The Common Good





 November 2011 – Volumne 4, Issue 3




> Preparing for the 2012 Legislative Session

> 2011 Florida Abortion Brochure

> Bishops Appeal to Governor to End the Use of the Death Penalty

> 25th Annual Respect Life Conference

> Bishops and Catholic Faithful React to HHS Contraceptive Mandate

> 2012 Catholic Days at the Capitol and Red Mass

> From the Education Department

Archdiocese of Miami
Diocese of St. Augustine
Diocese of St. Petersburg
Diocese of Orlando
Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Diocese of Palm Beach
Diocese of Venice

Florida Catholic Conference
201 W. Park Avenue
Tallahassee, FL 32301
(850) 222-3803

Preparing for the 2012 Legislative Session

Every ten years with new census data available, redistricting of state legislative and federal Congressional districts occurs. Due to the legislature’s role in this process, the annual legislative session, typically held in the spring, is scheduled for earlier in the year beginning January 10 and concluding March 9, 2012.

Public Policy Issues
Conference staff has identifed areas of priority anticipated to be considered by the legislature during the 2012 session. Issues fall under the categories of Life and Death, Social Concerns, Education and Health Care. In light of Gospel values and the teaching of the Church, positions on issues are taken based on a careful and thorough analysis of whether they protect human life and dignity and promote the good of all society. Updated statistics on the Church in Florida are also included in the document.
> View document online
> Print in booklet format

Legislative Report
A pre-session legislative report is now available, which identifies specific proposed legislation that is being closely followed by the Conference. A description of each bill on the report, the position advocated and the current status are provided. As the regular legislative session nears and during its duration, the report will be updated daily with action taken by the legislature on all previously identified and any additional bills of concern. You may view a current report at any time on the Conference’s website at:

After Session Begins. . .
Weekly Session Summaries
Each Friday afternoon during the legislative session, the Conference will provide its FCC Advocacy Network with a summary of significant legislative action and reports on activities of interest at the Capitol. A link to the updated Legislative Report will also be included.

Action Alerts
As priority bills move through the legislative process, the members of our advocacy network will receive requests for action. These alerts provide an opportunity for Catholics to carry out their duty to participate in the public square. Network members will be asked to contact their lawmakers urging support or opposition to a specific bill. Our electronic advocacy system provides all the tools necessary to send communications quickly to legislators as important decisions are being made, including draft messages that can be edited or personalized if the sender chooses. > Join the FCC Advocacy Network




2011 Florida Abortion Brochure:
Record Number of Pro-Life Bills Pass in 2011 Legislative Session
Produced annually by the Conference, this year’s abortion brochure includes a summary of pro-life legislation passed in 2011, abortion statistics, physical and mental health concerns that may be linked to abortion and activities you can do to promote a pro-life position in your community and help those who have been affected by abortion. The brochure is available in color or black & white and in Spanish.


In July of this year, surrounded by bill sponsors and pro-life advocates, Governor Rick Scott signed into law four of the five pro-life bills passed during the 2011 legislative session. Key provisions of the new laws: require an ultrasound be performed and reviewed with a woman prior to an abortion; strengthen parental notice of abortion; restrict the use of public dollars to pay for abortion coverage in the future state exchange established by federal health reform; and provide that specialty license plate fees be forwarded to Choose Life, Inc. for distribution to crisis pregnancy centers.

Photo: Florida Catholic Conference


The fifth bill, which proposes an amendment to Florida’s Constitution to prohibit public funding of abortions and prevent our State Constitution from being interpreted to create broader rights to an abortion than the U.S. Constitution, will appear before voters on the November 2012 General Election ballot.



Bishops Appeal to Governor to End the Use of the Death Penalty
In an August 3, 2011 letter to Governor Rick Scott, the bishops of Florida urged the governor to stay the execution of Manuel Valle. “We concede the right of the State to impose the death penalty when absolutely necessary, that is when it is otherwise impossible to defend society. However, given the ability of Florida to protect its residents by incarcerating inmates for life without possibility of parole, we pray you will exercise that option,” said the bishops. After a series of temporary stays by the Florida Supreme Court, Manuel Valle was executed on September 28, 2011.



An execution re-opens the emotional wounds of victim’s families and does not bring back or honor their loved one. True peace can only be achieved by forgiveness.
– Bishops of Florida



On October 10, the Governor signed his second death warrant. As of the release of this newsletter, Oba Chandler is scheduled to be executed on November 15, 2011.



25th Annual State Respect Life Conference


Photo: Courtesy Diocese of Venice

Sponsored by the State Pro-Life Coordinating Committee and the Florida Catholic Conference, the 25th Annual State Respect Life Conference was hosted by the Diocese of Venice on October 14-15. State, national and international speakers gave presentations on topics such as abortion, the death penalty, in vitro fertilization and end-of-life care. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, gave the keynote address and led a Eucharistic Adoration. Conference attendees also participated in a prayer vigil held in front of the Planned Parenthood regional headquarters in Sarasota.
> See the Florida Catholic newspaper for more on the event


Pro-Life Persons of the Year Recognized

During the Respect Life Conference, each (arch)diocese recognized a Pro-Life Person of the Year. Award recipients were: Brother Jay Rivera, Archdiocese of Miami; Donna Augustine, Diocese of St. Augustine; Emma Boe, Diocese of St. Petersburg; Larry and Mary Ann Scotchie, Diocese of Orlando; Betty McKinley, Diocese of Palm Beach; Pam Kessen, Diocese of Venice; and Sheila Hopkins, Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. We thank all award recipients for giving graciously of their time and talents to promote and protect the sanctity of human life.



Bishops and Catholic Faithful React to HHS Contraceptive Mandate
In implementing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidelines requiring almost all private health plans to cover contraception and sterilization as “preventive services” for women. This mandate includes drugs that may cause an abortion both before and after implantation. An interim final rule references these guidelines, and allows an extremely narrow and inadequate religious exemption, posing a threat to the religious freedom of individuals and institutions. The exemption covers only a “religious employer” that has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose, primarily employs and serves persons who share its religious tenets, and is a church organization under two narrow provisions of the tax code. Plans offered by a great many religious organizations, including Catholic colleges and universities as well as hospitals and charitable institutions that serve the general public, would be ineligible under these terms.

In a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the Bishops of Florida expressed strong opposition to the proposed federal rule urging rescission of the coverage mandate or, at minimum, expanded conscience protection.

Catholic faithful also expressed their concerns during the public comment period, which ended September 30, by sending nearly 850 messages to HHS in response to a Florida Catholic Conference action alert. Their messages requested removal of sterilization and prescription contraceptives from the list of “preventive services” mandated in private health plans and urged that organizations and individuals be allowed to offer, sponsor and obtain health coverage that does not violate their moral and religious convictions.

With new risks to religious freedom and rights of conscience, several members of Congress have sponsored the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179/S. 1467) to ensure that those who participate in the health care system “retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions”. Please send a message to your federal lawmakers urging that they support this proposed legislation.



2012 Catholic Days at the Capitol
February 7-8, 2012
Tallahassee, Florida

Join Catholics from around the state as they gather in Tallahassee to participate in Catholic Days at the Capitol. Participants attend a legislative briefing before attending scheduled meetings with their elected officials. A luncheon is held for Catholic Days participants, Florida’s bishops and legislators. Pre-Registration Required.

> List of diocesan coordinators and registration forms


37th Annual Red Mass of the Holy Spirit
February 8, 2012
Tallahassee, Florida


Catholic Days participants and the public are invited to attend the annual Red Mass of the Holy Spirit held February 8, at 6:00 p.m. at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Tallahassee. Mass is celebrated to pray for those working in the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government. Attendees include state officials, lawmakers, judges and members of the Catholic lawyers guild.

> History of the Red Mass and past homilies



From the Education Department

The Seton Sentinel – All Saints Day Issue
Newsletter of the Florida Catholic Conference Education Department

Included in the education department’s newsletter is a legislative session preview on bolstering tax credit scholarships for low-income families. The article addresses demand/waiting lists for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTC) and provides an analysis by diocese of the total dollar value of the FTC Program to participating students in Florida’s Catholic schools. Also included is a report from the FCC Accreditation Program on the data-driven School Improvement Plan process.

> View the full newsletter