By: Jeff Caruso, Director of the Virginia Catholic Conference
Since before the Virginia General Assembly went into session on Jan. 12, the Virginia Catholic Conference has been busy working to ensure that proposed policies benefit the common good as understood in Catholic moral and social teaching, including respect for life from conception to natural death; preferential concern for the poor and “the least among us;’’ economic and social justice; support for the family and marriage; and parental choice in education.
Guided by the bishops and in a spirit of prayer, we’ve researched issues and held face-to-face meetings with legislators, government officials and other advocacy organizations.
Our recently developed agenda details the focus of our efforts during this 46-day session. High priority items include:
- Protecting gains we made last year in restricting state abortion funding,
- Ensuring that abortion clinics are subject to state regulation,
- Preventing new biotech programs from funding embryonic stem cell research,
- Stopping death penalty expansions,
- Providing tax credits for corporate donations to scholarship programs for low-income K-12 students,
- Providing immigrants with access to healthcare, and protecting them from harmful policies.
Especially now that the session has begun, the Virginia Catholic Conference is asking Catholics throughout the Commonwealth to join its efforts on behalf of life, dignity and the common good.
There are three key ways to become involved:
1) Act. Become a Conference’s e-mail advocacy network member and respond to its alerts.
- Throughout the session (and beyond) members receive regular e-mail alerts pertaining to legislation being debated in the Virginia General Assembly (and, periodically, issues being considered in the U.S. Congress.) The Conference highlights the moral and social teaching involved, and urges its members to contact their legislator to advocate the Virginia Bishops’ stance. (This can be done with a few clicks of the mouse.) Also, members are encouraged to forward alerts to interested friends.
- We know that our members’ legislative involvement has had a significant impact on legislation. During the 2010 session, for instance, legislation that significantly reduced abortion funding for Medicaid was attributed to constituent interest in the issue. We ask members to act on as many alerts as possible.
2) Advocate. Join the Virginia Catholic Conference at Catholic Advocacy Day in Richmond on Thursday, Jan. 27.
- It’s a great chance to learn the issues, pray and take part in grassroots advocacy. Catholic Advocacy Day begins at St. Peter’s Church with prayer and a word from our bishops. Conference staff give updates on legislative items under consideration in this year’s General Assembly, then participants caucus with other Catholics from their state senatorial district to decide who and how they will discuss the issues with their state senator and delegate.
- Register online at www.vacatholic.org.
- Prayer is the essential tool. We ask for prayers of wisdom and persistence for our state and federal lawmakers, executives and other government officials, and for our Bishops, Conference staff, our e-mail advocacy network members—all of whom are essential to this work on behalf of the Common Good.
We hope you will join us!
Take action at www.vacatholic.org:
- Join the Virginia Catholic Conference network and receive alerts
- Spread that link to friends
- Join us for Catholic Advocacy Day
“In the Catholic moral tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue and participation in the political process is a moral obligation. This obligation is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and bear Christian witness in all we do.” (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, 2007)