On January 28 and 29, Catholics from across the seven dioceses in Florida gathered with their bishops in Tallahassee to participate in Catholic Days at the Capitol. Over the two days, participants attended a legislative briefing, met with elected officials and/or their staff, observed lawmaking in action, posed for group photos with their bishops, and enjoyed a breakfast and award presentation. The Red Mass, concelebrated by the eight bishops of Florida, concluded the activities.
Catholics Days participants discussed the following three legislative proposals with their lawmakers urging them to take positions that recognize the value of human life in all stages and conditions:
Parental Consent Prior to a Minor's Abortion
SB 404 (Stargel) and HB 265 (Grall) require that a parent or legal guardian shall provide consent before a minor can terminate her pregnancy, as they must do in most every case prior to a minor's medical treatment. The bills include a judicial waiver process when parental abuse is a concern.
While Catholic Days participants watched from the gallery, SB 404 was taken up by the full Senate on January 29. Several amendments by opponents either failed or were withdrawn on the Senate floor. The bill is scheduled for debate and a vote next Tuesday, February 4.
Death Penalty Repeal
SB 938 (Farmer, Jr.) and HB 6045 (Geller) delete all provisions in Florida statutes that provide for the death penalty for capital felonies. In August 2018, Pope Francis directed that the Catechism of the Catholic Church be revised to instruct the Church that, since modern penal systems have made executions unnecessary to protect society, the death penalty is inadmissible. The sentence of life without parole is a serious sentence that protects society without taking an additional life.
Opposition to Assisted Suicide
SB 1800 (Rader) establishes a process through which persons can obtain drugs with which to commit suicide. While Florida law prohibits assisted suicide, the deceptively named "Death with Dignity" movement has targeted Florida as a priority state to change our laws to allow a patient to actively end their own life. Assisted suicide exploits older, weaker and more vulnerable persons and can lead to higher overall suicide rates.
Fr. Chuck Ruoff, a Catholic Days participant from the Diocese of Venice, was invited by Senate President Bill Galvano to lead the opening prayer for the Senate session on January 29. Fr. Ruoff is a parochial vicar at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in Naples. His prayer was published in the daily Senate Journal.
While in town for Catholic Days and the Red Mass, the bishops visited with several elected officials and conducted Florida Catholic Conference (FCC) and Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) board business.