Insights: CCC Advocating for Funding of CalFresh Outreach; Increased Vaccine Availability

Food Delivery

CA Catholic Conference Advocating for Full Funding of CalFresh Outreach Program

California Catholic Conference - in conjunction with Catholic Charities of California – is advocating for an allocation in the General Fund to fully fund CalFresh services for California families.  CalFresh is one of the most critical supports for struggling families in the state.

Food insecurity – that is, inconsistent access to adequate and healthy food – impacts millions of Californians.  Because of the COVD-19 Pandemic, California's food insecurity is projected to increase by 48 percent this year.

The lack of consistent access to healthy food has far-reaching negative impacts on households and communities:  poor school attendance and performance, lowered workplace productivity, and physical and mental health problems, among other negative health aspects.

With a fully-funded program, the CalFresh Outreach program could potentially help tens of thousands of Californian families.

Please keep watch for ways you can assist in securing this additional funding to combat food insecurity in our state.

 

Bill Aims to Declare Religious Services “Essential”

SB397 (Jones, R-San Diego) would amend the California Emergency Services Act to declare religious services as “essential” and prevent state or local governments from interfering in the free exercise of religion.

The legislation is a reaction to the frustration many California residents have expressed at their inability to attend Mass or other church services in an unrestricted manner during the Coronavirus pandemic.

While attractive on some levels, the bishops and leaders of other denominations are taking no position on the bill.  This is because they do not recognize that governments have the right to regulate religious services.  If the state has the ability to declare religious services essential, the thinking goes, they also have the right to declare religious services as non-essential.

The bishops cooperated with public health authorities to regulate attendance at church services during the pandemic because of the need to protect life, the reality of valid public health concerns and our belief that the common good would be best served by protecting people from the COVID-19 virus.   For the same reason, we will not be supporting legislation that sounds appealing, but creates problems in the long-term by supporting the right of the State to regulate religious practices. We agree with the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that affirms our right to worship and makes clear that the state may not infringe on that right and does not have any authority to regulate worship.

 

Urgent Action Needed to Support the Vulnerable and Protect Life in COVID Relief Bill

Last Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new COVID relief bill, called the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which addresses the needs of many vulnerable people related to the pandemic. Unfortunately, unlike previous COVID relief bills, this bill appropriates billions of taxpayer dollars that are not subject to longstanding, bi-partisan pro-life protections that are needed to prevent this funding from paying for abortions.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote to Congress to express its support for additional COVID-19 relief that prioritizes the poor and vulnerable and its strong opposition to any taxpayer dollars going to abortion as part of this legislation, saying that the Hyde Amendment policy must be included before this bill moves forward. Your voice is critically needed today to tell your senators to support amendments that prevent abortion funding, and to work for their inclusion in the final bill.

Click here to urge the inclusion of amendments to protect life in the COVID relief legislation

 

Increased Vaccine Availability and Accountability

The Biden Administration promised an increase in vaccine availability this week and the opportunity for every American to be vaccinated by the end of May. According to the California bishops, the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have all been deemed morally permissible and can be used in good conscience.

Beyond simply protecting their own health and safety, Catholics also have an obligation to protect their family, friends, and community by vaccinating as soon as feasible in accordance with public health guidelines and protocols in their area.  One should always consult with their doctor regarding any personal medical concerns.

The CCC has a comprehensive list of all Church statements regarding the moral and ethical aspects of the vaccines and Catholic Moral Teaching. Learn more here.

 

Governor, Schools Reach Incentive Deal to Re-open Public Schools

Governor Gavin Newsom has reached a deal with lawmakers and state teachers unions on SB 86, outlining a funding incentive program to re-open schools for in-person instruction by next month.

Schools that fail to comply with a plan to return to in-person instruction by the end of March will forfeit a percentage of funding each day. The deal means the legislature will be able to focus on other educational proposals, including those for student mental health and closing learning gaps resulting from COVID-19.

The majority of Catholic schools returned to in-person instruction last fall and have proved to be a model for public schools returning to the classroom.

 

Prayer for Safe Papal Visit to Iraq

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq March 5 – 8 amid the country’s overload of COVID-19 cases and increased violence in the past weeks. Recent rocket attacks and the presence of the Shiite militias in the regions have heightened concerns for safety and security during the visit.

The Pope is scheduled to meet with Iraq’s president, the Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, and other religious and civil authorities and communities.

The USCCB president and chairman have called for prayer and solidarity with the Holy Father and the people of Iraq, asking “all the faithful and people of good will in the United States to pray for the success and safety of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Iraq March 5-8 as he stands in solidarity with the local Church and promotes peaceful coexistence among all people of Iraq.”

 

 

Year of St. Joseph

The USCCB has composed a novena to be prayed yearly on March 10-18, the nine days that precede the Solemnity of Saint Joseph on March 19. Each day of the novena will be accompanied by a reflection video from bishops across the United States. The novena may also be adapted for use at other times of the year, especially feasts celebrating Saint Joseph and occasions when his intercession is sought by the faithful.

The LMU Center for Religion and Spirituality invites you to a special free Facebook Live webinar: “The Year of St. Joseph” on March 19, marking 150 years since Pope Pius IX declared Saint Joseph the patron of the Catholic Church. There will be a conversation on St. Joseph, the Pope and his ideas for a Year of St. Joseph, as well as how remembering St. Joseph invites people to faith and to action in the world today.  

 

Join Restorative Justice Webinar Series

It’s not too late to join the CCC Restorative Justice Network’s FREE “Certificate in Restorative Justice,” a webinar program created in collaboration with Santa Clara University Pastoral Ministries Program and the local diocesan Restorative Justice Director.  

Each webinar is being recorded for those not available during the live event. This certificate of completion program can be added to current diocesan training and formation programs, lay ministry programs, trainings, basic and master's catechist certificate programs, and more. Learn more at www.restorejustice.com.

 

There are a number of current openings for both federal and state prison chaplains. This position is not limited to clergy members and anyone who meets the qualifications can apply. Click here to learn more.

 

“[Today] I will go to #Iraq for a three-day pilgrimage. I have long wanted to meet those people who have suffered so much. I ask you to accompany this apostolic journey with your prayers, so it may unfold in the best possible way and bear hoped-for fruits.”

-@Pontifex

 

 

March 5, 2021
Vol. 14, No. 9

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