Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make a difference in the political arena. Especially when your contacts with legislators are combined with those of your friends and neighbors, I have seen many instances where you have had a real impact. Keep your head up looking for opportunities to help, and your head down in prayer!

Right now we’re asking for your help with three items:

1. We are asking for contacts to Congress and the President regarding the treatment of unaccompanied minors who have traveled to the United States. The main message is, “As a Catholic, I am opposed to the use of family detention. Detaining women and children who are fleeing persecution and violence demeans the God-given human dignity of these vulnerable people … Alternatives to detention, like community-based models and case management, are effective at ensuring compliance with immigration court proceedings.”

For more information or to send an electronic postcard, go to www.justiceforimmigrants.org.

Efforts continue locally to provide attorneys for these unaccompanied minors. If you’re an attorney and can help please let me know.

2. Deadlines are fast approaching for sending in comments on two new rules recently issued by the Administration on the contraceptive mandate. Yes, we’re still working on that issue.

Currently only houses of worship are exempt from the mandate. The new rules don’t change that. The new proposals instead consist of interim final rules (IFR) that slightly modify what the government calls an “accommodation” for nonprofit religious organizations not exempted from the mandate, and proposed rules (PR) that would extend the accommodation to closely-held for-profit companies.

Comments on the PR are due Oct. 21 and on the IFR Oct. 27. Comments can be submitted through the NCHLA Action Center. Go to www.nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=312.

We are going to keep working on this until ministries such as Catholic Charities and Catholic universities are recognized by the government to be ministries of the Church as much as a parish.

3. It’s time to vote. In-person and voting by mail is underway. For more information on how to vote go to the state Secretary of State’s website. To help with your discernment before the mid-term election, the Iowa Catholic Conference’s updated document on Faithful Citizenship for Iowa Catholics is available.

The Iowa bishops are clear it is the duty of Catholics to form their consciences guided by the teaching of the Church and take their consciences into the voting booth.

The Faithful Citizenship document also has some important questions you can ask a candidate. Our website has a list of candidates you can contact to find out their views on these issues.

If you want leaders who represent you, you need to vote.

ICC BOARD APPROVES LIST OF LEGISLATIVE CONCERNS

The Iowa Catholic Conference board has approved its list of legislative concerns for the 2015 session. You can find them here. As we said last month, our principles don’t change from year to year, but the application and strategy around those principles do change depending on which party is in control of the legislature, the effect of court decisions, and so on.

SAVE THE DATE – IOWA INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL ACTION

You’re going to want to set aside Jan. 18 and 19, 2015 for the Iowa Institute for Social Action. We are pleased to announce that our keynote speaker is Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The title of Dr. Woo’s keynote address will be “Care for Neighbors Integral to Worship, Faith and Witness.”

Representing CRS, Dr. Woo was featured in Foreign Policy (May/June, 2013) as one of the 500 Most Powerful people on the planet and one of only 33 in the category of “a force for good.”

In addition to the keynote address, there will be a variety of breakout sessions to prepare leaders to advocate for the social concerns of the Catholic Church. More details and registration information will follow in the coming weeks. In the meantime, go to: www.iowacatholicconference.org/2014/10/dr-carolyn-woo-to-keynote-iowa-institute-for-social-action. The Institute is sponsored by the Catholic dioceses of Iowa and the Iowa Catholic Conference.

WEBCAM ABORTION CONTINUES FOR NOW

A Polk County District Court judge ruled in favor of the Iowa Board of Medicine in August and upheld its right to regulate webcam abortions in Iowa. However, Planned Parenthood has appealed the decision to the Iowa Supreme Court. Webcam abortions are being allowed to continue while the Supreme Court decides whether to grant a review.

Providing drugs that cause bleeding and painful cramping at home, in addition to the loss of a life, seems substantively different than other uses of telemedicine. The Des Moines Register has reported that more than 6,400 Iowans have used Planned Parenthood’s telemedicine system to obtain abortion pills since 2008.

USCCB CHAIRS EXPRESS DISAPPOINTMENT WITH SUPREME COURT

The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, and the chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, expressed serious disappointment at the Oct. 6 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to consider current cases that strike down laws upholding marriage as between one man and one woman.

“Millions of Americans had looked to the Court with hope that these unjust judicial decisions might be reversed,” Bishop Malone and Archbishop Cordileone said. “The Supreme Court’s action fails to resolve immediately the injustice of marriage redefinition, and therefore should be of grave concern to our entire nation.”

AND FINALLY,

The USCCB recently sponsored a webinar about payday lending. Here are some facts:

  • The average payday loan user is in debt for 212 days of the year.
  • Twelve million American adults use payday loans. Payday is not a one-shot deal: the typical borrower takes out eight loans of $375 and pays $520 in interest.
  • 70% of payday loan borrowers use them to cover ordinary expenses. Expenses keep rising, but paychecks aren’t keeping up.

During the upcoming legislative session it’s likely you’ll be hearing more from us about what the Church teaches about usury, and how we can take action on the issue.