Dear Parishioners: A Happy New Year to all! It’s 2016 has arrived and we begin a New Year full of new beginnings and new opportunities. We ask God , Our Merciful Father, to bestow His abundant blessings upon us, our families, our homes and our parish. May 2016 truly be year of Gospel Joy and Mercy for OLM!
Of the course the new year brings with it a new legislative session for the RI General Assembly this week. On Tuesday the Assembly begins its new session and I resume my duties as the Director of the RI Catholic Conference and lobbyist for the Diocese of Providence. Since 2016 is an election year I don’t think that many controversial matters will arise during the session. However, there is still a well financed and organized nationwide campaign to legalize physician assisted-suicide. Last year several bills were introduced and committee hearings held on the issue. So we must be vigilant about this issue especially since California recently legalized physician assisted suicide this fall.
We also continue to fight for the de-funding of Planned Parenthood, the nations largest provider of abortions. Nationally we’ve seen this fight in the US Congress and I expect similar efforts to begin once the RI State Budget makes its way through Smith Hill. These issues along with issues that concern education for Catholic school students, helping the poor and elderly, immigration reform, criminal justice reform and a host of other issues are undoubtedly to be raised at the RI Statehouses.
However, introducing legislation and even getting a hearing are not necessarily indicators that something is likely to become law. This means that for the next six months I am at the RI Statehouse most afternoons on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Those are the days the General Assembly is in session and the session generally begins around 4:00PM. So I ask for your understanding if I am not readily available some afternoons for the next few months. I also ask for your prayers as I resume my lobbying duties at the RI Statehouse. The voice of the Catholic Church in the public square is truly needed to secure justice, protect human life and dignity and serve the common good of our state. I like to say that I lobby for the “virtues” while the highly paid lobbyists lobby for the many legal “vices” like gambling, alcohol and tobacco!
As the new legislative session begins, perhaps we and our elected officials might reflect upon the wisdom of Pope Francis once again. In his address to the Joint Session of the US Congress this past September, he said: “Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.”
I ask you to please pray for all our elected officials, those you like and voted for and even those you dislike and voted against! May all elected officials especially the members of the RI General Assembly, our Governor and our General Officers, and our Congressional delegation serve with honor, honesty and integrity and may they always serve the common good of our nation and state. It’s also back to class, back to studies and back to learning this week for school students! We wish them a great new year and a renewed effort to strive to be both saints and scholars. I hope there aren’t as many snow days for them this year! Welcome back! Happy New Year! Be well. Do good. Go Pats! God Bless.