Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter - 23 August 2013

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Reform of our country’s broken immigration system continues to be a focus of the Church’s advocacy activity. Check out for additional resources, including an electronic postcard to send to your members of Congress. You can also visit the news section of our website for the recent statement from the Iowa bishops.

There’s also a new alert from the U.S. bishops on the “HHS Mandate” at  (You’ll also find another recent alert on immigration reform, the SNAP program and the federal budget.)

The administration’s contraceptive/abortifacient/sterilization mandate will begin to be enforced against nonprofit religious schools, charities and health care providers on January 1, 2014. In the weeks to come, Congress must decide whether to address this problem before that deadline. Members of Congress should be urged to co-sponsor the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940, S. 1204), and to work for its approval in the next must-pass bill needed to keep the federal government operating.

The suggested message: “Please co-sponsor the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940, S. 1204), and work for its approval in upcoming 'must-pass' legislation. Government must not force Americans to violate their religious and moral beliefs on respect for life when they provide health care or purchase health coverage."

Under the new health care law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requires most health plans to cover “preventive services for women,” including drugs and procedures that many citizens find objectionable for moral and religious reasons.

You can learn more about the need for better conscience protection at: Among many other materials, the resources include fact sheets and a video. Please act today to protect conscience rights and religious liberty.


“Ask and you shall receive” (Luke 11:9)

The Respect Life Committee of Christ the King Parish in Des Moines invites all pro-life committees and supporters of life to join them in a rosary novena leading up to the Iowa Board of Medicine’s hearing on a new rule to prohibit “webcam” abortions. The proposed rule would require a physician to be physically present while abortion drugs are being provided, rather than pushing a button following a video consultation. The hearing is next Wednesday.

The ICC supports the rule. When abortions are taking place, the safety and informed consent of the women involved should be among our chief concerns. In every case, drugs that cause a chemical abortion have serious effects. We believe the proposed rule will help ensure that any complications following the abortion will be more easily recognized. We have seen no evidence that providing this medication remotely is safer for the mother.


The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that the sentences of inmates who were convicted of committing serious crimes as juveniles must be reviewed. The underlying principle is that minors should not be treated as if they were adults, as their culpability may be less. The ruling doesn’t mean that people will be automatically released from prison, just that their sentences will be reviewed.

The ICC has supported efforts in the legislature to pass sentencing guidelines to make sure that juveniles have an opportunity for parole if it would be safe for society.


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The growing disparity in the income of U.S. workers is the focus of the 2013 Labor Day Statement of Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Bishop Blaire echoed the words of Pope Francis, that “work is fundamental to the dignity of a person…. it gives us the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family, to contribute to the growth of one’s own nation.” Bishop Blaire said millions of workers are “denied this honor and respect as a result of unemployment, underemployment, unjust wages, wage theft, abuse or exploitation.”

He noted that individuals, the Church, businesses, government and community organizations all share the responsibility to create jobs that allow workers to support themselves and their families.

“Ethical and moral business leaders know that it is wrong to chase profits and success at the expense of workers’ dignity,” he wrote. “They know they have a vocation to build the kind of solidarity that honors the worker and the least among us. They remember that the economy is ‘for people.’”

Bishop Blaire cited the importance of unions in helping workers participate in company decisions that affect them and noted that the rise in income inequality has paralleled the decline of unions in the United States. He urged unions to continually improve themselves and focus on issues including “raising the minimum wage, stopping wage theft,” and “standing up for safe and healthy working conditions.”

The 2013 Labor Day Statement is available online:


Interestingly, an upcoming presentation by Cardinal Peter Turkson will address some of the topics mentioned by Bishop Blaire, including our obligation as business leaders to do our work in the light of the principles of human dignity and the common good.

Cardinal Turkson, who is from Ghana, is president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He is presenting the third annual John Cardinal Newman Lecture in Des Moines on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. The presentation will be held in Sheslow Auditorium at Drake University. RSVP information will be available soon. 

The 2013 Iowa Institute for Social Action will not be held in favor of people attending this event with Cardinal Turkson.

You are also invited to an interfaith prayer service to end world hunger at 7:30 p.m. that evening, Oct. 16, at St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines. The prayer is held in conjunction with the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue and with the support of the Des Moines Area Religious Council.

Cardinal Turkson will be present along with Bishop Pates, Rev. David Beckmann, author of Exodus from Hunger, area religious leaders, and participants of the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue. The Heartland Chamber Choir, a community youth choir of local 8-12th grade students, will lead the music.

Those who wish and who are able are encouraged, in a manner in harmony with their faith tradition, to fast from food on a day of their choosing prior to the service. Donations of money and nonperishable food items will be accepted during the service and will benefit hunger relief efforts.

The world produces enough food to feed everyone, nearly 2,700 calories for each person in the world each day. Yet nearly 1 of 8 people around the world suffers from chronic malnourishment. (World Hunger Education Service)


Thanks to a new law passed by the Iowa legislature, many drivers are now eligible to renew their driver’s license or ID online. Most Iowans will be able to renew their license at if they:

• Have a valid Iowa driver’s license or ID.

• Are between the ages of 18 and 70.

• Are a U.S. citizen.

• Do not have a condition that would affect their ability to drive.

• Do not need to change the address or name printed on the card.

Customers will be able to use the online system every other time they renew. 


The Iowa Catholic Conference board of directors will meet next week, for the first time with our new president, Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque. Check out the news section of our website for the review of the 2013 legislative session that will be discussed during the meeting.

Tom Chapman

Executive Director

Iowa Catholic Conference

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