Michigan Catholic Conference
(800) 395-5565
(517) 372-3940
510 S. Capitol Ave.
Lansing, MI 48933

Lansing Update: Defending Pro-Life Causes, Addressing Gun Violence and more…

In this update:

  • Opposition Effort Against 'Anything Goes Abortion' Petition Formally Launched
  • MCC Takes Defense of State's Abortion Ban to Court of Appeals
  • U.S. Bishops Urge Action to Understand 'Epidemic of Evil' After Elementary School Shooting
  • Word from Lansing: Discuss Law Enforcement Reform After Tragic Grand Rapids Death
  • Foster Care & Adoption Reform Package Gets Approval from House
  • Bill Protecting Privacy of Human Trafficking Survivors Supported by MCC
  • Detroit's Newest Auxiliary Bishop Grew Up in Alpena; Served in Vatican Embassies
  • This Memorial Day, Pray for Those Who Gave Their Lives

Opposition Effort Against 'Anything Goes Abortion' Petition Formally Launched

Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) this week helped launch the official opposition campaign to the "Anything Goes Abortion Amendment" to the state constitution that is fronted by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.

MCC has been part of the coalition known as Citizens to Support MI Women & Children since its inception, but this week marked the public kickoff to oppose the abortion petition as the July 11 deadline for submission of petition signatures draws closer. Joining Right to Life of Michigan and other statewide and local pro-life organizations, MCC is working to oppose the proposal to place the unlimited abortion question on the November statewide ballot.

At MCC headquarters this week, legal experts - including esteemed attorney John Bursch - briefed the news media about the dangerous language being proposed to be added to the state constitution. The amendment would allow for unlimited abortion all throughout pregnancy and right up to birth. There are also other troubling measures that would prevent parental participation in their children's lives related to human sexuality.

A report from Bridge Magazine sorted the issues into four categories: No parental consent for minors seeking abortions, allowing any healthcare professional to justify an abortion, allowing abortion at all stages of pregnancy, and providing immunity to anyone who helps a woman procure an abortion.

MCC President and CEO Paul A. Long called the opposition effort "an historic occasion for the pro-life community and indeed all people in Michigan to oppose such an extreme amendment to the state constitution."

"The organizations pushing this constitutional amendment are actively seeking to overturn every common-sense statutory safeguard that regulates abortion," Long said.

Reproductive Freedom for All is the organization seeking to place the pro-abortion amendment on the November ballot. The group has until July 11 to collect and submit to the state 425,059 valid signatures of registered Michigan voters.

For more information on the opposition campaign, including how to contribute financially so that the effort to defeat the abortion amendment is successful, visit the coalition website.

MCC Takes Defense of State's Abortion Ban to Court of Appeals

MCC and others are asking the state Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court's ruling that would block enforcement of the state law prohibiting abortion.

In a filing made with the Court of Appeals, the attorneys representing MCC and others argue that "Michigan courts lack jurisdiction over manufactured disputes where there is no adversity, no actual controversy, and the plaintiff's claims are hypothetical, moot, and not ripe."

MCC and other plaintiffs are asking for the court to overturn the injunction against the state abortion ban that was issued by Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher, and to dismiss the case.

In allowing the injunction, Judge Gleicher granted the request of Planned Parenthood, which sued Attorney General Dana Nessel over enforcement of the state law, which remains dormant due to the U.S. Supreme Court allowing nationwide access to abortion in Roe v. Wade.

The appeal filed on behalf of MCC asks that at a minimum, the state Court of Appeals should reverse the injunction and require Judge Gleicher to recuse herself, given her past work for, and financial contributions to, Planned Parenthood.

In a filing made with the court, MCC's attorneys pointed out that "the lower court's ruling has enjoined enforcement of a decades-old, valid Michigan statute - by county prosecutors who are not even parties to the action - in a suit between non-adverse parties who agree on that improper remedy,

issued by a judge with longstanding and/or continuing financial and other ties to one of them, and contrary to binding, published authority of this Court that the judge litigated and lost as a practicing attorney."

U.S. Bishops Urge Action to Understand 'Epidemic of Evil' After Elementary School Shooting

The U.S. bishops this week implored all of us to "search our souls for ways that we can do more to understand this epidemic of evil and violence and implore our elected officials to help us take action" after 19 children and two adults were shot and killed in a Texas elementary school.

The statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) observed that "there have been too many school shootings, too much killing of the innocent" and added that the bishops' prayers would be joined with the community of Uvalde and the local bishop, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller.

In Michigan, Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron added that "it is horrifying to be faced yet again with news of senseless violence, this time in an elementary school yesterday. I join my brother bishops in praying for those impacted and in calling for honest dialogue and urgent action to end to this epidemic of evil."

It's been less than a year since a school shooting at Oxford High School in Oakland County left four students dead and injured another seven, including one teacher.

MCC supports Senate Bills 550-553, sponsored by Senators Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills), Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), and Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak), although the bills have yet to have a hearing.

The bills would require gun owners to safely store and lock firearms and proscribe penalties for anyone who does not and if a child gains access to the gun and displays it publicly or uses it to inflict harm on others. This week, there was an attempt to have those bills considered for action by the full Senate, but the attempt fell short of receiving enough support.

MCC has also previously advocated for and is continuing to advocate for school safety grant funding to be included in the annual state budget, including for nonpublic schools.

Word from Lansing: Discuss Law Enforcement Reform After Tragic Grand Rapids Death

This week - May 25 - marked the second anniversary of George Floyd's death in an encounter with police, which led to nationwide unrest and calls for change.

More recently, another African American man, Patrick Lyoya, was shot and killed by a police officer in Grand Rapids, which again sparked outrage and calls for change.

Considering these events, MCC reiterated its support for a package of law enforcement reforms intended to improve how police approach these difficult situations, protect their own safety, and ensure every person is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve as people made in the image and likeness of God.

To read more about these bills, read our latest The Word From Lansing column published in Detroit Catholic this week.

Foster Care & Adoption Reform Package Gets Approval from House

A legislative package aimed at improving Michigan's foster care and adoption process was approved by the state House this week, earning bipartisan support.

Several of the bills are supported by MCC, which are intended to help families who care for adopted and foster children. The legislation was developed following recommendations issued by a bipartisan task force on how to improve the child welfare system and the adoption process.

One such bill, House Bill 5978 - sponsored by Rep. Rodney Wakeman (R-Freeland) -- would require the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to work with entities that perform family finding and engagement services to help foster youth who are separated from their family to connect to family and friends.

The bill would also have DHHS make efforts in family finding and engagement services on behalf of all current foster kids. DHHS also would have to incorporate family finding and engagement services in all child abuse and child neglect investigations.

A full list of the adoption bills that MCC supports and what they do can be found in this previous edition of Lansing Update.

Bill Protecting Privacy of Human Trafficking Survivors Supported by MCC

A bill making sure human trafficking survivors are afforded the same confidentiality protections as domestic violence survivors received MCC support in a House committee this week.

House Bill 5889, sponsored by Rep. Annette Glenn (R-Midland), would not allow confidential communications to be released as evidence in a civil or criminal proceeding without the written consent of the human trafficking victim. Those confidential communications would include information shared in a crisis intervention or counseling session with a human trafficking victim.

The House Rules and Competitiveness Committee advanced the bill this week to the full House for further consideration.

Detroit's Newest Auxiliary Bishop Grew Up in Alpena; Served in Vatican Embassies

We are extending a warm welcome to Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, whose appointment as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Detroit was announced Monday.

Archbishop Russell will retain the title of archbishop but will join the other four auxiliary bishops who assist Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron with caring for the souls of 1.1 million Catholics in the state's largest diocese.

Michigan's newest auxiliary bishop spent part of his childhood in Alpena - he attended St. Bernard of Clairvaux elementary school and Alpena High School.

He has spent most of his priestly ministry in diplomatic service of the Holy See, serving in the Vatican embassies in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Turkey, Switzerland, and Nigeria. He was appointed to lead the Apostolic Nunciature in Taiwan in 2008 and was made Apostolic Nuncio to Turkey and Turkmenistan in 2016, and had Azerbaijan added to his duties in 2018.

"I am so happy with Pope Francis' decision to send me home and look forward to serving as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit and immersing myself in the mission and ministry of the local Church in southeast Michigan," Archbishop Russell said in a statement.

This Memorial Day, Pray for Those Who Gave Their Lives

Monday, May 30 is Memorial Day, when we remember and honor those who have given their lives in military service of our country. Here is a prayer you can say for those men and women:

God of power and mercy,
you destroy war and put down earthly pride.
Banish violence from our midst and wipe away our tears,
that we may all deserve to be called your sons
and daughters.
Keep in your mercy those men and women
who have died in the cause of freedom
and bring them safely
into your kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this though Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Michigan Catholic Conference
(800) 395-5565
(517) 372-3940
510 South Capitol Avenue
Lansing, Michigan 48933
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