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President Obama Meets Pope Francis

March 26, 2014, 6:05 pm | Posted by

Today at the Vatican, President Obama and Pope Francis met for the first time.

While detailed reports of the meeting aren’t out yet, there certainly wasn’t enough time to cover all the issues on which they share common concern. Climate change, staggering economic inequality, poverty, the plight of immigrants and refugees, and international conflict resolution all need focus from the world’s most powerful political leader and most recognizable faith leader. Given Pope Francis’s condemnation of “an economy of exclusion” and President Obama’s recent reference to those warnings, I think and hope that addressing the staggering gap between the wealthiest few and those left behind figured prominently.

Still fighting for affordable healthcare

Four years and several days ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. Now, after seemingly endless repeal attempts and obstruction, along with a very rocky rollout, the law is getting a chance to work for millions of American families.

While there are many challenges ahead, I’m proud to say that faith groups are playing a crucial role in making the law work.

But right now the biggest obstacle is the unconscionable decision by politicians in 25 states to reject the federally funded expansion of Medicaid. Fortunately this has become a rallying cry for the Moral Mondays movement in several key states. This movement will only grow stronger as conservative politicians’ immoral obstruction continues.

Faith groups such as NETWORK, Catholics United and PICO National Network were instrumental in the healthcare reform legislative debate in Washington. It’s only fitting that clergy and congregations are carrying on the fight in state capitals where politicians are making the lethal and immoral choice to deny their citizens the care they need.

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More than a march

February 12, 2014, 1:49 pm | Posted by

Saturday’s Moral March to the North Carolina state capitol was a watershed moment in the faith community’s long movement to build a more perfect union in the face of injustice. More than 80,000 people cheered in joy as Rev. William Barber II invoked the Gospel and the prophets in a message far more bold and profound than any stump speech you’ll ever hear. This was no political rally, it was a faithful call to higher ground.

In an era of political paralysis, it takes a deep moral critique such as this to change the terms of debate in the halls of power and in the media.

For example, until very recently politicians could dismiss the discussion of economic inequality – one of the defining issues of our time — as class warfare. Now, thanks in part to the witness of faith leaders like Rev. Barber, the Nuns on the Bus, and most recently Pope Francis, it’s a debate that cannot be silenced.

Instead of stale arguments about the size of government and overwrought rhetoric about austerity, political leaders must now confront a much more important issue: the soulless way our economy excludes families while showering an elite few with near boundless wealth.

The conviction that a moral economy must strengthen families and allow all people to live with dignity has taken hold, and it will only grow stronger as we continue to preach and march.

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Nuns on the Bus Ohio confront Koch brothers on Medicaid

November 19, 2013, 6:04 pm | Posted by

Faith leaders are deeply involved with the Medicaid expansion fight in Ohio, where key GOP legislators who support extending health coverage to 300,000 low-income Ohio families, children and seniors are facing political intimidation from right-wing groups. Americans For Prosperity, a Tea Party group financed by the Koch brothers, has launched attack ads against Rep. Barbara Sears and other Republican lawmakers across the state who are putting the health of struggling Ohioans before the political agenda of the Tea Party.

Our friends at Nuns on the Bus Ohio have mobilized Catholic Sisters statewide to confront these attacks. As a result of their diligence and conviction, more than 140 Sisters have released a hard-hitting statement calling on the Koch Brothers to search their souls about their opposition to Medicaid Expansion, saying in part

We know from our ministry to those living on the margins that a lack of health care is a constant burden that unnecessarily weighs on families. Medicaid expansion will provide immediate relief. 

Sadly, wealthy activists are organizing in Ohio and across the country to deny health care coverage to pregnant women, the disabled and elderly in nursing homes by undermining Medicaid expansion. Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group backed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, has made this a top priority. This is unconscionable. It is shameful that billionaires who can access the best medical care in the world oppose basic health care for the poor. We urge these corporate leaders to search their souls, consider the pain of so many families and stop this reckless campaign.

The economic and moral arguments for Medicaid expansion are strong enough to unite groups that normally find themselves on opposite sides of debates. For example, the Ohio Hospital Association and the labor union SEIU, as well as Ohio Right to Life Organization and NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, have joined forces in support of Republican Governor Kasich’s decision to expand Medicaid. Kasich himself cited his faith as an inspiration for his position.

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100 Catholic Sisters to Koch Brother Billionaires: Stop Opposing Life-saving Healthcare for Ohioans

November 19, 2013, 3:32 pm | Posted by

Nuns Applaud Lawmakers for Rejecting Immoral Priorities of Corporate Outsiders

Ohio “Nuns on the Bus” released a statement today denouncing the Koch Brothers deep-pocketed campaign to oppose Medicaid expansion that will help the state’s poor and most vulnerable populations. The Koch Brothers’ front group, Americans for Prosperity, has launched attack ads against Rep. Barbara Sears and other lawmakers across the state who endorse Medicaid expansion that will improve the lives of pregnant women, the disabled and elderly in nursing homes. Similar obstruction campaigns are being waged by the Koch Brothers in Virginia, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

More than 100 hundred Catholic nuns in Ohio are telling Americans for Prosperity to stand down.

“It is shameful that billionaires who can access the best medical care in the world oppose basic health care for the poor,” the Catholic sisters write. “We urge these corporate leaders to search their souls, consider the pain of so many families and stop this reckless campaign.” 

“In communities across our state, Catholic sisters see firsthand the urgent need for Medicaid expansion,” said Sr. Geraldine Nowak, OSF of Toledo. “Lawmakers like Rep. Sears should be applauded, not demonized, for standing up for commonsense reform that will provide vital healthcare coverage to an additional 275,000 uninsured Ohioans, including 26,000 veterans.”

Today’s statement follows last year’s Ohio “Nuns on the Bus” tour with Nuns traveling across the state highlighting the values at the center of their faith — solidarity, justice and the common good. Ohio “Nuns on the Bus” toured the state and stood with fellow people of faith to highlight dangerous federal budget cuts and to call on Democrats and Republicans to support a faithful budget that affirms the life of all of God’s children – not just the wealthiest few. Today, Catholic sisters are continuing their pursuit of justice by shining a light on outside corporate interests who are bullying their way around Ohio politics.

“As a mental health professional, I see far too many lives shortened and diminished due to a lack of access to basic healthcare, said Dr. Sr. Fran Repka, RSM of Cincinnati. “We applaud Ohio’s Controlling Board for their approval of Medicaid Expansion and urge the Koch Brothers to leave Ohio policymaking up to the people of Ohio.”

The Catholic sisters applaud Governor John Kasich’s support of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid and are committed to working with lawmakers to ensure the full implementation of this life-saving reform. 

The full statement with signatories is below.

 As Catholic sisters with Nuns on the Bus, we stand with the Catholic Conference of Ohio and leaders of Catholic hospitals in support of Medicaid expansion. Providing quality medical care to the most vulnerable is central to our pro-life commitment and consistent with our faith tradition’s concern for the common good. We know from our ministry to those living on the margins that a lack of health care is a constant burden that unnecessarily weighs on families. Medicaid expansion will provide immediate relief. 

Sadly, wealthy activists are organizing in Ohio and across the country to deny health care coverage to pregnant women, the disabled and elderly in nursing homes by undermining Medicaid expansion. Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group backed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, has made this a top priority. This is unconscionable. It is shameful that billionaires who can access the best medical care in the world oppose basic health care for the poor. We urge these corporate leaders to search their souls, consider the pain of so many families and stop this reckless campaign. 

The Koch brothers are targeting lawmakers, including Republican state Rep. Barbara Sears, who support Medicaid expansion. Fear and bullying will not win out over courage and hope. We are grateful for her moral leadership and other elected officials who are putting family values and human dignity before narrow ideological agendas. We pray that other lawmakers do the same.

In faith,

Sr. Mary Barbara Agnew, Sister of the Most Precious Blood

Sr. Mary Averbeck, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Sandy Bates, Ursulines of Brown County

Sr. Joyce Bates, Sisters of Notre Dame

Sr. Patmarie Bernard, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Marlene Berthelot, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Dorothy Blatnica, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Mary Bodde, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Mary Bookser, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sr. Nancy Bramlage, College of Mount St. Joseph

Sr. Carol Brenner, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Carolyn Brink, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Rose Marie Burns, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sr. Ruth Casper, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Marie Andree Chorzempa, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Jeanne Conrad, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Juliana D’Amato, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Theresa Darga, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Julia Deiters, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Shirley Dix, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Jacquelyn Doepker, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Gemma Doll, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Ellen Dunn, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Dorothy Englert, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Nancy Ferguson, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Mary Ann Flannery, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Virginia Froehle, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Mary Gallagher, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Patricia Gardner, Sisters of St Francis

Sr. Mary Faith Geelan, Dominican Sisters of Peace

Sr. Alice Gerdeman, Sisters of Divine Providence

Sr. Dorothy Gerhardstein, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Rosemarie Gerrety, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Joan Groff, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Sharon Havelak, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Kathleen Hebbeler, Dominican Sister of Hope

Sr. Mary Alice Henkel, Ursuline Sisters

Sr. Carren Herring, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Maureen Heverin, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sr. Louise Huitink, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Mary Humbert, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Ruth Hunt, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Rebecca Hurr, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Florence Izzo, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Leanne Jablonski, Marianist Sisters (Daughters of Mary Immaculate)

Sr. Pamela Jones, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Joyce Kahle, Sisters of the Precious Blood

Sr. Tracy Kemme, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sr. Phyllis Kemper, Ursuline Sisters

Sr. Dorothy J. Krupp, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Mary Kuhlman, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Teresas Laengle, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Rebecca LaPoint, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Olivia Latiano, Sisters of Notre Dame

Sr. Elizabeth Lavelle, Congregation of St. Joseph

Sr. Louise Lears, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Laura Leming, Marianist Sisters

Sr. Nancy Linenkugel, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Sandra LoPorto, Sisters of St. Joseph

Sr. Patricia McClain, Sisters of Notre Dame

Sr. Dolores McDonald, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sr. Monica McGloin, Dominican Sisters of Hope

Sr. Martha Meyer, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Jean Miller, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Mary Alan Miller, Sisters of Notre Dame

Sr. Rose Morand, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Virginia Morgan, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sr. Geraldine Nowak, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Maria Pacelli, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Annette Paveglio, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Mariellen Phelps, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Marguerite Polcyn, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Christine Pratt, Ursulines of Brown County

Sr. Letetia Rawles, Sister of the Most Precious Blood

Sr. Fran Repka, Sister of Mercy

Sr. Therese Ruffing, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Patricia Ann Sabourin, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sr. Mary Schiller, Sisters of the Precious Blood

Sr. Janet Schlichting, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Greta Schmidlin, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Shannon Schrein, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Anita Schugart, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Julie Sheatzley, Sisters of St. Joseph

Sr. Sally Sherman, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Sandra Sherman, Ursuline Convent

Sr. Delia Sizler, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Wanda Smith, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Janet Snyder, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Carol Ann Spencer, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Jeanette Stang, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Donna Steffen, Sisters of charity

Sr. Joan Supel, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Judy Tensing, Sisters of Notre Dame

Sr. Patricia Theriault, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Mary Therese Thorman, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Sarah Sherman, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Jean Vogelsang, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Nancy Vollman, Ursulines of Brown County

Sr. Martha Walsh, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Cabrini Warpeha, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Mary Wendeln, Sister of the Most Precious Blood

Sr. Carol Ann Wenning, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Barbara Wheeler, Dominican Sisters of Hope

Sr. Donna Wilhelm, Sisters of St. Joseph, Third Order of St Francis

 

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Big wins for family values on Election Day

November 7, 2013, 1:46 pm | Posted by

The results on election day once again showed voters’ commitment to progressive priorities like health care and better wages that strengthen families.

In Virginia, one of the key differences between Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe was their disagreement over health care. Cuccinelli, who flaunted his pro-life credentials and “family values,” nonetheless took an anti-family position by opposing Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid even though it would provide 400,000 currently uninsured Virginians access to affordable coverage. Voters backed McAuliffe, who supports Medicaid expansion, while rejecting Cuccinelli’s immoral agenda – meaning that struggling families, seniors and children in Virginia will get the care they need.

In New Jersey, voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour and indexing it to inflation. This not only helps hardworking, low-income families make ends meet, but also shows that Governor Chris Christie’s re-election doesn’t signal a turn toward economic conservatism among Garden State voters. And while Christie is no moderate, he accepted Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid. In Election Day’s two statewide races, Tea Party extremists have nothing to celebrate – but the working poor do.

Campaigns to raise the minimum wage are gaining steam at the local, state and federal levels, and increasing the minimum wage is overwhelmingly popular with people of faith, from traditionally progressive traditions to more right-leaning groups such as white evangelicals. This will be a major issue between now and the 2014 elections, and faith leaders are part of coalitions in numerous states. Given that a single parent of two children working fulltime at minimum wage falls $4,000 beneath the poverty line, this is very much a family values issue, as well as a matter of justice.

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