Text of statement by Cardinal George on abortion, election

Just off the presses. It’s the followup to this story.

STATEMENT of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

“If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil.” (Psalm 127, vs. 1)

The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all.  Because of the Church’s history and the scope of her ministries in this country, we want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and foster peace at home and abroad.  The Church is intent on doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government and all others working for these goods.

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.

Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion.  Abortion clinics would be deregulated.  The Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated.  FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.

FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children.  It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities.  It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.

On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will.  They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby.  Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men.  The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.

The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world.  If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve.  Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected.  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.

This statement is written at the request and direction of all the Bishops, who also want to thank all those in politics who work with good will to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us.  Those in public life do so, sometimes, at the cost of great sacrifice to themselves and their families; and we are grateful.  We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation.  The common good is not the sum total of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.

Our prayers accompany President-elect Obama and his family and those who are cooperating with him to assure a smooth transition in government.  Many issues demand immediate attention on the part of our elected “watchman.” (Psalm 127)  May God bless him and our country.

Links to CNS coverage of the U.S. bishops’ meeting

Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, addresses the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore Nov. 11. Bishop Murry was elected to succeed himself as secretary of the conference, a post he has held since last November. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, addresses the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore Nov. 11. Bishop Murry was elected to succeed himself as secretary of the conference, a post he has held since last November. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Catholic News Service has the most complete coverage of the U.S. bishops’ fall general meeting. You can find the majority of our stories here.

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Bishops choose Revised Grail Psalter for liturgical use in U.S.

The U.S. bishops chose the Revised Grail Psalter produced by the monks of Conception Abbey in Missouri over the Revised New American Bible translation of the Book of Psalms for liturgical use in the United States.

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Fears about laws and changes in regulations on abortion that might advance under a new Democratic-run Congress and White House are the central focus of a statement approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 12 during their annual fall meeting in Baltimore.

Before recent voter registration issues, CCHD had cut off ACORN funds

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development cut off funding earlier this year to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN, for reasons unrelated to the organization’s current troubles over voter registration and partisan politics, reported the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee on CCHD.

Bishops approve section of missal translation rejected in June

Despite some continued criticism that the translation is plagued by obscure wording and sentences that are too long, the U.S. bishops approved another lengthy section of the English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal Nov. 11.

Abortion opponents protest U.S. bishops’ ‘support’ for Obama

Several pro-life groups held a candlelight vigil Nov. 11 near the Baltimore hotel where the U.S. bishops were conducting their fall general assembly, protesting statements made by some Catholic leaders who called the victorious campaign of President-elect Barack Obama a step forward in stamping out racism.

Bishops to present concerns on abortion, other issues to politicians

After a total of nearly three hours of discussion in public and private sessions Nov. 11 during their annual fall meeting, the bishops gave their president, Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George, a set of concerns about abortion and other matters to raise in a public statement he will issue on their behalf. The statement was to be completed for final approval Nov. 12.

Bishops approve blessing service for children in the womb

To fill a gap in existing prayer books, the U.S. bishops Nov. 11 overwhelmingly approved a liturgical service in English and Spanish for blessing children in the womb.

‘We are our brothers’ keepers,’ remind bishops in economic statement

The brief statement issued by Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, the bishops’ president, noted that “hard times can isolate us or they can bring us together.”

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Special reports: CNS liveblogs of the bishops’ open sessions

President-elect Obama phones pope

USA-ELECTION/OBAMA

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on the phone Nov. 6, returning calls to world leaders. (CNS photo/Obama Campaign/handout via Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — U.S. President-elect Barack Obama telephoned Pope Benedict XVI to thank the pope for his message of congratulations on his election victory.

The pope was one of the many world leaders Obama has been contacting since his Nov. 4 win.

Vatican spokesperson Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi confirmed to Catholic News Service Nov. 12 that the president-elect telephoned the pope Nov. 11 “to thank the pope for his telegram, his congratulations” on winning the U.S. presidential election.

Further details about the call were not known, Father Lombardi said.

(UPDATE: Full story)

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