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Insights: Catholic Advocacy Day Successful; Hopeful Decisions for Dreamers

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April 27, 2018

Successful Catholic Advocacy Day

This past Tuesday, over 100 Catholic Advocacy Day delegates representing nine California dioceses gathered in Sacramento to be the Catholic voice and speak with lawmakers at the Capitol. This year’s participants included deacon candidates and students from Newman Centers.

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento opened the day with prayer, taking time to recognize the service and upcoming retirement of CCC Executive Director Ned Dolejsi, who has been instrumental in advocating lawmakers toward Catholic values at the Capitol for almost 20 years. Dolejsi then held a legislative update on the six chosen bills. Participants later headed over to the Capitol where they spoke with legislators and advocated on behalf of Catholic social causes.

“I think a lot of times in the political realm we end up choosing sides, left, right, this and that. I think its important for Catholics to come and be a apart of Catholic Advocacy Day [and] to bring it back down to the core,” said Cenia Martinez of the Diocese of Orange. “We are advocating for our brothers and sisters so whether you feel more on this side or on that side it doesn’t matter. We really come to advocate for the life and dignity of everyone from birth to death.”

Click here to view a video from Catholic Advocacy Day. 

Thank you to all of those who participated in the Virtual Catholic Advocacy Day by sending letters. There is still time to connect with lawmakers this way. Send a letter quickly by clicking here

More specific information on the issues discussed will be available as reports are returned. For information on the bills that were discussed, visit our Catholic Advocacy Day page.

 

Promising Plan for Dreamers in USA Act

Catholic bishops throughout the country have expressed their support for the proposed Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act (H.R. 4796), a bipartisan plan to augment border security at the U.S./Mexico border through the use of technology, increase the number of immigration judges and immigration appeals staff attorneys, and investigate the root causes and prevent future irregular migration from Central America.

The proposal would also give “Dreamers,” those living in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a path to permanent citizenship.

“The time has come for our leaders in Congress to do what is right and pass legislation that will provide a permanent solution for the nearly 2 million young people who were brought to this country as small children by undocumented parents or family members,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez in a prepared statement. (Read the entire statement here).

“My brother bishops and I would prefer a “clean” bill that would simply grant legal status and a path to citizenship for the Dreamers but this is no longer realistic. The longer these debates drag on, the greater the risk that Congress will do nothing before November’s mid-term elections. And it is unconscionable to allow another year to pass without finding a solution. The USA Act represents a good-faith compromise on both sides — trading assurances for the Dreamers in exchange for border-security improvements,” he said. 

In a released statement, the chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe Vásquez, of Austin Texas, announced support for the USA Act and insisted on the need for immediate action.

"Every day, my brother bishops and I witness directly the constant anxiety of Dreamer youth and their families, and that experience of urgency moves us to press Congress for an immediate and durable solution to this problem. We are hopeful our support of the current version of the USA Act, and our continued support of the Dream Act, will encourage Congress to act now and find a humane legislative solution for Dreamers," noted Bishop Vásquez.

On Wednesday, a Federal Court Judge ruled that the Trump administration’s attempt to end the DACA program was based on the “virtually unexplained” grounds that the program was “unlawful.” It was the third judge to rule against President Trump and the first Republican to do so.

Stay with the CCC for the latest on DACA, Dreamers and immigration reform.

 

California Bishops to Release Statement on Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the California Catholic Conference of Bishops is seizing the opportunity to bring a voice and awareness to the very real mental health struggles and challenges facing so many.

On May 2, the California bishops will release “Hope and Healing: A Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of California on Caring for those who Suffer from Mental Illness Addressed to All Catholics and People of Goodwill,” an extended pastoral letter on the culture of mental health and the critical need to attend to those who suffer.

“Persons with mental illness often suffer in silence, hidden and unrecognized by others,” said the Bishops in the statement.  “Consider this stark contrast: a person with a medical illness—such as cancer—will usually receive an outpouring of sympathy and support from their parish and community; a person diagnosed with a mental illness—such as depression, crippling anxiety, or bipolar disorder—frequently experiences isolation and inadequate support, often because of the unjust social stigma of mental illness.  This should not be so in our civic communities, and cannot be so in our Catholic communities,” the bishops said in the piece.

The document will also include resources by diocese for those seeking assistance with mental health issues.

 

SB 1214 Supports Qualified Classroom Teachers

Ensuring well-prepared and exceptionally qualified educators is the single most crucial strategy for providing students with an equitable and excellent education. Yet, learning in California’s classrooms is in peril by a widening shortage of professional and qualified teachers.

SB 1214 by Senator Anthony Portantino (D- La Cañada Flintridge) would provide teachers with preliminary credentials to claim a $2,500 deduction on their personal state income taxes for fees incurred toward the completion of an Induction program, a California requirement in order for teachers to move from a preliminary credential to a “clear” or permanent credential.  

Teacher Induction and mentoring programs are a major strategy to improve teacher retention among new teachers, accelerate their professional growth, and improve learning for those school children entrusted to their care. However, while California requires teachers to enroll in Induction programs, it doesn’t require districts or schools to actually provide it – or pay for it. 

This out-of-pocket cost to teachers for their Induction can be on average $2,000 and up to $5,000 annually in fees at a college or university. This is a significant hardship for new educators who often are teaching in the most challenging schools with high concentrations of students living in poverty, paid at the lowest end of salary scales, and are the most at-risk of leaving their profession within the first 5 years.

The CCC is co-sponsoring this bill along with the California Federation of Teachers and working with Senator Portantino to bring tax relief and incentives for beginning teachers. Stay tuned for other news on this bill and ways you can help support it.

 

Catholic Climate Declaration Stands By Paris Agreement

The Catholic Climate Declaration (CCD) has launched the “Catholics Are Still In” campaign, affirming the commitment to stand by the Paris Agreement and help meet its goals. You can join the campaign here.  

The Paris Agreement is an agreement within the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so.

In 1990, Saint John Paul II warned that the “’greenhouse effect’ has now reached crisis proportions as a consequence of industrial growth, massive urban concentrations and vastly increased energy needs.” Since then, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Vatican dicasteries, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, international bishops’ conferences, communities of women and men religious, and theologians around the world have affirmed the reality of human-forced climate change as a moral issue.

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis wrote, “We wish to tell the world that the U.S. Catholic community cares about the fate of our common home, that we are in solidarity with the one human family, and that we will fulfill our ‘differentiated responsibilities’ as citizens of the global superpower historically most responsible for climate change.” (Laudato Si’ #52).

Click here for a step-by-step guide to sign the declaration and join the campaign.

 April 27, 2018
Vol. 11, No. 15