In Pennsylvania's

Monday, June 17, 2013

"UPDATE: Governor Signs Bill Protecting Pa. Taxes from Abortion"

As per the Pennsylvania Pro Life Federation,
    "Governor Tom Corbett signed into law Monday a measure to protect Pennsylvania tax dollars from being spent on abortion.

    "House Bill 818, which passed the state House in April and Senate on June 5, ensures that Pennsylvania opts out of elective abortion coverage in the state health insurance exchange created through the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare....

    "The Affordable Care Act includes a provision allowing states to opt-out of abortion coverage in the health insurance exchanges. Pennsylvania joins more than 30 other states that have, or are in the process of, enacting opt-out legislation."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The American Life League, Reform CCHD Now, & Bishop Joe Sullivan

The American Life League and Reform CCHD Now deserve abundant praise for bringing critical eyes to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the groups which it funds, and others with which those groups cooperate.  That praise has been far from coming!  Instead, the American Life League and Reform CCHD Now have been singled out for criticism.  Reform CCHD Now simply says: "Don't let YOUR money work against the Church."  What on earth is the problem with exercising care with our scarce charitable dollars?

"Ten Catholic bishops teamed up with a pro-Planned Parenthood group to a release a report this week that urges Catholic organizations to fund groups linked to the promotion of abortion and other acts opposed by the Church....The opening pages of the report include a list of endorsing groups and individuals, including nine retired U.S. bishops (, 6/14/13).  The endorsing groups included the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, as well as a local order - the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill.  The report is dedicated to one of the endorsing bishops, Joseph M. Sullivan, who passed away on 6/7/13:
    "Empowering low-income citizens to advocate for living wages, quality health care, immigrant rights and responsible land stewardship is central to fulfilling a Catholic vision for the common good. This mission is threatened when groups like the American Life League and the Reform CCHD Now coalition use McCarthy-era tactics to create a culture of fear around community organizing. 

    "While ideological attacks against the bishops’ anti-poverty Campaign are not new, a more aggressive and effective network of conservative religious activists has emerged in recent years. These groups, which have targeted individual bishops and diocesan officials, are pushing some church leaders away from engaging in social justice coalitions that have an established record of success.

    "The individuals and organizations endorsing this report support several recommendations to combat growing threats to critical anti-poverty work funded by the Catholic Church:
    * Catholic leaders should resist efforts from the American Life League and other pressure groups to isolate Catholic-funded organizations from effective coalitions that are improving the lives of low-income citizens.
    * More prudent theological and practical assessments are needed before CCHD grants are pulled from successful organizations simply because of an organization’s association with other groups or coalitions.
    * Diocesan officials and CCHD staff at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops should convene public dialogue sessions with a diverse group of anti-poverty experts, social justice advocates, theologians and community organizers with the goal of strengthening CCHD partnerships and finding common ground.
    * Lay Catholics concerned about protecting the church’s social justice witness in public life should redouble their commitment to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development through donations, letters of support to bishops and volunteering" ("Be Not Afraid?" Guilt by Association, Catholic McCarthyism and Growing Threats to the U.S. Bishops’ Anti-Poverty Mission, Faith in Public Life, June 2013).

As mentioned, the report is dedicated to one of the endorsing bishops:
    "Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan, whose work on behalf of the poor and downtrodden for Catholic Charities in Brooklyn and Queens earned him national recognition, died on Friday as a result of injuries from a car accident....Bishop Sullivan played an instrumental role in the formation of St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Centers and served as chairman of the Social Development and World Peace Department of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.... 

    "Joseph Michael Sullivan was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on March 23, 1930, one of 11 children of Thomas and Margaret Sullivan.  In 1948, after graduating from St. Michael’s Diocesan High School, he spent a season playing minor league baseball with the Americus Phillies in Georgia....He received a master’s degree from the Fordham University School of Social Work in 1961 and a master’s in public administration from New York University in 1971” (NY Times, 6/8/13).

    "The pope did not give him the responsibility of serving a local church as its chief shepherd.  Yet the retired auxiliary bishop exerted wide influence over the U.S. church for decades....

    "In 1995, Sullivan...[and 39] other bishops coauthored a document...[which] said many issues facing the church -- including 'women and equality in the church,' the annulment process, contraception, 'the kind of candidates being attracted to the priesthood' and the ordination of married men -- were not being addressed openly....

    "Following his work as the bishops' liaison to Catholic Charities, Sullivan served as the prelates' official liaison to the Catholic Health Association from July 2000 until December 2008....Sullivan served on the organization's board from 1984 to 1990 and was its chairperson from 1990 to 1991" (National Catholic Reporter, 6/12/13).

Though Bishop Sullivan was about 30 years older, we grew up on the same Brooklyn street.  Bishop Sullivan was waked from the same funeral home and buried from the same parish, as was my father about 30 years ago.  It was at my father's funeral that I last saw Bishop Sullivan's mom.  Mrs. Sullivan was indeed a saint, and she did not hesitate to chase myself and others from playing ball in her driveway.  Over the years, I've wondered what her thoughts would be to some of her son's heterodox positions.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Governor Corbett and HB 818

I called Governor Corbett's office (717 787 2500) and spoke with "Stacey." She indicated that Gov Corbett will be signing HB 818, but she could not tell me when. It sure would seem that reminder calls to Go Corbett's office would be valuable. He needs to know that Catholics and other people of good will do not want to pay for abortions.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Catholic Senators & HB 818 Votes

Your Excellencies:

As the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference explains,
There are 14 members of the Senate who are identified as Catholic (cf, Project Vote Smart).  Of those 14,
  • 5 voted in a manner consistently AGAINST HB 818 (i.e., Boscola, Costa, Fontana, Stack, Wiley) by voting for the weakening amendments and against final passage of HB 818;
  • 3 voted to weaken HB 818 before voting for final passage (i.e., Blake, McIlhinney, Yudichak);
  • only 6 voted in a consistently pro life manner (i.e., Browne, Kasunic, Pileggi, Rafferty, Scarnati, Ward) by opposing the weakening amendments and voting for final passage of HB 818.
Senators Browne, Kasunic, Pileggi, Rafferty, Scarnati, and Ward deserve our praise and gratitude!  May we count on Your Excellencies to "have our backs," in publicly challenging those other Catholic senators who betray innocent human lives and give scandal to other Catholics?

    In 2007, I understand that Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aries, was primarily responsible for the concluding document of the 5th General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean - aka, the Aparecida Document.  Unwavering in its proclamation of the dignity of each and every human being from fertilization till natural death, the Aparecida Document provides a look at the mind and heart of our new Holy Father.  He sure strikes me as appalled by the danger of scandal from hypocrisy!
    • "We must adhere to 'Eucharistic coherence,' that is, be conscious that they cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and family are encouraged. This responsibility weighs particularly over legislators, heads of governments, and health professionals" (# 436). 
    In the short time that he has been pontiff, Pope Francis seems deeply concerned about the scandal of "Catholics" in public life, who advocate positions that are opposed to Catholicism. 
    • What will be the response from Bishop Bambera of Scranton to Sen Blake and Sen Yudichak?
    • What will be the response from Bishop Barres of Allentown to Sen Boscola?
    • What will be the response from Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh to Sen Costa and Fontana?
    • What will be the response from Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia to Sen McIlhinney and Sen Stack?
    • What will be the response from Bishop Persico of Erie to Sen Wiley?
    We must all pray (and urge) that Governor Corbett, who also identifies himself as Catholic, will quickly sign HB 818.


    Wednesday, June 5, 2013

    HB 818 passes the Pa Senate - Alleluia!

    As per the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference,
      "HB 818, passed in the House in April, clearly prohibits the taxpayer supported insurance plans created under the federal health care exchange from covering elective abortions. On Tuesday, June 4, the Senate considered amendments that would have significantly weakened HB 818 and defeated them. HB 818 was passed by the full Senate on Wednesday, June 5 by a vote of 31 to 19....

      "Votes against these weakening amendments were a courageous stand for the pro-life cause....if your Senator voted 'no' on the weakening amendments....please send a note of thanks by clicking here. If your Senator voted 'yes' on the weakening amendments, thus undermining the intent of the bill, please click here to ask them to cast pro-life votes in the future!
    We should be pleased that all four senators from Bucks County (i.e, Greenleaf, Mensch, McIlhinney, and Tomlinson) voted for final passage of HB 818. However,
    • McIlhinney voted for the Vance & Schwank amendments, which would have weakened HB 818. 
    • Surprisingly, Mensch also voted for the Vance amendment.

    After passing the House and Senate, HB 818 now goes for Governor Corbett's ( signature.  Let's remind him to keep his promise and attend to this expeditiously.

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013

    Getting to Know Pope Francis: the Aparecida Document

    The new pope did not come to Rome with abundant time on the world stage and a portfolio of voluminous writings, like his immediate predecessor.  He is a new friend, whom the world must get to know.

    Still on a honeymoon, the media seems content that the pope has a nice smile and adopted the name of a beloved saint.  Entering "Pope Francis" in a search confirms a general charm with the new pontiff.  Yet, news outlets are responsible to dig deeper.  It would be disingenuous to claim to be covering a public figure, while ignoring readily available data.

    In 2007, Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio shepherded the concluding document of the 5th General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America & the Caribbean - aka, the Aparecida Document (See  While the text runs less than 150 pages, it is a comprehensive, concise, and dense analysis, an unapologetic call for change, and an inspiring assurance of God's love and assistance!  The Aparecida Document may provide our best tool for learning about the mind and heart of Pope Francis.

    Not surprisingly, the Aparecida Document is unwavering in its proclamation of the dignity of each and every human being from fertilization till natural death.  It evidences deep awareness of the giftedness of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as their difficulties.  It discusses poverty and dehumanizing, violent mistreatment of peoples, evidenced by such crimes as human trafficking and sexual tourism.  It speaks of the tragedy of illegal drugs, as well as the economic exploitation of Latin America and the Caribbean by powerful nations and businesses - such as pharmaceutical corporations (cf, # 83).

    Deeply concerned about family, the Aparecida Document reminds us that "Conjugal love is reciprocal giving between a man and a woman, the spouses: it is faithful and exclusive to death, and fruitful, open to life and to educating children, resembling the fruitful love of the Blessed Trinity" (# 117).  "Within the parish boundaries, the Christian family is the first and most basic ecclesial community. That is where the fundamental values of Christian life are lived and passed on (# 204).

    While obviously supportive of efforts to help peoples, the Aparecida Document reminds us that "A democracy without values...easily becomes a dictatorship and ultimately betrays the people" (# 74), and "there cannot be true and stable democracy without social justice, without real separation of powers, and unless the rule of law is upheld" (# 76).  We would be well advised to heed its warning about disrespect for "the right of religious freedom" and "conscientious objection" (cf, # 80).

    The Aparecida Document is certainly NOT a downer - it joyfully discusses the "Good News of Human Dignity," "the Good News of Life," the Good News of the Family," "the Good News of Human Activity," and "the Good News of the Universal Destiny of Goods and Ecology" (cf, # 104 - # 126), calling us to communion with God and each other and to become ever more like Jesus Christ. 

    So far, this sounds not so different from Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, right?  Where the difference may lie is that this deceptively gentle new pontiff may be ready to kick theological butt and toss out the proverbial money changers from the temple: 
    • "We hope that legislators, heads of government, and health professionals, conscious of the dignity of human life and of the rootedness of the family in our peoples, will defend and protect it from the abominable crimes of abortion and euthanasia; that is their responsibility. Hence, in response to government laws and provisions that are unjust in the light of faith and reason, conscientious objectionshould be encouraged. We must adhere to 'eucharistic coherence,' that is, be conscious that they cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and family are encouraged. This responsibility weighs particularly over legislators, heads of governments, and health professionals" (# 436). 
    Will Pope Francis end the scandal of "Catholics" in public life, who advocate positions that are anathema to Catholicism, but who do not hesitate to approach for Holy Communion?

    Saturday, June 1, 2013

    Network and "Nuns on the Bus"

    Your Excellency:

    Before Mass in my native Brooklyn almost a quarter century ago, I recall chatting with a priest about Network: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby (of which I had been a member).  I distinctly recall how he shared concern that Network did NOT show concern about the heinous crime of abortion.  That priest went on to become the third bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey.  RIP, Bishop Breen. 

    A few years later, I recall attending a Network presentation, hosted by then-chaplain of Rider, Father Vincent Gartland.  When I raised a question about abortion to the Sister of Saint Joseph presentor, I was treated dismissively by the sister (By that time, I knew better than to belong to Network!)

    As you certainly know, the Vatican's Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, singled Network out for criticism.  A check of Network's web site confirms that it indeed remains "silent on the right to life from conception to natural death."  Network has certainly been "silent" on the USCCB condemnation of the attacks on human life, conscience rights, and religious liberty in the Affordable Health Care Act (i.e., "Obamacare").

    Your Excellency, it is shameful that Monsignor Gartland hosted Network's Nuns on the Bus, because Network has long shown itself to be abysmally ignorant of authentic Catholic Social Teaching.  No one can truly study the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church without becoming convinced that the sanctity of human life and marriage/family are at the core of authentic Catholic Social Teaching....

    HB 818 

    From the pulpit and in the bulletins, please remind your people of the words of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference,
      "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) specifically allows states to prohibit providers that participate in the insurance marketplace from covering elective abortions. To assure that elective abortion is not included in the federal exchange in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth must affirmatively opt out by passing a state law. House Bill 818 – without amendments- will clearly prohibit the taxpayer supported insurance plans from covering elective abortions. HB 818 does not eliminate coverage of abortions in taxpayer supported plans in the cases of rape, incest or to avert the death of the mother"
    After passing the Pennsylvania House, HB 818 is now in the hands of the Pennsylvania Senate, as well as Governor Corbett.  The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference reminds us that "Voting 'yes' on HB 818 without amendments is the only genuine pro-life vote" (The Pennsylvania ProLife Federation also urges votes of "'YES' on House Bill 818 and 'no' on any amendments.").  The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference facilitates contact with your own elected officials: "Click here to send a message in support of HB 818 without amendment" [].

    Unfortunately, it is anticipated that Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (who identifies himself as Catholic; will put forward weakening amendments.   It is vital that his Democratic colleagues - who have shown at least some pro life leaning - commit to supporting HB 818 WITHOUT amendments:
    Unfortunately, at least three Republicans may support efforts to block/weaken HB 818.  They need our prayers and strong pro life feedback.  In the case of the Catholic, correction is certainly called for from Bucks County's priests and deacons:

    In addition to McIlhinney, there are three other state senators from Bucks,
    • only Bob Mensch ( receives a very unfavorable rating from pro-abortion Planned Parenthood. Bucks County should be rightfully proud of Bob Mensch! 
    • Pro-abortion Planned Parenthood gives mixed ratings to both Stewart Greenleaf ( and Tommy Tomlinson (  Senators Greenleaf and Tomlinson need strong pro life feedback from Bucks Countians! 

    The 10 Commandments

    The Beatitudes (from "Jesus of Nazareth")

    Our representation in D.C....

    Click to check the status of federal legislation:

    Click to ascertain legislation being sponsored or co-sponsored (and take note of what is NOT being sponsored or co-sponsored):

    Click to check U.S. House votes.

    Click to check U.S. Senate votes.


    Bucks County in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives;;;;;;;;;

    Bucks County in the Pennsylvania Senate;;;

    Contacting Our Governor

    717 787 2500 or

    Contacting Our Bishops