Friday 04 February 2022
Looking at American society today, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the social issues that go against Catholic teaching: abortion, the death penalty, physician-assisted suicide, abandonment of the needs of the poor, to name a few.
It’s also easy to put all those intentions into a prayer and say, “I’ve done my part. But even as far away as St. James, this attitude was despised. If a sister or brother has no food or clothing, he asked, what is the use of answering “Go in peace” rather than providing for them?
Today, an answer to that question could easily be, “What’s the point of praying for an end to abortion if we don’t give a desperate mother the resources to care for her child once it’s born. ? Are we willing to help parishes in our diocese implement the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops‘ “Walking with Moms in Need” program, which helps connect pregnant women and mothers to the resources they need? need ? Beyond simply preparing a list of resources for a mother in need, are we prepared to help her access these resources by helping her complete the necessary forms to demonstrate that she is qualified to receive them? Are we willing to arrange transportation for medical appointments, or facilitate daycare or grocery shopping, or help with any of the other tasks such a mother faces?
“Faith in itself, if unaccompanied by action, is dead,” St. James wrote in his epistle.
Unfortunately, Catholics are sometimes perceived as spouting words against abortion but offering no help to mothers in difficulty. Sometimes we are seen as being ‘pro-birth’ rather than ‘pro-life’ – caring about a child in the womb but not once he or she is born, as noted by Deacon Greg Werking in his homily during last Saturday’s Respect for Life Day, a diocesan event held at the Catholic Church of the Blessed Sacrament and online.
But Catholics are called not only to pray but also to show God’s love, to be God’s eyes and hands, the deacon stressed.
“Do you want to show God’s love to a young mother?” He asked. “Be there when she’s scared. Be there when she is alone and feels abandoned.
A very quick way to help young mothers is to contact your state officials to ask them to support HB220, which would extend Medicaid coverage to pregnant and postpartum women with household incomes of $200 or less. % of the federal poverty level, which equates to someone earning about $12 an hour in a full-time job. To put that into perspective, currently a single woman in Utah who earns $8.92 or more an hour is not eligible for Medicaid, even if with that salary she could not pay rent on the housing market today.
Several other bills before the Legislative Assembly also provide an opportunity to make your Catholic voice heard in the public arena. There is a proposal to end the death penalty in Utah – the teaching of the Church is that no human being can be artificially deprived of the possibility of reconciliation with God. For those who argue that the death penalty is simply justice, it should be noted that from 1999 to 2016, Utah prosecutors sought the death penalty in 165 cases. Of these, only two resulted in death sentences, “so to say it’s justice for the families is to say that 163 families didn’t get justice,” says my colleague Jean Hill.
Contacting your legislator is simple: contact information can be found at le.utah.gov. Jean recommends keeping your message to lawmakers polite and brief, listing no more than three reasons why you’re asking him to support or oppose a particular bill.
Jean suggests contacting lawmakers by email or text rather than by post because the session ends at midnight on March 4.
I will also reach out to my lawmakers to ask them to support Governor Spencer Cox’s call for a $128 million Deeply Affordable Housing Credit, so people earning minimum wage can afford to live; and $100 million for permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless. As Catholics, we are called to uphold the dignity of every person, and it is difficult for a person to maintain their dignity without a place to lay their head.
Marie Mischel is editor-in-chief of Intermountain Catholic. Contact her at [email protected]