Kentucky: Murdered in Cold Blood

MURDERED IN COLD BLOOD
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JANE CHILES, former Executive Director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, suffered the loss of her nephew, Scott Johnson, in the terror attack on the Wo…

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Illinois: Bishops Issue Statement for National Migration Week

The bishops of Illinois today released a statement on National Migration Week, set to begin Jan. 8. It follows, and is also attached.

 

 

2012 National Migration Week

January 8, 2012 (Epiphany of the Lord)

“Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.”  (Isaiah 60: 1)

These words of hope from the Prophet Isaiah speak to a people who have long faced struggles and who seek hope in darkness.  We, the Catholic Bishops of Illinois, on the cusp of a New Year, seek to offer that same voice of hope to another people in struggle: immigrant families.   The fact that there are 11 million men, women and children in our nation who live in the shadows and are fearful of family separation by deportation is proof that our current system is flawed and our immigration policies have failed us.  Let us pray that in this New Year we may recognize the need for comprehensive immigration reform that respects the rule of law, yet also ensures that the law is applied fairly and compassionately to those immigrant families among us who need our help.

 

How appropriate it is that we celebrate National Migration Week (January 8-14) beginning with the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  Like the journey of the Magi following the star to the Source of hope, love and freedom found in the Holy Child lying in the Bethlehem manger, many families are also on a journey seeking hope in a new country.  They seek a place of  economic, emotional, physical and spiritual security, longing for those things needed to live in human dignity:  productive work and fair wages, food, shelter, education, health care, and protection from harm, all too often out of reach in their native land.  Yet, under the current immigration system in our country, we see the tragic separation of many of these families.  Their hopes turn to despair.  But it need not remain this way; we should seek to accompany these families on their journey and support them in their hopes.  We should do this because their hopes for themselves and their families are also ours.

 

Over the months to come, each Catholic diocese in Illinois will be sharing stories of immigrant families who are members of our parishes and communities.  They will share their experiences of past and current struggles as well as their successes and hopes for the future.  These stories will be shared in diocesan publications, in parish bulletins and on the Catholic Conference of Illinois’ website (www.catholicconferenceofillinois.org), as well as other sources.  Please take the time to read their stories and learn about the immigration issues that significantly affect your neighbors and fellow parishioners.

 

We call on all Catholics and people of faith in Illinois to pray for these families and to become those epiphanies: previously hidden manifestations of the Christ within, now revealing to others the deep compassion of Christ through our individual and collective efforts to provide hope and support to immigrant families and to advocate for comprehensive reform of our nation’s immigration laws.

 

The Catholic Bishops of Illinois

 

 

Kentucky: Who Speaks for Creation?

We are pleased to be publishing columns again from three very different Kentucky writers. As there is time we will add more articles from these sources.


Who Speaks for Creation? | Catholic Conference of Kentucky
ccky.org
Judy Bonds had her eyes opened the day her 6-year old grandson scooped up dead fish floating in the creek by her house. Something terribly wrong happened to the water due to the mine runoff originating from the coal preparation plant above Marfork Hollow where her family had lived for seven generat…

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Minnesota: Combating Poverty in the Public Arena

By Jason Adkins
(December 21, 2011)

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is marking this January as “poverty awareness month.” It is re-launching its Poverty USA campaign to chronicle the stories of those living in poverty, as well as identify innovative solutions and ideas communities can use to help their neighbors in need.

The campaign could not be timelier.

One in six Americans is currently living in poverty, and one in five children. That is more than 46 million people. Living in poverty means the household income for a family of four is less than $22,314.

Those astounding poverty figures do not include the many working families struggling to make ends meet with stagnant wages and rising costs for food, fuel, health care and housing.

The causes of poverty are complex and are rooted in both individual sin and injustices perpetrated by the “structures of sin”: unemployment, lack of access to education or job training, disability, health problems, insufficient wages, lack of affordable housing, precarious lifestyles, substance abuse and family breakdown. The list goes on.

Oftentimes, some of these problems in a person’s or family’s life are multiplied and deepened by other problems, resulting in a cycle of poverty that is often difficult to break.

Instrument of justice

So how should Catholics respond in the public arena to growing poverty?

Some argue that it is not the government’s job to take care of the poor. Rather, it is the responsibility of churches and charities. And besides, they claim, government assistance is not in the Constitution.

Such an argument, however, fundamentally misconstrues the role of politics and government.

The state’s role is not to show the magnanimity of charity, which is beyond its competence (it can’t love people). The state is, however, an instrument of justice, and the aim of politics is the just ordering of society.

When there is injustice, especially in the economic realm, the state has a responsibility to prudently step in and correct it to the extent that it is competent to do so.

Pope Benedict’s words in the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” provide an important clarification about the responsibilities and limitations of the state in alleviating poverty, especially in a time like now when there is increasing pressure in some circles to completely privatize assistance to those in need.

According to Pope Benedict, “There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbor is indispensable.”

The Holy Father continues: “The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person — every person — needs: namely, loving personal concern.

“We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need” (28b).

Not all poverty is the result of injustice, and so there are limits to what the state can do. A government crusade to “eradicate poverty” might create the inhuman state Pope Benedict warns us about.

Fortunately, the state of Minnesota recognizes that charitable organizations such as Catholic Charities can often do a better job delivering certain human services and combating poverty than a comparable state entity could, and thus subsidizes Catholic Charities’ efforts.

Practicing subsidiarity

This type of collaboration is an excellent embodiment of the principle of subsidiarity that Pope Benedict XVI outlined in “Deus Caritas Est.”

To the extent that anti-poverty programs — whether provided directly by the state or through some contractor like Catholic Charities — secure basic needs, create a safety net, break the cycle of poverty or provide a ladder out of it, they should continue to receive adequate funding and even increases as needs arise.

These public efforts will go a long way toward alleviating material poverty and building a more just society.

Working for justice, however, is only part of the equation.

It is up to all of us to manifest true charity — perform the works of mercy; give generously and directly assist those in need; cooperate with the church’s charitable endeavors — and fill the world with the love and concern that cures the spiritual poverty present in so many hearts.

Merry Christmas!

Jason Adkins is executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota. To learn more about how you can assist MCC’s advocacy work through the Minnesota Catholic Advocacy Network (MNCAN), visit its website at http://www.mncc.org.

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Pennsylvania: December Update

The last weeks of session in the Pennsylvania Legislature saw much activity on the issues of concern to Pennsylvania’s Catholics. We offer our sincere thanks for your efforts this year, and we offer an update below.  The staff of the PCC wishes you and your family a very Merry Christmas. May the joy and peace that the Christ child brings be with you throughout 2012!

SB 1 – Vouchers and an Increase to EITC

In the final days of their 2011 session, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives did not take up the issue of vouchers to the great disappointment of school choice proponents across the state.

Senate Bill 1, The Opportunity Scholarship Act, passed the Senate in late October by a vote of 27-22. School choice supporters were hopeful that families in Pennsylvania would soon be able to choose the education that is best for their children, but the voucher proposal discussed by House leadership was vastly different than Senate Bill 1.  Ultimately, this different language was never put before the House for a vote. Legislation concerning charter schools that included an increase to EITC was put forth for a vote and did not pass.

Senate Bill 1 remains an active piece of legislation. Send a message to your legislature asking them to take up school choice when they return by clicking here.

SB 732 – Abortion Clinic Regulations Passed into Law

Championed by Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga), Senate Bill 732 passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by a vote of 151-44 on Tuesday, December 13. It passed the Senate earlier this year by a vote of 38-12 and on Wednesday, December 14, it was again passed in the Senate (32-18) in concurrence with the House. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

The new law addresses concerns that stemmed from a tragedy that occurred in the Philadelphia abortion clinic of Dr. Kermit Gosnell where a woman died and seven newborn babies were killed by infanticide. Conditions in the clinic were so filthy and unsafe that investigators called it a “house of horrors.” The measure holds abortion facilities to the same fire and safety standards, personnel and equipment requirements, and quality assurance procedures as other freestanding ambulatory surgical facilities.

The passage of this bill into law is a victory for women and children in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) is urging all advocates to thank their legislators who voted yes for their pro-life vote on SB 732. Click here for the list of Senators and Representatives who voted in favor of the abortion clinic regulations bill. If you live in one of these legislators’ districts, you can use the Pennsylvania Catholic Advocacy Network to send an easy email thank you message today.

HB 1977 – Abortion Ban in Health Insurance Exchanges Passes PA House

On Monday, December 12, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 146 to 45 to remove abortion funding from the state health care exchanges that will be created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

This margin of victory in the state house indicates that the legislature is not in favor of using taxpayer’s money to fund abortions. According to a 2010 Quinnipiac Poll, 67% of Americans oppose abortion funding in the federal health care exchange.

House Bill 1977 now goes to the state senate. This bill is similar to Senate Bill 3, which passed 37-12 in the Senate earlier this year, and has been sent to the house. Please send a message to your legislators requesting a pro-life vote!

Women’s Right to Know Act: Ultrasound Access Bill

In addition to the legislation mentioned above, the PCC is also supporting a bill requiring that a woman be given the option to see her ultrasound and see/hear her unborn child’s heartbeat. This bill, HB 1077, was introduced in October with over 110 co-sponsors. The PCC hopes that this legislation will be considered early in 2012.

 

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Texas: Newsletter

Thank You For Your Voice
The Texas Catholic Conference thanks you for your prayers your voice on behalf of the most poor and vulnerable. You have helped bring the peace on Earth that we pray for during this Advent season. We look forward to advocating with you for life, justice, and peace in the years to come, and we wish you a blessed Advent season and a joyful Christmas.

 
Bishops Express Solidarity with Migrants
33 Hispanic Bishops, including several Texas Bishops, issued a letter on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12, expressing their prayers for migrants in our nation and in the world. The bishops thanked the migrant community for their contributions to the welfare of our nation and assured migrants that they will continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. You can watch a news clip on the letter featuring Bishop Flores here.

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Report Shows Decline in Death Penalty
Thirteen prisoners executed by the state of Texas in 2011 are the fewest since 1996—and well below the record of 40 executions set in 2000—according to a new report from the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. The TCADP report corresponds to national trends indicating that fewer death penalty sentences are being handed out nationwide.

 

Texas Dioceses Celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe, Protectress of the Unborn
Cristo Rey Church in Beaumont celebrates the feast of our Lady of GuadalupeDioceses throughout the state of Texas hosted grand celebrations in early December as a way of honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe during her December 12 feast day. In many ways, these celebrations focus on the beauty of her role as Queen of Mexico and Patroness of the Americas. Prayers focused on much-needed peace in Mexico and family reunification of immigrants on both sides of the border.

TCC Podcast Features Remarks from Death Penalty Dialogue
Bishop Oscar Cantu of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, as well as San Antonio pastor Fr. Larry Christian, recently participated in a Religious Leaders Dialogue on the Death Penalty, held at Trinity University in San Antonio this past October. Bishop Cantu encouraged listeners to take the abolition message to the public square, while Fr. Christian shared insights on how Church teaching on the death penalty has impacted him throughout his life. You can listen to their remarks on the TCC podcast.

You can encourage your friends and family to advocate against the death penalty in Texas by recommending that they subscribe to the Texas Catholic Voice, simply direct them to the Voice sign-up page here.

Capitol Comments: Protecting Catholic Religious Liberty
It’s hard to believe that a nation founded two centuries ago upon principles of religious freedom and tolerance must fight to retain those principles today. Nevertheless, here we are, as a country, confronting those who seek to stifle religious values and practice from public life. For some time, we have witnessed a steady erosion of religious liberty in the face of a growing cultural and political secularism.  As a Church, we live our faith through works of education, health care, and charity for the poor and disadvantaged.  Increasingly, however, we find ourselves having to fend off those who want to impose demands or restrictions that go against our fundamental beliefs.

HHS Protects Kids in Vetoing FDA Plan B Decision
USCCB Media Blog
Health and Human Services (HHS) acted to protect kids Dec. 7 when HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius rejected a recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to let stores sell powerful hormonal drugs to children over the counter.

Texas: Report Shows Decline in Death Penalty

Thirteen prisoners executed by the state of Texas in 2011 are the fewest since 1996—and well below the record of 40 executions set in 2000—according to a new report from the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

 

The TCADP report corresponds to national trends indicating that fewer death penalty sentences are being handed out nationwide—falling below 100 (to 78) for the first time since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

 

TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houlé attributed the drop to five death row inmates receiving stays of execution this year and an undeniable decrease of death sentences handed down by Texas juries since 2003. Only eight death sentences were issued this year.

 

Analysts speculate that public concerns about the racial fairness, costs, and growing numbers of life-without-parole sentences have all played a role in a steep decline in the number of executions and death penalty sentences in the United States.  For Texas, in particular, the high-profile cases of Hank Skinner and of Cameron Todd Willingham have led some to raise serious questions about the fairness and accountability of the judicial process for death penalty cases.

 

Jeffery R. Patterson, executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference, said that the TCADP Report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2011: The Year in Review, was welcome news.

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Pennsylvania: Inaction on Voucher Program

In the final days of their 2011 session, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives did not take up the issue of vouchers to the great disappointment of school choice proponents across the state.

Senate Bill 1, The Opportunity Scholarship Act, passed the Senate in late October by a vote of 27-22. School choice supporters were hopeful that families in Pennsylvania would soon be able to choose the education that is best for their children, but the voucher proposal discussed by House leadership was vastly different than Senate Bill 1.  Ultimately, this different language was never put before the House for a vote. Legislation concerning charter schools that included an increase to EITC was put forth for a vote and did not pass.

Senate Bill 1 remains an active piece of legislation. One part of Senate Bill 1 is the Opportunity Scholarship, or voucher, program; another important part is an increase the long standing and successful Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. Recognized as a national model and the best example of public-private partnership in Pennsylvania, the EITC program has allowed more than 40,000 students to attend the school of their choice in this school year alone. Hundreds of public school initiatives would have gone unfunded without this program.

The inaction on vouchers in the House is disappointing, especially for those who see school choice as a social justice issue. In a statement in support of school choice, the Pennsylvania Bishops said, “The current treatment of these children, particularly children from low-income families, is unjust and inequitable. Families are often prevented from accessing the educational options that would be best for them because of economic or social barriers. School choice legislation that includes vouchers and an increase to EITC reinforces that parents – not the state – are the primary educators of their children.”

Send a message of support for school choice to your legislator using the Catholic Advocacy Network atwww.pacatholic.org.

Shea is Outreach Director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference – the public affairs arm of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania.

 

Missouri: Capitol Update

This week’s Capitol Update focuses on poverty in the U.S. and on state budget concerns.


Capitol Update 12/16/2011
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Despite making many funding cuts in recent years, state legislators are nowhere near solving Missouri’s budget crisis. In fact, for the coming budget year, tax revenues are expected to fall $750 million short of funding current state services.

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Maryland: Affordable Higher Education for All

Help make higher education affordable for all qualified Maryland students regardless of immigration status. Attend a training session for those who want to keep the DREAM alive for these students. www.mdcathcon.org/dream

http://www.mdcathcon.org/dream
www.mdcathcon.org

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Kansas: Not on the Menu: School Choice

When the Kansas Legislature convenes in January 2012, one issue that will likely not receive serious consideration is the matter of school choice.  This, despite the fact that legislators are expected to debate Governor Brownback’s proposal for a new school finance formula — seemingly an opportune time for a conversation about the vital role Catholic schools play in educating Kansas children.

Pope Benedict XVI has spoken of “the protection of the right of parents to educate their children” as being “not negotiable.”  Yet in this country, too many parents are not empowered to choose their children’s education.  The location of one’s house, and frequently the value of that property, all too often determines what kind of education one’s child will receive.

Parents who opt for a Catholic education must resign themselves to paying tuition twice: once in taxes dedicated to public education and once in tuition for the Catholic school.  This reality makes a Catholic education unattainable for many who would otherwise gladly take advantage of it.

School choice legislation — perhaps better described as parental rights legislation — can take many forms.  A voucher system would allow the tax dollars a family pays for education to follow the child to the school of their choice.  Milton Friedman, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics and who was promoting vouchers in the 1950’s, believed that government financing of education and government operation of schools were two different matters and that the former did not necessarily imply the latter.

Nonetheless, there are those who fear that government funding of private schools will inevitably come with too many strings attached.  They tend to support what are called tax-credit scholarship programs, where individuals and corporations receive a tax credit for making donations to scholarship organizations, which in turn use the donated funds to provide scholarships for kids to use at private schools.

To legislators concerned with the perilous state of the Kansas budget but unconcerned with the challenges facing Catholic schools, the following thought-experiment is proposed: suppose every Catholic school in Kansas was closed and those roughly 29,000 students were suddenly dumped into the public school system.  Where would you find the money to pay for the public education they are entitled to?  Surely the taxes their parents have been paying all these years for their education is sitting there waiting for them, right?

In an age when it seems almost routine for the government to force taxpayers to pay for other people’s abortions, contraceptives, and sterilizations, the merest suggestion that public funds be used to help a disadvantaged child attend a private school is considered beyond the pale, dangerous, suicidal for politicians, and even unconstitutional.  The Framers of our Constitution, rolling over in their graves, must wonder what madness has infected our times.

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New Hampshire: Act Now to Stop Expansion of Gambling

Faithful Citizenship News
Contact your Representatives and ask them to
say no to expanded gambling.

HB 593, which would legalize two casinos and 10,000 slot machines in New Hampshire, will be considered by the Legislature in January.

The objection of the Church to expanded gambling arises out of its beliefs that those who are in greatest need, including the poor and vulnerable, deserve preferential concern and that support for families should be a priority for economic and social policies. While the Church does not view gambling as morally unacceptable in and of itself, the behavior that often accompanies state-endorsed gambling results in the deprivation of basic needs of persons, particularly the poor, and harm to children and families.

The reality is that if the gambling industry were allowed to expand in New Hampshire, it is unlikely that the State has any reasonable way to address human behavior that moves beyond intended recreational activity. “The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2413). Gambling addictions can result in divorce, bankruptcy, family violence, attempted suicide, and teen addictions. Those who can least afford to gamble often are the ones who engage in it.

We fear that any further expansion of the gambling industry in New Hampshire will destroy families and damage our family-focused environment. New Hampshire cannot afford the social costs of the addictive behavior that inevitably accompanies the presence of the gambling industry. Finally, if the gambling industry expands in New Hampshire, we believe that the State must be prepared to finance expanded human services to assist residents enslaved by addictive behavior.

Information compiled by the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling suggests that HB 593 would degrade New Hampshire’s healthy, family-friendly brand image and harm charities that rely on charitable gaming: DETAILS HERE

How to Take Action

Call your House representatives TODAY and ask them to oppose HB 593. CLICK HERE to find contact information for House members.

CLICK HERE to view testimony of the Diocese of Manchester on expanded gambling.


Pennsylvania: Abortion Clinic Standards Bill passes House

Senate Bill 732 passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives yesterday by a vote of 151-44. It passed the Senate earlier this year by a vote of 38-12. The measure will hold abortion facilities to the same fire and safety standards, personnel and equipment requirements, and quality assurance procedures as other freestanding ambulatory surgical facilities.

The bill now moves to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

 

Special thanks to following House members who voted yes on final passage of SB 732:

 

Allentown Diocese

Caltagirone, Thomas R. (D- Berks) – District 127

Cox, Jim (R- Berks) – District 129

Day, Gary (R- Lehigh) – District 187

Emrick, Joe (R- Northampton) – District 137

Gillen, Mark M. (R- Berks) – District 128

Goodman, Neal P. (D- Schuylkill) – District 123

Hahn, Marcia M. (R- Northampton) – District 138

Harhart, Julie (R- Northampton) – District 183

Heffley, Doyle (R- Carbon) – District 122

Knowles, Jerry (R- Schuylkill) – District 124

Maloney, David M., Sr. (R- Berks) – District 130

Reichley, Douglas G. (R- Lehigh) – District 134

Samuelson, Steve (D- Northampton) – District 135

Santoni, Dante, Jr. (D- Berks) – District 126

Simmons, Justin J. (R- Lehigh) – District 131 EXCUSED

Tobash, Mike (R- Schuylkill) – District 125

 

Altoona- Johnstown Diocese

Barbin, Bryan (D- Cambria) – District 71

Benninghoff, Kerry A. (R- Centre) – District 171

Burns, Frank (D- Cambria) – District 72

Conklin, H. Scott (D- Centre) – District 77

Fleck, Mike (R- Huntingdon) – District 81

Geist, Richard A. (R- Blair) – District 79

Haluska, Gary (D- Cambria) – District 73

Hanna, Michael K. (D- Clinton) – District 76

Hess, Dick L. (R- Bedford) – District 78

Metzgar, Carl Walker (R- Somerset) – District 69

Stern, Jerry (R- Bliar) – District 80

 

Erie Diocese

Brooks, Michele (R- Mercer) – District 17 EXCUSED

Causer, Martin T. (R- McKean) – District 67

Evans, John R. (R- Erie) – District 5

Fabrizio, Florindo J. (D- Erie) – District 2

Gabler, Matt (R- Elk) – District 75

George, Camille Bud (D- Clearfield) – District 74

Harkins, Patrick J. (D- Erie) – District 1

Hornaman, John (D- Erie) – District 3

Hutchinson, Scott E. (R- Venango) – District 64

Longietti, Mark (D- Mercer) – District 7

Oberlander, Donna (R- Clarion) – District 63

Rapp, Kathy L. (R- Warren ) – District 65

Roae, Brad (R- Crawford) – District 6

Smith, Samuel H. (R- Jefferson) – District 66

Sonney, Curtis G. (R- Erie) – District 4

Stevenson, Richard R. (R-Mercer) – District 8

 

Greensburg Diocese

Daley, Peter J. (D- Washington) – District 49

Dunbar, George (R- Westmoreland) – District 56

Evankovich, Eli (R- Westmoreland) – District 54

Harhai, R. Ted (D- Westmoreland) – District 58

Krieger, Timothy (R- Westmoreland) – District 57

Kula, Deberah (D- Fayette) – District 52

Mahoney, Tim (D-Fayette ) – District 51

Markosek, Joseph F. (D- Allegheny) – District 25

Oberlander, Donna (R- Clarion) – District 63

Petrarca, Joseph A. (D- Westmoreland) – District 55

Pyle, Jeffrey P. (R- Armstrong) – District 60

Reed, Dave (R- Indiana) – District 62

Reese, Mike (R- Westmoreland) – District 59

Smith, Samuel H. (R- Jefferson) – District 66

 

Harrisburg Diocese

Aument, Ryan P. (R- Lancaster) – District 41

Bear, John C. (R- Lancaster) – District 97

Benninghoff, Kerry A. (R- Centre) – District 171

Bloom, Stephen (R- Cumberland) – District 199

Boback, Karen (R- Luzerne ) – District 117

Boyd, Scott W. (R- Lancaster) – District 43 EXCUSED

Creighton, Tom C. (R- Lancaster) – District 37

Culver, Lynda Schlegel (R- Northumberland) – District 108

Cutler, Bryan (R- Lancaster) – District 100

Delozier, Sheryl M. (R- Cumberland ) – District 88

Denlinger, Gordon (R- Lancaster) – District 99

Fleck, Mike (R- Huntingdon) – District 81

Gillespie, Keith (R- York) – District 47

Gingrich, Mauree (R- Lebanon) – District 101

Grell, Glen R. (R- Cumberland) – District 87

Grove, Seth M. (R- York) – District 196

Harris, C. Adam (R- Juniata) – District 82

Helm, Susan C. (R- Dauphin) – District 104

Hickernell, David S. (R- Lancaster) – District 98

Kauffman, Rob W. (R- Franklin) – District 89

Keller, Fred (R- Union) – District 85

Keller, Mark K. (R- Perry) – District 86 EXCUSED

Marsico, Ron (R- Dauphin) – District 105

Masser, Kurt A. (R- Northumberland) – District 107

Millard, David R. (R- Columbia) – District 109

Miller, Ron (R- York) – District 93

Moul, Dan (R- Adams) – District 91

Payne, John D. (R- Dauphin) – District 106

Perry, Scott (R- York) – District 92

Rock, Todd (R- Frankin) – District 90

Saylor, Stan (R- York) – District 94

Swanger, RoseMarie (R- Lebanon ) – District 102

Tallman, Will (R- York) – District 193

 

Philadelphia Archdiocese

Adolph, William F., Jr. (R- Delaware) – District 165

Barrar, Stephen (R- Delaware) – District 160

Boyle, Brendan F. (D- Philadelphia) – District 170

Boyle, Kevin J. (D- Philadelphia) – District 172

Clymer, Paul I. (R- Bucks) – District 145

Davidson, Margo L. (D- Delaware) – District 164

DiGirolamo, Gene (R- Bucks) – District 18

Donatucci, Maria P. (D- Philadelphia) – District 185

Farry, Frank A. (R- Bucks) – District 142

Galloway, John T. (D- Bucks) – District 140

Godshall, Robert W. (R- Montgomery) – District 53

Hackett, Joseph T. (R- Delaware) – District 161

Harper, Kate (R- Montgomery) – District 61

Hennessey, Tim (R- Chester) – District 26

Kampf, Warren (R- Chester) – District 157

Killion, Thomas H. (R- Delaware) – District 168

Lawrence, John A. (R- Chester) – District 13

Miccarelli, Nick (R- Delaware) – District 162

Micozzie, Nicholas A. (R- Delaware) – District 163

Milne, Duane (R- Chester) – District 167

Murt , Thomas P. (R- Montgomery) – District 152

O’Brien, Dennis M. (R- Philadelphia) – District 169 EXCUSED

O’Neill, Bernie (R- Bucks) – District 29

Payton, Tony J., Jr. (D- Philadelphia) – District 179 EXCUSED

Petri, Scott A. (R- Bucks) – District 178

Quigley, Thomas J. (R- Montgomery) – District 146

Quinn, Marguerite (R- Bucks) – District 143

Schroder, Curt (R- Chester) – District 155

Stephens, Todd (R- Montgomery) – District 151

Taylor, John (R- Philadelphia) – District 177

Toepel, Marcy (R- Montgomery) – District 147

Truitt, Dan (R- Chester) – District 156

Vereb, Mike (R- Montgomery) – District 150

 

Watson, Katharine M. (R- Bucks) – District 144

 

Pittsburgh Diocese

Brooks, Michele (R- Mercer) – District 17 EXCUSED

Christiana, Jim (R- Beaver) – District 15

Costa, Dom (D- Allegheny) – District 21

Costa, Paul (D- Allegheny) – District 34

Daley, Peter J. (D- Washington) – District 49

Deasy, Daniel J. (D- Allegheny) – District 27

DeLuca, Anthony M. (D- Allegheny) – District 32

Ellis, Brian L. (R- Butler) – District 11

Gergely, Marc J. (D- Allegheny) – District 35

Gibbons, Jaret (D- Lawrence) – District 10

Hutchinson, Scott E. (R- Venango) – District 64

Kortz, William C., II (D- Allegheny) – District 38

Kotik, Nick (D- Allegheny) – District 45

Maher, John (R- Allegheny) – District 40

Markosek, Joseph F. (D- Allegheny) – District 25

Marshall, Jim (R- Beaver) – District 14

Matzie, Robert F. (D- Beaver) – District 16

Metcalfe, Daryl D. (R- Butler) – District 12

Mustio, T. Mark (R- Allegheny) – District 44

Neuman, Brandon P. (D- Washington) – District 48

Ravenstahl, Adam (D- Allegheny) – District 20

Readshaw, Harry (D- Allegheny) – District 36

Saccone, Rick (R- Allegheny) – District 39

Sainato, Chris (D- Lawrence) – District 9

Stevenson, Richard R. (R- Mercer) – District 8

Turzai, Mike (R- Allegheny) – District 28

Vulakovich, Randy (R- Allegheny) – District 30

Wagner, Chelsa (D- Allegheny) – District 22

White, Jesse (D- Washington) – District 46

 

Scranton Diocese

Baker, Matthew E. (R- Tioga) – District 68

Boback, Karen (R- Luzerne) – District 117

Brown, Rosemary M. (R- Monroe) – District 189

Carroll , Mike (D- Luzerne) – District 118

Everett, Garth D. (R- Lycoming) – District 84

Kavulich, Sid Michaels (D- Lackawanna) – District 114

Major, Sandra (R- Susquehanna) – District 111

Mirabito, Rick (D- Lycoming) – District 83

Mullery, Gerald J. (D- Luzerne) – District 119

Murphy, Kevin P. (D- Lackawanna) – District 113

Peifer, Michael (R- Wayne ) – District 139

Pickett, Tina (R- Bradford) – District 110

Scavello, Mario M. (R- Philadelphia) – District 176

Smith, Ken (D- Lackawanna) – District 112

Staback, Edward G. (D- Lackawanna) – District 115

Toohil, Tarah (R- Luzerne) – District 116

Read more…

Pennsylvania: House votes to remove abortions

Yesterday evening the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 146 to 45 to remove abortion funding from the state health care exchanges that will be created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

This margin of victory in the state house indicates that the legislature is not in favor of using taxpayer’s money to fund abortions.  According to a 2010 Quinnipiac Poll, 67% of Americans oppose abortion funding in the federal health care exchange.

House Bill 1977 now goes to the state senate. Please send a message to your Senator requesting a pro-life vote!

Following is a list of the representatives who voted “yes” to HB 1977:

ALLENTOWN DIOCESE

Thomas R. Caltagirone (D-Berks)

Jim Cox (R-Berks)

Gary Day (R-Lehigh) – EXCUSED

Joe Emrick (R-Northampton)

Mark M. Gillen            (R-Berks)

Neal P. Goodman (D-Schuylkill)

Marcia M. Hahn (R-Northampton)

Julie Harhart (R-Northampton)

Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon)

Jerry Knowles (R-Schuylkill)

David M. Maloney (R-Berks)

Douglas G. Reichley (R-Lehigh)

Steve Samuelson (D-Northampton)

Justin J. Simmons (R-Lehigh)

Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill)

ALTOONA-JOHNSTOWN DIOCESE

Bryan Barbin (D-Cambria)

Kerry A. Benninghoff (R-Centre)

Frank Burns (D-Cambria)

H. Scott Conklin (D-Centre)

Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon)

Richard Allen Geist (R-Blair)

Gary Haluska (D-Cambria)

Michael K. Hanna, Sr. (D-Clinton)

Dick L. Hess (R-Bedford)

Carl Metzgar (R-Somerset)

Jerry A. Stern (R-Blair)

ERIE DIOCESE

Martin T. Causer (R-McKean)

John R. Evans (R-Erie) – EXCUSED

Florindo J. Fabrizio, Jr. (D-Erie)

Matt Gabler (R-Elk)

Camille E. George (D-Clearfield)

Patrick Harkins (D-Erie)

John Hornaman (D-Erie) – EXCUSED

Mark Longietti (D-Mercer)

Kathy L. Rapp (R-Warren)

Brad Roae (R-Crawford)

Curtis G. Sonney (R-Erie)

Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion)

Samuel H. Smith (R-Jefferson)

Michele Brooks (R-Mercer)

Scott E. Hutchinson (R-Venango)

Richard (Dick)            R. Stevenson (R-Mercer)

GREENSBURG DIOCESE

Peter J. Daley, II (D-Washington)

George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland)

Eli Evankovich (R-Westmoreland)

R. Ted Harhai (D-Westmoreland)

Tim Krieger (R-Westmoreland)

Deberah Kula (D-Fayette)

Tim Mahoney (D-Fayette)

Joseph F. Markosek (D-Allegheny)

Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion)

Joseph A. Petrarca (D-Westmoreland)

Jeffrey P. Pyle            (R-Armstrong)

Dave Reed (R-Indiana)

Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland)

Samuel H. Smith (R-Jefferson)

HARRISBURG DIOCESE

Ryan P. Aument (R-Lancaster)

John C. Bear (R-Lancaster)

Kerry A. Benninghoff (R-Centre)

Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland)

Scott W. Boyd (R-Lancaster) – EXCUSED

Thomas C. Creighton (R-Lancaster)

Linda Schlegel Culver (R-Northumberland)

Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster)

Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland)

Gordon R. Denlinger (R-Lancaster)

Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon)

Keith J. Gillespie (R-York)

Mauree A. Gingrich (R-Lebanon)

Glen R. Grell (R-Cumberland)

Seth Grove (R-York)

C. Adam Harris (R-Juniata)

Susan C. Helm (R-Dauphin)

David S. Hickernell (R-Lancaster)

Robert W. Kauffman (R-Franklin)

Fred Keller (R-Union)

Mark K. Keller (R-Perry)

Ronald S. Marsico (R-Dauphin)

Kurt A. Masser (R-Northumberland)

David Millard (R-Columbia)

Ronald E. Miller (R-York)

Dan Moul (R-Adams)

John D. Payne (R-Dauphin)

Scott Perry (R-York)

Todd Rock (R-Franklin)

Stanley E. Saylor (R-York)

RoseMarie Swanger (R-Lebanon)

Will Tallman (R-York)

PHILADELPHIA ARCHDIOCESE

William F. Adolph, Jr. (R-Delaware)

Stephen E. Barrar (R-Delaware)

Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) – EXCUSED

Kevin J. Boyle (D-Philadelphia)

Paul I. Clymer (R-Bucks)

Lawrence H. Curry (D-Philadelphia)

Margo L. Davidson (D-Delaware)

Maria Donatucci (D-Philadelphia)

Frank Farry (R-Bucks)

John T. Galloway (D-Bucks)

Michael Gerber (D-Montgomery) – EXCUSED

Robert W. Godshall (R-Montgomery)

Joe Hackett (R-Delaware)

Kate M. Harper (R-Montgomery)

Tim Hennessey (R-Chester)

Kenyatta J. Johnson (D-Philadelphia) – EXCUSED

Warren Kampf            (R-Chester)

Thomas H. Killion (R-Chester, Delaware)

John Lawrence (R-Chester)

Nick Miccarelli (R-Delaware)

Nicholas A. Micozzie (R-Delaware)

Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery)

Dennis M. O’Brien (R-Philadelphia) – EXCUSED

Bernie O’Neill (R-Bucks)

Tony J. Payton (D-Philadelphia) – EXCUSED

Scott A. Petri (R-Bucks)

Thomas J. Quigley (R-Montgomery)

Marguerite Quinn (R-Bucks)

Curt Schroder (R-Chester)

Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery)

John J. Taylor (R-Philadelphia)

Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery)

Dan Truitt (R-Chester)

Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery)

Katharine M. Watson (R-Bucks)

PITTSBURGH DIOCESE

Michele Brooks (R-Mercer)

Jim Christiana (R-Beaver)

Dom Costa (D-Allegheny)

Peter J. Daley, II (D-Washington)

Daniel J. Deasy, Jr. (D-Allegheny)

Anthony M. DeLuca (D-Allegheny)

Brian L. Ellis (R-Butler)

Marc J. Gergely (D-Allegheny)

Jaret Gibbons (D-Lawrence)

Scott E. Hutchinson (R-Venango)

William C. Kortz, II (D-Allegheny)

Nick Kotik (D-Allegheny)

John A. Maher (R-Allegheny)

Joseph F. Markosek (D-Allegheny)

Jim Marshall (R-Beaver)

Robert Matzie (D-Beaver)

Daryl D. Metcalfe (R-Butler)

T. Mark Mustio (R-Allegheny)

Brandon P. Neuman (D-Washington)

Joseph Preston Jr. (D- Allegheny) – EXCUSED

Adam Ravenstahl (D-Allegheny)

Harry A. Readshaw (D-Allegheny)

Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny)

Christopher Sainato (D-Lawrence)

Richard (Dick)            R. Stevenson (R-Mercer)

Michael R. Turzai (R-Allegheny)

Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny)

Chelsa Wagner (D- Allegheny) – EXCUSED

SCRANTON DIOCESE

Matthew E. Baker (R-Tioga)

Karen Boback (R-Luzerne)

Rosemary M. Brown (R-Monroe)

Mike Carroll (D-Luzerne)

Garth D. Everett (R-Lycoming)

Sid Michaels Kavulich (D-Lackawanna)

Sandra J. Major (R-Susquehanna)

Rick Mirabito (D-Lycoming)

Kevin P. Murphy (D-Lackawanna)

Michael Peifer (R-Wayne)

Tina Pickett (R-Bradford)

Mario M. Scavello (R-Philadelphia)

Ken Smith (D-Lackawanna)

Edward G. Staback (D-Lackawanna)

Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)

Read more…

Minnesota: Parental Involvement Key to Expanding School Choice

By Peter Noll
(December 6, 2011)

As we reflect on the past year, 2011 will be viewed as an unprecedented year for school choice in our nation. Since January, eight new school choice programs have sprung up around the nation and 11 existing programs have been expanded.

“School choice” is a term that often gets bantered about, but at its essence it is simply a common sense idea that gives every parent the power and freedom to choose their children’s education.

Today, the unfortunate fact is that the quality of schooling is based on the value and location of a family’s residence. School choice gives parents the freedom to choose a school based on its quality and their child’s needs, not their home address.

Most people can’t afford to pay twice for education, once in taxes and once in private school tuition. School choice gives parents financial power by letting them use public funds set aside for education to send their children to a traditional public, charter, private or home school. School choice forces all schools — public and private — to offer the best education possible in order to recruit and retain students.

Taking action

Reflecting on successful school choice programs of 2011, there is a common element that contributed to the final outcome — a network of active, mobilized school parents that helped successfully expand school choice. Together, they informed lawmakers how expanding school choice would help their children achieve their maximum potential. Through rallies, letters, emails, telephone calls and public forums; their collective voices were heard.

After studying the successful parent choice campaigns in other states and in light of recent gains in parental choice legislation in our Legislature, the Minnesota Catholic Conference is forming a statewide parent advocacy network.

In recent weeks, MCC has been meeting with Catholic school administrators across the state to inform them of the benefits of mobilizing a parent network to advocate for Catholic schools at the state Legislature and U.S. Congress.

In “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated, “In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good.”

The purpose of this program is to inform, train and mobilize Catholic school parents to be proactive regarding public policy that impacts Catholic school students, families and educators.

Each Catholic school will be invited to establish a parent advocacy position within the school community. Many schools are considering incorporating the parent advocacy position onto the educational advisory committee or home and school association.

Through this program, Catholic school parents will be trained in strategies and techniques to influence public officials regarding school choice legislation. For example, parent advocates will have access to training sessions and resources to assist them in speaking and writing to lawmakers, testifying before legislative committees, setting up candidate forums and district meetings with local senators and representatives, and sharing information about issues of concern for Catholic schools.

Trained parent advocates will disseminate information and action alerts from MCC to members of their school community with the objective of persuading lawmakers to pass school choice legislation that accords all families access to their school of choice.

By building a trusting relationship with their local representative and senator, parent advocates provide a human dimension to the lawmaking process. A timely, compelling telephone call or email message from as few as 10 constituents can influence the vote of a lawmaker.

Hopefully, Minnesota will soon add its name to the list of states to add education tax credits and scholarships for low-income students to attend the school of their choice as a result of a concerted effort by lawmakers, advocates, educators and activated parents who demand a full array of quality school choice options for their children.

Peter Noll is education director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota. Inquiries about the parent advocacy network should be directed to Noll at pnoll@mncc.org.

Read more…

New Hampshire: Show Support for our Immigrant Brothers and Sisters

Contact the Executive Council before Wednesday, December 14 and ask them to support federal funding for critical services for refugees and their families.

On Wednesday, December 14, the Executive Council is expected to vote on whether to accept federal funds to enter into contracts with several agencies to provide school-related social services and preventive health services to New Hampshire refugees.  The services funded by these federal grants are lifelines for the immigrant community and include English language instruction, job training and mentoring, and other services that support successful integration of our immigrant and mainstream communities.

The refugees that the federal funding would support are here in New Hampshire because they were forced to flee their homelands to escape genocide, torture, or religious, ethnic, or political persecution. The federal funds are critical in supporting their efforts to restore their dignity and lead productive lives. Please contact your Executive Councilor and ask him or her to vote in favor of these contracts: http://www.nh.gov/council/.

Pennsylvania: School Choice Report

According to Harrisburg insiders, the governor and high level legislative leaders confirmed that they are working on an education reform package, including vouchers and an EITC increase, which they believe can get to the governor’s desk before Christmas. One reporter confirmed this in his interviews with the governor and a spokesperson for House leadership yesterday.

We must keep the pressure on with grassroots support. Here are some things you can do:

 

  • The legislators will be home on Thursday and Friday this week. It’s not too late to visit them in their district offices (use the PA Catholic Advocacy Network to look up the district office address). Face-to-face communications are the most effective. Not sure what to say? Here is a sample script that you can use to make your point. In short, say, “As your constituent, I am asking you to support an increase in the EITC program and the creation of a school choice Opportunity Scholarship program.”
  • If you cannot meet with your legislator directly, meet with his or her staff or simply register your support for school choice with the receptionist.
  • Organize visits to state legislators’ district offices with your friends, family, neighbors, or fellow members of your school or parish community.
  • Pick up the phone and call. You can also use the PA Catholic Advocacy Network to look up the district office telephone number.
  • Governor Corbett is on our side; we should show him our support too! Call him at 717-787-2500 and you can use the PA Catholic Advocacy Network to send email messages to both your State Representative and the governor.
  • Even if you have done it before, send another email. This time include the governor and forward this alert to your friends and neighbors.

The school choice debate has been a long and exhausting effort, but we have made it this far because of your hard work. Let’s see this through to the finish line. A new law that includes opportunity scholarships and an increase to the EITC will be a welcome Christmas gift to Pennsylvania’s children!

 

Read more…

New York: If finalized, this deal would mean a savings of $8 million

If finalized, this deal would mean a savings of $8 million a year for religious and independent schools in the MTA service area, and would end a disparity with public schools, which are currently reimbursed by the state for the payroll tax.


MTA Payroll Tax To Be Cut By $250M
www.capitaltonight.com
As Gannett reported earlier and confirmed independently this afternoon the tax will be reduced for small businesses and parochial and private schools will be exempted. The latter is a win for Archibishop Timothy Dolan, who had pushed for the exemption.

Read more…

Kentucky: The Catholic Conference will be supporting HB 70 again this session

The Catholic Conference will be supporting HB 70 again this session to allow former felons to vote and participate in our public life.


Voting Rights – Please Call In Tonight — Kentuckians For The Commonweal
www.kftc.org
Voting Rights will be a topic of discussion on Kentucky Tonight this evening, so it would be great to get some KFTC members to call or email in with some good questions. You can email in your questions in advance at kytonight@ket.org or tune in at 7pm EST to KET. We’ll post a video of the program …

Read more…

Kentucky: New Issue of Witness


New Issue of WITNESS Published | Catholic Conference of Kentucky
ccky.org
The Fall 2011 issue of WITNESS is now available online. In addition to the article about “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” there are articles by Ms. Leisa Schulz, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Louisville, about handing on our Faith as catechists and by Deacon Frank V…

Read more…

Wisconsin: Capitol Update

WISCONSIN CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
Capitol Update
December 2, 2011
Contents Include:
1.  WCC Supports Assembly Bill to Reform Sex Education
2.  WCC Supports Abortion Opt-Out Bill
3.  Governor Signs New Bills into Law
4.  New Bills of Interest
Read more . . .

Maryland: Another crucial step has been taken to save women’s lives

Another crucial step has been taken to save women’s lives and to regulate abortion clinics. On Dec 2, the state Dept of Health proposed the first regulations to Maryland’s nearly 20-year-old abortion law. http://tinyurl.com/8yf9ovo

Read more…

Pennsylvania: A Scholarship By Any Other Name

chalkboard-150x150.jpgSenate Bill 1 includes two kinds of scholarships that will allow students to attend a school of their choice – Opportunity Scholarships, or vouchers, and Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) scholarships.

Throughout the debate, many have expressed their support for the EITC, but some remain unsure about Opportunity Scholarships. But really, Opportunity Scholarships are the clear next step in education reform that gives students the opportunity to go to the school that best helps them to realize their potential.

Recognized as a national model, Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program has allowed more than 40,000 students to attend the school of their choice in this school year alone, and hundreds of public school initiatives would have gone unfunded without this program. Since the program’s inception in 2001, over 250,000 students have benefited from the EITC. Additionally, the business community has contributed over $460 million to ensure that Pennsylvania’s children receive the education they deserve.

Students in every legislative district benefit from the scholarships that are funded by the state tax credit program. The Opportunity Scholarships program will build upon this success by allowing more students to reach their potential by opening educational avenues that were never open to them in the past. The Opportunity Scholarship program is a for a full tuition voucher while the EITC program is a tuition assistance program that covers a portion of the full tuition. Therefore, many of the families that will benefit from Opportunity Scholarships could not consider paying nonpublic school tuition rates, so they wouldn’t have applied for EITC benefits.

By all counts, EITC is a huge success and it enjoys wide political support. But a decade ago, skeptics had the same doubts about EITC that they do now about Opportunity Scholarships.

In 2001, they said EITC and school choice would reduce state revenue and take money away from cash-strapped public schools. They are launching the same objections to vouchers.

But since 2001, state spending for public schools has increased dramatically – state subsidies increased more than 30% and local construction and debt spending have doubled. (Source: Commonwealth Foundation). The proposed opportunity scholarship program as proposed will cost just 28¢ for every $100 spent by the state on public education.

EITC opponents said there was no accountability for the scholarship dollars, no way to prove that EITC would benefit students. Thousands of EITC scholarship recipients attend Catholic schools that rightly boast graduation rates at or near 100% for non-transferring students. Of those high school graduates, over 90% go on to attend either a two or four-year institute of higher learning. Further, there is no test for an improved attitude, respect, good manners or depth of spiritual awareness; no measure for a child’s feeling of security. There is no test to determine which students would have dropped out if EITC had not given them a chance for success. Opportunity Scholarships will give the lowest income students in the worst performing schools a chance to go to a school with a successful track record.

And EITC opponents said, “It was anybody’s guess whether the program will expand or become yesterday’s news.” In 2001, EITC was funded with just $25 million. In 2011-2012, $75 million was budgeted with a sizable waiting list of companies ready to invest millions more. And there is a waiting list a mile long of students eager to get EITC scholarships so they can go to a different school.

We know that EITC is one of Pennsylvania’s greatest success stories, but there is still work to be done. It is time to help even more children receive the education that is best for them.

EITC has already helped thousands of students achieve and excel because their parents were able to choose the best school for their children. The Opportunity Scholarship program is a small but targeted program that will give a fighting chance for a better future to children who need it the most.

School choice that includes Opportunity Scholarships and expands the successful EITC is the right choice for Pennsylvania’s future.

Click here to send a message to your state legislator in support of school choice.

 

Read more…

Minnesota: Immigration Sunday: Remembering Our American Inheritance

By Jessica Zittlow
(November 30, 2011)

On Jan. 8, 2012, the church will celebrate the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. In years past, the Catholic Church in Minnesota has also commemorated this great feast as Immigration Sunday by dedicating it to reflecting upon the plight of those who have fled their native lands and come to us looking for sanctuary, economic opportunity, religious liberty or many of the other blessings of American life.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference continues to provide parishes that choose to observe Immigration Sunday 2012 with numerous resources dedicated to helping Catholics put their faith into action.

MCC’s website, http://immigrationsundaymn.org, includes bishops’ statements, 2012 liturgy guides and ideas for parish-based activities related to the issue of immigration.

As you and your parish prepare for Immigration Sunday, MCC would like to share with you snippets from a recent address by Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez to the Knights of Columbus. Archbishop Gomez, an immigrant himself, is the chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration.

The archbishop spoke as an American citizen and also as a pastor whose flock is about 70 percent Hispanic. He reminds us that, from a Catholic standpoint, America’s founders got it exactly right. Here are some highlights from his address:

Our basic human need:

“Human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are universal and inalienable. They come from God, not governments. And these rights are not contingent on where you are born or what racial or ethnic group you are born into. The human right to life, the foundation of every other right, implies the natural right to emigrate. Because, in order for you and your family to live a life worthy of your God-given dignity, certain things are required. At minimum: food, shelter, clothing and the means to make a decent living.

“In Catholic thinking, the right to immigration is a ‘natural right.’ That means it is universal and inalienable. But it is not absolute. Immigrants are obliged to respect and abide by the laws and traditions of the countries they come to reside in.
“Catholic teaching also recognizes the sovereignty of nations to secure their borders and make decisions about who and how many foreigners they allow into their countries.

“However, we must always make sure that we are not exaggerating these concerns in ways that deny the basic humanitarian needs of good people seeking refuge in our country.”

Our American inheritance:

“Catholics — especially — bear the truth about all Americans, namely, that we are all children of immigrants.

“Our inheritance comes to us now as a gift and as a duty. At the least, it means we should have some empathy for this new generation of immigrants. For Christians, empathy means seeing Jesus Christ in every person and especially in the poor and the vulnerable.

“And we need to remember, my friends: Jesus was uncompromising on this point.

“In the evening of our lives, he told us, our love for God will be judged by our love for him in the person of the least among us. This includes, he said, the immigrant or the stranger.

“Very few people ‘choose’ to leave their homelands. Emigration is almost always forced upon people by the dire conditions they face in their lives.”

Our family:

“Many of you are fathers or mothers. So the question you have to ask yourselves is this: What wouldn’t you do to provide for your loved ones? To feed hungry mouths? To give your children a better future?

“Those are questions we all need to ask ourselves. I only want to offer one suggestion. Our perspective on this issue will change if you begin to see these ‘illegals’ for who they really are — mothers and fathers, sons and daughters — not much different from yourselves.

“They are people who are not afraid of hard work or sacrifice. They are people who have courage and the other virtues — and who value God, family and community.”

Immigration Sunday gives Minnesota Catholics an opportunity to push political debates aside and do exactly as Archbishop Gomez suggests: take time to not only welcome the stranger, but to acknowledge his or her value — as mother, father, son or daughter, as family and community member.

As we take the Advent and Christmas seasons to open our hearts and minds to the coming of the Lord, we should likewise do the same for those who are in need. We also will be working more effectively for just solutions to our broken immigration system.

Jessica Zittlow is the MCC’s communications associate.

Read more…

Texas: A Shopping We Will Go . . .

By: Jennifer Carr Allmon

 

“Every economic decision…must be judged in light of whether it protects or undermines the dignity of the human person…the person is sacred, the clearest reflection of God among us. Thus the economy should serve people, not the other way around.”

 

– US Bishops, Economic Justice for All

Advent has arrived and brought with it the extreme shopping that our culture associates with Christmas preparation.  As much as we try to resist the temptation, the draw of mall is enticing.  The other day I told my husband I needed to run out to get a few things at the store and my two-year-old immediately grabbed her play purse and ran to the door giggling and shouting, “I’m going shopping!”  Granted, I was running to HEB for eggs and milk, which she enjoys because she faces Mommy in the shopping cart and we talk, but it still made me reflect on what messages we’re sending our little ones about shopping.

 

The next day while reading The North Texas Catholic, I came across a dapper picture of Bishop Vann modeling a WORN scarf from Catholic Charities of Fort Worth (CCFW). I felt that tug of the Holy Spirit reminding me of a better shopping message for my daughter.   WORN is a socially-conscious business venture of CCFW. The mission of WORN is to provide refugee women living in the United States with an opportunity to utilize the traditional skill of knitting to increase their families’ household income, thus empowering them to rise above poverty.

Read more…