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Archdiocesan Pastoral Council Meeting Minutes

Saturday, February 4, 2006 9:30 a.m.-noon

The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC) met on Saturday, February 4, 2006, in the Neale Room of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center. Cardinal McCarrick was unable to attend the meeting. The following members of the APC were in attendance: Judy Allison, Deacon George Ames, Charles Bieberich, Marie Borregales, John Brennan, William Brown, Nancy Bucior, Tom Burnford, Fr. Gregory Coan, Christopher Deaver, Msgr. John Enzler, Msgr. Michael Fisher, Tesfa Girmay, Earl Hamilton, Mary Healy, Mimi Hernandez, Brenda Johnson, Carla Kane, Bill Leonard, Lee Nelles Leonhardy, William Lynch, Jojo Manato, Maury Mattingly, Carolyn Ng, Pascale Nouama, Maria Ortiz, Mary Ann Patchan, Juan Proaño, Mary Rubino, Fr. James Shea, S.J., Helen St. Denis, Binh Tran, Ann Urralburu, Jim Wasel, Ed Whalen, Silas Williamson and Catherine Zegowitz. Also in attendance were Mr. Richard J. Dowling, Esq., Maryland Catholic Conference, Fr. Paul Sullins, and Julia Brown (recording secretary). Welcome, Remarks, Opening Prayer Tom Burnford welcomed the APC members and introduced those for whom this was the first meeting. Deacon Ames led Daytime Prayer. Msgr. Fisher welcomed the APC on Cardinal McCarrick's behalf, noting the end of Catholic Schools week. Our Lady of Sorrows school is transitioning, with a Cristo Rey high school to be opened there. Fr. Steve Schafran, S.D.B., is the manager of this project which will provide students who might otherwise not be able to afford private Catholic education with a work-study Catholic education opportunity. Msgr. Fisher solicited prayers for the project. Presentation on Maryland Catholic Conference Msgr. Fisher introduced Mr. Richard J. Dowling, Esq., executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC). He shared some elements of Psalm 45 (prayed during group prayer), which hold special meaning in terms of engaging the public sphere with Church teaching, as well as Thomas More's last prayer, which the MCC staff prays often. The Second Vatican Council talks about the role of clergy and the laity when working in the public square. It is the laity's job to carry the light of the Church into the public sphere, guided by clergy, which is what Catholic conferences are about. There are 36 Catholic conferences in states with two or more dioceses, in order to have the Church speaking with a unified voice on issues. The MCC was formed in the 70s. Washington, D.C.'s conference is run by Ron Jackson, which is a unique conference because he works on the Washington City Council and Capitol Hill. In other states, the bishops come together and hire a staff to represent the Church's interest in public policy. The MCC is made up of the (arch)dioceses of Baltimore, Wilmington, and Washington and includes nine bishops (three diocesan bishops, and the three auxiliary bishops of both Baltimore and Washington). The advisory board is comprised mostly 1

of laity who are connected with the public sphere. Four departments (Social Concerns, Family Life, Education, and Respect for Life) advise the MCC agenda. The staff's job is to give witness on behalf of the poor, the immigrant population, families, etc., and so the staff applies itself across a broad field. It is not possible for a professional staff of four to address all of the issues and win on all before the Maryland General Assembly (MGA). The MGA meets three months of the year. It takes a long time to get legislation passed. The MCC has been successful in influencing the MGA to ban the execution of children, and of mentally handicapped persons. Currently they are working on abolishing the death penalty, which is a long process. Considerable progress is made along the broad spectrum of issues, and the MCC must rely on the Catholic laity to make the most impact and progress. A legislative action network, comprised of 8,000 Maryland Catholics (less than 1% of the Catholic population in MD) who have signed up to receive messages asking for action, involvement, and correspondence to representatives and delegates, has had an extraordinary effect. Last year, they stopped a bill that would have legitimized human cloning of aborted babies. The bill was filibustered and died when the session ended, thanks to work of the legislative action network. As for successfully influencing legislation in accordance with the Church's teaching, the success rate is estimated at 45-65% with the percentage on the higher end as time to work on an issue increases. Without Catholic lay involvement, there would not be success. On Lobby Night, held once a year in Annapolis on President's Day (Feb. 20, 2006), about 700 Catholics come from across the state to hear from the bishops on issues, and meet with the representatives/delegates from their home district. This year, individual office visits are planned as well as a reception with all members of the General Assembly. For parishes, clergy and laity, MCC publishes an election booklet with ideas to facilitate involvement in the public sphere during elections. Ideas include hosting a voter registration sign-up and hosting a candidate night in which all candidates for office are invited to a question and answer session prior to an election. MCC will publish candidate responses to questions in the Catholic Standard before the primary and before the general election. "MCC On the Road" is a speaker network during the summer and fall (when the MGA is not in session) for the parishes. Msgr. Fisher exhorted the APC to support the work of the MCC, with the reminder that love is made manifest to the world by love of neighbor and care of society. Small Group reports and recommendations In small groups the Council considered what can be done to energize clergy and inform the laity in ways that encourage them to move into the public square, ways to represent the Church in the public sphere and how the MCC can assist. Group 1: Gain buy-in and support from pastors, linking moral issues with social issues in the homilies; how theology is related to practical social issues. More regular preaching on social issues and Catholic teaching. Educate priests on issues and on how to present the issues. Don't assume that parishioners know the issues or teachings. Have a dedicated representative in each parish; set a goal for at least one rep from 95% of all parishes. Utilize the "MCC On the Road" program with promotion of the importance of the issues before events to encourage participation and attendance, through parish bulletin, talks at Mass, parish newsletter, parish e-mail list. Also host multi-parish sessions. Give a clear message regarding the Legislative Action Network as to why I should sign up and host a registration drive in each parish. Expand the "Calling All Faithful Citizens" brochure with more information about the Legislative Action Network. 2

Group 2: Digest packet in a small flyer for pews; work with pastors to explain and encourage registration in the Legislative Action Network. Promote speakers from "MCC On the Road" to speak at the parishes. Bundle 4-5 parishes for a greater turn-out; absolutely need pastor's buy-in. Use the Presbyteral Council to schedule presentations. Include the MCC flyers and information on the parish's website with a catchy logo. Advertise on TV or radio about upcoming issues in the legislature and include the Catholic position. Use parish councils to promote information about the MCC. Group 3: Start with the pulpit. Merge deaneries to have deanery/regional sessions on the issues. Focus needs to be on education. Drop the ball into the parish council. Let laity know the MCC is available. Group 4: Website and all the materials should be bi- & tri- lingual so that everyone has access to it. Use disclaimer, "not an endorsement of any given candidate or political party." Use Roeder Road Lay Institute, EPS, etc. to develop training sessions to empower laity to lead the community on these issues--education and involvement. Identify parish leaders to take on responsibility to educate/inform the parish community. Provide training to better educate the clergy (and deacons) about social and political action issues. Group 5: Stress the point of education on the issues; many parishioners are not well informed about the issues. Combine the "education" of legislators with education of each other and of our parishioners. Many "common Catholics" are not well informed on the issues. Encourage original communications with legislators; form letters/form emails are generic and don't carry as much weight with legislators. Image and promotion are important; it is not obvious from the name "MCC" who they are and what they really do. The clergy are key advocates to educating their parishioners. When is the right time to move and energize clergy? We need to energize the laity and inform them on issues. Presentations to parishes/clergy need to contain some depth, because people need data and education to understand complex issues. This complements basic Catholic education. The question was asked, does "imposing our views via the legislature" give us a negative image? Group 6: Pastors gaining buy-in: Workshop/seminar to train pastors in the success/value of their involvement and resources. As the APC visits deaneries and councils they become advocates on behalf of the network and can pass on packets. Ensure an avenue for feedback on progress made on legislative issues to help keep the movement energized. Develop a mechanism for collaboration between the MD network and DC network to close gaps in communication, e.g. those who live in MD and attend church in DC. Share literature and information across jurisdictional boundaries. APC to make information available to pastors and parishes in the deaneries we represent. Conduct sign-up campaigns at the parish level, using various approaches: tables at exits, during fellowship, by mail. Archdiocesan October Mass Attendance Head Count Fr. Paul Sullins, sociologist and professor at Catholic University of America, and priest in the Archdiocese of Washington (ADW) updated the APC on the October Headcount Report in terms of what's new or what has changed. Fr. Sullins handed out his report and referred to it during his presentation. The attendance in the ADW had been declining but the decline did not continue last year. Fr. Sullins referenced his report to show contextual trends and discussed changes in population share, percent of the population that is Catholic and the number of 3

Catholics attending Mass. Overall, the ADW did not grow or decline. The underlying trend is really unchanged. National trends in the number of self-reporting Catholics reflect the local trend. Whether this is an interruption or a turn-around is yet to be seen. The conclusion is that the same trends are occurring locally and nationally. Every year the Archdiocese has to submit a statistical report to which each parish contributes. Each diocese and archdiocese does it a bit differently. The source of the population number, 560,000, will be researched and presented at the next meeting. Estimation work is involved, but programs for counting are getting more precise. Closing Remarks The next meeting is March 25th, followed by the last meeting of this year on April 29th. Msgr. Enzler closed in prayer at 11:55am.



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