Participation in Catholic advocacy encouraged

By Father Charles Vavonese
SUN contributing writer

Archbishop Timothy Dolan and the state’s Catholic Bishops will join about 1,000 New York State Catholics for the 2010 Public Policy Day “Catholics at the Capital” to be held Tuesday, March 9, in Albany at the Empire State Plaza at the Capital. During the event, Catholics from the eight dioceses will meet with their respective legislators to discuss issues outlined by the bishops of the state. 
The event is an opportunity for Catholics to speak with one voice with the goal of shaping public policy that protects and enhances the dignity of all people from the very beginning of life until the natural end.

While public policy can often be complex, guiding principles are not. Thankfully, the church has outlined seven easy-to-understand Principles of Catholic Social Teaching that guide us in the formulation of our positions on public policy matters. They are respect for the life and dignity of human persons; a call to family, community and participation; recognition of human rights and responsibilities; special concern for the poor and the vulnerable; the dignity of work and the rights of workers; solidarity with our brothers and sisters; and care for God’s creation.

These are the standards by which we must judge proposed legislation.  Further, it is the duty of Catholics to advocate for the poor and the vulnerable in the public square, and put the common good ahead of party politics. Catholic teaching cannot be labeled or dismissed simply as conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat.

This year the New York State Bishops’ targeted legislative agenda includes:
opposing the radical abortion bill, the “Reproductive Health Act”;  supporting Maternity and Early Childhood, Inc. services; ensuring accessibility to Catholic schools and equity for all school children; maintaining supports to enable low-income families to live in dignity; ensuring appropriate long-term institutional and home-based and community-based services for the frail elderly and people with disabilities; and supporting successful post-incarceration re-entry services.

As of this week, The Catholic SUN will initiate a new column which will explain weekly one of the Bishops’ targeted issues. These same issues will be the subject of the meetings that Catholics have with their legislators on Public Policy Day. They will also be the issues that Catholics will continue to advocate for until the state budget is in place.

While not everyone will be able to participate in Public Policy Day, all Catholics are invited to join the 65,000 active members of the Catholic Advocacy Network (CAN) and participate in the advocacy ministry of the church simply by going to  and completing the sign up form. There is no cost to being part of the CAN.

Once you have enrolled, you will receive e-mail alerts on proposed legislation in the areas you have indicated as areas of your interest. Once you have received an alert via e-mail, you can click on the link provided in the e-mail message and be taken to the CAN web site.  After you have logged in, the web site will present you with a letter which deals with the topic contained in the alert. You can then send the letter as it is to your respective legislator whom the network web site will automatically identify for you.

You may also adapt the letter, adding  personal touches, on the alert topic or delete the entire prepared letter and write one of your own. In any case, the web site will identify your respective legislators automatically and deliver the letter to the legislator’s e-mail address. The web site will also send a copy of the your e-mail message to the your e-mail address.

It could not be simpler!  We encourage Catholics in the Diocese of Syracuse to participate in the advocacy ministry through the CAN.

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