Weekly Update from the Missouri Catholic Conference                                       September 3, 2021  
Inside this issue
  Happy Labor Day!  

This weekend, we celebrate Labor Day, the proverbial end of summer. But for Catholics, it's first an opportunity to give thanks to God for the gift of work-and also our coworkers and community members. This article from Crux highlights this meaning, appropriate in this time of staff shortages, remote work, and job loss during the pandemic.

"The celebration of Labor Day this weekend reminds us of the blessing of being able to work, as well as to receive the benefits of the work of others. Whether it's food in a grocery store, the attention given to us by our postal workers, hospitality in restaurants, retail services in department stores, IT assistance, or the vast array of other types of work, we live and thrive on the shoulders of our fellow workers."

We wish you all a happy Labor Day weekend! The Missouri Catholic Conference office will be closed on Monday in observance of the holiday.



  Supreme Court Refuses to Block Texas Heartbeat Law  

Wednesday night, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block a Texas law prohibiting abortions after six weeks of gestational age. The 5-4 majority held that the plaintiffs -- abortion providers in the state -- did not meet the legal burden required to stop the law. While the decision allowed the "heartbeat" bill to take effect, the majority made clear that it was not ruling on the constitutionality of the law. 

The bill, SB8, is unique in that it does not give Texas the responsibility of enforcement. Rather, the law allows an individual to bring a civil lawsuit against anyone who performs or assists in performing an abortion after six weeks, potentially resulting in a $10,000 fine. Because of this enforcement mechanism, the majority on the U.S. Supreme Court determined that there were no proper defendants named by the abortion providers. The defendants in the case were state officials and one private citizen. The state officials claimed they lacked the authority to enforce the law, and the private citizen stated he had no intention of seeking to enforce the law. 

Serious questions remain as to whether SB8 would survive a proper legal challenge or whether it is sustainable long-term. However, the immediate impact of the law is that the lives of many preborn babies in Texas may now be protected.  The Texas Catholic Conference issued the following statement this week on this issue.



  Bishops Offer Prayers for Those Impacted by Hurricane Ida  

Archbishop Jose Gomez, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, offered his prayers of solidarity for those impacted by Hurricane Ida.  Ida made landfall in Louisiana earlier this week and has since moved slowly across the Eastern U.S. causing flooding and major destruction along its way, most recently in New York City.  Those wishing to help financially can click here to make a donation to Catholic Charities USA.



  Pell Grant Program Expanded for Prisoners  

Inmates in 42 states and Washington, D.C., can now get federal grants to work with colleges and universities to earn trade certifications, associate's degrees and even bachelor's degrees. The expansion of the Second Chance Pell Grant program reflects a major shift in criminal justice policy over the last decade, as both liberals and conservatives have questioned get-tough policies on crime and have instead pushed measures to help inmates get ready for a productive life outside of prison. 

The grant expansion announced by the Biden administration (following a previous announcement by the Trump administration) will bring the number of participating colleges and universities up to 200. Pell Grants are awarded to college students on the basis of need, and unlike loans, do not have to be repaid. The maximum award for Pell Grants for all college students is $6,495 for the 2021-2022 award year.



  U.S. Bishops Issue Statement on World Day of Prayer for Creation  

In recognition of September 1st as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, and Bishop David Malloy of Rockford, Illinois issued a statement this week, encouraging Catholics to "join our Christian brothers and sisters in putting our ecological conscience into practice."  The countless challenges facing mankind, they state, "must be met with a deep and well-formed faith."  "Indeed," they remind us, "one of the underlying drivers of our current crisis, both moral and ecological, is a radical world view that has placed excessive trust in the power of mankind and disregarded God. Faith helps us to face so many looming challenges without becoming discouraged or despondent, and guides us to the ultimate standards of goodness and truth, without which conscience can lose its way."  

In anticipation of the upcoming UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland in November, they offered their prayers for all climate scientists, experts in technology and policy, and those on the frontlines of climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as for those creatures and persons impacted by climate change, "especially the most poor and needy among us."