Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, released the statement today on behalf of the USCCB in which he "voiced hope for the Obama Administration but pointed to possible obstacles to our desired unity."
The Bishops say they "want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and foster peace at home and abroad."
That said, the Bishops noted that in "the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any ‘interference’ in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country."
They express concern about laws involving parental notification, "informed consent" and what’s called by opponents partial-birth abortion. "Abortion clinics would be deregulated," they assert. "The Hyde Amendment, restricting the federal funding of abortions, would be abrogated. … FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic charities. It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil."
The bishops say that Obama’s election was NOT a mandate to change abortion laws. "The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. … Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion."