March 5, 2009
By now, most of us are familiar with the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). The most radical pro-abortion legislation ever proposed. The contents of this bill are a serious threat to the sacredness of life, the freedom of “conscience clause” for health care workers and to quote Cardinal Francis George, the President of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, “a threat to Catholic Health Care Institutions and Catholic Charities.”
To emphasize the legitimate danger of the passage of the Freedom of Choice Act into law is the promise of President Barack Obama to Planned Parenthood, that he would sign this bill as soon as it arrives on his desk.
An additional cause for concern is the co-sponsorship of the Freedom of Choice Act by our own Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez. Because of the aggressive pro-abortion nature of this bill, the Bishops of the United States decided to launch a national postcard or petition campaign to defeat FOCA. Bishop Arthur Serratelli opted for a petition drive.
First we had to explain to the general public the contents and the dangers of this bill. Many people were skeptical and are still skeptical that such a radical bill could ever become law. Next, three weekends in January were designated to collect signatures from the parishioners of our 111 parishes. We knew that the majority of the signatures would come from the parishioners. Eleven parishes did not participate. We also had participation from the Sacred Heart Armenian Church, St. Nicholas Ukrainian Church of Passaic, and Holy Face Monastery.
Various Religious Orders of the Diocese: The Sisters of Christian Charity, The Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, The Salesian Sisters and the Filippini Sisters all responded enthusiastically. Most impressive were the signatures of the nine Carmelite Sisters of Morristown and the personal delivery of four signatures of the Carmelite Sisters of the Hermitage of Chester who wanted to demonstrate their strong opposition to FOCA.
In addition, we received signatures from Paterson University Campus Ministry, College of St. Elizabeth, Pope John XX111 High School, Cedar Crest Village, Migrant Ministry, St. Francis Residential Community, and Catholic Charities. Even visitors from other states and other countries such as Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and Puerto Rico wanted to express their opposition to FOCA.
The number of valid signatures received from these various sources is:
Senator F. Lautenberg 32,109
Senator R Menendez 31,026
Congressman R. Freylinghuysen 18,133
Congressman S.Garrett 5,603
Congressman W. Pascrell 9,582
Congressman S. Rothman 316
Please be assured that we are very grateful to all of you who signed the petitions and to those of you who helped in obtaining these signatures.
We must all continue to offer prayers both for the defeat of the Freedom of Choice Act and to change of the minds and hearts of our President and our legislators who are pro-choice.