Church and state Contributors

Director sets forth bishops’ conference priorities in new year

Chuck Weber is the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference.

by Chuck Weber

Elections have consequences — for Kansas Catholics and everyone else.

The Kansas Catholic Conference (KCC) is the public policy arm of the Catholic bishops of Kansas, tasked with carrying out their legislative priorities for the common good.

The Catholic Church’s social teachings, like the Gospel message itself, are intended for all people, not just Catholics. Its priorities don’t fit neatly into any political party affiliation.

What are the consequences of the 2020 elections for the church’s priorities? The results are mixed.

First, most significantly, prospects have improved for the top state legislative priority of the Kansas bishops — adoption of the “Value Them Both” (VTB) state constitutional amendment for life.

VTB is necessary because a state Supreme Court ruling means abortion in Kansas is virtually unlimited and unregulated. Laws like those prohibiting taxpayer- funded abortion are in grave danger.

Passing VTB effectively reverses the court ruling and once again allows enforcement of reasonable Kansas laws protecting both mothers and babies.

Passing VTB takes on added significance since the incoming presidential administration campaigned in favor of federal taxpayer funded abortion.

If VTB passes the Legislature this year, it will go to the people of Kansas who will have the final say in a statewide election.

Other threats loom. For example, the new presidential administration campaigned on passage of the so-called “Equality Act,” provisions of which are in direct contradiction to Catholic teaching on marriage, the family and human sexuality. There is deep concern about continued threats to religious freedom in today’s COVID environment.

The proverbial plate of legislative issues at the KCC overflows. Here are some of the other legislative priorities of the Kansas Catholic bishops:

• We will continue to lobby Kansas’ federal officials for greater justice for the immigrant. The KCC decried the outgoing administration’s rhetoric and position on immigration reform. We continue to call for resolution of issues like DACA (“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”).

• The KCC has consistently opposed and testified against federal and state-  sponsored executions. We will continue to do so.

• The KCC was front and center in Topeka last legislative session pressing for reform of the so-called “payday loan” industry that we deem to be predatory and hurtful to the dignity of families under financial duress. We will continue to do so.

• The political reality is that Medicaid expansion in Kansas is in all likelihood dead on arrival for 2021. Undeterred, the KCC is promoting legislation leading to greater health care access at lower costs. 

• Promoting educational opportunity for low-income families who too often get short-changed in the classroom continues to be a KCC priority.

Please pray for our elected officials as they seek the common good in 2021.

Mary, Untier of Knots, pray for us!

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Chuck Weber

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