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May 1, 2020
Urge HHS to Ethically Develop a COVID-19 Vaccine That Is Not Tied to Abortion
Contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to urge the ethical development of a COVID-19 vaccine that is not tied to abortion. Some researchers use cell lines developed from the cells of aborted babies for vaccine research. This is not necessary. Other cell lines and processes exist and may be used to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) strongly supports the development of an effective, safe, and widely available vaccine for COVID-19. At the same time, in a coalition letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the bishops “urge our federal government to ensure that fundamental moral principles are followed” in the development of a vaccine. Furthermore, “the principle that human life is sacred should never be exploited.” The coalition letter was co-signed by numerous leaders of healthcare, bioethics, and pro-life organizations. The letter was addressed to FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn. The FDA is an organization of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It is important that a vaccine be developed ethically and without any ties to abortion so that Catholics are not forced to choose between utilizing a vaccine and violating their consciences.
ACTION: Click here to contact U.S. Secretary of HHS Alex Azar.
Support Referendum 90 to Repeal New Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE) Law
The archbishop and bishops of Washington state support the collection of signatures to put Referendum 90 (R-90) on the fall ballot. R-90 is a referendum that will give voters the opportunity to reject a new law requiring all state school districts to provide Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE) for grades kindergarten through 12. Formerly Senate Bill 5395, this law was passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Inslee on March 27, 2020. The Washington State Catholic Conference opposes the new CSHE law for the following reasons:
CSHE prevents locally elected school boards from fully determining their own policy in this sensitive area. The law does not allow local communities to protect their own values. The Catholic principle of subsidiarity holds that certain issues are best dealt with locally. The sensitive matter of sex education is one such example of the appropriateness of handling some governmental issues at the local level.
The CSHE law does not ensure meaningful curricula review by parents and guardians nor provide for public comment prior to implementation. Additionally, CSHE curriculum fails to adequately address complex moral issues tied to human sexuality. As the bishops of the Second Vatican Council taught, the “family is a kind of school of deeper humanity … the right of parents to … educate their children in the bosom of the family must be safeguarded.” Gaudium et Spes, The Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, no. 52.
There are over 130,000 public school students in the state who do not speak English at home. There is no plan to communicate the new curricula or opt out information to these families.
For more information on how to sign or obtain a petition to put R-90 on the fall ballot, please email the WSCC at WSCC@WACatholics.org.
Justice, Peace & Environment
Bishops Advocate For Migrant Farmworkers Impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic
US Bishops tasked with pastoral care of migrants issued a statement in support of migrant farmworkers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Deemed essential workers, there are over one million farmworkers contributing to the food supply in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that at least half of this population are undocumented workers. The bishops outlined challenges facing migrant farmworkers:
lack of access to health insurance, medical treatment, and sick or paid leave options
overcrowded farmworker housing with little opportunity for social distancing, including transportation to and from work
limited or no Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
inability or reluctance to speak out about needs for protection due to the threat of job loss or the condition of their visas
In light of these concerns, the bishops urge political leaders and policy makers to consider the needs of migrant farmworkers. The bishops offer the following recommendations:
Recognize that all workers need access to free testing and care related to the COVID-19 virus
Ensure that all housing and transportation for farmworkers comply with current CDC guidelines
Provide information on proper health and hygiene that is easily accessible in multiple languages and infographics for illiterate workers
Ensure access to proper hygiene and safety protections at work sites, including hand washing facilities/stations, and masks and/or other PPE
Have an emergency health plan in place to ensure care and protocols when a worker contracts the COVID-19 virus
Honor the dignity of the work of farmworkers and make sure that they are paid a livable wage as well as be eligible for other benefits to help protect their health and the health and safety of their families at this time
The four bishops issuing the statement and tasked with pastoral care of migrants are: Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez of Philadelphia and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers (PCMRT), Bishop Oscar Cantú of San Jose and PCMRT’s episcopal liaison for migrant farmworker ministry, and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the Committee on Migration.
DACA Decision Expected Soon, Archdiocese Responds
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was initiated by the Department of Homeland Security in 2012. DACA provides temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. DACA participants cannot not have felonies or serious misdemeanors on their records. There are approximately 660,880 DACA recipients, as of June 2019. On September 5, 2017 President Trump announced termination of the DACA program. Litigation followed, and in November 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments related to the legality of the DACA program. A Supreme Court decision is expected to be issued soon. The archdiocese released two videos addressing DACA. In this video Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle, speaks about DACA and calls for prayers for program participants. In this video Chris Koehler, Director of Immigrant Assistance at St. James Cathedral gives a history of DACA, and Joe Cotton, Director of Pastoral Care at the Archdiocese of Seattle, points out that DACA recipients are priests, staff members, and parishioners in our communities. The archdiocese has an Immigrant and Refugee Ministry ready to help those impacted by any future changes in the DACA program. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
US Bishops Respond To President Trump’s Halt to Immigration, Speaking Against Polarization and Calling for Unity
Last week President Trump called for a halt to immigration and issued a 60-day freeze on green cards, “in order to protect American workers.” The executive order did not apply to temporary work visas. Many with temporary work visas are employed in essential positions in health care, food processing plants, and agriculture. The USCCB issued a response, stating that “we are all sons and daughters of God joined together as one human family.” The bishops spoke against polarization and called for unity during the global crisis caused by COVID-19. Furthermore, the bishops stated, “There is little evidence that immigrants take away jobs from citizens. Immigrants and citizens together are partners in reviving the nation’s economy.” The bishops also voiced concern for immigrant families looking to reunify and stated that the proclamation will effectively bar religious workers seeking to lawfully come to the U.S. and support the Catholic Church and other denominations.
The United Nations. Pope Francis, and the USCCB Call for the Cessation of Hostilities and Greater Humanitarian Aid During the COVID-19 Crisis
In March United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for a global ceasefire to “help create corridors for life-saving aid” during the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 29 Pope Francis joined this call, inviting “everyone to follow it by ceasing all forms of hostility, promoting the creation of humanitarian aid routes, openness to diplomacy, and attentiveness to those who are in situations of great vulnerability.” The USCCB also echoed the call for the cessation of hostilities in a statement from Bishop David Malloy, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace. Bishop Malloy points out that “Over a billion people on our planet live without access to basic necessities of life. Over 70 million are displaced who already live amidst violent conflict and persecution . . . May God’s grace open the hearts of combatants around the world so that they realize their shared frail humanity and allow a cessation of hostilities to come to pass. With such cessation, corridors of humanitarian assistance can be established and strengthened to allow relief to reach those in greatest need.”
U.S and Canadian Catholic Bishops To Seek Intercession of Mary for Strength in Struggle Against COVID-19
Today, May 1, the U.S. bishops will join the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in renewing consecrations of the two nations to the care of our Blessed Mother. In a statement, the USCCB explains that the consecration “is meant to be a reminder to the faithful of the Blessed Mother’s witness to the Gospel and to ask for her effective intercession before her Son on behalf of those in need.” While the Church seeks the special intercession of the Mother of God every month of May, USCCB President Archbishop José Gomez states, “This year, we seek the assistance of Our Lady all the more earnestly as we face together the effects of the global pandemic.”
Laudato Si’ Week: May 16-24
This month marks the 5th anniversary of Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si’, which provides an analysis of human life and its three intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor, and with the earth. Numerous planning resources, prayers, and activities for the week may be found at the Laudato Si’ Week website.
Ways to be Catholic and Politically Active: S Series for Young Adults
Young adults (18-39) are invited to attend an election year series on informing your conscience, intentional dialogue, and how to be active in politics as a Catholic. Meetings will occur via Zoom. Meeting dates are June 3, July 1, and August 5. Details are available on the Facebook page for Western Washington Catholic Young Adults.
Mother’s Day – May 10
Laudato Si’ Week – May 16-24
Ways to be Catholic and Politically Active: A Series for Young Adults (see above) – June 3
World Refugee Day – June 20
Religious Freedom Week – June 22-29
Click here to view previous WSCC bulletins on our website.