Archdiocesan delegates attend Legislative Advocacy Day
By Walt Schaefer
For The Catholic Telegraph
Twenty-two delegates — representing all areas of the archdiocese from Cincinnati to Dayton and farther north — travelled to Columbus last month as part of Legislative Advocacy Day.
The event was coordinated through the Catholic Conference of Ohio in Columbus. The conference represents Ohio bishops on public policy matters. Through the conference, appointments are arranged with legislators to advocate for the policies of Ohio bishops.
“We had a wonderful delegation this year of Catholic priests, religious and lay leaders who shared the Church’s faith and concern for the poor and vulnerable with our state legislators,” said Tony Stieritz, director of archdiocesan Catholic Social Action Office.
“As faithful citizens, they walked the halls of the Ohio Statehouse to advocate for policies that address everyone from the unborn to the uninsured. But it wasn’t just about this group advocating on this particular day. Their witness is an invitation to all Catholics in the archdiocese to contact their elected officials and urge them to support the policy positions highlighted by ourcChurch. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI stated, ‘The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbors, the more effectively we love them. Every Christian is called to practice this charity…’ (Caritas in Veritate, no. 7),” Stieritz said.
“We met with the Catholic conference. Everyone was oriented to the slate of issues we were advancing that day. We had a meeting with State Sen. Peggy Lehner (R- Kettering). Peggy does an amazing job of crossing the aisle and painting a broad perspective,” Stieritz said.
“There were two things we gained,” Stieritz said. “One was that we made an impact. We helped our legislators understand the church’s view on a wide variety of issues and let them know that their constituents really care about these poor and vulnerable people and the issues they face. We had an impact on helping move some of the pending (state) bills. Secondly, we really energized ourselves just by participating as faithful citizens in our democratic process. Anyone who had some basic understanding of what we were talking about was welcome to attend.”
The group included two priests: Precious Blood Father Dennis Chriszt, CPPS; and Father David Vincent; and three sister: Sisters of Charity Tracy Kemme amd Andrea Koverman, and Ursuline Sister Christine Pratt/
The group advocated future and pending legislation supporting the four key areas: Supporting families who choose Catholic schools; prioritizing the poor and vulnerable; protecting human life and promoting the care of creation.
Stieritz noted key areas:
“Overall, we find the budget passed by the House to be fair and responsive to many of the needs of the poor and vulnerable. We encourage ways to further address infant mortality. We encourage ways to further address comprehensive case management services for low-income persons, including phase-in possibilities, technology needs, personnel, target populations, and accountability.”
Some specific legislation supported:
- Legislation that provides implementable safeguards for unborn children (HB 117/ SB 127 Pain Capable Unborn Protection Act).
- Repeal of the death penalty.
- Passage of the Ohio Supreme Court Task Force Recommendations that address needed improvements to the death penalty (SB 139: addressing post-conviction issues), (SB 67: addressing racial issues), (Soon to be introduced legislation prohibiting the death penalty for persons with serious mental illness).
- Passage of legislation limiting the use of criminal records in the hiring and employment practices of public employees.
Care for Creation: Environmental Issues
- Pope Francis will be issuing, this summer, a major statement (encyclical) regarding environmental justice.
- Passage of legislation that provides fair and adequate taxation of fracking services.
* Careful consideration of provisions regarding drilling on public lands as to public safety, environmental impact, and prudence
- Encourage careful considerations be given to mitigating environmental concerns, and pursuing ways to promote and enhance renewable energy and clean-energy resources.
- Encourage careful consideration be given to mitigating environmental concerns, and pursuing ways to promote and enhance renewable energy and clean-energy resources.
To learn more about the Ohio Catholic bishops’ positions on state-level issues, please visit the Catholic Conference of Ohio at www.ohiocathconf.org.
Posted June 24, 2015