PUBLIC POLICY Parishes press Senate for health care reform

On November 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed significant health care reform that reaffirmed longstanding and widely supported policy that no federal funds will be used to pay for elective abortions.

As debate on reform moves to the Senate, the U.S. bishops are deeply concerned about the Senate version of the bill, especially as it will affect abortion funding, conscience rights, affordability for the poor and vulnerable, and accessibility for immigrants.

Given upcoming Senate action, the U.S. bishops have asked that all parishes provide parishioners with information about the reform legislation via a flier inserted in bulletins. The insert, which was sent to parishes in South Jersey by the Diocese of Camden this week, urges parishioners to contact their Senators immediately and to address concerns about the legislation.

“Please adopt the House-approved Stupak Amendment that upholds longstanding policies against abortion funding, and please protect conscience rights in health care reform. Health care must be made more affordable and accessible to those in need, and immigrants must not lose or be denied health care coverage,” states the message recommended for Senators.

The bulletin insert includes contact information for parishioner to reach members of Congress. Parishioners may send a pre-written, instant e-mail to Congress at www.usccb.org/action. Parishioners also may call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. Full contact information for local Members of Congress can be found on Members’ web sites at www.house.gov & www.senate.gov.

U.S. SENATE

Lautenberg, Frank R.

324 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510,

(202) 224-3224,

www.lautenberg.senate.gov/contact/index1.cfm

Menendez, Robert

528 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510,

(202) 224-4744,

www.menendez.senate.gov/contact/contact.cfm

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

District 1: Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D)

2265 Rayburn HOB,

Washington, DC 20515-3001

Phone: (202) 225-6501

www.house.gov/andrews/contact_form_za.shtml

District 2: Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (R)

2427 Rayburn HOB

Washington, DC 20515-3002

Phone: (202) 225-6572

www.house.gov/lobiondo/IMA/issue.htm

District 3: Rep. John H. Adler (D)

1223 Longworth HOB

Washington, DC 20515-3003

Phone: (202) 225-4765

http://forms.house.gov/adler/webforms/issue_subscribe.htm

Catholics urged to protect marriage as union of one man, one woman

With the possibility that the New Jersey Legislature may soon attempt to pass a bill establishing “same-sex marriage” in the state before the current legislative session expires, the New Jersey Catholic Conference has called on Catholics in the state to defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Support for the bill has stalled somewhat since the defeat of similar efforts in Maine and California and the election earlier this month of Governor-elect Christie, who has threatened to veto such a bill. However, “same-sex marriage” advocates are pressing hard for passage during the lame-duck session.

While advocates claim wide support for legislation that would allow same-sex couples to “marry,” (an April Quinnipiac University poll showed narrow support), a more recent CBS-News/New York Times poll taken in June found that few Americans support it (just 33 percent according to the poll). The same poll also suggests that support is falling, down almost 10 percent this year.

“Radically changing the essence of marriage as understood throughout all of human history is not only unpopular, it’s not right,” said Patrick Brannigan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference. “Marriage between one man and one woman must be protected because it is a foundational element of the common good of society.”

Quoting a recent joint statement of the New Jersey Catholic bishops, Brannigan said, “The Catholic Church teaches today and has taught for 2,000 years that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This great truth about marriage has been recognized from time immemorial by people of virtually every faith and culture. The Church teaches that man and woman are equal but different from each other. This complementarity, including sexual difference, draws man and woman together in a mutually loving union – marriage, the foundation of the family and society.

“Persons of same sex orientation have the right to live as they choose but they do not have the right to redefine marriage for everyone by altering the civil law,” he added.

Editor’s note: For the complete text of the NJ bishops’ statement on marriage, see www.camdendiocese.org

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