Faithful Citizenship. What exactly does it mean to be a “faithful citizen”? In The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the US Bishops state: “In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation … Catholic lay women and men need to act on the Church’s moral principles and become more involved: running for office, working within political parties, and communicating concerns to elected officials … [raising] their voices on matters that affect their lives and the common good.” In a word, as baptized Catholics, we are called to be salt and light. This requires developing a well-formed conscience based on human reason and enlightened by the teachings of the Church.
There will be at least two opportunities for education and putting faith into action during the current Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly which opens January 13th.
The first opportunity will come at the end of this month. It’s a new educational initiative on effective pro-life lobbying sponsored by Maryland March for Life, which is comprised of representatives from Christian and secular pro-life organizations, as well as staff from the Respect Life Office of the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington. The event is called Annapolis 101 and will take place on Saturday, January 30, from 9:00-11:00 a.m. at the Charles Carroll House in Annapolis. It will include a tour of the House and Senate committee rooms and offices, as well as the State House and joint committee room. If you answer “no” to any of the following questions, Annapolis 101 can help.
- Do you know how many issue and budget decisions happen on the state and local level?
- Do you feel that your views and concerns are adequately reflected in Maryland laws and policies?
- Do you know who your state delegates and representatives are? Do they know who you are?
This is an informative and practical workshop that will familiarize you with the legislative process in the state of Maryland, and introduce you to the best practices of advocating for your values – all within a Christian vision of fulfilling our call to be leaven in our society. Come join us: the state of Maryland needs you! This is a follow-up to events held in October, but is also open to first-timers. Registration required. RSVP: www.annapolis101.eventbrite.com.
Lobby Night, presented annually by the Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC), will take place this year on Shrove Tuesday, February 9, 2016, from 3:00 – 8:00 p.m. The change from Presidents’ Day to Shrove Tuesday also includes a new format, allowing MCC to host a reception in the Miller Office Building. Attendees will be briefed on important issues relevant to Catholics, and then have the opportunity to speak with their representatives and enjoy a dinner reception with legislators, all followed by suggestions for next steps. The event is free but registration is required. Please consider advertising in your bulletin and encourage parishioners to join with hundreds of other Catholics to be salt and light in Annapolis. Complete information about this year’s Lobby Night as well as lobbying tips and other ways to be involved can be found on the Maryland Catholic Conference website.
A very serious threat to human life and dignity that will be coming to the General Assembly this year is a bill to allow for physician assisted suicide, endangering vulnerable populations and driving a wedge of distrust between doctors and patients. Be sure your parishioners are aware of the dangers of this proposed legislation by including this Q&A in your bulletin.
What’s one way that your parish helps its community live out faithful citizenship? What’s one of the biggest obstacles to your parish, or any parish, having more of an impact on creating a more just and merciful society?