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Insights: Advocacy, New Papal Ambassador

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April 22, 2016

Catholics Advocating for Life and Dignity Issues

Tuesday morning started very early for some dedicated advocates.  Traveling from all over the state to Sacramento, almost every diocese in California was represented at the Capitol for the annual Catholic Advocacy Day.

Groups convened at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament for a prayer service and last minute briefings then filtered out of the cathedral to begin meeting with legislators and staff.  Catholic advocates opposed legislation and budget proposals that would fund lethal prescription for Medi-Cal recipients and set up a physician-assisted suicide hotline.  And they supported bills to help teachers, protect child witnesses in trafficking cases and repeal the Maximum Family Grant. 

Advocates also brought up issues that were important locally:

In a meeting with Assembly Member Rob Bonta’s office, Cristina Hernandez and Geoff Collins, both from the Diocese of Oakland, spoke of the pain their city is experiencing because of the high crime rates. They each stressed the importance of restorative justice practices and how they can help their city heal. 

Another group from Monterey discussed at length the issue of human trafficking in Monterey and what the church as well as the legislature is doing to combat this horrific problem.

One of our target bills - AB 2590 - Sentencing; restorative justice – happened to be up for a hearing in Assembly Public Safety Committee that morning.   Attendees were able to stop by and voice their support of this bill in the committee room.  (Thank you for your emails in support of this important restorative justice bill.)

Restorative Justice Bill Update

On Tuesday, the Assembly Public Safety Committee heard testimony regarding AB 2590-- Sentencing; restorative justice. Rita Chairez from Healing Hearts, Restoring Hope, and Joe Garza, chief of police from Reedley in Fresno County, both testified about the benefits of restorative justice programs.

The support for the bill was overwhelmingly positive. No opposition testimony was heard and the bill passed to the Appropriations Committee.

AB 2590 was authored by Assembly Member Dr. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) to bring awareness to the highly effective strategies that restorative justice programs offer.

This bill was part of Catholic Advocacy Day. The California Catholic Conference sponsored this legislation in conjunction with other faith-based groups.

You can still support the advocates by participating in the Virtual Advocacy Day on the California Catholic Conference website.  The Alert will remain active throughout the weekend.

New Ambassador from the Vatican to U.S.

Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Christophe Pierre as the new apostolic nuncio (ambassador) to the United States. Archbishop Pierre, 70, has served as nuncio to Mexico since 2007 and succeeds Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who has held the post since 2011 and reached the retirement age of 75 in January.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed the appointment:

"On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I extend Archbishop Pierre a heartfelt greeting and my prayerful support as he embarks on his service to our country. A shared closeness with the Church in Mexico already creates a strong fraternal bond between us. With fond affection, allow me to also thank Archbishop Viganò for his selfless contributions to the life of the Church in the United States." 

Christophe Pierre was born January 30, 1946 in Rennes, France. He was ordained a priest in 1970 and has previously served as nuncio to Haiti (1995-1999) and Uganda (1999-2007). An apostolic nuncio is the pope's personal representative in a country that has full diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

Take Action Now

If you have not done so already, there is still time to take action on these alerts:

Stop the Bill Authorizing a Physician-Assisted Suicide Telephone Hotline - SB 1002 (Monning, D-Carmel) – End of Life Option Act: telephone number - would establish a new, state-funded, telephone 'hotline' for Californian residents who wish to inquire about assisted suicide.  The bill is now in the Senate Appropriations Committee.  

High School Credit for Release Time Education Programs - SB 1457 (Morrell, R- Rancho Cucamonga) allows school boards to lift the cap on time restrictions for students enrolled in approved release time education (RTE) programs. These programs are either religious classes or moral and religious instruction. 

Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention month.  Strong, nurturing communities that are supportive of families can get involved and play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect and promoting child and family well-being.   

Both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the USCCB Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection have a variety of resources for the month-long observance.


April 22, 2016                                 
Vol. 9, No. 13

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