"It is critically important that we voice our early and grave concerns to our elected officials regarding this uncompromising legislation...." -- Bishosp Edwin F. O'Brien, Maryland, host for USCCB winter conference
As reported at Whispers in the Loggia, where the full text may be viewed, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president, and the body of bishops, at their winter conference in Baltimore, organized their thoughts into a statement issued Wednesday afternoon to address the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) and guide their path in countering the legislation during the upcoming administration:
"The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.
"In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any 'interference' in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.
"... Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.:
Whispers' Rocco Palmo quotes Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago: "[FOCA] could mean discontinuing obstetrics in our hospitals, and we may need to consider taking the drastic step of closing our catholic hospitals entirely. It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions. That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil."
According to Whispers, first steps have been taken to arrange an official meeting between Cardinal George and President-elect Obama.
In his weekly column that appears in the November 13 Catholic Review, Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, host for this year's USCCB winter conference, writes (as scooped at Wispers): "While early exit polling indicated that the economy was the paramount concern of six out of every 10 Americans, we must not lose sight of the ongoing struggle our country faces in achieving genuine respect for the freedom and dignity of every human life."
Bishop O'Brien exhorts his faithful: "As faithful citizens, our duty ... [is] to claim our legitimate role in the public square by urging those whom we have elected as our leaders to uphold values we believe are fundamental to the common good."
The bishop continues: "Of particular concern to Catholics and others seeking to promote a culture of life, is Senator Obama’s public commitment to passing the Freedom of Choice Act. It is critically important that we voice our early and grave concerns to our elected officials regarding this uncompromising legislation, which is currently pending before Congress. To do so, and to learn more information, I encourage you to visit the online Legislative Action Center of our Maryland Catholic Conference....
"FOCA, co-sponsored by Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin and Representatives Dutch Ruppersberger and Chris Van Hollen…
- "Removes the choice of medical providers to refuse in good conscience to provide morally offensive services.
- "Removes the choice of taxpayers to decline to have their money pay for morally abhorrent procedures.
- "Removes the choice of state legislatures to undertake reasonable and widely accepted regulations of abortions, including those that increase education and family involvement while reducing the number of abortions. ...
"I pledge that we will join with other all law-abiding religious and public interest groups in taking every action necessary to resist this blatant attempt to stifle the consciences of those who continue to hold innocent human life sacred."
Photo from Archdiocese of San Francisco, Office of Public Policy and Social Concerns
by Nancy E. Thoerig 11-13-08