Catholic Conference of Ohio
Thursday, December 7, 2023

Issues - Catholic Conference of Ohio

Marriage & Family Life

God established the family as the basic cell of human society. Marriage ought to be protected as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman and our laws should reflect this principle. Policies related to the definition of marriage, taxes, the workplace, divorce, and welfare should be designed to help families stay together and to reward responsibility and sacrifice for children.

For Your Marriage Resources developed in conjunction with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage

Marriage: Unique for a Reason is an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage

Marriage: Love And Life in the Divine Plan United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Pastoral Letter on Marriage, November 17, 2009

CCO Testified in Support of the Strong Foundations Act

This week, the Catholic Conference of Ohio testified in support of HB 7, The Strong Foundations Act, to support Ohio mothers and babies in their first one thousand days to address maternal and infant mortality. The bill would help improve health and development outcomes for babies and mothers through expanded prenatal, postnatal, infant, and toddler health care and early intervention and wraparound services and supports. HB 7 resonates strongly with the Catholic Church’s commitment to solidarity with vulnerable women and preborn children and complements the support offered through Catholic Charities and programs like Walking with Moms in Need.

Supporting Ohio Women in Need

CCO was grateful that the approved budget (HB 33) included a number of items which we advocated for to invest in pregnant women, children, and other vulnerable Ohioans.

See How the Catholic Church in Ohio Supports Women in Need to learn more about the Catholic ministries that help women, children, and families in Ohio and the CCO's advocacy for structural support for women in need. 

Click "Read More" to view and download the flyer. 

2023 “People of Life” Awards

Recognizing the Work of Champions of Pro-Life Cause

Three champions of the pro-life cause were honored on July 17 at the 2023 People of Life awards during the annual Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference in Toledo, Ohio. This year's honorees are Margaret H. (Peggy) Hartshorn, Ph.D. (from Columbus, Ohio), Aurora Tinajero, and Dr. Kathryn Moseley. Approximately 80 diocesan Catholic pro-life leaders and guests attended the private awards dinner, including Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities. Also in attendance was Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Toledo, and Bishop Earl K. Fernandes of Columbus.

The People of Life award recognizes Catholics who have answered the call outlined by Saint John Paul II in The Gospel of Life (Evangelium vitae, 1995) by dedicating themselves to pro-life activities and promoting respect for the dignity of the human person. It is bestowed in honor of their significant and longtime contributions to the culture of life.

CCO Statement on the FY24-25 State Budget

Executive Director of the Catholic Conference of Ohio, Brian Hickey, issued the following statement commending the expansion of school choice and increased support of pregnant women, children, and other vulnerable Ohioans in the FY24-25 State Budget.

“Ohio's FY24-25 State Budget puts parents and children first in their educational decisions by providing the largest expansion of school choice in Ohio's history. For decades, the Catholic Church in Ohio and nationwide has consistently advocated for public policy that enables children of all backgrounds, no matter their income or zip code, to meaningfully access a school of their choice. The Catholic Conference of Ohio thanks Governor Mike DeWine, Senate President Matt Huffman, and Speaker Jason Stephens for their leadership in allowing every student to receive an EdChoice Scholarship for use at one of Ohio's hundreds of Catholic or other eligible schools.

Additionally, the CCO is grateful for budget items that invest in pregnant women, children, and other vulnerable Ohioans. These include expanding the eligibility of the Ohio Works First cash assistance for a woman's entire pregnancy, eliminating sales tax for baby products, an essential provision to stabilize non-profit senior affordable housing, and a boost in pay for direct-care professionals. We look forward to supporting more policies that express closer solidarity with mothers, families, and vulnerable Ohioans, furthering a culture of life and civilization of love."

Click "Read more" for additional details.

CCO Advocates for Prioritizing Families and Women and Children in Need in HB33

CCO Executive Director, Brian Hickey, sent a letter to members of the HB33 FY24-25 operating budget conference committee advocating for the rights of parents to choose the educational option that best fits their children and for addressing the needs of pregnant women, seniors, and children. Click “Read more” to view the full letter. 

CCO Testified in Support of Married Couples and SAFE Act Passes Out of the House

On Tuesday, CCO testified in support of House Bill 199 that would modify the tax credit offered to married couples filing in Ohio. Under the current tax code, married couples in Ohio often receive a tax penalty, as the couple pays more in taxes than they would if they filed taxes as unmarried individuals. HB 199 changes the computation of the non-refundable tax credit offered to married couples, so that marriage will no longer carry a tax burden. The Catholic Conference expressed that the expanded credit represents a step toward a society that privileges marriage and family life.

Also, House Bill 68, the Saving Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, which would ban gender transition drugs and surgeries for minors and includes the Save Women’s Sports Act, passed out of the House Chamber on Wednesday with a 64-28 vote. The bill will now head to the Ohio Senate. The CCO testified in support of the legislation in April.

CCO Statement on Passage of the Ohio Senate Budget

The following statement is from Catholic Conference of Ohio Executive Director Brian Hickey on the passage of the Ohio Senate budget:

“The historic school choice expansion in the Ohio Senate budget would allow every student in Ohio to receive a scholarship to attend a school of their choice, including one of Ohio’s hundreds of Catholic schools. This expansion adheres to the Catholic Church’s teaching that parents, as the primary educators, have a fundamental right to choose a school for their children, and public authorities have the duty to guarantee this right. Ohio’s Catholic school community is grateful for the Senate leadership’s support in putting Ohio families and children first in their educational decisions.

The Catholic Conference of Ohio will ask the Conferencing Committee to keep these education provisions in the final budget and maintain provisions in the House version that address the needs of vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, seniors, and children. Public policy must promote the common good and allow all people to develop holistically, especially those needing assistance.”

CCO Testified in Support of Modernizing the Ohio Adoption System and SAFE Act Passed Out of House Committee

On Tuesday, June 13, CCO testified in support of House Bill 5, to modernize the adoption process in Ohio, affirming that adoption is a loving choice and the importance of supporting parents during and after pregnancy and placement. The Catholic faith sees adoptive parents as exemplars of those who fulfill the “works of mercy” that Jesus Christ enjoined on His followers to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and shelter the homeless. The Catholic Church continues to advocate for and work to create a world where every child is cared for and receives the blessing of a loving home. If passed, HB5 would raise the adoption living expense disbursement to the birth mother from $3,000 to $6,000, simplify the process of finalizing international adoptions, and permit adult adoption of those with developmental disabilities. 

Also, House Bill 68, the Saving Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, which would ban gender transition drugs and surgeries for minors, passed out of the House Public Health Policy Committee on Wednesday with a 7-6 vote. It will now head to the full House Chamber for a floor vote. The Save Women’s Sports Act to require schools, state institutions of higher education, and private colleges to designate separate single-sex teams and sports for each sex was included in the bill that passed out of committee.

CCO Testifies in Support of Exempting Baby Products from Sales Tax

On Tuesday, May 23, CCO testified in support of House Bill 118, which would exempt baby products from Ohio sales tax. CCO views this bill as a clear opportunity to promote the common good by easing the financial burden of families with young children. Low-income families with newborn children would particularly benefit as they pay a larger share of their income in the form of sales tax. As Pope St. John Paul II wrote in his “Letter to Families,” the common good is most realized “in the newborn child.”

CCO Testifies in Support of Strong Foundations Act and EdChoice/Scholarship Funding

On Wednesday, May 3, the Catholic Conference of Ohio testified in support of HB7, the Strong Foundations Act which would support mothers and babies to address maternal and infant mortality and improve health and developmental outcomes. CCO stressed the importance of the family as the foundation of society and the Church’s commitment to solidarity with the marginalized which this bill upholds. Reference was also made to the Catholic Charities and programs like Walking with Moms in Need in which the Church accompanies and supports women, children, and families.  

Also, on Thursday, May 4, both CCO and Frank O’Linn, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Cleveland, testified to support increased funding for scholarship programs at the Ohio Senate Education Committee hearing for House Bill 33 as the Senate considers its version of the budget. They also emphasized their support for universal school choice in SB11, which would expand eligibility for Educational Choice scholarships.

(Click Read More for Testimony Quotes)