Early in May, a presidential Executive Order was signed to address religious liberty. One aspect of the Order directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to issue amended regulations regarding conscience-based objections to the HHS contraceptive mandate. Michigan Catholic Conference welcomed the shift in policy and encouraged discussions to continue to alleviate unnecessary restrictions on people and organizations of faith. The Word from Lansing for May discusses the freedom of these same individuals and organizations to serve others, motivated by their religious beliefs. The column also touches on the need for further action at all levels of government to protect conscience rights.
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.
In 2016, Pope Francis described the deep wound drugs have inflicted on our society, calling addiction a “new form of slavery.” Far too many individuals, families, and communities across Michigan are struggling with the painful reality of opioid and prescription drug abuse. The Word from Lansing column for April outlines the impact of the opioid crisis on Michigan and speaks to the need for greater collaboration in combatting abuse and the problems underlying addiction.
The Catholic Church offers education, health care, and social services to those in need, working to uplift the dignity of all who come through its doors. MCC recently produced three short films as part of a statewide television and digital project called Freedom to Serve. The effort addresses the right for Catholic organizations to provide services to the general public in accordance with their faith mission, without unnecessary or burdensome intervention from the government. Visit www.CatholicsServe.com to view the films and the two commercials on television this month.
MCC continually seeks the adoption of policies at the State Capitol that defend the dignity of all and that serve Michigan’s people well, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. In February’s The Word from Lansing column, MCC President and CEO Paul Long discusses the Catholic Church’s rich history in the public realm and outlines the organization’s guiding advocacy principles for the 2017–2018 legislative session.
During the recent legislative session, Michigan elected officials approved conscience protections for faith-based child placement agencies, provided support to nonpublic schools for the cost of state health, safety, and welfare mandates, prohibited abortion coercion, and passed additional state energy assistance to help Michigan individuals and families, among other measures. Michigan Catholic Conference’s The Word from Lansing column for January highlights several public policy successes from the 2015–2016 legislative session, as well as the importance of continued engagement and action in the 2017–2018 legislative session at the State Capitol.
On January 20, 2017, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court will swear in a new president. Great attention will be focused on President Donald Trump and his new administration as they begin to work on issues facing the nation. The Word from Lansing column for December from Michigan Catholic Conference highlights why religious liberty and the freedom for religious organizations to serve others should be an early priority in his presidency.
In early November, Colorado voters legalized assisted suicide and joined a handful of states that allow for the practice. While Michigan banned assisted suicide in 1998, conversations about so-called “Death with Dignity” measures remind of the need to remain committed to end-of-life care that is truly compassionate and respectful of the human person. The November column of The Word from Lansing discusses Catholic teaching on assisted suicide, which undermines the medical profession, leaves all vulnerable, and devalues the human person.
Frustrated or tired of the 2016 election? While many Michiganders are, voting and political engagement matter. Through these avenues, individuals can contribute to the creation of a better world, and people of faith have the opportunity to promote the common good at all levels of government and draw attention to the needs of the vulnerable in society. The Word from Lansing for October highlights why Catholics should head to the ballot box with a well-formed conscience on November 8.
The celebration of Labor Day at the beginning of this month brought attention to the dignity and sense of identity that work brings to individuals. At the same time, the day also highlighted the real economic struggles individuals and families are experiencing. The Word from Lansing for September examines the current status of employment in Michigan, the impact of work on the life of the family, and the efforts that are needed to build a more just economy.
In July, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced the formation of a task force to engage critical issues such as race relations, economic opportunity, restorative justice, mental health, and gun violence. Addressing these issues, especially in light of recent shootings, requires an openness to dialogue. This month’s column for Catholic newspapers highlights the need for all people to create a culture of life and speak out against violence.