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Press Release: NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Responds to President Obama’s State of the Union Address

FOR RELEASE: January 29, 2014

CONTACT: Stephanie Niedringhaus, 202-347-9797 x224, sniedringhaus@networklobby.org

Washington: The bipartisan, lengthy ovation for Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg, the grievously wounded Army Ranger, served as the most compelling message of President Obama’s State of the Union Address last evening. In a touching tribute, the president described how the young man sacrificed so much and worked so hard to come back from his injuries. Thankfully, he did not have to struggle alone for, as President Obama noted, he had grown stronger “with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him.”

Caring for one another, hard work and service to the nation, along with opportunity and fairness, are bedrock American values.

That is precisely why there should be strong bipartisan support for many of the issues the president spoke about in his address. Equal pay for equal work should be a given, along with healthcare for those previously denied insurance because of preexisting conditions. We must repair our tattered immigration system, which divides families. And it is simple justice that no full-time worker should have to live in poverty. President Obama was right to highlight all of these needs, and more.

Sadly, the present hyper-partisan Congress has found it almost impossible recently to come together in support of such commonsense principles. We trust that will change, and we call on Congress to make that happen for the good of the entire nation.

If it does not, we fully support President Obama’s use of executive orders to promote the common good. His current action to raise the minimum wage for government contract workers is a good first step.

The inspiring story of Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg also served to remind us of the terrible costs of war and that violence in any form, whether it involve the use of armed drones or direct combat, creates unacceptable suffering in our world. That is why we strongly support the president’s call for diplomacy to address international threats.

We heard applause when President Obama stated that “when women succeed, America succeeds.” That goes for everyone—women, men, children, people at the economic margins, people struggling to find a job, families able to purchase their first home, and everybody else in our nation. And that is why addressing injustice, including huge wealth and income disparities, helps everyone—the 100%.

As Pope Francis recently stated, “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.” Our entire nation deserves to live and to thrive.

We strongly agree with the president that this can be “a breakthrough year for America,” but we need congressional action to fully realize that dream. NETWORK intends to lobby, organize and educate throughout the year to make that dream a reality.

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