SALT LAKE CITY — In today’s chaotic political climate where so many voices clamor to be heard, some Catholics may wonder if there is any point in engaging in the discussion, or if doing so has any value.
Engagement is not only valuable, it is critical, according to Pope Francis.
“None of us can say, ‘I have nothing to do with this, they govern. ...’ No, no, I am responsible for their governance, and I have to do the best so that they govern well, and I have to do my best by participating in politics according to my ability. Politics, according to the Social Doctrine of the Church, is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good. I cannot wash my hands, eh? We all have to give something!” the pope said during his daily homily on Sept. 16, 2013 at Casa Santa Marta.
“It is not true that Catholics should not meddle in politics: “‘A good Catholic doesn’t meddle in politics.’ That’s not true. That is not a good path. A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern,” he went on to say.Like Pope Francis, Bishop Oscar A. Solis feels it is very important that the Catholic viewpoint be represented in politics and wants members of the Church to step up to this responsibility, said Jean Hill, the Diocese of Salt Lake City’s government liaison.
“Bishop Solis has asked us to revitalize our efforts,” said Hill, who also serves as the director of the diocesan Peace and Justice Commission. “The first step is to get the fold together.”
To do that, the diocese will present a workshop, “The Catholic Way to ‘Meddle in Politics,’” on Jan. 13.
“Part of the social mission of the Church is the need to be engaged in the community. In the U.S. that means being engaged in political discussion,” Hill said.
“The Catholic perspective is very different to the political perspective,” she added. “We’re representing the moral side of any issue.”
In this workshop, Hill and Katie Windels, a candidate for a master’s degree in theology at the University of Notre Dame, will share with participants the principles of Catholic social teaching, along with the basics of how to be an advocate and to interact effectively with legislators.
The workshop is open to anyone who is concerned about social issues ranging from homelessness in the state to more national issues like the federal budget or the death penalty, Hill said.
Along with this workshop, the Peace and Justice Commission will be sponsoring social ministry training in various parishes in 2018.
The Peace and Justice Commission is made up of Catholics from around the diocese who are committed to the social mission of the Church. Commission members are appointed by Bishop Solis.
The group meets monthly to further the “Church’s catechetical mission to help the faithful of all ages to grow in both human and Christian maturity” (Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops). At their meetings, they study the core elements of Catholic faith and practice and share how to effectively work for justice and peace in the greater community.
Recent discussion subjects have included Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, the dignity and sanctity of life and other social justice issues.
The Commission invites involvement from diocese members who are already active in the various ministries in their parish and who seek a greater role in Catholic advocacy.
Those who are interested in participating in the Peace and Justice Commission should contact their pastor, who can forward a recommendation to the bishop.
WHAT: The Catholic Way to ‘Meddle in Politics’
WHEN: Jan. 13, 9-11:30 a.m.
WHERE: Diocese of Salt Lake City Pastoral Center, Bishop Federal Hall, 27 C St., SLC
Registration is free but required; deadline is Jan. 8. To register, visit https://www.dioslc.org/about-us/diocese-calendar/special-events/30-catholic-advocacy-training.