OKLAHOMA CITY — A recent “Catholic Advocacy Day” gave laity in Oklahoma the opportunity to participate in the legislative process and to be “a voice for the voiceless,” a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City says.
“The Gospel … does have implications for the here and now, and we are called to live out our faith by advocating for the least of these, advocating for the most vulnerable,” said Tina Dzurisin, communications director for the archdiocese, in an April 1 interview.
Each year, Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City gives voters across the state the chance to meet with lawmakers and to discuss proposed legislation dealing with the poor and vulnerable.
More than 60 laity, legislators, clergy and religious took part in the Catholic Advocacy Day, which was held March 25.
Dzurisin said this year was especially inspiring to participants because both of Oklahoma's bishops spoke at the event.
“Both Christian preaching and the Christian life are meant to have an impact on our society, to help us prepare here on earth for the coming of the reign of God by a more just ordering of society, where charity may reign,” Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City said March 25.
He explained that, as Christians, our good works are “not a peripheral to the faith.”
“It flows from the very heart of our faith, our encounter with the person of Jesus Christ, who reveals the Father’s love to us, who reveals our own dignity to us and who opens up for us a new horizon — a transcendental horizon — of hope.”
Catholic Charities of Tulsa also lent support to the event, and Bishop Edward Slattery gave a presentation.
In his talk, Bishop Slattery explained that the Church is not “putting restrictions on our fellow human beings” when preaching against abortion, the death penalty, disregard for the poor or euthanasia.
Rather, he said, the Church is seeking to promote the freedom and dignity of all persons, explaining that “the social teaching of the Church promotes human dignity and freedom of the individual and of human societies.”
The director of advocacy for Catholic Charities in Oklahoma City, Dick Klinge, drew attention to several bills that would have an impact on the needy and vulnerable.
He encouraged Catholics to support proposed legislation such as House Bill 2685, which would require doctors to inform mothers about public and private agencies that offer perinatal and palliative care when their child has been diagnosed with a fetal anomaly that would not be compatible with life. Under this bill, abortion would be prohibited without the voluntary and informed consent of the mother.
Another bill, which Klinge encouraged Catholics to support, is House Bill 2338, which would give limited immunity from civil liability for any churches and schools that open their facilities to victims of natural disasters.