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Insights: New Letter from Pope to Youth; Healthcare Decisions Day

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April 5, 2019

Christ is Alive! Pope Tells World Youth in New Exhortation

Pope Francis released an apostolic exhortation this week primarily focused on youth and their relationship with the Church.

Christus Vivit (Christ Lives) is the culmination of two years of a process that reached far and wide to assess the challenges facing youth, young people and those on the peripheries and the ways in which dioceses, parishes and communities can best serve them. It also addresses vocational discernment and commitment.

“Christ is alive!” writes the Pope.  “He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world, and everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life. The very first words, then, that I would like to say to every young Christian are these: Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive!”

In the document, Pope Francis proposes that youth engage the joy of a living God, the richness of their Catholic faith, and the strength of living in Christian community. In this time of new technology and transformative social changes, the Pope challenges youth to take the grounded path of humility, generous sacrifice and faithful companionship with peers, family, and neighbors.

The release of Pope Francis's apostolic exhortation today is “a wonderful summons to the Church to more vigorously invest in youth and young adults, especially those on the peripheries and those disconnected from the Church,” said the President and committee chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) in a statement

Pope Francis’ Christus Vivit is available at the Vatican website in eight different languages.  


Catholic Advocacy Day Prep Underway

In the current fiery political climate, it would be much easier to focus on attacking others rather than serving them, especially those we might disagree with. However, as followers of Christ, serving others is exactly what we are called to do.

This is the foundation for this year’s Catholic Advocacy Day theme: Serving the Poor, Lifting Up Families. Parishioners from around the state will gather at the State Capitol on April 30, asking lawmakers to support bills that will serve those who need it most.

Participants will start out with a briefing to discuss the meetings with lawmakers that will take place later in the day. The focus will be on four bills that Catholics will discuss with legislators including curbing childhood poverty, protecting education rights of parents and strengthening teacher preparedness.

Senate Bill 298 poverty reduction (Caballero, D – Salinas) would commit the Legislature to a goal of reducing childhood poverty by 50 percent by 2039 and provide a framework of research-backed solutions and sustained investment to achieve it. Efforts to invest in measures to reduce child poverty have been hampered by a lack of sustained focus and a defined, comprehensive plan for addressing the problem.

AB 809 child development programs (Santiago, D – Los Angeles) would spotlight a Title IX protection that would help inform pregnant and parenting students about their rights on college campuses. For instance, a graduate student who chooses to take a leave of absence because she is pregnant or has recently given birth is by law allowed a period consistent with the policies of the postsecondary educational institution, or a period of 12 additional months, whichever period is longer, to prepare for and take preliminary and qualifying examinations. This is vital for parents and parents-to-be to understand their educational options when a child enters their lives. 

SB 456 privacy: faith-based organizations (Archuleta, D – Pico Rivera) would provide protections for places of worship or other faith-based organization from the disclosing personal information of volunteers to a third party without a court-issued subpoena, warrant or order. Volunteers are essential to faith-based organizations and should not have to fear that their service could lead to unexpected repercussions.

A budget request for K-12 teachers (Portantino, D – La Canada Flintridge) would allow new teachers an individual tax deduction for professional development expenses as they are completing the requirements for their California teaching credential. California’s growing demand for more teachers is outpacing the supply of qualified and fully prepared educators. As a result, the number of underprepared teachers working in California’s school classrooms has more than doubled in just three years. Such a vital and necessary tax policy would be of substantial benefit for thousands of California teachers and their students annually, with a very modest fiscal effect on state resources.


Successful Youth Advocacy Day in the Books

Youth from the San Bernardino, Orange, San Jose, and Sacramento Dioceses were in Sacramento this week for the annual Youth Advocacy Day.

Approximately 80 students came together for Mass at the Cathedral celebrated by Fr. Francisco Hernandez of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Sacramento. Students delivered well-prepared presentations to each other on several bills before heading to the Capitol to meet with lawmakers. 

Participants lobbied on bills that dealt with mental illness, the water crisis, gun violence, immigration, and pregnancy and parenting rights on college campuses.  Students in the advocacy day programs selected the items they would discuss with their local legislators.

Click here for a video chronicling the event.


National Healthcare Decision Day

Pondering our own mortality can be a daunting undertaking and the main reason most are not prepared for end-of-life decisions. National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is taking place on April 16 in order to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning.

The Institute for Human Caring, a part of Providence St. Joseph Heath, provides extensive resources on end-of-life decisions and advance care planning.  They are part of the partnership between the California Bishops and the state’s Catholic health care system to transform the way society works with the sick and dying.

The California Catholic Conference also has several resources available on our Embracing Our Dying website page to educate and assist in the process.


Attack on “Seal of Confession” Passes First Committee

A California Senate Committee has voted to remove the right to privacy between a penitent and confessor during the Sacrament of Reconciliation and other spiritual counseling.

SB 360 Mandated reporters: clergy (Hill, D – San Mateo) passed the Senate Public Safety Committee on a 5-0 vote with two abstentions even though the move is most likely unconstitutional and is ultimately an unnecessary and unwise attack on religious freedom.

Members of the Committee seemed to misunderstand the nature of the Sacrament. 

Senator Hannah Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) said the penitent privilege “allowed for the sexual abuse of children under the protection of religious freedom” and that “absolution from their Church” allowed for continue pedophilia.

Abusers are notoriously meticulous, secretive and deceptive.  They are not likely to seek reconciliation or counseling, especially if the exemption is removed, but rather go to great lengths to conceal their hideous crimes.

In Catholic teaching the confessional is sacrosanct and Canon law is very clear that any priest who violates the seal of confession is automatically excommunicated.  That will not change.  (Four priests over the centuries have been martyred rather than violate the seal.)

Clergy already mandated reporters in their administrative duties and must remain so.  But ignoring the First Amendment’s protection for the free exercise of religion is not going to protect children rather it will undermine fundamental rights recognized for centuries around the world for no gain whatsoever.

The bill must now go to the Senate Appropriations Committee before it goes to the full floor.  To express your disagreement with the bill, please use our Action Alert to oppose SB 360.


USCCB Alerts - Ask your Congressmember to oppose H.R. 5, the Equality Act, sweeping legislation that would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the definition of sex throughout federal law.   Check out all the Action Alerts from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


April 5, 2019
Vol. 12, No. 11

En Español