The following chronology, covering more than a decade, comes from sources including California Catholic Daily and the newspapers that preceded Cal Catholic – San Francisco Faith, Los Angeles Mission, and San Diego News Notes.
January 4, 1999
In November of 1998, pro-abortion Democrat Cruz Bustamante was elected as lieutenant governor of California. He had campaigned as “pro-choice” and his website proclaimed this message. He was to be inaugurated on January 4, 1999.
At 8 on the morning of January 4, Bustamante was to be honored at a “Celebration of Mass on the occasion of the Inauguration of Cruz Bustamante as Lieutenant Governor of the State of California” at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento. The printed program acknowledged that the celebration was hosted by the California Latino Legislative Caucus (primarily pro-abortion Democrats), and other sponsors.
This Mass was set up by the California Catholic Conference, and Ned Dolejsi was prominently present at the Mass and his predecessor as CCC director, Msgr. E. James Petersen of the Fresno diocese, concelebrated the Mass.
April 27, 1999
California Senate Bill 118, introduced by Senator Tom Hayden in December of 1998, provided for family care and medical leave for certain family groupings, including “domestic partners.” An April 27, 1999 CCC letter signed by Ned Dolejsi urged passage of SB 118, stating that it was unfortunate that the bill was politicized in this way, but that they did find it possible to support SB 118. The bill passed.
August 31, 2000
The CCC, under the leadership of Ned Dolejsi, put forth as the major issues of concern to the Catholic Church “issues involving religious freedom, assistance for those in need, immigrant rights, the use of the death penalty and educational reform and equity.” No mention of life or marriage and family issues.
The Journal of Church and State published an article in January of 2003, entitled “Religion at the statehouse: the California Catholic Conference.” The CCC is described as having a staff of ten, which “address a wide range of issues from opposing the death penalty and protecting the homeless to having Cesar Chavez Day proclaimed a yearly state event.
“A public theology that has been developing in the United States in the last thirty years drives the efforts of the California Catholic Conference … this theology derives from 110 years of worldwide Catholic social teaching. This public theology resembles contemporary Latin American social theology. In concert with the Catholic Church’s ‘option for the poor’, Catholic public theology in the U.S. attempts to defend the weak and the vulnerable….”
“…the CCC holds something of a hegemonic position among Catholic voices in the state public sphere….”
“A central mark of the conference is that it is reactive, not proactive. The conference portrays itself as a partner in the legislative enterprise…. The executive committee of bishops and especially the full-time conference staff center their activities around the legislative calendar, with the agenda of issues established by state legislators.”
November 24, 2004
On Tuesday, November 24, 2004 the Sacramento Bee ran a story that there would be a service at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in January when Governor Gray Davis was to be sworn in for a second term as governor of California. The reporter who broke the story said he had been in touch with a “Father Ned Dolejsi.” A secretary in the office of Bishop William Weigand stated that there had been a mistake, that the bishop’s office had nothing to do with the invitation, but to call the pastor, Father Vincent Brady, or Ned Dolejsi at the CCC. Father Brady referred people to Dolejsi. Dolejsi stated that the Davis people had contacted him the week before Thanksgiving and that he had given assurances to the Davis committee that the CCC would work with them.
July 20, 2005
On July 20, 2005 the CCC hosted “Catholic Prayer and Reflection,” included pro-abortion Democrat Assemblyman Juan Vargas.
December 4, 2006
On December 4, 2006 a Mass was held in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament arranged by Ned Dolejsi to celebrate the inauguration of a group of newly elected and re-elected members of the California Legislature known as the Hispanic Legislative Caucus. Every one of these individuals was pro-abortion.
January 29, 2008
Plans to bring together a career politician with a 16-year record of support for abortion and one of California’s most influential Catholics at a Sacramento diocesan high school’s “Speakers Series” were abruptly cancelled after pro-lifers expressed outrage over the event.
St. Francis Catholic High School, an all-girls school that is part of the diocese of Sacramento’s educational system, had planned an event on Tuesday, Jan. 22, in which California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, a longtime backer of abortion and homosexual rights, would join Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, for a presentation entitled “California Catholics: Legislation, Elections and Social Justice.”
Had the event been held, it would have occurred on the 35th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe vs. Wade legalizing abortion in all 50 states…
…on the night of the 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. scheduled presentation featuring Bowen and Dolejsi, a note was posted on the door of the school theater announcing the event had been cancelled.
California Catholic Daily learned that as soon as a Dec. 7 memo went out from St. Francis director of communications Ingrid Niles asking for parishes across the Diocese of Sacramento to include an announcement for the event in parish bulletins, some pastors and their parishioners began to question the appropriateness of inviting someone like Bowen to a Catholic high school, and, what’s worse, in the company of the top aide to California’s bishops.
Copies of several letters and emails to the school have been provided to California Catholic Daily. In one such letter, Fr. Patrick Lee wrote, “I read with shock the news that Secretary of State Debra Bowen has been invited to speak at St. Francis High School on January 22nd of this year. As members of the Catholic Christian community, you must know how unacceptable it is to host notorious promoters of abortion, euthanasia and homosexual marriage….”
April 21, 2008
Tomorrow, April 22, is Catholic Lobby Day in Sacramento, a day during which legislators can expect citizen lobbyists summoned to the state capital by the California Catholic Conference to press them on issues important to California’s bishops. But abortion somehow didn’t make it onto the Catholic Conference’s list of legislative priorities — which is where longtime pro-life Catholic activist Wynette Sills comes in.
Sills, who calls herself “just a simple layperson,” says she is determined to lobby legislators to defend the sanctity of life for unborn children, whether it’s on the bishops’ agenda or not – and she says she wants other Catholics to join her.
After meeting personally with California Conference executive director Ned Dolejsi last week, Sills said she realized they were not on the same page. “A lot of lay Catholics in the Sacramento area wanted to include the sanctity of life of the unborn in the participant’s package,” she said. “They’ve (the Catholic Conference) already established their priority bills for Tuesday and it didn’t include that topic, because there isn’t currently any legislation to defend the dignity of life of the unborn. Since the CCC agenda includes the topic of the budget, we were hoping, under that umbrella, to include a request of our legislators to eliminate abortion funding from our state budget. Isn’t it time to have conscientious objection to using our tax dollars for such an atrocious service as abortion?”
Ironically, Catholic Lobby Day falls on the same day as Planned Parenthood Lobby Day (See “Food stamps vs. abortion,” California Catholic Daily, April 11, 2008). The lobbying items identified by the Catholic Conference for this year’s effort include:
AB 2747, which deals with palliative care and hospices.
AB 2262, which would extend the period for parents to surrender unwanted newborn babies from 72 hours to one week.
AB 2844, the Food Stamp Simplification Act.
and SB 1555, which would provide better services for geriatric prisoners.
Although Sills commends the Catholic Conference for its support of these bills, she has one reservation: “They are all noble, humanitarian causes. But they are Democratic bills, and there is a Democratic majority. Those bills will likely pass with or without the CCC’s lobbying. But we’re neglecting the fundamental right to life. If we’re not addressing that issue as Catholics, then all of these other social justice issues are inconsequential.”
April 6, 2009
The California Catholic Conference has announced its agenda for the 11th Annual Catholic Lobby Day on April 28 at the state capitol in Sacramento. As in years past, the published agenda makes no mention of abortion or other life issues like euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research.
Planned Parenthood of California is planning to hold its annual “California Capitol Day” this year a week before the Catholic event, on April 22. Unlike the California Catholic Conference, the Planned Parenthood lobbyists are focused on a single issue: “Join hundreds of other Planned Parenthood supporters as we gather in Sacramento to support reproductive health care access for women and families in California!”
January 3, 2011
On Monday, January 3, 2011 Jerry Brown, one of the most extreme pro-abortion politicians in history, was to be inaugurated as governor. The Capitol Morning Report, an insider political organ in Sacramento, contained the following item: “Interfaith Council of Sacramento and others sponsor prayer service for Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, other statewide elected officials and members of legislature. 9 a.m., Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, 1017 11th St.”
An advertising flyer produced for this Cathedral of the Blessed Sacramento “prayer service” occasion noted that it was sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Sacramento, the Diocese of Sacramento, and the California Catholic Conference.
Governor-elect Jerry Brown did not show up at the cathedral, where Ned Dolejsi and Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire were waiting for him.
Bishop Blaire, providing the opening remarks, mentioned the various faiths represented in the Sanctuary. The highest level elected person attending was the new pro-abortion Democratic California Attorney General, Kamala Harris, who just a few hours later in her own inaugural speech promised to fight for the rights of “gays” and lesbians.
March 28, 2011
In a letter to Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto, diocesan chancellor Kathy Conner, Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, and several other diocesan and Catholic Conference leaders, pro-lifer Wynette Sills expressed “serious disappointment” after seeing a recent item from the Catholic Legislative Network’s newsletter regarding the March 24 Catholic Youth Advocacy Day in Sacramento.
“More than 150 Catholic high school students and their teachers came from around California to Sacramento this week to participate in the inaugural Catholic Youth Advocacy Day,” said the March 25 issue of the Catholic Legislative Network newsletter. “Faculty and students of Archbishop Mitty High School in the Diocese of San Jose, along with the Catholic Conference, planned the agenda for this one day event. Keynote speaker, Tony Cortese, from the Sacramento Newman Center, told the students about how we sometimes live in a funny, crazy world but if we get ourselves involved and engaged, we can make a difference.”
“The morning program consisted of workshops with students presenting materials and videos on the four issues on which they advocated: AB 6-Food Stamps, AB 130 & 131-Dream Act, AB 90-Human Trafficking and SB 9-Juvenile LWOP (Life Without Parole),” said the newsletter. “The afternoon was spent at the Capitol visiting legislators’ offices and discussing issues with lawmakers or their staff.”
“While Food Stamps, the Dream Act, Human Trafficking and Life Without Parole are noble concerns, the Sanctity of Life is a foundational and non-negotiable priority of our Catholic faith,” wrote Sills. “Our Catholic Youth could be our most effective advocates for their brothers and sisters in the womb.”
“When I have expressed this concern to the California Catholic Conference over the years, the response is typically, ‘there are no anti-abortion measures pending within the state legislature and we only address current legislation,’” Sills’ letter continued. “If the Catholic Church, particularly our Youth and those who are specifically responsible for representing our Church at the Capitol, remains silent on abortion, this void of pending legislation to protect the Least of His will only continue year after year after year, as millions die, even paid for with our tax dollars here in California. During this budget crisis, abortion funding should be a headline priority every day at the Capitol. Yet, most of our Catholic state legislators are notoriously pro-abortion.”
“Our collective silence is complicit in the loss of innocent human life,” Sills said in her letter. “If our children are not allowed to be born, access to Food Stamps and the opportunity to receive tuition assistance to attend college become irrelevant. We are concerned about Life Without Parole for Juvenile Delinquents, but we are silent on the innocent children subjected to the brutal, violent, inhumane, unjust Death Penalty of abortion.”
July 5, 2011
From the Catholic Legislative Network (project of the California Catholic Conference):
“In a somber late-night session during an uncharacteristic summer downpour, the California legislature passed another budget. Frustration, borne of an inability by either side to work together, resulted in a package that satisfied no one. Governor Brown signed it Thursday [July 30] – only the sixth on-time budget in the last 25 years.”
In a statement released to the media, Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference said: “Many people — including the governor — worked very hard to find common ground and create a budget that reflects the needs of California families as well as current economic reality but in the end, all that we really have is another expedient budget that promises a lot of pain to a lot of people without doing much to fix California’s long-term fiscal problems.”
Next week: Part 5: Blunting lay initiatives
To read previous parts of this series, click below:
Part 1: the years before
Part 3: a layman takes over