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Columns-Making a Difference Dec-1-2008 (565 words) xxxc

Supporting and challenging the president-elect

By Tony Magliano
Catholic News Service

With the U.S. and the world in so much trouble, a lot is riding on President-elect Barack Obama.

And with inauguration day less than two months away, Obama's agenda is quickly solidifying. Before it is set in stone, millions of U.S. Catholics need to forcefully weigh in on the numerous moral issues facing humanity.

Many of Obama's positions reflect Catholic social doctrine and deserve our support.

For instance, his desire to provide affordable, comprehensive health care for the nation's uninsured -- including almost nine million children -- is in line with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

His plan to annually increase the minimum wage supports church teaching concerning each worker's right to fair compensation.

Obama's commitment to diplomacy in the Middle East, and to ending America's combat role in Iraq, is a major step in the direction of the Gospel's teaching on reconciliation and peace.

However, the president-elect needs to develop a similar diplomatic and exit strategy for Afghanistan. Sending additional troops there is a mistaken continuation of the "Bush Doctrine." Instead, creative, peaceful ideas are needed.

Obama's goal to have Russian and American nuclear missiles removed from "hair trigger" alert, and to eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons, powerfully reflects Catholic teaching. But his determination to rely on nuclear deterrence in the interim does not.

The president-elect's proposal of doubling foreign assistance to the world's poor is an improvement, but not as generous as it may sound.

According to the Christian anti-poverty organization Bread for the World, the United States in 2007 gave a total of $14 billion for poverty-focused development assistance -- which is only 0.5 percent of our federal budget.

Pope John Paul II warned America not to be content to give just the crumbs from our feast to the poor.

According to the World Bank, 1.4 billion human beings live in extreme poverty -- struggling to survive on less than $1.25 a day. Even during these difficult economic times, we can allocate much more than a 0.5 percent budgetary increase to help our suffering brothers and sister. Christ expects better from us!

We need to challenge ourselves and President-elect Obama to share far more of our wealth with the world's poor.

Very troubling is Obama's strong pro-abortion stance.

He hopes to sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act. If passed by Congress, this legislation would cancel even modest abortion restraints like parental notification laws. It would forbid banning partial-birth abortions and would even deny legal protection for an infant born alive after a failed abortion!

During their recent meeting in Baltimore, the U.S. Catholic bishops unanimously agreed to mobilize the resources of the Catholic community to prevent the passage of the Freedom of Choice Act.

One easy step we can take immediately is to call President-elect Obama (202-540-3000 and press 2) or, preferably, contact him at www.change.gov and go to "American Moment" at the top of the page. Click "Share Your Vision." In the comment section please explain why you object to Obama's support of abortion and the Freedom of Choice Act. Urge him to agree to dialogue with the pro-life community.

Also request that he pursue diplomacy in Afghanistan and abandon his intentions to deepen our military involvement there. And ask him to triple poverty-focused assistance to the world's poor in 2009.

Now is the best time to help President-elect Obama understand the moral concerns of America's Catholic community!

END



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