Washington – Even before he stepped into the Oval Office on Tuesday (Jan. 20) as America’s 44th president, the nation’s Catholic bishops sent Barack Obama their public policy wish list, with a special emphasis on “the fundamental right to life from conception to natural death.”
In twin letters sent to President-elect Barack Obama, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago outlined the policy priorities for the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops as they face a new president and strong Democratic gains in Congress.

The letters reflected possible areas of agreement– fighting climate change, reforming immigration and expanding healthcare, among others — but also listed a host of social issues where Obama is poised to take a more progressive direction than the bishops would support.
Specifically, George asked Obama to uphold Bush administration conscience protections that allow healthcare providers to opt out of procedures that violate their religious or moral beliefs.
“I urge you to consider that this could be a terrible mistake — morally, politically, and in terms of advancing the solidarity and well-being of our nation’s peoples,” said George, the president of the bishops’ conference.
He also asked Obama not to overturn the so-called Mexico City Policy, which restricts U.S. funds from going to international family planning groups that provide abortions, and not to lift Bush’s 2001 restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research.
“To divert scarce funds … toward the avenue that is most controversial as well as the most medically speculative would be a sad victory of politics over science,” George warned in a Jan. 16 letter to Obama.
In an earlier letter sent on Jan. 13, George asked Obama to make the poor a priority in his economic plan; to work toward “truly universal health care coverage”; to aid the persecuted Christian minority in Iraq; create a “path to earned citizenship” for immigrants and uphold marriage as the “faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman.”
“We seek to work together with our nation’s leaders to advance the common good of our society, while disagreeing respectfully and civilly where necessary for preserving that same common good,” George said.
By Kevin Eckstrom
Religion News Service
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

More from Beliefnet and our partners
previous posts

As we enter one of the holiest times of the year, religious leaders around the world are giving praises to the internet for being able to virtually carry through traditional religious services. COVID-19 has already shut down traditional holiday celebrations around the world. Many churches, synagogues, and mosques will be closed to the public during […]

Anytime a super moon happens, there are always people who believe it’s a sign of the impending end times. With the current COVID-19 crisis happening, the claim that tonight’s rare pink super moon is an indicator of something more sinister is only getting stronger. A pink super moon occurs when the moon makes a closer […]

If you’re following the news these days, you’ve probably become very familiar with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci. He has become one of the most beloved public figures in the U.S., and for good reason. During the coronavirus pandemic, he provides straight facts and a steady hand at a time of major uncertainty. What you may […]

A Pennsylvania pastor says he is planning an outdoor “Woodstock”-like Easter service despite anti-coronavirus quarantine orders. Evangelist Jonathan Shuttlesworth says he will have an “outdoor Easter blowout service,” Fox News reports. “I’m gonna announce it…We’re gonna hold an outdoor Easter blowout service. Not online. A national gathering. You come from all over, like Woodstock. And […]