Catholic Public Policy 
Commission of Tennessee

Welcome to the website for the Tennessee Catholic Public Policy Commission of Tennessee!


Quote of the Month from Pope Francis

" Work is sacred, work gives dignity to a family. . . . [W]hen work is held hostage by the logic of profit alone and human life is disregarded, the degradation of the soul contaminates everything: even the air, water, grass, food ... the life of society is corrupted and the habitat breaks down. And the consequences fall most of all on the poor and on poor families. The modern organization of work sometimes shows a dangerous tendency to consider the family a burden, a weight, a liability for the productivity of labor. But let us ask ourselves: what productivity? And for whom?"

- General Audience, 8/19/15
News & Events
Catholic Advocacy Network The legislature has adjourned for 2016.  Every member of the House....  
“Refugees are not numbers they are people who have faces, names, stories, and need to be treated as such.”....  
Committees and Subcommittees are starting to wrap up!  That means the end of legislative session is near!....  
ACTION ALERT:Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since....  
ACTION ALERT:Dear Catholic Advocacy Network member, DNA Bill Scheduled for Senate Judiciary....  
ACTION ALERT: SJR 467: This resolution seeks to halt...  


Bishop Choby, Diocese of Nashville Statement regarding the Supreme Courts decision on same-sex marriage
June 26, 2015

The Supreme Court’s decision to require all states to license and witness “same-sex” unions as well as affirm and recognize such unions performed in other states addresses only the approach of civil law relating to marriage.

It enjoys no authority when it comes to an understanding of the nature of marriage as understood and taught in Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Catholic Church flowing from them.

The court’s decision reflects the sharp division that we experience as related to social issues. Such is the reality of a secularized society. Still, such strong differences never justify hatred or disdain. Each and every person enjoys an inherent dignity resulting from being created by God Himself.

It is such a vision of everything finding value and meaning in relationship to God, the source of life, which informs our way of looking at marriage.

In the years ahead, I am sure that there will be many unintended consequences of this court opinion; consequences that cannot be seen now.

However, it remains for us as Catholic faithful to pray and work to safeguard the right to the benefits of Religious Freedom; as we seek to teach and live out our understanding of marriage.  

Such times are not new to the Church. Throughout history the vision of faith has been challenged and opposed; even to the point of persecution. Look at the present fate of Christians in the Middle East. Look at the treatment of Jesus, Himself.

Rather than allowing the court’s decision to weaken our own faith, we can hope it becomes an additional reason for honoring the Sacrament of Marriage with greater resolve.

"The time to find global solutions is running out ... there is a clear, definitive and ineluctable ethical imperative to act." – Pope Francis Next week Pope Francis will be releasing an encyclical that addresses the issue of climate change…and a lot more. In the encyclical, Pope Francis will offer moral guidance on the responsibility we all have to care for each other and care for God's creation.

Entitled Laudato Sii (Praised Be You), the upcoming papal encyclical expected to be released Thursday, June 18, is taking its title from a recurring line in St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of the Sun” and is subtitled, "Sulla cura della casa comune" (On the care of the common home).

The themes of the encyclical should give CPPC and CAN members a lot to chew on, especially in relation to our:
1. individual responsibility as a Christian to care for God's creation
2. collective responsibility for creating principled public policy that supports good stewardship, human dignity, and the common good

To dismiss this teaching document as merely a political statement is to ignore the central point, namely, that if you love God, you will love what He has created.

Papal encyclicals are authoritative, and are part of the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff.

According to Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (No. 25):

“[R]eligious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will.”

Below are some resources to help you get started.

5 anticipated encyclical themes
Integral ecology: human ecology and natural ecology
Integral ecology means that "natural ecology"--the environment, our natural resources, the precious gift of Creation--is decidedly and inextricably linked to "human ecology"--how we respect and defend life, treat one another, regard the poor, structure our economic decisions and policy, mold and shape our society.

Throwaway culture
Society increasingly has an attitude of tossing aside anything and everyone we do not find useful. We are not only talking about how we weigh the merits of paper versus plastic, we are also talking about the unborn, the sick, and the elderly.

Care for Creation
We are called to care for and steward creation--a gift from God intended to nurture and sustain us and future generations, even as we cultivate it and rely on it. We have tilled too much and kept too little.

Climate change
The loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing the devastating effects in terrible cataclysms from which the poor and vulnerable suffer most.

Building a culture of solidarity and encounter
In contrast to an economy of exclusion and a culture of waste, we need to collectively protect each other and the natural environment, re-examining our lifestyles and consumer choices.

Review the above themes of Pope Francis in more detail, click here.
Check out more Church teaching and parish resources on ecology, click here.

Catholic Advocacy Network
June 1, 2015

Our legislators need to be thanked when they pass legislation that safeguard the dignity of the human person.  Our legislators need thanks when they have the courage to work with those with whom they may often disagree and support health care for those who can’t afford insurance

Again this legislative session we worked with legislators the Governor and other like minded groups to pass an Opportunity Scholarship bill.  Again we were unable to secure the votes.  Unless, the members of the House education sub committee changes next year doesn’t look good either. 

Education cannot be neutral. It is either positive or negative; either it enriches or it impoverishes; either it enables a person to grow or it lessens, even corrupts him. The mission of schools is to develop a sense of truth, of what is good and beautiful.
-    Pope Francis

The reasons we support Opportunity scholarship legislation are many.  We recognize the role of parents as first educators of their children.  We feel school choice offers quality educational opportunities are all students.  Parents need to choose from a diversity of school settings that meet the unique needs of all students and families.  Parents could choose the best environment for their child to feel safe and secure.  These are students, one size doesn’t fit all.  Education needs to respect genuine pluralism of ideas, values, and religious beliefs.  All students should have access to basic services, such as transportation, health care, and textbooks regardless of whether they attend public or non-public schools. 

Creating an educational system that meets these criteria is a tall order, but it is a critical responsibility of those who govern. Based on a long history of institutional experience, and the social teachings of the Catholic faith, the Church recognizes that education is a key component to the integral development of the human person and a pathway out of poverty.

Catholic Advocacy Network
May 2015

When Tennesseans went to the polls on Nov. 4, 2014 they sent a message to the legislature by passing Amendment 1. Their voices where heard and legislation was introduced and passed.

On May 18th 2015, TN joined 27 other states in having a 48-hour waiting period before an abortion may be preformed. This is after they have had an in-person counseling meeting with a doctor.

As of June 1st 2015, all facilities or physician offices where more than 50 abortions are performed in a calendar year must be licensed as ambulatory surgical treatment centers. When this law takes effect two of Tennessee’s seven abortion clinics may have to close.

Last session a bill was introduced that if a proposed amended is put on and the bill passes it would legalize assisted suicide. The amendment was not put on to the bill. However, the bill was sent to summer study committee. Thus far the committee hasn’t been official appointed nor a date set to meet. We will let you know who is appointed to the committee and keep you informed of the discussion.

Predatory lending is trapping people into never getting out of debt in Tennessee.

A 14day loan at 17.65% interest a day means you will pay 459% interest on the $100 loan. This is legal in our state.

In Tennessee, borrowers pay back payday loans by providing lenders with post-dated checks for the amount due. If the check fails to clear, the lender is legally allowed to charge the person a late fee. According to Tennessee law, the payday lender can charge $15 per returned check or $17.65 for every $100 he loaned to the borrower.

This isn’t the solution to a problem. Many states have banned these types of loans completely. We will be looking into steps to help those who need a better solution.

Fortnight 2015: Freedom to Bear Witness

"Keeping the spirit of the Gospel means that Catholic institutions are to bear witness in love to the full truth about the human person by providing social, charitable, and educational services in a manner that fully reflects the God-given dignity of the human person." - Archbishop William E. Lori, Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, on the "Freedom to Bear Witness". . .

The  Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Bear Witness will take place from June 21 to July 4, 2015, a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. The theme of this year's Fortnight will focus on the "freedom to bear witness" to the truth of the Gospel

Fortnight Spotlight...

Fortnight for Freedom in U.S. Church . . .
May 5, 2015, Vatican Radio

Religious Liberty and the Practice of Charity John Garvey, J.D., President, Catholic University of America

ISIS and Indiana: The Global Crisis of Religious Liberty and Catholic Responsibility . . .
Thomas Farr, Ph.D., Director, Religious Freedom Project, Georgetown University

Help Persecuted Christians and Support Traditional Families . . .
Helen Alvaré, J.D., Professor of Law, George Mason University

Religious Freedom is Under Stress, Red Mass Homily . . .
April 23, 2015, Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski

Fortnight for Freedom 2014 Closing Homily Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, USCCB President, Archdiocese of Louisville

Fortnight for Freedom 2014 Opening Homily Archbishop William E. Lori, Archdiocese of Baltimore


Though the November elections are still months away, I wish to commend the efforts of those who are endeavoring to educate the people of Tennessee on a ballot measure that is neither a Republican nor Democrat issue, but a moral and life issue of greatest magnitude that I hope everyone will support—Amendment One. Although the Church will never identify itself with any political community or system, we can and must speak up in support of moral issues such as Amendment One represents. Amendment One is a pro-life amendment that would neutralize the extreme interpretation taken by the Tennessee State Supreme Court in 2000 in which they declared that our State Constitution guarantees the right to an abortion. Passage of this Amendment would restore back to the voter the “life” decision that was taken from them by the Court decision. For these reasons, I and my brother Bishops in Nashville and Memphis wholeheartedly support efforts to promote “Yes on 1” this November.

The following statement is from the Catholic Public Policy Commission of Tennessee as approved by the three Bishops of TN 6- 2014

A Catholic perspective on health care

Is it possible to identify fundamental principles - moral and theological-that delineate a Catholic perspective on health care as a matter of social justice? If we look at the Ethical and Religious Directives (fifth edition, 2009) promulgated by the US Catholic Bishops, we find a valuable description of core principles that provides a very helpful framework to connect health care, social justice and the Catholic tradition

The Introduction to Part One of the Directives focuses on the social responsibility of Catholic Health Care Services. It sets forth five normative principles, which apply directly to Catholic health care institutions but in a broader sense also highlight ethical imperatives that pertain to all health care. These principles describe a large compass of care consistent with prevailing religions perspectives in the United States.

To adapt these specific Catholic principles to a larger landscape, we can affirm that health care should be "rooted in a commitment to promote and defend human dignity." This translates practically into a respect for "every human life from the moment of conception until natural death." At issue is not only the right to life but the right to health care that supports and sustains human life, especially where life is most vulnerable and most challenged by patterns of poverty.

Second, the Judeo-Christian tradition recognizes a biblical mandate to care for the poor. The Directives draw our attention to papal and conciliar documents which underscore concern for "the health care needs of the poor, the uninsured and the underinsured". Sometimes described as a "preferential option for the poor," this priority of paying attention to the practical health care needs of the poor is a call to provide a safety net for those most at risk. It is also a marker of how seriously we attend to the needs of our neighbor, how seriously we esteem our own humanity. Our discussion of Medicaid and Tennessee state policy can greatly benefit from an ecumenical context that attaches high priority to identifying and addressing the needs of the most disadvantaged of our neighbors (Cf. Mt 25: 31-46). There is nothing to be gained by ignoring or obscuring barriers limiting access to health care; the promise lies in identifying factors which curtail access to health care and address them, quickly and responsibly. At this time of unprecedented crisis and opportunity, we must fashion a mandate of common sense and common decency to correct limits on available health care as readily as we can.

Third, health care must be seen against the background of the common good. Understood as the sum total of conditions which, taken together, allow individuals and societies to flourish in the pursuit of their distinctive needs and vocations, the common good embraces the related concepts of solidarity and subsidiarity. Solidarity means that all citizens have a shared stake in the common good and in committing themselves to a good that transcends narrow or partisan interests; all have an interest in committing themselves to the health care needs of the larger society. A preoccupation with self-interest eclipses the moral imperative of striving for a common good. The principle of solidarity also entails the principle of subsidiarity. This means a presumption that those closest to a problem can be considered to have the best grasp of it. The experience of the poor and those searching for health care carries a value for all seeking solutions. The experience of those who are seeking but have not yet obtained citizenship must be particularly supported and valued. We owe to those seeking citizenship a presumption of good faith.

Fourth, adequate and compassionate health care requires the responsible stewardship of available, often scarce resources. This means at a minimum an informed conversation between the public and private sectors where the wise judgment of legislators can guide and support the decisive choices of the Governor to make choices that will serve the interest of as many as possible. The need to make tough decisions that balance revenues with costs must be done consistent with a moral compass of authentic compassion for citizens whose conditions place them on the margin of life-threatening poverty. Responsible stewardship of health care resources, empowered by the lens of subsidiarity, must not come at the expense of the mentally ill, the chronically or terminally ill, the unborn or the undocumented. Collaboration between hospitals, health systems, community agencies and civic leadership is essential to secure a stewardship of resources in an era of unprecedented uncertainty.

Fifth, health care in the pluralistic society, where sharp divergences of moral reasoning can often occur, must safeguard a profound respect for the rights of individual conscience. Choices, which operate to jeopardize innocent human life or restrict access to vital medical resources, can be understood to thwart the conscience of the community.

Recording of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship Presentation

At your request, we've created a recorded presentation from the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development on Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (FCFC). Catholic leaders can play the 30-minute presentation at any event or gathering where there is an internet connection. It covers the basics about FCFC and makes practical suggestions about how Catholics can live out the call to faithful citizenship year-round. Access the recording here.
The Tennessee Catholic Public Policy Commission was founded in 1983 as the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Tennessee. The CPPC serves in this capacity so that the Catholic Church's position on public policy matters may be presented with one voice to the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government.

By giving witness to Gospel values in public affairs, the Tennessee Catholic Public Policy Commission public policy staff assists the bishops of the three Roman Catholic Dioceses in the State of Tennessee: Diocese of Memphis, Diocese of Nashville and the Diocese of Knoxville. Be sure to click on the link to join our mailing list and stay involved with the hot topics including News, State and Federal Legislation and Events.

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