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Insights: Bishops Call for Mental Health Awareness; Voting Conscience

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May 4, 2018

Bishops Call for Elimination of Stigma and Closer Ties between Faith and Medicine

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the California Catholic Conference of Bishops used the opportunity to release an extended pastoral letter on the culture of mental health and the critical need to attend to those who suffer.

In the document “Hope and Healing: A Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of California on Caring for those who Suffer from Mental Illness Addressed to All Catholics and People of Goodwill” the California bishops lament the heartbreaking prevalence of mental illness in our society and the dire need to move past stigmatization toward ministry and care.

“Persons with mental illness often suffer in silence, hidden and unrecognized by others,” said the Bishops in the statement.  “Consider this stark contrast: a person with a medical

illness—such as cancer—will usually receive an outpouring of sympathy and support from their parish and community; a person diagnosed with a mental illness—such as depression, crippling anxiety, or bipolar disorder—frequently experiences isolation and inadequate support, often because of the unjust social stigma of mental illness.  This should not be so in our civic communities, and cannot be so in our Catholic communities.”

The statement examines several facets of mental health including the current opioid crisis, suicide, addiction, and embraces the bond between science and religion.

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Primary Election Evokes Formation of Conscience

The primary election in California is just over a month away and there is no question the measures on the ballot will require thoughtful consideration. Voting is an incredible honor in our democracy, and all who are eligible are encouraged to participate.

In today’s hyper-partisan political environment, it can often be difficult to assess political measures or evaluate candidate positions. Fortunately, there are several resources available that will help guide you as you fill out your ballot.

Initially, it is important to remember that the Catholic Church does not endorse candidates for elected office. However, the Conference has prepared these guidelines for political advocacy for use by Catholic clergy and parishioners. The document outlines standards for political action that has a moral dimension and/or religious values with public consequences. It also is a great reminder of Catholic social teaching, which should be the moral framework from within which all political issues should be addressed.

On the issue of polarization, Bishop Robert McElroy of the Diocese of San Diego, shared his thoughts during a recent lecture.   Catholics must guard against polarization by embracing “the virtues of solidarity, compassion, integrity, hope and peace-building,” during political discernment. You can read coverage of the lecture in this America Magazine article.

If you are not already registered to vote, the deadline is May 21, 2018.  Visit the California Secretary of State office to register.


Regional Encuentro Kindles Missionary Disciples

Last week, the regional Encuentro in Visalia, California, brought together bishops and about 1,300 Hispanic ministry delegates from California, Hawaii, and Nevada for the historic gathering.

The vision behind Encuentro is to discern ways in which the Church can better respond to the Latino Catholic community and strengthen responses to the needs of all the faithful.   Discussions focused on ten different areas including such topics as families, supporting young people, working with immigrants and vocations.

The meeting was a culmination of local parish meetings and workshops throughout 2017 and will be followed by the national V Encuentro later this year in San Antonio, Texas. 

In addition to the study sessions, Mass was celebrated by Bishop Armando Ochoa, from the host diocese of Fresno, and Archbishops José Gomez (Los Angeles) and Salvatore Cordileone (San Francisco).

In his closing remarks, Archbishop Gomez encouraged participants: “We need to be “microphones” of God! We speak to others about God! We need to proclaim him, not only by what we say, but by how we live and how we act,” he said.

Originally commissioned in 1972, Enuentro was established as a place where leaders could express their needs, aspirations and contributions to the Catholic Church. The process has cultivated a strong pastoral and social justice agenda to the Church in the U.S. over the last 50 years.


Support USA Act and DACA Act

Without a legislative solution, the future of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers remains uncertain and they live in fear of deportation. Congress should take urgent action to protect these extraordinary young people.

H.R. 4796, the Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act of 2018, was introduced in the House of Representatives and has more than 50 bipartisan co-sponsors. The USA Act would protect and provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship as long as they satisfy residency, age and education, military or employment requirements. As a bi-partisan compromise, H.R. 4796 also augments border security with the use of new technology, seeks to address root causes of migration from Central America and increases staffing resources for immigration courts to carry out their work.

The U.S. bishops support both the Dream Act and the USA Act. Click here to quickly send a letter to your lawmakers letting them know you support both as well.


In the News

Prayers for Bishop Garcia

The Diocese of Monterey released a letter this week announcing Bishop Richard Garcia has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Last week it was confirmed that he is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. This news is difficult to learn, but Bishop Garcia has great faith and a deep spiritual life to assist him in facing this diagnosis,” the letter read.

We ask you to pray for Bishop Garcia and all who suffer from effects of this disease.

The Diocese has requested respect for Bishop Garcia’s privacy and encouraged sending notes of support in lieu of calling or visiting him. Notes or cards can be sent to the following address:  Bishop Richard Garcia, c/o Diocese of Monterey, P.O. Box 2048, Monterey, CA 93942


CCC Exec. Director Opening

The California Catholic Conference (CCC) is seeking a dynamic, faith-filled Catholic leader as its Executive Director. Click here for more details.

May 4, 2018
Vol. 11, No. 16