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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
March 27, 2020
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Pope Appoints Bishop Raica to Shepherd Diocese of Birmingham 
  • Governor Issues Three Week Stay-at-Home Order
  • Holy Week Liturgical Updates; Webcast Services Available 
  • U.S. Senate and House Approve $2 Trillion in Coronavirus Relief 
  • For Encyclical's 25th Anniversary, "Walking with Moms in Need" Begins
  • The Word from Lansing: Payday Lending and the Cycle of Poverty
  • 2020 Census Efforts Begin; Fill Out Your Response
 
  Pope Appoints Bishop Raica to Shepherd Diocese of Birmingham  
 
On March 25, the Vatican announced that Most Reverend Steven J. Raica, bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord, would become the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama.  The news is bittersweet for Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) and the people of the Diocese of Gaylord, as MCC will miss Bishop Raica's leadership and example of faith in this state. MCC sends well wishes to Bishop Raica, a priest of the Diocese of Lansing, as he continues in in his episcopal ministry and would like to express its eternal gratitude for his service here in Michigan.
 
  Governor Issues Three Week Stay-At-Home Order  
 
Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an Executive Order this week called "Stay Safe, Stay Home," which is aimed at reducing the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The order calls on Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend "in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life" until April 13. The order does allow for workers in certain critical areas-such as health care, law enforcement, grocery and convenience stores, gas stations, and more-to continue serving others. It also temporarily orders individuals to remain at home and prohibits public and private gatherings. Individuals may still leave for "limited, necessary purposes" such as medical appointments, trips to the grocery store, and outdoor recreational activity, as long as social distancing of six feet is maintained. On March 24, the governor's order went into effect. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/Coronavirus or call the state's hotline at 888-535-6136. Thank you for acting to keep others safe.
 
  Holy Week Liturgical Updates; Webcast Services Available  
 
In light of Governor Whitmer's "stay-at-home" order, many Catholic dioceses across Michigan -Detroit, Grand Rapids, Marquette, and Saginaw- have made the difficult decision that Easter Liturgical services will not be offered in-person for the public. **Updates may continue after this email goes out, so visit the websites of the Dioceses of Gaylord, Kalamazoo, and Lansing for the latest news.** However, there are many online options for watching Easter Mass, as well as daily and weekly Masses. Other faith resources such as Stations of the Cross are also available. Check your local diocesan and parish websites for more information, or visit the Coronavirus webpage from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). 
 
  U.S. Senate and House Approve $2 Trillion in Coronavirus Response Legislation  
 
The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act earlier this week to address critical health, economic, and safety needs in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis. The U.S. House passed the bill on Friday, March 27. The president has indicated that he will sign the measure into law. MCC is still analyzing the full impact of House Resolution 748 and its $2 trillion in emergency relief. However, the measure does include funding for:
  • One-time, direct payments to individuals and families under a certain income level. 
  • Extended unemployment insurance benefits, as well as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for those who do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation.
  • Block grants for social services.
  • Support to hospitals and health care centers in improving their capacity. The funding also helps these institutions receive needed supplies or reimbursement to address the Coronavirus outbreak.
  • Small business loans, including a certain amount available for nonprofits with under 500 employees, which are aimed at keeping employees on the payroll.
  • Loans for larger "distressed" businesses, states, and municipalities.
  • Various educational needs, including for K-12 public and nonpublic schools (see below).
The billions of dollars in funding for K-12 public and nonpublic schools can be used for a variety of purposes, including sanitizing school buildings, purchasing educational technology, implementing distance learning, and supporting student mental health needs, among other aspects. States would first apply for the grant funding, which would then be distributed to local districts who would work with their area schools. MCC, the Michigan Association of Non-public Schools (MANS), and many nonpublic school superintendents contacted Michigan's U.S. Senators in favor of nonpublic school access to these funds and are pleased it was included in the final version of the bill. Over the next several weeks, MCC will continue to work with Congress and federal agencies as regulatory guidance is developed on the implementation of relevant programs and funds.
 
  For Encyclical's 25th Anniversary, "Walking with Moms in Need" Begins  
 
The Catholic Church has a rich teaching about the importance of recognizing and uplifting the dignity of the human person. In 1995, Pope St. John Paul II added to this teaching with his encyclical document called Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). In this writing, the Holy Father challenged readers to build a culture of life, including by assisting women who are pregnant or who have young children. Decades later, the Church continues to explore ways to support the faithful in living out this specific challenge. In commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the encyclical's release, the USCCB is inviting parishes and dioceses throughout the country to participate in a special project. Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service is an initiative focused on improving the pastoral resources and support services offered to expectant mothers. Beginning on March 25, the Year of Service calls all U.S. Catholic dioceses and parishes to assess and expand the help they offer to mothers in need. In speaking on the year, the USCCB said:

"Challenges can be immense for women in difficult or unplanned pregnancies. 75 percent of women who choose abortion are low income. Pregnant and parenting moms in need are in our parishes and our neighborhoods. Women facing challenging pregnancies should see the Church as a place where they can find help, especially with its myriad of social services and organizations dedicated to meeting the needs of people in crisis."

To learn more and to access parish resources, visit www.walkingwithmoms.com.
 
  The Word from Lansing: Payday Lending and the Cycle of Poverty  
 
In the last several months, MCC has worked to oppose legislation in Michigan that would expand payday lending. House Bill 5097, sponsored by Representative Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Twp), would allow payday lenders to offer loans of up to $2,500, up from the current maximum of $600. Currently, most of the State Legislature's work remains focused around the state budget and needed support for addressing the Coronavirus. However, MCC remains concerned about the legislation-which would likely trap more Michiganders in a cycle of debt-especially as many families are struggling financially. The Word from Lansing column for March dives further into MCC's position on the legislation. It also presents alternatives to payday lending that improve financial literacy and address poverty. 
 
  2020 Census Efforts Begin; Fill Out Your Response  
 
Many households have received their invitation to participate in the 2020 Census, a counting process of the country's population which occurs every ten years. The information gathered during the census will 1) determine the state's representation in Congress for the next decade, 2) influence the way legislative lines are drawn at the federal and state levels, 3) inform emergency preparedness and public safety plans across Michigan, and 4) guide how federal funding is distributed to communities for local needs. For these reasons, gathering an accurate count is critical.

This is certainly an unusual time around the country, especially with all the measures that have been employed to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus. However, this is also the first year that the U.S. census will offer an online response option. As a result, it has never been easier to respond without having to meet a census taker in-person, as individuals can respond online, over the phone, or by mail. If you have questions about how to fill out your response, visit www.census.gov or call 1-800-354-7271. For more information on the impact of the Coronavirus on census operations, read the full statement from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Michigan Catholic Conference, 510 South Capitol Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48933 Michigan Catholic Conference: The Official Public Policy Voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan Phone: (517) 372-9310, Fax: (517) 372-3940, publicpolicy@micatholic.org