This year our Diocesan Public Policy Committee draws our attention to four deeply concerning issues:
• The exclusion of farmworkers from the basic labor rights that the rest of us take for granted;
• The U.S. Bishops’ recently issued pastoral letter on racism;
• The continuing tragedy of the opioid epidemic; and
• The movement to pass an extreme abortion bill in New York State.
Because the abortion legislation is likely to move quickly through the legislative chambers in January, I draw your attention to it now and ask that you prepare to respond quickly when asked in early January.
According to the New York State Catholic Conference, the Executive Branch leadership and the majority leadership in the New York State Legislature have promised to enact the “Reproductive Health Act” early in 2019. What is not stated is that this bill goes much farther than just to “codify” Roe v. Wade in New York State. The Reproductive Health Act (RHA) would make abortion less safe and more expansive than it is now. Sadly, the abortion rate in New York State is already more than twice the national average. This would have detrimental consequences for pregnant women and their unborn children, allowing non-doctors to perform abortions and permitting abortions for any reason in the third trimester of pregnancy right up to a mother’s due date. It would remove all criminal penalties for abortion, including acting against the mother’s will as in the intentional targeting of an unborn child in an act of domestic violence. It would remove our state’s protections for infants accidentally born alive in the course of an abortion. It is our duty as believers in Jesus to support life and the courageous women who seek our pastoral assistance as they deal with complex life issues.
When life is threatened in any way, whether by abortion, racism, drug addiction or poverty, Catholics are called to speak up and stand with those who are being oppressed. Please support the work of our Public Policy Committee.
Rejoicing in God’s gift of life and His creation, I remain Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Rochester
To stand up and make your voices heard on behalf of women and their unborn children. Tell your state lawmakers to Stop the Reproductive Health Act.
Here’s a simple way to do this. Go to the New York State Catholic Conference website at www.nyscatholic.org. Click on “Stop Abortion Expansion.” Enter your home address information, then select “Send Message.” Your message will automatically be sent to your State Senator, State Assembly Representative and the Governor. Please do it right away. It is so important for your legislators to learn of your opposition to this bill before they vote on it, which could be anytime in the first 30 days of the session! While you are there, you can join the Catholic Action Network and receive occasional emails (no more than once a month) when issues come up which need our action by contacting our legislators.
Tens of thousands of farmworkers in New York milk cows, tend animals, and plant, prune, harvest and pack fruits and vegetables. Despite their hard work, farmworkers are not treated equally in our labor laws. For example, unlike other workers, they do not receive overtime pay or disability insurance. You can help right this wrong! In the coming weeks you’ll have the opportunity to sign our Diocese-wide petition asking our New York State legislature to change this law. Keep reading your weekly bulletin to learn more about this issue.