Social Justice: Support Catholic values in the legislative process

By Barbara Budde

Columnist

Soon after this issue of the Catholic Spirit comes in the mail, hundreds of advocates including our own Bishop Joe Vásquez and several of his brother bishops, will be at the State Capitol to bring our Catholic vision and values to the legislative discussion. This is not the first time Catholics will be speaking during this session. The Texas Catholic Conference staff members have been to committee hearings to give testimony, to sign testimony cards and to visit legislative offices. Many have been writing letters to their legislators or calling their offices about issues of concern. But on April 9, we will come as a group with our consistent message defending the life and dignity of every person; born and unborn, citizen and undocumented, young and elderly, persons with or without disabilities.

We have a consistent and compelling message that will challenge every legislator since it does not fit into any partisan platform. One of the greatest gifts of our democracy is that we are able, and in fact, invited to bring our voices to the table. The constitutional separation of church and state is not designed to keep the voice of the church from public policy, but to keep the state from establishing or favoring one religion over another. Our baptism calls us to speak the whole truth of the Gospel to our public officials and we will do that on April 9.

There are several ways to join this effort. Come to Austin and join fellow Catholics from around the state gathering in the House and Senate galleries as a show of strength and then gather for a rally on the south steps of the Capitol at 11:30 a.m. Throughout the day, every legislative office will be visited by a team of advocates bringing our agenda of issues. Those teams need to be backed up by constituents who will call in their support.

We need thousands of Catholics to call their legislators offices in support of this Catholic advocacy day. Call either the district office or the Austin office and tell them that as a voter, you support Bishop Vásquez and the agenda of the Texas bishops, and express your support for the advocacy team visiting on April 9 as part of the Catholic Faith in Action Advocacy Day. If a script will help, visit www.austindiocese.org/offices-ministries/offices/social-concerns-office/faithful-citizenship. The good news is that you can call early, before April 9 and tell the legislative office that you support the Catholic Advocacy day, or you can call after the event and let them know that as a voter, you support the bishops and their message.

The third way to be involved is to pray for the success of this day. Everyone, young and old, voter or non-voter, everyone can support this day with prayer. We know that we will not win on every issue we care about, but the power of prayer will help change hearts and minds as we bring our message to our legislators. Please pray on April 9 for the success of our legislative advocacy teams. For the rest of the session pray for our legislators, that their hearts and minds will be open to hearing our message.

If this gets you excited about advocacy, please remember that our bishops are also speaking to the president and congressional leaders in Washington. Visit the diocesan Faithful Citizenship web site at www.austindiocese.org/offices-ministries/offices/social-concerns-office/faithful-citizenship to learn more and visit the USCCB web site at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/take-action-now/ to learn how you can contact your federal legislators in support of national issues.

Through it all, pray for our elected officials and for all who will be speaking our vision and values to them, both in Austin and in Washington.

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