Under a new U.S. tax law, people who have donated to charities providing relief to Haitians since the Jan. 12 earthquake can take a tax deduction for the contribution on their 2009 tax return instead of their 2010 return.
The measure was passed unanimously by the House Jan. 20 and by the Senate Jan. 21. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law Jan. 22.
In 2004 Congress passed similar legislation for contributions to aid agencies helping the victims of the tsunami in Indonesia.
According to an IRS announcement posted on http://www.irs.gov, the law allows donors to receive an immediate tax benefit, rather than having to wait until they file next year’s return, but certain requirements apply:
– Only cash contributions made to charities after Jan. 11 and before March 1 are eligible. This includes contributions made by text message, check, credit card or debit card.
– Contributions must be made specifically for the relief of victims in areas affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti. Contributions can be deducted on either the 2009 tax return or the 2010 return, but not both.
The IRS announcement said that to be eligible, taxpayers must itemize their deductions on Schedule A; those who claim the standard deduction, including short-form filers, are not eligible.
Taxpayers must keep a record of any deductible donations they make, it said. For donations made by text message, a telephone bill will meet the requirement if it shows the name of the organization receiving the donation and the date and amount of the contribution. For cash contributions made by other means, taxpayers must keep a bank record, such as a cancelled check, or a receipt from the charity showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported Jan. 19 that donations to charities helping Haiti’s earthquake victims had already exceeded $220 million, which it said was “a faster pace of giving” than that for the tsunami and other international disasters.
Caritas Haiti and the U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services were delivering nearly 100 tons of food to Port-au-Prince during the week of Jan. 25 to feed at least 50,000 people in one of the city’s biggest camps, Petionville Club, Caritas Internationalis said in a statement Jan. 28.
Caritas said the church agencies had already brought food, water, medicine and other supplies to more than 25,000 people in the two weeks following the earthquake Jan. 12 that flattened Port-au-Prince. It said serious challenges remained in logistics, communication and security. People were becoming more desperate for food, but the aid was getting through, it said.
It said that as of Jan. 26, donors worldwide had contributed more than $63 million to Caritas for relief efforts in Haiti.
Before the distribution began in large camps, such as Petionville Club, relief partners needed to make sure the sites were safe, and that those most in need — the injured and elderly — would receive help first, the statement said.
To ensure the safety of both beneficiaries and staff members, Caritas distributed colored tickets to people depending on which part of the camp they lived in. Food and supplies were given to assigned quadrants each day according to ticket color.
CRS emergency response leader Donal Reilly said to Catholic News Service that to avoid confusion, recipients need to be told exactly what is happening, what they will receive and when.
“Communications with beneficiaries is so important in distributions like this,” Reilly said.
Caritas workers said the policy has worked effectively to maintain order in the distribution of supplies and food in the camps.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to U.N. agencies in Geneva, said the rebuilding effort in Haiti demands respect for basic human rights.
“In the case of Haiti, the right to life, to food, water, health, development, an adequate life expectancy, the right to decent work, among others, were already largely absent,” Archbishop Tomasi told the Human Rights Council Jan. 28.
“The recent tragedy is a call to the solidarity of the international community to respond immediately to these requirements of the Haitian people and to place these human rights at the base of a healthy plan of reconstruction,” he said.
A prayer campaign that began in 2005 to offer support to Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison has been expanded to allow Catholics nationwide to sign up to pray for their bishops online.
Rosary for the Bishop was inspired by a passage from Chapter 17 of Exodus, which refers to Aaron and Hur holding up Moses’ hands during battle.
“We need to support our bishops’ hands so that they do not weary in the battle for the faith,” said Syte Reitz, a Madison-area Catholic who initiated the campaign.
“Many Catholics pray the rosary every day,” he added in a Catholic News Service article. “Why not pray one for our bishops? They are our shepherds, and their job is not easy. They need and deserve our prayers.”
Reitz’s son, Tom, then a computer science student, developed the Web site at http://www.rosaryforthebishop.org where people can sign up online to pray for multiple bishops, if they wish. There also is an option for users to receive a reminder message by e-mail or Twitter when they are scheduled to pray.
As of Jan. 27, the site had more than 350 members who pledged to pray the rosary for 35 bishops.
Three leading U.S. bishops called on members of Congress Jan. 26 to “set aside partisan divisions and special-interest pressures” to achieve genuine health reform.
“The health care debate, with all its political and ideological conflict, seems to have lost its central moral focus and policy priority, which is to ensure that affordable, quality, life-giving care is available to all,” said a letter signed by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Bishops William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., and John C. Wester of Salt Lake City.
The three chair the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committees on Pro-Life Activities, on Domestic Justice and Human Development and on Migration, respectively.
In the two-and-a-half-page letter, Catholic News Service states that the USCCB leaders outlined their “fundamental principles” for health care reform, saying it must:
– “Protect human life and dignity, not threaten them.”
– “Respect the consciences of providers, taxpayers and others, not violate them.”
– “Be truly universal and … not be denied to those in need because of their condition, age, where they come from or when they arrive here.”
– Restrain costs and apply them “equitably across the spectrum of payers.”
Although the letter did not refer specifically to the Jan. 19 election of Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts to the U.S. Senate, the bishops said, “Although political contexts have changed, the moral and policy failure that leaves tens of millions of our sisters and brothers without access to health care still remains.”
Pope Benedict XVI praised the rapid and generous response from the international community toward the people of Haiti and the bravery of all those who engaged in on-the-ground rescue efforts.
He also pledged that the Catholic Church would continue to help those in need build a brighter future, Catholic News Service reported.
The pope’s comments came in two telegrams sent Jan. 16 in the wake of the magnitude 7 earthquake that hit the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, Jan. 12, leaving at least 100,000 dead and an estimated 3 million people injured or homeless. The Vatican published the telegrams Jan. 25.
In a telegram addressed to Archbishop Louis Kebreau of Cap-Haitien, president of the Haitian bishops’ conference, the pope praised “the extremely rapid mobilization of the international community” and the church in response to the crisis. The church was going to continue to bring emergency relief to those in need and help “patiently rebuild devastated areas,” he wrote.
The telegram also included the pope’s condolences and “deep sadness” for the death of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot of Port-au-Prince, who died when the impact of the quake hurled him from a balcony.
The pope prayed for all those who lost their lives, including men and women religious, priests and seminarians.
He asked that in this “moment of darkness” Mary would guide everyone to overcome any sense of “isolation and ‘every man for himself’ with solidarity.”
In a telegram to Haitian President Rene Preval, Pope Benedict assured all those struck by “this frightening catastrophe” of his prayers.
He expressed his hopes that the generosity being shown toward Haiti would continue and would reach and offer relief to those in need.
May those affected by the quake “find comfort in knowing the entire international community is concretely taking care of them,” he wrote.
“I deeply appreciate the commitment by all those, from Haiti and abroad, who are doing everything possible to look for and help survivors, sometimes putting their own lives at risk,” the pope wrote.
He assured Preval that the Catholic Church, through its various organizations and institutions, “will remain at the side of the people struck by this adversity” and will help them rediscover the possibility of a better future.
A poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and released Jan. 21 said that a majority of Americans called abortion “morally wrong.” Americans in all age groups made that judgment in the poll, conducted by Marist College. The Knights paid the greatest attention in an announcement of the poll results to the “millennial” age group, those ages 18-29, because they were intentionally oversampled in the survey. Of the 2,243 Americans polled, 1,006 of them were millennial. And 58 percent of the millennials called abortion morally wrong. More than 60 percent of seniors ages 65 and up called abortion morally wrong, as did 60 percent of those from Generation X (ages 30-44) and 51 percent of baby boomers (ages 45-64). By comparison, 19 percent of all those polled — and 20 percent of the millennials — said abortion was “morally acceptable.”
St. Mary’s University’s students, faculty, staff and alumni are gearing up for the University’s bi-annual day of service, Continuing the Heritage, tomorrow Saturday, Jan. 23.
This past fall semester’s Continuing the Heritage broke the St. Mary’s record books with more than 500 people volunteering, giving more than 2,100 community service hours in one day. As a result, the Service Learning Center is hoping to not only meet that goal, but beat it!
Tomorrow’s Continuing the Heritage event will include a number of opportunities:
- The University Park Neighborhood Association is an active group of residents near St. Mary’s University that works to improve community life in the area. Groups of students, faculty, staff and alumni will paint the exterior of the house at 558 Marquette and assist with landscaping at 357 Westminster between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
- At Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower’s Garden of St. Therese students will repaving the paths and building planters for the community garden. Work will take place from 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
- For the first time St. Mary’s will be joined by students, teachers and parents from fellow Marianist institution, Central Catholic High School. They will join the St. Mary’s group at the Southwest Workers Union – Root for Change Community Garden at 1416 E. Commerce between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
- Construction at Haven for Hope of Bexar County is nearing completion. From 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., St. Mary’s volunteers will transport, organize, assemble and install furniture and appliances in the various service buildings and residences on the Haven for Hope campus. Haven for Hope was created by St. Mary’s alum and NuStar Energy Chairman, Bill Greehey (B.B.A. ‘60).
At a Jan. 21 Mass for leaders in the pro-life movement, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston praised the presence of young people in pro-life activities.
A new generation is rising that will usher in a culture of life,” he said in his homily during the Mass, celebrated at a Franciscan monastery in the District of Columbia.
“We should not underestimate the role of young Catholics,” said Cardinal DiNardo, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. “What a tremendous gift to have young people! What a wonderful energy they bring!”
The cardinal said young people know in their heart what is right and what is wrong when it comes to life. “They do not make some of the tortured distinctions that some of we elders have made,” he added in a report by Catholic News Service.
Cardinal DiNardo also lauded the work of leaders in the pro-life movement. About 200 of them were at the Mass, one of several events marking the 37th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
He included those working with youths, families and persons with disabilities, saying near the close of the Mass that pro-lifers work in “a wide variety of fields.”
Cardinal DiNardo urged them to share “the outrageous joy of Jesus Christ’s kingdom.”
“Our country needs the pro-life movement more than ever,” he said. “Our church needs pro-life people to work in a spirit of unity now more than ever. … I hope that, in charity, we all will work together.”
Referring to Jesus’ miracle of the loaves and fishes, he said, “When Jesus Christ asks you to do something, we have to — you and I have to — stop whining.” In doing so, Cardinal DiNardo added, “we’re not going to feed 5,000, we’re going to feed millions.”
The cardinal also referred to the First Letter to the Corinthians by St. Paul. “What word’s missing in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians?” he asked. “Love,” he said, answering his own question. “You’ve got to wait 12 chapters to read it.”
But then, in the 13th chapter, the mentions of love “come across like a 95-mile-an-hour fastball,” Cardinal DiNardo said.
“You are in the work, you are in the labor,” he told the pro-life leaders, “and that requires Catholic joy and love. With love you can hit the ball out of the park.”
Like chaplains in the U.S. military around the world, a group of Catholic chaplains meeting at the Vatican spent a full day studying how to provide pastoral and spiritual care to people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, brought 40 U.S. Catholic chaplains, who are on active military duty, to the Vatican Jan. 19-21 to discuss what’s going on in the archdiocese, learn more about responding to post-traumatic stress disorder and discuss preparations for using the new Mass translations.
Archbishop Broglio said sessions of the annual archdiocesan priests’ convocation are always scheduled in five different cities around the world; this year, one was held at the Vatican. Unless he is deployed with troops on a military mission, each chaplain is expected to attend one of the sessions, the archbishop said.
The chaplains attending the Vatican meeting went to Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly general audience Jan. 20, and Archbishop Broglio spoke briefly with the pope. The archbishop said he told the pope that Auxiliary Bishop Richard B. Higgins had recently suffered a heart attack, and the pope promised his prayers.
Archbishop Broglio said that even though the entire 2008 convocation was dedicated to post-traumatic stress disorder, it is such “a major problem for men and women in the armed services and for our own chaplains, who are deployed multiple times,” that he decided an entire day should be dedicated to the topic again.
The key speaker at the Rome meeting was Jesuit Father Richard Curry, founder and artistic director of the National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped and founder of the Writers’ Program for Wounded Warriors. The program helps veterans write dramatic monologues in order tell their stories and help begin the healing process.
“He is doing tremendous work,” the archbishop said, and has been “immensely successful” in using drama as therapy for members of the military recovering from the trauma of combat.
Archbishop Broglio said his archdiocese is responsible for the pastoral care of about 1.5 million Catholics in the military around the world and in Veterans Affairs hospitals.
With 285 active duty chaplains for the military and about 150 chaplains working in the hospitals, “we are terribly undermanned,” he told Catholic News Service.
“Our people come from another diocese and return to another diocese” once their military service is over, he said, “so they are only ours for a time.”
Anytime one of those dioceses would like to pitch in by lending a priest, the archbishop said he’s ready to talk.
The University of the Incarnate Word’s Center for Medical Tourism Research (CMTR) is presenting the first ever medical tourism research conference, “Paradigm Shifts and Disruption — the Impact of Globalized Healthcare.”
This first ever conference will take place January 27-29at the Marriott Courtyard Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio. Medical tourism is the practice of traveling to other countries for healthcare primarily because of cost and convenience. The CMTR is located in UIW’s H-E-B School of Business & Administration and is the first in the world to focus on medical tourism research.
As the first academic center devoted to medical tourism research, CMTR has convened the initial gathering of the world’s medical tourism researchers to discuss this globalization trend in healthcare. The conference will address a wide range of issues, including the genesis and drivers of medical tourism, legal and ethical issues in medical tourism and the globalization of healthcare, assessments or evaluations of medical tourism practices (including accreditation), operational issues in delivering globalized healthcare, and marketing and consumer behavior in medical tourism.
Speakers for the event include UIW president Dr. Louis J. Agnese, Jr. and professor, David George Vequist IV, Ph.D. CMTR, founder and director. Schools, corporations and hospitals from all over the world are participating including the London School of Economics, Korean University, Boston University, Cornell, University of Colorado Medical School, Medtronic, Gallup Consulting, CHRISTUS Healthcare, Methodist Healthcare System and the University of the Incarnate Word. Conference participants include individuals from Nigeria, India, Costa Rica as well as the United States.