FAILING TO RESPECT THE DIGNITY OF HUMAN LIFE

The release of videos showing Planned Parenthood’s involvement with the provision of babies’ organs following an abortion has prompted much reaction.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap., archbishop of Boston and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), noted that “Pope Francis has called abortion the product of a ‘widespread mentality of profit, the throwaway culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many.’ The recent news stories concerning Planned Parenthood direct our attention to two larger issues involving many institutions in our society. The first is abortion itself: a direct attack on human life in its most vulnerable condition. The second is the now standard practice of obtaining fetal organs and tissues though abortion. Both actions fail to respect the humanity and dignity of human life. This fact should be the center of attention in the present public controversy.”

If anyone has been traumatized by the news coverage because of their own involvement with abortion, they would be welcome to contact the Church’s post-abortion healing ministry, Project Rachel. For confidential, nonjudgmental help, please visit www.projectrachel.com.

Students for Life of America sponsored “Women Betrayed” rallies across the country on July 28, including in Sioux City (with Bishop R. Walker Nickless) and Des Moines (with Bishop Richard Pates), calling on state and federal officials to investigate and defund Planned Parenthood. Several government officials have asked for investigations. Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million annually in government funding.

The Iowa Catholic Conference has supported measures to stop government family planning funds from going to abortion providers. We are looking at what future legislation might be advisable to address the situation.

ENCYCLICAL CONTINUES TO SPARK DISCUSSION

Pope Francis’ encyclical letter on the care of creation, “Laudato Si” (Praise Be to You), has continued to spark discussion and reflection. You can read a copy of the letter at bit.ly/1Gi1BTu.

Bishop Pates of Des Moines held a news conference on July 2 with Bishop Martin Amos of Davenport. The bishops encouraged Iowans to raise environmental issues and the care of creation with candidates for office. Other speakers at the news conference included Rev. Susan Guy, a Disciples of Christ minister and director of the clean-energy advocacy organization Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, and Father Bud Grant, professor of theology at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.

Loras College in Dubuque hosted an educational event with about 200 people in attendance on July 23. Father Grant was among the presenters and discussed the idea of “preferential suffering;” that we in developed nations would have to change our lifestyles so that others would have enough. Archbishop Michael Jackels also gave some good-humored advice about the encyclical: “Read it.” Click here a news story about the event.

Meanwhile at the national level, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development has urged Congress to answer Pope Francis’ call to protect creation and oppose legislation that would reverse efforts to develop a national standard to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants.

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami emphasized the importance of Laudato Si, where Pope Francis “called on all people to care for God’s creation and our common home for the well-being of current and future generations.”

His letter to Congress is available online at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/letter-to-congress-on-carbon-standards-2015-06-24.cfm.

‘SAVE THE DATE’ FOR FREE IOWA SCHOOL CHOICE SUMMIT

As you know, supporting parental choice in education is a priority of the Iowa Catholic Conference. On Wednesday, Sept. 16, our partners at the Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education will host an “Iowa School Choice Summit.” You are invited to attend. The event will be held at the State Historical Building (600 E. Locust in Des Moines) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. A continental breakfast will be available at 8:30 a.m.

An update on Iowa legislative efforts will kick off the day followed by breakout sessions for parents, school tuition organization leaders and school administrators/personnel. The summit will conclude with a keynote address by Virginia Walden Ford, a parent and fighter for children who successfully led efforts to bring school choice to Washington, D.C.

Please register by clicking here. The summit is free of charge. I hope to see you there!

At the federal level, the U.S. House and Senate passed legislation earlier this month to reauthorize the Elementary Secondary and Education Act (ESEA).

Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Catholic Education, applauded the passage of the bills by Congress. Both bills contain significant improvements for providing equitable services for students and teachers in religious, private and independent schools. It is anticipated that the chambers will work to reconcile the two different versions of the bill.

BISHOPS URGE FAIR AND JUST MINIMUM WAGE

Congress can promote the common good and contribute to a more just society by ensuring the federal minimum wage promotes family formation and stability, said Archbishop Wenski of Miami and Dominican Sister Donna Markham, Ph.D., in a letter to Congress, July 27.

Echoing Pope Francis’ repeated calls for an economy of inclusion, Archbishop Wenski and Sister Markham, President of Catholic Charities USA, said that “[a]n economy thrives only when it is centered on the dignity and well-being of the workers and families in it. As pastors and service providers, we see every day the consequences when society fails to honor this priority.”

They noted that the federal minimum wage does not support family formation and stability among low-wage workers, which increases demand for social services and reliance on the social safety net to make ends meet. They concluded by affirming that “[p]rotecting low-wage workers and promoting their ability to form and nurture families are shared responsibilities and critical to building a more equitable society.”

The text of the letter can be found online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/labor-employment/usccb-ccusa-letter-to-congress-on-wages-2015-07-27.cfm.