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Insights: Feds Fast-Tracking Executions; DACA Hearing

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November 15, 2019

Feds to Execute Four Death Row Inmates in Next Two Months

The U.S. government is scheduled to execute four death row inmates within a six-week period starting December 9.

The number of death row inmates scheduled is in stark contrast to the mere three executions that have taken place by the federal government since the death penalty was restored in 1988. All executions will take place at the federal facility in Terre Haute, Indiana.

In March of this year, Governor Newsom announced a moratorium on executions for California’s 767 death row inmates, citing the possibility that one of them could be innocent. Just this year, three death row inmates were exonerated for their crimes and released.

In his piece Echoes of an Empty Death Chamber - What Is It Telling Us?, Fr. Stephen Barber, S.J., who served in the chaplain’s office of San Quentin State Prison from 1996 to 2011, praised the Governor’s move and recounted his experience during the last three executions that took place there.

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U.S. Bishops Elect Archbishop Gomez as New President of USCCB

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) during the Fall General Assembly in Baltimore this week.  He is “the first Latino to hold the highest leadership position in the American Catholic Church.” 

Archbishop Gomez has served as vice president of the Conference since 2016 and his election to the presidency was not a surprise but the reaction from around the country was still celebrated wide and far as evidenced by this piece in the Los Angeles Times

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit was elected as USCCB vice president.  Archbishop Vigneron also served for a short time as Bishop of Oakland from 2003 to 2009 before he was appointed to Detroit.

Both the new president and vice president terms began at the conclusion of this week’s General Assembly in Baltimore, which ended yesterday.  (See more about the meeting below.)

Read more about the election at the Angelus.


Catholic Legislative Network Moving to a New Electronic Advocacy System

The California Catholic Conference is using the legislative break to introduce Voter Voice, its new advocacy technology, for its electronic communications and advocacy efforts.

Voter Voice is the oldest and most mature advocate system available. Public Policy Insights will utilize this proven system starting with its next issue on December 5.  

Like many others, the electronic advocacy industry has been consolidating through mergers and acquisitions.  The Network’s previous system, CQ Engage, will soon no longer be supported.

Please be sure to look for the next issue of Insights in your inbox on December 5 or check your spam folder if you don’t receive it.


Bishops Entertain Busy Agenda at Fall Meeting

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) held their annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore this week where they acted on several items.  (See above.)

The bishops have approved the 6th edition of the Program of Priestly Formation for use in the dioceses of the United States as well as approved translations of Order of Christian Initiation of Adults as the base text for a future edition of this rite in the dioceses of the United States and Hymns of the Liturgy of the Hours.

In addition, the bishops approved several other items including a short letter and video scripts to supplement Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, Revised Strategic Priorities for the 2021-24 USCCB Strategic Plan, to support the request of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon asking the Holy Father to name Saint Irenaeus a Doctor of the Church, to implement a new comprehensive vision for Hispanic/Latino ministry in response to the V Encuentro process and passed a budget.

The bishops also elected the following members to the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Board of Directors: Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo, MSpS of Seattle, and Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock.

Visit for more information or to view a recorded feed of the meeting.


Supreme Court Hears DACA Arguments

Catholics were on the front lines this week, praying rosaries and gathering to support undocumented children of migrants as the U.S. Supreme Court heard held hearings to determine the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, and the legality of President Trump’s move to end it. 

In a released statement, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, “We continue to urge Congress and the President to work together to find a permanent legislative solution to the plight of all DREAMers, including DACA beneficiaries. In the meantime, ending DACA would disrupt DACA recipients’ continued contributions and integration to our country and could needlessly separate them from their families. Not allowing these young people to continue to utilize DACA to reach their God-given potential is against the common good and our nation’s history of welcoming the immigrant.”

The DACA program has been successful in protecting 800,000 “Dreamers,” young people who arrived in the U.S. as children with their parents but without legal documentation. Qualifying recipients can obtain work permits, health insurance, a driver's license and do not face deportation.

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November 15, 2019
Vol. 12, No. 30