Pope Francis: Ensure Everyone Has Access to Healthcare and Discard No One

via the Vatican:

Jesus does not make demands of those who endure situations of frailty, suffering and weakness, but offers his mercy and his comforting presence. He looks upon a wounded humanity with eyes that gaze into the heart of each person. That gaze is not one of indifference; rather, it embraces people in their entirety, each person in his or her health condition, discarding no one, but rather inviting everyone to share in his life and to experience his tender love….

What is needed is a personalized approach to the sick, not just of curing but also of caring, in view of an integral human healing. In experiencing illness, individuals not only feel threatened in their physical integrity, but also in the relational, intellectual, affective and spiritual dimensions of their lives. For this reason, in addition to therapy and support, they expect care and attention. In a word, love. At the side of every sick person, there is also a family, which itself suffers and is in need of support and comfort….

Dear brothers and sisters who are ill, your sickness makes you in a particular way one of those “who labour and are burdened”, and thus attract the eyes and heart of Jesus. In him, you will find light to brighten your darkest moments and hope to soothe your distress….

Life must be welcomed, protected, respected and served from its beginning to its end: both human reason and faith in God, the author of life, require this….

I think of our many brothers and sisters throughout the world who have no access to medical care because they live in poverty. For this reason, I urge healthcare institutions and government leaders throughout the world not to neglect social justice out of a preoccupation for financial concerns. It is my hope that, by joining the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, efforts will be made to cooperate in ensuring that everyone has access to suitable treatments for preserving and restoring their health.



Amy Backs a Big Tent Strategy, As Bernie and Mayor Pete Shun Pro-Life Democrats and Progressives

via The Hill:

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Tuesday said that the Democratic Party should be a “big tent” for people of different beliefs, including those who oppose abortion rights….

“There are pro-life Democrats, and they are part of our party, and I think we need to build a big tent,” she said.

“I think we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out.”

When Bernie Sanders was asked if there is such a thing as a pro-life Democrat in his vision of the party, he replied, “By this time in history, I think, when we talk about what a Democrat is, I think being pro-choice is an essential part of that.”

When Pete Buttigieg was asked about whether or not he was open to a more inclusive approach toward pro-life Democrats by pro-life Democrat Kristen Day, he refused to directly answer the question, reiterated his support for legal abortion, and declined to say that he valued the over 20 million pro-life Democrats in the party.


Pope Francis’ Prayer Intentions for February 2020: Hear the Cries of Migrants


Migrants are often victims of criminal human smuggling and human trafficking.

Among other causes, this happens because of corruption on the part of people willing to do anything for financial gain.

The money from their dirty, underhanded business is blood money. I’m not exaggerating: it’s blood money.

We pray that the cries of our migrant brothers and sisters, victims of criminal human smuggling and human trafficking, may be heard and considered.


How Catholics Should Vote in 2020

Here are highlights from Bishop Robert McElroy’s speech “Conscience, Candidates and Discipleship in Voting”:

Frequently in discussions of the application of Catholic social teaching to voting, the question is raised whether one issue has a unique priority among all of the other issues in its claim upon believers in the current election cycle. Some have categorized abortion in that way. Others, climate change. This question deserves deeper scrutiny….

More than 750,000 unborn children are directly killed in the United States every year. At one time there was bipartisan support for erecting policies that made abortion rare. Now that commitment has been eviscerated in the Democratic Party in a capitulation to notions of privacy that simply block out the human identity and rights of unborn children….

At the same time there is a clear international scientific consensus that climate change caused by the use of fossil fuels and other human activities poses an existential threat to the very future of humanity and that air pollution resulting from fossil fuels is already a major cause of premature death on our planet. Existing trajectories of pollutants being placed in the atmosphere by human activity, if unchecked, will raise the temperature of the earth in the coming decades, generating catastrophic rises in human exposure to deadly heat, devastating rises in water levels and massive exposure to a series of perilous viruses. In addition, there will be severe widespread famines, droughts and massive dislocations of peoples that will cause untold deaths, human suffering and violent conflict….As a consequence, the survival of the planet, which is the prerequisite for all human life, is at risk.

Against the backdrop of these two monumental threats to human life, how can one evaluate the competing claims that either abortion or climate change should be uniquely preeminent in Catholic social teaching regarding the formation of Americans as citizens and believers? Four points should be considered.

    1. There is no mandate in universal Catholic social teaching that gives a categorical priority to either of these issues as uniquely determinative of the common good.
    2. The death toll from abortion is more immediate, but the long-term death toll from unchecked climate change is larger and threatens the very future of humanity.
    3. Both abortion and the environment are core life issues in Catholic teaching.
    4. The designation of either of these issues as the preeminent question in Catholic social teaching at this time in the United States will inevitably be hijacked by partisan forces to propose that Catholics have an overriding duty to vote for candidates that espouse that position. Recent electoral history shows this to be a certainty.

The question of preeminence is further clouded by a third compelling issue our country faces in this election cycle — the culture of exclusion that has grown so dramatically in our nation during the last three years. Racial injustice is on the rise, buttressed by a new language and symbolism that seeks to advance the evil of white nationalism and create structures of racial prejudice for a new generation.

Immigrants and refugees, who have been at the core of America’s history as a source of vitality and richness, are portrayed as a cause for fear and suspicion in our society rather than of solidarity. Members of the Muslim community are widely characterized as aliens whose religion automatically means they cannot be trusted, while incidents of vile and pervasive anti-Semitism are on the rise.

This growing culture of exclusion does not emerge as a specific policy question in our contemporary national politics; rather, it seeps into all of the most salient questions of life and dignity that our society faces and corrodes each one in turn….

On virtually every question of human life and dignity the growing culture of exclusion in our nation reinforces and propels cleavages that are highly destructive to all of the goals that lie at the center of Catholic social teaching. For this reason, many faith-filled Catholics believe that in this election cycle the most compelling issue that arises from Catholic social teaching for American voters is the need to repudiate radically this culture of exclusion before it spreads further and leads to new levels of moral paralysis and division.

Seen against this background of abortion, climate change and the culture of exclusion, it is clear that the faith-filled voter who seeks to be guided by Catholic social teaching is confronted by compelling moral claims that cut across the partisan and cultural divides of our nation. The pathway from these cross-cutting moral claims to decisions on particular candidates is not a direct and singular one in Catholic teaching, rooted in one issue. For this reason, the drive to label a single issue preeminent distorts the call to authentic discipleship in voting rather than advancing it….

But voting for candidates ultimately involves choosing a candidate for public office, not a stance, nor a specific teaching of the Church. And for this reason, faithful voting involves careful consideration of the specific ability of a particular candidate to actually advance the common good. In making this assessment, opportunity, competence and character all come into play….

But voting for candidates ultimately involves choosing a candidate for public office, not a stance, nor a specific teaching of the Church. And for this reason, faithful voting involves careful consideration of the specific ability of a particular candidate to actually advance the common good. In making this assessment, opportunity, competence and character all come into play….

Competence is also a central metric for faith-filled voters to consider. It does little good to elect a saint who echoes Catholic social teaching on every issue if that candidate does not have the competence to carry out his duties effectively and thereby enhance the common good. Faith-filled voters must assess the intelligence, human relations skills, mastery of policy and intuitive insights that each candidate brings to bear, for voting discipleship seeks results, not merely aspirations….

Finally, because our nation is in a moment of political division and degradation in its public life, character represents a particularly compelling criterion for faithful voting in 2020. In the United States, political leaders, especially at the highest levels, imprint their character in pivotal ways upon the entire political culture, and thus on society itself. Today, leaders in government embrace corrosive tactics and language, fostering division rather than unity. The notion of truth itself has lost its footing in our public debate….

The faith-filled voter is asked to make the complex judgment: which candidate will be likely to best advance the common good through his office in the particular political context he will face?…

For the disciple of Jesus Christ, voting is a sacred action. In the words of The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, it touches “the crossroads where Christian life and conscience come into contact with the real world.” For this reason, it cannot be reduced to a logical set of propositions that yield a predetermined result in the selection of candidates.

Some theologians have sought to find such a logic of deduction in the concept of intrinsic evil…. The problem with this approach is that while the criterion of intrinsic evil identifies specific human acts that can never be justified, this criterion is not a measure of the relative gravity of the evil in particular human or political actions. Telling a lie is intrinsically evil, while escalating a nuclear arms race is not. But it is wrongheaded to propose that telling a lie to constituents should count more in the calculus of faithful voting than a candidate’s plans to initiate a destabilizing nuclear weapons program. Similarly, contraception is intrinsically evil in Catholic moral theology, while actions which destroy the environment generally are not. But it is a far greater moral evil for our country to abandon the Paris Climate Accord than to provide contraceptives in federal health centers. What these examples point out is that Catholic social teaching cannot be reduced to a deductivist model when it comes to voting to safeguard the life and dignity of the human person.

How, then does the faith-filled voter choose candidates in a way that integrates the tenets of Catholic social teaching, recognizes the role that competence, character and capacity play in the real world of governing, and preserves a stance of building unity within society?

The Church locates this pathway in the virtue of prudence. In the words of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, “prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it. … It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience.”…

Prudential judgment is not a secondary or deficient mode of discernment in the Christian conscience. It is the primary mode.

This is certainly true in voting for candidates for public office. The constellation of substantial moral elements that are relevant to deciding which candidate is most likely to advance the common good during her time in office can only be morally comprehended through the virtue of prudence. There cannot be faith-filled Catholic voting without the virtue of prudence, exercised within the sanctity of well-formed conscience.


Pope Francis Identifies Tax Cuts for the Rich As Obstacle to Economic Justice

via Vatican News:

Hundreds of millions of people, said the Pope, are struggling in extreme poverty, and are lacking food, housing, healthcare, schooling, electricity, and drinkable water. Around 5 million children will die this year of causes related to poverty, he said.

Pope Francis added that rising income inequality has also left millions of people as victims of forced labor, prostitution, and organ trafficking.

These facts should impel us to take action, and not to fall into despair.

“These are solvable problems,” he said. “We are not condemned to global inequality.”

Poverty can be overcome, said the Pope, if an economic system is put in place that includes, feeds, cures, and dresses those left behind by society.

“We have to choose what and who to prioritize,” he said. Our choice will lead either to increased social injustice and violence, or to “humanizing socio-economic systems”….

And he condemned recurrent tax breaks for wealthy individuals as “structures of sin”. “Every year hundreds of millions of dollars – which should be collected as taxes and go to finance healthcare and education – instead end up in offshore accounts,” he said….

“Social protection, a basic income, healthcare for all, and universal education,” he said, are “economic rights” that form the basis of human solidarity.