shutterstock_763683007Voting has begun in Iowa. Now is the time for you to choose!

In their Faithful Citizenship for Iowa Catholics statement, the Iowa Catholic bishops say, “There will never be a perfect candidate, but that’s no excuse not to vote, which would let some other force or voice fill the vacuum left by opting out. Rather, choose the candidate who you believe will do the least harm, or who has potential to do the most good for the most people.”

For a list of voting locations and information on how to register to vote, go to the Iowa Secretary of State’s website at sos.iowa.gov. If you want an absentee ballot mailed to you, you must have the request into the election office by Oct. 27.

In addition to their letter, all four of the Iowa diocesan bishops have released a video on the different aspects of Faithful Citizenship. You can find links to the letter and videos on our website and Facebook page.

DON’T CUT SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE TO LOW-INCOME STUDENTS

The Iowa Catholic Conference is encouraging you to contact your members of Congress to stop a proposed rule that could cut the number of scholarship available for students to attend a K-12 nonpublic school. The IRS recently proposed regulations which would limit the federal deductibility of certain donations to School Tuition Organizations (STOs) in Iowa. Since 2006, these STOs have provided more than $130 million in scholarships to lower-income children attending Catholic and other nonpublic schools in the state.

We request that STOs be exempted from this rule-making process as we believe it would reduce the number of scholarships available. Please send a message to Senators Grassley and Ernst and your member of the U.S. House and ask for their assistance in the matter. Click here for the alert and sample message. Thanks for your help.

‘PUBLIC CHARGE’ RULE TO AFFECT IMMIGRANTS

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security posted on the federal register a proposed rule on the “public charge” which undercuts decades of administrative policies and guidelines on how immigrants are treated by the United States government.

Currently, the government prohibits immigrants on public charge grounds if there is a determination that they would likely depend on public cash assistance or need long-term medical care at the government’s expense. However, under the proposed rule, the government adds to the public charge grounds a list of benefits that support mixed-immigration status families and protect public health especially for children.

The proposed rule will greatly increase the number of individuals who are considered public charge. (There are strict eligibility guidelines already in place preventing many immigrants from receiving federal aid.)

The Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, Chair of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued the following statement: “It appears that this will be very harmful to families, raising fear among immigrant families already struggling to fulfill the American Dream. Further, it is likely to prevent families from accessing important medical and social services vital to public health and welfare.”

NUMBER OF REFUGEES CUT

A big change in federal policy during the past couple of years has been the decision of the Administration to drastically cut the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States.

A recent announcement setting the number at 30,000 refugees for 2019 is the lowest number set in the history of the U.S. refugee admissions program. The average limit has been 95,000.

According to Bishop Vasquez the “announcement of the Presidential Determination is deeply disturbing and leaves many human lives in danger. To cut off protection for many who are fleeing persecution, at a time of unprecedented global humanitarian need, contradicts who we are as a nation.”

Another consequence of the cuts made during the past couple of years has been the closing of many Catholic resettlement programs.

As the late Iowa Governor Bob Ray once said, “it’s not a question of where refugees will live, but whether they will live at all.”

AMA COUNCIL RECOMMENDS OPPOSITION TO ASSISTED SUICIDE

The American Medical Association Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs has again recommended that the AMA retain its position in opposition to assisted suicide. The American Academy of Family Physicians recently changed its position to “engaged neutrality” which, according to the Patients Rights Action Fund, presents a significant challenge to retaining the opposition position next year by the AMA.

AND FINALLY,

Congratulations to Resurrection Elementary School of the Holy Family Catholic Schools in Dubuque for being named a national Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

To receive occasional alerts from the Iowa Catholic Conference, text the word IOWACATHOLIC to 50457.