Brian R Corbin's Reflections on Religion and Life

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

Holy See to UN on Gender Equality

“Women … Are Dynamic Agents of Development”
NEW YORK, JULY 2, 2010 ( Zenit.org ).- Here is the address Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered Thursday before the high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council Substantive Session for 2010.

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Mr. President,

This year’s substantive session is particularly pertinent leading up to the long expected World Summit on the MDGs. All women and girls who are affected by the MDGs look forward towards an increased recognition of their value and equality as well as their dignified role in development. Any deliberation on the matter will be incomplete without ensuring the advancement of women, who are dynamic agents of development in the family, society and the world.

Ever since world leaders committed their governments to the ambitious objective of attaining the MDGs, some remarkable progress has been achieved in mainstreaming women’s perspectives in development both in multilateral and national policies. Even those countries lagging behind in many aspects of development are giving more prominence to the role of women in public life, especially in the political arena.

The empowerment of women presupposes universal human dignity and, thus, the dignity of each and every individual. The notion denotes complementarity between man and woman, which means equality in diversity: where equality and diversity are based on biological data, expressed traditionally by male and female sexuality, and on the primacy of the person. It concerns also roles to be held and functions to be performed in society. In that regard, equality is not sameness, and difference is not inequality.

Empowerment of women for development means also recognition of the gifts and talents of every woman and is affirmed through the provision of better health care, education and equal opportunities. Empowering women and respecting their dignity mean also honoring their capacity to serve and devote themselves to society and to the family through motherhood which entails a self-giving love and care-giving. Altruism, dedication and service to others are healthy and contribute to personal dignity. If domesticity can be considered a particular gift of mothers in cultivating a genuine intrapersonal relationship in the family and society, then family-friendly working arrangements, shared family-care leave and redistribution of the burden of unpaid work will be given the attention they rightly deserve.

The Holy See notes with concern that inequalities between individuals and between countries thrive and various forms of discrimination, exploitation and oppression of women and girls persist, which must be addressed by the provision of adequate social protection measures for them, as appropriate to national contexts.

In the health sector there is a need to eliminate inequalities between men and women and increase the capacity of women to care for themselves principally by being afforded adequate health care. Scientific studies have shown remarkable improvement in the reduction of maternal and infant mortality, revealing the importance of complementary investing in other areas relevant to women and girls including nutrition, general health and education. The real advancement of women is not achieved by concentrating on a particular health issue to the neglect of others but by promoting their overall health which necessarily includes giving more attention to addressing women-specific diseases.

Women’s economic empowerment is essential for the economic development of the family and of society. Access to land and property, credit facilities and equal opportunities for financial services for women will help ensure their economic stability. In this process, the whole household and community must support their entrepreneurship. The ethical dimension of their development and economic empowerment as well as their service to the family must not be overlooked.

Tragically, violence against women, especially in the home and work place, and discrimination in the professional field, even on the pay and pension scale, are growing concerns. Through adequate legal frame-works and national policies, perpetrators of violence must be brought to justice and women must be afforded rehabilitation. Women and girls must be guaranteed their full enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights including equal access to education and health.

My delegation supports the initiatives in favour of the rights in particular of women migrants and refugees and women with disabilities. Human rights learning campaigns especially for girls and women must be promoted, even from early school days and also through non-formal education. Civil society and NGOs, women’s associations and faith-based organizations can contribute a great deal in human rights learning and in quality education.

In concluding, Mr. President, the more the dignity of women is protected and promoted, the more the family, the community and society will truly be fostered.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Filed under: Culture, Economic Policy, Official Statements, Social Justice

Bishop speaks out about how migrants are used as pawns

U.S. bishops’ migration chairman writes for Politico: “Migrants pawns in Mexico-U.S. game” http://ow.ly/1Ncas

Migrants pawns in Mexico-U.S. game
By: John C. Wester
May 19, 2010 05:03 AM EDT Mexican President Felipe Calderon is scheduled to visit President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday, which is good news, considering the problems along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In fact, a strong relationship between Obama and Calderon may hold the key to the many problems affecting both the United States and Mexico domestically — drug-related violence, the economy and, of course, immigration.

One big misperception of the U.S. immigration debate is that if Congress could pass an immigration reform bill, it would be the magic bullet that kills illegal immigration.

Such a bill is indeed indispensable to a long-term solution and must be addressed — sooner rather than later. But it should be understood that the humane and lasting answer to this vexing social issue lies in regional, if not global, cooperation among nation-states.

Immigration is not just a domestic issue; it is keyed to foreign affairs.

If the world is a marketplace, then migrants and their labor help deliver the produce and stock the shelves. In other terms, while economically powerful nations hold the capital, migrants help fill the jobs needed to turn capital into profit. This important role in the world economic order should give migrant workers an honored place — with the appropriate legal and labor protections.

In North America, Europe and most places in the industrialized world, however, migrant workers are left without legal protection. They are characterized as criminals — as in Arizona — and blamed for myriad social ills.

The de facto migration relationship between the United States and Mexico is a prime example. Migrants from Mexico, unable to support their families at home, take a dangerous journey to the United States and fill menial but crucial jobs in the U.S. economy — dishwashers, farmworkers and day laborers, for example.

As a result, the United States receives the benefit of their toil and taxes without having to worry about protecting their rights — in either the courtroom or the workplace. When convenient, they are made political scapegoats and attacked — through both rhetoric and work-site raids — as if they were not human.

But Mexico also wins financially under this system. The country receives up to $20 billion in remittances per year — perhaps down to $15 billion during this recession — without having to pay attention to the lower rungs of its economy.

What is left is a “go north” policy that exposes Mexican citizens to the ravages of human smugglers, corrupt law enforcement officials and potential death in the desert.

The big losers in this globalization game are the migrants, of course. They have no political power and are unable to defend themselves from inevitable abuse and exploitation.

These migrants are pawns in a system that preys on their desperation and expropriates their work ethic. As in a chess match, they are expendable and at the service of the most valuable player, the king — in this case, the sovereign nations of the United States and Mexico.

As a moral matter, the United States and Mexico cannot have it both ways — accepting the labor and remittances of these immigrants without recognizing their basic human rights.

It is time for both nations to abandon this mutual “nod and wink” policy, not found in written law but still all too real.

In its place, they should reform their national immigration laws and enforce current labor and due-process protections, so that migrants can come out of the shadows and travel and work in a safe and controlled manner.

Over the long term, joint efforts could be pursued to promote development in communities now drained by the migrant outflow, so that Mexicans can remain at home to work and support their families.

At a minimum, both Obama and Calderon should strive to ensure that international economic agreements, like the North American Free Trade Agreement, do not devastate industries that hire low-skilled workers in their home countries.

Obama has indicated his support of U.S. immigration reforms and his interest in addressing the root causes of migration, like underdevelopment. Calderon has emphasized the need for job creation among Mexico’s poor, and he has acknowledged the continuing mistreatment of migrants within Mexico.

But neither leader has done enough to address these issues.

The state visit this week could be a good first step to help change that equation.

Together, the two leaders have the opportunity to reframe the immigration debate in a way that recognizes the effects of globalization on the movement of labor yet injects basic human rights principles into the system.

The world would take note.

They can also remind us — and the global community — that migrants, including those without legal status, are not goods to be traded but human beings to be protected.

John C. Wester is the bishop of Salt Lake City and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration.

Filed under: Economic Policy, Fair Trade, Market Place, Migration, Social Justice, Uncategorized

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

Catholic health/Charities position on health care debate

Recently, there has been an attempt by some bloggers and others to distort the position of Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Health Association and the St. Vincent de Paul Society on their and the Church’s position on the current health care debate.

The Catholic Bishops have been calling for reform in health care since they published a Pastoral Letter on health care.

For a clarification and articulation of the Church’s position see comments by Sr. Carol, the President of Catholic Health Association of the US in a CNS article.

Filed under: Catholic Charities USA, Church-State, Economic Policy, healthcare, Medical Ethics, morals, Social Doctrine

What does Caritas in Veritate have to do with Labor and unions?

I was invited by the Youngstown State University Center for Working Class Studies to write a blog on the relationship between Caritas in Veritate, the new papal encyclical, and labor, unions, work and Catholic social teaching.

Please visit the blog at workingclassstudies.wordpress.com

Filed under: consumerism, Economic Policy, Market Place, morals, Personal Reflections