Monday, November 23, 2009

Survey says...

Today we closed our reader poll on health care reform. Here's an analysis of how visitors to answered the question, "Do you favor health care reform..."

41 percent: I don't wish to change the health care system in any way.
26 percent: if it provides health care to everyone in America
17 percent: if it includes a public option and excludes abortion funding.
16: only if it excludes funding for abortion.

One could read much into the responses of each group. But be cautious: only a total of 291 votes were cast in the poll.

Still, the largest group (118 votes, or 41 percent) would prefer no change in health care at all. It may be discomforting for those without health care to know that even though the U.S. Bishops worked to get a bill through the House that excludes abortion funding and provides affordable care to 96 percent of Americans, a large block of Americans oppose any tinkering with the system, especially a plan run by the government.

I had dinner with a friend who's in his third decade serving in the Army Reserves. When he says, "The government can't run anything," I'm inclined to agree. Whether a public option in some form is the way toward a more just way to deliver health care to those who need it, I don't know.

The bishops don't say definitively whether they favor a public option. They do make priorities of affordability, broader access, care for immigrants (and they're almost alone in calling for it) and of course, the status quo on abortion as a minimum.

On the last point, the fewest votes in our poll came for the position closest to the bishops: favoring reform only if it excludes abortion funding. From this chair, the bishops' points make the most sense. Fortunately they won the day in the House.

In the Senate it's a different story. Those exclusions currently are missing from the Senate bill, so a lot of work remains.

Amendments will be added and deleted until Christmas at least, with a final vote expected to come in January. Until then, keep the emails and phone calls churning out to senators. Here are key points from the bishops to keep you on message.

Health care reform is important to the Church (if not some of its members). Any final legislation must reflect Catholic principles of fairness and justice, especially for the unborn persons without a voice in this debate.

For a change of pace after all that, try our new poll on a more eternal topic: the beginning of Advent.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Now they tell us

It's been said that journalism is what you know when you know it. For journalists painting their story in the medium of ink on newsprint, production deadlines mean one must file a story with what is known now, and provide updates in the next edition.

So it is this week that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's favorite newspaper, the Catholic Standard & Times, does not report on the outcome of the United States Catholic Bishops' meeting in Baltimore in the paper's Thursday edition. The conference's Tuesday evening session produced, among other items, approval of new translations of the texts of the Catholic Mass.

The lash of the deadline descended upon the paper's editors and production staff, so news of this closely watched development needed to be deferred to next week's edition. Here is what we know today, after deadline:

The bishops approved the new English Mass texts, which feature translations said to be more faithful to the liturgy's Latin source texts. Some bishops objected for years that although the translations better reflect Latin, they will be obscure for most people participating in the Mass.

See what you think. The U.S. Bishops Conference offers many examples of the changes expected to be fully implemented by 2011. Here are two:

Current Nicene Creed: "We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, ... begotten not made, one in being with the Father."

New Nicene Creed: "I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, ... begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father."

Current Lamb of God: "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed."

New Lamb of God: "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."

It should be noted that the Roman Missal, the texts we pray at every Mass, have been in development since 1963 at the Second Vatican Council. And, it is still the same Mass as it always was: Word and Sacrament, perfect praise and thanksgiving through communion with the most holy Eucharist, source and summit of our worship.

Learn more about the changes, including the extensive period of catechesis (teaching) on this subject from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' site.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Catholic biz pros: All for One

For a first-time get together, the new Catholic Business Professionals of Greater Philadelphia that met last night was an impressive success.

The new group, which also has an online presence at LinkedIn, drew about 50 Catholics from various business backgrounds and parishes around the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to Kildare’s Pub in King of Prussia. There was some chat about doing business in this tough economic environment, no matter in what field people worked.

But mostly people seemed excited to make connections with fellow Catholics and to support each other in living their Catholic faith.

Some companies’ unethical practices put enormous pressure on Catholics who sincerely try to integrate their spiritual and moral formation into their work life. All the more so at a time when just walking away from a job means one might not find another for a long time.

People at the meeting shared their stories and strategies (doing what the boss wants but finding a way to do it in an ethical way) but mostly they shared good fellowship.

The group’s founder, Nick Gibboni, won a hearty round of applause for introducing himself and thanking those who had helped him pull together the gathering, featuring free attendance and donated food and drinks. Deacon Bill Masapollo led everyone in a prayer to thank almighty God for the friendship and Catholic connections forged last night.

In addition to the evident smiles and handshakes, more than a few people remarked how the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was incorporated into Catholic Business Pros’ logo. On fire for and united with the Lord, only good things are no doubt in store for this group.

Look for future coverage and promotion of the group’s next meeting, anticipated to be quarterly, in a coming edition of the Catholic Standard & Times.