Inside this issue
  Florida Supreme Court to Take Up 24-Hour Reflection Period Prior to Abortion  
  On May 5, the Florida Supreme Court in a 5-2 decision issued an order agreeing to hear a challenge to the constitutionality of the 2015 law that provides women a day to reflect before undergoing abortion. The order comes nearly two weeks after the Florida Supreme Court issued an injunction putting the law on hold. Plaintiffs in the case claim the law violates the broad privacy protections under the Florida Constitution.
The FCCB supported this legislation that ensures a woman considering abortion has an opportunity to reflect on information provided by a physician as she does before every other comparable surgical procedure. Similar measures are in place in 28 states.
The State of Florida already acknowledges the value of reflection periods prior to marriage, divorce, the purchase of a handgun, certain real estate transactions, sterilization, and placing a child for adoption. Considering these other waiting periods, it is only common sense to provide for reflection before an irreversible decision that ends the life of a child and can affect a woman's life for years to come.


  Legal Decisions on Death Penalty Could Have Far-Reaching Implications  
  The Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments on May 5 in a case involving Timothy Lee Hurst, who was sentenced to death for the 1998 murder of Cynthia Harrison in Pensacola. Hurst was the plaintiff in a legal challenge that led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in January that Florida's death-penalty sentencing system was unconstitutional because it allowed a judge, not the jury, to find each fact necessary to impose a death sentence.

Hurst's attorneys argue that he should serve a life sentence, instead of face execution, since he was sentenced to death under what was an unconstitutional process. The future ruling by the court could have sweeping results for the 390 inmates currently awaiting execution in Florida.

Earlier this year, Governor Rick Scott approved a bill passed by lawmakers to address the constitutional issues of Florida's death sentencing scheme for capital cases. The legislation also requires that at least 10 of 12 jurors agree when recommending death, an improvement over previous law that allowed a person to be sentenced to death on a recommendation of only a simple majority of jurors (7 of 12). However, on Monday, May 9, a Miami-Dade circuit judge ruled that, because jurors are not required to agree unanimously on a recommendation of death as they do in every other decision, Florida's death penalty remains unconstitutional.

The FCCB affirms all persons regardless of their actions possess an innate human dignity and opposes the use of the death penalty. Other means, such as life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, are available to keep society safe and punish offenders. However, we have long advocated for requiring a unanimous jury decision to ensure a more reliable and fair sentencing process as long our state continues to use the death penalty.


  Appeals Court Hears Arguments in School Choice Battle  
  On Tuesday, May 10, the 1st District Court of Appeal heard arguments in a lawsuit that claims the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship Program violates the Florida Constitution. In May 2015, Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds dismissed the suit, ruling that the Florida Education Association and other plaintiffs in McCall v. Scott lacked legal standing in the case.

FTC Scholarships are not funded by legislative appropriations but by tax-credited corporate contributions; therefore, no direct tax dollars are used to fund the program. Rather than harming public school funding or quality of education as plaintiffs claim, the scholarship program has proven to strengthen Florida's education system.

Since enacted by the Florida Legislature in 2001, the FTC Scholarship Program has been providing hope and opportunity to thousands of students from low-income households. The FCCB supports this successful school choice component that assists low-income families and contributes positively to the education of Florida students.

During the 2014-2015 school year, Florida's Catholic schools served 13,369 students in the FTC program, which represents 15.6% of the 85,539 students attending Catholic schools in our state.


  Stay Tuned for the Candidate Questionnaire Project  

Prior to both the August 30 Primary Election and November 8 General Election, the FCCB plans to release responses to its Candidate Questionnaire Project (CQP) for state and federal candidates.

Each election cycle, the FCCB conducts the CQP to assist Catholics and the broader community with the obligation to become informed voters. All U.S. Congressional and Florida legislative candidates appearing on the 2016 ballot will be invited to participate in a questionnaire regarding their positions on several issues of importance to our faith community. Becoming familiar with candidates' positions on issues involving human life, dignity and the common good is essential to responsible, faithful citizenship.

When they are released, responses and parish bulletin inserts will be available on the FCCB web site. Stay tuned!


  Election & Political Activities Guide Updated for 2016  
  The FCCB has updated its election and political guidelines for the 2016 elections. Approved by the bishops of Florida, this guide for pastors and parishes is intended to encourage Catholic clergy and laity to facilitate the involvement of their faith communities in appropriate election related activities. The guide is available in two formats - one for easy viewing online and another for printing copies in booklet format. 

Election & Political Activities Guide - Online Viewing Format | Spanish
Election & Political Activities Guide - Booklet Format | Spanish


  Recent News from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops  

May 4, 2016: The heads of four leading science and faith organizations call on President Obama, who will likely visit Hiroshima, Japan, later this month for the G7 summit, to announce specific steps the United States will take to reduce the real and urgent risks posed by nuclear weapons and prevent a new global nuclear arms race.

April 26, 2016: Archbishop George Lucas, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, urged legislators to support H.R. 4901, the Scholarship for Opportunity and Results Reauthorization (SOAR) Act of 2016. In addition to providing extra funding for public schools, the SOAR Act provides scholarship opportunities through the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program for students from low-income families to attend private or charter schools in the District of Columbia.

April 27, 2016: The National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea will be celebrated on Monday, May 23. The day is observed in conjunction with National Maritime Day in the United States, which has been celebrated since 1933, to recognize merchant mariners and others in the maritime industry.

Workers in the fishing and aquaculture industry are among some of the most vulnerable to human trafficking. Read more about human trafficking in the maritime industry.

April 19, 2016: The USCCB joined twenty-five other major pro-life, religious, and health care organizations urging the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Conscience Protection Act of 2016 (H.R. 4828). Signatories include ten medical groups representing tens of thousands of health care professionals who object to abortion and are seeking legal protection to serve their patients in good conscience.


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May 11, 2016

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Words of Wisdom

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the great digital community, ask for my prayers and blessing, I wish to say that you will be the precious gift in my prayer to the Father. And you, don't forget to pray for me so that I may be a servant of the Gospel of Mercy."

--  Pope Francis
Handwritten note
marking World
Communications Day
May 8, 2016


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