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Advocacy

Things You Need to Know...

  • The Church's obligation to participate in shaping the moral character of society is a requirement of our faith. 

  • We are people of both faith and reason, it is appropriate and necessary for us to bring the essential truth about human life and dignity to the public square.

  • In his first encyclical letter, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI explained that "charity must animate the entire lives of the lay faithful and therefore also their political activity, lived as 'social charity'" (no. 29).

  • The United States Constitution protects the right of individual believers and religious bodies to participate and speak out without government interference, favoritism, or discrimination. 

  • Our Church's teaching is in accord with the foundational values that have shaped our nation's history: "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

  • The Catholic community brings important assets to the political dialogue about our nation's future.  We bring a consistent moral framework—drawn from basic human reason that is illuminated by Scripture and the teaching of the Church—for assessing issues, political platforms, and campaigns.  We bring broad experience in serving those in need—educating the young, caring for the sick, sheltering the homeless, helping women who face difficult pregnancies, feeding the hungry, welcoming immigrants and refugees, reaching out in global solidarity, and pursuing peace.

  • In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. This obligation is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do. 

  • As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, "It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person. . . . As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life" (nos. 1913-1915)

  • As Catholics, we should be guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a political party or interest group. When necessary, our participation should help transform the party to which we belong; we should not let the party transform us in such a way that we neglect or deny fundamental moral truths.  

  • Building a world of respect for human life and dignity, where justice and peace prevail, requires more than just political commitment.  Individuals, families, businesses, community organizations, and governments all have a role to play. Participation in political life in light of fundamental moral principles is an essential duty for every Catholic and all people of good will

  • The Church is involved in the political process but is not partisan. The Church cannot champion any candidate or party. Our cause is the defense of human life and dignity and the protection of the weak and vulnerable.

Public Policy Advocacy Resources

Church Guidance   
     USCCB Political Activity and Lobbying Guidelines for Catholic Organizations
     Living the Gospel of Life:  A Challenge to American Catholics
     Forming Consciences For Faithful Citizenship
     Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: The Participation of Catholics in Political Life
     Catholics In Political Life

Government Guidance   
     IRS Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations 
 
Diocesan Guidance    
     Policy # 230.3:  Political Activities by Parish Staffs and Organizations (August 21, 2020)
     Contacting Elected Officials

     Policy Advocacy Organizations

Faithful Citizenship

Catholics Care.  Catholics Vote!

Contacting Elected Officials

  • ​For each phone call to the local office, there are 10 other people with the same opinion

  • Each call to their Washington, D.C. office = 50 other people  

  • Each email =  100 other people

  • Each letter = 500 other people

  • Each personal visit = 1,000 other people!

 

How To Write Letters to Elected Officials

  1. Keep the letter to one page in length (two at most). 

  2. Type or write legibly. 

  3. Have a respectful and courteous tone; do not insult or threaten. 

  4. Stick to one issue; include the bill number if possible. 

  5. State your position up front, including what you are asking the Member to do. 

  6. Support your position with facts; avoid "I believe" or "I feel" statements. 

  7. Explain how the legislation will affect you and others; avoid overly emotional arguments. 

  8. Suggest a better approach to the legislation you disagree with. 

  9. Thank the Member for any past support. 

  10. Request a written response and be sure to include your complete address.

Writing Your U.S. Congressperson (also applies to State Legislators and Governors)

U.S. Mail:

The Honorable ________ 
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510 

"Dear Senator ________ ,"

 

OR

The Honorable ________
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

"Dear Representative ______ ,“


​Fax:
Members do not always list their fax numbers for public use. For available fax numbers, contact Members' web pages at www.house.gov for Representatives or www.senate.gov for Senators or access active links to your Members' web pages at "Contact Your Congressperson" on the www.nchla.org website. ​

Writing the White  House
U.S. Mail:

The President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

"Dear Mr. President,"

​Fax:  
202-456-2461

 

Emailing Your U.S. Congressperson (also applies to State Legislators and Governors)

E-mail is especially valuable for short messages to your Representatives or Senators.   A more extensive dialogue is better suited to other formats, such as letter writing or face-to-face meetings. E-mail does not replace other forms of communications, but supplements them.

The majority of Members have done away with their public e-mail addresses and now use a "write your Member" format on their web pages.  To reach your Representative or Senators by e-mail, contact Members' web pages at www.house.gov or www.senate.gov or access active links to your Members' web pages at "Contact Your Congressperson" on the www.nchla.org website.

 

  1. Identify yourself as a constituent, by using the programs that identify you by ZIP code.

  2. As with a letter, express yourself with a respectful and courteous tone. 

  3. Stick to one issue and include bill number if possible. 

  4. E-mails should briefly state your position, including what you are asking the Member to do. 

  5. Request a written response (whether by e-mail or U.S. mail). Offer contact information if other than an e-mail address. 


Emailing the White House:   president@whitehouse.gov 

 

Calling Your Congressperson (also applies to State Legislators and Governors)

Call the Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121, and ask to be connected to a Member's office.  If you don't know who your Members are, the Capitol switchboard operator can assist you.
 
Or call a Member's local office.  For information on Members' phone numbers, contact Members' web pages at: www.house.gov for Representatives and www.senate.gov for Senators. 

 

  1. Ask to speak with the aide who handles the particular pro-life issue. 

  2. If the aide is unavailable, give message to receptionist or leave message on aide's voicemail. 

  3. Introduce yourself as a constituent. 

  4. Have a respectful and courteous tone. 

  5. Convey your message in a clear, brief manner; include bill number, if known. 

  6. Give your complete name and address, including ZIP code. 

  7. Ask for a written response to your request.


Calling the White House:  (202) 456-1111 (Comments Line)

 

Meeting Your Congressperson (also applies to State Legislators and Governors)

Formal Meetings

 

  1. Arrange a meeting with your Representative or one of your Senators. Schedule a meeting at the Member's local office. 

  2. If visiting Washington, DC, consider arranging meeting at the Member's Washington office. 

  3. Include in your lobbying group people who have varied, but relevant, backgrounds: doctor, nurse, pregnancy counselor, lawyer, community leader. 

  4. Inform yourself in advance of the Member's voting record and position on the issue. 

  5. Prepare for the meeting: Assign each group member a specific talking point. 

  6. When giving facts/figures/survey results/dollar amounts, have sources for these readily available. 

  7. Use anecdotal stories when appropriate. 

  8. If you do not have the information needed to answer a question, offer to get back later with a response.

  9. Provide your Member with a packet of information supporting your position: research or position papers, articles, editorials, reports, and the like. 

  10. Press for commitment: Ask if you can count on the Member's vote or what you can do to get his or her support. 

  11. Thank Member and/or Aide for their time. 

  12. Follow up with a thank you letter that restates your position. 

  13. Report the Member's comments to your diocesan pro-life coordinator. 


Informal Meetings

Town Hall meetings, county fairs and other civic events offer special opportunities to communicate with your Member of Congress. Members often visit their districts or states on weekends and during district week periods, e.g., holidays or the August recess.   During these visits Members are sensitive to the issues raised with them by their constituents and bring these impressions back with them to Washington.

 

Writing Letters to the Editor

Letters-to-the-editor are another great way to communicate your views on pressing public issues.  The general public reads these letters and Members of Congress keep track of what is being said in the newspapers in their districts and states.  No newspaper or community newsletter should be overlooked.

 

  1. Editors look for well-written and informed letters on issues discussed in their newspaper. 

  2. Cite the article, with date, on which you are commenting. 

  3. If you have special expertise in the topic or area, reference that in the letter, in use of title after your name, or in a separate note to the editor, whichever is appropriate. 

  4. Keep the letter short and to the point.  Long letters will be edited by the editor. 

  5. If appropriate, point out how the issue affects the local community.

Policy Advocacy Organizations

Americans United for Life, the nation’s premier pro-life legal team, works through the law and legislative process to one end: Achieving comprehensive legal protection for human life from conception to natural death. The nonprofit, public-interest law and policy organization holds the unique distinction of being the first national pro-life organization in America— incorporated in 1971, before the infamous Roe v. Wade decision.

www.aul.org​

  • Missouri Catholic Conference
    The Missouri Catholic Conference and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph work closely together on a variety of issues. In order to facilitate the advocacy process and make it easier for citizens to get involved in issues of concern, there is an Advocacy Action Alert program. This simple on-line registration process allows citizens to sign up for information on the topics of their choice and receive timely updates from the Missouri Catholic Conference.

www.mocatholic.org

  • Missouri Right to Life
    Missouri Right to Life is a non-partisan, multi-denominational, state-wide organization which upholds and promotes the sanctity of all innocent human life from the inception of biological development through natural death by providing education, by supporting legislation and programs that endorse that ideal, and by organizing citizens for effective results.

www.missourilife.org

Missouri Right to Life-Western Region

mrlwesternregion.org

  • National Committee for Human Life Amendment (NCHLA)
    In the great civil rights struggle to secure the right to life for all, Archbishop John Roach, testifying on behalf of the Catholic Bishops, expressed the guiding vision:

    "We are committed to full legal recognition of the right to life of the unborn child, and will not rest in our efforts until society respects the inherent worth and dignity of every member of the human race."

November 5, 1981 Statement before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution

The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment is dedicated to pursuing this vision. The organization's objectives include educating citizens, developing pro-life legislative networks, and offering programs in support of pro-life legislation. Among its various activities, NCHLA produces educational and program resources, communicates with
leaders about legislative priorities, and presents legislative seminars throughout the year. In a special way, NCHLA assists dioceses, state Catholic conferences, and Catholic lay groups. The Committee also works closely with the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

www.humanlifeaction.org

  • Susan B. Anthony List
    The Susan B. Anthony List, and its connected Political Action Committee, the SBA List Candidate Fund, are dedicated to electing candidates and pursuing policies that will reduce and ultimately end abortion. To that end, the SBA List will emphasize the election, education, promotion, and mobilization of pro-life women. 

          The SBA List's Six Point Mission: 

    • Elect pro-life women or pro-life men who oppose pro-abortion women to Congress through our SBA List Candidate Fund.

    • Educate voters on critical pro-life issues and on upcoming legislation.

    • Train and equip pro-life activists nationwide to run successful political and grassroots campaigns.

    • Promote positive responses in both traditional and new media to dispel the myths and distortions of the abortion lobby.

    • Advocate passage of pro-life legislation in Congress, directly with legislators and through mobilizing direct citizen lobbying.

    • Connect legislative and electoral consequences through our Votes Have Consequences Program.

www.sbaprolife.org

  • USCCB Legislative Action
    As Catholics, we are part of a community with a rich heritage that helps us consider the challenges in public life and contribute to greater justice and peace for all people.   Americans share many blessings and strengths, including a tradition of religious freedom and political participation. However, as a people, we face serious challenges that are clearly political and also profoundly moral in nature.

    We are a nation founded on "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," but the right to life itself is not fully protected, especially for unborn children, the most vulnerable members of the American family.  The work for justice requires that the mind and the heart of Catholics be educated and formed to know and practice the whole faith

www.usccb.org/take-action

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