COVID-19 Vaccinations Begin with Church’s Blessing


COVID-19 Vaccinations Start in California

Emergency room nurses and doctors as well as other high-risk frontline healthcare workers received the first of two doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in California this week. The state received approximately 33,000 doses of the vaccine and is scheduled to receive an additional 393,900 doses next week.

The USCCB released a statement last week calling vaccination “an act of charity toward the other members of our community.  In this way, being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.”

The California Conference of Catholic Bishops in association with Catholic Charities and the Catholic healthcare systems in the state has also endorsed the current vaccine, and the likely next to be approved manufactured by Moderna.

Governor Newsom held a press conference earlier this week, where he reminded Californias that while the vaccines are the start of the end of the war with COVID-19,  “There is light at the end of the tunnel—but we are still in the tunnel. This is probably the most intense and urgent moment since the beginning of this pandemic.” 

The daily number of cases has grown dramatically—the 7-day average is now 32,523 – with more than 50,000 cases reported on Wednesday. These are historically high numbers. In addition, the number of available ICU beds and the number of healthcare professionals available to treat patients is of grave concern in most of the state.


USCCB and CCC Commend Administration for Enforcing Conscience Laws on Abortion

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights announced yesterday that it is taking corrective action against the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) and the State of California for violating federal conscience laws on abortion. The UVMMC violated the Church Amendment (enacted in 1973) by forcing a nurse to participate in an elective abortion against her religious beliefs and moral convictions.  

“The California Catholic Conference has long advocated on this issue and has sought every responsible redress – administratively and legally, state and federal,” said Edward “Ned” Dolejsi, interim executive director of the California Catholic Conference.   

“The Weldon amendment has not been properly enforced in California.  This should be a reminder to the state that religious liberty rights are as important as private rights.  We will continue to advocate for strong conscience protection and appropriate remedies when Weldon is violated. 

“For many years, the Missionary Guadulapanas of the Holy Spirit, sisters who work with farmworkers and those who are struggling in our state, were compelled by state department edict to purchase a healthcare plan that covered abortion.  They have been steadfast in their pursuit of eliminating this injustice and we applaud their work as we welcome this long overdue decision,” Dolejsi said. (Read more background here.)

The State of California is violating the Weldon Amendment through state insurance and health care laws that require health plans to cover elective abortions. Most employers, including even some churches, are unable to obtain self-funded health plans that exclude this objectionable coverage.  Unfortunately, the Amendment prescribes an unreasonable penalty – withholding all federal funding for a state – which can do great harm to residents, particularly those who are poor.  We have advocated for a more realistic, fair penalty, that would make it possible to enforce the amendment and to fulfill its intended purpose – protect the of conscience rights for healthcare workers and end organizations from compelling their employees to violate their religious beliefs.


Newly Elected CA Legislature Sworn In

Last week the California State Senate and Assembly held their one-day Organizational Session where they swore in newly elected members elected the Senate President pro Tem (Toni Atkins - D, San Diego) and Assembly Speaker (Anthony Rendon - D, Lakewood) and to begin bill introductions for the 2021-2022 Legislative Session. 

The usual celebrations were dampened a bit by COVID-19, as family members of the newly-elected and returning members were not allowed at the ceremonies.  A handful of Senate and Assembly Members did not travel for the Organizational Session and will officially be sworn in on a later date.  The absence of those members did not change any of the votes or actions taken.

Senator Atkins made brief comments and stated the priorities for the coming legislative year would include COVID-19 prevention and response, economic relief and recovery, and chronic challenges facing California that have been made worse by the pandemic.  She also mentioned broadband availability, wildfires, and housing as priorities.

Speaker Rendon identified his priorities as police decertification, climate change/wildfires/fire conditions, environmental justice, and expansion of broadband.

The Senate and Assembly will reconvene Monday, January 4, 2021. 


Pope commits Vatican to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050

Pope Francis urged countries on Saturday to work towards net-zero carbon emissions and committed Vatican City - the world’s smallest state - to reach the target by 2050.

Francis, who has championed environmental causes since his election in 2013, told a U.N. climate summit the 108-acre (44-hectare) city-state surrounded by Rome would be doing its bit to fight climate change.

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CCC and SCU To Offer Free Webinar-Based Restorative Justice Certificate Program 

The California Catholic Conference, Office of Restorative Justice and Santa Clara University, Pastoral Ministries Graduate Program with a concentration on Restorative Justice and Chaplaincy, and the (Arch)Diocesan Restorative Justice Directors of California have partnered to offer a free web-based restorative justice chaplaincy program. The January pilot program is aimed at providing training for the spiritual care for the incarcerated and their families, as well as care of victims of crime and their families.

The program is open to anyone exploring a calling with the chaplaincy program and includes advent resources with weekly prayer and video reflections, and will include virtual retreats and Masses, and webinars. Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion at the conclusion of the program.

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Public Policy Insights will return on January 8, 2021. From everyone at the CCC, may you have a safe and healthy Christmas and may the Lord bless you abundantly in the coming year.


Prayer during the time of Advent helps us to remember we are not more righteous or better than others, but that we are all sinners who need to be touched by God's mercy. GeneralAudience





December 18, 2020
Vol. 13, No. 43

En Español

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