Staff Report (Florida Catholic)
For two days, each year Catholics from around the state gather in Tallahassee to participate in Catholic Days at the Capitol.
A group from the Diocese of Venice, 24 strong, traveled by bus to the Capitol from April 4-6 to put into action the faith’s call to political responsibility. Participants strengthened the presence of Catholic values in the public square. They did this by advocating for laws that protect and defend human life and dignity, giving a voice to some of the most vulnerable and marginalized people and helping to promote the common good for all of Florida’s residents.
Catholic Days at the Capitol is held annually during the Florida Legislative Session. Catholics from around the state gather in Tallahassee for a legislative briefing before attending scheduled meetings with their elected officials.
The Diocesan group, led by Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux, met with Bishop Frank J. Dewane while in Tallahassee, who gave the final blessing at the annual luncheon. Seven of the participants were first-timers, while others were veterans of this important journey.
Catholic Days at the Capitol included such organized activities as: a legislative briefing on policy issues affecting human life and dignity; pre-scheduled meetings with lawmakers; a luncheon for Catholic Days participants, Florida’s Bishops and legislators; tours of the current and historic Capitol buildings; the opportunity to view the legislative process in action during committee meetings or floor sessions; and the annual Red Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated by the Bishops of Florida to pray for those working in the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government.
Unique for this yearâ€™s meetings with legislators who serve within the Diocese, was that five are new to their elected position. In addition, the group was present when the State House passed a bill supported by the Florida Bishops; in past years,= this was not possible as the Catholic Days at the Capitol would take place earlier in the legislative session.
While Catholic Days at the Capitol is an important part of each legislative session, the work to keep Catholic issues on the minds of legislators does not end there. Therefore, the Florida Bishops established FLCAN (Florida Catholic Advocacy Network), a statewide, grassroots network that makes it easy for Catholics to stay informed and act on public policy issues affecting human life and dignity.
The network provides the opportunity for participants to collaborate with Catholics throughout Florida and across the nation to encourage lawmakers to protect all human life, defend the dignity of the most vulnerable members of our society, and promote the common good. FLCAN allows everyone to speak out on behalf of the poor, the disabled, the sick or dying, the unborn, the elderly, families and children, immigrants, the imprisoned, and others in need. To learn more about FLCAN or any activities of the Florida Bishops, please visit http://www.flaccb.org.