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Hot Issues

Preparing for the Nov. 8 Election

In keeping with its mission, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) aims to educate and inform Catholics about a wide range of issues.

To that end, we have compiled a series of resources to help to educate you about some of the issues and topics of import to Catholics. The PCC neither supports nor opposes any candidate for public office.

As you review these resources, please also consider excerpt from the bishops’ Living the Gospel of Life:

“Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care. Therefore, Catholics should eagerly involve themselves as advocates for the weak and marginalized in all these areas…But being ‘right’ in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life. Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the ‘rightness’ of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’ — the living house of God — then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation. These directly and immediately violate the human person’s most fundamental right – the right to life.”  From Living the Gospel of Life, No. 22 with original emphasis (Pastoral Statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1998).

Another resource to help Catholics prepare for the upcoming election is Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship, and its companion summary bulletin inserts.

Presidential Candidates

Know the Positions of the 2016 Presidential Candidates

Know the Positions of the Presidential Candidates (Spanish)

Pennsylvania Statewide Candidates

Survey of Pennsylvania Statewide Candidates

Know the Positions of the U.S. Senate Candidates

Complete Survey Responses of Senator Toomey (Candidate McGinty did not respond to the PCC survey)

General Assembly and U.S. Congressional Candidates

As they become available, this section will be updated with responses from General Assembly and U.S. Congressional candidates. You can also check with your Diocesan website for these results.

“We work to provide our kids the best education”

ABC27 interviews the Garcia Family at Harrisburg Catholic Elementary School.

ABC27 interviews the Garcia Family at Harrisburg Catholic Elementary School.

When discussing school choice, “It’s easy to talk dollars and cents but what we really need to talk about is minds and souls and futures,” said the PCC’s Amy Hill during a feature on ABC27 about school choice. 

The Garcia family spoke about the importance of a program like the Education Improvement Tax Credits (EITC),  “My kids are the first generation here,” Carlos Garcia said. “I want them to have the American dream.”

Representative Jim Christiana (R-Beaver), a champion of the EITC program, said a family’s zip code shouldn’t limit their educational opportunities, “I believe that the way we make every industry better is competition and choice and giving people freedoms.”

View the story on the Garcia family and school choice here:

Study finds that religion contributes $1.2 trillion to US economy

A new study finds that religious groups in America contribute $1.2 trillion to the national economy, much of it in charitable services, which would be enough to make U.S. religion the 15th largest economy in the world.

In his commentary on this study, Crux Contributor Christopher White writes:

The notion that religion is antiquated, declining, and at worst, oppressive, seems to dominate much of our public discourse.

But a major new study just released in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion evidences that the country has never been more dependent on the contributions of people of faith to society, particularly from a socio-economic perspective.

According to findings from Brian and Melissa Grim, “religion in the United States today contributes $1.2 trillion each year to our economy and society.”

Impressively, this figure is more than the top ten tech companies combined-including Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Or, put in another perspective, if that figure was measured in GDP, U.S. religion would be the 15th largest national economy in the world.

These contributions range from general philanthropy to educational services to healthcare-and all stem from one of the shared central tenet’s of all major faith traditions: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Continue reading here.

Worldwide Day of Prayer for Sexual Abuse Survivors

Archbishop Kurtz (CNS/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

Archbishop Kurtz (CNS/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed Pope Francis’ call for a World Day of Prayer for Victims of Sexual Abuse and highlighted the efforts in dioceses across the country guided by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Full statement follows.

A statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

With a pastor’s heart, Pope Francis renewed the call of the universal Church to pray for, help heal and proactively protect children from the terrible sin of sexual abuse. For whenever we have failed to protect our children from predators, we beg God’s forgiveness. For wherever we have failed to support victims of sexual abuse, we beg their forgiveness. We have learned from the pain of such moments to motivate a rigorous prevention program.

That is why, in the United States, dioceses and parishes across the country have found grace in the very types of reconciliation services proposed by the worldwide day of prayer. Likewise, our painful experience resulted in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. We are grateful to the Holy Father for calling for the day of prayer. This universal expression of healing and sorrow, joined by our brothers and sisters around the world, will be a powerful reminder that no survivor should walk the path toward healing alone.

Earlier this week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Administrative Committee met to begin preparing our support for the Holy Father’s effort. It is a moment to renew our commitment and ensure we remain vigilant against the scourge of sexual abuse. Let us pray that we may never become complacent in our prayer and protection. If you have been the victim of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, notify law enforcement and please know there is a victim assistance coordinator in every U.S. diocese ready to help. They are trained and ready to receive your call.


For a list of victim/survivor assistance contacts in Pennsylvania, click here. 

Welcome Our Sunday Visitor Readers!

newspaper imageOur Sunday Visitor has published our research regarding this year’s presidential candidates in their September 25 edition, which arrives in mailboxes as early as this weekend.

For those readers who may be visiting our site to learn more about the research and to visit the cited sources, here is a link to Know the Positions of the 2016 Presidential Candidates.

Further information about this and other races will be available in the coming weeks, so check back at

Statement on Deceptive “Catholics for Choice” Ad Campaign

usccb1-150x150Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement alerting the public to a deceptive ad campaign calling for taxpayer funding of abortion in the name of the Catholic faith.

Cardinal Dolan’s full statement follows:

 A Statement from Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities

 An abortion advocacy organization called “Catholics for Choice” (CFC) placed deceptive full-page newspaper ads in multiple cities on September 12 calling for taxpayer funding of abortion in the name of the Catholic faith.

As the U.S. Catholic bishops have stated for many years, the use of the name ‘Catholic’ as a platform to promote the taking of innocent human life is offensive not only to Catholics but to all who expect honesty and forthrightness in public discourse.

CFC is not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way. It has no membership, and clearly does not speak for the faithful. It is funded by powerful private foundations to promote abortion as a method of population control.

The organization rejects and distorts Catholic social teaching — and actually attacks its foundation. As Pope Francis said this summer to leaders in Poland, “Life must always be welcomed and protected…from conception to natural death. All of us are called to respect life and care for it.”

CFC’s extreme ads promote abortion as if it were a social good. But abortion kills the most defenseless among us, harms women, and tears at the heart of families. Pushing for public funding would force all taxpaying Americans to be complicit in the violence of abortion and an industry that puts profit above the well-being of women and children.

According to a July 2016 poll conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, 62 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, including 45 percent of those who say they are pro-choice.

Finally, the CFC pits the needs of pregnant women against those of their unborn children. This is a false choice. Catholics and all people of good will are called to love them both. Consider supporting local pregnancy help centers, which do incredible work caring for mothers and children alike in a manner consistent with true social justice and mercy.

One of the ads appeared in a Pittsburgh newspaper. Bishop David Zubik stated, “This ad campaign attempts to mislead the public into believing that a Catholic can support access to abortion in good conscience. Nothing could be further from the truth.” Read his full statement here.

PA Man Named to Knights of Columbus Leadership

Michael O’Connor, a Pennsylvania native, was named supreme secretary of the Knights of Columbus during their annual conference in Toronto.

The Diocese of Allentown reports that the annual gathering drew approximately 2,000 attendees from around the world – including knights, their families and members of the clergy, including about 100 members of the Catholic hierarchy – making it one of the largest international Catholic gatherings in the city since Toronto hosted World Youth Day in 2002.

“The KOC convention is always a moving and inspiring experience of dynamic prayer and missionary commitment,” said Bishop Barres.

“I am personally so proud of Mike and Pat O’Connor and their contribution to the global mission of the Knights of Columbus.

“Our beloved Schuylkill County – home of Cardinal Brennan, Cardinal O’Hara, Father Walter Ciszek, S.J., Archbishop Joseph Kurtz and Bishop Ronald Gainer – continues to provide outstanding servants of the universal church.”

“I’m honored to have been elected to this position,” said O’Connor. “I’m humbled, coming from a small Frackville council, to have been entrusted with this role.”

Read more here. 

Labor Day Statement 2016

This Labor Day, we draw our attention to our sisters and brothers who face twin crises—deep trials in both the world of work and the state of the family. These challenging times can pull us toward despair and all the many dangers that come with it. Into this reality, the Church shares a word of hope, directing hearts and minds to the dignity of each human person and the sanctity of work itself, which is given by God. She seeks to replace desperation and isolation with human concern and true solidarity, reaffirming the trust in a good and gracious God who knows what we need before we ask him (Mt. 6:8).
A World of Work in Disarray
We behold signs that have become too familiar in the years following the Great Recession: stagnant wages, industry leaving towns and cities behind, and the sharp decline in the rate of private-sector organized labor, which fell by more than two-thirds between 1973 and 2009 down to 7%. Millions of families still find themselves living in poverty, unable to work their way out. Poverty rates among children are alarmingly high, with almost 40 percent of American children spending at least one year in poverty before they turn eighteen. Although this reality is felt nation-wide, this year new research has emerged showing the acute pain of middle and rural America in the wake of the departure of industry. Once the center of labor and the promise of family-sustaining wages, research shows these communities collapsing today, substance abuse on the rise, and an increase in the number of broken families.

Continue reading at the USCCB.

Pittsburgh Diocese Comments on Justice Dept. Actions

We have always been willing to meet with representatives of the government to negotiate a mutually agreeable solution to our impasse over religious freedom. Our counsel and counsel for the other Supreme Court litigants had a meeting with representatives of the Department of Justice, at which we attempted to engage in the kind of resolution talks that we believe the Supreme Court contemplated in its Order. The government has been slow to offer anything of substance to pursue a negotiated solution, except to mention its openness to future meetings.

Meanwhile, we are aware that the government has made an extremely aggressive interpretation of the Court’s order in the Zubik case and is apparently trying to take over – to force our third-party administrators to include the objectionable coverage in our self-insured plans.  We think that is an erroneous reading of what the Supreme Court said. Furthermore, as the government seems to acknowledge, because we are self-insured there is no obligation or authority for the third party administrator to provide the objectionable coverage.

The Supreme Court also made clear that we cannot be fined or penalized for refusing to comply with the government’s current regulations.  Therefore, we believe the government’s position is wrong. In order to avoid future litigation, we will try to work through these issues with our insurers, third-party administrators and the government. Our counsel is actively working on this endeavor, and we remain in prayer for a mutually agreeable resolution.

From the Diocese of Pittsburgh