Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Catholic Schools Week – How you and I can help" ()

Your Excellency:

In your current column in the Catholic Standard and Times, you note that "scores of our pastors make extraordinary commitments of parish funds to keep our schools open and excellent." It certainly goes without saying (but it would have been nice if you had) that those parish funds come primarily from the pockets of hard working moms and dads.

Your Excellency, your column went on to indicate that "We can honor Catholic Schools Week this year by actually doing something about the fiscal problems hurting our schools. We need to press our lawmakers, respectfully but vigorously, to pass school choice." Now, I have read the Blue Ribbon Commission Report and reviewed the data for my parish/school. Neither makes a case for the recommendation that my parish school be closed. As our parish/school are working class but financially strong, our school is well attended and physically sound, it appears that significant other factors have entered into Commission recommendations.

Over the past year, it has been quite obvious that "In 2011, the bishops of Pennsylvania made the passage of vouchers one of their priority legislative issues. People like Bob O’Hara in our statewide Catholic bishops’ conference...worked hard to mobilize Catholic support. Their efforts failed — and not because they didn’t try, but because too few people in the pews listened. Very few Catholics called or wrote their state senators and representatives. Even fewer visited their offices to lobby as citizens." So many of Philadephia's Catholic school students were with us in Washington, this past Monday. That very same day, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference posted information on the HHS mandate and the Respect for Conscience Act. Your Excellency, I was flabbergasted, when I saw that the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference failed to correctly identify the House version of that act (HR 1179, NOT HR 1170)! Rather than being picky, anyone who has ever advocated on a legislative issue realizes that such a small detail is of HUGE importance. To me, the erroneous posting seemed symptomatic of a lack of attention give to human life (and marriage/family) concerns by Dr. O'Hara and his staff.

Over this past year, I have repeatedly written and visited my elected officials in both Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. Quite honestly Your Excellency, my focus has been on human life and marriage/family, largely because I do NOT see those fundamental moral concerns being truly emphasized by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference. You note how one activist "was baffled at the inability of Catholics to mobilize around an issue so obviously vital to the public interest and so clearly helpful to the survival of their own schools." That's exactly how I feel about human life and marriage/family concerns!

You note that "In the coming week I’ll be writing every state senator and representative in the territory of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to press them to support school vouchers." Your Excellency, I vow to do the same.

Your Excellency, please, please do not fail to use your contact with the legislators, to address human life and marriage/family concerns - particularly with Catholics in the House and Senate (I have attached my own unofficial lists); some of them have been hostile to basic moral teachings. As you noted in an interview last summer, sometimes it is "necessary for the bishop to publicly say something."

  • The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference has tolds us that "a Marriage Protection Amendment to the Pennsylvania State Constitution may be the only way" to preserve marriage in Pennsylvania.

    On March 16, 2010, the State Senate Judiciary Committee tabled SB 707, the Marriage Protection Amendment, by a vote of 8 to 6. Catholic members of that Committee actually voted 5 to 2 AGAINST SB 707. Catholic Senators Lisa Boscola (D, 18), Patrick Browne (R, 16), Jay Costa (D, 43), Wayne Fontana (D, 42), and Mike Stack (D, 5) voted to table the Marriage Protection Amendment, while Catholic Senators John Rafferty (R, 44) and John Scarnati (R, 25) stood for the Marriage Protection Amendment.

    On May 3rd of this past year, only three of thirty-eight Catholics (i.e., Representatives Sephen Barrar (R,160), David Hickernell (R, 98), and Brad Roae (R, 6)) were among those representatives who joined Representative Darryl Metcalfe in introducing House Bill 1434, proposing a marriage protection amendment to the Pennsylvania constitution.

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