Domestic Violence - in Marriage and Dating

Domestic Violence is a serious assault on marriage. Stress, including financial hardship, is a contributing factor. The current economic crisis presents many challenges, but one needs to be an increased vigilance to be aware of the indicators of domestic violence and to encourage help. Please click here and become familiar with Red Flags of Abuse and Hotline numbers. Additionally,  pdf click here (261 KB) where you can print a brochure with some of the same information that you can share.

Domestic Violence can also be prevalent in dating relationships - especially with teens.   pdf Click here (276 KB) for a helpful resource on Healthy Relationships.

SAFETY ALERT: Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are in danger, please use a safer computer (for example a friend’s or at the library), call the Violence Prevention Center at (618) 235-0892 and/or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233). 

End of Life Issues

Killing the Pain, Not the Patient: Palliative Care vs. Assisted Suicide

Assisted suicide is in the news and on lawmakers’ agendas. Supporters call it “aid in dying” and claim it is just another option for ending intolerable pain as part of end-of-life care. But assisted suicide is radically different from end-of-life care and the practice of palliative care, the healing art of relieving pain and other distressing symptoms for patients who are seriously ill. In fact, these two agendas are at war with each other...To read more from the USCCB click here.  En Español, aqui






Faithful Citizenship

In civic life all people of good will are challenged to make decisions on political issues with consideration of the ethical implications. Each person’s decision making process will have a framework, either grounded in maintaining a balance of interests and power or one grounded by an understanding of what is right and good. Society is better served when the framework of the decision making process begins with moral principles for guidance. Catholic social teaching is such a framework, indicating a moral obligation flowing from baptism for Catholics, and offering a challenge for all people of good will.

Catholic social teaching is framed around seven key themes:

1. The right to life and the dignity of the human person: because human life is sacred it is to be protected and, with human dignity, is foundational to the other themes. 

2. Call to family, community, and participation: marriage defined as between a woman and a man, family sustainable wages, parental right to choose education, and safe media are sample issues.  The principle of subsidiarity informs the restraint of larger institutions, preferring the most local effective level to meet needs, protect dignity, and advance the common good.

3. Rights and responsibilities: basic requirements such as food and shelter, education, employment, health care, housing, and freedom of religion – public and private - respect human dignity, and suggest corresponding responsibilities to one another and the larger society. 

4. Preferential option for the poor and vulnerable: this reframes the political question from “how am I doing” to “how do we treat those most in need.” 

5. Dignity of work and the rights of workers: the economy is meant to serve people (not people the economy) and should ensure just wages, the right to work and organize, economic freedom and initiative - for the well-being of all. 

6. Solidarity with the human family: that the U.S. has a proper role in global issues of human and religious rights, poverty, and regional conflicts stems from the connection shared by all people as a single human family.  

7. Care for creation: respecting and protecting all of creation is a moral obligation for future generations.

A short primer of these principles, applied to current issues, can be found (beginning in paragraph 40) in “The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” (CFCFC) published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in November 2007, and available on

The greatest difficulty can be applying the framework to make a decision. The first part of CFCFC elaborates on the role of the Church in helping make the decision. It is acknowledged that the ordering of society and the state is the proper role of politics. Pope Benedict XVI teaches in the encyclical “God is Love”:   “The Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into authentic requirements of justice as well greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest….The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.” 

The Church has a crucial role, but the decision is the responsibility of the faithful citizen who is challenged to first form conscience (prayerfully studying scripture and the teaching of the Church), and then exercise prudence (knowing what is the true good in a circumstance and the right way to achieve it). Many issues that may be considered social issues on the political landscape are in fact moral issues for Catholics and the requirement to both do good and avoid evil is a moral obligation guiding the choice. When the issues need to be weighed it is important to remember that they are not morally equivalent. Some things are intrinsically evil, and must always be opposed; abortion and euthanasia are fundamental current examples.  However, this moral distinction gives no one a pass to ignore the other issues. Living out our baptismal call in our civic responsibilities doesn’t end with casting a vote. In fact, the heart of the process to impact the moral issues will need ongoing participation in community programs and legislative agendas.  

For additional guidance on making moral choices in preparing to vote please refer to paragraphs 31 through 39 in CFCFC. 

Some final notes:

In an address to members of the European Parliament (March 2006), Pope Benedict XVI described non-negotiable principles for the Church’s public policy concerns:

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:

* protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;

* recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family--as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage--and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

* the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

In his encyclical letter, The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II said:

"It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop."

In their statement, Living the Gospel of Life, the Bishops of the United States said:

"Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. Any politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and the scandal of capital punishment. Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care. Therefore, Catholics should eagerly involve themselves as advocates for the weak and marginalized in all these areas. Catholic public officials are obliged to address each of these issues as they seek to build consistent policies which promote respect for the human person at all stages of life. But being 'right' in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life. "

pdf Click here (217 KB)  for Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship in outline form with bullet points. 

Legislative Information & Alerts

pdf Click Here (128 KB)  to download a guide for how to have an effective visit with your State Legislator.

Stem Cell Research

Stem cell research promises great good and is a worthy scientific priority as long as it is pursued ethically. Obtaining stem cells from people without harming them can be ethical. The question is whether to fund embryonic stem cell research, which requires destroying embryos in order to obtain the stem cells. The prospect should cause us all to consider the implications of furthering medical science at such a cost.

What are embryonic stem cells?
Each of us began life as an embryo. The early embryo (fertilized egg) is almost entirely made up of stem cells, which researchers want to extract for experiments in repairing and regenerating human tissues and organs. However, harvesting embryonic stems cells (usually obtained from so-called "spare embryos" created in fertility clinics) always involves the destruction of the human embryo. Laudable intentions do not justify immoral means.

Won't the embryos be discarded anyway? Why not use their cells for improving the life of another person?
Because human embryos are just that --human-- it is never ethical to sacrifice one class of human beings to benefit another. Clearly, no government should requisition innocent human beings for deadly experiments on the grounds that they are "unwanted." It is immoral to cause their death by harvesting their stem cells.

In addition, to say that these embryos will be discarded and have no potential for life is untrue; they are living, developing human beings. In some cases these embryos are "adopted" by infertile couples. Their death will be certain only if federal funding for harvesting is approved.

So, is stem cell research itself unethical and immoral?
No! Many avenues of stem cell research that do not involve the use of embryonic cells exist. Techniques exist to stimulate growth and specialization of cells found in adult tissues, in bone marrow and in umbilical cord blood.

So, harvesting stem cells from human embryos isn't even necessary to the research?!
That's correct. Recent scientific breakthroughs have demonstrated that the destruction of embryos may indeed not be at all necessary to achieve the benefits promised by stem cell research. Actually, stem cells extracted from human embryos have never been used successfully to treat any disease in humans.

What's the worst that could happen?
We probably can't even imagine the worst, but history offers examples of what happens when groups of humans are treated as mere objects for others' use and destruction. Slavery, Nazi medical experiments and China's policy of harvesting and selling organs from prisoners should serve as reminders of the consequences of doing evil in the name of science.

The Bottom Line
Are these little human embryos-tiny as they are-people or property? Are we going to create a class of human lab rats just for research, experimentation, harvesting and destruction, or are we going to view them as life? There is no room for compromise on this issue!

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