News In Brief

Church in Maryland Backs Tax Credits for Education

BALTIMORE — With the strong backing of the Maryland Catholic Conference, a Maryland state senator is introducing a bill that would provide significant business tax credits to corporations and small businesses that support tuition scholarship programs and other K-12 education initiatives.

Modeled on Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit, the Maryland bill would allow businesses to claim a 75% state tax credit for donations to 501(c)3 organizations that provide tuition scholarships at nonpublic schools. Scholarship programs such as Partners in Excellence, the Cardinal Shehan Scholarship Fund and the Frederick-based Friends of Catholic Education are among the existing scholarship programs that would likely benefit from the proposal, called Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers in Maryland.

The program also would reward businesses for helping teachers at nonpublic schools pay for graduate-level course work and professional development, and for assisting extracurricular programs in the public schools.


Bishops’ Aide Assails Contraception Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A U.S. bishops’ aide criticized a report by a Planned Parenthood affiliate that claims increased access to contraception leads to fewer abortions.

  Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, assailed the report on unintended pregnancy issued by the Alan Guttmacher Institute.

“Without any evidence, the report just asserts that increased access to contraception reduces the number of unintended pregnancies and therefore abortions,” said McQuade. “But that assumption is unwarranted. California and New York, ranked among the top states for access to contraception, also have the highest abortion rates in the country. The facts simply don’t support what Planned Parenthood and its research affiliate would like us to believe.”

McQuade continued: “Many studies actually show that abortions decrease when states enact modest regulations on abortion — regulations opposed by Planned Parenthood, such as public funding bans, informed consent requirements and parental involvement laws. Where contraceptives are widely available, abortion is a common backup to failed birth control. Even Guttmacher admits that 54% of abortions nationwide in 2000 ‘occur among ... women who were using contraceptives in the month they became pregnant.’”


Bishops Take Stand Against Same-Sex Adoption

BOSTON — If Catholic agencies in Massachusetts were required to facilitate adoptions by same-sex couples in violation of Church teaching prohibiting the practice, it would present “a serious pastoral problem” and threaten religious freedom, according to the bishops of the state’s four Catholic dioceses.

“We are asking the commonwealth to respect the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom and allow the Catholic Church to continue serving children in need of adoption without violating the tenets of our faith,” the four said in a Feb. 28 statement.

On the same day, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney indicated through a spokesman that he would be open to discussions about exempting Catholic social service agencies from the state’s anti-discrimination policy in the matter of adoptions by same-sex couples. “We respect and honor the free practice of religion, and we look forward to meeting with representatives of the Catholic Church to discuss this issue,” Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said, according to a report in The Boston Globe.

A 2003 Vatican statement said that allowing children to be adopted into same-sex arrangements would deprive them of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood and “would actually mean doing violence to these children.”