In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:
- Executive Director Jennifer Carr Allmon urges support for COVID-19 relief...
- South Texas reeling from Hurricane Hanna...
A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director
The difficulties that COVID-19 has created in our society continue. Many are COVID-fatigued and as much as we might like to retreat and focus on anything else, there are major policy issues being decided at record speed. This is not a time for retreat but rather for engagement to be a voice for the poor and vulnerable and the common good.
Congress is now in the final weeks of negotiations on the next phase of COVID relief and will be working toward passing “phase four” legislation before their recess begins on Aug. 10. Among the issues being addressed in the current negotiations, the bishops have established the following priorities. Click on the items highlighted in gold to take action now!
- Direct Assistance to Families in Non-Public Schools: 10% of what is made available to public schools should be allotted specifically to the non-public school community to provide direct aid to families in the form of means-tested scholarships.
- The Alexander-Scott School Choice Now Act (also known as “Education Freedom Scholarships”): We ask that the next COVID relief package include immediate assistance to families through one-time federally-funded scholarships for low income families.
- Equitable Services for Non-Public Schools: Additional K-12 education funding provided by Congress must provide access to equitable services for non-public schools.
- Food Security & Housing: Additional stimulus payments, a 15% increase to the maximum SNAP benefit amount, and suspension of any rules that make it harder for needy individuals to access nutrition aid until the economy recovers; robust resources to care for the homeless and to prevent people from becoming homeless, increased prevention against evictions and foreclosures; expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.
- Health Care: Access to affordable, comprehensive, healthcare for everyone that fully affirms all human life, including the poor and marginalized. Any effort to fund insurance coverage must not provide federal funding for health plans that cover abortion.
- Support for Workers and the Unemployed: More resources to keep people employed, rehire those who have lost their jobs, and assistance for the unemployed; sufficient resources, particularly personal protective equipment (PPE), for all essential workers to safeguard their health and well-being as they work for the benefit of society.
- Prisons and Jails: Expedited review for possible release under an expanded clemency framework and waiver of certain fees related to the criminal justice system, such as fees for phone and video calls.
- Charitable Sector: Amend Sec. 2103 of the CARES Act to provide 100% unemployment reimbursement to nonprofits covered by this section; increase large non-profit eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP); and incentivize charitable giving by expanding the above-the-line charitable giving tax deduction beyond what was provided in the CARES Act. To this end, we ask Congress to include the bipartisan provisions in the Universal Giving Charitable Response Act (S. 4032).
- Funding for International COVID Response: Provide at least $20 billion in a supplemental package in order to meet immediate health needs as well as mitigate second order humanitarian, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic.
- Stimulus Eligibility for Immigrant Families: Include S. 4071, the American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act, sponsored by Senators Rubio (R-FL), Tillis (R-NC), and Cassidy (R-LA) in the next package. The bill helps ensure that certain immigrant families, specifically those which include a U.S. citizen parent, are eligible to receive the stimulus funding under the CARES Act and future COVID-19 relief.
- Benefits for Elderly Refugees and Refugees with Disabilities: Include S. 4307, Protecting Benefits for Elderly Refugees and Refugees with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act, in the next package. This bill would extend the period of eligibility for Supplemental Social Security Income for elderly and disabled refugees who are in the U.S. after fleeing religious and other persecution.
- Automatic DACA and TPS Extensions: Automatic extension of work authorization and visas for all Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, as well as all immigrants who have been characterized as “essential workers.” This enables immigrants and refugees to keep working and contributing to our economic rebound.
- Testing and Treatment for All: Testing and treatment for COVID-19 must be available to all. It is vital that all individuals are able to access care for their well-being as well as for community health.
- Funding for Office of Refugee Resettlement: Provide $642 million to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement to respond to urgent needs of refugees and others under their care.
- Funding for Refugees and Displaced Persons Abroad: Supplemental funding for refugees in refugee camps, refugees in countries of first asylum, and other vulnerable displaced persons who are at risk of being negatively impacted by COVID-19. Provide the combined $2.25 billion in coronavirus-related assistance for the Department of State’s Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) and USAID’s International Disaster Assistance (IDA) accounts that are provided in the Division A of the House-passed version of H.R. 7608.
These priorities are extensive because the impact of this virus is extensive. Please reach out to your member of Congress and to Senators Cornyn and Cruz to share your support for these USCCB priorities.
Hurricane Hanna Hits Hard
Our prayers go out to South Texas as they recover from Hurricane Hanna. Relief efforts are greatly complicated by the extensive impact of COVID-19 in the region and there has been difficulty in getting food and water and personal supplies into the colonias. Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley is coordinating assistance with other local entities. Please consider donating money for basic food, water, and hygiene supplies and to assist families whose homes are damaged or uninhabitable.
Prayer for Protection during Hurricane Season
O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children. The Sea of
Galilee obeyed Your order and returned to its former quietude.
You are still the Master of land and sea. We live in the shadow of a danger over which we
have no control: the Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming
lethargy, overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land, and spread chaos and
During this hurricane season we turn to You, O loving Father. Spare us from past tragedies
whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with passing of
O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son on our
behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area and animated with a true spirit
of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem,
where a stormless eternity awaits us.
[Composed by Most Rev. Maurice Schexnayder (1895-1981),Second Bishop of Lafayette
(1956-1973), following Hurricane Audrey in 1957]
In the News
USCCB letters to Congress regarding COVID-19 relief:
- Letter to Committees on Appropriations Regarding Emergency Appropriations in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic
- Letter to Congress to Committees on the Judiciary Concerning Coronavirus
- Letter to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension and House Committee on Education and Labor on COVID 19 Relief
- Letter to Congress Regarding CARES Act
- Letter to Congress on Moral Framework for Healthcare During COVID-19 Pandemic
Upcoming Texas Executions
- John Ramirez - 09/09/2020
Please join our bishops in praying for those scheduled for execution, for the victims of violent crimes and for all affected, including their families and communities. As the bishops of Texas wrote in their pastoral letter, "May God give us the grace to witness to the dignity of human life. May the Lord console the suffering, protect our community, and grant conversion to those responsible for the inflicting of death and violence upon others."
The Pope's July Intention
We pray that today's families may be accompanied with love, respect and guidance.