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2021 Minnesota legislative session ends: Catholic voices helped pass laws to help defend life, dignity, and the common good

by Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC), the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota. MCC supports the ministry of our state’s Catholic bishops by: Working with political and community leaders to shape legislation that serves human dignity and the common good

Where are Catholics helping to transform our state? Where will the Catholic voice still be needed?

This past session, the Minnesota Catholic Conference engaged on policy proposals in both the House and Senate even though we knew that finding bi-partisan support on a given issue could be difficult.  The principles of our faith provide the proper footing to avoid falling into today’s deeply partisan trenches while also building bridges across those trenches to bring people together.

 So, where did these bridges lead to the passage of laws that will transform our state and where will Catholics need to continue building those bridges?

 Issues where Catholic voices helped pass laws to help defend life, dignity, and the common good:

·       The Minnesota Family Investment Program - Annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) for MFIP families and an additional $50 per month housing benefit. The budget agreement also includes a one-time $435 emergency cash payment to MFIP families.

·       Medical Assistance – An extension of postpartum coverage under Medical Assistance from 60 days to 12 months to help ensure the physical and psychological well-being of moms which in turn supports families and their newborns.

·       Emergency Services Program – Additional funding of $6 million/year, ongoing ($12 million/biennium), with funding beginning FY22 to help address the needs of those experiencing homelessness.

·       Driver’s license suspension reform –The penalty for unpaid fines and fees for minor traffic violations will be a civil collections process rather than suspension of the individual’s driver’s license.

·       Stopping a statutory counseling ban on those offering and on those seeking the help of psychological sciences to address unwanted gender discordance.

Disappointing outcomes:

·       No school choice legislation in the form of education savings accounts or tuition tax credits.

·       No new nonpublic pupil aid programs to assist nonpublic school students were passed into law. Among the proposals that were denied are an extension of counseling services to primary school students, fixing transportation aid problems, and appropriating money for school safety initiatives.

·       No creation of nonconforming driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

·       No increased support for workers in the form of mandated earned sick and safe time.

·       No new protections or interest rate caps against predatory payday lenders.

 Issues where Catholics can advocate during the 2022 legislative session:

·       Preventing physician-assisted suicide from gaining any momentum – Join our partner organization the Minnesota Alliance for Ethical Healthcare to support critical advocacy efforts.

·       Opposing a constitutional amendment constitutionalizing the right to an abortion and undermining religious freedom in the name of “gender equality”.

·       Stopping the legalization of recreational marijuana – Learn more: Fact Sheet, Interview w/Smart Approaches to Marijuana, Interview w/Bishop Cozzens, Testimony on the impacts of marijuana use, The basics of the bill

·       MCC will monitor the progress of the Page Amendment, to ensure it does not undermine school choice efforts or threaten parental rights in education.

·       Funding the Palliative Care Advisory Council to improve access to real care at the end of life.

·       MCC will track education mandates that indoctrinate or sexualize children in public schools.

Returning to Mass: Sunday obligation reinstated July 4th weekend

The bishops and diocesan administrators of Minnesota announced June 2 that they would lift the dispensation of the Sunday and holy day Mass obligation granted at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. The reinstatement went into effect the weekend of July 3-4, 2021.

 A joint statement from Most Rev. Bernard A. Hebda, archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the bishops and administrators of the dioceses of New Ulm, Winona-Rochester, Crookston, and Duluth, said “Attending the in-person celebration of Sunday Mass and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is vital to our lives as Catholic Christians. We were created for Communion. Whether you are returning to your home parish or seeking a local parish on vacation, your participation in the Mass unites you with the Church – the Body of Christ. This Communion transforms us as persons and enables us to manifest the Kingdom of God in our world. The celebration of the Eucharist truly is the source and summit of our faith,” the statement said.

 The bishops and administrators acknowledged how the COVID-19 pandemic had been a painful time of separation, which required the dispensation from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass. “Parishes have done an amazing job creating safe spaces for worship and the Sacraments during the past year,” the statement said.

 It also said the obligation to return to Mass does not apply to:

– Those who are ill or have reason to believe their health would be significantly compromised if they were to contract a communicable illness;

– Those who exhibit flu-like symptoms;

– Those who believe they were exposed to the coronavirus or another serious or contagious illness;

– Those who care for the sick, homebound, or infirmed;

– Those who are pregnant or are 65 years of age or older (per the CDC’s recommendation for high risk individuals);   – Those who cannot attend Mass through no fault of their own; or 

– Those who have significant fear or anxiety of becoming ill by being at Mass.

 The statement said that “Those within these categories must still observe the Lord’s Day and are encouraged to spend time in prayer on Sunday, meditating on the Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection; an excellent way to do this is by praying the Liturgy of the Hours and participating in a broadcast/livestream of the Sunday Mass.”

 Referring to the return of the faith family to Mass as a “joyous occasion,” the bishops and administrators encouraged the faithful to post on social media about their return-to-Mass worship experiences using the hashtag #backtomassmn.

 Editor’s note: Answers to frequently asked questions and a portal to each Minnesota diocese’s protocols can be found at www.backtomassmn.org. To read the Statement in its entirety, visit the Diocese of New Ulm website, www.dnu.org.

Minnesota Catholic Conference highlights Church's role in public square

By CNA Staff

St. Paul, Minn. - As Minnesota’s legislature prepares to finish its legislative session for the year, the state Catholic conference has noted a recent meeting of the state’s bishops with executive and legislative leaders.

“All year, Minnesota Catholic Conference staff help facilitate contacts between individual bishops and legislators, and each spring, all the bishops meet together with state leaders to share their policy concerns. On April 14, Minnesota’s bishops and diocesan administrators met with Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and legislative leaders,” read a May 11 commentary at The Catholic Spirit, the publication of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

The state legislature’s session, which began in January, will end May 17.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference said that the bishops this year “focused on stopping the legalization of assisted suicide by promoting better care for the sick and vulnerable populations, the creation of provisional driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, creating more educational options for low-income families, expanding existing nonpublic pupil aid programs, and their opposition to the creation of a recreational marijuana industry.”

“They also highlighted the shared goal of protecting people from COVID-19 while also respecting the ability of people of faith to gather for wors

In May 2020, the governor issued an order allowing for the resumption of limited public worship gatherings, days after the bishops of the state said they would allow public Masses to resume in defiance of previous guidelines.

The bishops maintained that the original guidelines were unfairly restrictive toward religious services, as businesses and other entities in the state were slowly being allowed to reopen with safety protocols in place to help guard against the coronavirus.

The state Cathoolic conference said that the bishops’ conversation with government leaders “are a good lesson in faithful citizenship. The bishops always thank leaders for their willingness to step forward and make significant sacrifices to serve all Minnesotans, and they invite public officials to share their priorities and find areas of common ground upon which they can build the common good.”

The conference described this year’s conversations as constructive, saying that “even when there were points of disagreement, there was civil dialogue and a recognition that these are difficult issues with a myriad of considerations.”

It said that both legislators and laity should remember that “sometimes a specific policy goal of the Church might align more with one party or political program than another. But the Church’s advocacy is principled, not partisan, thereby allowing Catholics to work collaboratively across the political spectrum.”

“:More important, the policy advocacy of our bishops is an expression of their pastoral care for all people in the community, especially the poor and vulnerable. After all, they are shepherds of all the souls in their diocese, not just Catholics, and are entrusted to work for their well-being. Advocating for good policies offers a credible witness to the Gospel … Through the work of principled advocacy, Catholics help others come to know the Church as a home for people to know, love and serve the Lord.”

Advocacy day in St. Paul highlights role of Catholics in building a society of care, love

by The Catholic Spirit | Joe Towalski The Central Minnesota Catholic

ST. PAUL - The Catholic vision of social justice is rooted in building a society in which people love and take care of one another, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez said in his keynote address April 15 at Catholics at the Capitol in St. Paul.

Pope Francis lays out that vision in his most recent encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti,”  which in its call for human dignity and living as sisters and brothers also calls for action, Archbishop Gomez said at the Cathedral of St. Paul, where the daylong event was sponsored by the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

“Friends, our task in this moment is to bring this beautiful vision to our public discourse, to awaken this awareness of God’s love in the hearts of our brothers and sisters,” he said. “We also have, in this moment, an important duty to be peacemakers and reconcilers. We need to help bring people together and help them realize our common humanity.”

About 800 people registered for the online event, which included students from several area Catholic high schools. In addition to Archbishop Gomez, participants heard an address from Obianuju Ekeocha, founder of Culture of Life Africa, and received issue briefings on a few legislative priorities identified by the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in the state.

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Bishop of Diocese of Crookston resigns

April 13, 2021 – It has been announced today that, after an extensive investigation, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, asked for, and has now accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Hoeppner from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Crookston. The investigation which led to the acceptance of Bishop Hoeppner’s resignation arose from reports that he had at times failed to observe applicable norms when presented with allegations of sexual abuse involving clergy of the Diocese of Crookston. The investigation was conducted pursuant to the motu proprio, Vos estis lux mundi, which had been promulgated by the Holy Father in mid-2019. The investigation was conducted under the supervision of Archbishop Bernard Hebda, the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which includes the Diocese of Crookston.

At the same time that the Holy Father accepted the resignation of Bishop Hoeppner, he has also appointed the Most Rev. Richard E. Pates, Bishop Emeritus of Des Moines, to serve as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Crookston until a new bishop is designated. Bishop Pates’ appointment as Apostolic Administrator takes effect immediately.

Centuries-old penitential devotion, Stations of the Cross led by Fr. Shawn Polman on Good Friday

(Click for photos of the day.)

NEW ULM – On Good Friday, April 2, faithful gathered at the Way of the Cross in New Ulm as Fr. Shawn Polman of the Holy Cross Area Faith Community (St. Gregory the Great, Lafayette; St. Mary, New Ulm; St. John the Baptist, Searles; St. George, West Newton Township) led a public prayer and meditation on the fourteen Stations of the Cross. The local Knights of Columbus held prayer services throughout the day with Stations prayed at 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.

The Way of the Cross was completed in 1904, with renovation projects taking place in 2004 and again in 2018. Its 14 stations, with statues imported from Bavaria, provide a quiet, reflective walk up a 700-foot brick path to a chapel dedicated to the Mother of Sorrows. Entrusted to the Catholic Diocese of New Ulm, the historic shrine is located on the 5th North Hill, behind the New Ulm Medical Center. It rests near a memorial to Fr. Alexander Berghold, an instrumental priest in the 1800s who initiated the Way of the Cross project along with Sr. Flavia of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ.

Although dedicated to meditation on the Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ, people of all faiths are welcome to stop at each station and read the German and English inscriptions. A stone grotto marks the path's halfway point.

In 2021, the Way of the Cross shrine was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the nation's historic places worthy of preservation.

Donations and grants cover funding to maintain the Way of the Cross Shrine. Contributions can be sent to Diocese of New Ulm, Way of the Cross, 1421 6th Street North, New Ulm, MN 56073.

Catholic schools of the Diocese of New Ulm help RAISE record-breaking $1.49 MILLION through raffle DESPITE PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS

ST. PAUL, MN – Is it possible for Catholic schools to conduct successful fundraising campaigns in the middle of a pandemic, when most Catholic churches are closed and door-to-door fundraising methods aren't available?

The answer is a resounding, "Yes!" More than 80 Catholic schools and the 13,000 students participating proved it by not only reaching the million-dollar goal for 2021, but exceeding it for a grand total of $1,495,306!

The 11 partner schools in the Diocese of New Ulm with a total of 1,385 students sold $5 raffle tickets from the middle of January to Feb. 28., and competed for top selling prizes and performance grants. Together, they raised an amazing $164,000 with support from their local communities.

Organizers of the Catholic Schools Raffle, an annual fundraising program involving 80-plus Catholic schools, are overwhelmed that this year's results were so successful, despite the many challenges that school administrators faced from COVID-19 lockdown orders.

"As we continue with hardships due to this pandemic, it feels so good to chalk something like this into the win column," said Michael Ahles, president of Catholic United Financial. "It has been our privilege to offer this program to local Catholic schools for the last 12 years. We knew through experience how creative and enterprising the families and staff at these schools are. They have taken things to a new level in 2021, despite the challenges the lockdowns threw at them. We're amazed and encouraged at this show of support for Catholic education. Congratulations to everyone involved."

The 11 partner schools in the Diocese of New Ulm are: St. Mary's School of Bird Island, St. Peter's School of Canby, St. Anastasia School of Hutchinson, School of St. Philip of Litchfield, Holy Redeemer School of Marshall, St. Edward Catholic School of Minneota, New Ulm Area Catholic Schools of New Ulm, St. Mary's Catholic School of Sleepy Eye, St. Mary's School of Tracy, St. Anne's School of Wabasso, and Holy Trinity School of Winsted.

St. Mary's Catholic School of Tracy, MN was awarded one of three $3,000 performance grant for the schools efforts in recruiting new members to Catholic United Financial.

"Traditional methods of selling tickets in person at school events and after Mass were no longer available. We had doubts that reaching the million dollar goal was even possible," said Raffle Coordinator Raina Lojovich. With the reveal of our record-breaking grand total on March 11, the schools obviously found a way.

The Catholic Schools Raffle is a fundraising program provided to schools free of charge by sponsor Catholic United Financial. Catholic United provided all promotional materials, raffle tickets and prizes for the program so participating schools can keep every dollar raised during the six-week ticket selling period.

On March 11, the raffle concluded with a livestreamed prize drawing ceremony emceed by NFL champion and former Minnesota Viking Matt Birk, who returned for his third year as the master of ceremonies of the event. Prize winners and totals were revealed during the ceremony, including the grand prize winner, Jolene Olson of Buffalo, Minn., who will receive her choice of a brand new Ford Ecosport SUV or $20,000 in cash; other winners were drawn to receive more than $40,000 worth in prizes, including vacations, a $5,000 home improvement package, gift cards, 65-inch smart TVs and more.

New in 2021, Catholic United Financial provided $12,000 in grants to schools who achieved performance goals, and another $10,000 in tuition grants to the top student ticket sellers. A complete list of prize winners and participating schools will be posted to the Catholic United website after winners have been verified (www.catholicunitedfinancial.org/raffle).

The Catholic Schools Raffle is the largest fundraiser for Catholic schools in the Upper Midwest, and has raised over $11.2 million for Catholic education since 2009. Video, photos and more media resources are available at www.catholicunitedfinancial.org/raffle/media and www.vimeo.com/catholicunited.

About Catholic United Financial

Catholic United Financial is a not-for-profit financial cooperative that has served Catholics in the Upper Midwest since 1878. The company provides life insurance and retirement products for its 75,000 members and returns a portion of its profits to local communities through programs like the Catholic Schools Raffle, Post-High School Tuition Scholarship, Gather4Good® service events, and more. Based in St. Paul, Minn., Catholic United helps its members plan for every step of their life journey.


 

Minnesotans to gather April 15 for Catholics at the Capitol. Sign up now!

ST. PAUL - Join Catholics from across Minnesota for a day of prayer, education, and advocacy from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 15. The Catholics at the Capitol event, organized by Minnesota Catholic Conference (the Minnesota Catholic bishops’ political voice), will form attendees in the faith – beginning with Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

Featured speakers are Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Obianuju Ekeocha, a pro-life advocate and founder of Culture of Life Africa.

Attendees will be informed on issues impacting life and dignity in the state and learn how to effectively speak with their legislators as a missionary disciple. In the afternoon, participants will be sent on mission with a eucharistic procession from the Cathedral to the Capitol before meeting with local legislators. The rosary will be prayed in the Capitol rotunda on the half hour in the afternoon.

MCC has plans in place if programming needs to be altered due to COVID-19.

Cost: $15 ($20 after Jan. 31). For more information or to register, visit www.catholicsatthecapitol.org. Questions? Call: 651-227-8777 or email: [email protected]

Way of the Cross in New Ulm added to National Register of Historic Places

NEW ULM - After almost seven years of persistent effort by the Way of the Cross Committee, the Way of the Cross shrine in New Ulm has been officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the nation's historic places worthy of preservation.

The Way of the Cross was completed in 1904, with renovation projects taking place in 2004 and again in 2018. Its 14 stations, with statues imported from Bavaria, provide a quiet, reflective walk up a 700-foot brick path to a chapel dedicated to the Mother of Sorrows. Entrusted to the Catholic Diocese of New Ulm, the historic shrine is located on the 5th North Hill, behind the New Ulm Medical Center. It rests nearby a memorial to Fr. Alexander Berghold, an instrumental priest in the 1800s who initiated the Way of the Cross project along with Sr. Flavia of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ.

Although dedicated to meditation on the Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ, people of all faiths are welcome to stop at each station and read the German and English inscriptions. A stone grotto marks the path's halfway point.

Donations and grants cover funding to maintain the Way of the Cross shrine. Contributions can be sent to Diocese of New Ulm, Way of the Cross, 1421 6th Street North, New Ulm, MN 56073.