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New Encyclical, Key Hearing on Assisted Suicide, State Budget

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June 19, 2015

Pope Invites World to Dialogue about Our Common Home and Its Ecological Future

In Laudato Si, a letter addressed to all the people of the world, Pope Francis presents a clear and compelling case for placing people at the center of a renewed commitment to caring for the planet.

“We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.  Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.”  [139]

The Encyclical (literally circular letter) is a teaching from the Pope that can be addressed to the Church hierarchy, the laity or, in this case, “all people.”  The salutation echoes the one used by St. Pope John XXIII’s famous 1963 letter, Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth), as the world grew to realize the threat of nuclear confrontation.

This letter has been very highly anticipated since there are several key moments this year in which the nations of the world will attempt to reach a consensus on addressing climate change.  The Pope is attempting to bring a moral voice to the global negotiations.

The dangers to the environment prevalent in the modern world demand that the world work together, he says.  Pope Francis is unambiguous in his call for the world to reexamine its current course:

  • The book of Genesis makes clear “that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth itself.” [66]
  • “[E]very ecological approach needs to incorporate a social perspective which takes into account the fundamental rights of the poor and the underprivileged.”  [93]
  •  “When human beings place themselves at the center, they give absolute priority to immediate convenience and all else becomes relative.”  [122]

Many were very curious about what Pope Francis would say about the causes of climate change – a politically charged issue in the United States.  Early in the letter he addresses the question.

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Frightening Expansion of Assisted-Suicide in Holland and Oregon

SB 128, the measure to legalize physician-assisted suicide in California, will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday, June 23.  Proponents point to “safeguards” and a limited use of the law, but experiences in Holland and Oregon point to just the opposite – a frightening expansion of who is allowed to kill themselves and when.  Consent is not always needed.

Tell your Assembly Member to vote “No” on Assisted Suicide.

Two recent court decisions have eroded limits of the Netherlands euthanasia law, appearing to open assisted suicide doors even wider in a country where 5,000 people a year die from physician-assisted suicide or circumstances skirting the edges of the law.

In Oregon, legislators are making attempts now to expand the timeframe which would allow people to ask a physician for help in committing suicide.

Holland, which legalized assisted suicide in 2000, is witnessing some amazing cases.   An 80-year-old woman with dementia, for instance, died recently under court order even though all involved conceded that she was not personally able to consent to it.

In another case a Dutch appeals court held a man guiltless for killing his 99-year-old mother with an overdose of pills, although it was done outside the law.

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Governor, Legislature Reach Budget Agreement

Legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown reached a budget agreement this week.  The governor is determined avoid an enormous debt as his legacy so he based his budget on very conservative revenue projections. The budget as it now stands includes many items that the California Catholic Conference (CCC) was advocating for, but also some glaring omissions.  

One measure that was not included in the governor’s budget was the Maximum Family Grant (MFG).  Currently families receiving assistance are barred from receiving extra money if another child is born.  (The extra money is roughly $130 a month.) 

There is still hope that the MFG could be repealed with the passage of SB 23. With this bill, we have the opportunity to reduce the number of children living in poverty and more importantly, eliminate the need to terminate a pregnancy. The CCC is continuing to advocate for passage of this important bill.

Many poverty advocates see this as a missed opportunity to help the very poor. “It is morally and ethically wrong that we haven’t done what we should as legislative leaders to pull children out of poverty,” said Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles). 

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On the Web

Shooting in Charleston - After a mass murder at Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston, many are mourning for and praying for the nine victims, their families and members of the church.  

Statement from Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone Regarding the Deadly Shooting at Emanuel AME Church

Sweaters and Saving Water - In his encyclical, Pope Francis compliments “[a] person who could afford to spend and consume more but regularly uses less heating and wears warmer clothes, shows the kind of convictions and attitudes which help to protect the environment.”

Same is true of saving water, especially in the Golden State during this drought:

  • Washing only full loads of laundry and dishes can save up to 50 gallons per week
  • Turning off the water while you brush your teeth can save 2 ½ gallons per minute
  • Using a broom instead of a hose to clean the driveway can save up to 150 gallons

More water saving tips can be found at www.bewaterwise.com – a service of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.