Public Policy Guide: ‘A Call to Political Responsibility’

By Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, Clarion Herald 

A Public Policy Guide issued to the faithful by the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops

‘A Call to Political Responsibility’

Catholic tradition affirms that responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. The leaders of the Catholic Church have the right and duty to share the Catholic Church’s teachings and to educate Catholics on moral dimensions of public life, so they may form their consciences in light of their faith. Additional guidance is available in the USCCB publication Faithful Citizenship at www.usccb.org/faithfulcitizenship.

Children and families
The family is the primary, indispensable and essential unit of our society. We encourage policies that strengthen family stability and uphold the traditional definition of marriage.

Economic justice
The state budget expresses the voice of the legislature for the safety, education and health of the people. We urge an equitable structure of taxation and public services, and care for those who struggle to survive in a difficult economic climate. Also, the underprivileged should not be adversely affected by regulatory policies in a disproportionate manner.

Education
As the primary educators of their children parents have the right to choose their children’s education. Adequate funding for public education is essential. We also believe that parents of children who attend state‐approved private or parochial schools deserve their fair share of education funding. Private education renders a very public service. The current state scholarship program is a beginning which we strongly support.

Health care
Health care should be available to all. We support an equitable expansion of health delivery services so that everyone may access affordable health insurance and care, or if necessary, be served by Medicaid.

Human life
The protection of human life from conception until natural death is paramount. All persons have an inherent right to life and a right to live with dignity. We strongly support laws that protect the life of unborn children and services that assist pregnant women. We believe that cloning, embryonic stem cell research, surrogacy and assisted suicide are contrary to nature and morality. We must be vigilant to the evil of human trafficking among us and seek to care for the victims in ways that are restorative, rehabilitative, and life‐giving. Finally, we acknowledge that violence of any kind causes great suffering. Therefore, we advocate for peace within our communities and state at large.

Immigration
All God’s people deserve respect and civility. We support immigration reform that is consistent with each person’s innate human dignity as well as reform that will keep the family unit intact. Preservation, as opposed to separation, of the family unit should be sought at all times as conversations focusing on immigration reform are had at the highest levels.

Racism
We are all brothers and sisters, equally made in the image of and likeness of God. Racism is a moral issue that manifests itself institutionally and systemically. A deep individual conversion of heart, which effectively compels change and reform in our institutions and society, is what is most needed. We must confront racism’s root causes and the injustice that it produces. The love of God that binds us together should overflow into our relationships with all people.

Religious freedom
The rights of faith‐filled individuals and faith‐based institutions should be recognized and respected without coercive government intrusion or regulations that violate the rights of conscience regardless of religious affiliations.

Restorative justice
We recognize the need for incarcerating individuals who inflict harm on society. We encourage adequate legal representation to the accused, and we advocate for a restorative approach to prisoner rehabilitation. Consistent with our moral ethic for human life we must reject use of the death penalty.

The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops is an agency of the Roman Catholic Bishops of the state which has as its foundation the beliefs of the Catholic Church. It serves to coordinate education of the people through joint pastoral statements; to promote collaboration in shared projects among Catholic dioceses and other institutions; and to communicate and interact with local, parish, state and federal bodies.

The Most Rev. Gregory M. Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans and Apostolic Administrator of Alexandria

The Most Rev. Glen John Provost, Bishop of Lake Charles

The Most Rev. Shelton J. Fabre, Bishop of Houma‐Thibodaux

The Most Rev. Alfred C. Hughes, Archbishop Emeritus of New Orleans

The Most Rev. Fernand J. Cheri, Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans

The Most Rev. Michael G. Duca, Bishop of Baton Rouge

The Most Rev. J. Douglas Deshotel, Bishop of Lafayette

The Very Rev. Peter B. Mangum, Diocesan Administrator of Shreveport

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