Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Catholics in Congress

In today's Washington Post, E.J. Dionne, Jr. writes about an interesting statement signed by Catholics in Congress:
"People felt their faith was being questioned, and they were angry that ideologues were using the church for their own purpose," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.

Such reflections have produced a remarkable document that will be released this week, a "Statement of Principles By Fifty-Five Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives." It is, to the best of my knowledge, an unprecedented attempt by a large number of elected officials to explain the relationship between their religious faith and their public commitments.

"As Catholic Democrats in Congress," the statement begins, "we are proud to be part of the living Catholic tradition -- a tradition that promotes the common good, expresses a consistent moral framework for life and highlights the need to provide a collective safety net to those individuals in society who are most in need. As legislators, in the U.S. House of Representatives, we work every day to advance respect for life and the dignity of every human being. We believe that government has moral purpose."

The statement is only six paragraphs, which gives it clarity and focus. After a paragraph on Catholic social teaching about the obligations to "the poor and disadvantaged," the writers get to the hard issue, insisting that "each of us is committed to reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term."

The entire document is available here. When I looked at Congressman Hinchey's web site tonight, it had yet to be posted. Will it be there soon? Inquiring minds want to know.