Comments on current issues Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Apr. 02, 2009 -- 12:00 AM

Rather than writing an editorial on one topic this week, I am going to comment on several current matters of interest to Catholics.

editor's view

Protecting conscience rights

First is an update on the editorial I wrote in the March 5 Catholic Herald on protecting conscience rights for health care workers. 

The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) opened a 30-day comment period March 10 on whether it should rescind a regulation that took effect two days before President Barack Obama took office. The rule codifies three longtime federal statutes prohibiting discrimination against health professionals who decline to participate in abortions or other medical procedures because of their religious or other moral objections.

Here’s how you can get involved:

Comments on the proposed HHS rule change may be submitted through an action alert on the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Web site at, on the Web site (by entering 0991-AB49 in the search box), or via e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Attachments may be in Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, or Excel, but Microsoft Word is preferred.

By mail, one original and two copies of written comments may be sent to: Office of Public Health and Science, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: Rescission Proposal Comments, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Ave. SW, Room 716G, Washington, D.C. 20201.  The deadline for sending comments is April 9.

Prayer Vigil for Life

People are being encouraged to increase their prayers for an end to abortion during this Lenten season. Deacon Jack Fernan has written an article in this week’s Catholic Herald giving examples of ways concerned people could be praying and working to protect life.

Deacon Fernan gives information about a 40-hour Prayer Vigil for Life to be prayed during Holy Week. Other suggestions are given for ways to pray and work for protection of life during the Lenten season. I urge our readers to consider what they can do — individually and in groups — to get involved in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving for life during Lent, Holy Week, and beyond.

Voting on April 7

On Tuesday, April 7, there will be a spring election. There will be state-wide elections and local elections. I urge all citizens ages 18 and older to vote. 

There are two important state-wide elections: for Supreme Court justice and for superintendent of public instruction. Voters can check out various Web sites with information on the candidates and the issues. There have also been candidate forums and media coverage to help voters make informed choices. 

Although the Catholic Church does not endorse particular candidates, the Church does emphasize that voting is both a right and a responsibility.

Personnel issues

In the Diocese of Madison, there has been some media coverage of a parish personnel issue. The diocese has reiterated that it cannot discuss internal personnel matters. 

“It is out of respect for the dignity and good reputation of every person involved, in internal personnel matters, that specifics cannot and will not be discussed,” the diocese said in a memo to staff.  “As with every action taken by the Church, including prudential personnel decisions, the canonical and civil rights of each individual are upheld absolutely. The Church takes this very seriously. 

“The bishop and his staff cannot publicly make statements that could injure someone’s good reputation. If a person or group chooses to make public information or conversations that put someone’s reputation into question, that is their decision, but the Church, and individuals associated with it, cannot play party to the serious sins of detraction and calumny,” said the diocese.