ALERT – TAKE ACTION TODAY

The U.S. Catholic bishops and Catholic Charities USA have sent an action alert in support of the Second Chance Act. Please send a message to your Senators and Representatives as the bill is starting to move in Congress.

This bill funds many programs that provide crucial employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, mentoring, and other services to individuals returning to the community from incarceration.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley is ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Please take action today – the bill is scheduled to be “marked-up” in the Judiciary Committee very soon.

VOTING STARTS SOON

In-person voting starts as early as Sept. 25 in Iowa. Go to the state Secretary of State’s website for more information on locations.

To help in your discernment before the mid-term election, the Iowa Catholic Conference’s updated document on Faithful Citizenship for Iowa Catholics is available on our website. If you take your Catholicism seriously – which of course our faithful readers do! – the election-related materials you come across should be evaluated in light of the principles set forth by our bishops. What kind of impact can we have as Catholics if we start asking our candidates the questions found in this document?

Along those lines, a good place to get information on candidates and the dates for their forums/fundraisers is The Beltrame Report by Marc Beltrame of the BrownWinick law firm. Thanks to Marc for providing this information in one place.

A FEW NOTES ABOUT A LOT OF THINGS

The Iowa Catholic Conference Human Life and Dignity Committee met last week in Ankeny to discuss our legislative agenda for the 2015 state legislative session. Our principles don’t change from year to year, but the application and strategy around those principles do change depending on which party is in control of the legislature, the effect of court decisions, etc. The agenda should be published after our board meeting in October.

Our partner organization, the Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education, is leading an effort encouraging Iowans to get involved in the school choice issue. What if all parents had the freedom to access any type of quality educational setting they wanted for their child with their tax dollars? What if all educational providers were on an equal playing field?

Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs) could bring about this type of education reform by placing parents in the driver’s seat when it came to choosing their best-fit educational setting. If passed by the legislature, ESAs would allow parents not enrolling their child in public school to receive a deposit of state funds into an authorized savings account to use for educational expenses such as tuition, tutoring, online courses, etc.

If you’re interested in helping along this transformational change, contact Tom Chapman of the Iowa Catholic Conference (tom@iowacatholicconference.org), or Iowa ACE Executive Director Trish Wilger at twilger@iowaace.org.

We ran across an interesting article by Bob Gronski of Catholic Rural Life about why they got involved in the issue of Tyson Foods’ acquisition of Hillshire Brands. It’s worth a look, specifically about why the “Church is called upon to speak truth to power.”

The U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration and the Catholic Legal Immigration Networkhas sent a joint letter to the Department of Homeland Security asking them to use the powers of the executive office to authorize deferred action to various groups. They also recommend steps to address the unacceptable family separation caused by our inadequate immigration system.

The president of the USCCB has highlighted the achievements of the Civil Rights Act on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, also called for unity and perseverance to continue the vital work begun in the Act for the respect for human dignity.

“Fifty years ago, the Civil Rights Act offered an olive branch of hope for equal treatment and opportunities for education, employment, and fuller participation in society,” Archbishop Kurtz said in his statement. “The Civil Rights Act was a monumental step forward and since then, we have made even more progress in this vital work of transforming hearts and minds, but there is still much work to do. The Act itself did not eradicate the legacy of slavery, racial discrimination and injustice.”

The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, applauded the decision on Sept. 3, by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana upholding Louisiana’s marriage amendment.

“The federal court rightly declared that Louisiana’s marriage laws ‘serve a central state interest’ of linking children to an intact family formed by their biological parents,’” Archbishop Cordileone said. The Louisiana ruling comes after numerous federal court decisions striking down state marriage laws.

AND FINALLY,

A delegation of bishops and staff, including Des Moines Bishop Richard Pates, are making a solidarity pilgrimage to the Holy Land to pray for peace. They’ll be back in the U.S. after Sept. 18. Join the bishops on their journey by viewing photos and posts on USCCB Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Don’t forget to share with others!