CCC on the LA Dodgers and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

The California Catholic Conference (Conference) has released the following statement in response to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Mayor of Anaheim re-issuing and issuing, respectively, invitations to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence:

The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Mayor of Anaheim’s invitation to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI), a group that intentionally ridicules and encourages the intolerance of Catholicism and its women’s religious orders for its own purposes, is wildly offensive.

To advance its agenda, SPI uses egregious ridicule, hostility, and open desecration to mock Catholicism and Christianity – behaviors they claim to renounce. What would be said if the mockery was of our Muslim or Jewish brothers and sisters?

For the Dodgers to not only re-issue the invitation to the SPI but award them a ‘Community Hero Award’ for using unquestionably offensive Christian antics is far from fulfilling the intention of “inclusivity for all.” It is the promotion of choosing who is culturally acceptable and who is not – a common form of hate.

Our Catholic women’s religious orders are comprised of individuals who devote their lives to Christ by serving the poor, the underprivileged, and the marginalized. They deserve the same consideration and respect that the SPI says it is working to secure for the LGBTQ+ community.

It is absolutely possible to celebrate inclusivity without promoting bigotry. Working to celebrate diversity can be done without ridicule and mockery.

The Conference endorses that we should be leading with love and inclusion in California rather than sowing division and is stunned by the LA Dodgers and the other statewide organizations and elected officials choosing to condone the double standard of this offensive behavior.


California Bishops visit San Quentin Prison

Four California Bishops visited San Quentin Prison last week, hearing confessions and speaking with the general population and death row inmates about their unexpected trials, spiritual conversions, and faith life while incarcerated.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone (San Francisco), Bishop Michael Barber (Oakland), Bishop Oscar Cantú (San Jose), and Bishop Jaime Soto (Sacramento) spent Tuesday at the prison. They were mandated to wear bulletproof vests and whistles while visiting Death Row or the ‘East Block,’ which Governor Newsom has promised to dismantle following his moratorium on executions in the state.

“The visit to death row was especially heart-wrenching, but even there I saw a desire for a deeper spiritual life,” said Archbishop Cordileone. “One of the condemned is even a Benedictine oblate, who renews his vows annually with the prison chaplain! And all this despite the very oppressive conditions: a cell about 5’ x 15’, with a sink, a toilet, and a table that doubles as a bed.  They are confined in that space most of the time.  And yet, the ones we spoke with were happy to see us and very conversant.”

The bishops heard private confessions from the inmates in the general population. At the outset, the number of inmates seeking confession started at two, but that number quickly grew to around 40 and lasted an hour and a half.

“Each conversation with the men in East Block was unique and personal,” said Bishop Soto. “Of course, this was because so were they. There was little reference to the awkward circumstances of speaking through bars. Worries about their family, questions about scripture, curiosities about the world outside, and interesting books filled our conversations.”

Deacon John Storm, Restorative Justice Director for the Diocese of Santa Rosa, also visited the prison with the delegation and remarked that he was moved by an inmate’s testimony who “described a personal encounter with Christ engendered by his participation in programs sponsored by the Catholic Chapel. That encounter led him to drop out of the gang culture, where he was previously a leader or ‘shot-caller,’ and to seek a new life of discipleship to others.”

The faith lives of many of the inmates are flourishing, with the chapel at San Quentin being governed much like any other parish. There is a parish council composed of incarcerated men and a very active choir with a band that uses donated instruments. Two inmates have painted a wall-wide mural in the chapel that depicts their interpretation of scripture in Revelations.

“The visit confirmed my experience of celebrating Mass there over the last several years: there is a deep spiritual thirst and a desire of the men to grow in their knowledge of the Catholic faith.  They would like to see more programming in the chapel but emphasized the need for support in order to make that happen,” said Archbishop Cordileone.

Many men commented that their faith and religious activities are important keys to rehabilitation. They asked for religious books, rosaries, and scapulars.

“The San Quentin chapel is one place where the men can feel as though they are leaving the prison and entering a different place—a church,” said CCC Executive Director Kathleen Domingo, who joined the delegation on the visit. “One man told me that he tries to make a Holy Hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament every day, just sitting in silent prayer or meditating.  The chapel is a sacred place that provides great comfort to the men.”

Bishop Barber, who has said Mass at San Quentin for over 20 years and whose brother, Fr. Steve Barber, SJ, who previously served as Chaplain, echoed the same sentiments.

The “California Department of Corrections” recently changed its name to the “California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.”  How does the state think it can rehabilitate these men while downplaying the role of faith in their lives?” said Bishop Barber. “I believe the State of California could benefit from studying how spiritual resiliency contributes to the rehabilitation of inmates.”

Before the visit, Bishop Cantú told the Catholic News Agency that the bishops were visiting the prison “simply to be a reminder of God’s presence and of compassion and a reminder that Jesus had interactions with two criminals on the cross: one who derided Jesus, the other who asked for compassion and forgiveness.”

“As I told them, I often tell people ‘on the outside,’ who have no knowledge of what it is like in a prison, that ‘Jesus is alive and well behind bars,’” said Archbishop Cordileone.


Remembering Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell’s Tireless Work for Others in the Name of Jesus

As we continue to struggle with the senseless killing of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell on February 18, there is no question that he leaves behind a brilliant legacy of love for others and Jesus, seen particularly well through his work with the California Catholic Conference.

A native of County Cork, Ireland, Bishop O’Connell was born in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1979. His work with the Conference began immediately after he was installed as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2015.

He joined the CCC’s Restorative Justice Committee and took on the role of chair in 2018. His work was instrumental in moving toward a society healed from divisiveness and fear and that responds to crime and violence with restoration and healing.

“His lifelong work as a peacemaker made him perfect in this role, and he did it so well,” said CCC Restorative Justice Director Debbie McDermott, who also shares Bishop O’Connell’s Irish heritage. “We were from different parts of Ireland. I grew up near the border and ‘the troubles,’ so I understood the conflict and the peace he was about because of it.”

Bishop O’Connell’s work on the CCC Restorative Justice Committee included spearheading the creation of a bereavement ministry guide in English and Spanish, which was met with extreme gratitude from families who had experienced murders or the violent crime of a loved one and had no spiritual direction.

“He was one of a kind, very humble. He did so much for people behind the scenes,” said CCC Director of Social Justice and Environmental Stewardship Linda Wanner.

Just before COVID, Bishop O’Connell and two other committee members held an in-person meeting with the head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which resulted in expanding its job specifications for Catholic Chaplains to include lay persons. Before that, it was confined to only priests.

“He was uniquely able to listen to the problem and see the solution and make the strategic plan, and it was always through the light of God and Our Blessed Mother,” said McDermott.

Bishop O’Connell was also involved in AB 256 – The Racial Justice Act, which addresses racial disparities in California’s sentencing process. He met with Senator Portantino at his district office with a group of faith leaders advocating for this legislation to get out of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill ended up being signed by Governor Newsom last year.

“More than anything, Bishop Dave wanted to radiate the love of Jesus,” said CCC Executive Director Kathleen Domingo. “Everything he did for the incarcerated, the homeless, gang members, immigrants, children, expectant moms, the elderly, and dying—he did so that he could bring the love of Jesus to them.”

Bishop O’Connell also played a significant role in working against physician-assisted suicide, which became legal in California in 2015.

“A failure of heart, really, that we can’t think of anything else we can do for people who have been told that they have terminal illness than to offer them a package of pills, where they can take their own life, and say, ‘Go ahead; just commit suicide,’” he told the National Catholic Register in 2016.

“Bishop Dave was a true shepherd with a ministry of presence,” said CCC Associate Director for Life Molly Sheahan. “He would show up to everything – pro-life prayer vigils, youth events, immigration meetings – and always had time to pray with the person in front of him. My fondest memories of him are when he would attend our young adult events, offering hilarious jokes and words of encouragement and always reminding us: ‘Jesus loves you. He wants to be close to you.’”

Bishop O’Connell’s commitment to immigrants often led him to the border, where he would pass out water to immigrants in the hot, dry desert region. He regularly said Mass for the undocumented children staying at the LA County Fairplex in Pomona and was one of the founding members of the So Cal Immigration Task Force. He worked with CCHD to gain funding to help immigrant and other poor families have access to Catholic school education, knowing it would change their lives.

“He had a great love for children; nothing hurt him more than seeing children unloved, abused, forgotten, or in pain. He had a heart for foster youth and helped us with many initiatives to promote fostering in our Catholic community,” said Domingo.

“The first time I met Bishop Dave, we presented a new project we were looking to launch, and he immediately wanted to be involved,” said CCC Director of Communications Kim Nickols. “His enthusiasm and spirit were gifts to all who worked with him.”

Bishop O’Connell was poised to launch his latest vision, “The Shalom Project,” a series of 12 workshops building skills for all in the areas of restorative justice – conflict resolution, the basic building blocks of transformation, peacemaking, listening, and more. The CCC is moving forward with the project in his memory.

He recently facilitated a retreat for Catholic chaplains using this process.  “They told him, ‘you know your onions,’ in other words, he peeled back all the layers,” said McDermott.

All are welcome to The Shalom Project online event on Tuesday, March 21, at 6:00 PM Pacific.

funeral Mass for Bishop O’Connell will take place Friday, March 3, at 11:00 am at the Cathedral at Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles. Click here for more info.

“Bishop Dave believed in old-fashioned face-to-face togetherness,” said Domingo. “When you were with him, you knew that you mattered, that he loved you. By his very presence, looking you in the eye and taking what you were saying so seriously, he brought Jesus into every moment, every encounter.”

“We have truly lost something special in Bishop Dave, but we have also gained a relentless intercessor,” Domingo continued. “Bishop Dave had such a great love for Our Lady that stemmed from his experience of love from his own mother. I am certain he is with her now, telling her little jokes and asking her to intercede for all the people he loved to her son Jesus. And I am also certain that Our Lady will do just about anything for her beloved son, David.”

Go n’eirigh an bóthar leat
May the road rise to meet you

Go raibh an ghaoth go brách ag do chúl
May the wind be always at your back

Go lonraí an ghrian go te ar d’aghaidh
May the sun shine warm upon your face

Go dtite an bháisteach go mín ar do pháirceanna
May the rains fall softly upon your fields

Agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís,
And until we meet again

Go gcoinní Dia i mbos A láimhe thú.
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


CCC Message About Prop. 1

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

By now, you have no doubt heard that Prop. 1 passed. While this is tremendously disappointing, and not the outcome we have been working toward and praying for, there is still much to be proud of and thankful for.

Our deepest heartfelt gratitude to every single person who generously answered the call to raise awareness against Prop. 1. Our Catholic dioceses and parishes participated in a way and at an intensity that cannot be denied, and the polling and the election results prove it.

Though the measure succeeded, the number of Californians who identify as pro-life has increased by almost ten percent since this campaign began. In contrast, the number of Californians identifying as pro-choice has dropped seven percentage points, from 62% to 55%. We’ve shown that we can unite and be winsome in advocating against the extreme, expensive, and unnecessary push for late-term abortion.

Thank you to our Bishops, who were vocal in their opposition to Prop. 1 and shepherded us through the contentious waters of abortion in California with a heart for Christ, proclaiming the dignity of every human life.

Thank you to all priests and deacons who courageously brought the fight against Prop. 1 to parishioners through impassioned homilies and prayer events.

Thank you to diocesan leaders and parish captains who poured so much time into organizing, creating materials, and communicating the truth about Prop. 1.

Thank you to every parishioner who gave their precious time to our coalition, from holding voter drives to putting up yard signs and well beyond.

Finally, thank you to every person who acts as the hands and feet of Christ, walking daily with women, children, and families in greatest need in our communities.

At the beginning of this year, the CA bishops stated their resolve “To commit to our sisters that we, the Catholic community of California, will be by your side as you walk the journey of motherhood.” In our parishes, from baby showers to donations to awareness campaigns, the Catholic community is here for every mom and dad and family through our network of resource centers, pregnancy clinics, maternity homes, and call centers. Now is the time to reinvigorate our support for women, children, and families through We Were Born Ready.

We have responded to our Gospel call to serve on behalf of the most vulnerable and to share the love of Christ Jesus. And despite the passage of Prop. 1, we can rest knowing that the Lord sees our work and recognizes our struggle. For, the core of our mission as Christians is to evangelize, spreading the good news of Jesus to the world. We build up the kingdom of God here in our midst, but our mindset is eternal, with hope for the world to come.


“In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, for I have conquered the world.”  John 16:33