In the interest of educating California citizens on Catholic teaching regarding the defense of life and protection of the poor, the California Catholic Conference recently issued statements in support of two proposed ballot measures addressing life issues, and critical of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget for 2012-13.

The state’s Catholic bishops of California are backing proposed ballot efforts to require parental notification before a minor's abortion and to end use of the death penalty in the state.

The endorsement, contained in a statement posted Jan. 10 on the CCC website, marks a departure from the bishops' long-standing policy of not taking a stand on potential initiatives until they have qualified for the state ballot.

But the "convergence" of the two proposed initiatives presents "a unique teaching moment on life and family," the bishops said.

"These two initiatives have appeared at the same time on the political landscape and bring into sharp focus important moral issues, namely our society's treatment of nascent life, family life and even a sinful or errant life," they added. "In keeping with our fundamental principles, we believe that social policy should respect and support the role of parents in caring for their children. Justice should uphold human dignity as it protects the community."

The bishops said both initiatives were "responsible efforts to bring common sense, compassion and prudent justice into California's public policy."

The organizers of each initiative drive must collect 504,760 valid signatures of registered voters in California in order for the issue to be placed on the ballot. As of February 2011, there were an estimated 17.2 million registered voters in the state.

As proposed, the parental notification initiative would require any girl age 12-17 to tell her parents at least 48 hours before having an abortion.

"Because current law allows secrecy for ‘confidential medical services’ a young girl could have multiple abortions --- at state expense --- without her parents' knowledge," the bishops' statement said. "Not only are her parents still responsible for her medical and emotional needs if she suffers complications from the abortion, but current policy denies them accurate information as to how best to care for her."

In keeping with our fundamental principles, we believe that social policy should respect and support the role of parents in caring for their children. Justice should uphold human dignity as it protects the community.

The second initiative --- labeled SAFE California by its sponsors, for Savings, Accountability and Full Enforcement --- would replace use of the death penalty in the state with sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

"As citizens, we find the use of the death penalty unnecessary, impractical and expensive," the bishops said. "We have long held that the use of the death penalty is no longer necessary to protect the community."

Proposed budget: Unfair to poor

Meanwhile, the CCC criticized Gov. Brown’s proposed budget for 2012-13, saying that the effort to rein in spending, while laudatory, places too much of a burden on the state’s poor by cutting back essential services.

“While a slow economic recovery prolongs the fiscal pain for most Californians, the governor’s proposed budget continues a multi-year trend of reducing critical services for children, the elderly, the blind, the disabled and those most in need,” said Edward "Ned" Dolejsi, CCC executive director.

“Scarce resources mean difficult choices and shared sacrifice for all who participate in our society. But too much of that sacrifice in recent years has fallen on our children.”

Dolejsi maintained that proposals that hurt low-income children --- such as reducing funding by $946 million for parents who are trying to find work or eliminating supplemental funding for Child Nutrition Programs at private schools and child care centers --- “intensify the struggle for families and jeopardize our children’s welfare.”

Gov. Brown, he noted, promised that his budgets would no longer contain overly optimistic assumptions and would propose “honest” solutions for California. “In many ways,” said Dolejsi, “his proposal begins to fulfill this promise. 

“But the Golden State continues to be ill-served by proposals that target children and the neediest among us. Partisan politics from across the political spectrum continues to undermine cooperation and an inability to seriously compromise or negotiate on revenue and fair taxes leaves real solutions beyond the grasp of lawmakers. All Californians deserve better, particularly our children.”

Dolejsi urged Californians to be mindful of the California Bishops’ 2011 budget statement, In Search of the Common Good, which declared:  “The call for shared sacrifice will make clear that we cannot pass our fiscal burdens on to the next generation through illusory budgetary gimmicks and more borrowing, we cannot shred the safety net for our poorest sisters and brothers and we cannot deprive our children of a quality education that prepares them for an ever more complex and competitive world.”

To view the CCC statements, visit