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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Caruso’

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.

Virginia Capitol, Richmond

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.

3) Pray.

  • 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)

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By: Jeff Caruso, Director of the Virginia Catholic Conference

Friday, Jeff Caruso described to us the behind the scenes advocacy work of the Virginia Catholic Conference that occurred in the attempts to pass a Virginia state budget amendment that would cut the majority of state funding for abortion. For Part I in this series, click here.

On the 4th of July, Jeff shares with us the outcome of advocacy in the political process:

The Evening of April 21 – Victory in the Senate

Catholic advocacy impacted the Va Senate decision

Finally, around 9:00 p.m., the Senate took up the matter. Senator Mark Obenshain (R – Harrisonburg) explained the amendment and effectively countered the arguments of the five senators who spoke against the bill. 

 As pro-life advocates watched from the Senate gallery, the contentious floor debate concluded, and senators were asked to record their votes. As the green and red dots were registered next to each senator’s name on the electronic voting board, the green thankfully outnumbered the red … by one. The Senate’s 20-19 vote handed the pro-life cause in Virginia a historic victory!

Looking Ahead at the Impact of this Policy
With the governor’s amendment now part of the budget, many unborn lives can be saved, and state taxpayers who oppose financing life-ending practices have a greater measure of conscience protection. 

Data gathered from the Conference’s network showed an unprecedented level of responses to alerts on this proposal, and Conference staff repeatedly heard that legislators were receiving e-mails from their pro-life constituents. People who responded to the alert, and parishes that promoted it, made the critical difference. 

How can you help?
Those kinds of efforts will surely be needed again as the issue resurfaces in future years, so more network members are needed. Catholics across Virginia are urged to visit the Conference’s website and use the online sign-up feature to enroll.  Together, we can thank God for the hard-fought outcome in 2010, but we must also defend it vigorously and build for even greater gains.

Celebrating Independence Day is an opportunity to remember the perseverance of our nation’s founders. Together, they secured the freedom that we have today to be faithful citizens – freedom which enables us to participate in political decisions like the one I have described. May we exercise this freedom often to promote the common good of our Commonwealth. Happy Fourth of July!

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By: Jeff Caruso, Virginia Catholic Conference Director

Until Wednesday’s landmark vote, state funded abortions occurred at the alarming rate of one every three days.

The VCC is the public policy arm of the two VA dioceses.

In my previous post, I relayed that Governor McDonnell proposed a budget amendment that would drastically reduce those abortions. As you may have already heard, on Wednesday evening the state Senate cast a 20-19 vote in favor of a budget amendment to dramatically limit state abortion funding.  Earlier in the afternoon, the House also agreed to the amendment by a 64-30 vote.  Proposed by Governor McDonnell, the amendment ensures that no abortions will be paid for by state taxpayers except as required by federal law or state statute.  With the approval by both chambers, the Governor’s proposal is now part of the budget that will govern state spending for the next two fiscal years.

This life-saving budget amendment occurred in part because of the unprecedented number of people like you who advocated for this change. My staff and I heard that legislators were receiving plenty of e-mails from their pro-life constituents. If you participated by contacting your legislators – thank you!

If you have not already, I encourage you to sign up for the Virginia Catholic Conference advocacy network at www.vacatholic.org and to spread the news to your friends, family and co-workers. E-mailing your legislators about important issues only takes a moment and (as we saw on Wednesday) your contribution can save lives.

Together, we can thank God for this outcome and build for more like it in the future.

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