As officials with the Minnesota Catholic Conference have frequently reminded us, we are tempted to focus so much attention on national politics that state and local government — areas where we can make big differences for the common good acting as “faithful citizens” — get overlooked.
We have also frequently been reminded that faithful citizenship involves much more than voting.
The smashing success of the first Catholics at the Capitol event last month was a great step in correcting those oversights.
One reason is that the turnout was high. Mass was standing room only, and more than 1,000 Catholics took time to travel there from all across the state. Another reason is that the speakers, both national and local, were inspiring and thoughtful, and the presentations were professional and convincing.
But perhaps the best reason is the energy, enthusiasm, and practical wisdom that surrounded the event. It can feel lonely and difficult to advocate the Catholic vision of the common good on your own. It’s a lot easier with 1,000 like-minded friends joining you. It’s intimidating to think about talking with an elected official when you have no experience and don’t know the lay of the land. It’s a lot easier when you’ve had some training and have new and old friends there to do it with you.
And in the end, it’s often more enjoyable to “play offense” — bringing one’s deepest convictions to situations and advocating for them boldly — especially in a cultural moment where Catholic convictions often seem to be placed on the defensive.
And why shouldn’t we be heard? As always, the Church does not seek to impose its beliefs on anyone. But we do propose them to people and hope to convince them. That’s just participating in the democratic process, a right of Catholics as much as it is of anyone else.
It’s a welcome sight to see the church in Minnesota owning and acting on that idea.