Encouraging Catholics to lead the way and inspiring others to join the effort, the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Minnesota Catholic bishops, this month embarked on a multi-year campaign to build up the family while strengthening charity and justice in society.
“We’re trying to bring people out of their silos, to connect, to encourage this work and to give it real momentum,” said Jason Adkins, MCC’s executive director and general counsel.
Two websites will be the focal points of the effort: familiesfirstproject.com and civilisationoflove.net.
The sites are independent of the conference website mncatholic.org to help attract people to the campaign who are not members of the Catholic Church, but who could embrace Church teachings and policy initiatives that help the society at large, said Ryan Hamilton, MCC’s government relations associate.
“We hope the Catholic community will lead the effort, but under no circumstances should the Catholic community be the only ones involved,” Hamilton said.
The conference will continue its annual advocacy programs with state legislators and others to help alleviate poverty, address social concerns, push for criminal justice and fight for the right to life, Hamilton said. He also wants to help eliminate the main causes of social challenges, which can often be traced to difficulties faced by families, he said.
“Now is the time to go upstream, to tackle the root causes of these problems,” he said. “And we think it’s family fragmentation and family economic insecurity and a decline in family formation.”
Policy initiatives under the Families First Project include lobbying for a state tax credit for families that would have real impact — like $1,800 per child, Hamilton said. With rising inflation, households are estimated to spend $5,200 more this year than last year on the same basket of consumer goods, he said. For a family with three children, such a tax credit would offset these rising costs, he said.
To help growing families, Minnesota could introduce a $5,000 minivan grant to families with three or more children who purchase a vehicle that seats at least six people, Hamilton said.
Individuals and families could suggest other ways to foster a society that supports the stable foundation on which societies thrive – the family – and share their ideas on the Families First website, he said.
“MCC will work with lawmakers,” Hamilton said, “but at the end of the day they are loyal citizens, people on the benches, people of goodwill, everyone who cares about the common good, especially the common good vis-à-vis the family”. which can make a big difference.
The goal is “to transform Minnesota into a state where family economic well-being has been elevated to the top priority of elected officials and to the center of public policy discussions,” Hamilton said.
The conference’s Civilization of Love website quotes Pope John Paul II: “The future is in your hearts and in your hands. God entrusts you with the task, both difficult and edifying, of working with him to build the civilization of love.
The site encourages people to share their stories of helping create a civilization of love and offers monthly challenges, like October’s: Supporting Pregnancy Resource Centers, which also bolsters the initiative. American Bishops’ pro-life Walking with Mom’s, Adkins said.
November’s challenge will be to bury the dead, a corporal work of mercy, he said.
“It may seem like an overstatement, but we must honor and respect human life, especially at the end of life, and provide a dignified and honorable burial, especially in a society where we now talk about composting human remains and alkaline hydrolysis. , and other really disturbing ways of disposing of human bodies,” Adkins said.
The December challenge will likely be to increase shelter space for the homeless, Adkins said.
“All of these things build the common good,” he said. “We find that many people are allergic to politics these days, but there is a great need to encourage people to live out their discipleship in social life. We are building a healthy society, the civilization of love, with the two hands of charity and justice.
Weaving a network of people who put family first, act in charity and justice, and advocate for the common good will strengthen efforts to create policies and laws that support those priorities, Adkins said.
“We hope that by engaging people more deeply in the social apostolate, they will begin to make connections – that it is not only charity that builds the civilization of love, but it is also the work of justice that can provide that framework,” he said. said. “And that’s politics.”
Getting to know lawmakers, voicing concerns and expressing hopes with them, is something anyone can do, Adkins said. And it could lead to political activity among worshipers, including running for public office, he said.
MCC staff are exploring the possibility of an initiative to encourage Catholics to run for office, particularly at the local level, such as city councils, county commissioners’ boards, school boards and library boards, a said Adkins. There are concerns to weigh, such as the risk of the church appearing partisan in its defense of public office, he said.
But “we’re meeting people from both sides of the aisle, who’ve worked as elected officials, who’ve served in politics, and we explore what that would be like,” he said.
The key things to do in promoting public life are to help people understand that it is an important vocation and to equip them with principles and tools to carry out their duties effectively, he said. he declares.
Each of the initiatives supports the other – families first, civilization of love and promotion of public life, Adkins said, as MCC strives to transcend partisan divides and unite people in promoting the common good.
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