Texas Catholic Voice Feb. 29, 2024

In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:

  • Texas executes Ivan Cantu ...
  •  Unsecured consumer loans ...
  •  Annunciation House in El Paso ...
  • And more!

A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director

Yesterday, Ivan Cantu was killed by the State of Texas, despite strong evidence that he was denied a fair trial due to an impossibly high threshold created by our state’s judicial system.

Please continue to pray and petition our representatives for a reform of our death penalty due process. It is simply unconscionable that the courts have set an impossibly high threshold to present new evidence when a person’s life is at stake. May the souls of James Mosqueda, Amy Kitchen and Ivan Cantu rest in peace. Please also join us in praying for the families and friends impacted by capital murder and those who are awaiting execution on death row. 

Unsecured consumer loans 

On February 16, TCCB testified before the Texas Finance Commission to express concerns regarding increasing fees for unsecured consumer loans regulated by Chapter 342 of the finance code. The fee under review is the loan administrative fee which covers the cost of originating the loan and the risk assumed by the lender.  

This fee was set at a maximum of $100 in 2013 and the Finance Commission has proposed an increase to $125 based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), widely used as a measure of inflation. However, we argued that this is not a sound basis for determining an increase. Instead, data on the actual costs incurred by lenders should be examined before an adjustment is made. In addition, the commission proposes automatically increasing this fee every year based on the CPI without review or public comment, which we strongly oppose.  

We appreciate the lenders who operate as a more accessible and less expensive option for Texans experiencing financial hardship. Any fee increases must be set appropriately, based on relevant data. Allowing an automatic yearly increase based on the CPI without comment and review could result in these loan products becoming as unaffordable and burdensome as payday loans.  

After objections were raised by one commission member the body indicated openness to removing the automatic yearly increase.  

Annunciation House 

We regret that the border situation is becoming increasingly politicized at the state and national level. The Texas and California bishops released statements in support of Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, as he responded to allegations involving Annunciation House in El Paso. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, also released a statement in support of the Texas bishops. As the Texas bishops wrote, “The Catholic Church in Texas remains committed to praying and working for a secure border, to protect the vulnerable and for just immigration solutions to protect all human life.” 

In vitro fertilization 

In vitro fertilization (IVF) has been in the news recently. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has resources addressing the serious moral problems regarding IVF on its website, including a statement from the full body of bishops, "Life Giving Love in an Age of Technology," 

Faithful citizenship

Tuesday, March 6, is election day and early voting is happening now. Before casting your ballot, read Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship and pray!  To view a sample ballot, enter your address here.

Upcoming execution

March 13 – James Harris, Jr.

The Texas bishops ask for clemency for all on death row in our country and pray for the abolition of the death penalty.  

Justice and Mercy Poetry Contest

Attention young adults! Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN) is accepting submissions now for their annual Justice and Mercy Poetry Contest. If you are between the ages of 18 and 30 and passionate about ending the death penalty, submit your poem here: https://catholicsmobilizing.org/poetry-contest. The award for first place is a $1,000 cash prize and an invitation to CMN's October 2024 Justice Reimagined Awards & Celebration event in Washington, DC. Contest deadline is March 25.  

Lenten reflections from death row

Brittany Holberg, along with five other female inmates on death row, is a lay oblate with the Sisters of Mary Morning Star, a Catholic order of nuns near Waco who minister to women on death row. She has written a series of reflections for Lent available for download here. 

Pope Francis' prayer intention for March

In March, Pope Francis requests prayers for the new martyrs of our day so that they might “imbue the Church with their courage and missionary drive.” A martyr is a Christian who bears witness to the Gospel until death without resorting to violence.