James “JJ” Hanson, an outspoken advocate for patients rights and against physician-assisted suicide, died of brain cancer today at the age of 36. Mr. Hanson, a Hudson Valley resident, retired Marine and a one-time member of the administration of former Gov. David A. Paterson, leaves behind his wife, Kristen, and two young sons, James and Lucas. More
Last night, the New York State Catholic Conference was informed that Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed legislation (S.6089) that would have averted cuts in state reimbursements to Catholic and other nonpublic schools. The cuts are based on the state changing a nearly four-decade-old formula for calculating reimbursement.
“The Bishops of New York State are extremely disappointed in Governor Cuomo’s veto of this bipartisan bill,” said James D. Cultrara, director for education of the New York State Catholic Conference. “The governor’s action will have serious impact on our schools and to the tuition-paying families who must absorb cuts in reimbursement aid, even as public school funding soars to new record heights every year. More
Following is a statement of Kathleen M. Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference:
“We are pleased and grateful for today’s unanimous Court of Appeals ruling in Myers vs. Schneiderman. The Court has wisely determined that New York’s law prohibiting assisted suicide applies to everyone, including those physicians who may wish to assist in their patients’ deaths. ‘There are no exceptions, and the statutes are unqualified in scope…,’ the Court said. More
Following is a statement by Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference regarding DACA:
“Today’s announcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Trump Administration is rescinding the Obama-era Executive Order known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is cause for great concern and anxiety for nearly 800,000 beneficiaries of the program, including an estimated 42,000 of our fellow New Yorkers.
“While the federal government has the right and duty to protect and secure our borders, the individuals who benefitted from DACA have done nothing wrong. The Dreamers were brought to this country as children by their parents. For many, they have known no other home.
“Although the President has signaled that he would like Congress to act to address the matter legislatively, there are no guarantees that this will happen. And, in the meantime, men, women and children who want nothing other than to do their part to make America great are instead being forced back into the shadows, fearful of being deported to a foreign land.
“The Catholic Church in New York State stands with the Dreamers, and we urge our Congressional representatives to take the lead in delivering a bill to President Trump’s desk, so that he can fulfill an earlier promise to deal with this issue with ‘great heart.’”
The New York State Catholic Conference represents the Bishops of New York State in public policy matters.
Mensaje de la Conferencia Católica acerca de DACA
Richard E. Barnes, director ejecutivo
“El anuncio de hoy del Fiscal General Jeff Sessions de que la Administración Trump está rescindiendo la Orden Ejecutiva de la era Obama conocida como DACA, es causa de gran preocupación y ansiedad para casi 800,000 beneficiarios del programa, incluyendo a aproximadamente 42,000 de nuestros compañeros neoyorquinos.
“Si bien el gobierno federal tiene el derecho y el deber de proteger, y asegurar nuestras fronteras, las personas que se beneficiaron de DACA no han hecho nada malo. Los Soñadores fueron traídos a este país como niños por sus padres. Muchos de ellos no han conocido ningún otro lugar como su hogar.
“Aunque el Presidente ha señalado que le gustaría que el Congreso actúe para abordar la cuestión a nivel legislativo, no hay garantías de que esto suceda. Y, mientras tanto, los hombres, mujeres y niños afectados que sólo quieren hacer su parte para engrandecer a Estados Unidos, son en cambio forzados de nuevo a las sombras, temerosos de ser deportados a una tierra extranjera.
“La Iglesia Católica en el Estado de Nueva York está de pie con Los Soñadores, e instamos a nuestros representantes del Congreso a que tomen la iniciativa de entregar un proyecto de ley al escritorio del Presidente Trump, para cumplir una promesa anterior de tratar este tema con “gran corazón.”
La Conferencia Católica del Estado de Nueva York representa a los obispos del Estado de Nueva York en asuntos de política pública.
Joseph Slavik, the recently retired President and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Syracuse, and Mary Olsen, director of Disaster Response for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany and diocesan liaison for Catholic Relief Services, will be honored by the New York State Council of Catholic Charities Directors at a reception on Monday, February 6, at 5:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Albany. The reception is part of the Council’s two-day convening Feb. 6-7, in which Catholic Charities personnel from all eight New York Dioceses advocate with elected and state agency officials on important issues of concern to the poor and vulnerable.
Mr. Slavik will receive the Bishop Francis J. Mugavero Award for outstanding contributions to the work of charity and social justice. The award is named for the late Bishop of Brooklyn. Mrs. Olsen will receive the Vincenza DeFazio Award for outstanding contributions to the work of New York State Council of Catholic Charities Directors. The award is named for a deceased long-time attorney with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.
Mr. Slavik was with Catholic Charities of Syracuse from 1975 until his recent retirement at the end of 2016. He began his career at Catholic Charities in 1975 as director of youth services in Binghamton. Five years later he became director of Catholic Charities of Broome County, and in 2010 he was appointed to president and CEO of the diocesan Catholic Charities.
“Joe Slavik’s tenure as the head of Catholic Charities in Syracuse helped make the organization more efficient and responsive to community needs, whether that took the form of feeding the hungry, helping the homeless, or welcoming the immigrant,” said Vincent W. Colonno, CEO of Catholic Charities of Albany and chair of the Council of Catholic Charities Directors. “His work and enthusiastic attitude inspired all of us, and he was a constant source of encouragement and support to the other heads of Catholic Charities organizations through the Council of Catholic Charities Directors. I consider Joe a close friend and a colleague, and an example of service to the less fortunate.”
Mrs. Olsen began her career in Catholic Charities of Albany in 1984, as part of the office staff, rising through the ranks to her current position in 2000, in which she oversees the diocesan administration of Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and disaster response and recovery.
“Mary Olsen has been an integral part of Catholic Charities since first coming to the agency in 1984, and in that time, she’s contributed immeasurably to the efforts and priorities of the Council,” said Colonno. “In her 33 years here she has brought professionalism, a high level of organization, compassion, and humor to each project she has worked on. Over the years, she has built numerous positive relationships with officials here in the Albany Diocese and has advanced the Council’s work and goals in many venues. Those we have served in that regard have benefited from Mary’s dedication, and we are blessed to have her as part of the Catholic Charities family.”
The Catholic Conference represents New York State’s Bishops in matters of public policy.
Following is a statement from Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference on this morning’s announcement that Pope Francis has named Bishop John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa., as Bishop of Rockville Centre, succeeding Bishop William F. Murphy, whose retirement has been accepted:
“We offer a warm welcome to Bishop Barres to the Diocese of Rockville Centre and to the New York State Catholic Conference. We look forward to working closely with him for many years to come in advancing public policies that serve and protect the most vulnerable of our state’s citizens – the poor and marginalized, immigrants, the elderly and infirm, people with disabilities, and children, born and unborn. We know that, like his predecessor, Bishop Barres will be a strong voice for all of these populations and an advocate for our constitutional rights of conscience and religious liberty. We at the Conference assure Bishop Barres of our prayers and our loyalty as we work together to have a positive impact on the lives of all New Yorkers.
“As we greet Bishop Barres, we also take this opportunity to stress our deep gratitude to and affection for Bishop William F. Murphy. Bishop Murphy was installed as Bishop of Rockville Centre less than a week before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and immediately distinguished himself as a shepherd of profound compassion and empathy as he consoled a grieving diocese, which lost so many souls that day. In the years that followed, he has served the diocese and as a member of the Executive Committee of the New York State Catholic Conference with dedication.”
The New York State Catholic Conference represents the Bishops of New York State in matters of public policy.
A joint initiative of four upstate diocesan Catholic Charities agencies that will coordinate services for high-needs children is launching today with an initial rollout in 37 counties, that could soon reach 48 of the state’s 62 counties. When the Encompass Family Health Home reaches full capacity, it is anticipated that it will serve 30,000 children per year.
Catholic Charities of Broome County is the lead agency in the joint initiative, called Encompass Family Health Home, which was selected back in June 2015 by the New York State Department of Health as one of such 16 entities throughout the state. Partners include the Catholic Charities agencies of the Dioceses of Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse. More
Guidelines for permissible political activities by Catholic organizations
(For a printable version, go HERE)
In the United States of America, all adult citizens are blessed to have the opportunity to vote for our political leaders. This is not a responsibility to be taken lightly, and the Bishops of New York State have once again renewed their call to Catholic citizens to inform their consciences on the critical issues of the day, to learn the positions of candidates for office, and to exercise their right to vote. These issues include, but are not limited to, respect for the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death, issues of war and peace, religious liberty, the education and formation of children, the needs of the poor, oppressed and vulnerable, and access to health care for all people, particularly the elderly and infirm.
In the document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the bishops of the United States remind us of the role of the Church in the public square. “The United States Constitution protects the right of individual believers and religious bodies to participate and speak out without government interference, favoritism, or discrimination. …Our nation’s tradition of pluralism is enhanced, not threatened, when religious groups and people of faith bring their convictions into public life. Indeed, our Church’s teaching is in accord with the foundational values that have shaped our nation’s history: ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ ”
But the document goes further than asserting the rights of Catholics to participate in the political process. It notes that such participation is obligatory. “In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation…The obligation to participate in political life is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do.”
Turning again to Faithful Citizenship, we are reminded of the importance of a well-formed conscience: “The Church equips its members to address political questions by helping them develop a well-formed conscience.” It is the exercise of conscience, aided by prudential judgment, that assists Catholics in determining effective ways to promote the common good. The U.S. Bishops state, “Catholic voters should use the framework of Catholic social teaching to examine candidates’ positions on issues affecting human life and dignity as well as issues of justice and peace, and they should consider candidates’ integrity, philosophy, and performance. It is important for all citizens ‘to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign rhetoric critically, and to choose their political leaders according to principle, not party affiliation or mere self-interest’ (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 33).” More
The New York State Catholic Conference applauds the New York State Senate for once again passing the Education Tax Credit bill, with a bipartisan vote of 47-15. As one of the first Senate bills passed in the 2016 session, it clearly demonstrates that the tax credit will be a priority for senators as it negotiates with Gov. Cuomo and the Assembly on the state budget. More
Proponents of the “Patient Self-Determination Act” argue that it contains safeguards which protect vulnerable patients. Yet a close examination of the bill’s language reveals inadequate protections for patients most at risk of abuse, and lower medical standards than elsewhere in the Public Health Law. In addition, the legislation lacks transparency and accountability and contains extremely weak conscience protections for both health care professionals and health care institutions.
1. The bill invites coercion and undue influence.
The bill requires two witnesses to a patient’s written request for assisted suicide, and one of these two witnesses cannot be “a relative of the patient…a person who at the time the request is signed would be entitled to any portion of the estate of the patient…[or]an owner, operator or employee of a health care facility.” § 2899-d(12)
However, the bill does not prohibit the other witness from being a relative, a person entitled to a portion of the patient’s estate, or a person associated with the health care facility where the patient is receiving treatment. There is also no requirement that either witness be an adult or even someone who knows the patient.
This is problematic because patients, particularly isolated elderly patients in long-term care facilities, are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. In theory, one witness may be a person who has a vested financial interest in the patient’s death, and the other witness may be a minor.
There is no requirement that a patient be determined to be competent and acting voluntarily at the time that they self-administer the lethal drugs. This leaves patients vulnerable to coercion and abuse once they are outside of the direct oversight of their doctor.