As a part of the Iowa bishops’ Faithful Citizenship effort, we ask you to pray for those who are in public service or running for office, that they may use their position to protect the defenseless, promote the life and dignity of the poor and vulnerable, and seek ways to advance fairness, justice, and dignity in our society.

Among the new resources available from the Iowa Catholic Conference are videos from the bishops of Iowa on topics related to Faithful Citizenship. Check them out here. A list of candidates is available as well.

MYIOWAVOTE.COM

How many times have you looked at your cell phone today? If you’re like us, the answer is, many times! The Iowa Secretary of State’s office is making a new free resource available to help Iowans register to vote and remember to vote.

At www.myiowavote.com, you can register to vote and opt-in to a series of reminders to vote as well as request absentee ballots. Iowa Catholic Conference staff has tested this website out and its looks promising. We can see how this might be especially helpful in remembering city and school board elections. Give it a try.

ACTION ALERTS

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recently announced its intention to begin funding research that involves injecting human embryonic stem cells into animal embryos, thus creating part-human and part-animal organisms known as “chimeras.” This means that, for the first time, the federal government will begin spending taxpayer dollars on the creation and manipulation of new beings whose existence blurs the line between humans and non-human animals.

According to the U.S. bishops’ Human Life Action group, this research is ethically problematic for several reasons:

  • It relies on the killing of humans at the embryonic stage to harvest their stem cells
  • It involves the production of animals that could have partly or substantially human brains
  • It involves the production of animals that could have human sperm or eggs (with a stipulation that precautions are taken so such animals are not allowed to breed)
  • It allows the introduction of human embryonic stem cells into animal embryos early in their development such that it may be very difficult to know the extent to which human cells contribute to the final organism. Consequently, researchers won’t know what their moral obligations may be toward that being.

Public comments in opposition to this unethical research are currently being accepted. However, the window to act is tight; comments close next Tuesday at midnight. For a suggested message and instructions on how to submit comments go to www.humanlifeaction.org.

Also, our partners at the Justice for Immigrants campaign are requesting contacts aimed at the Administration, U.S. Senate and Congress in support of refugees. The Church is encouraging a robust humanitarian response in order to meet the needs of the extraordinary number of people worldwide forced from their homes and countries, the largest displacement on record. Click here for the action alert.

LABOR DAY STATEMENT

The lack of jobs that can support families, particularly among those without access to higher education, has placed heavy burdens on families and communities across the country. This Labor Day, the Church draws close to these families and expresses words of hope, said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development in the 2016 Labor Day statement.

In the statement, Archbishop Wenski draws attention to Pope Francis’ recent address to the U.S. Congress, in which he highlighted the connection between economic pressures and stresses on the family. Archbishop Wenski in particular laments the struggles of those in communities with elevated rates of poverty, substance abuse, and the dissolution of the family. “The Church weeps with all of these families, with these children, whose homes and worlds are broken,” Archbishop Wenski said.

While the United States is undergoing a difficult time with political tensions, fear, and anxiety, Archbishop Wenski challenges people to respond with faith and action. “For our dynamics to change, we must replace fear with a fuller vision that can be powerfully supported by our faith…the Church’s history is filled with communities that took seriously the call to be their ‘brother’s keeper’ (Gen. 4:9), faced challenges together, and lifted up the ‘cry of the poor’ (Psalm 34:7).”

The full text of the statement is available here.

AFC RELEASES REPORT CARD FOR SCHOOL CHOICE

The American Federation for Children (AFC) released its first ever Report Card, a comprehensive ranking of school choice programs across the country. According to AFC, Iowa ranks 22 out of the 50 states.

Our guess is Iowa ranks in the top half because of the School Tuition Organization tax credit, which helps raise money for scholarships for lower-income students to attend nonpublic schools. However, our average scholarship amount is among the lowest in the country and the number of children who benefit has been stagnant.

We agree with AFC that our program can be improved by convincing lawmakers to increase the amount of tax credits and make additional students eligible to receive scholarships.

You can learn more about how to help with our legislative goals by participating in the Iowa School Choice Summit on Wednesday, Sept. 14 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the State Historical Museum of Iowa. If you are interested in encouraging lawmakers to support parental choice in schools, this Summit is the place for you. Click here to register for this free event. We know it can be difficult for school parents to get away for the day, but if we want true parental choice in education, we’re going to have work for it.

AND FINALLY,

Pope Francis has instituted a “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” which is tomorrow, Sept. 1. The day of prayer originally started with the Orthodox Church in 1989 and has spread to other churches as well.

Here in Iowa, there will be a series of events called a “Season of Creation” on Tuesdays leading up to Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. The events are sponsored by the Interfaith Green Coalition and Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, along with several churches. People of all spiritual backgrounds are invited. Click here for a flier.