Frequently Asked Questions
Gathering Together for Life & Dignity
Tuesday, February 19, 2019 – St. Paul, MN
The Church sees politics as a form of civic friendship. At a time when polarization and partisanship are pulling us apart, the world needs the Church more than ever to renew public life by building bridges of friendship, especially with lawmakers. Pope Francis once said, “a good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern.” We created Catholics at the Capitol to help Catholics learn how “meddling” in politics can be an exercise of our faith and to provide an opportunity for Catholics from across the state to build relationships with their representatives and with one another.
First, we want Catholics at the Capitol to be a chance for Catholics from across the state to come together and make their voice heard on issues that are important to us. It only takes a handful of people to make a difference in our state legislature; just think what over 2,000 Catholics coming together can do!
“Cat Cap” was also designed to demystify the process of legislative advocacy for those who have little (or even no) experience in politics. Attendees will walk away with more knowledge about the political process and more resources to help them work for the common good in our state.
Finally, we wish to offer a compelling and hopeful vision of faithful citizenship, healing some of the cynicism and division that drives so many people away from politics today. Amid growing skepticism that faith has any place in the public arena, we want to foster a renewed commitment to missionary discipleship precisely through faithful citizenship.
- Continental breakfast and box lunch
- A full morning of dynamic speakers, discussion, music, networking, and prayer at the Saint Paul RiverCentre
- A chance to connect with excellent Catholic companies and vendors
- Training and education about how to talk to your legislator and how you can make a difference in your district and your state
- Meetings with your legislators to discuss issues that are important to you
- Opportunities to pray together in the Capitol Rotunda
- A whole day of meeting and building relationships with other Catholics from all over Minnesota who share your desire to make a difference
Any Minnesota Catholic who wants to learn how to become more active in politics and make positive change as an advocate for human life and dignity. You don’t need to be a policy wonk, an insider, or a dynamo public speaker to make a difference. Your presence will speak volumes to your elected officials! In state and local politics, the most important thing is to show up.
Yes. Catholics at the Capitol is an initiative of the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC). MCC is the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, representing all six dioceses. MCC staff implement the public policy initiatives of the state’s Catholic bishops, who serve as the conference’s board of directors. All our bishops will attend Catholics at the Capitol.
Catholics bring an important perspective on the dignity of the human person and the common good of all into the conversation. We don’t impose our beliefs, but rather propose solutions that not only accord with our faith, but are also in the best interests of Minnesotans. Not only is it perfectly legal and acceptable for religiously- motivated citizens to support certain policies and laws, but it would be a great disservice to our state and its people if religiously-motivated advocates stayed home and stayed out of the public conversation.
The beauty of our system of government is that it allows different people, with different beliefs and visions, to come together and discuss how best to govern. The “separation of Church and State,” after all, refers to a prohibition on government meddling in the affairs of religion—not the other way around.
No. The Catholic Church is non-partisan. We care about the same issues that all Americans do, but transcend the stiff categories and false dichotomies that too often characterize American politics. Our goal is to protect life and promote human flourishing in all cases, regardless of party lines. At Catholics at the Capitol, we will advocate for issues that don’t neatly line up with a single party platform. This is because we are principled, not partisan, and work to advance a consistent ethic of life that fosters human flourishing at every stage.
No. The event is non-partisan. Sponsoring or participating in the event does not convey that your parish endorses a candidate or party—it simply demonstrates that you want to protect life and human dignity in Minnesota. Your parish is well within its rights as a tax-exempt organization to do so.
The bishops of Minnesota, through the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC), established the statewide Catholic Advocacy Network to provide an easy and effective way for Catholics to answer their baptismal call to faithful citizenship. It is the principal resource for Minnesota Catholics to bring their faith into the public arena.
There are a couple of ways you can be involved with the Catholic Advocacy Network (CAN). First, you can join the email list, which keeps you informed of important legislative activity and provides concrete ways to make a difference in your community. Joining the CAN provides you with an easy way to contact your legislators.
If you want to be even more involved, you can become a District Leader and take charge of advocacy efforts in your own district. As a District Leader, you will organize meetings between Catholics in your area and their legislators, notify your district about important legislative action opportunities, and grow the network by inviting others to participate. Simply put, District Leaders are the point person between legislators and their Catholic constituents. If you feel called to serve as a District Leader, please contact the Minnesota Catholic Conference at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As one of JRLC’s sponsoring organizations, the Minnesota Catholic Conference strongly supports its work and advocacy. Catholics at the Capitol should not be viewed as a replacement or alternative for JRLC Day on the Hill. Rather, it’s an advocacy day specifically for Catholics, where we can gather in the State Capitol with our bishops, incorporate Catholic prayer, and speak to a set of issues specifically as Catholics. Attend both if you can! For more information about the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, please visit JRLC.org.
Out-state dioceses will sponsor their own transportation to St. Paul on February 19. If you are from an out-state diocese, you should choose that option on your registration form. A diocesan liaison will contact you with details about transportation as the event approaches.
Those near the Twin Cities metro area can take advantage of one of our four park-and-ride locations if they so choose. We also recommend carpooling with other attendees from your parish.
For more details, visit our transportation page.
If you plan to drive to St. Paul and park, please select a parking option on your registration form. Parking options include the RiverCentre paid parking ramp and one of four free park-and-ride locations. You can also choose to find your own parking in downtown St. Paul. For more details, visit our transportation page.
Yes. Bus transportation to the Capitol from the RiverCentre will be available after lunch. When the day concludes at the Capitol, we will transport those who parked at RiverCentre back to the RiverCentre.
Continental breakfast and box lunches will be provided. These are included in the cost of registration. Gluten-free and vegetarian options can be selected during the registration process.
Yes! Prayer is what strengthens us, and serving Christ is the reason we’re going to the Capitol in the first place. We will offer Mass before the morning programming starts, and Rosaries in the Rotunda during the afternoon. Finally, we will conclude the day with a prayer send-off in the State Capitol rotunda. Check the schedule for more details!
Yes. Because all six dioceses in Minnesota are involved in promoting this event, we expect to have Catholics from across the state, and we anticipate that tickets will sell quickly. Furthermore, because we need to accommodate people from all 67 Minnesota senate districts to ensure appropriate representation, space in each district is limited.
After learning about the issues and effective advocacy, as well as hearing from dynamic Church leaders, attendees will head to the State Capitol for legislative visits. Together with other Catholics from their senate districts, attendees will have up to three meetings with legislators: one with their state senator, and two others with the state representatives from their senate district.
Absolutely! Your legislators are elected to serve you, their constituents. It’s their job to find out what your concerns are, and do their best to represent you at the Capitol. You are their most valuable resource because you help them identify the specific challenges that they should be working to address.
Whether or not you’ve spoken to your legislators before, they will be happy to meet you and listen to your concerns. Meeting your lawmakers in person at Catholics at the Capitol is a great way to start building a relationship with them; then, next time you get in touch (for instance, in the middle of the legislative session with a critical vote on a key issue coming up), you won’t be an anonymous voice on the phone—they’ve already met you in person!
What’s more, Catholics at the Capitol will offer programming in the morning that will inform you about the key issues and equip you to influence your lawmakers. Be not afraid. Unless you are a District Leader or feel passionate to speak about one of our advocacy issues, you need not speak during meetings. Your presence alone speaks volumes.
We’ll make sure you have an enjoyable and impactful visit to the Capitol!
Phone calls and emails to legislators can be effective, but there is nothing more impactful than an in-person visit. Why? Because by making the time to come to St. Paul, you convey to your legislators that you care about the decisions they make on your behalf. This matters to legislators, because you’re the one who puts them in office. Your investment in them and your concern about the issues conveys that you will also vote against them if they don’t make those issues a priority.
MCC’s legislative priorities for the 2018-19 session include (but are not limited to): preventing the legalization of assisted suicide, boosting assistance for families in poverty, and expanding school choice for parents. Although a number of issues impact life and human dignity in our state, our advocacy focus at Catholics at the Capitol will likely focus on these matters because legislative dynamics are such that we can make serious gains in the right direction on each of these issues right now. We have a great opportunity before us. Let’s not let it slip away!
Catholics can have legitimate disagreements about the correct policy to address a particular problem. But we can all be united by our shared commitment to the foundational principles of Catholic Social Teaching: principles such as the preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, the sanctity of human life, the inviolable dignity of the human person, and the responsibility of parents to be the primary educators of their children, to name but a few. Agreeing on policy specifics is less important than sharing a consistent ethic of life and conveying that to our elected officials.
Of course! The policy positions of the Minnesota Catholic Conference are prudential applications of Catholic Social Teaching. In offering their perspective, the bishops of Minnesota seek to fulfill their responsibilities as teachers and shepherds caring for both Catholics and all Minnesotans.
In the case of public policy, the bishops propose rather than impose. They hope that Catholics and all people of good will consider their perspective in important policy debates and join their voice in advocacy, but Catholic Social Teaching is meant to be an intellectual framework for all Catholics, to help us discern the will of God in each circumstance. Every Catholic is responsible for prayerfully considering, guided by the Scriptures and the wisdom of the Church, their own position on important policy issues.
You may be struggling with certain positions that MCC proposes, or in some instances even strongly disagree. Even if there are points of prudential disagreement, we hope that Catholics at the Capitol is still an opportunity for study, reflection, fellowship, and working for the good on issues in which there is agreement.