Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Life and Taxes

Easily the most prominent ecclesial voice of this election season -- with a best-seller on the shelves and the Democratic convention in his backyard -- in his latest column, Archbishop Charles Chaput OFM Cap. of Denver places his support behind a notable measure soon to face Colorado voters:
Over the years I’ve had the privilege to know many strong Catholic families raising children with disabilities. The parents understand through direct experience how precious every human life is, no matter how burdened by special problems and needs. Their witness of love is extraordinary, but it isn’t easy; and here in Colorado, it’s often harder than it should be.

While public support and government services for the disabled are far better than they were 50 years ago, resources are still scarce. Colorado’s Amendment 51, on the ballot this fall, would provide urgently needed help for thousands of persons with disabilities who otherwise have no medical or vocational safety net. More than 12,000 Colorado children and adults who have developmental disabilities—Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and similar difficulties—are currently stuck on state waiting lists for needed care and support. In fact, our state has more people who desperately need special care than currently receive services.

Worse, thousands of persons with disabilities have been waiting for their state help for more than 15 years. As Amendment 51 supporters note, many of the disabled, through no fault of their own, need help to eat, dress and bathe. Others need constant assistance and supervision because of major medical issues, lack of basic life and safety skills, or because family caregivers can no longer provide care due to age, illness or death. Still others are young children with autism who cannot access early intervention services that they desperately need and which are proven to be effective.

Amendment 51, through a modest increase in Colorado’s sales tax, will directly help thousands of children and adults with disabilities. Catholics can legitimately disagree on the best public policies to provide things like immigration justice, health care, national defense and support for disabled persons. But I would strongly encourage Colorado Catholics to consider voting yes on Amendment 51. Our task as Christians is to advance the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. In affirming the dignity of persons with disabilities by easing their urgent needs, Amendment 51 is thoroughly prolife and worthy of our support at the ballot box.
On a related note, fresh off his widely-circulated, Meet the Press-inspired impromptu homily, Denver'll play host to Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison tonight for a talk on "Natural Law and Responsible Citizenship."

Chair of the Philadelphia-based National Catholic Bioethics Center, Morlino's lecture is being sponsored by the Mile High branch of the Catholic Medical Association. And even money says fireworks can be expected.