Insights: Alta-Baja Bishops Meet; Pope’s Call to End Death Penalty

First ‘Alta-Baja’ Bishops Meeting Connects U.S. and Mexico

Three archbishops and nine bishops representing at least 13 million Catholics from Sacramento to Ensenada have resurrected their “Alta-Baja” friendship, paving the way to potentially working together in the future.

Los Angeles Archbishop José Gómez and Tijuana’s Archbishop Francisco Moreno Barrón had worked with their respective episcopal organizations for more than a year to coordinate a meeting of the two sides. Their efforts culminated in an “Encuentro de los Obispos de Alta y Baja California” on Oct. 30 at the San Diego Diocese.

The California Conference of Catholic Bishops organized the participants north of the border, which included San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and seven bishops.

The Conference’s president, Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto, chaired the meeting, and its vice president, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, hosted the event, which ended with a dinner.

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Assisted Suicide Legalization Failing Across Nation

Since the California Legislature rushed into law the authority for doctors to provide lethal drug prescriptions to sick Californians, proponents hoped it would create a cascading effect in other states and jurisdictions.

It has not.

In the seven months of 2016 since a physician has been allowed to give terminally ill patients a lethal dose of drugs, some 191 Californians received the prescriptions and 111 died. Data for the other 80 and for 2017 is not available.  (One of the key arguments against physician-assisted suicide is that no one knows where the dangerous drugs end up if the patient does not go through with assisted suicide.)

The sobering and dangerous aspects of Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS) were brushed aside in California’s rush to legalize the practice.  But this year the nation collectively hit the brakes on new assisted suicide legislation.

In 2017, some 27 states considered legalizing PAS; but not a single one did so, though some came close.

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Pope Francis: Death Penalty is Contrary to Gospel

In his October 11 speech to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Pope Francis issued his strongest statement against the death penalty, calling it “contrary to the Gospel,” and “an inhumane measure that humiliates, in any way it is pursued, human dignity.”

The Council was gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II. 

The Holy Father made it known at the meeting that he is calling for the Catechism of the Catholic Church to be revised to reflect this new perspective on capital punishment.

“It is, of itself, contrary to the Gospel, because it is freely decided to suppress a human life that is always sacred,” he said. “In the final analysis, God alone is the true judge and guarantor.”

While allowing for the death penalty throughout its history, the Church has never been comfortable with the concept.  In fact, St. John Paul II had the second draft of the Catechism he commissioned revised by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) to strongly question the use of the death penalty in any circumstances.  


USCCB Fall General Assembly Vote Results

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) met for their annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, Maryland this week where they voted on several key positions and held working groups on immigration, and life and dignity of the human person.

In his opening address, USCCB President Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston Houston urged civility and respect in the wake of a country reeling from tragedies and widely divided on all issues.

“We are facing a time that seems more divided than ever,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “Divisions over health care, conscience protections, immigration and refugees, abortion, physician-assisted suicide, gender ideologies, the meaning of marriage and all the other headlines continue to be hotly debated. But our role continues to be witnessing the Gospel.”

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Mother Cabrini, She Lived for Immigrants

This week (Nov. 12) marked the Feast Day of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, more commonly known as Mother Cabrini.  She was the first U.S. citizen to be named a saint and the patron of immigrants.  Founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she founded hospitals and orphanages from New York to California after immigrating from Italy in 1889.

You can read more about Mother Cabrini at, the website created by Catholic Relief Services as part of the Vatican’s two-year campaign, Share the Journey, to raise awareness of the plight of migrants and refugees around the world.


DACA Resources Available

This resource page is intended to help you stay up to date on the implementation of DACA’s rescission, how to prepare for the end of DACA, and how to plug into various ways to stand with Dreamers. Resources include in-depth legal analysis, practice advisories, program tools and community outreach materials. Click for more.


November 17, 2017
Vol. 10, No. 34

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