FLCAN E-Update
Inside this issue
  Governor DeSantis Signs Budget, Bills Into Law  

On Friday, June 21, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a record $90.9 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Before signing the spending plan passed by legislators in May, the governor used his line-item veto power to cut more than $131 million in proposed spending.

The budget includes funding for the following FCCB priorities:

Pregnancy Support Services - $4 million is allocated to the Florida Pregnancy Care Network to provide services such as counseling, referrals, material support, training, and pregnancy and childbirth education to pregnant mothers as they prepare to parent or place their babies for adoption. FCCB has been supportive of the program since its inception in 2005, and Catholic Days participants advocated for the inclusion of the program in Florida statutes in 2018.

Affordable Housing Trust Fund - $200 million is appropriated to affordable housing programs. Over half, $115 million, is going toward affordable housing in the Panhandle areas affected by Hurricane Michael. The total allocation is $77 million higher than last year. $125 million of available housing funds was swept to general revenue for other projects. The FCCB has long supported full funding of housing trust funds to assist vulnerable populations with housing needs. 

Protection of Natural Resources - The budget includes $682 million towards environmental needs, such as Everglades restoration and protection of freshwater springs. Support for environmental spending was a 2019 Catholic Days at the Capitol issue.

Bills that were engaged by the FCCB during the legislative session and signed into to law by Gov. DeSantis include:

Parental Empowerment in Education
HB 7075 (Education, Sullivan) / SB 7070 (Education)
This measure creates the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, a  state-funded program for students from lower-income families to attend eligible non-public schools that meet their educational needs. It also reduces the current 12,974 student waitlist for the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship Program. The bill contains a provision being watched closely by the FCCB that establishes a new methodology to calculate the value of new and existing scholarships, decreasing the value of scholarships for students above sixth grade. The proposal was a 2019 Catholic Days at the Capitol issue.

State-Level Immigration Enforcement
HB 527 (Byrd) / SB 168 (Gruters)
The FCCB opposed this bill that mandates local jurisdictions comply with all requests made by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold individuals - even those who have not been convicted of a crime - beyond the time they would otherwise be released from a law enforcement agency.



  Governor Signs Death Warrant; U.S. Bishops Approved Revised Passage on Death Penalty  

Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a death warrant for Gary Ray Bowles, who was sentenced to death for the 1994 murder of Walter Hinton in Duval County. Bowles, 57, is also serving life sentences for the murders of John Roberts in Volusia County and Albert Morris in Nassau County. 

The FCCB urges the governor to stop the execution scheduled for August 22 at Florida State Prison in Starke. As the execution date nears, subscribers of the Florida Catholic Advocacy Network (FLCAN) will also have an opportunity through a FLCAN Action Alert to implore the governor to choose life over death. Bowles would be the second inmate put to death since DeSantis took office in January. Bobby Joe Long was executed on May 23.

In response to Pope Francis' August 2018 reformulation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church's treatment of the death penalty, the U.S. bishops approved at their June General Assembly a new section on the death penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults. The revision reflects the growing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of great crimes. Additionally, more effective forms of detention have been developed to ensure the due protection of citizens without definitively depriving the guilty of the possibility of redemption.



  Religious Freedom Week Observed June 22-29; Catholics Encouraged to Pray and Act  

Religious Freedom Week 2019: Strength in Hope takes place from June 22 to 29. The week began with the feast day of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, includes the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, and ends with the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Religious liberty issues are of particular concern for the bishops at the present time. Religious institutions and people of faith face challenges in our current cultural and political climate. Catholics across the country are encouraged to pray and act for the freedom to serve faithfully and with integrity.

Wednesday, June 26 marks four years since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that redefined marriage to accommodate same sex couples. This ruling does not recognize the unique and foundational role that marriage as a life-long, exclusive union between a man and a woman plays in the health of our society and the flourishing of humanity, especially children. It also threatens both religious liberty and the freedom of individuals to conscientiously object as seen in several cases involving business owners.

Additionally, a major area of concern continues to be the freedom for child welfare service providers to place children according to the agency's deeply held beliefs on the best environment for the raising of children. In places like Illinois, Massachusetts, California, and D.C., service providers like Catholic Charities who have a track record of excellence in recruiting and assisting foster families have been shut down. The federal Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (H.R. 897 / S. 274) would protect the religious liberty of child welfare providers, including adoption and foster care agencies. All are encouraged to visit the USCCB Action Center to contact federal lawmakers and urge their support for this important legislation.

Religious freedom encompasses a number of areas affecting not just our Church, but all people of faith who seek to live out their faith in daily life, in the public square.

Learn more about defending our first freedom at www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek


  Bishops Respond to Administration's Imminent Deportation Plans  

On June 17, President Donald Trump announced impending immigration enforcement actions by the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Subsequent press reports on Friday, June 21 indicated that ICE has plans for an enforcement operation in major cities, including Miami, to remove thousands of migrant families with deportation orders.  
In response to the president's statement and reports that have followed, the Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:  

"We recognize the right of nations to control their borders in a just and proportionate manner. However, broad enforcement actions instigate panic in our communities and will not serve as an effective deterrent to irregular migration. Instead, we should focus on the root causes in Central America that have compelled so many to leave their homes in search of safety and reform our immigration system with a view toward justice and the common good. We stand ready to work with the Administration and Congress to achieve those objectives.   

During this unsettling time, we offer our prayers and support to our brothers and sisters, regardless of their immigration status, and recognizing their inherent dignity as children of God."

In light of possible ICE enforcement actions, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops created a resource page so that immigrants and their families know their rights and can prepare and protect themselves in case they or a family member is detained.



  New Directive from Pope Francis Strengthens Current Abuse Policies  

In the following column, Michael B. Sheedy, FCCB executive director, addresses an opinion piece by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) regarding the reporting of clergy sexual abuse:

The bishops of the United States just concluded their annual summer meeting. One of the key topics was Pope Francis' Apostolic Motu Proprio, modifying norms in response to sexual abuse. In her June 11 opinion piece, Senator Lauren Book cited this directive, noting that the Holy Father's recent directive does not include a requirement to report allegations of abuse to law enforcement.
Existing Church law in the United States already requires notifying public authorities. The U.S. Church has had such a policy since 2002 when the bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Pope Francis' modification applies to the universal Church worldwide and, in some countries unfortunately, calling the police is not a safe thing to do.

The type of internal Church law outlined by Pope Francis is separate from any investigation by civil authorities. In no way does a Church investigation interfere with or replace a civil investigation. The Motu Proprio does not replace the Charter. Rather, it strengthens protections already in place and supports current policies to create a safe environment for children and vulnerable adults, discipline offenders, and assist with healing for victims and survivors...continue reading.


  Florida Respect Life Conference Scheduled for October 11-12 in St. Augustine  

You are invited to attend the 2019 Statewide Florida Respect Life Conference "In the Heart of Our Mother" in historical St. Augustine. National and state speakers will inspire and educate you with their expertise, sharing powerful fact-filled lectures that will lead us to a nurturing love which we can bring to others.

The annual Florida Respect Life Conference keeps with Church teaching that all human life has dignity and is to be protected. This statewide conference promises to be an informative and uplifting event with speakers on a variety of life issues, such as abortion, the death penalty, bioethics, poverty, and human trafficking. 

The conference, which rotates between the seven dioceses of Florida, is jointly sponsored by the State Pro-Life Coordinating Committee and the Florida Catholic Conference. All ministry leaders, parishioners and community members who seek to become more effective witnesses to the culture of life are invited to this special event.

Find a link to online registration, a list of presenters, and additional information on the Diocese of St. Augustine website.


  Recent News from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)  


June 25, 2019

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Words of Wisdom

"Each one of us has infinite value for God: we may be small under heaven and powerless when the earth trembles, but for God we are more precious than anything."

-- Pope Francis
June 16, 2019


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