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February 3, 2012, Vol. 5, No. 4
En Español

In this issue: 
• Commentators Stunned by Redefinition of Religious Employer
• Life & Family Initiatives Moving toward November Ballot
• Second Year of Legislative Session Sees 4,500+ New Bills
• Fresno, San Diego Welcome New Bishops
• Operation Rice Bowl – Lent is Just Around the Corner

Commentators Stunned by Redefinition of Religious Employer

Commentators across the political spectrum are criticizing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule that private health insurance programs must cover all FDA-approved contraceptives.  Analysts are focusing on the far-ranging implications of the narrow definition of religious employers.  Under it, Catholic schools, hospitals, charities and any organization that serves people of different faiths than their own do not qualify for an exemption.

From Cardinal Roger Mahony, retired Archbishop of Los Angeles:  “I cannot imagine a more direct and frontal attack on freedom of conscience than this ruling today. This decision must be fought against with all the energies the Catholic Community can muster.”

From Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins:  “This unnecessary intervention by the government into religion disregards our nation’s commitment to the rights of conscience and the longstanding work of religious groups to help build a more compassionate society and vibrant democracy.”
 
USCCB has compiled a summary of such responses – from Bishops to secular media – which is available
here.  That page also has several mechanisms for people to express their concern over the mandate – including a USCCB Action Alert and link to a petition on the White House website asking that the mandate be rescinded.

Contact Steve Pehanich, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , for more information
 
Life & Family Initiatives Moving toward November Ballot

Catholics have joined with others around California to gather signatures for two initiatives aiming for the November ballot – parental notification before a minor receives an abortion (PNI) and an end to the use of the death penalty (SAFE).  Many parishes will ask Mass goers to sign both petitions during the month of February but dates and procedures vary by diocese.

The Bishops took the unusual step of endorsing the initiatives before they qualified for the ballot because of the importance of life and family in Catholic teaching.   Links and information on local activities can be found here along with the statements of many Bishops explaining the importance of the initiatives.

Contact Carol Hogan, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , for more information.

Second Year of Legislative Session Sees 4,500+ New Bills

California’s legislative session is two years long.  During the first year of the session, 2,710 bills were introduced; 924 passed both legislative houses and were signed into law by the Governor; and 128 were vetoed.  That’s pretty much a normal workload for the Legislature.

This year, however, two factors have led to more than 4,500 bills beginning the long legislative process.   The first factor is that 2012 is an election year.  Legislators are eager to fulfill their campaign promises and to showcase new ideas – even if they don’t pass.  Thankfully, the number of bills will be whittled down before the second year of the session ends in August 2012.  The second reason:  the state now has new districts and officials running for reelection must appeal to different – and not entirely familiar - constituencies.

In the meantime, legislative staff, advocacy groups (including the California Catholic Conference) and others will begin tracking and analyzing the bills – determining which are likely to continue in the process, which will never see the light of day and which will require several years of work before they are passed.

These groups rank the bills according to established priorities and likelihood of passage (or at least movement through the process).  Click here for a list of the legislative priorities that the California Catholic Conference uses or read Life of a Bill for more details on how bills become law.

Contact Trish Spindler, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , for more information.

Fresno, San Diego Welcome New Bishops

This week, Fresno Catholics welcomed their new bishop, Bishop Armando X. Ochoa. The Canonical Possession of the Diocese and Reception of Bishop Ochoa took place at St. John’s Cathedral in Fresno on February 1 and the Mass of Installation was held at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Fresno the next day.

San Diego welcomed their new Coadjutor Bishop, the Most Reverend Cirilo Flores, who hails from the Diocese of Orange. As Coadjutor bishop he will automatically succeed Bishop Robert Brom upon his retirement.  The Diocese of San Diego covers 8,852 square miles. It has a total population of 3,119,762 with 981,877, or 31 percent of them, Catholic.

For more information contact Trish Spindler, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Operation Rice Bowl – Lent is Just Around the Corner

Catholic Relief Services’ Operation Rice Bowl has offered Catholics in the United States a way to connect with our brothers and sisters in need around the world through the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Thousands of faith communities across the United States participate in the program each Lent to demonstrate solidarity with the poor around the world. Operation Rice Bowl develops resources to enrich the Lenten experience for parishes, schools, and families. Click here to download the resources.


Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo joined Catholic Relief Services on January 1, 2012 to serve as president and CEO.  Read her article
A Rice Bowl for All.  For more information, contact Trish Spindler This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tags: bishops of californiaconsciencecontraception mandatedeath penaltyDr. Carolyn Wooinitiativesparental notificationPNISAFE