Hurricane Michael Slams Florida

Hurricane Michael slammed the Florida panhandle on Wednesday, with 155 mph winds uprooting trees, shattering homes, destroying communities and leaving thousands without power. It is the third strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in the continental United States. Registering as a Category 4 storm when it made landfall, just shy of a Category 5, it then made its way into southern Georgia and the Carolinas all the while unleashing damaging wind and rain. If you wish to make a donation to help with recovery efforts, a fund is set up with Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida.
photo courtesy of Business Insider

2018 Annual Assembly Recap

Nearly 400 Catholics from around the state made their way to Jefferson City last weekend for the 2018 Annual Assembly. It was a great day filled with fellowship and reflection. Many thanks to everyone who attended, our volunteers, and workshop presenters. This event would not be a success without each of you!

Bishop Perry gave a wonderful keynote address which he opened with words about Father Augustus Tolton, for whom he is postulator for the Diocesan Phase of the Cause for Sanctity. “This is holy ground here in Missouri. Particularly Jefferson City. As the Archbishop mentioned, one of my tasks is seeing to the cause of the declared sainthood of one who sprung up from the soil of your own state here, that is the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri. On that farm, which still exists, where Augustus Tolton and his family were slaves.” The rest of his comments about Father Tolton can be read along with the full transcript of his speech on our website.

Perry went on to speak about the church’s role in reaching those at the peripheries.

“Human beings, being human beings, struggle to pay attention to one another and get beyond the selfishness that seems imbedded in our natures, to get beyond the self-preservation that is sewed in our genes. Jesus gave us some insight into this when he said, ‘the poor you will always have with you.’ The poor stand as a test of confrontation to what is found in human nature. The Church steps in during moments of crisis and moments not so critical to remind us what is noble in us and how we can link up with all our brothers and sisters so that there is some faith here on earth when the Lord decides to come back and take us with him.”

The full transcript of Bishop Perry’s address is available at mocatholic.org. A slideshow of photos from the day is also available for viewing on our website. We encourage those who have photos from the day to send them to mocatholic@mocatholic.org or share them on social media using the hashtag #MCCAA18.

Vatican Orders Review of McCarrick Files

On October 6, the Vatican announced that it would review its files relating to the allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. In its statement, the Vatican said that Pope Francis has decided to undertake a “thorough study” of documentation present in the Vatican archives regarding McCarrick. This information will be combined with that of a prior investigation carried out by the Archdiocese of New York.  

The statement added, “The Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to the issues.” Read the full press release here.

Faithful Citizenship: Health Care and Migration

This week as part of our Faithful Citizenship guide series we look at health care and migration. We encourage our network to read the USCCB’s Faithful Citizenship guide in full, as there is insufficient space here to cover all the issues raised in the document, and each of these covered issues need to be read in context to be fully understood.

The bishops teach that “affordable and accessible health care is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right.” Millions of Americans lack healthcare coverage, and this remains an urgent national priority. The healthcare system, they state, “needs to be rooted in values that respect human dignity, protect human life, respect the principle of subsidiarity, and meet the needs of the poor and uninsured, especially born and unborn children, pregnant women, immigrants and other vulnerable populations.”

Regarding migration, the document states that “[t]he Gospel mandate to ‘welcome the stranger’ requires Catholics to care for and stand with newcomers, authorized and unauthorized, including unaccompanied immigrant children, refugees, and asylum-seekers, those unnecessarily detained, and victims of human trafficking. Comprehensive reform is urgently necessary to fix a broken immigration system and should include a broad and fair legalization program with a path to citizenship…”

Latest MCC Messenger Focuses on Faithful Citizenship

Missouri’s midterm elections are just around the corner. Before you head to the polls on Nov. 6, read the latest issue of Messenger, which will appear in the four Missouri diocesan papers this month. This edition focuses on voting principles for Catholics as advised by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in the document Faithful Citizenshipreferenced earlier in this MCC Weekly Update. Neither the USCCB nor the MCC endorses candidates, but this guide does provide helpful information on moral concerns, dos and don’ts for parishes, and more as it relates to political issues. You can read the full issue of Messenger on our website. We hope this issue of Messenger provides helpful information to our MOCAN members ahead of the election. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us by email at mocatholic.org.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Issues Report

A panel of global scientists issued a report this weekoutlining the impact an increase in global temperatures of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels would mean for the earth’s ecosystems and humans. The report was commissioned at the time the Paris Climate Accord was signed in 2015.  

The report indicates that the earth is currently approximately 1°C (Centigrade) above pre-industrial levels, “with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C,” and is “likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.” The time period 1850-1900 is used as the reference point for “pre-industrial” global mean surface temperature. The report further indicates that “[r]isks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected in increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C.”

Though controversy continues about climate change, this report reflects the belief that global warming is occurring and that it is being caused, at least partly, by human activity. In his encyclical of the environment, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis expresses concern for the state of the environment and calls climate change “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.” (No. 25) “If present trends continue,” he states, “this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.” (No. 24)

Abortions End at Columbia Planned Parenthood Clinic

On Tuesday, October 2, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Wimes declined to issue a restraining order blocking a state law requiring doctors to get admitting privileges at nearby hospitals in order to perform abortions. This followed an U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on September 5 that ended a preliminary injunction blocking the Missouri rules and sent the case back to the lower court. Planned Parenthood’s Columbia facility must stop performing abortions, as its only abortion physician does not have local hospital privileges.

In addition, the Columbia Planned Parenthood’s abortion license expired Tuesday, October 2. This comes after inspections of the abortion clinic by the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) that noted numerous deficiencies.  The August 14 inspection found rust on cabinets of suction machines, a hose on a machine that appeared to have mold inside, and another hose with residue that appeared to be bodily fluids. DHSS officials conducted a follow-up inspection on September 26.  The officials indicated that deficiencies noted on the August 14 inspection were still not corrected by the September 26 inspection. 

The Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis is now the only facility in Missouri conducting abortions.  

Pro-Life Parties Succeed in Lawsuit Challenging St. Louis “Abortion Sanctuary” Ordinance

The Archdiocese of St. Louis, Our Lady’s Inn, and O’Brien Industries have succeeded in their legal challenge to a recently-passed St. Louis ordinance barring discrimination based upon a person’s “reproductive choices.” The ordinance, which proponents argued will make St. Louis an “abortion sanctuary” because it prohibits discrimination against persons in employment and housing due to their choice to have an abortion or exercise other reproductive rights, was passed by the St. Louis Board of Alderman in early 2017.

The Archdiocese challenged the law on behalf of its elementary schools, because it violates their right to associate only with teachers who share the Church’s teachings respecting life from conception to natural death. Our Lady’s Inn, a St. Louis maternity home, challenged the law, because it undermines their mission of offering housing and employment only to women seeking alternatives to abortion. O’Brien challenged the law because it violates their right to not offer contraception and abortion coverage in health plans they offer their employees. 

Federal district judge Audrey Fleissig ruled that the ordinance as applied to the pro-life parties violates their constitutional rights of association (Archdiocese and Our Lady’s Inn), and their rights under Missouri’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (O’Brien). Fleissig ordered that the ordinance be permanently prevented from being applied to the pro-life parties. The Thomas More Society of Chicago provided the legal representation to the pro-life parties. Read more in this press release from the Thomas More Society.

Farm Bill Expires

The U.S. House and Senate conference committee failed to agree on the final version of a five-year Farm Bill, leaving dozens of government programs in limbo. Initiatives such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund and federal matching funds for statewide agricultural groups expired on Oct. 1.

Food stamps (known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) and crop insurance have permanent authorization and will continue. Policymakers and advocacy groups are working to make sure other programs carry on in stopgap fashion until the House returns after the November elections and the conference committee once again seeks consensus on a bill that can be sent to President Trump. The negotiators are still far apart on expanded work requirements for a larger pool of recipients and Title 1 funding for farm program subsidies. It is not uncommon for the Farm Bill to require extensions before it is ultimately approved.