USCCB Subcommittee Chairman Strongly Endorses State Marriage Defense Act
WASHINGTON--Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, applauded the January 9 introduction of the bipartisan State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 (H.R. 3829) in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Randy Weber (R-TX).
"The State Marriage Defense Act is a necessary piece of legislation that will prevent the federal government from unjustly disregarding, in certain instances, state marriage laws concerning the definition of marriage," said Archbishop Cordileone.
In a letter of support to Rep. Weber, Archbishop Cordileone noted that various agencies of the federal government have begun using a "place of celebration" rule to determine whether persons are validly married for purposes of federal law. He went on to say, "The Supreme Court's decision last year in United States v. Windsor, however, requires the federal government to defer to state marriage law, not disregard it." He therefore concluded that this bill is necessary because it "would remedy this problem by requiring the federal government, consistent with Windsor, to defer to the marriage law of the state in which people actually reside when determining whether they are married for purposes of federal law."
Urging the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Act, Archbishop Cordileone said, "State marriage laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman deserve respect by the federal government. This bill does that. I, therefore, strongly encourage the House of Representatives to pass the State Marriage Defense Act."
Archbishop Cordileone's letter of support to Rep. Randy Weber
Bishop John Manz Visits Cuba; Calls for Ongoing Support of Reforms, Openness
January 10, 2014 WASHINGTON--Bishop John Manz, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago and member of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America, will visit the Dioceses of Holguin and Santa Clara in Cuba, January 10-17.
Bishop Manz will review Church projects supported by the Subcommittee that help provide pastoral care from the Catholic Church. For example, the Diocese of Holguin received help in 2012 to recover from Hurricane Sandy to continue its religious activities including the rebuilding of church structures and to aid with other pastoral projects. The Diocese of Santa Clara has received continued assistance for various projects, including pastoral and spiritual care to students at the National University in the City of Santa Clara.
"It is important that the Church in the United States support the Church in Cuba, especially during this time of changes," Bishop Manz said. Some changes have permitted Cubans to launch businesses, worship more freely and be able to travel abroad.
"The Church in Cuba wants to make sure that as people open businesses they learn about Catholic Social Teaching and the primacy it gives to the human person in the economy. We also want to support the Church in Cuba as it is recognized in civil society for the insights about the human person that it brings to the table," Bishop Manz added.
"Of special importance for our Subcommittee is our ability to ensure that our financial support to the different dioceses in Cuba is transmitted smoothly and gets to the beneficiaries promptly," Bishop Manz said. "The people in Cuba need our help and we will continue to support them in whatever way we can as the Catholic Church has always believed that engagement, rather than isolation, is the best way to improve human rights and move forward in our relations with the island nation" concluded the bishop.
The USCCB Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America, through its grants program, supports many religious and pastoral projects such as training lay pastoral leaders, marriage and family programs, and projects to foster the public expression of faith in Cuba. This support amounts to approximately $500,000 million annually. In Latin America, the subcommittee supported 393 projects in 22 countries, amounting to over $5.5 million in 2013.
Bishops' Official Voices Support for 'No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act'
WASHINGTON -- In congressional testimony, an official of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has voiced the bishops' support for H.R. 7, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." The bipartisan bill was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) to prevent every federal program from funding abortion and abortion coverage on a permanent basis. A hearing was held on the legislation January 9, by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.
"H.R. 7 will write into permanent law a policy on which there has been strong popular and congressional agreement for over 35 years: The federal government should not use its funding power to support or promote abortion," said Richard M. Doerflinger, Associate Director of the USCCB Secretariat of ProLife Activities. "This principle has been embodied in the Hyde amendment and numerous other provisions governing a wide range of domestic and foreign programs. It has consistently had the support of the American people. Women oppose federally funded or federally mandated abortion coverage as strongly as men or more so; low-income Americans oppose it more strongly than the affluent."
Citing the U.S. Supreme Court's 1980 decision upholding the Hyde amendment, Doerflinger observed: "Even courts insisting on a constitutional 'right' to abortion have said this alleged right 'implies no limitation on the authority of a State to make a value judgment favoring childbirth over abortion, and to implement that judgment by the allocation of public funds'."
Doerflinger said that "Congress's policy has been consistent for decades," but "its implementation in practice has been piecemeal, confusing and sometimes sadly inadequate." This is especially true of the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in 2010, he said, citing "recent developments" that "underscore a need to correct the abortion funding problems" in the Act.
The full text of Doerflinger's written testimony. Following is the text he prepared for oral delivery at the hearing:
Thank you for this opportunity to voice our support for H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.
H.R. 7 will write into permanent law a policy on which there has been strong popular and congressional agreement for over 35 years: The federal government should not use its funding power to support or promote abortion. This principle has been embodied in the Hyde amendment and numerous other provisions governing a wide range of domestic and foreign programs. It has consistently had the support of the American people. Women oppose federally funded or federally mandated abortion coverage as strongly as men or more so; low-income Americans oppose it more strongly than the affluent.
Even courts insisting on a constitutional "right" to abortion have said this alleged right "implies no limitation on the authority of a State to make a value judgment favoring childbirth over abortion, and to implement that judgment by the allocation of public funds." In 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court said the Hyde amendment is an exercise of "the legitimate congressional interest in protecting potential life," adding: "Abortion is inherently different from other medical procedures, because no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a potential life." The Court's only mistake here was its use of the phrase "potential life," since unborn children are actually alive until they are made actually dead by abortion. More recently the court has said simply that the government "may express profound respect for the life of the unborn" by regulating abortion.
While Congress's policy has been consistent for decades, its implementation in practice has been piecemeal, confusing and sometimes sadly inadequate. Gaps or loopholes have been discovered in this patchwork of provisions over the years, highlighting the need for a permanent and consistent policy across the federal government. In 2010 Congress passed major health care reform legislation with at least four different policies on abortion funding, ranging from a ban on such funding in one section of the bill to a potential mandate for such funding in another. These problems have arisen partly because various sections of the Affordable Care Act not only authorize but appropriate their own funds, thus bypassing the Hyde amendment and similar longstanding appropriations provisions.
Recent developments underscore a need to correct the abortion funding problems in the Affordable Care Act. In 2010 the Act was used to approve direct federal funding of elective abortion coverage under the state "high risk pool" program, until this was uncovered by pro-life groups. As state health exchanges have begun to operate, Americans are finding it difficult to find a plan without abortion coverage or even to get clear answers as to which plans those are -- and they are discovering that despite public assurances to the contrary, they may be forced by the government to subsidize other people's abortions as a condition for obtaining the health care their families need. And members and staff of Congress, previously assured that they would be free to choose from a full range of federally subsidized health plans without having to pay for abortions, are finding that they have been deprived of that freedom, contrary to longstanding federal law.
If a bill like H.R. 7 had been enacted before the health care reform debate began, that debate would not have been about abortion funding. A major obstacle to support by Catholics and other pro-life Americans would have been removed, and the final legislation would not have been so badly compromised by provisions that place unborn human lives at grave risk.
H.R. 7 would prevent problems and confusions on abortion funding in future legislation. Federal health bills could be debated in terms of their ability to promote the goal of universal health care, instead of being mired in debates about one lethal procedure that most Americans know is not truly "health care" at all.