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Jason Adkins: Catholics, it’s time to come to the Capitol!

This year, the bishops of Minnesota are hosting an exciting event in St. Paul on March 9 called Catholics at the Capitol. With critical issues such as the legalization of assisted suicide and persistent family poverty at stake, Catholics concerned with life and human dignity cannot afford to miss it.

What’s it all about?

Catholics at the Capitol is much more than a typical “Day on the Hill,” which provides advocacy opportunities but can lack opportunities for deeper formation. It is also more than a seminar or study day, which offers instruction but no clear way of translating it into action.

Jason Adkins
Jason Adkins
Faith in the Public Arena

Catholics at the Capitol takes the best of both approaches, gathering Minnesota Catholics together to be informed and inspired about our church’s social teaching and then providing them with an immediate opportunity to live that out in a powerful and concrete way.

Through dynamic speakers, informative presentations and an opportunity to join with other Catholics to visit the Capitol and share with elected officials how Gospel values translate into public policy, Catholics at the Capitol attendees will walk away with more tools in their faithful citizenship toolbox.

For every Catholic who says that she does not communicate with legislators because she does not know what to say or do, Catholics at the Capitol is an opportunity to demystify legislative advocacy and experience it firsthand.

Why now?

Catholics at the Capitol was created first and foremost to protect life and human dignity.

There are many challenges currently facing our state: the push to legalize assisted suicide threatens the vulnerable, many kids lack true educational choices and opportunities, and too many families are trapped in a cycle of poverty. These are just a few of the many difficult policy decisions facing Minnesota. Catholics at the Capitol will give Minnesota Catholics an easy, yet effective way to weigh in on these matters.

But beyond simply influencing important legislative decisions, the bishops of Minnesota hope Catholics at the Capitol fosters a renewed commitment to missionary discipleship through faithful citizenship, where we work in service to those at the peripheries of society.

It’s an investment to help Minnesota Catholics obtain the tools and build the relationships to work for the common good in our corner of the vineyard.

Why me?

You are called to love your neighbor. And, as Pope Francis reminds us, politics is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good.

In fact, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.

As the U.S. bishops state in “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” “[T]he obligation to participate in political life is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do.” According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person …. As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life” (nos. 1913-1915).

Does all this really make a difference?

Your legislators are elected to serve you, their constituents. It’s their job to find out what your concerns are and do their best to represent you in St. Paul. But you can help by approaching them and identifying challenges and solutions that work to the benefit of all Minnesotans.

Whether or not you’ve spoken to your legislators before, they’ll be happy to meet you and hear your concerns. Meeting your lawmakers in person at Catholics at the Capitol is a great way to start a relationship with them, so that the next time you get in touch (for instance, in the middle of the legislative session with a critical vote on a key issue coming up), a connection has already been established.

What’s more, Catholics at the Capitol will offer programming that will inform you about the key issues and equip you to influence your lawmakers. We’ll make sure you have an enjoyable and impactful visit to the Capitol! And be not afraid — unless you are a district leader or feel passionate to speak about one of our advocacy issues, you need not speak during meetings. Your presence alone speaks volumes.

This is our moment. Let’s go!

Jason Adkins is executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference.