LEGISLATIVE KICKOFF WEBINARS

One of our top priorities during the upcoming legislative session is to encourage passage of a flexible Education Savings Account (ESA) program in Iowa. In preparation for the session, our partners at Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education are offering 30-minute “Legislative Kickoff” webinars at two convenient times – Tuesday, Jan. 10 at noon and Thursday, Jan. 12 at 6:30 p.m.

The webinars will

  • present a refresher on the legislative process,
  • discuss plans for the upcoming legislative session, and
  • describe specific ways you can actively promote the ESA effort in your local communities.

The live webinars will only be available through viewing parties at your local Catholic school although recordings will be available to individuals later. Check with your local school to see if they’re hosting the webinar.

REGISTER NOW FOR THE INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL ACTION

It’s only a few weeks until the Iowa Institute for Social Action and the annual Mass for Life. The Institute will prepare leaders to advocate for the social concerns of the Catholic Church. Registration is now live at iowasocialaction2017.eventbrite.com. This year’s Institute will be held on Jan. 15-16 at Saints John and Paul Church in Altoona, IA. The event costs $20 for adults; free for students.

Brian Corbin, Executive Vice-President of Catholic Charities USA, will present the keynote address on Sunday, “From the Lens of Faith…Being Advocates for the Common Good.” He will be able to bring a Washington perspective to us right before the inauguration.

We are pleased to announce that the keynote speaker for the Monday plenary session will be Mike Ferjak, the recently retired director of the Human Trafficking Enforcement and Prosecution Initiative of the Iowa Department of Justice.

Other sessions will cover topics such as mental health funding, immigration, minimum wage and care for creation. Check out the registration site for a complete list of our speakers.

We have an arrangement for $99 rooms at the Holiday Inn Express in Altoona (165 Adventureland Dr. NW) on the evening of Jan. 15. Call (515) 967-1855 and reference the “Institute for Social Action.” There are a few rooms available for this rate on Jan. 14 as well.

MASS FOR LIFE ON JAN. 15 WITH THE BISHOPS OF IOWA

The Mass for Life with the four bishops of Iowa will take place on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 5 p.m. at Saints John and Paul at the conclusion of the first day of the Iowa Institute for Social Action. Bishop Martin Amos of Davenport will be the homilist.

GOVERNOR BRANSTAD TO BE AMBASSADOR TO CHINA

Gov. Terry Branstad has been nominated by President-elect Trump to be ambassador to China. Gov. Branstad has known the President of China, Xi Jinping, since he visited Iowa in 1985 during Branstad’s first term.

The governor said he doesn’t intend to resign until he’s confirmed by the Senate, which could take several months. Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will replace Gov. Branstad. On the surface there wouldn’t seem to be many policy changes in the offing but different people have different ways of looking at things.

SUPPORT FOR IMMIGRANTS

The Catholic Church continues to accompany migrants and refugees seeking an opportunity to provide for their families. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced they are developing additional pastoral resources, reflecting the active collaboration of various USCCB Committees whose mandates touch on the concerns of migrants and refugees.

These efforts will continue to follow the basic principles contained in “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope,” the 2003 pastoral letter issued jointly by the bishops of the United States and Mexico. A pamphlet introducing and summarizing this document is available in both English (English version) and Spanish (Spanish version).

“So many families are wondering how changes to immigration policy might impact them,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice-president of the USCCB. “We want them to know the Church is with them, offers prayers on their behalf, and is actively monitoring developments at the diocesan, state, and national levels to be an effective advocate on their behalf.”

UPDATE ON NIH CALL FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS ON CHIMERA RESEARCH

As you may recall, late this summer we asked for your help regarding the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) intention to begin funding research that involves injecting human embryonic stem cells into animal embryos. This would create part-human and part-animal organisms known as “chimeras.”

This is ethically problematic for several reasons, including that it relies on the killing of humans at the embryonic stage to harvest their stem cells, and it involves the production of animals that could have partly or substantially human brains, making it difficult to know what our moral obligations may be toward that being.

According to Human Life Action, the overwhelming majority of the almost 20,000 public comments submitted to the Office of Science Policy were from people like you! Thank you for all the time and effort you took to raise your voice. Apparently the NIH is still evaluating the comments. No action has yet been taken to lift the funding moratorium.

VIDEO ON THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE RELEASED

The U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage has released the final video in a series that highlights the unique meaning of marriage. Entitled “Made for the Common Good,” the video features personal witnesses and policy experts discussing the importance of marriage between one man and one woman for children and for society at large.

“Made for the Common Good is designed to frame a conversation about marriage and its benefits for individual families and for our communities,” said Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the Subcommittee. “We all need to consider the importance of marriage, the unique partnership of a man and a woman, as the foundation of the family, and the foundation for our society. When marriage is not understood, supported, or valued – society suffers.”

The video is part of “Marriage: Unique for a Reason,” an educational initiative that promotes and explains the unique gift of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. These resources are available online at www.marriageuniqueforareason.org.

ICC’s 50th ANNIVERSARY

With this issue we continue our look back at the past 50 years of the Iowa Catholic Conference. One of our earliest newsletters, from 1968, details the priorities and issues of the ICC at the time:

  • Revisions to family law in the state of Iowa to protect the increasing number of children affected by the steep rise in the number of divorces.
  • Timely action on the National Commission on Civil Disorders findings which highlighted the serious racial disparities: “Our nation is moving toward two societies—one black, one white – separate and unequal.”
  • The first meeting of the Protection-of-Life Committee in April 1968.

AND FINALLY,

The staff of the Iowa Catholic Conference wishes a prayerful end to your Advent and a happy Christmas season!