In these final days before regular session ends on May 17th, Catholic laity continue advocating to uphold life, dignity, and the common good. But not only are people in the pews speaking out, so are our shepherds.
Legislative negotiations often come down to the wire, but our bishops do not wait around. All year Minnesota Catholic Conference staff help facilitate contacts between individual bishops and legislators, and each spring our bishops all together meet with state leaders to share their policy concerns. On April 14, Minnesota’s bishops and diocesan administrators met with Governor Tim Walz, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, and legislative leaders, including Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman, House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka.
These conversations are a good lesson in faithful citizenship. The bishops always thank leaders for their willingness to step forward and make significant sacrifices to serve all Minnesotans, and they invite public officials to share their priorities and find areas of common ground upon which they can build the common good.
This year, the bishops focused on stopping the legalization of assisted suicide by promoting better care for the sick and vulnerable populations; the creation of provisional driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants; creating more educational options for low-income families; expanding existing nonpublic pupil aid programs; and their opposition to the creation of a recreational marijuana industry.
They also highlighted the shared goal of protecting people from COVID-19 while also respecting the ability of people of faith to gather for worship.
This year’s conversations were constructive. Even when there were points of disagreement, there was civil dialogue and a recognition that these are difficult issues with a myriad of considerations. One legislative leader noted that even on matters of significant disagreement, he respected the Church’s position because he saw a consistency of principle. And that is an important point for lawmakers and laity to remember: sometimes a specific policy goal of the Church may align more with one party or political program than another. But the Church’s advocacy is principled, not partisan, thereby, allowing Catholics to work collaboratively across the political spectrum.
More importantly, the policy advocacy of our bishops is an expression of their pastoral care for all people in the community, especially the poor and vulnerable. Afterall, they are shepherds of all the souls in their diocese, not just Catholics, and are entrusted to work for their well-being. Advocating for good policies offers a credible witness to the Gospel and serves as a type of pre-evangelization for the time when people reach that existential moment when they consider following Christ. Through the work of principled advocacy, Catholics help others come to know the Church as a home for people to know, love, and serve the Lord.
To help people know Christ Jesus and obtain their salvation, is the fundamental “why” behind Church’s participation in the public square.
Make your voice heard before the end of session. Go to https://mncatholic.nationbuilder.com/join to contact lawmakers today.