Lansing Update: A New Bishop in Kalamazoo
Posted May 26, 2023
In this update:
- MCC-Backed Gun Safety Bills to Protect Life Signed into Law
- Bills Encouraging Prisoner Rehabilitation Receive Hearing; MCC Support
- Bipartisan Bills Strengthening Crime Victim Protections Headed to House Floor
- Sex Abuse Prevention Reforms Continue Moving Forward in House
- New Bishop Named for Kalamazoo Diocese; Current Bishop Set to Retire
- Remember Those Who Paid the Ultimate Price this Memorial Day
MCC-Backed Gun Safety Bills to Protect Life Signed into Law
The Governor this week signed legislation creating a process for temporarily removing firearms from people that could pose a risk to themselves or others, a measure MCC supports in the interest of protecting human life.
The bills create what’s known as an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) process, which allows certain individuals — such as a spouse or family member — to petition a court to have the firearm removed from the individual at risk and establishes court proceedings to provide the individual due process.
The legislation prohibits a person under an ERPO from purchasing firearms and establishes sentencing guidelines for violations of an ERPO or making false statements when petitioning the court for an ERPO.
MCC supported this legislation, as well as other gun safety reforms recently signed by the Governor, because MCC supports policies to keep guns from people likely to harm themselves or others, in the interest of public safety and protecting human life.
The Catholic Conference has offered support for the expansion of background checks on all guns as well as the enactment of safe storage laws, which require gun owners to keep their guns locked up if they could be accessed by children, and prescribe penalties if children gain access to them and harm others.
The ERPO bills signed into law include Senate Bill 83, sponsored by Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak); House Bill 4146, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi); House Bill 4147, sponsored by Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Okemos); and House Bill 4148, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Young (D-Detroit).
Bills Encouraging Prisoner Rehabilitation Receive Hearing; MCC Support
Legislation that incentivizes participation in rehabilitation to reduce the likelihood that former prisoners return to prison received MCC support during a legislative hearing this week.
The House Criminal Justice Committee is considering a package of bills to establish “productivity credits,” which would allow eligible prisoners to earn credits toward deducting time off their sentences for participation and completion of educational or vocational programming while in prison.
MCC supports the bills — House Bills 4450 through 4453 — in accordance with its advocacy principle to promote restorative justice policies in the criminal justice system. MCC supports policies that provide for rehabilitation, improve public safety, and encourage accountability and healing.
Providing prisoners incentives and opportunities for rehabilitation through education and vocational training has been shown to reduce crime and recidivism (the rate of former prisoners re-offending and returning to prison), according to the Alliance for Safety and Justice.
MCC’s support of restorative justice solutions also includes supporting policies that respect crime victims. This legislation would only apply to future prison sentences, and the productivity credits would not apply to people convicted of certain crimes, such as murder, sex offenses, and human trafficking, according to the Alliance for Safety and Justice.
The bills also cap the amount of productivity credits that can be applied to a prisoner’s sentence and do not remove the state parole board’s authority to decide on the release of any prisoners.
The legislation received a hearing in the committee this week but no action was taken.
Bipartisan Bills Strengthening Crime Victim Protections Headed to House Floor
Crime victims could make their victim impact statements remotely and could have their faces blurred in certain court proceedings, under a series of bills designed to bolster crime victim protections supported by MCC.
A bipartisan legislative package that cleared the House Criminal Justice Committee this week would add to crime victim protections in state law, such as:
- Allowing police or prosecuting attorneys to connect victims of domestic or sexual violence to service provider agencies for the purposes of facilitating supportive services to the victim — House Bill 4420, sponsored by Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo).
- Allowing a crime victim’s image to be blurred in certain court proceedings made available to the public — House Bill 4421, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Young (D-Detroit).
- Expanding the list of “serious misdemeanor” crimes to allow victims of these crimes to be eligible for certain victims services — House Bill 4422, sponsored by Rep. Graham Filler (R-St. Johns).
- Allowing a victim impact oral statement to be made remotely — House Bill 4423, sponsored by Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (R-Norton Shores).
As stated in the article linked above about productivity credits, these bills — intended to promote respect of crime victims — align with MCC’s advocacy principle of pursuing restorative justice, earning MCC’s support.
The legislation is now on the House floor for further consideration.
Sex Abuse Prevention Reforms Continue Moving Forward in House
Sex abuse prevention legislation that has long been supported by MCC made progress in the Legislature this week.
The bill packages in both the House and Senate would implement measures to prevent child sexual abuse proactively, particularly under the guise of medical treatment.
The House passed all six bills of the House version of the package — House Bills 4120–4125 — which were then sent to the Senate.
Meanwhile, a House committee this week heard testimony on three Senate versions of the bills — Senate Bills 69, 70 and 71 — that have already cleared the Senate.
New Bishop Named for Kalamazoo Diocese; Current Bishop Set to Retire
A new bishop for the Diocese of Kalamazoo was announced this week — Msgr. Edward M. Lohse of the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania was appointed as bishop-elect for the diocese, succeeding Bishop Paul J. Bradley, who is retiring.
Bishop-elect Lohse is currently the vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Erie. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1989 in the Diocese of Erie and has served in various roles in the diocese, including as Chancellor, director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, and Vocation Director for the diocese.
In addition to his diocesan roles, Bishop-elect Lohse has also served the Vatican as an official of the Congregation for the Clergy and as an adjunct member of the faculty for the Pontifical North American College in Vatican City.
Bishop-elect Lohse will also succeed Bishop Bradley on the MCC Board of Directors, which governs the MCC and is comprised of the seven diocesan bishops plus five lay persons, one priest, and one religious sister.
As required by Church law, Bishop Bradley submitted his resignation to Pope Francis when he turned 75 back on Oct. 18, 2020. Bishop Bradley has served Kalamazoo since his installation in 2009 and will remain the diocese’s Apostolic Administrator until the ordination of the new bishop, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 25, at St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo.
To read more about Bishop-elect Lohse and his background, visit the Diocese of Kalamazoo’s website.
Remember Those Who Paid the Ultimate Price this Memorial Day
MCC offices will be closed Monday, May 29, in observance of Memorial Day. Take a moment to acknowledge those who gave their lives in service to our country and for our protection with the following prayer:
Heavenly Father, we lift up in prayer today our brothers and sisters who have gone before us, sacrificing their own lives for the protection and safety of others. We are grateful for their service. May they inspire us to live selflessly in our own lives, as Christ calls us to do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.