Bishop Farrell: November, National Adoption Month

November 19, 2010

From Bishop Farrell’s Blog - All children are a blessing, but an adopted child is a special blessing, not only for the adopted parents, but for the child and the birth parents. Adoption is an unselfish choice by the birth parents who want to give their child a stable home, but for whatever reason, cannot provide one. It is also an unselfish act by the adoptive parents who covenant to love, protect and nurture the child. It is truly a profound example of adults working together for the good of a child.

There are interesting examples of this type of unselfish love in Holy Scripture: Moses given up by his mother (Exodus 2:1-10), Queen Esther being adopted by her uncle (Esther 2:7), and the mother of Samuel surrendering her son to Eli as a gift to God. (1 Samuel 1:22-28).

There are members of my staff who are adoptive parents or are awaiting an adopted child. One adoptive mother told me “when I first held my baby in my arms I knew that God meant this child for me.” For parents hoping to adopt, this very important matchmaking process can take as long as 24 months, after they have been screened and qualified.

An important ministry of our diocese is to assist parents who wish to adopt a child through the Children and Adoption Services and Community Outreach program of Catholic Charities. Through the program, Catholic Charities works with women who are pregnant and trying to decide the most loving, responsible choices about the future of their children. If an adoption plan is their choice, Catholic Charities will facilitate the placement.

Typically children being placed for adoption are infants between 2 days old and six months but there are also programs for adoption of older children over six. Catholic Charities practices open adoption which promotes a positive and respectful relationship between the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the child. As a result, these children grow up knowing the love of their adoptive parents with the opportunity to also know their birth parents.

Because adoption is a very serious matter involving a lifelong commitment, adoptive parents must meet certain criteria and are required to complete 16 hours of adoptive education. If you, or someone you know, are considering adoption, Catholic Charities will offer an informational program for prospective adoptive parents on November 30. For full information on Catholic Charities adoption services you may visit their website at www.catholiccharitiesdallas.org or phone 214-526-2772.

While adoption is an unselfish choice on the part of the adoptive parents and the birth parents, all involved are blessed with benefits. Birth parents know their child is in a home with parents who want and are prepared for a family. Adoptive parents receive the life-changing blessing and joy of a child, and most importantly, a child receives the priceless gift of a loving family.

Tuitio Fidei Award Given to the Most Reverend Thomas G. Wenski, Archbishop of Miami, at the White Cross Ball of the Cuban Association of the Order of Malta

October 28, 2010

MIAMI (MetroCatholic) — On Saturday, October 16, 2010 the Tuitio Fidei Award was given to the Most Reverend Thomas G. Wenski, Archbishop of Miami and Metropolitan of the Province of Miami, a native of South Florida, because of his work as an active advocate on behalf of the Hispanic and Haitian communities in South Florida. The ceremony took place at the Riviera Country Club in Coral Gables, Florida, during the White Cross Ball of the Cuban Association of the Order of Malta.

The Cuban Association of the Order of Malta instituted the Tuitio Fidei Award in order to recognize and honor those who through their public actions witness the principles of our Faith. The recipients are honored because they live their life, public and private, consistent with the demands of our Faith notwithstanding the public condemnation. Previous recipients include the Hon. Mel Martinez, former Senator from Florida, H. E. Sean Cardinal O’Malley, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Boston, Mr. Thomas S. Monahan, Chancellor of Ave Maria University, South Florida’s newest private institution of higher learning and Mr. H. James Towey, former President of St. Vincent College, a Catholic, Benedictine college in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

The White Cross Ball is our annual fund raising event where the Tuitio Fidei Award is presented to its distinguished recipients.

The Most Reverend Archbishop Wenski was ordained priest in 1976 and appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Miami in 1997. Since then he has been active with the Hispanic and Haitian communities in South Florida. He was named in 1996 Archdiocesan Director of Catholic Charities in Miami, one of the largest Catholic social service agencies in the United States. In this capacity he helped forge a collaborative relationship with Caritas Cuba, the social service arm of the Catholic Church in the island, which he has continued during his seven years as Bishop of Orlando.

Since early 1996 he has traveled to Cuba on many occasions on behalf of the Church. He has been a Conventual Chaplain ad honorem of the Cuban Association of the Order of Malta since 1999.

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him in April 2010 as the fourth Archbishop of Miami and Metropolitan of the Province of Miami, which includes the seven dioceses of the State of Florida.

In addition to his Episcopal duties, the Most Reverend Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski served on numerous boards including Catholic Hospice, Catholic Charities, Catholic Charities Legal Services and St. Thomas University. He served as chair of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. and of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration. He also served on Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust and the Coordinating Council of Broward, and was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to the Florida Council on Homelessness i9n 2001 and the Task Force on Haiti in 2004.

The Order of Malta is the oldest Christian charity of the Catholic Church, having been established in 1048. Since its humble beginnings in the Holy Land, this Order and its members have dedicated themselves to serving the poor and the sick, particularly in the area of health care. This tradition of service is maintained today by the approximately 12,500 members and over 80,000 volunteers working in over 120 countries. It operates ambulance corps, blood banks, clinics, hospitals, refugee camps, and disaster relief operations. You can learn more about the Order at www.orderofmalta.org.

The Cuban Association was established in 1952. It was reorganized in Miami, Florida in 1990, where new activities were established for the poor and the elderly in cooperation with the local Catholic Church. Presently it has 113 Knights, Dames and Chaplains, including three living in Cuba.

Our volunteer doctors have served in Miami, Florida, at the San Juan Bosco parish clinic-Our Lady of Philermo- for many years; the Cuban Association also conducts medical missions to the Dominican Republic and to other countries of the Caribbean and Central America. We have worked closely with the Catholic Church in Cuba since 1996, currently funding thirty-seven elderly support centers, living facilities for retired priests, and hospitals and other institutions, including one which serves children suffering from Down’s syndrome. You can learn more about the Cuban Association at www.ordendemaltacuba.com.

Office of Communications
2950 SW 27th Avenue
Suite 300
Miami, Florida
[email protected]
www.ordendemaltacuba.com

Catholic Charities USA Remembers Hurricane Katrina

August 27, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (MetroCatholic)  — Rev. Larry Snyder, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, this week visits the Gulf Coast Region on the eve of the 5-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, reaffirming the 100-year-old social service network’s commitment to  respond to the needs of the poor and vulnerable and support local communities, especially in the wake of disaster.

Fr. Snyder’s tour includes visits to Catholic Charities agencies in New Orleans, Lake Charles, Biloxi, and Baton Rouge. In 2005, Catholic Charities USA raised over $163 million for hurricane disaster relief; approximately $153 million went directly to agencies in these immediately-impacted areas, with over $116 million going to agencies in Louisiana. The remaining funds were distributed to agencies across the country providing support to evacuees.

On Tuesday, August 24, Fr. Snyder, joined by local Catholic Charities agency representatives, called for a greater commitment of volunteer and financial resources at the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Gulf Coast Convening in New Orleans, LA. The meeting brought together national, state, and local leaders from nonprofit, government and private sectors to coordinate a national service response to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill and to raise public attention on the human service needs of gulf residents affected by the disaster.

On Friday, August 27, Fr. Snyder will attend the Second Harvest Fifth Anniversary Commemoration. The Second Harvest Food Bank will host a press briefing with Archbishop Gregory Aymond, Archdiocese of New Orleans, and Vicki Escarra, President/CEO of Feeding America, to discuss emergency response to disasters such has Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Oil Spill, and the everyday disaster of hunger.  Catholic Charities USA will be recognized at the event.

On Saturday, Fr. Snyder and Kim Burgo, Vice President of Disaster Operations for Catholic Charities USA, will tour Katrina/Rita devastated areas as well as those impacted by the oil spill.

The tour will conclude on Sunday, August 29, with an interfaith prayer service at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans’ French Quarter with local faith leaders in the community.

Last week Catholic Charities USA released “Katrina & Rita: Five Years Later,” a report outlining the work of the Catholic Charities network as it responded to the life-sustaining needs of over 1.2 million people following the largest natural disaster in U.S. history.  The report, which can be downloaded at http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/, describes Catholic Charities’ sudden 2005 role as an early responder, providing survivors with emergency cash and rental assistance, food, medical supplies, crisis counseling, case management, transportation, temporary housing and employment services, as well as assistance in applying for government aid.

“For as long as the need remains, Catholic Charities is committed to rebuilding better communities, helping families become self sufficient, and ultimately, creating a better tomorrow,” said Rev. Larry Snyder, who began his tenure as president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA just months before the disaster. “While we are very proud of our accomplishments, there remains much work to be done and the Gulf oil spill earlier this summer has only exacerbated things in much of the very same area.”

Catholic Charities USA was founded in 1910 “to bring about a sense of solidarity” among those in charitable ministries. Since 1910, Catholic Charities USA has encouraged professional social work practice, provided opportunities for training and networking, and served as a national voice and expert on poverty issues. The Centennial is a time to reflect on past accomplishments and renew the commitment to serve those in need.

Catholic Charities USA’s members provide help and create hope for more than 9 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. For almost 300 years, Catholic Charities agencies have worked to reduce poverty by providing a myriad of vital services in their communities, ranging from health care and job training to food and housing. In 2010, Catholic Charities USA celebrates its centennial anniversary.

Introducing Prosper Resale, Inc

August 20, 2010

- by Rachel Lam (President, Prosper Resale, Inc.)

Prosper, TX (MetroCatholic) - Introducing Prosper Resale, Inc., a nonprofit resale store benefiting North Texas Catholic crisis pregnancy centers; The White Rose Women’s Center, Birth Choice as well as other local Catholic charities.

By receiving donations of clothing, small household items, toys, books, décor, etc. and re-selling to the community, we raise much needed funds for the life saving work of these prolife organizations.

As the Respect Life ministry leader at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Frisco for several years, I’ve been immersed in many prolife activities… The beauty of witnessing babies lives being saved is truly is a blessing, and offering even the smallest contribution to that effort is a miraculous gift. Unfortunately, there are also the women who suffer the after-effects of abortion who are in need of the healing ministries provided by prolife outreach as well.

This is why I’ve started Prosper Resale, Inc. We are here to offer aid to the organizations that are doing that life saving, heart healing prolife work.

Prosper Resale is accepting donations during our ‘Stock the Store’ party, Saturday, August 28th from 8 – 2 pm. The projected store opening will be Labor Day Weekend. We are located at 117 West Broadway, Suite B
Prosper, TX 75078.

Come on up the road a piece and check out our little shoppe! For more information e-mail me at [email protected], or visit our website; www.prosperresale.com.

Thanks and God Bless You!

Rachel Lam
President, Prosper Resale, Inc

May Capitol Comments: Labor Day Reflections

May 23, 2010

By: Jennifer Carr Allmon, Associate Director, Texas Catholic Conference

Happy Labor Day! No, you are not in an episode of Flash Forward and you didn’t just sleep through the hot Texas summer, I’m referring to May 1, which is Labor Day in many parts of the world. In 1955, Pope Pius XII established the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1 to remind Catholics of the Christian dignity of labor. It’s a good time to reflect on those whose work is physically demanding, like St. Joseph’s carpentry, but it’s also important to remember the dignity of work and the rights of all workers, a key theme in Catholic social teaching.


This theme reminds me of my grandfather working in an oil refinery. I think of the toil of his work on his body and of his commitment to his union. I don’t usually think of health care workers. But, as our nation implements the new health care reform bill, the USCCB has reminded us that the legislation does not have adequate conscience protections for health care providers, and that many immigrant workers and their families could be left worse off as they will not be allowed to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges to be created, even if they use their own money. At the federal level USCCB will be vigilant in advocating for continued improvements in conscience protections, and at the state level the Texas Catholic Conference will continue to seek these protections for pharmacists who object to dispensing emergency contraception.

Then there’s the work of the family. One of my co-workers at Catholic Charities in Houston was dashing out one day at 5:00 and she turned to me saying, “See you tomorrow, I’m off to my other job.” I asked her what her other job was and I’ll always remember the gleam in her eye as she smiled and said, “I’m a full time mom!”"As we celebrate Mother’s day this month we recognize that whether working outside the home or staying at home, being a mom is full-time work.

Reflecting on labor also allows us to reflect on our own work. Some of us are blessed to sit in nice air-conditioned offices all day. Do we recognize the importance of our work and treat it with dignity? In this internet era it is much easier for workers to become lazy and spend time surfing the net rather than focused on their work. This Labor Day, may we make a new commitment to treat all workers and our work with dignity and respect.

Prayer for Fidelity to Work
Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations; to work with gratitude and joy, considering it an honor to employ and develop, by means of labor, the gifts received from God, disregarding difficulties and weariness; to work, above all, with purity of intention and with detachment from self, having always before my eyes death, and the account which I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all after your example, patriarch Joseph. This will be my watchword in life and in death. Amen.

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USCCB Marks Refugee Act Thirtieth Anniversary, Catholic Church Commitment To Refugees

March 18, 2010

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic) - The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the largest resettlement organization in the United States, on March 17, marked the thirtieth  anniversary of the 1980 U.S. Refugee Act.
           
Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration explained the impact the landmark legislation. 
           
“The 1980 Refugee Act reinforced the U. S.’ commitment to those fleeing persecution by offering them an opportunity to start their lives anew and enabled the United States to serve millions in need,” he said. “USCCB Migration and Refugee Services is proud of this history and our long-standing commitment to serve refugees.”  
           
The United States has long been a safe haven for the oppressed of the world.  Millions of refugees and other vulnerable populations look to the U.S. as their last hope when fleeing persecution. The United States has responded with humanitarian intervention. The 1980 Refugee Act codified this commitment to the protection of refugees by allowing the admission of refugees on a systematic basis for humanitarian relief and by standardizing the resettlement services for all refugees admitted to the U.S., with the goal of facilitating their achievement of economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible. 
           
Prior to its enactment, the United States admitted refugees and other immigrants seeking a safe haven but there was no systematic admissions policy or service coordination. The Refugee Act of 1980 established a standard for the admission and resettlement of refugees, including the adoption of the United Nations definition of “refugee,” establishment of admissions criteria, processes and structures, the designation of refugee as an immigration status, conferring unique benefits and status, and federal fiscal support and domestic resettlement programming.  It also established the U.S. asylum program. 
           
The Catholic Church also has a long history of commitment to those seeking a safe haven from persecution. Since the beginning days of this country, the Catholic Church in the United States has assisted immigrants and refugees, and continues to do so by helping newcomers resettle and start a new life. This commitment is rooted in the Gospel mandate that every person is to be welcomed as if he or she were Christ Himself and in the right of every human person to a life with dignity.
           
USCCB/MRS responds to the plight of refugees from around the world and actively advocates for and coordinates their resettlement in conjunction with the local Church. In partnership with over one hundred local Catholic Charities organizations and dioceses across the country, USCCB resettles well over a quarter of the refugees admitted into the country each year. Since the passage of the 1980 Refugee Act, the U.S. has admitted over 2.5 million refugees from all over the world. During these 30 years the Catholic Church has resettled over 800,000 of them, or 32 percent.   
           
MRS will continue to advocate to improve our nation’s refugee protection regime and response to refugees worldwide. Anastasia Brown, director of Resettlement Services for MRS said: “While we have come a long way in 30 years, there remain millions of refugees who live in danger and deserve stronger protection. As a leader in humanitarian relief, the United States must continue to take the lead in this global effort.”
           
For more information on refugee resettlement, the Church’s role and other MRS programs, visit http://www.usccb.org/mrs/index.shtml.

More on CHA and Sr. Keehan

March 12, 2010

I’ve gotten criticised over at Vox Nova, that coyly named site, over my comments on Sr. Keehan.  Sr. Keehan said this:

“For us as Catholics it’s very hard to be pro-life when we don’t give many many mothers who are pregnant care. Or we don’t give pediatric care, well baby care or sick baby care to children. We have nine million uninsured children in this country. That’s not pro-life.”

So, Sr. Keehan equates children being uninsured with being anti-life, in some way.   Her figures are dubious, the numbers thrown around by the supporters of Obamacare have already been taken apart elsewhere.   I have no idea what she means by “it’s hard to be pro-life when we don’t give many mothers who are pregnant care.”   First of all, who isn’t giving mother’s care?  Those opposed to a government run single payer system, which has been CHA’s goal all along?  What about those opposed to a single payer system, who generously support pro-life non-abort crisis pregnancy centers, like White Rose?  Are they still pro-life?  Who put Sr. Keehan in charge of deciding what is pro-life or not?  Does the fact that government run healthcare, everywhere in the world, rations care, and thus may wind up forcing abortions on women who have a particularly difficult pregnancy because it’s  not cost effective to do otherwise even enter into her thinking?  Is it pro-life to have a government run system that only gives palliative care to large swaths of very sick seniors, because their high cost health care drains the government run system of limited funds? 

Those who argue semantics that “Sr. Keehan didn’t say that those who oppose Obama’s nationalized health care plan are not pro-life” are perhaps well intentioned, but they are wrong.  From the beginning, CHA has most definitely supported whatever you want to call Obamacare - I have received mailings from CHA advocating that I contact my congressman insisting they pass the pending legislation, at periods of time when that legislation contained language massively expanding abortion in this country (this began last July, continued in August and September, and into October.  This effort is still ongoing).  Sr. Keehan has made it plain that CHA seeks legislation that will provide 100% coverage for all Americans.  The preferred CHA way of achieving this is with a government run system, and the only way a government run system can cover everyone  is to limit treatment options.  Sr. Keehan and CHA have repeatedly refused to address this fundamental factor of government run health care, and tend to act as if it doesn’t exist. 

In the present political context, arguing in favor of 100% health insurance coverage for all Americans is the same thing as arguing in favor of Obamacare, even though Obamacare as proposed presently falls short of this goal.  Go to the CHA website, and see their “photo gallery,” using the same “We can’t wait for health care reform” message that the Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee have been using for months.  CHA is completely wrapped up in promoting the administration’s agenda when it comes to health insurance takeover reform, and to argue otherwise is to be disingenuous.  Their entire website is like a giant lobbying program for the proposed health care legislation.  When Sr. Keehan says “We have nine million uninsured children in this country. That’s not pro-life,” the message is, “If you don’t get on board with nationalized health care (Obamacare), you’re not pro-life.”  She has to know that’s the message that will be received.  And in her desperation, she said it anyway.

CHA and Sr. Keehan have obstinately refused to address the fact that they have a very powerful vested interest in Obamacare being passed into law - the many billions in additional revenue they will receive as one of the major medical providers under such a system. They have also not addressed the fact that CHA and its affiliate organizations, nominal charities, have  made billions in profits, largely from government contracts, in recent years.  As I’ve related before, many Catholic charitable groups have come to depend on government funding.  They like that government funding, because it’s always there and it’s alot less hassle to raise.  It’s not undependable like private donations, which vary according to the performance of the organization and market forces.  Just days after starting a campaign to promote Obamacare, Catholic Charities received a $100 million grant from the federal government.  I’m sure it’s just a coincidence. 

All this is just smoke to confuse the point.  Sr. Keehan is attempting to promote doubt in the minds of very faithful Catholics that their opposition to this prudential issue of “social justice” is somehow bound up in issues of grave moral concern like being against abortion.  That is a despicable tactic.  Catholics are free to agree or disagree on issues of social justice, to determine what they think is the best way to provide for the broad range of needs represented by that cliched term.  Catholics are not free to decide on their own whether abortion or euthanasia are grave moral concerns - they have been defined as always and everywhere evil by the Church.  What those who so strongly support nationalized health care often do, however, is to try to apply the completely discredited “seemless garment” argument to allow them to support an intrinsic evil, like abortion, if it gets them want they want, a socialized medical system.

You Decide: Do the Unborn Have an Advocate in Catholic Charities USA?

March 2, 2010

McKinney, TX (MetroCatholic) - There is no doubt that Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) has done and continues to do great work for the poor and disadvantaged.

However, any group or organization which claims and touts the title “Catholic” should be readily willing to affirm official Church teaching, shouldn’t they?

They should be eager to truly “clarify” that they are true stewards of the financial contributions they receive from those who “assume” they will not be used for the promotion of practices, directly or indirectly, which contradict Church teaching, shouldn’t they?

Last week, CCUSA released a statement calling for “Affordable and Accessible Healthcare for All”. In that release, CCUSA President Fr. Larry Snyder states “As our nation’s leaders come together to look for a bipartisan pathway to reform our broken healthcare system, it is essential that they recognize the implications of inaction.” The release also states that Fr. Snyder has called for “Healthcare Summit attendees to put politics aside and unify behind the need to once and for all bring affordable and accessible health care to all Americans.”

What did not seem very clear was what “put politics aside” means to CCUSA. I searched for language which would explicitly address those Americans who are not yet born. I looked for language that would protect those whose consciences and moral character affirm the right of the unborn.

Fr. Snyder does state “We have hope that our country’s leaders can recognize the moral imperative of addressing the need for affordability and accessibility of health care that respects the dignity of life.”

With all of the misleading information we Americans have to sift through these days (such as “providing more access to abortion will actually reduce the number of abortions”) I sought to have CCUSA clarify that the “dignity of life” included the unborn.

I have seen CCUSA officials on television and heard CCUSA officials on the radio “defending” their position on health care reform. None of the defenses I heard seemed adequate. In fact, I was disappointed each time.

Seeking to allow CCUSA to clarify its affirmation of Church teaching, I contacted an official named with the release. The exchange follows. I will let you decide for yourself if the response(s) meet your expectations of a “Catholic” organization.
——————-
(Addressed to CCUSA Official, Roger Conner, Senior Director, Communications)

Dear Mr. Conner,

We at MetroCatholic (www.metrocatholic.com) share the concerns of CCUSA regarding the plight of the poor and the need for better access to health care.  We consider this a part of the pro-life mindset.

That said, we recognize and affirm, as have our bishops, that Catholics cannot support health care “reform” which includes additional federal spending to make abortion more accessible nor mandates the provision of such regardless of the moral conscience of health care providers and individuals in the health care profession.

Would you please officially confirm for us that CCUSA shares our position that abortion is always morally wrong and sinful (*1), and that any effort to aid in an abortion or provision of such is also morally wrong and sinful (*2), and that Catholics have a moral obligation to clearly speak the truth with love and compassion about the innocent human beings that are literally being slaughtered each day (*3)?  In the very least, will you please officially confirm that CCUSA does not support heath care “reform” which potentially jeopardises the lives of unborn children?

*1 - 2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law (CCC)

*2 - 2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,” “by the very commission of the offense,” and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society. (CCC)

*3 - 2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being. (CCC) 

We sincerely await an affirmative response so that our own consciences may be clear in assisting CCUSA in its efforts. 

In Christ,

George Vogt, IV
President
MetroCatholic
—————
(CCUSA Response)
Dear Mr. Vogt:

Thank you for your letter. We hopefully have long been clear(we have had statements on our website, etc) that while we support health care reform that makes health care more affordable and more accessible, we do not support any bill or any proposal that would provide for abortion.

With blessings,
Roger Conner
Senior Director, Communications

—————

Mr. Conner,

Thank you for the prompt response.  If I may be of assistance, the confusion comes in with the language or lack thereof.  The statement of CCUSA is:

Our Position

Catholic Charities USA’s Human Dignity Agenda affirms that every individual is entitled to a life of dignity and opportunity.

Every person should have access to equitable and affordable health care as a basic human right.

Special attention must be paid to the basic health needs of the poor and marginalized. Health care reform, and addressing such needs, is a matter of fundamental justice.

Not specifically addressing the unborn or abortion may lead one to conclude that it is not intended as many in our society do not accept the unborn as “persons”.

However, unless you notify me otherwise, I will assume that CCUSA affirms the statements in my original e-mail and will include those as official positions of CCUSA going forward.

We recognize and affirm, as have our bishops, that Catholics cannot support health care “reform” which includes additional federal spending to make abortion more accessible nor mandates the provision of such regardless of the moral conscience of health care providers and individuals in the health care profession. 
CCUSA shares our position that abortion is always morally wrong and sinful, and that any effort to aid in an abortion or provision of such is also morally wrong and sinful, and that Catholics have a moral obligation to clearly speak the truth with love and compassion about the innocent human beings that are literally being slaughtered each day?  CCUSA does not support heath care “reform” which potentially jeopardises the lives of unborn children.

God bless,
George
—————
Mr. Vogt:

With all due respect, we would need to go with our own statements of clarity on healthcare and our position on life and abortion—which I’m sure you can appreciate—rather than have you drop our organizational name into your statement. We would kindly ask that you not do that since we have not written or vetted all of the words in your statement. So, please do not reflect your statement as our official statement. Thanks for your understanding on this.

Many thanks,
Roger Conner
—————
Mr. Connor,

Thank you for clarifying. How unfortunate that CCUSA cannot affirm what is so clearly spelled out in Church teaching.

Additionally unfortunate is that I now believe that I was correct in assuming that it is no accident that CCUSA intentionally leaves out language that would clarify a position truly against abortion.

Should CCUSA change its official response to conform to official Church teaching (as clearly outlined in my original e-mail) on this matter, please notify me via e-mail.

I appreciate your efforts to help the poor, a true work of charity, but “the most vulnerable” (language used by CCUSA) are the unborn children.

God’s Will be done,
George

(End of exchange)
—————

Significant Financial Response of Catholics to Haitian Earthquake Victims Will Be Discussed

March 2, 2010

WATERTOWN, MA (MetroCatholic) - Significant Financial Response of Catholics to Haitian Earthquake Victims Will Be Discussed During CatholicTV Talk Show

On March 12, the response of Catholics to the earthquake victims in Haiti will be discussed on the CatholicTV Talk show “This is the Day”. Tiziana Dearing, President of Catholic Charities in Boston will discuss recent developments and responses of Catholics and of Catholic Charities. Tiziana is the first woman to serve in this role in Boston, she has held the post since September 2007.

On Wednesday, February 24th, The Archdiocese of Boston announced that collections gathered for Haitian earthquake victims had already reached $1.767 million and were estimated to reach $2 million.

This is the Day airs at 10:30AM ET at CatholicTV.com and on CatholicTV.

Father Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA will also be interviewed on This is the Day. He will discuss the efforts and mission of Catholic Charities, and will also talk about the history of Catholic Charities, which dates back to 1727 when the French Ursuline Sisters opened an orphanage in New Orleans.

CatholicTV regularly airs programming related to charitable work and Catholic social teaching. This programming includes a show called “Where God Weeps” which shows the plights and struggles of suffering Catholics who are victims of political, financial, and social suffering. The series follows the work of an organization called Aid to the Church in Need. Aid to the Church in Need works with the impoverished in 145 countries around the globe. Where God Weeps airs each week on CatholicTV at the following times: Monday 3:30AM, 8:30 PM; Wednesday noon; and Saturday 6:00 AM

More information on Catholic Charities USA can be found at http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/  

Episodes of This is the Day are posted on the site’s archives starting the same night of the broadcast day. All videos at the website are viewable in full-screen. Paste this URL into your browser in order to access the “This is the Day” video archives. http://www.CatholicTV.com/shows/default.aspx?seriesID=72  

CatholicTV broadcasts across the US on Sky Angel channel 142, and selected cable outlets in New England and in Chattanooga (TN) where CatholicTV is available on FiTV channel 153. To find out where to watch CatholicTV visit: http://www.CatholicTV.com/schedule/where-to-watch.aspx  

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Catholic Service Agencies Serving Haitians Call For Rigorous Safeguards In Protecting Haitian Children

February 6, 2010

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic) - In a letter to three Cabinet secretaries February 4, the heads of five major Catholic agencies serving Haitian earthquake victims outlined steps that should be taken to ensure the protection of unaccompanied Haitian children in the aftermath of the January 12th earthquake. 
           
The leaders of Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., and the International Catholic Migration Commission wrote on the topic of Haitian children, February 4, to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
           
“The compassion of the American people has been evident in their response to Haitian children who have been left alone after the earthquake,” the executives wrote.  “As social service providers with experience in handling unaccompanied children, we believe that certain processes should be established before such children are brought to the United States and placed in adoption proceedings.”
           
The letter outlined the following procedures to protect Haitian children:

  • The establishment of safe havens in Haiti so children would have security and proper care;
  • The assignment of child welfare experts to make best interest determinations for each child, including the best placements for children;
  • Family tracing efforts so that children could be reunited with their parents and families;
  • Placement in foster care with refugee benefits for those children whose best interest is served by relocation to the United States; and
  • Expedited consular processing for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with minor children in Haiti, as well as for those with approved petitions for family reunification.

 

The agency heads stressed that Haitian children who are not already matched with adoptive parents in the United States should only be brought to the United States after it is determined that it is in the interest of the child.
           
“Family reunification is an important goal and must be protected to the greatest extent possible, while placement with a guardian within Haiti will sometimes prove to be the appropriate course,” they wrote.  “If no family or appropriate guardian is found, and if it is further determined that it is in the child’s best interest not to remain in Haiti, the child should be considered for international placement.”
           
The executives concluded that, in the long-term, reconstruction funds should include resources to the Government of Haiti to provide protection to unaccompanied children who remain in Haiti.
           
Full text of the letter follows:

Dear Madam Secretaries:

As representatives of the Catholic social service network in the United States and internationally, we write to offer our views on the situation of Haitian unaccompanied children (commonly, but not always correctly referred to as “orphans”) in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12.

The compassion of the American people has been evident in their response to Haitian children who have been left alone after the earthquake, including the many offers to adopt children who might have lost their parents in the tragedy.   As social service providers with experience in handling unaccompanied children, we believe that certain processes should be established before such children are brought to the United States and placed in any legal adoption proceedings.  

In any humanitarian crisis, many children are left without anyone to care for them.  Whether parents or guardians are killed or families are separated by war or natural disaster, these children are in dire need of special assistance or protection.  In order to properly serve these children and to ensure that their special needs are met, safeguards and procedures must be established that preserve the best interest of each individual child.

We are heartened to learn that the U.S. government, in cooperation with the United Nations and the government of Haiti, has taken steps to protect Haitian unaccompanied children within Haiti and to locate parents or family members.  Other steps must be taken to ensure that child protection standards are maintained.

In our view, the U.S. government must take the following steps to ensure that Haitian children are cared for in an appropriate manner:

Safe havens for Haitian unaccompanied children must be established within Haiti, so that proper care can be given to the children and appropriate screening can be conducted.  We are in support of the efforts of the United Nations and the government of Haiti, in conjunction with the U.S. government, to establish safe zones and interim care centers for children who are unaccompanied.   Such arrangements for the security and material support of these children, who might otherwise be subject to kidnapping and human trafficking, should be the highest priority, and will permit the appropriate screening processes to proceed without delay.

Child welfare experts should be assigned to engage in ongoing assessment and to make best interest determinations (BIDs) for each child, including individualized recommendations for the placement of any children. Child welfare experts should be deployed to ascertain the circumstances of each child and make recommendations for his or her care and placement.  This would include immediate registration, an assessment of the family situation, physical and emotional needs of the child, and long-term placement options.  We applaud the initial efforts of the United Nations, the government of Haiti, and nongovernmental organizations in this regard.

Family tracing should be conducted for each child, to determine whether parents, other family members, or guardians remain alive and, to ascertain whether family reunification is a possibility.   We are heartened that family tracing has been initiated within Haiti to determine whether a child’s parent, family, or guardian can be located.  Family reunification is an important goal and must be protected to the greatest extent possible, while placement with a guardian within Haiti will sometimes prove to be the appropriate course.  If no family or appropriate guardian is found, and if it is further determined that it is in the child’s best interest not to remain in Haiti, the child should be considered for international placement.  In the case of the United States, such children should be paroled and placed in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where they will be eligible for program services for unaccompanied refugee minors.

Children should be placed in foster care placements prior to being considered for adoption.
Unaccompanied Haitian children arriving in the United States should be put under the auspices of HHS and, consistent with the results of best interest determination and processes, placed in foster homes or community-based facilities, until family reunification can occur or adoption avenues explored.  This will require an appropriate level of resources and reinforcement of the network of public-private partnerships engaged with HHS in this work. 

By following these processes, Haitian children would be able to receive benefits and services tailored to their specific needs and would be under the care of families, in the foster-care context, who have been carefully screened by the U.S. government and child welfare experts.  They would also remain connected to family tracing services which would enable them to return to their family and country if the opportunity arose.

Expedited consular processing should be provided for children who have parents in the United States.  In some cases, children in Haiti are related to Haitian permanent residents in the United States with whom they should be reunited but cannot because of delays in the family-based immigration system.   Currently, U.S. citizens may have immediate relative petitions pending for their minor children in Haiti.   These petitions (along with petitions on behalf of their spouses, who are also in the immediate relative category) should be expedited and immigrant visas be granted immediately.

In cases where U.S. citizens or permanent residents have approved petitions with current priority dates for their families waiting in Haiti, their consular processing should be expedited to bring these family members, including children, to the United States as soon as possible.

Where petitions have been approved and priority dates are not yet current, especially those on behalf of minor children and spouses of permanent residents, beneficiaries should be granted humanitarian parole to wait in the United States until they are able to adjust their status.

From our experience working with children in disaster-related and other displacement contexts, it is our view that as a general rule it would not be in the best interest of Haiti’s children, or Haiti as a whole, for unaccompanied children to be evacuated from their home country without a careful, individualized assessment of what is best for each of them.  While it is important to respond quickly to protect these children in the wake of the disaster, long-term harm could come to them if this response is not carried out in line with international protection standards.

Over the long-term, the U.S. government should ensure that future reconstruction funds to Haiti include resources that provide protection to unaccompanied children who remain in Haiti, so that they are not victims of human traffickers or other criminal elements.

We appreciate the response of the U.S. government to the natural disaster in Haiti and hope to work with you to ensure that these vulnerable children, as well as other victims of the earthquake, receive the care and support they need to resume their lives.

Sincerely,

Ambassador Johnny Young
Executive Director
Migration and Refugee Services
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Maria Odom
Executive Director
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

Father Larry Snyder
President
Catholic Charities, USA

Ken Hackett
President
Catholic Relief Services

Johan Ketelers
Secretary General
International Catholic Migration Commission

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