UP Catholic 05 27 2016 E Edition Page 5

I n the document When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women, the U.S. bishops wrote that violence against another person in any form fails to treat that person as someone worthy of love. Each person has been made in the image and likeness of God, each deserving of respect, regardless of their gender, race, income level, or other characteristics. No one deserves to be treated with violence, whether the abuse is physical, sexual, or emotional. During the month of May, Pope Francis has asked Catholics to join him in pray- ing for the dignity of women to be respected in all aspects of life. He urges individuals to condemn sexual violence against women and remove the barriers that prevent their full integration into social, political, and economic life. His prayers bring to light a reality of the violence women face, as here in Michigan, ninety-seven percent of the reported 3,016 sexual assault victims and seventy-one per- cent of the 91,147 reported domestic violence victims were women in 2014. At the same time, Pope Francis and the Catholic Church recognize sexual assault and domestic violence are not the only tragedies women face. All vic- tims, whether female or male, should be listened to and supported fully. They deserve a chance to be heard, not blamed or judged. The Church must continue to help connect victims of crime with support services that will help them heal. These people are not numbersthey are individuals with their own experiences and hopes for the future. In addition to the pope bringing attention to these important issues, the Michigan Legislature has recently approved a package of bills addressing sexual assault and domestic violence, which Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law. The measures amend current policy to better protect the privacy of victims and hold account- able individuals who commit these crimes. The newly enacted laws, Public Acts 87-88, 91, and 93-96 of 2016, prohibit mediation in certain domes- tic relation cases, provide alternative means to serve papers on one whose address is confidential, allow a Per- sonal Protection Order (PPO) to ban one from harming or taking anothers pet, and increase penalties for those who assault a pregnant woman. They also protect survivors of sexual assault when a pregnancy results, by allowing the custody rights or parenting time of that child conceived in rape to be pro- hibited for the offending parent. These measures, supported throughout the legislative process by Michigan Catho- lic Conference (MCC), have the tools to assist victims. MCC expects additional legislative protections will be forth- coming before the end of 2016. Community members across Michi- gan can also work to change the culture around sexual assault and domestic violence. Too often victims keep these crimes private, at times out of fear, shame, or well-intended efforts to preserve their families or protect those they love. Education about these issues is critical. When recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Gov- ernor Snyder stated that the goal was to educate our community about sexu- al violence prevention, supporting survivors and speaking out against harmful atti- tudes and actions. To learn more or to report possible incidences, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799.7233 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.4673. While policy work continues, MCC acknowledges the impact of Michi- gans recently passed laws, as well as the bipartisan fashion in which the bill sponsors and lawmakers came together to support victims. This collaboration is an example of how policymakers can come together to solve matters facing society. The new laws help the peo- ple of Michigan to be treated as they should be, as persons worthy of love. The Word from Lansing is a regu- lar column for Catholic news outlets and is written by Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) President and CEO Paul A. Long. Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state. Standing up against domestic violence and sexual assault www.upcatholic.org THE U.P. CATHOLIC COMMENTARY May 27, 2016 5 THE WORD FROM LANSING Paul A. Long EACH PERSON HAS BEEN MADE IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD, EACH DESERVING OF RESPECT, REGARDLESS OF THEIR GENDER, RACE, INCOME LEVEL, OR OTHER CHARACTERISTICS. All women are beautiful A t the graveside service for my friend Dickey, the priest said, We have a champion in heaven praying for us. Its doubtful truer words were ever said. Dickeys job was making rosaries. He was serious about his work, supported by a private foundation, and theres no telling how many thousands of his rosaries were sent around the world. He gave me a unique view on things. One day he posed a question I had never consid- ered. Which do you think is heavier? A locomotive or a house? We discussed the merits of both arguments and wondered if the amount of stuff inside a house should be considered as part of the equation. It seems this will be a question for the ages. One day he commented that a woman was beautiful. I asked what made him say that and matter-of-factly he answered, All women are beautiful. And that was that. What brought this to mind is a recent con- versation with one of our young pastors. Hes a solid man with his feet on solid ground, not one prone to hysteria. Id even say hes wise. We talked for a good while about an issue that can only be thought of as an epidemic in our day: pornography. Our culture is saturat- ed in it, young men and women are trapped in it. Its available on the Internet and being accessed on a regular basis by teens, many of whom started viewing well before they were teens. Whats being viewed isnt pictures of pinup girls. Parents and grandparents who grew up peeking into the pages of Playboy would be shocked and sickened by what is streaming into the minds and hearts of their teens and tweens. The good pastor offered this advice. Dont wait for a program, something needs to be done now. And this is what I hope is the start of that something. Its time for us to remember, All women are beautiful, created in Gods image, and deserv- ing of the utmost dignity and respect. Please share your thoughts on this with me by email, jfee@dioceseofmarquette.org; U.S. Mail, 1004 Harbor Hills Dr., Marquette, MI 49855; or by phone (906) 227-9129. HERE AM I John Fee

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