• Bishop's Statement on The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act
      Who are our neighbors today? According to the life and teachings of Christ Jesus, we are to be all-inclusive and not selective. As a matter of fact, to be "Catholic" means to be all-inclusive, all-embracing, universal. As Catholic Christians who live in the Diocese of Fresno that has more prisons than anywhere else in the world, we know that this law of love includes mandates for a justice system that heals and restores, a justice system that fully respects the life and dignity of all persons.
       Our neighbor is the victim of crime and their family who feel alone in their suffering and pain;
       Our neighbor is the mentally ill person, or the person struggling with addiction, that cannot find adequate care;
      Our neighbor is the student at an underfunded school that is failing to prepare them for a productive life; and
       Our neighbor is the person who labors daily in the criminal justice system we owe them our thanks and our prayers for their dedicated service.
      Our neighbor is also one of the thousands of Californians who have committed low-level, non-violent crimes.   These are often the result of bad choices or addiction leading to committing low-level felony property crimes. After serving time in state prison the result is often difficulty finding employment, because of a felony record. Access to certain programs or drug treatment to help turn one’s life around is not available to them. So often these neighbors of ours want to make good choices and change their lives.  
      Click here to download complete statement.

      SACRAMENTOBishop Jaime Soto, President of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops, released the following statement:
      During this Season of Lent, we, the Catholic Bishops of California, invite the Catholic community and other Californians of good will to exercise restraint in the use of water as an expression of solidarity with those whose livelihood and welfare are at risk due to extreme drought conditions. 
      Lent is a holy, penitential season in the Catholic Church's liturgical year, reflecting the forty days Jesus spent in the desert in fasting and prayer.   In this time, Catholics unite themselves with the Lord Jesus in the struggle to overcome the power of evil and the slavery of sin.  We do so with prayer, fasting, abstinence, as well as other penitential sacrifices, and charitable works.
      This year, Californians are in an actual desert as an historic drought looms over us.  Farmers cannot access sufficient water to raise their crops. Fields will remain fallow.  Men and women will be left standing without work.  Access for children and families to clean, drinkable water is uncertain.  Legislators struggle to craft an equitable public policy ensuring the State’s present and future water needs.
      We are starkly reminded in this time of drought of our dependence on the Creator. The fragile relationship between ourselves and the creation that God has made to sustain us is threatened.  Our human dignity relies on access to water.  That same human dignity is diminished when we let this precious resource slip carelessly through our hands.  The creation entrusted to us is a common heritage and requires us to work together as responsible stewards for the common good, especially mindful of the weak and vulnerable.  As the economic and health impact of the drought grows those with limited resources will be the first to suffer.  Wise conservation practices will mitigate those effects.  They also serve as concrete acts of solidarity giving life and hope to other fellow Californians.
      During this Lent, we pray that God opens the heavens and lets His mercy rain down upon our fields and mountains.  May we receive the grace to better conserve our natural resources and expend our energies in works of charity so that justice and mutual respect may flow like a river through the cities, towns and fields of our State.  Looking towards the sacred days of Easter, we hope that God’s wisdom and joy may rise like a fountain of living water in the hearts and minds of all Californians.

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date:  March 7, 2014  
      CONTACT: Steve Pehanich / 916/313-4000

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