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Group from Salina Diocese attends Convocation

What an incredible experience! The nation’s bishops were privileged to interact with some wonderful Catholic people. In my case, not only did I get to know better some of those doing wonderful ministries in parishes throughout our diocese, but I also got to listen to some incredible speakers on the national level.

The background to the Convocation was Pope Francis’ wonderful Encyclical, Evangelium Gaudium. It is there that Pope Francis points out that there are three focuses to evangelization and ministry. The first is that which we typically associate with parish life: Mass and Sacramental ministries, along with parish community events. This focus of ministry grounds the life of practicing Catholics and leads us more deeply into communion with our triune God.  

A second focus of evangelization is to those who no longer practice the Catholic faith regularly. They remain a part of our church, perhaps in an imperfect communion, but they are a part of us. Reaching out to them is critical to the wellbeing of the body of Christ — the Church. 

A third focus of ministry is on those who have no relationship with Christ. This is what most Catholics associate with the term evangelization. For us to preach the Gospel to them, especially by living joyful lives that witness to God’s love and mercy, is crucial. In one way or another the Convocation spoke to each of these levels of ministry and fruitful ideas for evangelization flowed. 

There was a host of different breakout sessions each participant could go to. Like most diocesan representations, our group chose to split up so that the eight of us could cover as many of the topics as possible. I focused on contemporary culture and media, vocations to priesthood and religious life  and the concerns of rural life in America. 

If there were one significant take-away for me, it would be that I don’t want to face God one day never having invited at least one person into the joys and life that I know as a Roman Catholic. What an incredible blessing it would be for our diocese if every member, in the remaining weeks of summer, invited one person who has no church to consider becoming Catholic. After all, there isn’t one community in our diocese that doesn’t have unchurched people. Our RCIA groups would flourish, our parishes would grow, and the body of Christ would be more complete. Success, however, isn’t the key. 

The key is to be an instrument of God’s grace by issuing the invitation. So — if you’re willing — look around, and trust me, you’ll find that person Jesus wants you to invite to the Church. Let go of the fear of rejection or failure. Be the evangelizing Catholic that Christ calls you to be today.­

Annual men’s conference to focus on mission of men

Hays — Catholic men aren’t wimps.

That’s one topic that will be addressed by Dr. Ray Guarendi at the sixth annual Salina Diocesan Men’s Conference on Saturday, Aug. 12 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

Dr. Guarendi is the father of 10, is a clinical psychologist, author, professional speaker and national radio and TV host.  “In my experience as a psychologist, I’ve seen a lot of wimpy men,” he said. “They let their wives carry the domestic load, the discipline load and the Church load.  “I can’t tell you how much a wife complains about men not standing up and being men. The women are not happy about carrying all of that load.”  Dr. Guarendi will also talk about his reversion to the Catholic faith in his talk “The Logic of Being Catholic.”

The day-long conference will begin at 8 a.m. with the Rosary. Other aspects of the conference include Eucharistic adoration, Reconciliation, Mass with Bishop Edward Weisenburger, lunch, and Q&A.  Capuchin Father John Lager, who is the national chaplain of Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), will also present two talks: “Living in Integrity and with Purpose” and “Being a Christian Man in a Secular and Superficial World.”

The theme for the conference, which is open to all men high school and older, is “Men on a Mission.”  “My experience is that if there isn’t a clear direction or mission we are called to keep our eyes on, it’s easy to be distracted and manipulated by culture. It’s easy to get lost,” Father Lager said.

In addition to FOCUS, he is the co-founder of Marked Men for Christ, an international men’s ministry.  “The whole purpose is how do we continue to deepen our own personal spirituality and prayer life,” Father Lager said. “How can we be leaders in our families and parishes and marketplace in today’s world? Without a clear vision of a mission, that will never happen.”

A native of Angelus, Father Lager attended minor seminary in Victoria. His intention was to study for the diocesan priesthood, but the seminary formation drew him to the Capuchin life.

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Celebrating the beauty of family

The Register

Salina — He was from a big family; she was from a small one.

Santos Bonilla grew up with nine siblings. Marlene, who he married in 1969, grew up with three siblings.  “The family was a joke that he wanted a small family and I wanted a large family,” Marlene said. “We had five kids, so we both got our wish.”  In advance of the 2017 Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, which is July 23-29, the Bonillas sat down to talk about the year’s theme, which is “It’s time! Say ‘Yes’ to God’s plan for married love.”

Early in their marriage, Santos said they were introduced to Natural Family Planning (NFP), which is defined as methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

 

They had three children by the time they encountered NFP while they were living in Topeka.  “I thought NFP was kind of crazy because I didn’t know what it was,” Santos said. “I thought they were trying to control me. I thought ‘They’re not going to control me.’   “She started learning it and I was rather resistant because I didn’t know much about my own religion.”  The couple was involved with adult education, which is where the concept was introduced to them.  “We learned it from other Catholics,” Marlene said.

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Now accepting applications for century farm award

Wilson — On Sunday, August 20, the Salina Diocese Catholic Rural Life Commission will sponsor the annual Catholic Rural Life Day. Rural Life Day is at 3 p.m. Aug. 20 at St. Wenceslaus Parish.  

The highlight of the observance is the presentation of the Msgr. John George Weber Century Farm Awards. Any Catholic family who has been in charge of a farm, owned, or operated a farm for one hundred years or more is eligible for the award. 

The 2017 awards are primarily for the parishes in the East Central Deanery, however, any Catholic family in the diocese who meets the criteria for the Century Farm Award may apply. 

The plaque is a nice remembrance of our ancestors and a great way to foster our Catholic heritage and faith. The award ceremony will be followed by refreshments and socializing. 

The stories of the families for the Century Farm Award reflect the growth of the faith and the Church in our diocese. The family story affects and reflects the story of their local parish as well. 

The Rural Life Commission serves the mission of the Church by promoting the care of God's creation and the welfare of the people who depend on it. 

For additional information, please visit http://salinadiocese.org/rural-life, or call Father Rich Daise (785)-462-2179 or Father Brian Lager (785)-434-4658.

Natural Family Planning is empowering, unifying for marriage

For The Register

“NFP? That’s just the Catholic Church’s version of birth control, right?”

“You use NFP? You must want a dozen kids!”

“NFP isn’t a guaranteed method of preventing pregnancy, so you might want to consider an additional method of birth control.”

How many times have you heard, or worse, expressed, any of those statements? I’ve been on the receiving end of such comments (unsurprisingly, I heard the last one from my former OB/GYN) numerous times in the 12 years I’ve been married, and even prior to that as my husband and I were learning the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning (NFP) during our engagement. It doesn’t get any easier to hear the tone of incredulity or shock in the voices of those with whom I’m discussing NFP or my husband’s and my use of it, but I have become much more confident in explaining why we use it. I’d like to share three of those reasons with you here in the hope that it will either confirm what you know and already practice or, if you are not currently utilizing this tool, entice you to give NFP a closer look.

First, NFP is empowering and personal in a way that no birth control can ever be. When taught and learned properly, NFP gives the couple knowledge about the woman’s body — the signs and cycles that make her and her fertility unique. For my husband and me, knowing how my body is supposed to work, how God intended it to work, is a powerful tool and brings a different level of intimacy to our marriage. It not only aids us when it comes to planning our family, but it helps us gain a clear picture of my overall reproductive health. I have friends who have credited NFP with helping them discover health problems or with helping their doctor figure out how to treat those issues. Knowledge is power! 

It further empowers us by teaching that regardless of what our national culture would have us believe, we really can be in control of our sexual desires and delay gratification! (Bet you’ll never hear that from Hollywood!)   

Conversely, conventional birth control methods — pills, IUDs, diaphragms, condoms, etc. — are wholly impersonal and are marketed (dare I say, used?) as a fix for something that isn’t broken or to simply make controlling your sexual desires less worrisome. They take meaning away from the act of love that God designed sex to embody and reduce it to merely a physical act that now has a commercial element. Yes, commerce enters into the birth control picture because you have to pay someone else for a product that will help you gain control over your fertility — a bandaid for something that isn’t broken — or let you give in to whatever your body desires whenever the urge strikes. 

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New family life event planned

The Register

Salina — Families are invited to gather July 28 and 29 to join in praise and worship music, Eucharistic adoration and an inspiring message.  This is the first year for Prayer and Praise for Children and Families, which is sponsored by the Office of Family Life.  “In our rural diocese it is difficult to sponsor diocesan wide events with much success due to the large geographical size,” said Corey Lyon, Director of the Office of Family Life. “Many parishes sponsor family events, but it is important for the diocese to organize family events as well to provide opportunities for the faithful to appreciate their belonging to something beyond just their local community.”

In order to cover a larger geographic region, an event is planned in both Colby and Salina.  Mike and Kelley Burns will provide praise and worship music for both events. The Burns’ live in Columbia, Mo., with their four children, ages 3 to 13, two dogs and six chickens. 

Married for 14 years, the duo met while singing in the church choir in college. Mike is a pharmacy manager and Kelley is the part-time director of a local non-profit focused on music education. The couple continues to sing and play music at church as well as volunteer with National Marriage Encounter.

“Our hope is to provide an opportunity for families to pray and worship and draw closer to the heart of Jesus together,” Lyon said. “The young people of our diocese who attend Steubenville Conferences, NCYC, the Diocesan CYO Convention, or other similar events have an opportunity to experience Praise and Worship and eucharistic adoration in a large group. Often, adult Catholics do not often have access to this experience. These can be very powerful moments that draw many people to conversion and are often not long forgotten.”

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Annual Catholic Charities fundraiser is July 23

The Register

Salina — Supporters have the chance to double their donation for the 12th Annual Catholic Charities Fundraiser. Donations up to $100,000 will be doubled, thanks to a multitude of anonymous donors, said Eric Frank, Director of Development for Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas.

“This is the largest donation match we’ve had to date,” Frank said. “Only God can make things like this happen. Now, more families in crisis­ can get the help they need to improve their lives.”  The annual fundraiser contributes to a large portion of the organization’s annual operating budget. The event will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m. July 23 at the Salina Country Club, 2101 E. Country Club Rd., Salina. Seating is limited for the event, and an RSVP is required.

This will be the second year the event is at the Salina Country Club.  “We saw many new faces at the event last year,” Frank said. “Some stated we’re advancing the event to another level.”  Catholic Charities hit the next level, only in terms of location, but last year’s fundraiser raised the most to date — more than $294,000. This year, Frank said the goal is to hit the $300,000 mark.

In April, Catholic Charities celebrated the grand opening of its new location at 1500 S. Ninth in Salina. An anonymous donor and the “Yesterday, Today and Forever” Campaign paid for much of the facility, Frank said. Yet there are a few items left to pay for, as well as the ongoing general operating expenses. 

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Catholic News Headlines

  • By Patrick DownesHONOLULU (CNS) -- An Oahu pro-life pregnancy resource center and a national network of pregnancy resource centers have filed a federal lawsuit to halt the enforcement of a new Hawaii law that requires such centers to "advertise" contraception and abortion "services." Attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit legal group that supports religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and other issues, filed the suit July 12 on behalf of a Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor center called A Place for Women, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, which represents most of Hawaii's five other pregnancy counseling centers. The Hawaii Legislature passed S.B. 501 May 4, and Gov. David Ige signed it into law July 11. It compels Hawaii's six pregnancy care centers to post or distribute information referring clients to state-provided prenatal services that would include contraception and abortion. Failure to provide this information would incur a fine of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense. The lawsuit, Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor v. Chin, asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to declare S.B. 501 unconstitutional. It lists Hawaii Attorney General Douglas S. Chin and Ige as defendants. Alliance Defending Freedom also filed a motion July 12 for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the law while the case is being considered. "This is a government-compelled speech issue," said Hawaii Catholic Conference communications director Eva Andrade. "You cannot force someone to post something against their beliefs." S.B. 501 requires "limited service pregnancy centers" to display "in a clear and conspicuous place" the following message on letter-size paper in no less than 22-point-size type: "Hawaii has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, including, but not limited to, all FDA-approved methods of contraception and pregnancy-related services for eligible women. To apply online for medical insurance coverage, that will cover the full range of family planning and prenatal care services, go to mybenefits.hawaii.gov. Only ultrasounds performed by qualified health care professionals and read by advanced clinicians should be considered medically accurate." An alternative would be to give each client a "printed or digital notice" of the message in no less than 14-point-size type. "Freedom of speech also means the freedom to not express views that would violate one's conscience," said Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Elissa Graves in a news release. "Yet, under this law, Hawaii is forcing pro-life centers and physicians to provide free advertising for the abortion industry against their conscience. Because of the First Amendment's protections, courts have repeatedly rejected these types of laws as unconstitutional." According to Alliance Defending Freedom, courts on the U.S. mainland have "invalidated or mostly invalidated" similar laws in Texas, Maryland and New York City. Hawaii has six pro-life pregnancy counseling centers and all have some kind of religious affiliation. The Pregnancy Problem Center of Hawaii in Oahu was founded by a Catholic, Robert Pearson. According to their websites, all offer pregnancy tests and counseling. Most advertise adoption information, childbirth classes, abstinence education, and post-abortion recovery counseling. Some offer ultrasound exams. Some centers explicitly say they do not offer abortions or abortion referrals, while offering information about "abortion methods and risks." - - - Downes is editor of the Hawaii Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Honolulu.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Peter Nicholls, ReutersBy Simon CaldwellMANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Pope Francis is praying for the parents of Charlie Gard after a U.S. doctor told them nothing could be done to help their son. Chris Gard and Connie Yates announced in London's High Court July 24 that they had ended their legal struggle to take their baby overseas for treatment after a U.S. neurologist, Dr. Michio Hirano, said he was no longer willing to offer Charlie experimental nucleoside therapy after he examined the results of a new MRI scan. Their decision means that the child, who suffers from encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, will receive only palliative care and most likely will die before his first birthday Aug. 4. Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said in a July 24 statement that Pope Francis, who had taken a personal interest in the case, "is praying for Charlie and his parents and feels especially close to them at this time of immense suffering." He said: "The Holy Father asks that we join in prayer that they may find God's consolation and love." The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales also issued a statement July 24 in which they expressed their "deepest sympathy and compassion" for Charlie and his parents. "It is for Charlie, his parents and family that we all pray, hoping that they are able, as a family, to be given the support and the space to find peace in the days ahead," the statement said. "Their farewell to their tiny and precious baby touches the hearts of all who, like Pope Francis, have followed this sad and complex story. Charlie's life will be lovingly cherished until its natural end," the statement continued. A July 24 statement from the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, a bioethical institute of the Catholic Church in the U.K. and Ireland, said it was now time "to remember the preciousness of the child at the heart of this case, and to allow his parents to be with him until he passes from this life." "If further treatment may no longer be worthwhile, Charlie's life is inherently worthwhile, having the dignity and irreplaceability of every human life, and this will remain so even in the coming days," it said. Charlie's parents, who live in London, had fought for eight months for medical help that might have saved the life of their son. They raised 1.3 million pounds (US$1.7 million) to take him abroad for treatment, but the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London had argued that Charlie was beyond help and that it was not in his best interests to be kept alive, triggering a protracted legal battle with the parents that led to interventions from U.S. President Donald Trump and from the pope. "We are about to do the hardest thing that we'll ever have to do, which is to let our beautiful little Charlie go," the parents said in their statement to the court. "Put simply, this is about a sweet, gorgeous, innocent little boy who was born with a rare disease, who had a real, genuine chance at life and a family who love him so very dearly, and that's why we fought so hard for him." "Had Charlie been given the treatment sooner, he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy," they said. "We have always believed that Charlie deserved a chance at life." "One thing that does give us the slightest bit of comfort is that we truly believe that Charlie may have been too special for this cruel world," they continued. Concluding the statement, the couple said: "Mummy and Daddy love you so much Charlie, we always have and we always will, and we are so sorry that we couldn't save you. We had the chance but we weren't allowed to give you that chance. Sweet dreams baby. Sleep tight our beautiful little boy."- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Andrew Gombert, EPABy Julie AsherWASHINGTON (CNS) -- U.S. senators must reject any bill that would replace the Affordable Care Act unless such a measure "protects poor and vulnerable people, including immigrants, safeguards the unborn and supports conscience rights," said the chairman of the U.S. bishops' domestic policy committee.Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Senate to fix problems with the ACA in a more narrow way, rather than repeal it without an adequate replacement. "Both the American Health Care Act legislation from the U.S. House of Representatives and the Better Care Reconciliation Act from the Senate were seriously flawed, and would have harmed those most in need in unacceptable ways," Bishop Dewane said.The House passed its bill to repeal and replace the ACA health care law May 4 with a close vote of 217 to 213. The Senate's version collapsed July 17 after four Republican senators said they couldn't support it, leaving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, short of the 50 votes needed to bring the bill to the floor for a debate."In the face of difficulties passing these proposals, the appropriate response is not to create greater uncertainty, especially for those who can bear it least, by repealing the ACA without a replacement," he said.Bishop Dewane made the comments in a July 20 letter to U.S. senators released July 21.President Donald Trump had lunch with the GOP senators at the White House July 19 in an effort to get them to commit to moving forward a repeal and replace measure. A new Senate draft of a bill was released July 20, and McConnell is expected to hold a vote to begin debate July 25.Bishop Dewane referred back to a Jan. 18 letter in which the U.S. bishops "encouraged Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion to protect vulnerable Americans and preserve important gains in health care coverage and access." That letter reiterated principles he said the bishops laid out when the ACA was being debated in early 2010. "All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born," the bishops said at the time. "The bishops' conference believes health care should be truly universal and it should be genuinely affordable.""Before any legislation had been proposed, the bishops were clear" in their Jan. 18 letter to lawmakers, Bishop Dewane said, "that a repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act ought not be undertaken without the concurrent passage of a replacement plan that ensures access to adequate health care for the millions of people who now rely upon it for their well-being."To end coverage for those who struggle every day without an adequate alternative in place would be devastating," he said. "Nothing has changed this analysis." At the same time, "reform is still needed to address the ACA's moral deficiencies and challenges with long-term sustainability," Bishop Dewane said."Problems with the ACA can be fixed with more narrow reforms, and in a bipartisan way," he said, "Congress can extend full Hyde Amendment protections to the ACA, enact laws that protect the conscience rights of all stakeholders in health care, protect religious freedom, and pass legislation that begins to remove current and impending barriers to access and affordability, particularly for those most in need."In an analysis issued late July 20, the Congressional Budget office said the new version would still increase the current number of uninsured Americans by 22 million by 2026. In 2016, 28 million people were uninsured last year; in 2010, just over 48 million were uninsured in 2010, the year the ACA was signed into law by President Barack Obama.It would reduce average premiums in the ACA exchanges by 25 percent in 2026, end the individual and employer mandates, and rescind the Medicaid expansion under the current law. Taxes on investment income and payroll taxes affecting higher-income Americans would remain.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Atef Safati, EPABy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis called on Muslims and Jews in the Holy Land to "moderation and dialogue" as tensions continued around a key site in Jerusalem that is sacred to members of both faiths. After reciting the Angelus July 23, the pope asked people gathered in St. Peter's Square for the midday prayer to join him in asking the Lord to inspire reconciliation and peace in the region. Tensions in Jerusalem have been high since July 14 when three Israeli Arabs armed with knives and guns killed two Israeli police officers at an entrance to the site the Jews call Temple Mount and the Muslims call Haram al-Sharif. The site includes the Western Wall and Al Aqsa mosque. In his main Angelus talk, Pope Francis spoke about the parable of the weeds among the wheat from the Sunday Gospel reading. The farmer in the parable from the Gospel of Matthew tells his workers not to pull up all the weeds because they might uproot the wheat, but to wait until the harvest when the wheat and weeds can be separated. "With this image, Jesus tells us that in this world good and evil are so intertwined that it is impossible to separate them and eradicate all the evil -- only God can do that," the pope said. Human beings are called to the "difficult exercise of discernment" in choosing between good and what is evil, he said, and when they fail -- which all people do sometimes -- the church stands ready to help with the grace of baptism and of confession. Like the farmer in the parable, the pope said, God calls Christians to be patient as they await the harvest. "Patience means preferring a church that is leaven in the dough, that is not afraid of getting its hands dirty washing the clothes of its children, rather than being a church of the 'pure,' who insist on judging beforehand who is in the kingdom of God and who isn't."- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Eugene Garcia, EPABy Carolyn MackenzieWASHINGTON (CNS) -- While Capitol Hill and much of the nation have been following the roller coaster of debate surrounding what will come of GOP efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, some are focused on what President Donald Trump's proposed tax plan might mean for charitable giving. His proposed tax plan would place a cap on total itemized deductions, including those for charitable giving. By raising the standard deduction and eliminating the estate tax, experts say that this plan would reduce incentives that often prompt donations to charities. According to Giving USA's "Annual Report on Philanthropy," individual donors drove the rise in philanthropic giving seen in 2016. Giving to religion increased by 3 percent, 1.8 percent adjusted for inflation, in 2016, with an estimated $122.94 billion in contributions. This accounted for 32 percent of all charitable giving in 2016, which totaled at $390.05 billion. The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy prepares these estimates for the Giving USA Foundation. Though giving rates rose across the board, giving by individuals grew at a higher rate than did giving by foundations or corporations. Rick Dunham, board member of Giving USA and CEO of Dunham+Company, a consulting company based in Plano, Texas, remarked that two factors that significantly affect charitable giving are the stock market and attendance at religious services. "When you look at those who give charitably, there's a direct correlation between those who attend church or religious services at least weekly," Dunham told Catholic News Service in a phone interview. Furthermore, Dunham noted, donations by the top 2 percent of income earners account for a large percentage of charitable giving by individuals. As such, the stock market has a direct impact upon charitable giving. Joseph Rosenberg, senior researcher at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center in Washington, noted that tax incentives are just one of many reasons why people donate to charity. One tax policy that may motivate donations, he explained, is the individual income tax deduction for charitable contributions. "The clear consensus is that the deduction does increase giving," Rosenberg told CNS. "It's unclear how big the size of the effect is." While it is theoretically available to all taxpayers, Rosenberg observed, as an itemized deduction it goes unused by most taxpayers, who claim a standard deduction instead. "Roughly speaking, only about 30 percent of taxpayers elect to itemize deductions," Rosenberg said. "But, those 30 percent obviously make up a very large chunk of charitable giving, in particular our higher income households." Under Trump's proposed plan, the standard deduction would double. For the 2016 tax year, the standard deduction for singles and married persons filing separate returns was $6,300; under Trump's plan it would be $12,600. For married couples filing jointly it was $12,600 in 2016; under Trump's plan it would be $24,000. Rosenberg indicated that an increase in the standard deduction would result in a decrease in the number of people who itemize their deductions. If people who choose the standard deduction make charitable donations, Rosenberg explained, they are not necessarily paying more taxes than they would if they choose to itemize. "It does mean that what they're sort of mentally thinking about is, 'What if I gave $100 more to charity?'" Rosenberg said. "If they're not itemizing their deductions, they're not changing their taxes. They get no additional tax benefit unless they itemize." Dunham affirmed that an increase in the standard deduction would likely reduce the amount that people give to charity. "I don't believe that the charitable tax deduction is an incentive to give as much as it is an incentive to give more," Dunham said. Lucas Swanepoel, senior director of government affairs at Catholic Charities USA, said that with less of an incentive, donations from individuals will likely decrease, calling it an "unintended consequence." "If we were to double the standard deduction, only about 5 percent of taxpayers would itemize," Swanepoel told CNS, citing a study done by Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The same study found that reducing the top tax bracket to 35 percent and doubling the standard deduction, as outlined in Trump's plan, could potentially lead to a $13.1 billion reduction in charitable giving, which Dunham also noted. The study further estimates that this would reduce charitable giving to religious congregations by up to 4.7 percent. "One of the interesting things about the Indiana University study is that it looked at secular givers and religious givers," Swanepoel said. "Even in religious giving, we see that there is a change in incentive to give based on tax policy." A second issue that Rosenberg raised is that of the estate tax, which Trump often refers to as the "death tax." Trump's proposal would eliminate the estate tax. Under current tax law, if the decedent leaves property to a qualifying charity, that amount is deductible. "When people die, they can leave assets to charity and they get a full deduction against the estate tax," Rosenberg said. According to Giving USA, giving by bequest accounted for 8 percent, or $30.36 billion, of all charitable giving in 2016. "There should be some concern about what would happen to charitable bequests if they eliminate the estate tax," Rosenberg said. "That's not to say that folks like Warren Buffett wouldn't leave their money to charity just because they're not getting a deduction." Dunham explained that while giving by bequest accounts for about 8 percent of charitable giving, giving by individuals accounts for about 72 percent. As such, Dunham expressed more concern about the changes that may occur with itemized deductions under Trump's proposed plan. Swanepoel highlighted other important aspects of tax policy, such as the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit, that are important for families and low income individuals, explaining that charitable giving is just one dimension of charity in tax law. "We want to foster a culture of giving, and the tax code is one way in which we help that effort," Swanepoel said. Trump's plan proposes to boost the child and dependent care credit, according to a one-page document distributed by the White House. The Trump administration released this proposal April 26 and hopes to have a tax plan in place before Congress departs for its August recess.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.