens is one that respects the right to religious freedom.

President Trump suggested that he understood the stakes when he said, “Freedom is not a gift from government. Freedom is a gift from God.”

The HHS mandate puts an unnecessary burden on religious freedom, a burden that the administration has the power to lift, a burden that the administration has promised to lift. And yet the burden has not been lifted.

Mr. President, please lift this burden.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, is president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

 

 

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/9173-2/

How to Talk about Religious Liberty

From the USCCB – Religious freedom has recently become one of the major focal points in the conversation on how Americans can promote the common good. Our Catholic tradition has much to offer this conversation. In this time of increasing polarization in our culture, we can contribute to a better understanding of this issue in a way that respects all people. We can speak with friends and neighbors about religious freedom and work to clear up misconceptions about it.

  1. Respect

Many religious freedom skeptics have plausible concerns. For example, they are concerned that all people should be treated with equal dignity. Indeed, the dignity of all people is the foundation for Catholic teaching on religious liberty. It is important that we not dismiss skeptics, but rather, that we listen to their concerns and take them seriously.

So, if the skeptics have a point, what do we say?

     2. A Fundamental Right

Religious freedom is a fundamental right. It means that the government cannot coerce people into acting against their consciences. This is important for all people, not just people of faith. A government that makes one group choose obedience to the state over obedience to faith and conscience can force any group to submit to the state’s demands. Religious freedom underlies all other freedoms for everyone

     3. Space to Do Good

People of faith need religious freedom to have the space to serve others. Oftentimes, religious liberty disputes arise when religious organizations are expected to sacrifice aspects of their faith in order to continue to serve the surrounding community. But it is our faith that in-spires us to serve. Take the Little Sisters of the Poor, who live out their Christian faith by serving the elderly poor.

These women have had to seek protection from a regulation requiring them to facilitate access to contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs and devices. Or, consider adoption services run by Catholic Charities, which simply seek to place children in homes with a married mother and father. Due to the redefinition of marriage in civil law, many Catholic Charities and other faith-based adoption agencies around the country have been forced to end their adoption and foster care services.

Challenges to religious freedom often come from a mistaken view of religion, a view that sees religion as good only if it conforms to every value that happens to prevail today.

However, the good that religious institutions do is inseparable from the parts that challenge prevailing norms. Religious convictions hang together, in and out of season. When faith groups violate their consciences, they undermine the whole mission of their ministry. People of faith and faith-based organizations need space to make their unique contributions to the common good.

     4. Authentic Pluralism

Skeptics are often concerned about the effects that religious organizations have on people who do not share those religious beliefs. Skeptics tend to see a conflict between religious freedom and their vision of equality and choose a mistaken concept of equality over freedom. These are certainly difficult issues. Here are points to consider:

  • A pluralistic society makes space for people who hold views that run counter to the mainstream. Religious groups, and groups formed around a particular set of principles, need to be able to express their views with integrity. Should an animal rights organization be required by law to hire a member of a hunting association? Of course not. Then, for example, neither should a religious organization be required to hire people who oppose the teachings of that religion. It is crucial that our society not adopt the view that all groups – least of all religious groups — must conform to one view. True freedom results in a diversity that strengthens, rather than weakens, society.
  • Some skeptics say that religious people impose their faith on others. However, when religious groups are accused of causing harm to others, the “harm” is often that they do not facilitate an action. The craft store chain Hobby Lobby refused to cover abortifacients for its employees. But Hobby Lobby is not preventing its employees from obtaining these devices. The Christian family that runs Hobby Lobby refuses to participate in an activity it believes is immoral.
  • It is similar when family-owned businesses choose not to participate in same-sex weddings. For example, florist Barronelle Stutzman had served a customer she knew was in a same-sex relationship for almost a decade. However, she could not in good conscience create custom floral arrangements for the customer’s same-sex ceremony. She was happy to provide flowers for any other occasion but did not want to be forced to participate in a particular event that went against her Christian beliefs. The State of Washington sued Barronelle for declining to participate in an activity that went against her faith.
  • Above all, the Church seeks to offer a better way. Catholic teaching is holistic, rooted in the dignity of the person, a dignity that is visible to reason yet made more clear by the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are not simply asking for freedom from coercion so that we can be left alone. We believe that what we teach – about marriage, sex, family life, care for refugees, care for the poor, care for the sick, care for all vulnerable – is good for society. When we see a culture that is often un-loving and hostile to life, we work to bear witness to a healthier culture, a “civilization of love,” in which all people can flourish.

    5. Own It

When we engage in conversation as Catholics, people want to know what we think. It’s good to represent the Church and the beauty of her teachings; it’s even better when we internalize those teachings and reflect on our own experiences and reasons for caring about religious freedom. Your friends and neighbors want to know what you think. You have a unique contribution to make to the conversation!

 




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/how-to-talk-about-religious-liberty/

Harborcreek Arts Center Gives Youth New Life

Harborcreek Youth Services resident Nick, foreground, plays a guitar riff for music therapist Sam Krahe and Catholic Charities Executive Director Ann Badach.

He’s only 17, but Nick Smith says the past year has been the best of his life. He credits Harborcreek Youth Services (HYS), a psychiatric residential treatment center for young people.

“It saved my life,” says Nick, whose real last name is withheld to protect his privacy.

Located in Harborcreek not far from the shores of Lake Erie in the Diocese of Erie, HYS is home to about 65 mostly young men who have been court-appointed or placed because of mental health issues or a history of personal trauma. It operates under the auspices of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Erie, offering not only residential care, but behavioral health services, foster care and specialized family therapy.

On May 11, Nick had even more reason to celebrate as HYS dedicated its new Father Jim Fahey Therapeutic Arts Center.

The Therapeutic Arts Center aims to reach troubled youth through various expressive therapies, including art, music and movement.

“This gives the boys a lot more opportunity for different kinds of activity and therapy,” says John Petulla, executive director of HYS and the main mover behind the three-year effort to build the Therapeutic Arts Center.

For Nick, playing the guitar or banging on some drums have helped.

“In my opinion, it’s an outlet for emotions and trauma,” Nick says. “If you don’t want to sit there and explain it to a therapist, if you don’t want to sit there and tell your mom exactly how you feel, then put it in a song, record it and do something with it.”

Mercyhurst University President Michael Victor spoke at the dedication ceremony, expressing his appreciation for the longtime relationship Mercyhurst has had with HYS.

In 2015, the Mercyhurst University-Harborcreek Youth Services Partnership was established to help build the Therapeutic Arts Initiative.

“Through music, art and movement therapy combined with counseling, we are making great strides in helping these young people discover self-worth, emotional expression and social skills,” Victor told those gathered for the dedication ceremony. “What could be more motivating or more inspiring?”

*Article contributed by Mary Solberg, Editor, FaithLife.




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/harborcreek-arts-center-gives-youth-new-life/

More Than 100 People Attend Evening of ‘Prayer and Support’ in Connellsville

The Immaculate Conception Parish in Connellsville served as the backdrop for the first Summer Diocesan Drug Education and Prayer Service organized by Greensburg Bishop Edward C. Malesic. The event was held on Tuesday, July 11 and was attended by more than 100 people from across the diocese that listened, learned and shared stories of how the opioid and heroin epidemic has touched them and their family.

Calling it a plague, Bishop Malesic cited that 319 people in the diocese died of an opioid overdose in 2016.

Several parishioners shared their personal stories of loss and struggle that have resulted from addiction.

The sessions will continue throughout the summer in the Greensburg diocese which is comprised of Armstrong, Fayette, Indiana and Westmoreland counties.

Read and watch more from area news coverage of the evening by following these links:




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/more-than-100-people-attend-evening-of-prayer-and-support-in-connellsville/

State Budget Round Up for 2017-2018

Governor Tom Wolf announced his decision to let the General Assembly’s $32 billion FY 2017-2018 spending plan become law without his signature, despite the legislature’s unresolved negotiations for the revenue to back it up. The governor said he hopes that lawmakers “will come together to pass a responsible solution to balance our books.”

The legislature is considering different revenue options including borrowing from other dedicated funds and expanding gambling, but holding the line on sales and personal income taxes. They must find a way to close the $2.2 billion gap.

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) and the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association (PCHA) tracks many elements of the budget debate, especially those line items that help families and assist the poor.

Education

Thanks to a strong expression of grassroots support, many more students could get scholarships to attend the school of their choice next year. The number of tax credits available for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program in the spending plan will increase by $20 million. The companion program, Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credits (OSTC), which gives the same kind of scholarships to students who live in underperforming school districts, remained the same with no cuts. When the legislature passes the school code bill, the increased tax credits will be authorized.

The tax credit scholarships have been an investment that has paid dividends for students seeking a Catholic or other private education in Pennsylvania. Every Catholic school in all corners of this great Commonwealth benefits from the EITC or OSTC programs.

Each year more than 40,000 families get a scholarship that permits the parents to send their children to a school that best meets their needs. It gives these families a true choice in the right educational path for their children.

Social Concerns

The state constitution requires the state and local governments to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of citizens, especially the poor such as “mothers having dependent children and aged persons without adequate means of support.” (PA Constitution, Article III, §29)

Funding for these human services was cut in some areas, but for the most part it was kept at the same level as last year. Catholic charities and social service agencies often partner with local governments to deliver these services to people in need. For example, local crisis pregnancy centers administer the state’s alternative to abortion program, that supports women through their pregnancy and up to the first year of their child’s life. This state funded program has helped thousands of mothers choose life for their babies.

Health Care

Line items that fund Pennsylvania’s obstetrical/neonatal services, burn and trauma centers, and critical access hospitals remained the same; this is welcome news to PCHA and the Hospital Health System Association of PA (HAP). The overall impact of the state budget on health care can be complicated. Questions about Medicaid and health care access for the poor remain unanswered as the debate in Washington, DC, continues.

The PCC and PCHA track and monitor many bills and proposed regulations in addition to the state budget. Stay up to date on all issues by visiting www.pacatholic.org, or lend your voice to the debate by sending a message through the Catholic Advocacy Network.

JULY 2017 PCC COLUMN – The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania. Stay up-to-date with Catholic news and issues at www.pacatholic.org, www.facebook.com/pacatholic, and www.twitter.com/pacatholic.




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/state-budget-round-up-for-2017-2018/

How Do You Stay Connected? Do You Follow Your Diocese? Pope Francis Wants to Know

In preparation for the upcoming snyod on youth, faith and vocations, Pope Francis is asking the faithful, particularly young people ages 16-29, to tell him about their engagement within the Catholic Church.

The Vatican has recently launched an anonymous online survey geared to young people as a way to offer feedback on issues surrounding the Catholic faith. The responses will then be used to form the foundation of topics that will be discussed at the synod.

In addition to completing the online survey here, follow this link to get connected to your local diocese today!

 

 




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/how-do-you-stay-connected-do-you-follow-your-diocese-pope-francis-wants-to-know/

Bishop Zubik Releases Statement on Senate’s Proposed Health Care Plan

Bishop David A. Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh recently released a statement urging members of the U.S. Senate to remove a provision in the proposed healthcare reform bill that would severely limit health care access for those most in need.

Calling access to health care a basic human right, Bishop Zubik noted that since 1919, the Catholic bishops of the United States have called for a universal health care plan that protects every person at every stage of life.

Additionally, he noted that the Senate bill places at risk:

  • The 2.6 million Pennsylvania residents who receive Medicaid – including 1.1 million children, 730,000 persons with disabilities and 82,000 military veterans;
  • The nearly one-third of all Pennsylvania births now covered by Medicaid; and
  • The more than 260,000 Pennsylvania seniors who rely on Medicaid to cover nursing home and long-term in-home care not covered by Medicare.

 

The full statement can be read here.

 

 




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/bishop-zubik-releases-statement-on-senates-proposed-health-care-plan/

Greensburg Bishop Responds to “The Crisis That is Upon Us.”

Bishop Edward C. Malesic of the Diocese of Greensburg recently held a news conference to outline the Catholic Church’s local response to the statewide heroin and opioid crisis.

Specifically, Bishop Malesic released a pastoral letter calling on people in the diocese to take action against the opioid scourge, by focusing on prayer, education and cooperative efforts with government and social service agencies that are already engaged in the fight against addiction.

An excerpt reads:

Rarely does a day go by that we do not hear about a death that is the result of a drug overdose. The word “crisis” is used to describe the situation as it currently presses down upon us. Our priests have told me of their sadness and frustration at having buried way too many persons as a result of it.

 Read the full letter.

 

In 2016 alone, more than 300 opioid-related deaths were reported within the four counties of the Diocese of Greensburg.

“This is a plague that has come into the homes and families of every city, town, and even the rural areas of our diocese,” said Malesic. “It has touched the very hearts and souls of our parishioners in the pews and the people living in our communities; it has affected men and women of every age, profession and state of life. Even more tragic is the reality that every one of those 319 deaths was preventable and did not have to happen.”

Bishop Malesic also announced the schedule for a series of seven Summer Diocesan Drug Education Evenings, to be held around the diocese on the following dates:

Tuesday, July 11 — Immaculate Conception Parish, Connellsville

Friday, July 14 — Immaculate Conception Parish, Irwin

Wednesday, Aug. 2 — St. Joseph Parish, Uniontown

Thursday, Aug. 3 — Our Lady of Grace Parish, Greensburg

Tuesday, Aug. 8 — St. Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Kittanning

Thursday, Aug. 10 — Mary Queen of Apostles School, Greenwald Site, New Kensington

Wednesday, Aug. 16 — St. Thomas More University Parish, Indiana

Each session will begin at 7 p.m.

The sessions will include a presentation about the facts of the crisis, a discussion with a question and answer period, and a prayer service.

 




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/greensburg-bishop-responds-to-the-crisis-that-is-upon-us/

Act Now to Support Increasing Education Tax Credits!

Students rally at the state Capitol in support of expanding the EITC and OSTC programs.

Pennsylvania’s constitutional deadline of June 30 to pass a state budget is quickly approaching.

House Bill 250, which would increase tax credits available under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program by $50 million (raising it to $175 million) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) program by $25 million (raising it to $75 million), overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support.

Budget negotiations are taking place and this issue is currently being considered, so NOW is the time to remind members of the House to maintain support for an increase and to urge state senators to follow suit by voting for EITC and OSTC increases!

The EITC and the OSTC programs have always achieved bipartisan support and have been acclaimed as two of the best educational programs Pennsylvania offers to students in both public and private schools.

The tax credit scholarships have been an investment that has paid dividends for students seeking a Catholic or other private education in Pennsylvania. Every Catholic school in all corners of this great Commonwealth benefits from the EITC or OSTC programs.

Each year more than 40,000 families get a scholarship that permits the parents to send their children to a school that best meets their needs. It gives these families a true choice in the right educational path for their children.

We need your help to urge all lawmakers to invest in success and support the expansion of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs by voting YES on a state budget that includes an increase in the programs’ line items. Click here to send a message today.




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/invest-in-success-expand-eitc-ostc-scholarships-2/

PCC Welcomes Two New Staff

PCC’s newest staff members: Eric Failing, Director of Social Concerns, and Stephany Dugan, Director of Outreach.

Two new faces joined the staff of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC), public affairs agency of the ten Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania based in the state capital, Harrisburg. Eric Failing is director of social concerns and Stephany Dugan is director of outreach.

The PCC’s mission is to formulate positions on public policy issues that affect the Church as an institution, but also on issues of morality, health, welfare, human rights, education and the common good. The PCC officially represents the Church before state government and works in cooperation with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on federal issues. The PCC also aims to foster a public understanding of the Church’s teaching and concern about all of these issues.

Mr. Failing represents the Church’s concern about pro-life, social justice, and family-life issues and helps diocesan Catholic Charities agencies by monitoring legislation and regulations that affect them and the services they offer. He lobbies the state legislature on behalf of low-income and other needy population groups.

Ms. Dugan manages the Catholic Advocacy Network and the PCC’s website and social media. Her work helps to arm Catholics with the truth and authentic Church teaching behind today’s public policy issues so they can be effective advocates for the Gospel in the public square.

Learn about the latest issues and take action through the Catholic Advocacy Network at www.pacatholic.org.

 

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JUNE 2017 column. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania. Stay up-to-date with Catholic news and issues at www.pacatholic.org, www.facebook.com/pacatholic, and www.twitter.com/pacatholic.




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/pcc-welcomes-two-new-staff/

Life of Cardinal William H. Keeler Honored by State Legislature

The life of Cardinal William H. Keeler was honored and celebrated on Monday, June 12, 2017, by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives with the unanimous adoption of House Resolution 345.

The resolution was introduced by state Rep. Frank Ryan of Lebanon County.

Cardinal Keeler, who was called to the priesthood at an early age, was widely known for forging strong relationships with other religious denominations, particularly Jews and Protestants.

A native of Lebanon and attendee of Lebanon Catholic High School, Cardinal Keeler served as the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg from 1984 to 1989 and was president of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference Administrative Board. Namely, he was instrumental in arranging Pope John Paul II’s historic 1987 meetings with Jewish leaders in Miami, Florida, and with Protestant leaders in Columbia, South Carolina.

He was appointed the 14th Archbishop of Baltimore in 1989, became President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1992.

In November 1994, Pope John Paul II appointed then-Archbishop Keeler to the College of Cardinals making him the third Archbishop of Baltimore to receive the distinction.

In his own words: “I wondered about a way of saying thank you to God and giving back to the church and the gifts that God has given to me. It was as simple as that. For me, becoming a priest was not complicated.” – From The Catholic Review of Baltimore.

Cardinal William Henry Keeler

March 4, 1931 – March 23, 2017




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/life-of-cardinal-william-h-keeler-honored-by-state-legislature/

Advocates, Lawmakers ‘Stand up for Life’ at Capitol Rally

Standing  united on the steps of the state’s Capitol, pro-life advocates and lawmakers renewed the call to stand up for life by urging passage of legislation (House Bill 77 or Senate Bill 3) which would reform Pennsylvania’s Abortion Control Act.

State Rep. Kathy Rapp, who was inspired by the verse 30:19 from Deuteronomy where God advises us to “choose life”, led the call to support legislation to enact a ban on abortions from the 20th week on during a pregnancy.

Research, medical advances and scientific evidence have all shown that by the 20th week of a pregnancy, unborn babies are capable of feeling pain in utero – furthering the need to stand up for the protection of the sanctity and dignity of all human life.

In addition, the legislation also would completely ban the cruel and brutal practice of dismemberment abortions in the state of Pennsylvania.

More than 12 other states, including neighboring Ohio have begun to reduce the maximum gestational age for legal abortions. Sitting down, Pennsylvania will remain off that list. Standing up, Pennsylvania could be the next state to save the lives of unborn children and protect the lives of mothers!

Urge your state representative to stand up for life and support this legislation. Send a message here through the Catholic Advocacy Network.




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/advocates-lawmakers-stand-up-for-life-at-capitol-rally/

Maybe the cure is the problem

The following is an article by Aaron Matthew Weldon that appeared as the May 25, 2017, entry on “God’s Servant First: A USCCB Religious Freedom Blog.”

American culture today is highly individualistic.  Many of us make major life decisions on our own, we move from place to place, or we make frequent changes in employment.

My wife and I have made three major moves in the relatively short span in which we have been married.  Each time, the first thing we wanted to do was “get settled”—that is, get involved in a church, make friends, and start working.

I suspect many people are like me in that they feel vulnerable when it seems like they must make it in the world alone.  We want to belong.  We want to belong to a church, a community group, a service organization, or some other group.

The basic human need to belong entails a need for a healthy pluralism; a healthy pluralism means, among other things, that organizations are free to order themselves in accordance with the purposes of the group, including religious purposes.

For example, in a pluralistic society, a religious organization is free to hire only people who support the mission of the organization.  In this sense, religious freedom helps foster a healthy pluralism by maintaining space for religious institutions to purse their unique missions.

Yet authentic pluralism, understandably, may look frightening to the isolated individual.  What if I cannot get involved with a particular student group on campus?  What if I don’t fit into that club?  What if I disagree with the goals of a potential employer?  The fear of exclusion results in praise for institutions to the extent that they are “inclusive,” and punishment to the extent that they appear to be “exclusionary,” which is sometimes further maligned as “discriminatory.”

This attitude has real consequences.  For example, on many college campuses, Christian groups have been forced to adopt “all-comers” policies.  Some colleges require that any student have the right to be a leader for any student group.  This may sound appealing on first blush, but it means that an atheist could lead a Bible study, a climate change denier could lead the environmental club, or a Republican could lead the College Democrats.

A false sense of “inclusivity” ends up meaning that organizations and clubs cannot really have a distinct purpose or mission.  Having mission-based policies would mean that the group must order itself both to support and to avoid subverting that mission; and that means excluding those who would subvert it or not support it strongly enough.  This exclusion is then called “discrimination.”

But if the group cannot order itself, there is nothing distinctive about it, and thus it cannot give the individual person the sense of belonging and opportunity for fulfillment that she is seeking.  The cure for exclusion ends up excluding anyone from belonging anywhere.  This reinforces the individualistic culture that causes people to feel so vulnerable in the first place.

Healthy pluralism is difficult.  The erosion of religious freedom makes authentic pluralism even more difficult. Without a healthy pluralism—that is, without the space for a variety of organizations and groups to thrive—human flourishing is diminished.

The desire to remove entry barriers to the groups that make up civil society is understandable.  We want everyone to belong somewhere; but we shouldn’t shoehorn everyone into belonging everywhere.  When the removal of barriers bleaches out distinctiveness and weakens mission—including religious mission—we undercut the goal of building a truly inclusive society.


Aaron Matthew Weldon is Religious Liberty Program Specialist for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/maybe-the-cure-is-the-problem/

Physician Assisted Suicide: The Real Effects

The Patients Rights Action Fund (PRAF) has released a new video “Physician Assisted Suicide: The Real Effects.” Featuring Dr. Brian Callister of Nevada, it addresses one of the most compelling dangers of legalizing assisted suicide – the denial of life-extending/-saving care the concurrent “offer” to cover the cost of lethal drugs for suicide.

His experience is disturbing–and should be made known far wide. Click the image to see the video on YouTube.




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/physician-assisted-suicide-the-real-effects/

What’s on the PCC Legislative Agenda?

The PA Senate Bill Room

The 2017-2018 session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly is now fully underway and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association are tracking a number of different legislative proposals.

See what bills are on the radar screen

PCC and PCHA formulate policy positions about state government programs, legislation, and policies that affect the common good and the interests of the Church. Areas of interest include concern for the poor, education, faith and politics, health care, respect for human life, religious liberty and social justice.

In each two-year legislative session, the Legislative Reference Bureau prepares about 70 million pages of bills, amendments, resolutions, and citations introduced by the members of the General Assembly. Only a fraction of them will ever become law, but each one has the potential for consideration.

The PCC and PCHA review hundreds of these bills with a Catholic lens. Some bills may affect the Church, and its Catholic schools, charities, and health care facilities as an institution; but many more deserve consideration because they concern the welfare of others. The Gospel calls us to support and defend the common good.

With so many proposals to consider, how do the PCC and PCHA prioritize what to track? Bills that promote these values may earn Catholic support; bills that may harm or contradict will be opposed.

  • Protection of human life from conception until natural death.
  • Support of programs that provide aid to nonpublic school students and their parents, including school choice.
  • Health care and insurance reform that guarantees access to adequate health care, standard benefits, long-term care for all persons, and care that allows religiously-affiliated providers to deliver services in accord with their ethical and moral principles.
  • Strengthening Pennsylvania families and working to uphold the stability of marriage between one man and one woman.
  • Support for safe and affordable religious child care facilities.
  • Advocacy for social justice and human rights for all Pennsylvanians, especially for programs that serve people in need.
  • Protection of the right to religious freedom, whether within the Church walls or in the community.

Many bills that address important topics are introduced, but not all of them are likely to be considered. The PCC and PCHA include bills in its legislative review that seem to have “traction;” but things can happen fast in a legislative session. News and urgent calls to action are constantly updated on www.pacatholic.org.

Pray for our elected officials and their public policy deliberations. The well-being of Pennsylvania’s citizens depends on it!




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/whats-on-the-pcc-legislative-agenda/

Catholic Schools Stand Out in 2017 PA-CAPE Annual Awards

PA-CAPE award recipients at the awards ceremony in Harrisburg on May 10th. (L to R): Jeanne Koenig Meredith (St. Mary Interparochial School), Christopher Buck (Mother Teresa Regional Catholic School), Mary B. Stauffer (Dayspring Christian Academy), Nona Shanis Melnick (Montessori Children’s House), Kevin Skaer (The Christian Academy), Rebecca Dewey (Gladwyne Montessori), Diane Hediger (representing Queen of Angels Regional Catholic School)

The Pennsylvania affiliate of the Council on American Private Education (PA-CAPE) honor Pennsylvania’s brightest teachers, administrators, and schools in the private sector each year.  The 2017 PA-CAPE Private School Teacher, Administrator, and School Awards included several Catholic winners. Representing approximately 85 percent of the students in private schools in Pennsylvania, PA-CAPE established the awards ceremony to elevate the status of private education in the eyes of the communities they serve as well as the Pennsylvania legislature.  There are many excellent candidates nominated for these awards each year, all of whom provide an outstanding example of how Pennsylvania private schools are changing the lives of students both in and out of the classroom.  We would like to recognize and congratulate the following individuals and school for winning this year’s awards.

  • Rebecca Dewey – Early Childhood Educator (Gladwyne Montessori)
  • Nona Shanis Melnick – Early Childhood Administrator (Montessori Children’s House)
  • Mary B. Stauffer – Primary Educator (Dayspring Christian Academy)
  • Jeanne Koenig Meredith – Primary Administrator (St. Mary Interparochial School)
  • Christopher Buck – Secondary Educator (Mother Teresa Regional Catholic School)
  • Kevin M. Skaer – Secondary Administrator (The Christian Academy)
  • Queen of Angels Regional Catholic School – Story Award

 

These teachers and administrators have a personal testimony that reinforces the overall significance of private school educators and leaders; we congratulate and thank them for the impact they make in their classrooms, schools, and in the lives of each of their students!




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/catholic-schools-stand-out-in-2017-pa-cape-annual-awards/

Growing Vegetables & Awareness in the State Capitol’s Hunger Garden

Some of Pennsylvania’s politicians play dirty at the State Capitol – literally. Several members of the Legislative Hunger Caucus led by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and Representative Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny) got into the dirt and planted tomatoes, peppers, and other fresh vegetables in the Hunger Garden on Wednesday, May 10, 2017.

Located on the State Capitol grounds between the Main Capitol Building and the Ryan Office Building, the Capitol Hunger Garden provides healthy food for the Downtown Daily Bread soup kitchen in Harrisburg and serves as a valuable tool to raise awareness of hunger issues in Pennsylvania.

Every year, hundreds of volunteers including Master Gardeners plant, cultivate, and harvest thousands of pounds of produce to feed many Pennsylvanians in need from this small plot of earth.

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference’s Social Concerns Director Eric Failing offered an appropriate quote from Pope Francis, “It is Jesus himself who invites us to make room in our hearts for the urgency to ‘feed the hungry,’ and the Church has made it one of the corporal works of mercy. To share what we have with those who lack the means to satisfy such a primary need, educates us in that charity that is an overflowing gift of passion for the life of the poor that the Lord makes us meet.”

Hunger is an issue that affects every community in America; men, women, the elderly, and especially children face food insecurity every day. Catholic Charities operate over 10.4 million food services across the country including food distribution in pantries and food banks, fully prepared meals served in dining facilities, soup kitchen facilities, and home delivery.

Learn more about Pennsylvania’s Legislative Hunger Caucus here.




Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/growing-vegetables-awareness-in-the-state-capitols-hunger-garden/