Pennsylvania Catholic Conference http://www.pacatholic.org Pennsylvania Catholic Conference Thu, 27 Aug 2015 18:30:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 PA Budget Impasse Remains http://www.pacatholic.org/pa-budget-impasse-remains/ http://www.pacatholic.org/pa-budget-impasse-remains/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:38:56 +0000 http://www.pacatholic.org/?p=8248 statecapitolThe stalemate over Pennsylvania’s 2015-2016 spending plan remains after an attempt to release funding for a series of budget line items fell short of the necessary votes this week.

The fiscal year ended on June 30, 2015. A budget was passed by the General Assembly, but vetoed entirely by Governor Tom Wolf. No funds can be appropriated until an agreement is reached between the administration and the legislature.

Now that school is in session and reserves are exhausted, people who benefit from state-funded programs are feeling the pinch. Nonpublic schools do not receive basic education tax dollars, but their students do benefit from line items that pay for textbooks, materials, equipment, and services that support their secular education through the Intermediate Units. The proposal this year finally achieves equity between public and nonpublic students – the line items increase at the same rate, but Catholic school students cannot benefit until the funds are available.

Charities are often the private contractors that provide services for state-funded programs like housing, foster care, or drug and alcohol counseling. As time goes on without a budget agreement, people in need will be turned away.

Our elected officials care how state public policy affects their constituents. Urge them to support legislative proposals that will release the funding for the textbooks, materials, equipment and key services that benefit all Pennsylvania students and urge them to release the funding for programs that provide a lifeline to the poorest and most vulnerable people in need.

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School Is In Session: Time to Fund Textbooks, Equipment & Services http://www.pacatholic.org/school-is-in-session-time-to-fund-textbooks-equipment-services/ http://www.pacatholic.org/school-is-in-session-time-to-fund-textbooks-equipment-services/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 14:49:14 +0000 http://www.pacatholic.org/?p=8245 TextbookSmileAs Catholic school students across the Commonwealth begin the new school year, instructors are feeling the pinch of the unresolved state budget debate. Nonpublic schools do not receive basic education tax dollars, but their students do benefit from line items that pay for textbooks, materials, equipment, and services that support their secular education through the Intermediate Units. The proposal this year finally achieves equity between public and nonpublic students – the line items increase at the same rate. The Pennsylvania General Assembly is considering measures that would release the funds for some critical programs like these.

Urge your state legislators today to vote yes on the legislative proposals that release the funding for the textbooks, materials, equipment and key services that benefit all Pennsylvania students.

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Headed off to College? Don’t Leave Your Faith at Home. http://www.pacatholic.org/headed-off-to-college-dont-leave-your-faith-at-home/ http://www.pacatholic.org/headed-off-to-college-dont-leave-your-faith-at-home/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 14:23:34 +0000 http://www.pacatholic.org/?p=8241 FaithCampusNew laptop or tablet? Check.

Bedding and toiletries? Check.

New clothes and shoes? Check.

Your Catholic faith? …

Thousands of families across the Commonwealth are packing up their college freshmen and taking them to school for the first time. Will these students continue to live out their Catholic faith once they dive into life as an undergraduate?

The Bishops of Pennsylvania wrote to college and university students in Your Catholic Faith on Campus, “During the college years, students often struggle with questions about their faith…The Church encourages you to persevere in searching for the Truth. Know that many Catholics before you have struggled with these same questions and found the Church to be the ‘pillar and bulwark of truth’ (1 Timothy 3:15). We encourage you to be patient, honest, and courageous in your search. Trust that the Lord has provided you with a faith that is rock solid and a Church that is true.”

This personal letter from Bishops to students is a must read for the college student in your life. You can read it here or call (717) 238-9613 to order copies.

Sure, last minute prayers before an exam are pretty commonplace on college campuses.  But the entire Catholic community can offer their support for first time and returning college students by praying for them during this back to school season, asking the Lord to bless them during this time of transition.

Doctor of the Church and prolific writer St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint for college students, so join us in saying:

St. Thomas Aquinas, Pray for Them!

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Meet Unmet Demand for Pre-School Assistance http://www.pacatholic.org/meet-unmet-demand-for-pre-school-assistance/ http://www.pacatholic.org/meet-unmet-demand-for-pre-school-assistance/#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2015 09:43:32 +0000 http://www.pacatholic.org/?p=8210 studentinclass2

Children benefit greatly from programs that develop learning skills before they reach kindergarten age. Most children in Pennsylvania now receive their pre-kindergarten education in successful nonpublic programs. Some of those children’s families are helped to some extent by the laudable Pre-K Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program, but the unmet demand for scholarship assistance under that program is extraordinarily high.

State Representatives Thomas Quigley (R-Montgomery) and Jim Christiana (R-Beaver, Washington) are seeking cosponsors HB 1442, which would give even more children a better chance for success in school and in life. Their proposal would create a state-funded program that allows eligible families to apply for and receive grants to meet the costs of their children’s attendance at safe, caring and effective public or nonpublic pre-school programs.

UPDATE: Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-Butler, Clarion, Forest, Venango and Warren Counties) is seeking co-sponsors for similar pre-school assistance legislation in the State Senate.

Send a message to your state lawmakers to urge them to sign on as co-sponsor of HB 1442 or the companion Senate bill for Pre-School Education Grants.

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Archbishop Chaput: There is no equivalence http://www.pacatholic.org/archbishop-chaput-there-is-no-equivalence/ http://www.pacatholic.org/archbishop-chaput-there-is-no-equivalence/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 15:47:48 +0000 http://www.pacatholic.org/?p=8234 Photo by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness

Photo by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness

On August 10, 2015, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. CAP. explained why other moral issues are not equivalent to abortion in his column on CatholicPhilly.com. Here is an excerpt:

Here’s a simple exercise in basic reasoning. On a spectrum of bad things to do, theft is bad, assault is worse and murder is worst. There’s a similar texture of ill will connecting all three crimes, but only a very confused conscience would equate thieving and homicide. Both are serious matters. But there is no equivalence.

The deliberate killing of innocent life is a uniquely wicked act. No amount of contextualizing or deflecting our attention to other issues can obscure that.

This is precisely why Cardinal John O’Connor, Bishop James McHugh and others pressed so hard for the passage of the U.S. bishops’ 1998 pastoral letter, Living the Gospel of Life. As Cardinal Joseph Bernardin once wisely noted, Catholic social teaching is a seamless garment of respect for human life, from conception to natural death. It makes no sense to champion the cause of unborn children if we ignore their basic needs once they’re born.

Thus it’s no surprise that — year in and year out — nearly all Catholic dioceses in the United States, including Philadelphia, devote far more time, personnel and material resources to providing social services to the poor and education to young people than to opposing abortion.

But of course, children need to survive the womb before they can have needs like food, shelter, immigration counseling and good health care. Humanity’s priority right — the one that undergirds all other rights — is the right to life.

Read the rest of the Archbishop’s column here.

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Show Your Support for the Successful EITC and OSTC Programs http://www.pacatholic.org/show-your-support-for-the-successful-eitc-and-ostc-programs/ http://www.pacatholic.org/show-your-support-for-the-successful-eitc-and-ostc-programs/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 19:08:47 +0000 http://www.pacatholic.org/?p=8230 StudentSmileBoth the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs are funded by companies that contribute to our scholarship organizations in exchange for a tax credit. The longstanding EITC program has helped countless students attend our Catholic schools every year.

EITC tax credits are often depleted on the first day of their availability. OSTC credits are also exhausted. The waiting list we have for scholarships is long. The need for more credits, to help more parents pick the best school for their children, is evident.

Our state elected officials are still negotiating the budget, and the EITC and OSTC are likely part of the bargain. We need to give them a strong show of support so they will remember to represent the hundreds of parents in their districts who want what’s best for their child’s educational needs.

Please ask your legislator to vote in favor of House Bill 752, which would increase EITC and OSTC tax credits. HB 752 passed the House on May 11, and now it is time for the Senate to vote for it, so that even more parents can make a choice about the right school for their children.

Click here to send an email message to your state lawmakers today. Our students depend on it!

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Review of Planned Parenthood in PA Promised http://www.pacatholic.org/review-of-planned-parenthood-in-pa-promised/ http://www.pacatholic.org/review-of-planned-parenthood-in-pa-promised/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 17:32:02 +0000 http://www.pacatholic.org/?p=8228 PA_coat_of_armsGovernor Tom Wolf told listeners of KQV-AM radio in Pittsburgh last week that he will take steps to reaffirm that human fetal tissue is not being sold commercially in Pennsylvania. Wolf says he doesn’t think it’s happening in Pennsylvania. According to the report, the Department of Health says it hasn’t received a complaint about it and Planned Parenthood (the nation’s and state’s largest abortion provider) says its Pennsylvania health centers don’t participate in fetal tissue donation. He did not say what steps he planned for undertaking a review.

The question stemmed from outrage sparked by two recently released videos of high level Planned Parenthood directors who were shown graphically explaining how abortions can be conducted in a way which preserves the baby’s organs for medical research as well as the costs associated with selling these organs.

State legislative leaders, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R- Cameron, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, Mckean, Potter and Tioga) and Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) have also urged Attorney General Kathleen Kane to investigate Planned Parenthood practices in Pennsylvania. Further, The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee announced that it will investigate Planned Parenthood as a result of this video.

Planned Parenthood provides over half of the abortions in Pennsylvania. Advocates must strongly urge elected officials in Harrisburg and Washington, DC, to take these investigations seriously. Send a message to your elected officials today.

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Measure to Protect Women and Children Signed Into Law http://www.pacatholic.org/measure-to-protect-women-and-children-signed/ http://www.pacatholic.org/measure-to-protect-women-and-children-signed/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 18:06:15 +0000 http://www.pacatholic.org/?p=8224 doctorAmong the many atrocities revealed at Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s “House of Horrors” abortion clinic in West Philadelphia was that several of his staff provided medical services without the proper training or license to do so. Consequently, a woman died and seven newborn babies were killed by infanticide in Dr. Gosnell’s abortion clinic. He is now serving three consecutive life sentences in prison for his role in the deaths.

Senate Bill 485, passed by both chambers of the General Assembly, will increase the penalty for those who commit the crime of impersonating a doctor of medicine. State Senator Joseph B. Scarnati III, (R- Cameron, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, Mckean, Potter and Tioga), Senate Pro Tempore and prime sponsor of the senate bill, called this an important piece of legislation because “impersonating a physician can have dire consequences for individuals who unknowingly place their healthcare in the hands of someone who is not properly trained or experienced.” State Representative Matt Baker (R-Bradford, Tioga), sponsor of a similar measure in the House, said, “Those in the medical profession are generally highly respected and trusted individuals whom people seek out when they are sick, vulnerable and looking for help. It is unconscionable that a person, for whatever reason, would pretend to be a doctor.”

The legislation was signed into law Governor Tom Wolf in July 2015 and is now in effect.

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Investigate Planned Parenthood http://www.pacatholic.org/investigate-planned-parenthood/ http://www.pacatholic.org/investigate-planned-parenthood/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 13:58:37 +0000 http://www.pacatholic.org/?p=8216 ultrasound2015A video was released last week that shows Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services, graphically explaining how abortions can be conducted in a way which preserves the baby’s organs for medical research as well as the costs associated with selling these organs. A second video was released this week showing Mary Gatter, who is president of the group’s medical director council discussing the same thing.

It is a felony under federal law to sell the body parts of aborted babies. Planned Parenthood has denied that they profit from the harvesting of organs; rather, they claim the organs are donated for scientific research and that the money discussed is to reimburse for associated costs.

With a warning of its graphic nature, here is a link to the video, entitled, “Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts.” A full version of the video can be viewed here.

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee announced that it will investigate Planned Parenthood as a result of this video.  Planned Parenthood provides over half of the abortions in Pennsylvania, and the state should initiate its own investigation.

Send a message today asking your elected officials to investigate Planned Parenthood.

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Reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act http://www.pacatholic.org/reauthorize-the-elementary-and-secondary-education-act/ http://www.pacatholic.org/reauthorize-the-elementary-and-secondary-education-act/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 15:57:17 +0000 http://www.pacatholic.org/?p=8214 CatholicEducation

UPDATE: On July 16, 2015, the U.S. Senate approved the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) with a vote of 81 to 17. Similar to HR 5 which recently passed in the House, the Senate measure reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act.  Both chambers will participate in a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the two bills and send the compromise to the president’s desk.

From the USCCB- HR5 is the House of Representatives version of the long overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).   Since its inception in 1965, ESEA has long upheld the principle that students in need, regardless of whether they attend a public or private school, are entitled to an equitable share of services and benefits. However, following the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001 (the last ESEA reauthorization), this principle has been continually eroded with private school students and their teachers no longer receiving the equitable share of services and benefits to which they are entitled and that Congress intended.

The Student Success Act (H.R.5) is the first step towards restoring equity and strengthening the historical safeguards designed to insure the fair and equitable treatment of private school students and their teachers. The House plans to vote on The Student Success Act on Wednesday, July 8th.

As the U.S. Bishops reiterated in their 2005 statement Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium, “government at all levels, acting in partnership with parents, has a responsibility to provide adequate professional and material resources to assist all children to attain a quality education.” The Student Success Act’s provisions related to improving access to services to teachers and students in need, regardless of where they attend school, makes a substantial contribution to putting the needs of students and their families first.

For more information, see the letter  by Archbishop George Lucas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on Catholic Education regarding the Student Success Act.

E-mail or Call Your Representative and tell them:

  • Please support the re-authorization of ESEA.   Passage of The Student Success Act will be the first step towards correcting the inequities of No Child Left Behind including the improvement of the consultation requirements and other conditions connected with providing equitable services for students and teachers in religious, private and independent schools.
  • As the U.S. Bishops reiterated in their 2005 statement Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium, “government at all levels, acting in partnership with parents, has a responsibility to provide adequate professional and material resources to assist all children to attain a quality education.”
  • The Student Success Act’s provisions related to improving access to services to students in need and their teachers, regardless of where they attend school, makes a substantial contribution to putting the needs of students and their families first.

Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of Catholic Education!

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