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Washington State's Longest Legislative Session Ends PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 22 July 2015 13:48

For the first time since the fiscal crisis, legislators added significant funding to social service programs in the 2015-2017 operating budget. Several key programs had their first real increases in years. The new operating budget provides a 9% increase for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This $30 million increase for TANF partially restores the 15% cut made in the wake of the recession. Responding to constituents and several court orders, legislators included approximately $70 million in additional funding for the evaluation and treatment of people with mental illness. The State Food Assistance Program (FAP) that serves legal immigrants who are not eligible for food stamps was restored to 100% of the federal level after struggling for the last four years at only 75% of the federal level.

However, other programs were not increased. The Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program will continue to be funded at current levels. While not increased, maintaining current levels could not have occurred without advocates pressing lawmakers on behalf of poor and vulnerable people. Funding for Volunteer Services will stay the same as in the last biennial budget. The basic human needs of many Washingtonians continue to go unmet.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 July 2015 14:04
 
U.S. Bishops Renew Drive to Abolish Death Penalty PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 22 July 2015 13:43

In a recent statement, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) renewed its opposition to the death penalty. The message commemorated the 10th anniversary of the bishops’ Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty and their accompanying message, “A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death.”

In Washington State there are nine people on death row, although Gov. Jay Inslee has placed a moratorium on any executions as long as he is in office. In 2009, the Bishops of our state issued a pastoral statement on the death penalty.

 “No matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so. Today, we have this capability,” wrote Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., of Boston, chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chair of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

The bishops cited progress over the last decade, including several states abolishing the death penalty, other states enacting moratoria, and death sentences being at their lowest level since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. The bishops also noted Pope Francis’ call for an end to the use of the death penalty.

Click here to view the full text of the message.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 July 2015 11:21
 
Pope’s Encyclical on the Environment PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 18 June 2015 15:20

Bishop William Skylstad welcomed the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si commenting that Pope Francis calls the human family to an “integral ecology”. He noted that the bishops of the Columbia River watershed in 2001 wrote a pastoral letter, “The Columbia River Watershed: Caring for Creation and the Common Good”, to assist people to develop “an integrated spiritual, social, and ecological vision”.  This challenge to live in right relationship with the natural world and each other is a reminder that everything in the world is connected. 

A primary theme for the Pope is the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet. Although Laudato Si is a teaching document, Pope Francis does not shy away from the controversial issue of climate change or recommendations to spur fresh political and economic thinking. He speaks of the dire consequences of our neglect of the environment and the devastating effects of a throwaway culture but at the same time he expresses hope.  The Creator does not abandon us and never repents of having created us.

 
USCCB Urges Congress to Support Iran Deal PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 22 July 2015 13:35

The “momentous agreement” reached between the United States and its partners with Iran over Iran’s nuclear program is a “significant achievement” that Congress should support, said the bishop who chairs the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In a July 14 letter to Congress, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, wrote: “It is no small achievement that the United States, the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, China, Germany and France have reached this agreement with Iran.”

The deal aims to curb Iran’s development of nuclear weapons while allowing the country to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. 

“The United States and its international partners have taken a remarkable step with Iran in reaching this agreement,” wrote Bishop Cantú on behalf of the committee. “We encourage Congress to support these efforts to build bridges that foster peace and greater understanding.”  Click here to view the full text of the letter.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 July 2015 14:04
 
Environment Encyclical Released June 18 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 08 June 2015 15:20

Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, "Laudato Sii" (Praised Be), a line from St. Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of Creatures," will be released Thursday, June 18, the Vatican press office announced. "Laudato sii" is the introductory phrase to eight verses of St. Francis of Assisi's famous prayer thanking God for the gifts of creation. " Praised be my Lord God with all creatures; and especially our brother the sun, which brings us the day, and the light; fair is he, and shining with a very great splendor: O Lord, he signifies you to us!," one of the first lines says. The prayer also praises God for the gifts of "Sister Moon," "Brother Wind," "Sister Water," "Brother Fire" and "Sister Mother Earth." For more of St. Francis’ Canticle of the Sun, click here.

Last Updated on Monday, 08 June 2015 15:21
 
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