September 16, 2016

My prayers to you as we embark on a new year in ministry. In addition to the many local efforts in our parishes, schools and ministries, we are called to provide guidance and formation for our people in relation to the upcoming general election on November 8. We know that there is great amount of partisanship and animosity surrounding this campaign and our faith communities have a role to play as a voice of civility and calm.

In that spirit, Bishop Barnes is requesting that you take part in a series of communication efforts related to the election over the next six weeks at weekend liturgies. I know that there are other matters that you will bring before your parishioners during these coming weekends and so, on behalf of Bishop Barnes, I express thanks to you in advance for making some additional room for Faithful Citizenship efforts during Mass. The common thread of all these issues of public policy, justice and charity is our recognition of the inherent dignity God has given every human person.

Bishop Barnes has recorded a video emphasizing the importance of participation in the coming election and the need for civility and respect among people who may disagree about politics. He asks that you share this video at Masses during the weekend of September 24-25 and/or October 1-2. For those who are unable to share the video there will also be a letter from Bishop Barnes to be read from the pulpit and/or printed in your parish bulletin. You may also be approached in the coming weeks to participate in a project coordinated by Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) in which Mass attendees are given an opportunity to sign pledge cards expressing their intention to vote in the November 8 election. You may participate in this effort if you wish. It is approved by the Diocese.

The second communication effort is centered on the death penalty and criminal justice. The Bishops of California, including our Bishop Barnes, have publicly endorsed Proposition 62, which would abolish the death penalty in California, and Proposition 57, which would enact sentencing reform that supports our Church’s principles of Restorative Justice. Bishop Barnes will be providing a letter reflecting on these matters that he would like to be read at Masses the weekend of October 15-16 or October 22-23.

As we continue to reflect on the coming election, I also take this opportunity to again emphasize that our parishes are prohibited from distributing election­related materials that are not from the Diocese, the California Catholic Conference or the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Also, all priests, deacons, religious and parish/diocesan staff and employees are not to publicly advocate for or against candidates for political office. This includes public statements at Mass or ministry gatherings, and in any digital or social media communications.

I thank you for your attention to this matter and I am most appreciative of you responding to this request during a very busy time in your community.

In Christ,

Monsignor Gerard M. Lopez, STL, VG

Click the button below to download the official letter in English & Spanish