Some might still be at the starting gate with no time dedicated to becoming an informed voter as of yet. Others could be lost in the middle now that political praise and attack ads are in open season. Another group may already know how they plan to vote but wouldn’t mind hearing affirmation from Catholics with intimate knowledge of hot-button issues.
Catholics in the Public Square Legislative Seminar
St. Mary’s Basilica
231 N. Third St., Phoenix
Followed by free breakfast
Diocesan Pastoral Center, 400 E. Monroe St., Phoenix
Guest speakers include Ryan T. Anderson, a well-known research fellow in American principles and public policy.
or Clarissa at (602) 354-2132
Each group of prospective voters is equally welcome to attend the next “Catholics in the Public Square” Mass and legislative seminar Oct. 13 at St. Mary’s Basilica and the neighboring Diocesan Pastoral Center, respectively.
It’s often a full-house event that draws roughly 400 people from across the Diocese of Phoenix.
“Every one of these we’ve been blessed. People leave on a very high note. They’ll be well-informed and motivated to do our part and change our culture,” said Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, the public policy arm for the dioceses of Arizona.
He recalled how the pendulum has swung the other way in recent years with issues such as marriage that were common sense not long ago now considered countercultural. Case in point is “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.” It’s the title of the latest book of the keynote speaker at this year’s seminar.
Ryan T. Anderson, an author, co-author and notable researcher — his work cited by two U.S. Supreme Court justices in as many court cases — is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. His book contrasts media’s “sunny depiction and the often sad realities of gender-identity struggles.”
“He brings a lot of the faith and science together in a very convincing manner that’s understandable by the entire audience,” Johnson said.”
Much of Anderson’s research covers marriage and religious liberty with other foci on justice and moral principles in economic thought, health care and education.
“He will help every listener in their own formation as well as in their roles as compassionate parishioners, citizens, voters and community members,” said Alan Sears, founder of Alliance Defending Freedom and a Scottsdale Catholic. ADF sponsors the event each year alongside Catholic Women of Phoenix and the Knights of Columbus.
Sears himself will also address the crowd by reviewing the idea of religious freedom and rights of conscience and review the principles of “Dignitas Humanae” regarding inalienable
He referenced Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s “Catholics in the Public Square” booklet that briefly explains the four non-negotiables for faithful Catholics:
- right to life and protection of the innocent
- marriage and family
- right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children
- religious freedom and rights of conscience
“There are few issues in modern public policy that do not impact these superior and God-given rights in some manner,” Sears said. “Just something so simple as tax policy can greatly impact childbearing and families and so forth.”
The feedback Sears hears from each event testifies to its value for laity, clergy and public officials alike. They call it informative and even-handed. Parents find ways to address issues with their children “and most joyful of all are those who told me they had come with an ill-formed opinion and after learning the facts changed their mind and would step up to protect their state,” Sears said.