* “Faithful Citizenship”
Every four years the Catholic Bishops of the United States publish a document prior to the presidential elections called Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. This year they voted to re-issue the one from 2015/16 but add a new introductory letter to it. I have added a link to the document and related materials on our stregis.org website under the post “News Briefs.” Over the next few weeks, before we get into the heat of the presidential election, I want to explore what the bishops say, raise a few questions of my own, and invite everyone to take seriously their civic duty to vote with an informed conscience.
I am sure many of us have experienced the following tension in our own families and among friends. For some, the only issue is to legally ban abortion, and if any political candidate supports abortion in any way, that disqualifies them from consideration for a vote. For others, abortion is a very important and central issue but not a simple thumbs up/down for or against a candidate. Other considerations at times sway one’s vote. In the introductory letter you get a sense of the bishops own internal tensions. Some wanted to focus primarily and almost solely on the issue of abortion and place everything else in a secondary position. Others wanted to keep a more integrated or consistent ethic of life and see all issues as interrelated. They resolve this tension in several ways. First, they quote Pope Francis on how passionate defense of the innocent unborn is essential but that “equally sacred” are any area of life that are destroying human dignity: “the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.” Then they focus on abortion as the truly key issue: “The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed.” Finally, they remind us of the kind of discourse that is required, no matter our passionately held views and political differences: “Our commitment as people of faith to imitate Christ’s love and compassion should challenge us to serve as models of civil dialogue, especially in a context where discourse is eroding at all levels of society. Where we live, work, and worship, we strive to understand before seeking to be understood, to treat with respect those with whom we disagree, to dismantle stereotypes, and to build productive conversation in place of vitriol.” Take a moment this week to think about what currently guides your political decisions—Political party? One specific issue? Family or friends? The “least worst” candidate? An informed conscience? More next time.
* 2020 Catholic Services Appeal
The postponed 2020 C.S.A. will begin in late August and the Archdiocese will mail letters out to all past C.S.A. donors at that time. Here at St. Regis we decided not to wait for those letters but to conduct the C.S.A. campaign using our own materials. We count on the money that goes over and above the yearly target and comes back to the parish for its own use. That is why I invited a number of parish members to make their 2020 C.S.A. pledge/donation at the usual time, so that we could make an educated guess on how much extra C.S.A. income to budget. As a result of that early appeal, about 50 people made their pledges (about $125,000) and we are already very close to our mandatory goal of $88,239 in payments on those pledges. That means we are at a point where all C.S.A. donations now will come back to the parish 100% for its own use, with no tax taken out of it. We are hoping we can reach at least $155,000 over that mandatory goal (last year we were $225,000 over our target).
As we continue with the 2020 C.S.A. appeal here at St. Regis, you will receive a pledge/donation letter from me before the end of July. As in the past I am asking households to try to pledge/donate at least $500. I realize that situations will vary widely. A number of people have been hit hard financially and they will have to adjust their giving accordingly. Others are in a position to maintain their usual C.S.A. level of giving and some may be in a position to be extra generous this year. In all cases I ask that you see the C.S.A. as a necessary and important part of being a parish member and prayerfully consider what would constitute a generous gift to this year’s C.S.A. No matter the amount, please contribute something. It is the most efficient way to give significant gifts to the parish because every dollar helps the parish 100%. Pledges can be paid all at once, monthly, or quarterly. Even though we are starting later than usual, think of it as the typical yearly appeal, with all payments needing to be in by May of next year, so that a new C.S.A. can then begin. From now through May, what can you give to the Catholic Services Appeal, an appeal that helps to fund so many archdiocesan programs and outreaches; an appeal that sends back to us significant monies for our own use? As a reminder to school families who receive in-parish tuition rates: some type of donation to the yearly C.S.A.—the amount is up to you—is a requirement along with connecting to the parish in other ways.
If you prefer, you can handle the pledge/donation electronically through our secure stregis.org “Donations” page. Also, if for some reason you receive a separate letter from the Archdiocese, please do not double contribute. If you give to the C.S.A. through the Archdiocese, as long as you select St. Regis Parish as the parish of donation, it counts toward our parish C.S.A. total. Thank you.