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PA House Passes Resolution Celebrating Election of Pope Francis

The PA House of Representatives has unanimously passed a resolution to celebrate the election of Pope Francis.

In part, the resolution reads, “Former Bishop of Pittsburgh, now Cardinal and Archbishop of Washington DC, Cardinal Donald Wuerl has described Pope Francis as a man who is ‘very gentle but firm, very loving but fearless, a very pastoral and caring person ideal for the challenges of today.’”

The resolution continues, “His name, Francis, invokes the spirit of ST. Francis of Assisi, and like St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis is revered among Catholics for his work with the poor.”

Sponsored by Representative Angel Cruz of Philadelphia, Resolution 208 passed on April 9. Click here to view the House Resolution honoring Pope Francis.

Senate Bill 3 Voted Out of Committee

Senate Bill 3, the bill that would ensure taxpayers do not fund abortions through the federal health care exchange administered in PA, was voted out of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee today by a vote of 8 to 5.

Senate Bill 3 now proceeds to the full Senate for a vote. Send a message to your legislators TODAY asking them to vote “yes” on SB3!

The Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance voted as follows:

VOTED YES

Senator White (Prime Sponsor of the bill)- Indiana County

Senator Brewster – Allegheny County

Senator Browne- Lehigh County

Senator Brubaker-  Lancaster County

Senator Eichelberger- Blair County

Senator Rafferty – Montgomery County

Senator Scarnati – Jefferson County

Senator Ward – Westmoreland County

VOTED NO

Senator Boscola – Northampton County

Senator Farnese – Philadelphia

Senator Stack -Philadelphia

Senator Vance – Cumberland County

Senator Williams – Philadelphia

 

DCED Announces Simplified Online Application for Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program

booksappleLast year our successful school choice advocacy resulted in a new scholarship program aimed at helping students in the lowest performing schools in the state chose a better school to meet their needs. Unfortunately, a lengthy, complicated application form for companies that wished to contribute to a scholarship foundation and claim a tax credits had slowed implementation.

With persistent lobbying by PCC staff, the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) revised the form making it easier to apply.

Pennsylvania businesses can apply for Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credits through DCED’s electronic single application system. Tax credit applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, according to the date submitted. All applications received on a specific day will be processed on a random basis before moving on to the next day’s applications. Applications will be approved until the amount of available tax credits is exhausted.

Tax credits may be applied against the tax liability of a business for the tax year in which the contribution was made. The tax credits awarded to businesses will be equal to 75 percent of their contribution amount, which can be increased to 90 percent upon the business committing for two years. The total may not exceed $400,000 per taxable year.

For more information about the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program, visit www.newpa.com/ostc.

 

Ruling that Lifts Age Limits on Emergency Contraceptives Should Be Overturned

usccblogoThe following statement regarding decision to lift age limits on purchase of over-the-counter emergency contraceptives comes from Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Pro Life Activities:

A federal district judge in New York has ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lift all age limits on over-the-counter access to the so-called “emergency contraceptive” drug Plan B and its generic versions.

Plan B is a large dose of a powerful hormonal drug (levonorgestrel) that is available only by prescription when used in smaller doses for contraception.  The court has acted irresponsibly by making this powerful drug available without a prescription to minor children.

Plan B does not prevent or treat any disease, but makes young adolescent girls more available to sexual predators.  The court’s action undermines parents’ ability to protect their daughters from such exploitation and from the adverse effects of the drug itself.

Many studies have shown that wider access to “emergency contraception” among young people does not reduce pregnancy or abortion rates, but can contribute to higher rates of sexually transmitted disease.  No public health consideration justifies the unregulated distribution of such drugs to children.  This ruling should be appealed and overturned.

50 Years of Advocacy for Catholic Health Care in Pennsylvania

PA Catholic Health logo_v7Much has changed in healthcare over the past half century, from rising costs to incredible advancements in technology and treatments.  Throughout these changes, the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association (PCHA) has never wavered in its mission to continue Jesus’s healing ministry and advocate for the sanctity of life, access to health care for all and the common good.

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PCC and PCHA Submit Official Comments to HHS

logoHHSThe Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association have submitted official comments to HHS in opposition to the proposed rule to force Catholic employers to violate their conscience.

Sr. Clare Christi Schiefer, O.S.F., president of PCHA, writes, “PCHA urges that employers, charitable, health care and educational facilities, insurers and individuals with religious or moral objections be excluded from the mandate.  The assault on religion mounted by this mandate is staggering.  It is time for the mandate to be amended to shed the bias against the very ministries created to advance Christ’s gospel values.  Finally, PCHA urges removal of the inclusion of prescription contraception including abortifacients, surgical sterilization and counseling from the list of preventive services.”

Read the official PCHA comments  and the official PCC comments, then submit your own comments here

 

Prayer from Marriage March in Washington, DC

From the USCCB –

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, will participate in the March for Marriage in Washington,  March 26,  by leading the marchers in prayer. Thousands of people from across the country are expected to gather in the nation’s capital to march peacefully to the United States Supreme Court to show their support for marriage.

The march occurs as the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8, the first of two marriage cases before it. Tomorrow, March 27, the Court will hear oral arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“It is truly inspiring to know that so many people from so many walks of life, including many young people, are expressing their support for marriage,” Archbishop Cordileone said about the march.

“It is my hope and prayer that the Supreme Court will uphold Proposition 8 and DOMA, respecting the very nature of the human person and the nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Archbishop Cordileone said.

“Every person has a mother and a father. Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to children born of their union,” he added. “The intrinsic dignity of every human being must be affirmed, but this is not realized by redefining marriage to mean simply the public recognition of certain emotional bonds among adults. Marriage is rooted in the natural reality that men and women are different, and thereby complementary, and that children deserve both a mother and a father. Respecting this truth benefits everyone.”

California’s Proposition 8 defines marriage in California’s constitution as the union of one man and one woman. In 2008, California voters approved the proposition, with more than 7 million voting in favor. Subsequently, Proposition 8 was found unconstitutional by lower federal courts. DOMA defines marriage for purposes of federal law as the union of one man and one woman. In 1996, DOMA was overwhelmingly passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. DOMA has been found unconstitutional by some lower federal courts.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on Proposition 8 and a decision on DOMA by the end of June. If the Court overturns either, the result would be adverse to the institution of marriage and to the family and could effectively result in marriage being redefined throughout the country.

More information is available at www.marriagemarch.org/.

Archbishop Soroka’s Pastoral Letter for Feast of the Annunciation

sorokaThe Most Reverend Stefan Soroka, Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, has issued a pastoral letter for the Feast of the Annunciation, which he termed the “pro-life feast day.”

Metropolitan Stefan writes,

From this feast, we also learn a basic truth of human existence. Human life begins at conception. Each of us began our human journey in the womb of our mother. It is a fact of life, that a child once conceived, will naturally mature to birth when he or she will no longer need the sanctuary of a mother’s womb.

That all human life begins at conception is not only a teaching of the Church but it is also a known reality from human experience.

This reality is beautifully expressed in the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.” (Jer.1:5)

And in our Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, we hear this truth expressed in the Commemoration prayer after the invocation of the Holy Spirit upon the Gifts: “O God, Who know the age and name of each, Who know each from their mother’s womb.”

Sadly, in our present day and age, we often hear distortions of human reality to deny that human life begins at conception. These false and erroneous teachings have become part of our culture and wrongly accepted by many in our society.

As people of faith, may this Feast of the Annunciation become our pro-life feast day and may we always defend and nurture as sacred all human life from the moment of conception, recalling another verse our mothers and Babas taught us “Blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus.”

 
The Feast of the Annunciation, celebrated on Monday, March 25, is a major feast in the Ukrainian Catholic Church and is a Holy Day of obligation for the faithful. This Feast Day is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy even if it should fall on Good Friday and commemorated on Pascha (Feast of the Resurrection) in the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

USCCB Says Administration Mandate Violates First Amendment Freedoms Of Religious Organizations And Others

usccb1-150x150WASHINGTON— The general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops states that the current proposed revisions of the Obama Administration’s contraceptive mandate are “an unprecedented …violation of religious liberty by the federal government” and must be changed.

SEND A MESSAGE TO HHS IN SUPPORT OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY HERE.

The statement is in comments filed March 20 regarding the mandate, which requires most health plans in the United States to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and related education and counseling.

The comments, made on the USCCB’s behalf by Anthony R. Picarello, USCCB associate general secretary and general counsel, and Michael F. Moses, associate general counsel, note a number of continuing problems with the regulations, which had been the subject of earlier rulemaking and comment by the USCCB. The comments state:

First, like earlier iterations of the regulation, the latest proposal requires coverage of items and procedures that, unlike other mandated “preventive services,” do not prevent disease. Instead, they are associated with an increased risk of adverse health outcomes, including conditions that other “preventive services” are designed to prevent.

Second, no exemption or accommodation is available at all for the vast majority of individual or institutional stakeholders with religious or moral objections to contraceptive coverage. Virtually all Americans who enroll in a health plan will ultimately be required to have contraceptive coverage for themselves and their dependents, whether they want it or not.

Third, although the definition of an exempt “religious employer” has been revised to eliminate some of the intrusive and constitutionally improper government inquiries into religious teaching and beliefs that were inherent in an earlier definition, the current proposal continues to define “religious employer” in a way that, by the government’s own admission, excludes (and therefore subjects to the mandate) a wide array of employers that are undeniably religious. Generally the nonprofit religious organizations that fall on the “non-exempt” side of this religious gerrymander include those organizations that contribute most visibly to the common good through the provision of health, educational, and social services.

Fourth, the Administration has offered what it calls an “accommodation” for nonprofit religious organizations that fall outside its narrow definition of “religious employer.” The “accommodation” is based on a number of questionable factual assumptions. Even if all of those assumptions were sound, the “accommodation” still requires the objecting religious organization to fund or otherwise facilitate the morally objectionable coverage.

Fifth, the mandate continues to represent an unprecedented (and now sustained) violation of religious liberty by the federal government. As applied to individuals and organizations with a religious objection to contraceptive coverage, the mandate violates the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

“We are willing, now as always, to work with the Administration to reach a just and lawful resolution of these issues. In the meantime, along with others, we will continue to look for resolution of these issues in Congress and in the courts,” Picarello and Moses write.

The full text of the comments is available athttp://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/upload/2013-NPRM-Comments-3-20-final.pdf

 

SEND A MESSAGE TO HHS IN SUPPORT OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY HERE.