Inside this issue
  2014 Election - Where Do the Candidates Stand?  

The 2014 Candidate Questionnaire Project is in full swing as both federal and state candidates continue to respond to our eight-question surveys.

Each election cycle, the FCCB conducts the Candidate Questionnaire Project to assist Catholics and the broader community with the obligation to become informed voters. All U.S. Congressional and Florida gubernatorial and legislative candidates appearing on the ballot in the primary and/or general elections have been invited to participate in a questionnaire. Candidate positions on issues are gathered for informational purposes only and are not used for endorsement of any candidate or political party.

View How Your Candidates Responded
Candidates' responses are posted on our website as they are received: Check back often as additional responses are received and posted.

Bulletin Inserts Available July 31
Bulletin inserts with responses from candidates running in the August 26 Primary Election will be posted on our website on the afternoon of July 31.

Bulletin announcements with suggested dates for publication are also available in English and Spanish.

Early Voting Set to Begin
Early voting for the Primary runs August 16 through August 23; however, each county Supervisor of Elections may at his or her own discretion offer additional dates. Find early voting dates, times and locations by visiting the website of your county Supervisor of Elections.


  Archbishop Issues Statement on Marriage, a Union Between One Man and One Woman  
  Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami has issued a statement in response to a July 17 ruling by a Monroe County court that found Florida's constitution, which affirms marriage as solely between a man and woman, violates the rights of same-sex couples. A similar decision was released on July 25 by a Miami-Dade County court.
"As I have said on other occasions," stated Archbishop Wenski, "marriage, a union between one man and one woman and any children that arise from that union, is an institution that precedes Church and state; therefore neither Church nor state has any authority to change the nature of marriage."
The court's ruling strikes a 2008 amendment to the Florida constitution attributing its passage by nearly 62% of the electorate to animus towards persons with same-sex attraction. "Our affirmation of marriage as being between a man and a woman is not motivated by unjust discrimination or animosity toward anyone. Human dignity is manifested in all persons; and all have the capacity for and are deserving of love," said the Archbishop.
The Florida bishops will "continue to promote the truth of marriage, its foundational significance to society, and its importance to children."
Both the Monroe and Miami-Dade decisions were appealed by State Attorney General Pam Bondi, halting same-sex marriages from being performed in the two counties until a decision by a higher court. 
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops has filed an amicus curiae brief in the related consolidated case of Brenner v. Scott with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.


  Responding to Border Crisis and Immigration Policy  
  In a July 9 event that included the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, and immigration advocates and academics, Ingrid Delgado, FCCB, associate for social concerns/respect life, called special attention to the plight of children who have "trekked countless miles" in search of a better life. She noted that the bishops have consistently advocated for a pathway to documented status, family reunification, visas for low-wage workers, and compassionate enforcement. Promising to "pray for and work with our members of Congress," she also expressed the bishops' concern over the root causes of migration in refugees' countries of origin.
Take Action
Central American children, primarily from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, continue to flee rampant violence in their countries and seek refuge in the United States.
>>If you have not already done so, send a message to your members of Congress urging them to oppose legislative efforts to strip protections away from unaccompanied children and to support supplemental funding for the protection of vulnerable children and other refugees. The FCCB thanks our advocacy network members who have already sent messages to their federal lawmakers.
>>Find out how the Church is helping the record numbers of migrant children at the southern U.S. border
>>Make a contribution to Catholic Charities USA to help provide basic services and support to the unaccompanied children


  U.S. Senate Narrowly Halts Attack on Conscience and Religious Freedom  
  On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores that the HHS contraceptive mandate cannot be used to force a family business to provide coverage for drugs and devices that violates the family members' religious convictions. The Court based its decision on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1993.
Within days of the High Court's decision, members of the U.S. Senate introduced the so-called Protect Women's Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014 (S. 2578). This legislation would reverse the Hobby Lobby decision by empowering the federal government to override RFRA and other federal conscience laws when mandating health coverage.
A July 16 motion to take up S. 2578 was supported by 56 senators but failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to proceed. Commenting on the vote, Jayd Henricks, director of government relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said: "While the outcome of today's vote is a relief, it is sobering to think that more than half the members of the U.S. Senate, sworn to uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States, would vote for a bill whose purpose is to reduce the religious freedom of their fellow Americans. We need more respect for religious freedom in our nation, not less."
The FCCB issued an action alert on this proposal and is grateful for the efforts of our network members to reach out to Senator Bill Nelson, who voted 'yea,' and Senator Marco Rubio, who voted in opposition to the bill.


  Sheila Hopkins Honored by U.S. Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities  
  Sheila Hopkins, former FCCB director of social concerns/respect life, received the "People of Life" award from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. Hopkins, one of three recipients, was presented the award by Cardinal Seán O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, at the annual meeting of diocesan pro-life directors on July 28 in Charleston, SC.
Hopkins was honored for her dedication to upholding the dignity of human life through her defense of the unborn, the poor and the vulnerable, especially through her advocacy and policy work, and for being an outstanding witness to so many working to build the Culture of Life.

Hopkins retired from the FCCB on September 30, 2013 after over 11 years of service to the Florida bishops.


July 30, 2014

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Words of Wisdom

"I urge the interested parties and all local and national political leaders to spare no prayer and to spare no effort to put an end to every hostility and seek the desired peace for the good of all."

Pope Francis
Angelus, July 13, 2014

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