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Insights: Visit with ICE detainees; Death Penalty “Inadmissible” Attack

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August 10, 2018

Detainees in ICE Facility Hunger for Encounter with Christ

“Who are we,” asked one detainee, “that the Church should visit us?”

That sentiment – one of humbleness and a longing for the Sacraments and fellowship – characterized a pastoral visit by seven California Bishops and others to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Adelanto, CA, last week.

More than 350 men and women housed in the high desert facility attended four Masses, flocked to the Sacrament of Reconciliation in Spanish, English and Vietnamese and enjoyed fellowship with the delegation of twenty.

“It was palpable that for this encounter they hungered,” said Bishop Jaime Soto, Sacramento, and president of the California Catholic Conference that organized the visit.  “This hunger and the reverential disposition of those present made each of the four sessions a living temple of the Spirit with Christ as the capstone.”

Masses were held in two small chapels in the facility.  The detainees were from many nations and awaiting court appearances for a variety of immigration violations.  Many have lived in the United States for decades and then been caught up in an immigration raid or their non-citizenship status recognized after being convicted of some criminal offense.   The vast majority, however, are simple immigration violations.

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Catechism: Death Penalty "Inadmissible" as Attack on Human Dignity

The following statement is from Edward “Ned” Dolejsi, past executive director of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops (see below), on the news last week that Pope Francis has directed that the Catechism of the Catholic Church now teach that the death penalty is “inadmissible”:

"The news that the Catechism of the Catholic Church will now call the death penalty “inadmissible” is very welcome by the faithful in California and around the world who have been working for decades to eliminate the use of this unnecessary and inhuman punishment.  We are very grateful that Pope Francis has again elevated the dignity of the human being to its proper level, proclaiming that all of us have an inherent worth that comes only from God.   The California Catholic Conference of Bishops have worked for many years to abolish the death penalty and this clarification of Catholic teaching will energize their efforts even further."

The new text:

The death penalty

2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

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Partnership Aims to Transform How Catholic Health Care, Parishes Care for the Sick and Dying

The Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), the Catholic Bishops of California, Providence St. Joseph Health and Dignity Health have entered into a groundbreaking national partnership to develop quality palliative care programs that support and accompany the chronically and terminally ill in both clinical and parish settings.

The Whole Person Care Initiative (WPCI) will work with Catholic health care professionals, clinicians, community partners, clergy, volunteers and other ministry leaders to expand or initiate programs and practices aimed at bringing the love, care, and support all of us need during our illnesses.  The Initiative will promote conversations among families, clinicians and spiritual mentors aimed at helping people determine their hopes, desires and health care preferences, particularly when confronted by a terminal diagnosis.

“The Whole Person Care Initiative has great potential for the future,” said Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, “not only for our parishes, our hospitals, our visiting nurse programs but also for our seminarians, deacons and parish volunteers. The Initiative will help them better understand Church teachings on the end of life, so when they minister to the chronically and terminally ill they are able to convey very competently and compassionately the Church's teaching, as well as the availability of clinical and community-based palliative care programs.” 

“During his earthly ministry, Jesus healed people body, mind and spirit,” said the Most Reverend Jaime Soto, bishop of Sacramento and president of the California Catholic Conference.

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Church Leadership Calls for Strict Standards to Prevent Abuse

Last week, USCCB president and Archbishop of Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo issued a statement noting the steps the U.S. Bishops Conference will take in addressing the failures of the Church in protecting the people of God. The statement is in response to the allegations of abuse by retired Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

"The accusations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick reveal a grievous moral failure within the Church. They cause bishops anger, sadness, and shame; I know they do in me. They compel bishops to ask, as I do, what more could have been done to protect the People of God. Both the abuses themselves, and the fact that they have remained undisclosed for decades, have caused great harm to people's lives and represent grave moral failures of judgment on the part of Church leaders,” Cardinal DiNardo said.

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston issued a statement calling for stringent standards to prevent abuse within the Church. 

“These cases and others require more than apologies. They raise up the fact that when charges are brought regarding a bishop or a cardinal, a major gap still exists in the Church’s policies on sexual conduct and sexual abuse,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “While the Church in the United States has adopted a zero tolerance policy regarding the sexual abuse of minors by priests we must have clearer procedures for cases involving bishops. Transparent and consistent protocols are needed to provide justice for the victims and to adequately respond to the legitimate indignation of the community. The Church needs a strong and comprehensive policy to address bishops’ violations of the vows of celibacy in cases of the criminal abuse of minors and in cases involving adults.”

Cardinal McCarrick, 86, currently resides in a retirement home in Washington, D.C. An investigation into the charges of abuse is still underway.


Diocese of San Jose Welcomes Coadjutor Bishop Oscar Cantú 

Last month, the Vatican appointed Las Cruces Bishop Oscar Cantú as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of San Jose. Cantu will continue as bishop of Las Cruces until Sept. 28. View a welcome message and video of the announcement from the Diocese of San Jose here.


Monterey Diocese Celebrates Life of Bishop Robert Garcia

Bishop Richard Garcia passed away July 11 from complications associated with Alzheimer’s disease. His life was celebrated with several masses and rosaries. View a tribute published by the Diocese of Monterey here.


CCC Welcomes New Exec. Dir. Andy Rivas

The California Catholic Conference welcomed new executive director Andrew Rivas this week. Rivas replaced former executive director Edward “Ned” Dolejsi who retired after 21 years at the helm of the Conference.

Rivas was most recently the Director, Office of Government & Community Relations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Read more on Rivas here.


August 10, 2018
Vol. 11, No. 25