What is the California Catholic Conference?

The California Catholic Conference is the staff office of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops. It is the official voice of the Catholic community in California's public policy arena.

Who is the Catholic community in California?

There are nearly 11 million Catholics in California representing 29 percent of the entire population in the state. They belong to 1,073 parishes located in 12 (arch) dioceses. They are served by 3,620 priests, 24 bishops, and two Archbishops—one of whom is a Cardinal. The Catholic community also includes: 41 Catholic hospitals, which annually assist more than 5 million patients; 36 Catholic healthcare centers, which annually assist 300,000 individuals; 13 colleges and universities, which enroll 45,500 students; 114 Catholic high schools, which serve 76,680 students; 569 Catholic elementary schools, which enroll 165,282 children; and 181 special centers for social service, which annually serve 4.5 million people of various ethnicity, social status and religion.

What do Catholics have to say about public policy?

  • We, as Catholics, seek the common good.
  • We believe that the shaping of public policy is not simply a task for others, but for each of us.
  • We hold that the principles of Catholic Social Teaching can be used to strengthen public life and build a better society.

What are the principles of Catholic Social Teaching?

The principles of Catholic Social Teaching embody traditional Church wisdom as well as particular teachings such as Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum .

  1. Life and Dignity of the Human Person
    We believe that every human life is sacred from conception to natural death; that people are more important than things; and that the measure of every institution is whether or not it enhances the life and dignity of the human person.
  2. Call to Family and Community
    The God given institutions of marriage and family are central and serve as the foundations for social life. They must be supported and strengthened, not undermined.
  3. Rights and Responsibilities
    All people have a fundamental right to life and a right to those things that allow them to live a decent life. Likewise, all people have a duty to fulfill their responsibilities to their families, to each other, and to the larger society.
  4. Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
    The Church calls on us to show a "preferential" care for those who are poor and vulnerable, and to work to ensure that their needs are considered in public policies and priorities.
  5. Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
    The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God's act of creation, a way of fulfilling part of our human potential. The basic rights of workers, owners, and managers must be respected.
  6. Solidarity
    Because of the interdependence among all the members of the human family, we have a moral responsibility to commit ourselves to the common good at all levels.
  7. Care for God's Creation
    Our stewardship of the earth is a kind of participation in God's act of creating and sustaining the world. We must be guided by our concern for the welfare of others and by a respect for the intrinsic worth and beauty of all God's creatures.

What is the mission of the California Catholic Conference?

The mission of the California Catholic Conference (CCC) is to advocate with the legislative, administrative and judicial branches of state government for the Catholic Church's public policy agenda and to facilitate common pastoral efforts in the Catholic community. The CCC also enables ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and action.

How does the California Catholic Conference track, monitor and lobby legislation?

In the course of any 2-year California Legislative session, 5,000-6,000 bills are introduced. Of them approximately 800-1,000 will fall within the customary concerns of the California Catholic Conference. Those bills are followed throughout their "legislative life" using a computerized tracking system that also allows the assignment of "priority status."

Each bill will be labeled as: major, significant, monitor, or no track. For those bills determined to be major or significant the Conference decides whether to fully support or oppose, either position entailing personal legislator visits, negotiation, letters, and testimony; or to indirectly support or oppose, which usually only generates a phone call, letter or some other modest approach. Occasionally the oppose position is nuanced to be oppose unless amended, in which case the Conference offers language to "solve the problem."

The categories of important issues identified by the California Catholic Conference have been developed over the years from a variety of sources: the California Catholic Conference of Bishops' semi-annual meetings, consultations with moral theologians, convening with diocesan ministry staff, and collaboration with like-minded lobbyists. Those categories are: reverence for life, human dignity, education, religious liberty, family life and restorative justice. These are the legislative priorities of the California Catholic Conference.

Are there Catholic Conferences in other states?

Yes. To learn about Catholic Conferences in other states visit the National Association of State Catholic Conference Directors (NASCCD).