By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has sent an e-mail directive to every parish in the United States asking that an urgent message about health care reform be communicated to parishioners in their bulletins this weekend and announced at every Mass.
The massive appeal by the Pro-Life Activities Secretariat is thought to be unprecedented in the history of the U.S. Church and is intended to both educate and mobilize parishioners about the current health care reform bills being considered in Congress. The initiative includes a bulletin insert, ads for local Catholic papers, pulpit announcements, prayer petitions, flyers, etc. that can be used to alert parishioners to the problems in these bills.
“The U.S. bishops have concluded that all committee-approved bills are seriously deficient on the issues of abortion and conscience, and do not provide adequate access to health care for immigrants and the poor,” says the prepared bulletin insert. “The bills have to change or the bishops have pledged to oppose them.”
The insert goes on to say that our nation is at a crossroads because the passage of this legislation could impact lives for years to come. “None of the bills retains longstanding current policies against abortion funding or abortion coverage mandates, and none fully protects conscience rights in health care,” the insert says.
The materials provided encourage parishioners to contact their representatives and to access a special USCCB website for more detailed information about the legislation and the initiative, and to send prepared e-mails to their representatives.
Tom Peters of the popular Catholic blog, American Papist, said the directive has been sent to every bishop, communication and pro-life directors in every U.S. diocese with the request that the announcement be made this weekend.
“I have not seen this level of coordinated effort by the bishops’ conference in nearly 20 years of church work,” Peters said.
More information can be found at www.usccb.org/healthcare.
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