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Assisted Suicide Bill, Quality Pre-School, Be Salt and Light

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June 5, 2015

Ignoring the Evidence, California Senate Advances Assisted Suicide

The California Senate passed the physician-assisted suicide bill by a vote of 23-14 (with 3 abstentions) on Thursday.  In doing so, Senators pointedly ignored the concerns of disability rights groups that outlined the grave danger such a measure presents for the disabled.  They also discounted a serious lack of effective safeguards and strong evidence that suicide rates increase in jurisdictions that allow physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs.  (See how your Senator voted on SB 128.)

In a debate that lasted more than two hours - a rarity for the California legislature - opponents sited examples of elders overtly and subtly pressured to end their livers, personal  stories of loved ones who faced their passing with courage and instances where patients with “terminal” diagnosis lived much longer than their doctors’ predicted.   The vote did not follow strict party lines – also a rarity in California politics.

Senator Jeff Stone (R-Temecula), who voted "No," is a pharmacist who pointed out that there are drugs that are a thousand times more effective than morphine and that patients should not face pressure to end their lives because their pain was not managed properly.

“Let’s not steal hope,” advised Senator Joel Anderson (R-Alpine), “let’s not promote death.”

Thank you to the thousands of Catholic Legislative Network members who voice their opposition to SB 128.  Your messages kept several members off the bill or encouraged them to vote “No.”

Our efforts to stop this extremely dangerous legislation now move to the Assembly.  The Catholic Legislative Network will issue Action Alerts on the measure as it gets assigned to committee.  In the meantime, however, it is not too early to voice your opposition to physician-assisted suicide to your Assembly Member.

Catholic Advocacy Day Bills Update

The last day for bills to pass out of their house of origin is today, June 5.  Other Catholic Advocacy Day Bills that passed include:

  • SB 3 Minimum Wage Increase (Leno, D-San Francisco)
  • SB 124 Juvenile Solitary Confinement (Leno, D- San Francisco)
  • AB 43 (Stone, D-Santa Cruz) and SB 38 (Liu, D-La Canada) Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

We will keep you updated as these bills now go to the opposite house. Thank you for your efforts to get these bills passed or defeated. Your voice is heard by lawmakers and is making a difference.

Coalition of Faith-Based Groups Join Together to Improve Early Childhood Education 

The California Catholic Conference is uniting with eighteen other faith-based groups to advocate for the expansion of opportunities and increased investments in quality early childhood education, with a preferential option for the poor, in the 2015-16 California Budget. 

The ecumenical group – all involved in education – shares the belief that any expansion of preschool in the Golden State must include an option for low-income parents to determine what is best for their children among a variety of public and private providers, including those that are faith-based.  Such an approach would empower parents to choose from early learning and development programs that benefit their children the most.

The Conference is also actively supporting three related bills, recently passed by the Assembly, aimed at giving children a great head start in their education journey.  

  • AB 47 (McCarty, D-Sacramento) would enable all low-income children to have access to the State Preschool Program the year before they enter kindergarten, if their parents wish.
  • AB 713 (Weber, D-San Diego) would require a child to have completed one year of kindergarten before he or she may be admitted to the first grade.
  • AB 1161 (Olsen, R-Modesto) would give individuals and businesses a 40 percent tax credit for charitable contributions to a new “California Preschool Investment Fund” (CalPIF) which would supplement state support for public and private preschools when low-income families are on waitlists for state assistance.

These three bills, that help improve early childhood education among our youngest Californians, will produce large benefits to children, parents and society.

New Website to Help Catholics Be Salt and Light, a new website of U.S. bishops' Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, helps Catholics respond to Jesus' call to be "salt of the earth" and "light of the world" (Mt. 5:13-16).  The website includes:

  • More than 50 inspiring stories of real Catholic communities being Salt & Light
  • Over 100 resources on praying, reaching out, learning and acting together
  • Assessment tools to find ways to grow as faith-filled disciples at home and abroad
  • A 1-minute introductory video
  • Responsive design, for usability on handheld devices equips Catholics to live out Pope Francis' call to "go forth" on mission. It also seeks to help Catholic communities-especially parishes, dioceses, schools, universities, seminaries, religious communities, and ecclesial movements-to carry out the vision of the U.S. bishops' landmark document, Communities of Salt & Light: Reflections on the Social Mission of the Parish.

“Praise Be” Reported to be Title of Pope Francis’ Encyclical

The encyclical by Pope Francis on the environment is expected on June 18.  An encyclical is a letter to the faithful about a particular part of Catholic teaching that provides direction for the church. It is not infallible but is authoritative and generally steers theological debate surrounding an issue.  In this case, the Pope will provide moral guidance on ecology and environmental justice. 

Laudato Sii, Latin for Praised Be, is the anticipated title of the encyclical and is taken from a popular prayer of St. Francis of Assisi called the Canticle of the Creatures.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.