In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:
- Back to school, back to advocating for school choice ...
- Mobilize for Mercy ...
- Resources for prison ministries ...
- Helping pregnant women ...
- And more!
A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director
We have had a very busy summer at TCCB; now that Labor Day is upon us, we are officially looking forward to fall and gearing up for the 88th Legislature. Tuesday, Nov. 8, is Election Day and Monday, Nov. 14, is the first day legislators and legislators-elect may start filing bills.
A top priority for us for next session is parental choice. As our Catholic schools welcome new and returning students for the 22-23 academic year, we are cognizant not everyone who desires a Catholic education for their child can afford one.
Parental choice in education is an important element of Church teaching. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators. Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise.” (CCC 2229)
In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis writes, “Parents themselves enjoy the right to choose freely the kind of education – accessible and of good quality – which they wish to give their children in accordance with their convictions.”
As the primary and principal educators of their children, parents must be free to determine the best educational environment for their children, whether that be public, charter, private, or homeschool. Their choices should not be limited by family income or zip code. The bishops support parental choice programs, especially for the poor and children with special needs, to increase access to quality education options for all students.
We support legislation that establishes Education Savings Accounts (ESA) or scholarships that include the following provisions:
- Funding for tuition and fees, textbooks, curricula, academic assessments or post-secondary entrance exams, tutoring, and therapy
- Funding sources could include state revenue, private philanthropy, and state tax credits
- Financial accountability using random audits of ESAs by a third party
- Academic accountability by administration of a norm- or criterion-referenced assessment each year (current practice at accredited schools).
- Preferential option for the poor by ensuring students with the greatest academic and financial need are prioritized.
- Homeschool families can voluntarily participate. Any who do not want to accept it are free to continue to homeschool in any manner they choose.
- Safeguards and protections for the privacy, autonomy and religious freedom of participants by ensuring that educators are not required to modify their creed, practices, admissions policies, curriculum, performance standards, or assessments to serve ESA students.
While most students will continue to benefit from thriving public schools, parental choice programs provide hope for the thousands of families who need better access to personalized educational options. After the election, we encourage our TCV readers to contact their representatives and ask them to support parental choice in education.
Pope Francis' prayer intention for September
For the abolition of the death penalty
We pray that the death penalty, which attacks the dignity of the human person, may be legally abolished in every country.
Mobilize for Mercy
Catholic Mobilizing Network has created a series of graphics to complement and highlight Pope Francis' prayer video for September, which calls on all to pray for abolishment of the death penalty worldwide. Spanish and English graphics are available in an online toolkit.
The toolkit includes a pledge to pray for an end to the death penalty, infographics and a novena which can be used Oct. 1-9 (Respect Life Month), ending with Oct. 10, the World Day Against the Death Penalty.
Upcoming Texas Executions
John Ramirez, Oct. 5
Tracy Beatty, Nov. 9
Stephen Barbee, Nov. 16
Wesley Ruiz, Feb. 1
Gary Green, March 7
Arthur Brown, Jr., March 9
Helping pregnant mothers and fathers of the unborn
The trigger ban which took effect Aug. 25 starts a new chapter of light in American history with the end of legal elective abortion in Texas. It requires that we become intentionally more aware of the needs of pregnant mothers and fathers of the unborn in our own parishes and communities by listening to them, seeking understanding, and helping them obtain the necessities of life for themselves and their children. May we continue to lovingly support mothers and fathers in welcoming and caring for God’s gift of life.
There are several initiatives in which volunteers can participate and through which mothers and fathers can seek support. These include Walking with Moms in Need, the Texas Pregnancy Care Network, Catholic Charities, diocesan pro-life programs and many parish-based services, such as St. Vincent de Paul Society. For more information, contact your local Catholic parish.
The bishops have also offered clarifications on treating pregnancy complications in Texas, to help address confusion among physicians. Women seeking treatment for high-risk pregnancies, or who have lost or are in the process of losing their unborn babies, should not ever experience a delay in care or be subjected to undue mental and emotional strain caused by a physician’s uncertainty regarding what course of treatment is legally permitted under Texas law.
Catholic Prison Ministries
The Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition is offering seminars for the public and prison ministers. Please see below or visit their website for more information.
Prayer for the Legislature
Please pray for all our public servants and elected officials, including our Governor, Lt. Governor, House Speaker, lawmakers, and their staff, that the Lord may grant them wisdom and prudence to work for the common good of all the people of Texas.