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Insights: Vatican Discusses Protection of Children; Tuition Waived for Fire Victims

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February 22, 2019

Vatican Convenes Summit on Protection of Children

Yesterday, the Vatican began an extra-ordinary four-day meeting to address the abuse crisis that is once again rocking the Church.  It is the first meeting of its kind and the major presentations are being live streamed for the world to watch.

In his opening remarks, Pope Francis stressed the need for a frank discussion on “to confront this evil afflicting the Church and humanity.”  He also stressed that “[t]he holy People of God looks to us, and expects from us not simple and predictable condemnations, but concrete and effective measures to be undertaken. We need to be concrete.”

The meeting was called following the release a report by the Pennsylvania Attorney General on the history of abuse by clergy in that state and the revelation that the former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had credible accusations of abuse against him even while rising through Church hierarchy for several decades, ultimately being named Archbishop of Washington, DC.

In the preparation for the meeting, the Vatican explained that the Pope wants “the bishops [to] clearly understand what they must do…Firstly, he wants them to become aware of the tragedy, of the suffering of the victims.

“Secondly, he wants them to know what they need to do: what the procedures are, what tasks need to be accomplished at various levels (diocesan bishop, archdiocesan bishop, episcopal conference, Vatican dicasteries).”

While the Pope called for concrete action, Cardinal Luis Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, outlined for participants just what is at stake:

Brothers and sisters, this is what is at stake at this moment of crisis brought about by the abuse of children and our poor handling of these crimes. Our people need us to draw close to their wounds and acknowledge our faults if we are to give authentic and credible witness to our faith in the Resurrection. This means that each of us and our brothers and sisters at home must take personal responsibility for bringing healing to this wound in the Body of Christ and make the commitment to do everything in our power and capacity to see that children are safe, are cared for in our communities

Participants include the presidents of all the national Bishop conferences, superiors of men and women religious, and other Church officials.  They will hear the story of survivors during the meeting as they explore the themes of responsibility, accountability and transparency.

As part of that commitment to transparency, the Vatican is streaming all the major speeches during the meeting, has provided the program and background material and contact information for various Vatican departments responsible for different aspect.  All that material is available at a special website.

The Bishops of the United States, represented by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, had planned to address the accountability aspect of the crisis last November at their regular meeting.  The Vatican, however, asked them to wait for the results of this meeting before acting.

 

Tuition-Free Education: Helping Families Affected by the Camp Fire

In November 2018, the town of Paradise and surrounding areas in Butte County were ravaged by the worst wildfire in state history.  Paradise itself was virtually obliterated and nearly 90 lives were lost in the Camp Fire, one of the nation’s deadliest. 

In the aftermath, families continue to struggle to regain some normalcy in their lives.  This is an exceedingly difficult challenge as many of these families’ homes are destroyed or inaccessible.  Additionally, many schools are gone as well leaving 4,000 displaced students.

To help ease the struggle faced by families with school-age children displaced by the Camp Fire, the Diocese of Sacramento quickly reached out to assist.  Specifically, the Diocese offered open seats in Catholic elementary and high schools in the Northern Sacramento Valley to all students affected by the fire.  While tuition at a diocesan Catholic school normally ranges from $5,000 to $6,000 for the first child, these openings are tuition-free for the remainder of the school year.

As of January 2019, 30 children have enrolled in participating Catholic schools with more expected to be admitted. 

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February is Black History Month

Black History Month is being called to mind in several ways for Catholics this month.

Last year, by a nearly unanimous vote, the U.S. Catholic bishops issued Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love - A Pastoral Letter Against Racism. In the pastoral letter, the bishops examined the “persistent” history of racism in the U.S. (download here or see this summary).

According to the Bishops, to rebuild the relationships broken by centuries of oppressive acts of racism requires us to “love goodness” and to ‘walk humbly with God.”

A Catholic Social Ministry gathering will take place February 2-5 in Washington, D.C. that will include the topic of racism and restorative justice. Click here to learn more.  

The Mid-Atlantic Congress (MAC) taking place February 13-16, 2019 in Baltimore, MD, has several sessions that may be of special interest such as “Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers” led by the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church. Click here for more info.

As always, please pray for the canonization of African Catholic being considered for sainthood - Fr. Augustus Tolton, Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, Mother Henriette DeLille, Pierre Toussaint, Julia Greeley and Sr. Thea Bowman – or watch a video.

 

Earned Income Tax Changes

Tax season is in full swing and so is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in California, aimed at ensuring that lower-income working Californians to claim the state tax credit (CalETIC) as well as the available federal ETIC.

EITC’s economic impact is profound. The number of households claiming the CalEITC more than tripled in 2018: over 1.4 million households up from 350,000 in 2017. That means over $2 billion of state and federal EITC back in the pockets of working families.

New for 2019, California is the first state in the nation where workers over the age 65 can claim the state EITC.

For more information and to see if you qualify visit CalEITC4me.org.

 

In the News:

U.S. Bishops Respond to President’s Order to Fund Construction of Border Wall:

“We are deeply concerned about the President’s action to fund the construction of a wall along the U.S./Mexico border, which circumvents the clear intent of Congress to limit funding of a wall.  We oppose the use of these funds to further the construction of the wall. The wall first and foremost is a symbol of division and animosity between two friendly countries. We remain steadfast and resolute in the vision articulated by Pope Francis that at this time we need to be building bridges and not walls.”

 

Support Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act

Write to your senator now asking them to vote yes on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S. 311). Infants who are born alive after an abortion attempt should be given the same degree of care to preserve their life and health as would be given to any other newborn baby.

 

February 22, 2019

Vol. 12, No. 5

En Español