WSCC 2020 Catholic Advocacy Bulletin, No. 17

by Stephanie Sanchez

October 7, 2020

Life and Justice

Voter Registration and Election Day Reminders

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3.  Ballots will be mailed around October 16.  Remember to turn in your ballots early.  There is still time to register to vote.  Click here for online registration prior to October 26.  After October 26 you can register to vote in person at your county election office through November 3.

What Does the Church Say About Public Policy Issues?

The Catholic Church does not endorse any candidates or political parties, but the Church does advocate for public policies that serve the common good and are aligned with Church teachings.  When considering political candidates’ views on public policies, we recommend reading Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibilitypublished by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Specifically, paragraph 31 begins a discussion on “Making Moral Choices” in relation to voting, and Part 2 explains the Church’s position on a number of political issues including human life, religious freedom, migration, care for creation, and more.  For detailed information about the Catholic Church’s stance on national public policy issues, refer to the USCCB website.  Consult the Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC) for information about state and local public policies. You may encounter websites, sources, or mailers that claim to be Catholic.  However, they may not be officially aligned with or sanctioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  During this election season, some parishioners have received mailers that claim to be Catholic and promote specific candidates.  These mailers did not come from diocesan mailing lists.  If a source instructs you to support a specific candidate or political party, it is most certainly not officially aligned with the Catholic Church.

Referendum 90: “Check Reject”

The WSCC, comprised of the bishops of Washington state, recommends you check “reject” on Referendum 90 (R-90) on the fall ballot.  R-90 gives us the opportunity to reject the Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) law that was passed in March.  Also called the Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE) law, Senate Bill 5395 mandates that all schools provide CSHE from kindergarten through 12th grade.  Curriculum guidelines are not aligned with Church teachings, and the CSHE law prevents local communities and school boards from fully protecting their own values and determining local policy.  Click here for more information about what Catholics should know about R-90.

Voter Registration and Education Information at Parishes

The WSCC encourages parishes to set up voter education and registration information following Masses and during the week.  In addition to voter registration, the purpose of these booths is to 1) inform the faithful of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops resource, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility and 2) encourage parishioners to “Check Reject” on Referendum 90 (R-90) to reject the new Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE) law.  Any parish voter registration and education efforts must receive the express approval of the pastor.  Visit the WSCC website for more information.

Life and Justice

Pope Francis Signs New Encyclical: Fratelli Tutti

This past Sunday, on the Feast of St. Francis, Pope Francis signed Fratelli Tutti, his new encyclical on human fraternity and social friendship that emphasizes the interconnectedness of all as brothers and sisters in one human family.  Some of the many policy issues discussed include immigration, religious freedom, war, human trafficking, the death penalty, care for creation, and hunger.  Summaries of the encyclical have been written by Georgetown University’s Institute of Catholic Social Thought and Public Life and Vatican News.

Catholic Leaders Urge the President and Congress to Pass COVID-19 Relief Legislation

Catholic leaders of the USCCB, the Catholic Health Association of the US, Catholic Charities USA, the National Catholic Education Association, Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities signed a joint letter urging the President and Congress to pass legislation to aid those who have been impacted by COVID-19.  They called on Congress and the President to “put aside partisan politics and prioritize human life and the common good by expediting negotiations to ensure not another day is lost in providing security and hope to people in need at home and abroad.”

USCCB Speaks Against Federal Executions

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Chair of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chair of the USCCB’s Committee On Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement calling for an end to federal executions.  In July the federal government resumed capital punishment for the first time in 17 years.  Two men were executed by the federal government in September, and another execution is set for November.  To learn more about ending the death penalty visit the Catholic Mobilizing Network.

USCCB Lauds Executive Order Protecting Vulnerable Newborn and Infant Children

Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement praising President Trump’s September 25 Executive Order on Protecting Vulnerable Newborn and Infant Children.  The executive order ensures that federally-funded hospitals provide care for all babies born alive, including those born prematurely or with disabilities.

USCCB Speaks to the Essential Work of Immigrants During COVID-19

Bishop Mario Dorsonville, chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, testified before the House in a hearing titled “Immigrants as Essential Workers During COVID-19.”  In his testimony Bishop Dorsonville pointed to the many ways that immigrants and refugees serve as essential workers during the pandemic.  For example, 69% of all immigrants in the U.S. labor force and 74% of undocumented workers are essential workers.  Despite their contributions during the pandemic, immigrants and refugees have not been included in any COVID-19 relief legislation.  Bishop Dorsonville noted, “We urge Congress to include immigrant and refugee families in any future COVID-19 relief as well as be made eligible for past relief efforts. Additionally, we continue to advocate Congress for a path to citizenship for undocumented workers who have been living, working, and contributing to our country. As Pope Francis states: ‘No one must be left behind.'”

USCCB Stands in Solidarity with Refugees and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Recipients

Last week the Trump administration recommended the U.S. permit the entry of 15,000 refugees into the country in 2021.  Known as the Presidential Determination on refugees, this is a significantly low number in comparison to the historical average of 95,000 refugees.  Worldwide, over 65 million people are displaced annually.  In a statement, the USCCB called for a significant increase in the Presidential Determination and noted, “By helping to resettle the most vulnerable, we are living our Christian faith as Jesus has challenged us to do.”

Additionally, in a September statement the USCCB and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) responded to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to vacate an existing preliminary injunction against the Trump Administration’s attempt to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for legal immigrants from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua.  This decision affects the status of over 200,000 legal immigrants in the U.S.  TPS was established by Congress in 1990 to protect immigrants whose home countries are affected by ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster or epidemic, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.  The USCCB and CRS also called for immigration reform and for the U.S. Senate to pass the American Dream and Promise Act. To learn more about immigration and TPS, see USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants website.

COVID-19 Relief Bill Excludes Catholic Schools

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, a COVID-19 relief bill that includes $182 billion in aid for K-12 schools. However, the bill prohibits the distribution of funds to students at non-public schools. In a statement, the USCCB criticized this aspect of the bill, saying, “It is unconscionable that this latest aid proposal would exclude these American children and the schools they attend from emergency aid that would ease the financial burdens they have borne as a result of the pandemic.”  Progress of the bill has been difficult as differences between House and Senate aid relief plans remain.  Additionally, President Trump cut off negotiations between the White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi on October 6, but indicated some interest in resuming talks on piecemeal elements of the relief bill later in the day.

Civilize It Campaign

As Catholics we are called to put our faith into action by advocating for public policies that promote the common good. During this election season, the Civilize It campaign reminds us we are also called to engage in good, honest, respectful dialogue.  In today’s divisive political environment, the faithful must treat everyone with respect, as we are all worthy of being heard.  Even when disagreeing with others, we must remember that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and created in the image of God.  Take the Civilize It pledge.  Read the pastoral letter “Love One Another: Practicing Civility for the Common Good” from the bishops of Washington here.

What Does the Church Have to Say About Racial Justice?

Racism is an attack on the dignity of human life, and the bishops affirm that racism is a life issue.  Learn more about USCCB’s 2018 pastoral letter on racism: Open Wide Our Hearts, An Enduring Call to Love.  Additional information may be found at the website of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.

Current Events and Celebrations

October: Respect Life Month

Read the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities’ statement on Respect Life month.  Resources for commemorating this month and living the Gospel of Life may be found here.

Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 – October 15 marks Hispanic Heritage month, an opportunity to acknowledge the historical and current contributions of Hispanic and Latino leadership in the Church and society.  Learn more from this USCCB statement and from the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic/Latino Affairs.

Justice for Immigrants celebrates 15 Years with a Fall Webinar Series

2020 marks the 15th anniversary of USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants (JFI) campaign.  In celebration JFI invites you to join their special fall webinar series.

COVID-19 Prayer

Earlier this week USCCB chair, Archbishop José Gomez, offered prayers for President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump following their COVID-19 diagnoses.  As we continue to pray for all during the pandemic, the USCCB provides this COVID-19 Prayer.

Important Dates

Hispanic Heritage Month
October Respect Life Month
October 4 Pope Francis released his new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti
October 6 The beginning of Washington’s 18-day voting period.  Vote early.  Ballots will be mailed around this date.
October 26 Online and mail registrations must be received 8 days before Election Day.  You may register to vote in person during business hours prior to 8 pm on Election Day, November 3.
November 3 Election Day – Deposit your ballot in an official drop box by 8 pm.  This is also the deadline for voter registration or updates.  This must occur in person prior to 8 pm.

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