“Raise the Age” Passes Senate!

This week, the Senate passed SB 793, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau), by a vote of 31-0. Known as “Raise the Age”, this bill would raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 years old to 18 years old. This bill has been gathering momentum all session. Thanks to all the MOCAN members who contacted their senators urging passage of this issue! Senators spoke on the floor about the large number of messages they received.

This bill is following the national trend of raising the age for juveniles. Missouri is one of only five states that still automatically treats 17-year-olds as adults. Sen. Wallingford spoke about how this move would take youth away from prison and move them into rehabilitation. Earlier in the day, the bill was passed out of fiscal review. The bill has a high fiscal note, but with a three-year delay in implementation of the bill, and a $3.50 charge on court filings, the state should have the revenue needed to adequately take care of young people in the juvenile system.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Nick Schroer (R-St. Charles) has a companion bill (HB 1255) that has also passed out of committee.


Bishops Urge Action on Gun Violence

Bishop Frank Dewayne of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued a statement this week urging Congress to act to curb gun violence in America. In doing so, he outlined the bishops longstanding position in support of sensible gun regulations, including a ban on assault weapons, implementing universal background checks, and limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition, among other things.

In addressing the need for action, Bishop Dewayne was joined by Bishop George Murray, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Education. This moment, they wrote, “calls for an honest and practical dialogue around a series of concrete proposals, not partisanship and overheated rhetoric. The idea of arming teachers seems to raise more concerns than it addresses. Setting a more appropriate minimum age for gun ownership, requiring universal background checks (as the bishops have long advocated), and banning ‘bump stocks’ are concepts that appear to offer more promise.”

They also called for addressing the violent images our young people are exposed to, stating “[w]e must explore ways to curb violent images and experiences with which we inundate our youth, and ensure that law enforcement have the necessary tools and incentives to identify troubled individuals and get them help.”


Congress to Consider Conscience Rights for Healthcare Providers

Next week, Congress will consider including The Conscience Protection Act (CPA) in a must-pass budget bill. The CPA would protect the conscience rights of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers that do not wish to participate in abortions. Those who support abortion rights have become increasingly hostile towards healthcare providers who choose not to participate in abortion for religious and moral reasons.

The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, for example, published an article last year in which the authors argued that OB/GYN’s who refuse to perform abortions should become radiologists or some other specialty which would not present a moral quandary, because they believe that denying a patient an abortion would unjustly deny the patient services based upon personal beliefs, rather than professional medical standards. The authors even suggest that professional societies declare conscience objection unethical.

The MCC has asked its MOCAN members to contact their Congressional delegation to encourage their support for the CPA. If you have not yet done so, please consider joining the over 500 MOCAN members who have.


Pope Clears the Way for Sainthood for Pope Paul VI and Romero

This week, Pope Francis signed decrees for the causes of Blessed  Pope  Paul VI and Oscar Romero to be canonized. In signing the decrees, he recognized the miracles attributed to both. Pope Paul VI will be declared a Saint in October. No date has been set for Romero’s canonization.

Pope Paul VI, who served from 1963 to 1978, continued the Second Vatican Council which closed in 1965 and implemented its numerous reforms. Oscar Romero was the 4th Archbishop of San Salvador, who spoke out against poverty, social injustice and torture. He was assassinated on March 24, 1980, while saying Mass.


2018 St. Louis Climate Summit

Want to learn more about climate science? Head to St. Louis in April for the the 2018 Saint Louis Climate Summit, hosted by Saint Louis University as a part of its yearlong Bicentennial Celebration. The summit will bring some of the most authoritative minds in climate science and related disciplines to the Midwest for three days of discussion on climate change. The speakers include Cardinal Peter Turkson, Carl Pope, Mario Molina, Peter Raven, Jane Lubchenco, Jeffrey Sachs, and more.  Take a look at the conference agenda and see if you’d like to register for this springtime event.

Garden of the Monks

In Medieval times, monks designed beautiful gardens full of wonderful plants, from fruits and vegetables to eat, to herbs for medicinal purposes. These were places of beauty and order enclosed from a wild countryside. The gardens were typically arranged in parterres: flowerbeds edged in boxwood. Walkways would divide the parterres so that monks would have easy access to the edible plants, flowers and herbs. Typically, a fountain would grace the garden so the sound of water could soothe the senses and nourish a time of prayer. In Brittany, in Northern France, the garden of a 12th century Abbey has been lovingly reconstructed. The Irish gardener Rachel Darlington takes us on a refreshing visit of this Garden of the Monks. Enjoy!


Catholic Legislator Heads Up Investigation of Greitens

House Speaker Todd Richardson has chosen Rep. Jay Barnes, (R-Jefferson City) to head up a committee to examine whether impeachment should proceed against Governor Eric Greitens. Rep. Barnes is a young Catholic attorney known for his willingness to stand up for what he believes is right, even when it is unpopular.

The Barnes family, which includes Jay, his wife, Jane, and their four children, can be seen at Sunday Mass every week at Immaculate Conception parish in Jefferson City. Jay and Jane named one of their children Atticus, after Atticus Finch, the small town Alabama attorney in To Kill a Mockingbird who defends a black man charged with raping a white woman.

Barnes has served eight years in the Missouri House and is term-limited, meaning he cannot run again. He is a traditional Republican in many ways, but has bucked his party on occasion. He opposed denying legal entry to refugees, citing Ronald Reagan’s reference to America as that “shining city on a hill.” When other legislators said A+ scholarships should be limited to public school students only, Barnes said that wasn’t fair because private school parents pay taxes, too. Due in large part to his efforts, the A+ program now allows college scholarships to graduates of Catholic and other private high schools.

Representative Barnes has said he will follow the facts wherever those facts lead in investigating the governor. Say a prayer for Representative Barnes as he takes on this last, crucial assignment as a State Representative.


Missouri House and Senate Advance Pro-life and Benevolent Tax Credits

This week, the Missouri House and Senate advanced bills reauthorizing tax credits, including those benefiting maternity homes, pregnancy resource centers, food pantries, and programs benefiting children in crisis. The House third read HB 1288, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Engler (R-Farmington) and the Senate perfected SB 632, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon (R-Springfield). The bills included a one million dollar increase in the cap on donations to maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers, making the cap $3.5M. The MCC testified in support of these bills and will be tracking them as they progress.


Missouri House Passes Bill Requiring Parental Notice for Abortion

By a vote of 113 to 37, the Missouri House passed HB 1383, sponsored by Rep. Rocky Miller (R-Lake Ozark), that would require a non-custodial parent to be notified if his/her minor child is going to have an abortion. Currently, minors must obtain parental consent in order to have an abortion, or obtain a court order in the event the minor is estranged from her parents. HB 1383 would require the consenting parent to notify the child’s other custodial parent in cases in which the parents are divorced, separated, or otherwise living separately. The bill includes exceptions for custodial parents whose past behavior would pose a risk to the child or the other parent. The bill will now be referred to the Senate, where its future is uncertain.


Raise the Age Passes First Hurdle in Senate!

On Wednesday, the Senate gave first-round approval to a measure to that would raise the age of adult sentencing from 17 to 18 years old. Known as “Raise the Age”, this bill has been gaining momentum all session.

In speaking for the bill, Sen. Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau) noted how these youth become graduate students of crime when they encounter older individuals who are incarcerated. Youth are also prone to physical and sexual abuse when housed with older inmates. The measure as passed included two new provisions: Charge a fee of $3.50 to file civil lawsuits to help fund juvenile courts, and to allow children who were trafficked and subjected to charges of prostitution to have their records expunged.

The bill awaits final approval in the Senate before being sent over to the House. Thanks to all the network members who contacted their senators in support of the bill!