April 6, 2018  
 Inside this issue
  Rejoice and Be Glad  
  With the Legislature no longer in session, the WSCC Advocacy Bulletin is being sent each First Friday for the rest of 2018 and will include important federal updates as Congress continues to be in session.  Other important news will also be shared.  To that end, on Monday, the Vatican will release a new Apostolic Exhortation by Pope Francis, Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and be glad), subtitled "On the call to holiness in the contemporary world."  An Apostolic Exhortation is considered one of the highest ranking papal documents.
 
Beginning Monday, WSCC will Tweet brief excerpts each day next week from the Pope's new Exhortation so be sure to follow our Twitter feed, @WACatholicConf.  Please check it out, feel free to share and also to encourage fellow Catholics you know to sign up for the WSCC Advocacy Network (www.thewscc.org).
 
Thanks and a blessed Easter season to you!
 
Joe Sprague, Executive Director, WSCC
 

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  Congress considers Farm Bill...here's why it matters  
 

Food is a basic need and a fundamental human right.  The federal Farm Bill, reauthorized every 5 years, is expected to be introduced in Congress this month.  It includes billions of dollars to fund anti-hunger programs in the U.S. and throughout the world.  Additionally, the Farm Bill provides essential funding to support farmers and increase their ability to care for God's creation through important conservation programs.
 
Our Catholic faith calls us to honor the dignity of every human being. Unfortunately, 1 in 9 people in our world do not have enough to eat.  We can make a difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters experiencing hunger with our advocacy on the Farm Bill.  Major provisions include:
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that helped feed more than 43 million people last year and lifted over 4 million Americans out of poverty.
  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans through food banks and soup kitchens.
  • The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) provides nutritious food boxes to more than 700,000 low-income seniors each month.
  • The international food security programs provide emergency food when disasters strike, help communities in poverty grow more of the food they need, and support literacy and education through school lunches.
  • Other sections of the Farm Bill help farmers diversify crops, get access to new markets, and receive assistance on technical issues, including a number of conservation programs.
In a letter to Congress in February, leaders of the USCCB, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), National Catholic Rural Life, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul wrote, "This is a crucial time for our nation to put poor and hungry people first, support small and moderate-sized family farms, promote sustainable stewardship of the land, and help vulnerable farmers and rural communities both at home and in developing countries."

To send a message to your U.S. Representative, urging adequate funding for anti-hunger programs, click here.
 
Further updates will be provided as the bill progresses through Congress.
 

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  Update on Conscience Protection Act  
  Thank you to all who responded to last month's alert concerning the federal Conscience Protection Act (CPA).  This much-needed, common-sense legislation was intended to clarify federal law and ensure that those who provide health care and health coverage can do so without being forced by government to help destroy innocent unborn children.  Unfortunately, it was not included in the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus appropriations bill that Congress passed on March 23. The USCCB released a statement that read in part, "We call on Congress not to give up until this critical legislation is enacted." To read the entire statement, click here.  

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  Earth Day Advocacy Opportunity and Resources  
  A bipartisan group of Senators has introduced the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (S. 2448), a bill that gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to ban hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a class of potent greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning.  The bill establishes a pathway for our nation's participation in the phase out of HFCs.  This bipartisan effort is supported by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), industry, and the environmental community. To read the USCCB's letter to the U.S. State Department in support of eventually eliminating HFCs, click here.  To send a message to your U.S. Senators through the Catholic Climate Covenant, click here.
 
2018 Earth Day Program - The Catholic Climate Covenant is offering a 2018 Earth Day program on how, as individuals and a community, we can address the growing problem of single-use plastic.  The program includes prayers, readings, actions, and a video and is available here.
 

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  MLK Assassination Anniversary  
 
 
On April 4, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception joined with numerous other churches and schools across the nation tolling bells in homage to Dr. King's legacy and his many contributions including the principle of non-violent resistance.  
 
The USCCB also issued a statement to mark the anniversary that read in part, "as we reflect on [Dr. King's] life and work, we need to ask ourselves if we are doing all we can to build the culture of love, respect and peace to which the Gospel calls us.  What are we being asked to do for the sake of our brother or sister who still suffers under the weight of racism? Where could God use our efforts to help change the hearts of those who harbor racist thoughts or engage in racist actions?" To read the full statement, click here.  The U.S. Bishops are continuing to develop a pastoral letter on racism which is expected to be released later this year.
 
 
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