Dear Readers,

Here we go into Round 2 of the US health care reform process. The Senate bill was released Wednesday evening, but at the time of writing we do not yet have any confirmable details. Hold on to your seats. All pro-life, pro-family groups are of course calling for massive communications from the grassroots to the senators.

The US bishops' document on marriage is exceptionally strong. This is very good news. It seems that most of the bishops are now beginning to accept the seriousness of the collapse of marriage, family life and general morality and its connection to a lack of strong, clear religious leadership over the past four decades.

Certainly not all the bishops are on the same page since, incredibly, 45 bishops voted against approval of this document which merely confirms Catholic teaching related to marriage. Still, not too many years ago such a document would not have even been introduced. And if it were introduced, the vote would likely have been the reverse, with the majority voting against such a solid statement of principles out of fear of causing offense. Times are changing in the Church – and none too soon.

It appears there may be more long overdue serious reform of the Bishops' Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) in the works, despite some over-the-top condemnation of recent valid criticisms of the bishops' anti-poverty agency. That clericalism, which places the emphasis on belittling the credibility and character of faithful critics and denying their right in Church law and tradition to appeal for needed reforms, usually confirms that there really are serious problems.

The Reform CCHD campaign continues and we are told that behind the scenes there is a growing number of bishops who are not happy with the CCHD. That is not unexpected considering the high profile CCHD scandals of recent years.

The on-going correction of serious deficiencies in the US Catholic Church is strengthening the Church and gradually again making many US Catholic bishops a strong force for moral good in the culture – to the benefit of all Americans – Catholic and non-Catholic and non-Christian. This marriage document, the recent successful joint effort by a group of bishops to defend marriage in Maine and the bishops' large role in the successful passage of the Stupak amendment are signs of a more courageous and responsible Church leadership. This is only a beginning, but it is a welcome sign of new hope for the culture.

Steve Jalsevac