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Insights: Revised Execution Protocols; Crime Victims’ Week

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March 24, 2017

Revised Execution Protocols Deny Chaplains Hours Prior to Execution

In an odd and unexplained rule change proposal, California may ban chaplains from meeting with death row prisoners nearer than three hours before their scheduled execution.

The California Department of Corrections (CDCR) is engaged in a detailed revision of its procedures for ending the lives of prisoners sentenced to death. The elaborate set of rules specifies in minute detail death drug formulation, testing, staff training and numerous other aspects of executions.

But one unexplained provision would prohibit the doomed inmate from meeting with a chaplain in the last three hours before the scheduled execution.

More than three hours ahead a chaplain could meet with the convict. But within three hours the religious counselor would be barred from being present with the person about to lose their life. The only possible contact during the prisoner’s last three hours might be by phone.

“In the previous protocols, the chaplain could stay until a few minutes before,” says Rev. George Horan, a Los Angeles priest.

But the proposed new rule changes that dramatically. The final three hours before death is “the time that the person needs them the most,” says Fr. Horan, adding that the new draft rule “defeats the purpose of spiritual advising.”  

Horan was chaplain at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles for 30 years. He still works with prisoners and is a leading figure in the restorative justice community.

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Examining the Vocation of Agricultural Leaders

The word ‘cultivate’ calls to mind the care which the farmer has for his land in order that it bear fruits and that they be shared:  how much passion, how much attention, how much dedication in all that this demands! That familiar relationship is formed and the earth becomes “sister” earth.  -Pope Francis, January 31, 2015

Recently, James Ennis, executive director of Catholic Rural Life (CRL), a non-profit organization dedicated to serving rural Catholic communities, traveled from Minnesota to California to meet with agricultural and church leaders.  During these meetings, Ennis presented “Vocation of the Agricultural Leader,” a document CRL created with the International Catholic Rural Association and countless other organizations. 

The document promotes the importance of farming as a sense of calling, a vocation.  It also emphasizes the importance of taking care of our common home.  Pope Francis’ teachings were incorporated in Vocation of the Agricultural Leader and the Pope’s Encyclical, Laudato Si, heavily influenced the final document.  

Agricultural leaders have had to balance making a profit with being stewards of the land.  Ennis said, “Our agricultural leaders have a responsibility to grow food, but also to care for family, for business and the environment.”

Many obstacles face growers and laborers in California.  Extreme drought followed by a winter of heavy rain, coupled with rising costs and associated paperwork as well as fears of stricter immigration policies are some of the biggest concerns. 

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Bishops Ask for Prayers for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

Catholic dioceses in California are offering special prayers and Masses in observation of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 2-8, 2017, an annual event established in 1981 to draw attention to the people and families whose lives have been affected by violent crime.  

In recognition of those impacted by crime, the Restorative Justice Committee of the California Catholic Conference has issued the following statement:

 “The harm to persons by the intentional criminal acts of others can be long lasting. Crime victims, survivors, and their families need to know they are not alone.  Local Church communities will walk with them providing support and prayers on the road to healing and restoration.

“Healing is a process aimed at restoring a sense of physical safety, security and their sense of self.

“That process is called ‘restorative justice’.  It has two goals—to help victims and their families heal from the traumatic effects of violent crime and to break the cycle of crime by increasing public safety through helping offenders rehabilitate as well as reintegrate into their communities. 

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American Health Care Act

Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives, unable to satisfy factions within their party yesterday delayed a floor vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

At least 30 House Republicans had previously expressed their opposition to the bill in its current state, and several committee meetings over the last few days have failed to create a consensus on several aspects of the bill. Last minute efforts by President Donald Trump also failed to bring about an acceptable deal.

Republican leaders have vowed to continue work on the bill to get it in a state that will be approved.

As previously reported, you can read the concerns expressed by the U.S. Bishop in this letter.

 

Students Visit Capitol for Youth Advocacy Day

Students from throughout the state descended on the Capitol earlier this week to meet with their elected officials for the 2017 Catholic Youth Advocacy Day.

Approximately 100 students participated in student-led presentations on issues including youth homelessness, human trafficking, school admission for students of deported parents and CalWORKS education incentive programs. The students then spent the remainder of the day at the Capitol advocating for or against bills pertaining to these areas of interest.

“I feel like I really made a difference in my community by getting my voice heard by someone who has the power to make a change in the community,” one student remarked.

Click here for a video of the highlights of the day.

March 24, 2017
Vol. 10, No. 11