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Insights: Bishops Supporting Prop. 57, Religious Freedom at CA Colleges

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August 5, 2016

CA Bishops Supporting Prop 57, Rehabilitation

The California Catholic Conference (CCC) of Bishops offers its support for Proposition 57: The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act.  This balanced approach to the criminal justice system in our state would advance the well-being of our residents and communities by re-focusing our collective efforts on rehabilitation, treatment and education programs.  In addition, the initiative will place the decision to try juveniles as adults into the hands of those who best understand the intricacies of dealing with young people – the juvenile court.

Every day, in our parishes and ministries, we witness the devastating impact of crime on the people and families of our communities.  Victims, whose lives have often been shattered, search for answers, look for healing and seek an opportunity to voice their needs.  Families of perpetrators hide their pain, alone in their anguish and afraid to ask for help.  And the incarcerated fruitlessly search for hope as programs that offer the possibility of rehabilitation are scrapped in lieu of the high costs of prison construction.

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California Legislature Reconvenes for Last Month of Session

The California Legislature returned from its month-long summer recess this week, taking up numerous remaining bills during this last month of the two-year legislative session.

There are many important measures still on the table including AB 2590, our interfaith co-sponsored bill, dealing with sentencing and the justice system. It is in Senate Appropriations and will be taken up next week.  The author of the bill, Dr. Shirley Weber, has been a great champion in the Assembly on restorative justice issues. She is working closely with Senator Loni Hancock, who has a similar bill (SB 1324). AB 2590 continues to focus on the purpose of sentencing, which is public safety. We have several ways to achieve that goal – punishment, which is a form of accountability, rehabilitation and restorative justice. The bill would encourage the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to allow eligible inmates the opportunity to enroll in programs that promote successful return to the community.

The CCC will be tracking this and other important bills as the legislative session draws to a close. Visit our website at www.cacatholic.org for ways to help. The 2015-2016 Legislative Session ends August 31.

 

Year of Mercy – The Calling to Care for the Homeless

During this Extraordinary Jubilee Year, Pope Francis has called on the Church to live out the Corporal Works of Mercy. Catholic churches in California, and around the world, have taken his call to heart in new, innovative ways as they have looked to serve the homeless in various parishes throughout the state. 

“We are being called,” as Deacon Ruben Solorio, director of social ministries of the Archdiocese of San Jose describes, “to inspire more churches to open doors.”

Santa Theresa parish in San Jose heeded the request of Bishop Patrick McGraw to open churches and identified the pressing need for a “safe park” – a place where families could park their cars and obtain access to kitchen and bathroom facilities.  Originally slated for just one month, the Safe Park program ran from February 17 to April.  More than 30 volunteers served 36 people, including two families with children under the age of 10.

“We had no idea that this was an issue,” described Santa Theresa Parish Pastoral Associate Lynda DeManti.  In many cases, the car is the very last possession these families have left, with many living in their cars for over four years.  The safe park enabled families to catch up on much needed sleep in order to concentrate on other issues such as health and job hunting. 

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Religious Freedom and the future of California colleges

A joint statement by Archbishop José H. Gomez, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and Bishop Charles E. Blake, Presiding Bishop, Church of God in Christ and  Pastor of West Angeles Church of God in Christ. 

This week the California Assembly begins final deliberations on Sen. Ricardo Lara’s “Equity in Higher Education Act” (SB 1146).

The bill, which passed the Senate in late May, has a salutary purpose — to ensure against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation at California campuses.

Unfortunately this legislation goes far beyond that.

As it is written today, SB 1146 would violate the religious freedom of faith-based colleges and could jeopardize higher educational opportunities for the tens of thousands of Californians they serve, including many who are black, Latino, Asian and low-income.

Here is the problem, as we see it.

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Holy Father Strives for Peace at World Youth Day

During his visit to Poland for World Youth Day last week, Pope Francis promoted his vision of peace and impartiality in the world by visiting the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz and contending it’s wrong to equate Islam with violence.

During his third day in Poland, His Holiness visited Auschwitz and chose to pay tribute to the 1.5 million people killed there through silent reflection and prayer.  He remained quiet throughout the visit, speaking only to survivors of the concentration camp. 

Later, at World Youth Day events, the Pope cautioned that, “Cruelty did not end at Auschwitz -Birkeneau.  Also today, people are tortured.” He highlighted the plight of modern-day refugees.

While condemning the terrorist attack on the Catholic Church in France last week, the Holy Father also confirmed his refusal to use the term “Islamic terrorism” is intentional, explaining, “It is not right and not true.”

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Faithful Citizenship Bulletin Announcements

In this election year, many in the Church are struggling to find guidance and direction as the decide on candidates and issues up and down the ballot. The California Catholic Conference of Bishops (CCC) has published a series of bulletin announcements that address core issues and responsibilities for Catholics endeavoring to live as faithful citizens of the country we live in.

The bulletins provide insights on the Church’s place in politics, approaching others about conflicting political perspectives, engagement beyond voting and much more.

The CCC encourages you to use these announcements from now until Election Day in November, and to explore the extensive election and civic engagement resources available on our website.

 

August 5, 2016
Vol. 9, No. 25