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Catholics@theCapitol highlighted in Fall issue of WITNESS; includes registration form and schedule10 Nov

The Fall issue of WITNESS contains a registration form and agenda for the Catholics@theCapitol event scheduled for February 3 and 4 next year. In addition to using that form, which can be downloaded here, you can also register on line and then mail in your $45 registration fee. The day will include workshops related to legislation the Conference is working on (not yet determined), as well as a keynote address from John Elcesser, Executive Director of the Indiana Non-Public Education Association.

Deadline for registration is January 27, 2014.

Catholics@theCapitol is not the only way to participate in legislative advocacy. Rick Blackwell, a teacher at Mercy Academy in Louisville, reports on a program that engages students in learning about working with Catholic Social teaching and advocacy in the public square, including trips to Frankfort to visit legislators. The Conference delights in their participation. We will happily work with others who want to bring students to the Capital.

Michael Monaghan

Michael Monaghan

Michael Monaghan, policy analyst for education,  writes out of his experience working in a school in Washington D. C. and connects that to a reflection on the famous quote of Pope Paul VI, “If you want peace, work for justice.”

Read his article to learn how parents who choose non-public schools for their children’s education are saving Kentucky taxpayers $1.4 BILLION every two years.

There is a lot of discussion these days about the “Common Core” standards. Leisa Schulz, Superindent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Louisville, explains how these standards are being adapted for use in Catholic schools.  The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), through the Common Core Catholic Identity  Initiative, has developed and disseminated frameworks, guidelines, and resource guides that will assist local Catholic educators in infusing Catholic values, and principles of social teaching into all subjects and integrating the Catholic worldview and culture into curriculum and instructional design, using the common core standards.

Stay up-to-date with Conference activities by joining our Faithful Citizenship action alert list. Use the buttons in the column to the right  to connect to us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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More Questions and Answers About Immigration Reform01 May

Questions like those in the past two posts and in the material below provides a preview for our discussions during the two training sessions scheduled for May 16 and May 23. Registration is necessary because we don’t want anyone to go without lunch. To register visit here and sign up. To send a postcard to your members of Congress supporting comprehensive immigration reform that reflects church teaching click here. A wealth of resources regarding the Church and immigration is found at the USCCB’s Justice For Immigrants website.

Reform now

Some charge that the Church is in favor of a nation without borders, that we support illegal immigration. Some also say that by providing legal status to the undocumented, we are rewarding law breaking. How do you respond to these issues?

The Church has always supported the right of a sovereign nation to secure its borders, although it should be done in a manner that protects human life, to the greatest degree possible. The Church does not favor illegal immigration in any sense. It is not good for the migrant, who often suffers abuse by smugglers, exploitation in the workplace, and even death in the desert. It is not good for society or for local communities, because it creates a permanent underclass with no rights and no opportunity to assert them. That is why the Church supports the creation of legal avenues for migration and legal status for migrants.

As mentioned, the Church does not condone the breaking of laws and supports a path to citizenship that requires migrants to pay a fine and meet other requirements. Once the system is reformed, migrants should be able to enter legally and not be forced to cross illegally or overstay their visas. Currently, they have no pathways to enter the country legally, despite the need for their labor.

Imm Mak Amer StrongIn general, is immigration good for our country or does it create new burdens on U.S. citizens?

Except for Native Americans, we are all descendants of immigrants or are immigrants ourselves. Immigrants have helped build the great nation we enjoy today. While opponents of immigration will attempt to raise the fears of U.S. citizens that immigrants today take away jobs, change the culture, and eat up public resources, the truth of the matter is that today’s immigrants are no different than previous generations. They come to work hard and to support their families, not to take public resources or commit crimes. This is borne out in the majority of research studies on the subject, which conclude that, overall, immigrants are contributors to our economy and helpful to our local communities. They also bring a spiritual energy and richness which enriches our worship and Church.

Some say that letting in too many immigrants, because they are often a cheap source of labor, could hurt the wages of workers already in the country. Is this known to be true?

Immigrant workers generally do not compete with U.S. workers for unskilled jobs. Some studies show that immigrant workers may have an impact on the job status and wages of low-skilled American workers, such as high school dropouts. Overall, however, immigrant workers fill crucial jobs in important industries that many American will not do, such as agriculture. By enacting immigration reform, the wages of immigrant workers will increase because they will be better able to assert their rights in the workplace and because the pool of unauthorized workers will dwindle.

Photos: courtesy Pat Delahanty

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Two More Questions About Immigration and Our Church’s Thoughts23 Apr

Click on Postcard to Send a Message to Congress

Does the Church have the right to speak out on immigration reform, which is largely a political issue?

All public policy issues—abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, poverty reduction, marriage and family, and immigration reform—have both political and moral aspects to them. The Church is well within her rights to speak out on public policy issues of moral consequence and often does. In fact, the Church has a moral obligation to speak out on issues which impact human dignity and human life.

In the immigration area, the Church brings special expertise to the table because we are an immigrant church and we have helped assist immigrants assimilate into the nation for years. Moreover, many immigrant families who attend Catholic parishes would be positively impacted by immigration reform and a legalization program.

Would providing legal status and possible citizenship to undocumented immigrants be considered an “amnesty?”

First, “amnesty” is not a dirty word from the Catholic perspective. Forgiveness and compassion are values that Catholics, as well as Americans, promote and cherish. (more…)

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Why the Church Speaks About Immigration16 Apr

Click on Postcard to take action

Very soon now the country will embark on a debate about one of the most important issues the nation faces: how to reform a broken immigration system. Millions of undocumented workers live in the country, thousands of employers need low-skilled workers, families have been waiting for years for relatives to join them, citizen children watch as federal agents remove their parents from the home and from the U. S.

But, finally Congress and the administration appear prepared to act in a way that brings about a bi-partisan agreement leading to a fair and just reform to this chaotic situation.

Some Catholics, like other citizens, wonder why is the Church speaking about this. Over a number of posts here we hope to answer this and other questions about the issue. Here are links to two key documents from which we draw some answers:

What, in a nutshell, is the U.S. bishops’ position on immigration reform?

The Catholic Church believes that the current U.S. immigration system is broken and needs to be reformed comprehensively. This would include a path to citizenship for the 11-12 million undocumented in the country; a temporary worker program to allow migrant workers to enter safely and humanely; and family-based immigration reform which allows families to be reunited more quickly. The Church also teaches that the root causes of migration—namely, global economic disparities—need to be addressed.

The Church has taken a position on immigration because, besides being an economic, social, and legal issue, it is also a humanitarian one, and, ultimately has moral implications. Each day church social service programs, hospitals, schools, and parishes see the human consequences of a broken system: families are divided, migrant workers are exploited and abused, and human beings die in the desert.

This impacts human dignity and human life and should be addressed.

Migration is a major theme in the Gospels. Jesus and the Holy Family were refugees who fled the terror of Herod and Jesus, the Son of Man, was an itinerant teacher while on Earth, with “no place to lay His Head.” Jesus also taught us to “welcome the stranger,” for “what you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me.” (Matthew: 25:35-41)

Click here to take action now.

Next: Does the Church have the right to speak out on immigration reform, which is largely a political issue?

 

 

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Bills to help vulnerable persons need immediate attention25 Feb

With just 13 days left in this regular meeting of the General Assembly, proposed legislation regarding good medical care for patients considering abortion and a bill to protect young victims of human trafficking need your attention.

SENATE BILL 4: REGARDING IN-PERSON INFORMED CONSENT PRIOR TO SURGICAL ABORTION. House Health and Welfare Committee Chairman, State Rep.Tom Burch, has scheduled a hearing on Thursday, February 28 for Senate Bill 4 and a host of other abortion related measures. BUT HE IS WORKING HARD TO KILL THEM. IN A CLOSED DOOR MEETING HE URGED ALL DEMOCRATS TO STICK TOGETHER AND DEFEAT THESE BILLS.

Another member of the committee, State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, told at least one person who called her that she was doing all she could to stop their passage.
 
It is still possible to pass SENATE BILL 4.

Dr. Watkins

Last year State Rep. David Watkins, a physician, voted YES for a similar bill. With his YES vote this year the bill will clear the committee and go to the House floor where an overwhelming number of State Representatives support it.

So even if Dr. Watkins is not your State Representative please call 1.800.372.7181 as soon as possible and leave a message for him:
Dr. Watkins, I thank you for your past support of informed consent legislation. Please be consistent and vote YES for Senate Bill 4 this Thursday. Thank you.
Or copy the above message and paste it in an email to him as soon as possible: David.Watkins@lrc.ky.gov.


Trafficking victim

Young Trafficking Victim in California

HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIMS’ RIGHTS ACT: HOUSE BILL 3 – After a unanimous vote on the House floor HB 3 went to the Senate and, instead of being assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, it has ended up in the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee.  Please call 1.800.372.7181 and leave a message for your State Senator.

Dear Senator, HB 3, a victims’ rights act, is now in your chamber. It got there with a unanimous House vote. Children who are victims of human trafficking need protection and treatment. Please support passage of HB 3 before time runs out this year by pressing your leadership to bring HB 3 to the floor for a vote. I ask that you vote YES at every opportunity. Thank you.
Catholic Charities in Louisville has actively worked with the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to address the issue of human trafficking in the state of Kentucky. For more information visit the Kentucky Rescue and Restore website.
Blessed John Paul II has written:
The trade in human persons constitutes a shocking offense against human dignity and grave violation of fundamental human rights. Already the Second Vatican Council had pointed to ‘slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, and disgraceful working conditions where people are treated as instruments of gain rather than free and responsible persons’ as ‘infamies’ which ‘poison human society, debase their perpetrators’ and constitute ‘a supreme dishonour to the Creator’ (Gaudium et Spes, 27). Such situations are an affront to fundamental values, which are shared by all cultures and peoples, values rooted in the very nature of the human person. … Who can deny that the victims of this crime are often the poorest and most defenseless members of the human family, the ‘least’ of our brothers and sisters? … The disturbing tendency to treat prostitution as a business or industry not only contributes to the trade in human beings, but is itself evidence of a growing tendency to detach freedom from the moral law and to reduce the rich mystery of human sexuality to a mere commodity.
Photos courtesy Kentucky Legislative Research Commission and Change.org
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