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Insights: Conscience Protection Act; Support for Net Neutrality

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December 1, 2017

Urge Congress to Enact the Conscience Protection Act

Now is the time to contact your members of Congress and advocate for the protection of life and freedom of conscience. 

The Conscience Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 644) has been included in appropriations legislation that must pass this year to keep the government operating. The Conscience Protection Act is common-sense legislation that will clarify federal law and ensure that those who provide health care and health coverage can do so without being forced by government to help destroy innocent unborn children.

Last year, on July 13, the House passed an identical bill of the same name (S. 304), but it was never enacted into law. Therefore, we must continue to advocate for conscience protection for those who choose not to participate in abortion and remain hopeful that with a change in the White House our efforts will meet with success this year.

Please take a moment to let your representatives in Congress know that we expect them to protect our most cherished liberties.

The Conscience Protection Act of 2017 will address the deficiencies that block effective enforcement of existing laws, most notably by establishing a private right of action allowing victims of discrimination to defend their own rights in court. 

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Archbishop Gomez Urges Action to Protect Dreamers by Christmas

The federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will expire on March 5, 2018 unless Congress acts to make the DACA protections permanent. In order to meet that deadline, it is urgent that the U.S. House of Representatives pass legislation before the end of 2017. 

Congress has the ability to enact legislation to provide legal status for the 800,000 immigrant youths (often referred to as “Dreamers”) who were brought to the U.S. as children by their parents without legal authorization. These are the people that live next door. They go to work and we sit next to them at church on Sunday. 

Archbishop Gomez is calling on all people of faith and good-will throughout the archdiocese to contact their local representatives by phone, email or letter to urge them to do the right thing and help the Dreamers and make the DACA protections permanent.

“Our elected officials know what they need to do. They need to know right now that we care — and that millions of voters care also,” said Archbishop Gomez in a letter to all people of faith on

Visit for more information on what you can do to defend the lives of more than 800,000 young people.


Tell Your Senator to Insist on Changes to the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act"

After analysis, the USCCB has determined that the Senate version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is unacceptable in its current form.  The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation reported that the Senate's bill would raise average taxes on persons making between $10,000 and $30,000 per year beginning in 2021, while millionaires will get a tax cut during the same period.  In 2023 and 2025, average taxes will increase for those making less than $30,000 per year, but will go down for those making more than $30,000.  By 2027, after most individual tax cuts are set to expire, average taxes will increase for taxpayers making less than $75,000, while decreasing for those making more. Take Action Now!


Fifth National Encuentro Engages Over 250,000 Missionary Disciples

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' V Encuentro initiative is a process of evangelization, consultation and mission that was officially launched last year to discern ways for the Church in the United States to better respond to the ever-growing Hispanic presence, and to help Hispanics Catholics to strengthen their Christian identity and their response as missionary disciples for the entire Church.  One hundred and sixty-three dioceses are currently involved in the process. 

This grass-roots effort began at the local parish level in January of this year with over 250,000 missionary disciples, thus far, getting involved, accompanying, bearing fruit and rejoicing with their sisters and brothers in need of hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ. More than 40,000 of these leaders have been selected as delegates to represent their parishes and Catholic organizations in Diocesan Encuentros. These leaders include long standing as well as new emerging leaders that see themselves as missionary disciples, as well as people that were encountered during missionary activities.

As of November 11, 2017, eighty-eight dioceses have completed their consultation process that culminated with Diocesan Encuentros which helped developed a working document for Hispanic Ministry in each diocese.

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Chairman of U.S. Bishops Conference Committee on Communications Voice Support for Net Neutrality Protections

Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Communications, is urging the retention of an open internet in the wake of a Federal Communications Commission proposal unveiled last week that would repeal protections intended to keep the internet open and fair. The concept of an open internet has long been called "net neutrality," in which internet service providers neither favor nor discriminate against internet users or websites. Bishop Coyne continues to voice strong support for net neutrality protections in a statement in response to last week’s proposed FCC action. 

Bishop Coyne’s full statement follows: 

“Strong net neutrality protections are critical to the faith community to function and connect with our members, essential to protect and enhance the ability of vulnerable communities to use advanced technology, and necessary for any organization that seeks to organize, advocate for justice or bear witness in the crowded and over-commercialized media environment. 

Robust internet protections are vital to enable our Archdioceses, Dioceses, and Eparchies, our parishes, schools and other institutions to communicate with each other and our members, to share religious and spiritual teachings, to promote activities online, and to engage people – particularly younger persons – in our ministries.

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USCCB Chair Urges Real Debate on Gun Violence

Bishop Frank Dewane, Chairman of the USCCB"S Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has urged political leaders to engage in a serious and real debate on gun violence in this nation.  His statement follows the two horrendous mass shootings in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and Las Vegas, Nevada.  Bishop Dewane particularly urged the need for universal background checks and the banning of high-capacity assault weapons.  His complete statement follows:

"For many years, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been urging our leaders to explore and adopt reasonable policies to help curb gun violence. The recent and shocking events in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs remind us of how much damage can be caused when weapons—particularly weapons designed to inflict extreme levels of bloodshed—too easily find their way into the hands of those who would wish to use them to harm others.

Violence in our society will not be solved by a single piece of legislation, and many factors contribute to what we see going on all around us. Even so, our leaders must engage in a real debate about needed measures to save lives and make our communities safer. The USCCB continues to urge a total ban on assault weapons, which we supported when the ban passed in 1994 and when Congress failed to renew it in 2004.

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December 1, 2017
Vol. 10, No. 35