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Insights: Devastating California Wildfires; Governor Signing Bills

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October 13, 2017

Wildfires Rampage through California

Wildfires throughout California have delivered total and utter devastation this week, burning thousands of structures and taking more than 20 lives.

Eight separate wildfires are ravaging Northern California, including several in the Diocese of Santa Rosa, and others in the Diocese of Sacramento, with yet additional fires throughout the state. The hardest hit areas have seen entire neighborhoods and some wineries entirely burned to the ground.  With more than 170,000 acres and 3,500 structures already burned, another 29,000 structures are still threatened, and strong winds are expected to continue through the weekend. Many residents are in evacuation centers without knowing if they still have a home.

Some parishes have become evacuation centers while others have fallen victim to the fire.

In Santa Rosa, Cardinal Newman High School and the adjacent elementary school, St. Rose, suffered tremendous damage to several buildings including the total destruction of the school’s preschool building. The schools will remain closed for at least two weeks.  

Bishop Robert F. Vasa, who is visiting shelters and providing updates from his car since the diocesan offices are in the evacuation zone, wrote, “Thousands of volunteers are spending countless hours showing their desire to share in the suffering of those displaced by the fire. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” (Read the statement in its entirety here.)

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Governor Actively Signing and Vetoing Bills As Deadline Looms

Governor Brown has until midnight on Sunday to sign or veto the remaining bills on his desk.

As of publication deadline, Governor Brown has yet to act on SB 569, the unnecessary reproductive discrimination bill that targets religious employers. The CCC is monitoring this closely and will report when a decision is made.  You can still send an email asking him to veto this unnecessary bill sponsored by NARAL.

The California Catholic Conference is pleased to report that the Governor signed AB 54, the California Values Act. In a released statement, Executive Director Ned Dolejsi said, “In a responsible way, SB 54 will help strengthen trust, promote common sense and address the deficiencies and injustices in our broken Federal immigration system, while still protecting our communities.”

The Governor also signed SB 257, which will allow students of deported parents to remain in school, as well as AB 1520, the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force. Both of these bills will go far in protecting children and allowing them opportunities to thrive despite difficult circumstances.

The Governor also extended the College Access Tax Credit Fund by signing AB 490.

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USCCB Domestic Justice Chairman Calls For Renewed Carbon Emissions Solutions

After Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the EPA will formally seek to revoke the Clean Power Plan, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed disappointment about the decision and called on leaders to "hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor."

The full statement follows:

"The USCCB, in unity with Pope Francis, strongly supports environmental stewardship, and has for several years called on our nation to help curb carbon emissions through a national carbon standard.  Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Pruitt announced that the EPA will now take steps to revoke the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the national program designed to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 32 percent in relation to 2015 levels by the year 2030.

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Archbishop Gomez delivers homily at the annual Red Mass in Washington D.C.

On Sunday, October 1, Archbishop José H. Gomez delivered the homily for the 65th Red Mass at St. Matthew the Apostle Church in Washington, D.C.  The Archbishop is the first Hispanic bishop to address the annual gathering of legal professionals. The principal celebrant of the Mass was Archbishop of Washington D.C., Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

The Red Mass is celebrated annually in the Catholic Church for judges, lawyers, law school professors, law students and government officials. In past years, justices of the Supreme Court, the Vice President and leading members of Congress have attended the Mass.

Traditionally, the Red Mass is celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, on the Sunday before the first Monday in October, which marks the opening of the Supreme Court’s annual term. Its purpose is to invoke God’s blessings on those responsible for the administration of justice as well as on all public officials.

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Convocation 2017 Breakout Session Audio Files

Audio files from this year’s Convocation of Catholic Leaders back in July are now available. To allow participants to go deeper into the Convocation themes and topics raised at plenary sessions, three rounds of breakout sessions were held. In each session, bishops and panelists would introduce and give context for each particular topic; this would be followed by dialogue and discussion among the participants and Q&A with the bishops and panelists, with some concluding remarks to end the session.

Click here for the audio files from those breakout sessions.

Click here for more.


DACA Resources Available Online

For the latest DACA information including the current status of the program and legal assistance visit the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc.’s (CLINIC) website at

October 14, 2017
Vol. 10, No. 32

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