Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wake up Connecticut: Do Something about Bill 1098!

(UPDATED WITH NEW INFORMATION plus the public hearing has been postponed, but Catholics are still urged to call, email, and attend rallies in opposition. All three dioceses in CT are rallying on Wednesday at the Capital. Please see the link in this post for the Bridgeport diocese for instructions about buses, etc. ALSO, check blog posts after this one for other information. Just click on "home" at the bottom of this post when finished reading and you will see the other posts.)

Please take a moment to see what's going on in Connecticut and what Catholics NEED to do to stop this craziness! I will put a few pieces of information below and will end with an email address and phone number to call TODAY if you can. This is scheduled to go down tomorrow.

Diocesan Statement on Proposed Legislative Bill # 1098 / 2009

This past Thursday, the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut State Legislature, which is chaired by Sen. Andrew McDonald of Stamford and Rep. Michael Lawlor of East Haven, introduced a bill that directly attacks the Roman Catholic Church and our Faith.

This bill violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It forces a radical reorganization of the legal, financial, and administrative structure of our parishes. This is contrary to the Apostolic nature of the Catholic Church because it disconnects parishes from their Pastors and their Bishop. Parishes would be run by boards from which Pastors and the Bishop would be effectively excluded.

This bill, moreover, is a thinly-veiled attempt to silence the Catholic Church on the important issues of the day, such as same-sex marriage.

The State has no right to interfere in the internal affairs and structure of the Catholic Church. This bill is directed only at the Catholic Church but could someday be forced on other denominations. The State has no business controlling religion.

The Pastors of our Diocese are doing an exemplary job of sound stewardship and financial accountability, in full cooperation with their parishioners.

For the State Legislature - which has not reversed a $1 billion deficit in this fiscal year - to try to manage the Catholic Church makes no sense. The Catholic Church not only lives within her means but stretches her resources to provide more social, charitable, and educational services than any other private institution in the State. This bill threatens those services at a time when the State is cutting services. The Catholic Church is needed now more than ever.

We reject this irrational, unlawful, and bigoted bill that jeopardizes the religious liberty of our Church.

I urge you to call and e-mail Sen. McDonald and Rep. Lawlor – contact information is available after Mass. I also ask you to come to Hartford this Wednesday, March 11, to be present at the public hearing. Details on bus transportation will be available on Monday in the parish office.

It is up to us to stop this unbridled abuse of governmental power.

It is time for us to defend our First Amendment rights.

It is time for us to defend our Church!

Most Reverend William E. Lori

The Bridgeport diocese is currently organizing buses to attend the hearing on Wednesday, March 11th. Please make arrangements to join us on the 11th to send a clear and powerful message to our elected officials that we will not stand by and let them dictate any kind of organizational restructuring of our Church! Please bring clear signage opposing the bill with you on Wednesday. More details will be coming regarding transportation. Please check the Diocesan website (http://www.bridgeportdiocese.com/) frequently for updates regarding the bill and transportation information. Also, be sure to listen to Bishop Lori’s message.

From "Creative Minority Report"...

"Many people seem confused. What is really at stake with this proposed law in Connecticut? The truth is, everything. The bottom line is that Catholic Churches in Connecticut would cease to be Catholic in the universal sense. Each parish would be subject to a board of lay people who are subject to no one but themselves. This would lead to hundreds of renegade parishes with various levels of inclusion. Pastors would almost become irrelevant. The Bishop, even more so. Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus writes in the Advocate of Stamford Connecticut:

'Free exercise' of religion includes the way a Church chooses to organize. Strip the bishops and priests of their role in financial matters and their message becomes subject to the approval of those holding the purse.

Historically, 'under trustee control, not only was pastoral authority practically eliminated, but the Church's message was utterly dependent upon the congregation's cultural and political

Under such a law, it is not too much to say that the Roman Catholic Church would no longer be 'catholic.' Boards -- independent of their bishops -- could create parishes more unique than universal. Some denominations prefer such a set up, but the point is we must remain free to choose.

Anderson references the U.S. Constitution, but let's look a little closer to home, The Connecticut Constitution.
It reads...

'It being the right of all men to worship the Supreme Being, the Great Creator and Preserver of the Universe, and to render that worship in a mode consistent with the dictates of their consciences, no person shall by law be compelled to join or support, nor be classed or associated with, any congregation, church or religious association. No preference shall be given by law to any religious society or denomination in the state. Each shall have and enjoy the same and equal powers, rights and privileges, and may support and maintain the ministers or teachers of its society or denomination, and may build and repair houses for public worship.' (Continued here at Creative Minority Report)

And at another blog, "In Principio erat Verbum"...

"The principles of religious freedom and universal tolerance towards all denominations are the cornerstone of the American Constitution. The First Amendment specifically is regarded as The Free Exercise Clause, which prohibits the United States Government from any legislation that inhibits a free exercise of religious beliefs. The principle was further advocated by Thomas Jefferson in his treatises on the separation of Church and State as the definitive norm for American religious and political autonomy.

However, the State of Connecticut has introduced a bill, namely Bill 1098 that seeks to displace Catholic Bishops from their present status as the head of parish and institutional corporations. They seek to initiate a legislative agenda that initiates a lay-trustee system to replace the current structure of Connecticut’s corporate structure rules, which would make the Bishop or his representative the minority shareholder on the corporate board and subject to lay trustee approval. Needless to say, this is a hostile attempt by a legislative body to curtail the First Amendment rights of Catholics in the State of Connecticut. Catholics in that state and... (Continued here at "In Principio erat Verbum")

Catholics are urged to voice your opposition to this bill by calling Senator McDonald at 1-800-842-1420 or by email at McDonald@senatedems.ct.gov and Representative Lawlor at 1-800-842-8267 or by email MLawlor99@juno.com . You may also go to Hartford on Wednesday, March 11th to be present at the public hearing at 12:00 noon, in Room 2C of Legislative Office Building.

Here's a list of other email addresses to express your opposition to Bill 1098:

McDonald@senatedems.ct.gov; mlawlor99@juno.com; Handley@senatedems.ct.gov; Gerald.Fox@cga.ct.gov; John.A.Kissel@cga.ct.gov; Arthur.ONeill@housegop.ct.gov; Bill.Aman@cga.ct.gov; Ryan.Barry@cga.ct.gov; Jeffrey.Berger@cga.ct.gov; Charles.Clemons@cga.ct.gov; Eric.Coleman@cga.ct.gov; Matthew.Conway@cga.ct.gov; Christopher.Coutu@housegop.ct.gov; Patricia.Dillon@cga.ct.gov; Doyle@senatedems.ct.gov; Mary.Fritz@cga.ct.gov; Bob.Godfrey@cga.ct.gov; Gomes@senatedems.ct.gov; Minnie.Gonzalez@cga.ct.gov; Kenneth.Green@cga.ct.gov; Gail.Hamm@cga.ct.gov; William.Hamzy@housegop.ct.gov; John.Hetherington@housegop.ct.gov; Ernest.Hewett@cga.ct.gov; Gary.Holder-Winfield@cga.ct.gov; DebraLee.Hovey@housegop.ct..gov; Bryan.Hurlburt@cga.ct.gov; Themis.Klarides@housegop.ct.gov; David.Labriola@housegop.ct..gov; Michael.McLachlan@cga.ct.gov; Meyer@senatedems.ct.gov; Bruce.Morris@cga.ct.gov; Melissa.Olson@cga.ct.gov; Peggy.Reeves@cga.ct.gov; Kelvin.Roldan@cga.ct.gov; Andrew.Roraback@cga.ct.gov
TR.Rowe@housegop.ct.gov; Joseph.Serra@cga.ct.gov; James.Spallone@cga.ct.gov; Joseph.Taborsak@cga.ct.gov; William.Tong@cga.ct.gov
Toni.Walker@cga.ct.gov; Elissa.Wright@cga.ct.gov

PLEASE do something! It's a very small sacrifice of a few moments of time (or more time by going to Hartford) to do the right thing for Lent.

God bless!


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