National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Peace & Justice

Philly Catholic high schools close over strike

 | 

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia archdiocesan Catholic education secretariat announced Sept. 13 that its 17 high schools would close Sept. 14 and not reopen until a settlement was reached with teachers on strike since Sept. 6.

The high schools opened Sept. 7 and were staffed by administrators and nonunion employees. The first few days of school were primarily devoted to orientation sessions.

In a letter to parents, school officials said continued reduced staffing could jeopardize student safety. They said missed days will be made up when the school year resumes and parents would then receive adjusted school calendars.

Both sides in the dispute met Sept. 8, 9 and 11 but were unable to reach an agreement, though the education secretariat's announcement reported "some progress in the negotiations."

A statement from the archdiocesan communications' office said the Secretariat for Catholic Education was "making every effort to minimize disruption to the academic year and bring a speedy resolution to the strike. We are anxious for our teachers to return to the classroom as soon as possible."

Poverty figures: Hispanics, children hard hit

WASHINGTON -- As the median U.S. household income declined, more Americans dropped below the poverty line, with Hispanics and children taking a particularly hard hit, according to statistics released Sept. 13 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The bureau's report on "Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010" put the nation's official poverty rate at 15.1 percent for the third consecutive annual increase. It was up from 14.3 percent in 2009.

In the first full calendar after the December 2007-June 2009 recession, the real median household income went from $50,599 in 2009 (in 2010 dollars) to $49,445 in 2010. The decline was felt across all races and age groups, among Hispanics and non-Hispanics and native-born and foreign-born Americans.

But the data showed that the poverty rate among blacks and Hispanics of any race was nearly identical in 2010, with 27.4 percent of blacks and 26.6 percent of Hispanics living below the poverty line. The poverty rate was 12.1 percent for Asian-Americans and 9.9 percent for non-Hispanic whites in 2010.

The poverty threshold for a family of four was $22,113 in 2010.

Budget ax threatens hunger programs

 | 

WASHINGTON -- Anti-hunger advocates are racing to save federal programs that feed needy families from being automatically slashed if Congress can't agree on a deficit reduction plan this fall.

As Congress resumes deficit-reduction talks this month, advocates for the poor worry that programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will suffer drastic cuts and hurt families that are already struggling.

One in five Americans receives SNAP benefits.

Bishops mobilize to guard consciences on contraception

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. bishops are working to mobilize Catholics across the country to tell the Obama administration that contraception and sterilization do not constitute preventive care for women and must not be mandated as part of health reform.

Through a new website at www.usccb.org/conscience, the bishops hope to generate thousands of comments to the Department of Health and Human Services about its Aug. 1 proposal that would require nearly all employers to provide sterilization and all FDA-approved contraceptives, including some that can cause an abortion, at no cost to women covered by their health insurance plans.

But time is of the essence, because the 60-day comment period on the HHS proposal closes Sept. 30.

Fund focuses on empowering women for social change

 | 

In downtown Asheville, N.C., across the street from the unemployment office, a couple of blocks away from the social services agency and less than a mile from the county jail, there is an old yellow house where everyone is welcome. By day it is a shelter for the city’s homeless -- a place to rest, eat a meal, find a friend and escape the heat -- and by night a home to Amy Cantrell, her partner, Lauren White, and a few others who help out with chores, cooking and maintenance.

Catholic defense of unions continues to resonate

 | 

One hundred and twenty-nine years ago this Sept. 5, the first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City, according to the Department of Labor’s Web site. One hundred and twenty years ago, Pope Leo XIII wrote Rerum Novarum, the preeminent encyclical on labor and the church. And seven months ago, Catholics learned or relearned what the church says about labor and unions.

Bishops to 'Supercommittee': Remember poor in budget

 | 

WASHINGTON -- The chairmen of the U.S. bishops' international and domestic policy committees urged the 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction -- popularly known as the "supercommittee" -- to remember the poor and vulnerable as they come up with a plan to deal with the nation's financial deficit.

"In this effort, you will examine endless data, charts and alternative budgets," said Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in their Aug. 31 letter.

"Behind all those numbers are people we serve every day in our parishes, schools, hospitals, shelters and soup kitchens. The poorest and most vulnerable do not have powerful lobbyists, but they have the most compelling needs and a special claim on our individual consciences and national choices, especially in these times of massive joblessness, increasing poverty and growing hunger," they said.

In tough times, remember values of 'the commons'

 | 

Times are tough and the “street talk” at the Catholic Worker soup kitchen shows it: “I can’t pay the rent. I’m back on the streets tomorrow cuz they cut $40 bucks off my check ... Hey, they took my psych meds, they cut me off Medi-Cal, and now I heard that checks won’t be sent next month ...” Recent vitriolic debates in Congress and the denigration of voices calling for mutual responsibility all reflect the degree to which the values of the marketplace have displaced our sense of the common good.

Religion at heart of questions over hospital merger

 | 

The questions began in June, almost immediately after the University of Louisville Hospital in Kentucky announced a three-way merger that would bring it under the umbrella of a Catholic health system. If the hospital is to follow Catholic directives on medical care, citizens and media organizations asked, how would the community maintain access to reproductive services previously offered? How would end-of-life decisions be affected? And what impact would these changes have on the city’s poor?

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear weighed in on the issue in July, saying in a statement that the hospital will have to explain how it will continue its “public mission” to the community before the state would approve the merger. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway echoed these concerns while Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz stated his commitment to preserving Catholic moral and social teaching, inviting those with questions to study closely the “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” (ERDs), which are guidelines prepared by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Pages

Feature-flag_GSR_start-reading.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

September 12-25, 2014

09-12-2014.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.