Refugee, health care issues come to fore during social ministry webinar


By Mark Pattison Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — If the people aren’t going to a Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington this year, then the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering is going to the people.

The annual event, typically held every February, was postponed a year to focus attention and resources on an invitation-only convocation sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Orlando, Florida, in early July that could draw as many as 5,000 people sent by the nation’s dioceses and Catholic organizations.

One must-have element in the annual gathering are Capitol Hill visits to members of Congress to present the USCCB’s position on key issues on the bishops’ agenda.

To compensate for the lack of Capitol Hill visits this year, USCCB officials conducted a webinar Feb. 7 to prepare participants for visiting representatives and senators at their home-district offices.

And, instead of the policy issues briefings that are a part and parcel of the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, participants on the hourlong webinar got necessarily succinct overviews of the domestic and foreign policy issues deemed important. Handouts describing policy positions, another staple of the event, were available for download from a link embedded in an email.