Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates



Advocacy Efforts

USCCB Respect Life Program
Year of Faith – Bringing the Light of Christ: A Convening for Ministry Leaders


USCCB Respect Life Program

In keeping with Pope Benedict XVI’s plan for the Year of Faith (Oct. 11, 2012–November 24, 2013), the upcoming Respect Life Program has been designed as a resource for evangelization on key pro-life issues. This year’s theme is adapted from one of Pope Benedict’s talks to youth: Faith opens our eyes to human life in all its grandeur and beauty. Articles in the program include:

  • Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia: Defense and promotion of religious liberty
  • Joxel García, MD: Conscience rights of healthcare providers
  • William L. Toffler, MD: Assisted suicide
  • Helen Alvaré, Esq.: Catholic vision of marriage
  • Margaret (Peggy) Hartshorn, PhD : Spiritual foundation of pregnancy care services
  • Susan E. Wills, JD, LLM:  Effects of the contraception-enabled sexual revolution
  • Ashley Brashear:  Evangelization from Young Catholics
  • Dan Spadaro, LPC, CSAT : Addictive impact of pornography

The Liturgy Guide contains homily notes and intercessory prayers for Respect Life Sunday on January 22, 2013, in addition to reflections on the new “Mass for Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life,” now included in the Roman Missal’s Masses for Various Needs and Occasions (48/1). Also included are instructions on how to obtain the recently released Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb and suggestions for how it may be used, as well as Orders for blessing pro-life pilgrims and a brief prayer service designed for all those who have been involved in abortion. Information will be available at:

Word of Life Intercessions and Bulletin Briefs for January and February

This USCCB resource contains Intercessions and Bulletin Briefs for every Sunday Mass during the year. You may find items for June in English and Spanish:  click here. Please forward this information to your parish liturgy coordinator as well as the person designated to create the bulletin.

Year of Faith – Bringing the Light of Christ: A Convening for Ministry Leaders
Join us on Saturday, July 28 (9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.) at San Pedro Center for a day of reflection and education on the upcoming Year of Faith.  Fr. Ben Berinti will keynote the day with a presentation on the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II. Session I will focus on Living the Light by living the Gospel in the light of justice–offered in both English & Spanish. Session II will focus on Witnessing to the Light–sharing best practices of transforming and lived mission–presented by local parish ministry leaders. Cost is $20. Registration is available at


Advocacy Efforts

House Passes Alternate Budget Sequester Plan 

On Thursday, May 10, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Sequester Reconciliation Act of 2012 (HR 5352) by a vote of 299-199, a proposal that would replace the automatic spending cuts agreed to under the debt-limit law passed last year. The proposed package would reduce spending by $261 billion over 10 years, cutting SNAP by $33 billion and eliminating funding for the Social Services Block Grant, among other measures.

The bill is unlikely to be considered in the Senate as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that he will not bring to the floor for a vote. In addition, the White House has said that President Obama would veto the proposal if it were to pass both houses of Congress.

To see how your member voted, please see the House clerk’s website. For letters from CCUSA, USCCB, please visit “Letters to Congress” section of the CCUSA web site. 

House, Senate Propose Competing Versions of Violence Against Women Act  

Last Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee marked up its version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (HR 4377). The final version of the bill was passed by the committee by a 17-15 vote, and is an alternate form of a similar bill that was passed by the Senate earlier this month. The Senate’s bill is a five-year reauthorization of the legislation which includes some additional provisions that have been the subject of some controversy. The House bill is a reauthorization of VAWA which does not include the controversial provisions. Debate between the Senate and the House will center around which version of the reauthorization to pass. The legislation was successfully reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. For more information on the House VAWA bill, please visit the committee website. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has indicated that the House bill will likely go to the floor to be voted on sometime this week.

Hearings Held on SNAP Reauthorization and Abuse

On Tuesday, May 8, the House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing on the 2012 reauthorization of the farm bill. Its chairman, Rep. Frank Lucas, R-OK, indicated that in writing the legislation, committee staff may look to cut government spending by targeting waste, fraud, and abuse in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.)

In response, some of the panelists expressed their belief that illegal activity in the program is at an all-time low, pointing to statistics from the Agriculture Department indicating a fraud rate between about 1 and 4 percent. They argued that a strong SNAP program is vital to ensure millions of Americans access to healthy food.

The committee is in the process of writing a bill that will be introduced in coming weeks. SNAP is expected to be threatened by cuts to the $75 billion program, which provides vital nutrition assistance programs to over 46 million low-income Americans every year.

Click here for more information about the House committee’s hearing. The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee is proposing cuts of $4 billion to the program in the farm bill that the committee approved April 26.