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Insights: Help Syrian Refugees; Why Christmas Should Bother You

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December 16, 2016

Syria Crisis: Assistance for Refugees

Syria’s escalating civil war has killed more than 400,000 since the unrest began in March 2011. Tragically, the death toll continues to rise, and more than 6.6 million people are now internally displaced. Thousands of people have fled to neighboring countries and Syrian families struggle daily to survive.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and its Caritas partners in the region are reaching out to Syrian refugees and providing hope and assistance with education, counseling and care for children, housing, and livelihood support. They also provide basic necessities.

CRS supports urgent medical care and emergency relief for tends of thousands of Syrian refugees in the areas most affected by the conflict. Click here for a video on the crisis.

Despite the ongoing violence, the Catholic Church and CRS believe that a peaceful solution to this conflict is possible. Click the link below to find seven things you can do to directly help those suffering and find more information on the crisis.

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Why Christmas Should Bother Everybody

By Bishop Robert Barron

Just a few weeks ago, at a ceremony for the lighting of the national Christmas tree, President Obama remarked on the meaning of the season. Here are some of the things he said:

“Over these next few weeks, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, as we retell the story of weary travelers, a star, shepherds, Magi, I hope that we also focus ourselves on the message that this child brought to this Earth some 2,000 years ago—a message that says we have to be our brother’s keepers, our sister’s keepers; that we have to reach out to each other, to forgive each other. To let the light of our good deeds shine for all. To care for the sick, and the hungry, and the downtrodden. And of course, to love one another, even our enemies, and treat one another the way we would want to be treated ourselves. It’s a message that grounds not just my family’s Christian faith but that of Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, non-believers—Americans of all backgrounds.” 

Now in a way, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with these ideas and sentiments. Who could possibly be against treating others with respect, offering forgiveness for offenses, and caring for those in need? And I certainly don’t blame President Obama for making these remarks. Both Democrat and Republican presidents, in their capacity as chief magistrates of the civil religion, have expressed similar convictions for many years. What does bother me, however, is reducing Christmas to a level so low, so banal, that the great Christian feast is offensive to precisely no one.

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End Child Poverty Partnership Kicks Off

The California Catholic Conference is pleased to announce a new partner in our mission: End Child Poverty in California (ECPCA). Created by GRACE and the Daughters of Charity, ECPCA is a statewide campaign to raise awareness of California’s high rate of child poverty and the solutions to reduce it.

California has the highest rate of child poverty in the country, one in five children. ECPCA has a comprehensive, research-based plan for our state to reduce child poverty by fifty percent over the next twenty years, and is planning a busy 2017.

We need help spreading the word that policy changes for children in poverty also benefit the whole state. Learn more and get involved to raise awareness.  Visit to get started.


National Migration Week Jan. 8-14, 2017

For nearly half a century, the Catholic Church in the U.S. has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The theme for National Migration Week 2017 draws attention to Pope Francis’ call to create a culture of encounter, and in doing so to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us. In the homily given at his first Pentecost as pope, he emphasized the importance of encounter in the Christian faith:  “For me this word is very important. Encounter with others. Why? Because faith is an encounter with Jesus, and we must do what Jesus does: encounter others.”

With respect to immigrants, too often in our contemporary culture we fail to encounter them as persons, and instead look at them as others. We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious of their intentions.  National Migration Week is an opportunity to engage migrants as children of God who are worthy of our attention and support.

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ICYMI: Catholic Perspective of the 2016 Election

The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology recently hosted a forum featuring California Catholic Conference Executive Director Ned Dolejsi, who spoke on the results of the 2016 election and the concerns, opportunities, and priorities that may arise given California’s upcoming legislative session and the Democratic super majority.  Dolejsi also discussed the election of Donald Trump and its implications for the Catholic community.

If you missed the original live stream, you can watch it here.

December 16, 2016
Vol. 9, No. 38