Hot Issues

Release Overdue Funding for Textbooks & Materials

booksappleAs 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 passed a measure to release some of the funds for critical programs like these to fill in the gap until a final budget agreement is reached.

Urge Governor Wolf to sign the stop gap measure and release overdue funding for the textbooks, materials, equipment and key services that benefit all Pennsylvania students.

Vote Blocked on Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

Youcat-pro-life-quoteWEBSITEThe Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act did not get the 60 votes needed to end debate and proceed to a vote in the U.S. Senate this week. The pro-life bill that would ban abortions after 20-weeks is based on research that shows unborn babies are capable of feeling pain at that point in their development.

The cloture vote was defeated 54-42. Three Democrats joined with Republicans to support the pro-life bill, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois — voted against it.

Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican, also voted in support of banning these late-term abortions.

The conviction in 2013 of Philadelphia’s Dr. Kermit Gosnell for crimes committed while providing abortions has led many Americans to realize that our permissive laws and attitudes have allowed the abortion industry to undertake these procedures. People are repulsed by the callous and barbarous treatment of women and children in Gosnell’s clinic, and in other clinics that abort children after 20 weeks.

These procedures also pose serious dangers to women, as evidenced by Gosnell’s own manslaughter conviction for one woman’s death, and news about the death or serious complications of other women undergoing such procedures.

This week’s Senate vote is an unfortunate defeat for women and babies.

Discover God’s Love Anew: A Guide to the Sacrament of Penance

PopeConfessionPope Francis is bringing a message of mercy to Cuba and the United States this week and has declared a Holy Year of Mercy beginning December 8. He is urging all of us “to live this Year in the light of the Lord’s words: ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (cf. Lk 6:36)’”

The Pope is also credited with saying, “the confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better.”

With God’s help, we can all do better.

The Bishops of Pennsylvania remind us, “Confession is the visible manifestation of God’s mercy that provides us, in human terms as well, the clear awareness that God has forgiven us.”

Want to learn more about the sacrament of penance? Read the Pennsylvania Bishops’ Guide to the Sacrament of Penance.

U.S. House Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood

ultrasound2015By a vote of 241-187, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 3134. The bill prohibits, for a one-year period, the availability of federal funds for any purpose to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., or any of its affiliates or clinics, unless they certify that the affiliates and clinics will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs, an abortion during such period.

See how your U.S. Representative voted here, then click here to send a message to our U.S. Senators and state elected officials to also take a stand in support of life.

Welcome to Pennsylvania, Pope Francis!

PAReligiousLibertyMore than one in four Pennsylvanians are Catholic, making Catholicism the largest faith community in the Commonwealth. The daily influence of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania can be seen in the Catholic hospitals, soup kitchens, nursing homes and schools that serve thousands of Pennsylvanians regardless of their religious backgrounds. In addition, the Church nourishes the faith of Catholics at more than 1,000 parishes throughout Pennsylvania.

The Catholic Church is a major employer in the Commonwealth. Hospitals and nursing homes employ thousands of doctors, nurses and other health care providers. The Catholic dioceses themselves employ over 50,000 Pennsylvanians, including Catholic charities social workers and psychologists, school teachers and support staff, and ministry leaders.

Catholics have been living and worshipping in Pennsylvania since William Penn launched his

“Holy Experiment” in the 17th Century. Catholic settlers, along with Pennsylvanians of other faiths, benefitted from the Commonwealth’s protection of religious freedom.

Today, the Catholic Church continues to welcome and assist newcomers to Pennsylvania.

Catholic charities agencies help refugees and immigrants settle here in the Commonwealth. In addition to immigration services, Catholic charities agencies offer individuals and families – no matter what faith or background – behavior health, family counseling and addiction programs.

A Snapshot of Catholics in Pennsylvania

  • There are approximately 3.2 million Catholics in Pennsylvania
  • Catholic health care facilities serve about 3 million people of all faiths annually
  • Catholic charities agencies serve more than 500,000 people of all faiths annually
  • Pennsylvania has approximately 500 Catholic schools serving more than 140,000 students
  • Catholic schools employ more than 12,000 teachers
  • Approximately 400,000 Catholic students, who do not attend Catholic schools, are instructed in their rich faith at parishes across Pennsylvania

PCN Tour of St. Mary Family Resource Center in Bensalem, PA

Yoga Fun

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The St. Mary Family Resource Center (FRC) was established in 1998 to address the needs of a diverse, low-income population in the St. Mary Medical Center community. Located in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia the FRC helps with emergency housing, parenting skills, nutrition counseling, ESL, GED, exercise and fitness instruction, transportation, technology services, employment readiness and financial counseling—all free, and under one roof.

St. Mary’s particularly supports uninsured people by re-orienting its services from a strictly curative model to a preventative model and collaborating with numerous partnering agencies.  The goals of this unique ministry are to eliminate the roadblocks that keep people in crisis from accessing the services they need, and to strengthen vulnerable families through empowerment, education, and self-direction so that they may achieve and maintain not just good health, but permanent self-sufficiency.

St. Mary is one many members of the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association continuing the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, begun over 2,000 years ago in Galilee. This ministry is carried out by hundreds of highly qualified health care professionals and caregivers in award winning hospitals, nursing facilities, hospices, related health care organizations and residences across the Commonwealth.

Catholic health care in Pennsylvania plays a vital role in caring for our citizens, ministering especially to the poor, uninsured and vulnerable. The PCHA and its members give witness to gospel values in public affairs in Pennsylvania.

Over 3 million Pennsylvanians are assisted at Catholic hospitals each year, and hundreds of thousands more are helped at homes for the aged, health care centers, social service centers and other facilities.

Tune in to the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) at 5:30 p.m., Sunday, September 20, 2015. Check your local listing on the PCN website.

 

Watch WMOF & Papal Visit Coverage with Free PCN App

PCN Select - Email AdThe Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) will provide extensive coverage of the 2015 World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit to Pennsylvania residents.  Funded by Pennsylvania cable companies, PCN’s coverage is available to view on cable in Pennsylvania, and on the PCN Select mobile app.  Smartphone users can download the free app by searching “PCN Select” in any app marketplace.  Coverage is also available to stream online at pcntv.com at no cost.  For a full schedule of coverage and network times, please visit pcntv.com.

Speak the Truth about Contraception and Abortion

ContraceptivePillsConsecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. – John 17:17

Congress is facing an emotional debate – should tax dollars intended to support women’s health go to organizations that promote abortion, like Planned Parenthood?

Historically tax dollars have been prohibited from directly paying for abortions except in certain cases, so Planned Parenthood uses the money for other services like family planning, contraception, and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases. Those who are reluctant to stop funding Planned Parenthood deem these services to be critical to women’s health and necessary for reducing the number of abortions. Somehow, they believe, funding contraception will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, even in an organization that performs tens of thousands of abortions every year.

Let’s set emotion aside and look at the facts. Is there a public health benefit to funding contraceptive services? Is there evidence that contraception reduces unintended pregnancy and abortion?

A study published in 2015 analyzed the impact of state level contraception mandates on public health. The research cross-referenced public health data on unintended pregnancies and abortion in states that mandate contraceptive coverage in health insurance plans with statistics from states that do not.

The result: mandated contraceptive coverage, which arguably increases access and availability, had little if any impact on either unintended pregnancy rates or abortion rates. (Ave Maria Law Review, 2015)

Another study conducted by an affiliate of Planned Parenthood found that the majority (51 percent) of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method in the month they got pregnant, most commonly condoms (27%) or a hormonal method (17%). (Guttmacher Institute, 2014) It is fair to say that many women who use contraception are still seeking abortion.

No study can accurately measure the factors of an individual’s experience with unintended pregnancy and abortion, but there is a substantial body of research that points to the increasing availability of contraception may result in more sexual activity. (Ave Maria Law Review, 2015) If people are lured into believing that that their sexual activity is “safe” from pregnancy, they will not consider the consequences.

Access to health care is a basic human right. As citizens, we do have a compelling state interest to help people in need gain access to medical care that will keep them healthy and well. Women (and men) should have access to life saving screenings for sexually transmitted diseases or cancer; but there is a better way to deliver those services.

There are more than 9,000 delivery sites for the nation’s 1,200 federally funded health centers, providing a long list of professional and preventative services. (National Association of Community Health Centers, 2013) Planned Parenthood has just 700. Women will not suffer if funding is redirected.

It is time we speak the truth about women’s health and bust the myth that contraception is a solution to abortion. Congress should reallocate federal funding, so that women can obtain their health care from providers that do not promote abortion. As citizens, we should demand nothing else.

Take action today! Tell Congress and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to investigate and defund Planned Parenthood here.


SEPTEMBER 2015 column. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania. Stay up-to-date with Catholic news and issues at www.pacatholic.org, www.facebook.com/pacatholic, and www.twitter.com/pacatholic.

IMAGE CREDIT: By BetteDavisEyes at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

PCN Tour of Garvey Manor & Our Lady of the Alleghenies in Hollidaysburg

Serenity Room in the Marian Dementia Care Center of Garvey Manor

Serenity Room in the Marian Dementia Care Center of Garvey Manor

Did you miss is? Watch the episode here.

Since 1965, the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm have served in ministry at Garvey Manor in Hollidaysburg, the only multi-level Catholic senior care facility in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Today they provide sophisticated, state-of-the-art care in a home-like atmosphere which reflects Christ’s compassion, love and concern for the elderly.

The Marian Dementia Care Center within Garvey Manor offers its residents the unique sensory stimulation program in its “Serenity Rooms” where multi-sensory equipment is used to interactively engage cognitively impaired people via their senses.

Garvey Manor is one many members of the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association continuing the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, begun over 2,000 years ago in Galilee. This ministry is carried out by hundreds of highly qualified health care professionals and caregivers in award winning hospitals, nursing facilities, hospices, related health care organizations and residences across the Commonwealth.

Catholic health care in Pennsylvania plays a vital role in caring for our citizens, ministering especially to the poor, uninsured and vulnerable. The PCHA and its members give witness to gospel values in public affairs in Pennsylvania.

Over 3 million Pennsylvanians are assisted at Catholic hospitals each year, and hundreds of thousands more are helped at homes for the aged, health care centers, social service centers and other facilities.

Tune in to the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) at 5:30 p.m., Sunday, September 13, 2015. Check your local listing on the PCN website.