Express your views in letters to legislators
BY FR. HENRY BECK, OFM
From my days in the JPIC Office I have seen the importance of writing letters to governmental leaders. I see it as a way to express my Catholic-Christian and Franciscan values with regards to civil and political issues.
During the first week of my joining the JPIC Office in 1996 we received word that a friar in Brazil had been arrested by the government for working with indigenous people for their land rights. We developed a flyer that week that went out to the province that included ways to write, fax, and call the various governmental leaders involved. Gratefully, the friar was released within two weeks. Part of what influenced his release were the messages that came from those of us outside of Brazil. This experience convinced me of the importance of engaging political leaders by conversations and by correspondence.
Since the election in November I was becoming more and more concerned about the conspiracy theories and lies being spoken about the presidential election. As we all experienced, this came to a head with the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. I felt strongly that for the good of the country the president and others needed to be held accountable. I was grateful that the House of Representatives impeached the president, and I was grateful to the 10 Republican representatives who joined in this vote.
I decided to write all 50 Republican senators (and about 12 Democratic senators) asking them to be open to the process and weigh the evidence for the good of the country. I honestly felt that it would be best for our country for the former president to be convicted and banned from future office, and I expressed this in my letters.
Though there was a solid bipartisan majority of senators who found the former president guilty, there were not enough votes to convict. I wanted to follow up, though, and thank the Republican senators and representatives who had voted to hold the president accountable. So I sent them all letters thanking them for their courage in doing their duty, knowing that some were already facing political pushback.
I shared all of this with the friars with whom I live, and our JPIC Animator Scott Obrecht asked me to write about it as an encouragement to other friars to be engaged with governmental leaders. I have found that my engaging politicians through phone calls or letters makes the workings of politics more real and human to me.
When I was in the JPIC Office I also went to Washington, D.C., several times to take part in the USCCB’s Social Justice Conferences. One day during these conferences was set aside to go to the Capitol to speak with our representatives and senators about our Catholic values regarding upcoming issues. It was the beginning of my seeing the importance of engaging our politicians person-to-person.
(Fr. Henry Beck, OFM, is a member of the retreat team at St. Francis Retreat House in Easton, Pa., and former Director of the Office for Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation for St. John the Baptist Province.)
CONSIDER A FUTURE
WITH THE FRIARS
Help us continue to serve the poor, care for the retired friars and our men in formation.
LET US PRAY