In a 2018 pastoral letter, Open Wide Our Hearts, the U.S. bishops emphasize that racism is a life issue, “directly [placing] brother and sister against each other, violating the dignity inherent in each person.” In response, all Catholics are called to acknowledge the harm of racism, to examine critically their own attitudes about race, and to listen to the experiences of their neighbors (especially those of races different than their own) in order to break down racism. This edition of The Word from Lansing elaborates on the theme of combatting racism and draws attention to those Black and African-American Catholics whose lives of virtue and perseverance are models for modern times.
The Word from Lansing
The Word from Lansing is a regular column written by Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) staff for Catholic news outlets. Through these columns, MCC outlines current advocacy issues of importance to the Conference and discusses the Catholic position and role in the political process. This publication complements the more regular updates provided by Michigan Catholic Conference’s Catholic Advocacy Network.
Since 1976, members of both political parties have supported the Hyde Amendment and other federal policies that have prevented taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions. Recently, President Biden released his annual budget recommendations, which did not propose a renewal of the Hyde Amendment. If passed, this change would allow billions of taxpayer funds to begin contributing towards elective abortions. Throughout the month of June, Michigan Catholics have signed a petition urging Congress to respect the conscience of the American people and to protect mothers and babies.
For forty-five years, federal policies that protect the unborn have prevented taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions. Unfortunately, now powerful elected officials are calling for their elimination. In the first week of June, Michigan Catholics have the opportunity to send a strong message to Congress and to advocate for the unborn.
Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act (HR 5), which would add new regulations in federal anti-discrimination laws for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity and expression.” However, if passed, the act would discriminate against people of faith for their beliefs about marriage, sexuality, and the place of religion in society. The Word from Lansing column shares the Church’s concerns about the bill and instructs Catholics about advocacy opportunities against it, as the measure is now before U.S. Senators.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic schools have prioritized safety while providing nearly uninterrupted instruction, which has mattered a great deal for Michigan families. Sadly, due to political disagreements among state elected officials, nonpublic schools are uncertain about the status of federal funding to assist them with COVID-related expenses. The Word from Lansing for April dives into the importance of this funding and encourages politicians to work together for the benefit of all students.
Each year, the State of Michigan makes budget determinations for its people, just as a family makes decisions for the good of its members. If done well, the budget can act as a document of love and of care, recognizing all Michiganders have value and considering carefully the needs of the marginalized. The Word from Lansing column for March provides thoughts about the 2021–2022 state budget process and the priorities MCC believes should be included in the final version.
The Catholic Church has many inspiring models of faith, including Sr. Thea Bowman, a religious sister in the early stages of consideration for sainthood. Sr. Thea’s life of service to others and dedication to her faith remind Catholics that it is important to stand up for the vulnerable and the common good, even in difficult community and policy conversations. The Word from Lansing column for February reflects upon Sr. Thea’s example and calls for Catholic to be a voice for others.
Over the past ten months, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed life for people across the globe, impacting physical health, emotional well-being, and economic outcomes for families and businesses. In 2021, many are feeling optimistic with vaccines for COVID-19 becoming available, including two from Pfizer and Moderna. The Catholic bishops of Michigan recently commented on the importance of vaccinations for public health and addressed moral questions that are facing Catholics about the vaccines that are available.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, communities have recognized the important role water plays in protecting community health. As a result, Michigan implemented early pauses to water shutoffs throughout the state through an executive order, especially to encourage and facilitate frequent handwashing. State lawmakers passed legislation, which MCC supported, to again implement this temporary assistance measure for residents.
Within the Catholic Church, all are called to care for one another and to protect one another from harm. Sadly, a recent report released by the Vatican about abuse reminds of the need to be vigilant. In light of the report’s release, MCC has written a new column to share many of the protocols that have been implemented in the Church over the past two decades to protect against and to report incidents of abuse. MCC’s Word from Lansing column also calls leaders and lay members to action, as all are needed in the work to create safe environments.