The following comes from a Jan. 7 story by Al Donner in the Oakland diocese Catholic Voice.
The Catholic presence at the state Capitol intends to focus on three core issues in the 2019 legislative session — early childhood education, human life, and immigration — says Andy Rivas, new executive director of the California Catholic Conference.
Those are core areas where Catholic teaching has a direct role in shaping public policies, policies that may be targets for new legislative efforts in 2019. He spoke at a recent Catholics@Work presentation in Danville.
Rivas fears that lawmakers may try to expand abortion opportunities, particularly to allow them on college campuses. A bill doing that passed the Legislature in 2018 but was vetoed by retiring Gov. Jerry Brown.
Still, looming in front of those core policy issues is the continuing attention on sex abuse history in the church.
“It is a snowball that is coming, and we have to deal with it,” Rivas cautions.
Regarding sex abuse legislation, Rivas points out that the church in California has already committed to pay $1.4 billion in settlements of sex abuse accusations, and bishops aggressively have removed guilty parties. But Rivas is concerned that a legislator might try to reopen the statute of limitations so that lawyers who have made sex abuse a primary business could continue filing accusations against the Church
Rivas sees many anomalies in the political situation facing Catholics in California. With Gavin Newsom’s inauguration in January, California will have its fourth Catholic governor in a row (Newsom, Brown, Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger). Catholics also make up the largest number of legislators in the state Capitol. Yet many Catholic legislators “seem to be very unchurched.”
Rivas, an East Los Angeles native, came to Sacramento from Los Angeles where he headed Government & Community Relations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles under Archbishop Jose H. Gomez. In more than 20 years of Church advocacy efforts, Rivas has been executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference, a policy adviser in domestic social development with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and an advocate for Catholic Charities USA in Alexandria, Virginia, plus a stint on a Congressional committee staff working for the late Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.