Brian R Corbin's Reflections on Religion and Life

Living Your Faith as Citizens and Leaders in Politics, Culture, Society and Business

Easter and new ways of living….

Lent has been a time to question our priorities and our worldview.  As a Christian, I am challenged to review the way I see the world.  Do I see the world as Jesus would have seen it?  Do I show compassion, love and mercy to those who disagree with me or irritate me?  Do I use my money for just causes or do I even think about it?

As we end this season of Lent, our work of prayer, almsgiving and fasting are not over, but transformed.

As we approach the Easter season, consider your spending habits.  Where do you purchase your teas, coffees and chocolates?  Where do you purchase your on-line gifts?

I encourage you to consider as part of your Easter reflection to visit Catholic Relief Services Fair Trade section.

Filed under: consumerism, Culture, Fair Trade, Personal Reflections, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Labor Day and Blessed Frederick Ozanam

Wishing everyone a Happy Labor Day.

It is also interesting this year that Labor Day falls on the memorial of Blessed Frederick Ozanam, the founder of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

In the 1830’s he and a friend began visiting Paris tenements and offering assistance as best they could. Soon a group dedicated to helping individuals in need under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul formed around Frederick.

In 1846, Frederick, Amelie and their daughter Marie went to Italy; there Frederick hoped to restore his poor health. They returned the next year. The revolution of 1848 left many Parisians in need of the services of the St. Vincent de Paul conferences. The unemployed numbered 275,000. The government asked Frederick and his co-workers to supervise the government aid to the poor. Vincentians throughout Europe came to the aid of Paris.

Frederick then started a newspaper, The New Era, dedicated to securing justice for the poor and the working classes. Fellow Catholics were often unhappy with what Frederick wrote. Referring to the poor man as “the nation’s priest,” Frederick said that the hunger and sweat of the poor formed a sacrifice that could redeem the people’s humanity.

In 1852 poor health again forced Frederick to return to Italy with his wife and daughter. He died on September 8, 1853. In his sermon at Frederick’s funeral, Lacordaire described his friend as “one of those privileged creatures who came direct from the hand of God in whom God joins tenderness to genius in order to enkindle the world.”

Frederick was beatified in 1997.

Frederick’s witness as a lay Catholic engaged in social ministry serves as a model for our own time.  He offered his talents to teach others incorporating the gospel message, as well as living out his witness by serving those, especially as an advocate and with direct material aid to help working class families.

What do you think Frederick Ozanam offers our time?

Filed under: Culture, Personal Reflections, Social Justice, Spirituality

Here are some important points to consider when reviewing the health care reform debate

During the August recess, please urge members of Congress to keep working on comprehensive health reform.  We also need to educate/form our selves and neighbors on some important aspects to this debate, informed by the Catholic moral tradition, rather than rely on blasts by various interests.

Here are some issues in health reform legislation that need to be considered:

  • Support Health Care Coverage for All :
    • Expand Medicaid to everyone under 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL);
    • Cover immigrants, both documented and undocumented;
    • Provide subsidies for low-income individuals and families up to 400% FPL;
    • Reform the health insurance market, by prohibiting preexisting condition exclusions, requiring guaranteed issue of insurance, and establishing premium rating restrictions;
    • Ensure access to preventive care and chronic care management;
    • Provide support for long-term care services by including the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act.
  • Preserve Provider Conscience Protections and Support “Abortion Neutrality” — Not an Abortion Coverage Mandate:
    • Support an “abortion neutral” approach by continuing longstanding and widely supported policies protecting provider conscience rights; prohibit the use of federal funds for abortion; and not mandating abortion as part of any benefit package
  • Support Delivery System Reforms that improve quality of care, patient outcomes, and efficiency, but do not arbitrarily reduce reimbursement rates:
    • Support a targeted Medicare hospital readmissions policy focused only on the top 8 to 10 conditions for readmission;
    • Support a Medicare Value Based Purchasing program that reimburses hospitals based on improved quality of care, implemented in a budget neutral manner;
    • Test the feasibility of bundled hospital and post acute care payments through pilot projects and a study prior to considering a bundled payment system;
    • Ensure any public plan, if included, provides adequate payment rates for providers.
  • Ensure Sufficient and Fair Financing with “shared responsibility”:
    • Protect Medicare and Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments by ensuring that any DSH payment reductions are tied to and occur after demonstrated reductions in the number of uninsured.
  • Visit the Catholic Health Association of the United States for more details.  Catholic health care is one of the largest providers of health services in the US and throughout the world.  Our moral tradition is very much connected to the practice of medicine and ethics that have been a hallmark of the Christian tradition for centuries.  Health care practice and policy have been a concern of the Catholic Church for centuries.

Filed under: Culture, Economic Policy, healthcare, Market Place, Medical Ethics, morals, Social Justice

USCCB Response to Rep Ryan’s Pregnancy Prevention Bill. Thoughts?

LIFE ISSUES FORUM                                                                   July 24, 2009

Let the Taxpayers Beware!
By Susan E. Wills
 
It should be called the Planned Parenthood Economic Stimulus Package of 2009.

Instead, co-sponsors Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) have given their “new” (though largely recycled) bill the promising title “Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act.” Sponsors describe the bill as a “common ground” approach to reducing unintended pregnancies and abortions, one that should appeal to opposing sides in the abortion debate.
Sure, the bill is dressed up with some funding for after-school programs, and some (very poorly crafted) efforts to provide support for pregnant students. But make no mistake. The bill is “about access to birth control,” according to Congressman Ryan (MSNBC’s “Hardball,” May 19, 2009). In the same interview, Ryan explained: “We have to have birth control and contraception offered to these poor women who don’t have access to contraception, period, dot. There’s no other way we’re going to be able to reduce [abortions].” About what you’d expect in a bill whose co-sponsors enjoy a 100% pro-choice rating from NARAL.
Accordingly, their bill calls for grants for comprehensive sexuality education (abstinence-only educators need not apply!). It substantially increases funding for the federal Title X Family Planning Program. It denies state choice, making family planning services a mandatory Medicaid entitlement in all states, and greatly expands family planning eligibility under Medicaid to all women who are eligible under state law for prenatal, labor, and delivery care.
Some people might find this approach sensible. But they ignore at least two things. First, since at least 1980, taxpayers have been funding “family planning services” to the tune of over $1 billion  per year. In 2006 such public expenditures totaled $1.85 billion . So today, virtually all teenagers who are sexually active and do not want to become pregnant are already using contraception. Only 7% are not  using it, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Second, contraceptives don’t work very well in real life. In the first 12 months of contraceptive use, 16.4% of teens (1 in 6) will become pregnant. Among low-income cohabiting teens, the failure (pregnancy) rate over 12 months is 48.4% for birth control pills and 71.7% for condoms.
Numerous studies in the United States and Europe have found that greater access to contraception fails to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions. A recent $10 million intervention in England giving at-risk teens comprehensive sex education and contraception is a perfect example. Teens in the program had a pregnancy rate 2.5 times higher  than a similar group of at-risk teens (16 vs. 6 percent).
Why does increased access to contraception fail at the population level? Thinking they are protected from pregnancy and disease, more young people become sexually active and have more partners, offsetting any reduction in pregnancy from individual contraceptive use. And the increased level of sexual activity causes STD rates to soar.  In the U.S., 1 in 4 teen girls has at least one STD; many of these are incurable and some are fatal.
The sharpest decline in unintended pregnancies and abortions since 1990 has occurred among those under 18, due not to comprehensive sex ed or contraception, but chiefly to the growing number of young people choosing to remain abstinent.

Visit the Secretariat’s website for contraception facts and citations at http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/contraception/index.shtml , and let your member of Congress know that the Ryan/DeLauro bill cannot fulfill the promises in its title. The real abortion-reduction bill in Congress now is the Pregnant Women Support Act (S.1032, H.R.2035), which needs our support.
Susan Wills is Assistant Director for Education and Outreach in the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. To learn more about the bishops’ pro-life activities, see www.usccb.org/prolife .

Filed under: Culture, healthcare, morals

Do you think that the US Catholic community treats Obama differently than the Vatican?

In the 10 July 2009 edition of the New York Times, an article asserts that the Vatican treats Obama differently than the US Catholic leadership.

What are your thoughts or observations?

Filed under: Culture, Personal Reflections, Politics