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U.S. Bishops ask Catholics to Call on Congress to Protect Human Life and Dignity

Bishop Noonan of the Diocese of Orlando, in communion with the F.C.C.B. (Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops - the state/regional conference that works with the larger U.S.C.C.B.), has issued the following press release, asking Catholics to call their congressmen about social issues:

Catholic leaders from throughout the country are meeting in Washington, DC, February 2-5, 2014, for the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering. This year's meeting takes its inspiration from Pope Francis' vision of a "Church that is poor and for the poor".

On Tuesday, February 4, attendees from Florida will participate in Capitol Hill visits, during which our state delegation will advocate several issues with Florida's two U.S. Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Legislative priorities will include: supporting peaceful negotiated solutions in the Middle East; preserving funding for international assistance programs with a focus on hunger and humanitarian relief; addressing poverty in America and its profound effects on human life and dignity; and focusing on how eliminating federal funding for abortion, reforming immigration, and improving the criminal justice system allows for fuller human flourishing.

The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering is sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and 15 national Catholic partner organizations, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Rural Life and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

ACTION: You can help amplify these messages by adding your voice to the advocacy efforts of those visiting the U.S. Capitol on February 4. Send an email now to Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and your member of the U.S. House of Representatives to reinforce the Church's message that Congress has a responsibility to ensure help for people living in poverty, both at home and abroad, and to promote peaceful solutions to conflict overseas.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:

The link above takes you to an FCCB page with a pre-filled form for sending the following letter to your Senators and Representative:

On February 4, Catholic leaders will be on Capitol Hill visiting with members of Congress and distributing information as part of the 2014 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, DC.

I add my voice to those visiting the U.S. Capitol and ask that you work to:
- Promote peace in the Middle East by supporting negotiations with Iran and between Israel and Palestine.
- Commit to U.S. poverty-focused international assistance to promote human life and dignity, advance solidarity with poorer nations, and enhance human security in our world.
- Enact domestic policies that encourage family formation and stability, create decent jobs with just wages, ensure access to safe and affordable housing, and fight the scourge of hunger.
- Help people leaving prison to reintegrate back into their communities in healthy and productive ways.
- Pass comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship and expedites the reunification of families.
- Close loopholes in current law, so longstanding policy against federal abortion funding is permanent and government-wide.

In solidarity with Pope Francis, we seek to become "a Church that is poor and for the poor." We urge Congress to make the poor a priority both domestically and internationally, and to promote peace.

Although you must fill-in your email address and zip code in order to send the email, you also have the option of editing the body of the letter as well. So if you think that fighting against abortion should be a higher priority than the bishops' form letter would suggest (6th bullet item out of 6), you can move it to the top of the list. Additionally, if you would like to highlight what "encourage family formation and stability" really means (i.e., opposing so-called "gay marriage") or go into more details about what should and should not be part of comprehensive immigration reform (i.e., no blanket amnesty), you may do so as well.

Remember, our politicians need clear-cut direction from those who vote. When our bishops cannot provide that clarity, it falls on us to spell it out plainly. After all, as Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia said, “Bishops can’t tell politicians what to do, but Catholic voters can!”

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