2020 Legislative Session – Message from WSCC Director
Dear Life and Justice Advocates,
Happy New Year and I pray that your Christmas season was a time a blessing for each of you. I am writing at the start of the legislative session in Washington state to introduce myself to many of you. I took on the role of Executive Director for the WSCC in September 2019 and must say that to date, working on behalf of the Washington State Catholic Bishops has been challenging, richly rewarding and fills me with a sense of positive expectation of what we can all accomplish together as faithful citizens and advocates for our Christian and Catholic faith.
I want to encourage you to invite your friends, colleagues and faith communities to join us in advocating for the life and justice issues and related policies needed in our state and nation. These are those policies and legislation that are supported by our Catholic teaching and Christian commitment to love, peace, and care for others and our world in the name of Christ. Ours is a commitment of valuing human life from conception to the grave, and care for creation. In particular, we will focus our efforts to support those most in need in our society.
May God bless us all as we seek to live out our faith in this way and be assured that the Washington State Catholic Conference stands ready to support you in these efforts. Here is to a peace-filled and just 2020.
May God bless you abundantly,
Washington State Catholic Conference
Videos of Cornerstone Keynotes Available
The keynote presentations from the 2019 Cornerstone Catholic Conference are now available on the WSCC YouTube channel. Go to the special Cornerstone playlist to view Bishop Frank Caggiano, Sr. Miriam James Heidland, Sr. Norma Pimentel, and the panel of the Bishops of Washington State. We will be adding other parts of the 2019 Cornerstone conference in the coming weeks.
WSCC Legislative Priorities
The Washington State Bishops have approved a list of priorities for the 2020 legislative session. Here are the categories:
Aging and People with Disabilities
Children and Families
We will be asking your help with advocacy on specific bills in these vital areas during the next few months. An especially powerful way of advocacy is participating in the March for Life and/or Catholic Advocacy Day – see the Events section for links for information.
Life and Liberty
Later this month, Catholics and other pro-life advocates will mark the 47th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Through special Masses and marches (see Events calendar below), people will show their respect for unborn life. The WSCC has developed a resource page and flyer to provide information you can use in your advocacy.
9 Days for Life
This year 9 Days for Life from the USCCB runs from Tuesday, January 21 – Wednesday, January 29. The new Leader Resources page includes the full novena (in various formats), graphics, sample bulletin announcements, and more. You will find an Image Gallery featuring promotional materials, as well as daily intention graphics that are available for download and use in bulletins, newsletters, and social media.
Effort on Parental Notification Unable to Gather Enough Signatures
I-1004 was an initiative to the state legislature to institute a “parental notification” law, which would have required physicians to notify parents or guardians before performing abortions on minors. The initiative contained reasonable exceptions to protect minors in cases where notification may threaten the safety of a minor or where valid medical exemptions are present. Failure to comply with the law would have carried criminal penalties and provided grounds for civil claims. The I-1004 campaign did not submit the required number of signatures by the January 3rd deadline.
Justice, Peace & Environment Pope Francis & USCCB Urge U.S. and Iran to Embrace Peace
Each January, the Pope addresses the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. On January 9, Pope Francis found particularly troubling “the signals coming from the entire [Middle East] region following the heightening of tensions between Iran and the United States, which risk above all compromising the gradual process of rebuilding in Iraq, as well as setting the groundwork for a vaster conflict that all of us would want to avert. I therefore renew my appeal that all the interested parties avoid an escalation of the conflict and ‘keep alive the flame of dialogue and self-restraint,’ in full respect of international law.” To read Pope Francis entire address, click here.
USCCB President Archbishop José H. Gomez and Bishop David J. Malloy, chair of USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, have called upon the U.S. and Iran to engage in “necessary diplomacy, courageous dialogue, and tireless efforts toward peace to resolve such global conflicts.” To read their entire statement, click here.
January is Poverty Awareness Month
Respond to Pope Francis’ challenge to listen to the needs of and empower persons in poverty by participating in Poverty Awareness Month in January. An online and print calendar includes daily ways to learn about poverty, get inspired by how communities are responding, and take action with others. In addition to the calendar are longer daily reflections. These resources are available in Spanish and English. You can also sign up to receive the daily reflections by email.
Education Comprehensive Sex Education
Sen. Wilson has introduced a revision to last session’s SB 5395 concerning Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) for K-12 students. The new bill number is SB 6175 and is significantly similar to SB 5395. The WSCC will also oppose SB 6175 because the legislation:
Excludes locally-elected school boards from the decision-making process;
Does not allow parental review of curriculum prior to implementation;
Has no provision for the opt-out ability to be adequately shared with non-English speaking families; and
Fails to address complex moral issues tied to human sexuality.
The WSCC will continue to advocate for protecting the right and responsibility of parents to be the primary educators of their children and the integrity of the family.