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Florida bishops urge support for School Choice Now Act

U.S. bishops also comment on acts of vandalism against churches, administration's plan to not count the undocumented

Florida bishops urge support for School Choice Now Act

TALLAHASSEE | The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking Floridians to urge Congress to include additional relief for Catholic schools in the emergency relief package currently being negotiated.

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The bishops are urging passage of the Alexander-Scott “School Choice Now Act,” which would provide one-time, emergency funding for scholarship-granting organizations in each state; as well as permanent dollar-for-dollar federal tax credits for contributions to scholarship granting organizations.

"As the Senate prepares its next aid bill, we ask that the next COVID relief package include immediate assistance to families through federally-funded scholarships," said an email blast sent by the Florida Catholic Advocacy Network. "Catholic schools and families appreciate this help."

Click on this link to send a message to Florida's senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. 

Bishops respond to church vandalism: Society needs healing

WASHINGTON | Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement in response to reports of increasing incidents of church vandalism and fires:

“In the last few weeks, we have witnessed, among other things, one church rammed with a car and set on fire, as well as statues of Jesus Christ and of the Virgin Mary defaced or even beheaded. An historic mission church has also been badly damaged by fire, and the cause is still under investigation.

“Whether those who committed these acts were troubled individuals crying out for help or agents of hate seeking to intimidate, the attacks are signs of a society in need of healing.

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“In those incidents where human actions are clear, the motives still are not. As we strain to understand the destruction of these holy symbols of selfless love and devotion, we pray for any who have caused it, and we remain vigilant against more of it.

“Our nation finds itself in an extraordinary hour of cultural conflict. The path forward must be through the compassion and understanding practiced and taught by Jesus and his Holy Mother. Let us contemplate, rather than destroy, images of these examples of God’s love. Following the example of Our Lord, we respond to confusion with understanding and to hatred with love.”

Bishops: Give everyone 'rightful representation' in Congress

WASHINGTON | On July 21, 2020, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce ordering that undocumented people counted in the 2020 Census be excluded from consideration when determining the number of U.S. Representatives each state is allotted.

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“As we have stated before, we urge all people to be counted and fully included in the Census. Counting the undocumented in the Census and then denying them and the states in which they reside their rightful representation in Congress is counter to the Constitution and a grave injustice. Furthermore, such a policy makes people feel invisible and not valued as human beings.”

“This action is simply wrong and divisive. We follow the lead of Pope Francis, who has noted that in the face of ‘profound and epochal changes’ that the present moment offers ‘a precious opportunity to guide and govern the processes now under way, and to build inclusive societies based on respect for human dignity, tolerance, compassion, and mercy.’ We urge the President to rescind this Memorandum and instead, to undertake efforts to protect and heal our nation and all who are living in our country.”

To learn more about participation in the U.S. Census and information-sharing visit the Justice for Immigrants website.

Campaign for Human Development grants $500,000 to put Laudato Si’ in action

WASHINGTON | The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the U.S. bishops' domestic anti-poverty program, has approved a strategic national grant totaling $500,000 to the Direct Action & Research Training Center (DART). The grant aims to empower poor and low-income persons in the southeastern U.S. to overcome the impacts and address the root causes of climate change over the next five years.

The five-year project, “Caring for Creation, Caring for Community” will enable DART to engage local organizations in campaigns to identify the local impact of environmental changes on their community, empower low-income and minority communities to address the negative impact of environmental changes, and raise the profile of how these environmental changes hurt poor and marginalized communities the most.

Bishop David G. O’Connell, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the CCHD subcommittee said, “As CCHD marks its 50th anniversary this year, we are pleased to support this strategic national effort to put Laudato Si’ in action. The adverse effects of climate change devastate poor communities around the country and with this project, CCHD and DART will seek to live out the call of Pope Francis to respond to ‘the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.’”

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, who has worked in close collaboration with DART for over 30 years on issues such as lack of affordable housing, transportation, juvenile justice reform and violence reduction in the Archdiocese of Miami, said in support of the project, “The DART proposal 'Caring for Creation, Caring for Community' is a needed organizing effort to better engage people from low-moderate income communities in identifying and addressing the impacts of climate change in local communities.”

The Strategic National Grant Program was established by the U.S. bishops as part of CCHD’s Review and Renewal to address urgent regional or national needs, issues, or priorities impacting low-income communities. These grants are intended for organizations working to promote justice or economic development on a significantly larger scale than the community-based organizations that typically receive support from the CCHD.

The bishops also approved a strategic national grant totaling $300,000 in emergency assistance to the Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Network to maintain vital access to credit for low-income Native American households across the country.

The Native CDFI Network is a 501(c)(3) corporation with over 60 Native CDFIs across 27 states who lend capital to Native American businesses and economically disadvantaged households, providing access to unavailable credit, credit repair, and business technical assistance.

The bishops of the CCHD subcommittee approved both grants during their virtual meeting June 9, 2020.

Additional information about the programs and work of CCHD is available online at http://www.usccb.org/cchd.

Comments from readers

PAUL SCHLACHTER - 08/02/2020 04:29 PM
I commend Abp. Wenski for sponsoring the CCHD grant to DART. In our archdiocese alone many poor persons are, and will be, especially affected by rising sea levels and stronger storms. We have seen how the rapid spread of COV-19 has shaken the lives of those who are being laid off and who have lost family members, but that scourge will only last a year or two. A warmer earth will not go away; it will remain with us. It is only right that we try to lessen the burden of these changes for those who will suffer most.
Gustavo - 07/30/2020 12:13 PM
Well said Emilia! 500K for something that doesn’t exist(I..e climate change). While Churches are burning, Catholic statutes torn down. Christian persecution is at an all time high. And this is what the hierarchy is focused on !! Lord come to our aid!
Emilia D Gajdus - 07/29/2020 04:53 PM
I do not agree with the statement of Archbishop P Coakley . Undocumented means without documents so how can they be counted ? This number can fluctuate at any given time so to base number of US Representatives on this is a mistake. US Representatives allotted to each state should be only based on lawful citizens !

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