Saturday, February 06, 2010

Catholic Conference Legislative Agenda

The New York State Catholic Conference has posted its 2010 Legislative Agenda here. The following selection is from the introduction:
In his new encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” (“Charity in Truth”), Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, “To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity. The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbors, the more effectively we love them.”

One of the ways we as Bishops attempt to fulfill this requirement is through the work of the New York State Catholic Conference, which exists for the very purpose of pursuing justice by working within the legislative arena. The Conference helps to shape public policies that protect and enhance the dignity of all people, from the very beginning of life until the natural end. Such work must not be left to the Catholic Conference alone; all Catholics have a duty to be engaged in the public square and to put the common good ahead of party politics. Catholic teaching cannot be labeled or dismissed as simply conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat. In all things, we must ask, “Does this policy enhance the dignity of the poor, the vulnerable, the sick, the elderly, children, the imprisoned, those least among us?” For as our Lord taught us, what we do to these, we do to Him.

While policy issues can often be complex, our guiding principles are not. Thankfully, the Church has outlined seven easy-to-understand principles of Catholic Social Teaching that guide us in the formation of our positions on public policy matters. They are:

Respect for the Life and Dignity of the Human Person
A Call to Family, Community and Participation
Recognition of Human Rights and Responsibilities
Special Concern for the Poor and Vulnerable
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
Solidarity With Our Brothers and Sisters
Care for God’s Creation

Examining issues through the lens of these principles provides clarity in what can often be an overwhelming, bewildering and contentious process. In a very real way, we give glory to God when we put these principles to work in our society. The Catholic community brings an important voice to the policy arena, speaking for those who are frequently voiceless. Our methods of advocacy must be characterized by civility and respect, and we call upon all involved in shaping policy to put aside petty differences and party politics to work together to address the genuine needs of the people of our state.