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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

House Democrats Release Historic Catholic Statement of Principles

Tuesday, February 28, 2006 (202) 225-3661

Catholic Statement of Principles

Expresses Commitment to Dignity of Life and Belief that Government Has `Moral Purpose'

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A majority of Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House led by Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn.-3) today released a statement of principles. Signed by 55 House Democrats, the statement documents how their faith influences them as lawmakers,
making clear their commitment to the basic principles at the heart of Catholic social teaching and their bearing on policy – whether it is increasing access to education for all or pressing for real health care reform, taking seriously the decision to go to war, or
reducing poverty. Above all, the document expresses the signers' commitment to the dignity of life and their belief that government has moral purpose.

The full text of the statement and the complete list of signers follow.

Statement of Principles

By Fifty-Five Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives

As Catholic Democrats in Congress, we are proud to be part of the living Catholic tradition -- a tradition that promotes the common good, expresses a consistent moral framework for life and highlights the need to provide a collective safety net to those individuals in
society who are most in need. As legislators, in the U.S. House of Representatives, we work every day to advance respect for life and the dignity of every human being. We believe that government has moral purpose.

We are committed to making real the basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching: helping the poor and disadvantaged, protecting the most vulnerable among us, and ensuring that all Americans of every faith are given meaningful opportunities to share in the blessings of this great country. That commitment is fulfilled in different ways by legislators but includes: reducing the rising rates of poverty; increasing access to education for all; pressing for increased access to health care; and taking seriously the decision to go to war. Each of these issues challenges our obligations as Catholics to community and helping those in need.

We envision a world in which every child belongs to a loving family and agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life and the undesirability of abortion B we do not celebrate its practice.

Each of us is committed to reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term. We believe this includes promoting alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, and improving access to children's healthcare and child care, as well as policies that encourage paternal and maternal responsibility.

In all these issues, we seek the Church=s guidance and assistance but believe also in the primacy of conscience. In recognizing the Church's role in providing moral leadership, we acknowledge and
accept the tension that comes with being in disagreement with the Church in some areas. Yet we believe we can speak to the fundamental issues that unite us as Catholics and lend our voices to changing
the political debate -- a debate that often fails to reflect and encompass the depth and complexity of these issues.

As legislators, we are charged with preserving the Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom for all Americans. In doing so, we guarantee our right to live our own lives as Catholics, but also foster an America with a rich diversity of faiths. We believe the
separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties.

As Catholic Democrats who embrace the vocation and mission of the laity as expressed by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici, we believe that the Church is the "people of God," called to be a moral force in the broadest sense. We believe the Church as a community is called to be in the
vanguard of creating a more just America and world. And as such, we have a claim on the Church's bearing as it does on ours.

Rosa L. DeLauro David R. Obey

Wm. Lacy Clay Hilda L. Solis

James R. Langevin Bart Stupak

Anna Eshoo Bill Pascrell

Betty McCollum Gene Taylor

Raul M. Grijalva Carolyn McCarthy

John B. Larson Ed Pastor

Joe Baca William Delahunt

Tim Ryan Silvestre Reyes

Mike Thompson Linda T. Sanchez

Charles A. Gonzalez Xavier Becerra

Diane Watson Michael H. Michaud

Nydia Velazquez Jim Marshall

Frank Pallone John T. Salazar

James P. McGovern George Miller

Tim Holden James L. Oberstar

Dale E. Kildee Patrick J. Kennedy

Cynthia McKinney James P. Moran

Michael Capuano Richard E. Neal

Mike Doyle Peter A. DeFazio

Maurice Hinchey Dennis A. Cardoza

Joseph Crowley Jim Costa

Lucille Roybal-Allard Loretta Sanchez

Robert Brady Marty Meehan

Grace Napolitano Luis V.Gutierrez

Jose Serrano Stephen Lynch

Edward J. Markey Nancy Pelosi

Lane Evans



Seven Questions: Port Security

The sale of operations at six U.S. ports to a state-owned company in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has drawn criticism from both Republicans and Democrats. James Jay Carafano, a homeland security expert at the Heritage Foundation, tells FP that the passionate criticism of the deal misses the mark.

Foreign Policy: What is the significance of the port deal?

James Jay Carafano: For the actual operation of the port, very little will change. Dubai World Ports is just a holding company. None of the personnel or access to security related information will change in terms of the operation of the port.

FP: Who manages security at these ports? Will security be affected by the sale?

JJC: Security of the port is governed by the International Shipping and Port Security Code, which was written after September 11, 2001 and modeled on U.S. maritime security law. It’s a standard that holds regardless of nationality or ownership. Any company that operates in the United States has to comply with that standard, and compliance is overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard. The security at every port is coordinated by the captain of the port, who by law is a U.S. Coast Guard officer. All screening of containers at the port is done by the Coast Guard and the Customs and Border Protection agency, not a private company. In the day to day operations of the port, it makes no difference who owns the holding company.

FP: Critics of the sale have cited the fact that two of the September 11 hijackers were UAE citizens and that much of the financing for the 9/11 attacks went through Dubai banks. Should this be a concern?

JJC: The UAE is the financial and transportation hub of the Middle East. Everything goes through Dubai. The UAE government is not a state sponsor of terrorism. In fact, it has been a staunch ally of the United States in fighting transnational terrorist networks, including capturing and turning over high-ranking al Qaeda operatives. One of the hubs of a September 11 cell was Germany. Are we going to prevent Mercedes Benz from operating in the United States?

As far as terrorist infiltration is concerned, buying a $7 billion company doesn’t match with terrorist tradecraft in any way. Everyone at ports knows everyone else, especially at the management level. Do you think hiring an Arab terrorist with no maritime experience to work at a port in New Jersey wouldn’t go noticed? The terrorists didn’t carry out the September 11 attacks by buying U.S. Airways. They did very mundane things to penetrate at a very mundane level. That’s how criminals operate at ports as well. If someone buys a $7 billion dollar company, odds are they are interested in protecting that investment, not exploiting it for terrorist activities.

FP: Aren’t only about 4 or 5 percent of containers screened at U.S. ports?

JJC: That’s a misleading statistic. All containers are screened, but those determined to be suspicious—about 6 percent—are inspected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. If we inspected all the containers coming into the United States, trade would ground to a halt. U.S. seaborne trade is one third of gross domestic product (GDP), and it is vital to keep that moving.

FP: Is this a fairly routine sale? Has it been vetted thoroughly enough?

JJC: In my experience, this is a fairly routine deal. Ownership moves around a good deal. It is important to remember that the shipping business is a transnational business by nature. Many of the operations of U.S. ports are run by foreign and transnational companies, which also own many of the ships and containers coming into U.S. ports.

The Committee on Foreign Direct Investment in the United States which approved the sale conducts a closed review process, as you would expect, so I can’t comment on how thorough it has been. But Dubai World Ports has actually been more open and willing to allow the release of information than many others.

FP: How good is the security at U.S. ports now?

JJC: There are two basic systems. There is the Container Security Initiative, where we ask countries to pre-screen containers before they are shipped to the United States if we suspect there is something fishy about them. And then there is the Consumer Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, where companies voluntarily agree to comply with certain security standards. Both those programs could be strengthened and enhanced. But they are not designed to be silver bullets. We don’t ask the private sector to stop terrorists. It is the government’s job to find the terrorists and stop them.

The concern about maritime security is certainly valid. We should absolutely be concerned about our ports. But the security standards won’t change because of this deal.

FP: Should the congressional review go forward?

JJC: I think it is appropriate. The legislation that created the Committee on Foreign Direct Investment hasn’t been reviewed in the post-September 11 world. Congress should absolutely be allowed to review the requirements it originally put down.

James Jay Carafano is a senior fellow for national security and homeland security at the Heritage Foundation