Posted by: Virginia Catholic Conference | 04/19/2017

How to restore the dignity of work to unemployed in “Extremes of Virginia”

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This is the second in a series about poverty issues in Southwest, Southside and the Eastern Shore of Virginia

By August Wallmeyer

In my travels throughout the poor, rural areas of Virginia, one disheartening fact became very obvious. Young people in Virginia today are engaged in the same kind of disruptive economic migration that newly freed slaves in the South faced after the civil war: the need to relocate to search for gainful work and the dignity work brings to families. Just as in the late 1800s, those fleeing Southwest, Southside and the Eastern Shore of Virginia (areas I called The Extremes of Virginia in my recent book) are forced to break apart multi-generational families, discard their regional traditions and abandon ties to their native cultures, all in search of jobs, economic opportunity and education.

Today’s economic migrants are frustrated with the lack of local opportunities to trade honest work for a living wage to support themselves and their families. And the young people—and more than a few older ones, as well—have no other choice but to pull up stakes and head for greener pastures.

In those rural, poor areas of Virginia I wrote about population declined 2.3 percent in the first five years of this decade, compared to population growth of 4.1 percent in Virginia as a whole. And as a direct result, those rural, poor areas are becoming even poorer and older.

In The Extremes, the poverty rate is 67 percent higher than the statewide average. Household incomes average only 59 percent of statewide, and only 54 percent are in the civilian labor force, compared to 65 percent in Virginia. Sadly, suicide and illegal drug use are much more common in these economically bereft areas as well.

Federal and state governments, with good intentions, have tried to help, but without major successes. More than 50 years ago President Lyndon Johnson famously declared “war on poverty” in Appalachia. After spending more than $22 trillion (more than three times the cost of all U.S. wars) on anti-poverty programs, the poverty rate is essentially unchanged.

Today, Virginia’s latest jobs and economic development effort, GO Virginia, seeks to attract highly educated and trained professional workers and businesses to the Commonwealth, because these types of high-paying jobs have a larger “economic multiplier” effect on our economy. Fair enough, perhaps. We need trained professionals. But the GO Virginia strategy begs an important question: what about our citizens already here in Virginia who lack the education and training to become these desired professional workers and are woefully unprepared for the “better” professional jobs? In The Extremes, high school graduation rates are vastly inferior to the statewide statistics. And college graduation rates are less than half the statewide average. So these fellow citizens in rural, poor, less educated Virginia, hungry for any honest employment, aren’t likely to benefit from GO Virginia at all.

Catholic teaching is replete with references to the dignity of work, which is a fundamental human right. Performed by men and women who have their own inherent dignity, work also has dignity. It allows them to provide for their own basic needs and those of their families. Pope Francis has been quoted saying “We do not get dignity from power or money or culture. We get dignity from work.”

Perhaps our governmental and business leaders should consider exactly how the dignity of work will come to rural, poor Virginia?

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August Wallmeyer, a member of the VCC Management Committee, is a former broadcast journalist, a semi-retired lobbyist, and the president of August Wallmeyer Communications.  Find “The Extremes of Virginia,” here

Posted by: Virginia Catholic Conference | 04/12/2017

The Extremes of Virginia

Posted by: Virginia Catholic Conference | 03/29/2017

For true health reform, look to the Church

Posted by: Virginia Catholic Conference | 03/23/2017

For true health reform, look to the Church

Adult female healthcare professional as she was receiving an int

This is the second part of a five-part series on the USCCB’s moral criteria for health care reform.

Part II: Honoring Conscience Rights

By Michael Lewis, Associate Director

St. Paul says, “For freedom Christ set us free.” (cf. Gal. 5:1, 13-18)  This freedom to serve is at the heart of the Church’s provision of quality health care services and quality health care coverage.  It is a response to our call to care for the sick and to affirm the dignity of all human life.  The Catholic Church is a leading provider of health care both here in Virginia and across the United States.  But is the freedom to serve diminishing in our own country – a nation that established religious liberty as its first freedom?  Recent events raise fundamental concerns.  Here are just two examples:

  • For the past several years, religious groups such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, as well as Catholic and other faith-based colleges and universities, have been engaged in a protracted legal battle after the Department of Health and Human Services issued a mandate that all health insurance plans cover contraception, sterilization procedures, and abortion-inducing drugs such as the “morning after pill” as part of the Affordable Care Act.
  •  In New Jersey, a lawsuit was filed against a Catholic hospital after it refused to perform an elective procedure that was found to be part of a patient’s plan to “change genders.”

As these and many other similar situations show, health care legislation now being considered by Congress must address the right to conscience protections, as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has rightly said in its March 8, 2017 letter to Representatives and Senators. ”Congress should expressly provide conscience protections as part of any health plan for those who participate in the delivery or coverage of health care services.  Such protections should extend to all stakeholders, including insurers, purchasers, sponsors, and providers and should cover any regulatory mandates,” the Bishops say in their letter outlining five moral criteria for health reform.

However, the American Health Care Act, which Republicans have presented as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, still lacks any protections for conscience rights. In a March 17 letter to members of the House of Representatives, Bishop Frank DeWine of Venice, Florida and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, noted that the reforms currently being debated in Congress still fail to offer meaningful conscience protections against federal mandates requiring the provision of morally objectionable “preventive services” such as contraception, abortion, sterilizations and others.

The Church’s history is one of perseverance and service, even in the face of grave threats.  As Catholics, let us remember why Christ set us free.  As Americans, let us preserve this freedom, knowing that the common good of our country depends on it.

Posted by: Virginia Catholic Conference | 03/16/2017

For true health reform, look to the Church

U.S. Capitol

This is the first of a five-part series on the USCCB’s moral criteria for health care reform.

Part 1: Affirm the dignity of life

By Michael Lewis, Associate Director

Health care reform is once again dominating our national political discussion.  During the recent election campaign, both parties pledged to revisit the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, promising everything from tweaks to the existing health care program to a wide-reaching repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.  Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled the American Health Care Act, a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

As Congress begins its debate on reforming health care, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives and the Senate outlining five moral criteria that should guide any and all discussion of health care reform. They are:

  1. Respect for life and dignity
  2. Honoring conscience rights
  3. Access for all
  4. Truly affordable
  5. Comprehensive and high-quality

As Catholics, caring for our brothers and sisters—materially and spiritually—is a moral obligation.  Health care, therefore, is a “fundamental issue of human life and dignity,” and a “critical component of the Catholic Church’s ministry,” the USCCB writes.  Indeed, one in six Americans receives health care from a Catholic hospital.  Here in Virginia, the Sisters of Bon Secours run one of the largest health care systems in the Commonwealth, serving the greater Richmond and Hampton Roads regions, providing $159 million in combined charity care and other community benefits.

Let’s take a closer look now at the first, and bedrock, criterion: Respect for life and dignity.  The provision of health care must recognize the fundamental dignity of each and every patient, born and unborn.  Health care, the bishops write, “is not a privilege, but a right and a requirement to protect the life and dignity of every human person.”

The art of medicine aims to heal and preserve life, not end it.  Abortion, therefore, is not “health care.”  In fact, the Hippocratic Oath, which has historically guided the ethics of the medical profession for thousands of years, says, “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.  In purity and in divine law will I carry out my life and my art.”

In keeping with medicine’s purpose of healing and preserving life, abortion has no place in genuine health reform.  As the bishops write, “no health reform plan should compel us or others to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion.”

Many details of the American Health Care Act remain murky and numerous concerns have surfaced, but there is reason to hope that any future reform will reflect the bishops’ call to extend Hyde Amendment protections to all relevant health plans.  Meeting last week with pro-life leaders, Vice President Pence pledged the administration’s opposition to any subsidies for abortion on demand in the health care reform bill.  The American Health Care Act prohibits any federal funds or premium tax credits from being used for health plans that cover abortion on demand, and strips funding from Planned Parenthood, the leading provider of abortion in the United States.  In fact, the President recently challenged Planned Parenthood to stop doing abortions in exchange for maintaining its access to federal funds, a proposal that, unfortunately, Planned Parenthood rejected.

As the debate on health care reform moves forward, we look forward to bringing you the other four parts of this blog series and invite you to join your voices to those of Church leaders as they continue to provide a much-needed vision for compassionate, accessible, life-affirming health care.  Please stay tuned!

Posted by: Virginia Catholic Conference | 03/14/2017

Living the Gospel with our wallets

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By Jeff Caruso, Executive Director

I find myself disagreeing with a lot of President Trump’s statements, but he sure made a great point recently when he gave Planned Parenthood a choice: keep its public funding or keep performing abortions. He said:

I am pro-life and I am deeply committed to investing in women’s health and plan to significantly increase federal funding in support of nonabortion services such as cancer screenings. Polling shows the majority of Americans oppose public funding for abortion, even those who identify as pro-choice. There is an opportunity for organizations to continue the important work they do in support of women’s health, while not providing abortion services.

Quite unfortunately, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards tweeted in response:

Cecile tweet

This exchange captures what the debate in Congress and across the country over public funding of Planned Parenthood is really about: whether taxpayers like you and me should be forced to fund the abortion industry.  That’s right, the abortion industry.  “Proud to provide abortion – a necessary service … vital to [its] mission,” Planned Parenthood

  • is responsible for one in three of all abortions done in the U.S. – nearly 900 a day
  • conducts almost 17 times more abortions than birth-oriented services
  • aborts 160 children for every 1 child it refers for adoption, and
  • garners 86% of its non-government revenue from the abortions it provides.

Abortion is not only “vital” to Planned Parenthood, it’s actually its biggest business.  Should we really give the abortion industry’s largest abortion provider more than half a billion dollars when we do our taxes?

Because we say no way, we and countless other pro-life advocates will keep pushing for legislation to strip public money from the abortion industry, nationally as well as here in Virginia.  Even as abortions continue in high numbers, we taxpayers must be free to live the Gospel of Life.  We who are blessed with life are called to defend life, including with our wallets.  That’s a vital part of our mission.

Posted by: Virginia Catholic Conference | 02/17/2017

This Week at the 2017 Virginia General Assembly-Week 6

The 2017 Virginia General Assembly is approaching its final days, and Delegates and Senators are currently working through differences in the House and Senate budgets to produce a final package, which will be voted on next week before the session ends.

Conference staff is hard at work lobbying budget conferees to include the Hyde Amendment restrictions against abortion funding in the final budget, as well as funding for key social safety net programs, including Medicaid waivers for Virginians with disabilities, housing for the mentally ill and increased TANF funding.  We are also urging the budget conferees to strip the budget of Gov. McAuliffe’s proposed contraception pilot program aimed at low-income women and girls.

Here’s a look at how Conference priorities fared this week:

Defunding the Abortion Industry:  A bill HB 2264 (Del. Cline) that would direct tax dollars away from the abortion industry passed the Senate on Tuesday in a 20-19 vote. A top priority for the Conference, the bill will now go to Gov. McAuliffe’s desk. This measure passed the General Assembly last year, but the governor vetoed it in a ceremony at Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Religious Liberty: In a 21-19 vote, the full Senate approved HB 2025 (Delegate Freitas) to protect the right of religious organizations, including charities and schools, to follow the teaching that marriage is the union of a man and a woman without being penalized by the state. The bill – among the Conference’s top priorities – is the same as SB 1324 (Senator Carrico), which also passed the Senate by the same vote earlier this month.

Immigrant Communities:  Along with other faith groups, the Conference saw a major victory in the defeat of HB 2000 (Del. Poindexter), which would have effectively forced local law enforcement in the Commonwealth to bear responsibility for enforcing federal immigration law. We stand with the Commonwealth’s police chiefs in opposing this bill, understanding that it would strain local law enforcement agencies’ budgets, jeopardize their relationships with the communities they serve and make those same communities less safe. Though this bill passed the House last week, it stalled in the Senate Committee on Local Government in a 6-6-1 vote, thanks to Sen. Hanger’s abstention!

Refugee Resettlement:  HB 2002 (Del. Poindexter) has passed the Senate in a 21-19 vote. It attempts to place redundant regulations on refugee resettlement agencies, such as Catholic Charities, to report statistical information about their ministries’ activities to the state. Much of this information is already regularly provided to both the Commonwealth and to the federal government. This law adds additional red tape to the resettlement process while doing nothing to address fears related to national security. The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk.

Education Opportunities for At-Risk Children: In a 10-12 vote, the House Finance Committee defeated Conference-supported SB 1427 (Sen. Stanley), which would have made low-income pre-K students eligible for the Education Improvement Scholarships tax credit program.

Special thanks to all those in our network who have been taking action on our alerts. We had some key victories by very close votes. Your advocacy matters and makes a big difference!

Posted by: Virginia Catholic Conference | 02/10/2017

This Week at the 2017 Virginia General Assembly-Week 5

The Virginia Catholic Conference wishes to thank all who came to Richmond on Thursday to lobby their legislators on issues important to Catholics as part of our annual Catholics in the Capital day.  The opportunity for our grassroots members to communicate with legislators is the epitome of the faithful citizenship we are called to by our faith!

Thursday evening, many of those who had met with their delegates and senators traveled to Richmond’s historic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart to join Virginia’s bishops, members of the Governor’s staff and cabinet, legislators from both parties and others for the 2nd annual Virginia Vespers, in which we prayed for the needs of the Commonwealth.  Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond was the celebrant and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington delivered the homily, urging legislators and others to find unity and common cause in this age of bitter division and adversarial politics.  After Vespers, participants joined the bishops for a wine and cheese reception.

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A view of the congregation at Virginia Vespers from the choir loft

The Conference thanks all for a successful event and looks forward to next year’s Virginia Vespers!

That same afternoon, the House and Senate held floor debates and votes on their respective versions of the budget.  Members of conference committees from both chambers will be appointed next week to resolve differences between the House and Senate budgets.

Here’s a look at how Conference priorities fared this week:

Defunding the Abortion Industry:  HB 2264 (Del. Cline) – a top Conference priority – passed the House in a 60-33 vote last Tuesday.  On Thursday, it passed the Senate Education & Health Committee 8-7. The bill would divert state funds away from the abortion industry. The full Senate will vote on it early next week.

Conforming Virginia to the Hyde Amendment:  On Thursday, the House approved a budget amendment offered by Del. Bob Marshall that would prohibit Medicaid funds from being used for abortions that do not fall under one of the three exceptions allowed by the federal Hyde Amendment (rape, incest and life of the mother) in a 60-34 vote.   Currently, Virginia funds abortions beyond those required by federal law.  If Marshall’s amendment passes as part of the final budget, it would bring Virginia into line with 32 other states and the District of Columbia.

Religious Liberty:  In a 21-19 vote, the full Senate approved SB 1324 (Sen. Carrico) to protect the right of religious organizations, including charities and schools, to follow the teaching that marriage is the union of a man and a woman without being penalized by state government.  The legislation – among the Conference’s top priorities – will be considered next week in the House, which has already passed identical legislation (HB 2025, Del. Freitas).

Driver’s Licenses for Immigrants:  Conference-supported legislation, HB 2020 (Del. Villanueva), has passed the House in a 70-27 vote. It would allow various designations of legally-present residents of Virginia to obtain temporary driving privileges.

Immigrant Communities:  A Conference-opposed bill would force local police and sheriff’s departments to take responsibility for enforcing federal immigration law. HB 2000 (Del. Poindexter) passed the House in a 63-33 vote. We stand with the Commonwealth’s police chiefs in opposing this bill because it would strain local law enforcement agencies’ budgets, jeopardize their relationships with the communities they serve and make those same communities less safe.

Welcoming Refugees:  HB 2002 (Del. Poindexter) attempts to place redundant regulations on refugee resettlement agencies, such as Catholic Charities, to report statistical information about their ministries’ activities to the state. Much of this information is already provided regularly to both the Commonwealth and to the federal government, but this law adds additional red tape to the resettlement process while doing nothing to address fears related to national security. After passing the House, the Conference-opposed bill was approved by the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee in an 8-7 party-line vote. The full Senate will vote on the bill as soon as Tuesday of next week. Please stay tuned for an alert!

Education Opportunities for At-Risk Children:  In a 6-4 vote, the House Finance subcommittee approved Conference-supported SB 1427 (Sen. Stanley) to make low-income pre-K students eligible for the Education Improvement Scholarships tax credit program.  The full House Finance Committee will consider the bill Monday.

Posted by: Virginia Catholic Conference | 02/03/2017

This Week at the 2017 Virginia General Assembly-Week 4

This week saw a flurry of action on several of the Conference’s legislative priorities.

As we approach crossover on Tuesday, February 7th, the House and Senate are rushing to complete their work and take action on their respective bills.  After Tuesday, the House may only consider bills passed by the Senate and vice versa.

This Sunday, February 5th, the House and Senate money committees will release their proposed budgets, which will be debated and voted on beginning next week.  Stay tuned for updates on Conference budget priorities!

On Thursday, February 9th, please join the bishops, legislators and Conference staff for these prayer and advocacy events:

Catholics in the Capital:  On Thursday, February 9th, come to Richmond and meet your delegates and senators and advocate for the important issues outlined in our agenda. Just schedule your February 9 legislators’ visits and our staff will be happy to provide talking points and updates beforehand. Find legislators’ contact information here. Let us know after you’ve made the appointment by emailing office@vacatholic.org.

Virginia Vespers:  After meeting with your delegates and senators, join Virginia’s bishops, legislators, fellow Catholics and people of all faiths as we pray for the needs of the Commonwealth at our second annual Virginia Vespers: Evening Prayer for the Commonwealth on Thursday, February 9th at 5pm at Richmond’s historic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. A wine and appetizers reception follows.  Sign up here.

We look forward to seeing you in Richmond on Thursday, February 9!

Here’s a look at how Conference priorities fared this week:

Defunding the Abortion Industry:  A bill HB 2264 (Del. Cline) that would direct tax dollars away from the abortion industry passed out of committee on Thursday in a 14-8 vote. A top priority for the Conference, the bill will now move to the floor for a vote by the full House. This measure passed the General Assembly last year, but was vetoed by the governor.

Religious Liberty:  In a strong 57-37 vote, the full House approved HB 2025 (Delegate Freitas) to protect the right of religious organizations, including charities and schools, to follow the teaching that marriage is the union of a man and a woman without being penalized by state government.  Earlier this afternoon, the Senate General Laws Committee approved an identical bill, SB 1324 (Sen. Carrico), by an 8-6 vote (not yet available online).  The measure now heads to the Senate floor for a vote early next week. Thank you to everyone who took action on our recent alert on these top-priority Conference bills!

In related news, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is encouraging Americans to contact the White House and urge President Trump to follow through on his promise to strengthen religious liberty protections.  Click here to contact President Trump.

Immigrant Communities:  Multiple Conference-opposed bills would force local officials to work with the federal government to enforce immigration law. One measure to implicate campus officials in immigration enforcement, HB 2001 (Del. Poindexter), was tabled by the patron. One bill to require the same of local police and sheriff’s departments, HB 2236 (Del. Cline), was rolled into another, HB 2000 (Del. Poindexter). HB 2000 was then passed by the House Courts of Justice Committee in a 13-6 vote (not yet available online). We stand with the Commonwealth’s police chiefs in opposing these bills, understanding that they would strain local law enforcement agencies’ budgets and jeopardize their relationships with the communities they serve.

Welcoming Refugees:  Conference-opposed legislation, HB 1723 (Del. Anderson), would have imposed redundant reporting regulations upon charities that participate in refugee resettlement. Your advocacy and the participation of resettlement charities in the Commonwealth were crucial to the patron’s decision to strike the bill. However, a similar bill, HB 2002 (Del. Poindexter), passed the House in a 59-36 vote, even though most of the information that the bill calls for is already publicly available on the Virginia Department of Social Services website.

Driver’s Licenses for Immigrants:  The Conference is supporting a bill, HB 2020 (Del. Villanueva), that would allow various designations of legally-present residents of Virginia to obtain temporary driving privileges. The Conference supports legislation to expand access to driving privileges for all Virginians, regardless of immigration status. The measure was amended to apply only to residents who will be legally present as of July 1 of this year, and was reported by the House Transportation Committee in a 12-2 vote.

Parole for Juvenile Offenders:  The Conference is once again supporting a measure, SB 1152 (Sen. Marsden), to make those who received life-without-parole sentences as juveniles eligible for a parole hearing after serving 20 years in prison. After an amendment extending the time served to 25 years, the bill passed the Senate in a 28-12 vote.

Scholarships for TANF Recipients:  Conference-supported legislation, HB 2041 (Del. Murphy) and SB 838 (Sen. Stanley), would channel excess TANF (welfare) funds toward a pilot program to provide community college scholarships to recipients. HB 2041 passed unanimously out of the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee but then died in House Appropriations. SB 838 passed out of the Senate Finance Committee, also unanimously.

Education Opportunities for At-Risk Children:  In a 39-0 vote, the Senate approved Conference-supported legislation, SB 1427 (Sen. Stanley), to make low-income pre-K students eligible for the Education Improvement Scholarships tax credit program. Thousands of Virginia students currently receive the financial assistance they need to attend Catholic and other nonpublic K-12 schools through this vital program.  Virginia can help at-risk children at an earlier age if this bill passes.  Other Conference-supported bills, which sought to increase the program’s tax credit from 65% to 90%, have been defeated for the year.

Recognizing the Harm of Pornography:  In a bipartisan 82-8 vote, the House of Delegates approved Conference-supported HJ 549 (Del. R.G. Marshall), recognizing that pornography leads to societal and individual harms. Virginia joins Utah and South Dakota as states that are recognizing these adverse effects. The resolution will now go to the Senate.  Stay tuned for another action alert on HJ 549!

Posted by: Virginia Catholic Conference | 01/30/2017

Being “the light of the world”: Speak out for the needs of migrants in 2017

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By Rev. Gerry Creedon

During National Migration Week, which began earlier this month on Epiphany Sunday, we reflected on East and West, North and South, finding a place in the light of the Son. Our U.S. Catholic bishops again invite us as a church “to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking.”  We follow Pope Francis’ call to create a culture of encounter—dialogue, open hearts and minds.

Following last week’s migrant-related executive orders by President Trump issues surrounding justice for immigrants and refugees are very much in the news. Sometimes advocacy for justice for immigrants has to take place on a local level in our parishes and communities.  That advocacy needs to be pursued as well on the state level. Here is where our Virginia Catholic Conference can be a strong ally.  The Conference’s legislative agenda for 2017 includes supporting increased access to driver’s licenses for immigrants.

Recently I was working with an immigrant couple in pre Cana counseling.  When I asked for the correct spelling of their names they offered an out-of-state license, though they lived in Virginia.  Of course I knew why: many other states have much less restrictive policies than we do in regards to licenses for immigrants. I also understood how essential a driver’s license is to this young couple’s employment and income.  It could be the difference between getting to the hospital in time or not for a pregnancy-related emergency.  The overly strict procedures put in place by Virginia after the 9 /11 attacks need to be revisited.

A study group hosted by the DMV at the will of the Virginia General Assembly has offered some options for legislative action to the General Assembly, which is now in session.  At the least, Virginia needs to follow the federal standards of residency. This would permit the issuance of 6,000 additional licenses for Virginia’s drivers. This change would have safety and economic benefits.  As well, it would speak to a Commonwealth that comes closer to our Church’s mission to welcome the immigrant.  Del. Villanueva’s HB 2020 offers the promise of making “lawfully present residents” eligible for driving privileges. This is an important step.

To fulfill the mandate of faithful citizenship, it’s not enough to simply vote; we must also advocate at the federal, state and local levels.  We need to get to know and share our views with our legislators in their home offices, and we need to join forces with other Catholics to advocate on a state and national level.  Silence is rarely golden.  While as a pastor of a largely-immigrant parish I have focused on justice for immigrants, know that our Virginia Catholic Conference covers a broad range of life and justice issues in addition to issues facing immigrants.

Come to celebrate the pursuit of the common good alongside our bishops and state legislators! This year’s Virginia Vespers will take place at the Richmond Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on the evening of February 9.  I will offer the mid-day invocation on the Senate Floor earlier that day and would appreciate company up in the Gallery. Please also join me for Catholics in the Capital by visiting legislators one-on-one at the General Assembly building throughout the afternoon.

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Fr. Gerry Creedon is pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church, Dale City, and Chair of the Arlington Diocesan Peace and Justice Commission

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