Sometimes our Church is at the vanguard of education and advocacy campaigns, and other times it needs to be encouraged to do more. Often we have great resources to draw on from Scripture, Catholic Social Teaching (CST), and statements from the Pope and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB); but the information and urgency for action may not have filtered down to the diocesan and parish levels.
According to the Code of Canon Law, Can. 212,
§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.
§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.
Hence, appropriate forms of advocacy within the Church could include letters or emails to the USCCB or one’s own bishop or pastor, meetings with them or their staffs, social media messaging (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), and letters to the editors of Catholic publications. We can also join with others who are working both within the Church and in the public sphere to advance policies consistent with CST. In particular, approaches to the USCCB or its staff should be coordinated with Pax Christi USA, which may prefer to take the lead.
The Bishops of Arlington and Richmond have formed the Virginia Catholic Conference (VCC) to represent them and their dioceses in advocacy before the Virginia General Assembly, the U.S. Congress, and state and federal agencies. The Archbishops of Baltimore and Washington and the Bishop of Wlimington have formed the Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC) to do the same with respect to the Maryland General Assembly and other government officials. We can join in their public advocacy efforts, and we can also be advocates to the VCC and MCC for issues we’d like them to include in their agendas.
Return to the main Advocacy page for additional guidance on advocacy.