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LB753 is a form of school choice legislation that is known as scholarship tax credit legislation. Scholarship tax credits are a form of tax policy that provide an increased incentive for donors to contribute to scholarship granting organizations, which then turn around and use those charitable contributions to provide education scholarships for families in need of more educational opportunities for their children.

Our vision is to build a true culture of life in Nebraska—one where every person is celebrated, valued, and protected, no matter the circumstances of his or her conception. We will work diligently in the coming years to realize that vision, and it is important to witness consistently to the dignity of every person, including every preborn child, even as we pursue imperfect legislation meant to limit evil to the greatest extent possible in a given time.

For this, I am deeply indebted to Pope Benedict. This gentle German showed me the endless depths of a life lived in the heart of Jesus Christ. May he rest in the peace of this same heart!

In the midst of your focus on Christmas and the New Year, I invite you to also consider what work we have ahead of us this next legislative session, especially on the pro-life front.

Late last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 258-169 to pass the so-called Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA). Following a similar vote by the U.S. Senate, the RFMA then headed to President Joe Biden’s desk. President Biden signed the bill into law Tuesday, Dec. 13.

Nebraska’s 108th Legislature will convene in less than one month. The opening days of session are both joyful and stressful. New Senators will be sworn in, while family and friends look on with excitement. Legislative leadership will be elected. And bill introductions will begin in full force.

We are now one month out from Election Day and one month away from Nebraska’s 108th Legislature, First Session.

My prayer as always is that you’ll take your role to be involved in the public policy process very seriously, and will begin cultivating those relationships with your public officials to help move the needle in favor of peace and justice!

As you evaluate the candidates on the major moral and societal issues, don’t forget to determine where they stand on issues that matter to you or your community. The number of issues that make up the “common good” are practically endless, and I pray you will do your best to pray and act like a faithful citizen this Nov. 8!

As Catholics our obligation during election season is to figure out where the candidates stand on any number of issues, including conscience rights and religious liberty.

As Catholics we have an “obligation to oppose policies promoting intrinsically evil acts” and this demand “has a special claim on our conscience and our actions” when it comes to voting for candidates.

As you prepare to vote this election cycle, you need to look hard at the candidates. Take off the rose-colored lenses that make us believe we are dealing with perfect candidates. Every candidate has some level of imperfections in their fundamental principles or in the way they will implement public policies. Assess every candidate based on your conscience informed by the Catholic faith.

With great joy, I can say that this year’s pro-life banquet and conference was a success. One for the books, as the saying goes!

In this column, I want to offer some preliminary tips as you prepare for this General Election cycle. And over the course of the next six weeks we will discuss the theme of faithful citizenship (which I will use in this context as shorthand for what it means to be a morally responsible Catholic during an election cycle).

This year’s theme (“And the Word Was Made Flesh”) has us diving deep into effectively communicating the pro-life message in a post-Christian and an ever-changing digital era. We will do this by focusing on the model and life of Jesus Christ as the way forward for our pro-life efforts.

When Our Lord became man, He shared the Gospel in word and action. He met sinners where they were, and knew how to communicate to their hearts and minds for conversion. The laity, as the body of Christ, must be equipped to imitate our Lord more perfectly as they meet the challenges of this culture where it is. Throughout the weekend, we will encourage contemporary, data-driven pro-life messaging and media in the digital age, featuring local and national talent.

We will win, though we do not know the day or the hour or the manner in which it will happen. That is for the Lord. Today is an occasion for rededication to prayer and work. We builders of the culture of life are not afraid of that.

Let us live in the truth with charity as we push back on what many (including numerous government officials) are trying to make us consider is “settled law” in the area of marriage and human sexuality. If we do not push back today, tomorrow will be too late.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overruled Roe v. Wade last month and returned authority to the states to protect preborn human life, has opened a new pathway for us in pro-life states like Nebraska.

It was no coincidence that Roe v. Wade was overturned on the day we celebrated the outpouring of the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and on the anniversary of the day every year that we recall the birth of St. John the Baptist, whose witness for Christ began while both were still in the wombs of their mothers.

As we take time to celebrate Juneteenth this year, I hope it provides the opportunity for deepening our understanding of God’s desire for unity and peace in society among all people. And, in doing so, may Juneteenth help us further denounce the subtle and not so subtle forms of racism that still hold our country in the bondages of sin.

Religious Freedom Week is right around the corner (June 22-29). It is a great time of the year to more intently pray, reflect, and act to promote religious freedom, which is our “first, most cherished liberty.”

As always, we encourage you to pay attention to all races that show up on your ballot. Inform your conscience, do your homework on the candidates, and exercise your right to vote. And, then, like the NCC, let loose and go crazy on election night in November by watching the results flash across the electronic screen(s) of your choice!

Catholic schools must be places where parents are known, respected, and valued. Their input helps shape the community. Likewise, parents must engage and hold the school accountable to the Church’s mission. As a Catholic school educator for 20 years, I can attest that our schools live lean and mean; they need a little bit of everything to run well. Parents should present whatever gifts they have, and schools should put them good use!

On March 29, the Holy See’s Congregation of Catholic Education blessed us with the publication of “The Identity of the Catholic School for a Culture of Dialog” (called “The Identity” in this article from this point forward). This document is filled with rich and important teachings. In this column I will lay a foundational summary of the document. In my next column I will share ideas of to implement its teachings in our Catholic school communities.

As we have continually encouraged Catholics across the state, please pay attention to these races, do your research, inform your conscience, and take the opportunity to vote in these races, as well as other state and local races on your ballot.

Thank you to our amazing teachers and administrators. They’ve navigated two historically difficult years with grace, courage, and dignity. When you see them, thank them and let them know they are in our prayers. It is my honor to represent their inspiring work.

The primary elections are very easy to overlook, especially in a mid-term election when there is no presidential election on the ballot. But there are several reasons why the primary elections are important, particularly this go-around.

We are, of course, deeply disappointed that the bill did not pass. But we are not discouraged, because God rewards hard work, and the pro-life cause is eminently just. We will be back at the very first opportunity to reintroduce and fight for legislation that will protect all unborn children from the violence of abortion in the state of Nebraska. And in God’s good time, we will prevail.

It’s that season, once again, where candidates across the state are vying for our support to serve in public office. Whether somebody is running for the proverbial city dog catcher or President of the United States or anything else in between, elections matter. The people who serve us in public office make decisions that impact us in any number of ways, some smaller and others more substantial. They have influence on those around them, including other public officials in different elected bodies, as well as community and business leaders. Not to mention, any number of candidates who successfully run for lower public offices end up running for higher public offices.

The week of April 4 will be a historic week for the Nebraska Legislature and the pro-life movement. It will mark first round of debate on LB933, the Human Life Protection Act, which would protect preborn babies from the moment of conception if and when Roe v. Wade is overturned. This legislation was introduced by pro-life champion Sen. Joni Albrecht and personally prioritized by Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers.

First things first, if you have not yet contacted your State Senator about LB933, the Human Life Protection Act, which would protect preborn babies from the moment of conception once Roe v. Wade is overturned (hopefully this summer), please do it now.

The Nebraska Legislature will soon debate and vote on LB933, the Human Life Protection Act, and your action is needed now.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s toll is beyond measure. Counted among the toll is the pandemic’s impact on education. The negative ramifications on students is far-reaching and will be long-lasting, unless serious steps are taken to assist children with education loss recovery.

The Nebraska Legislature has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It is sitting on just over $1 billion in federal COVID-19 economic stimulus and pandemic relief money to distribute throughout the state.

Last week, the three major pro-life bills received their public hearings in the Judiciary Committee. The hearings lasted over six hours total and brought out countless pro-life and pro-abortion advocates.

We need something more fundamental: we need laity to proactively build the basic foundations and architecture of a just society. The Lord is calling the laity to this fundamental, constant, and vigilant work. To quote Pope Benedict XVI: “As citizens of the State, [laity] are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity. The mission of the lay faithful is therefore to configure social life correctly[.]”

As the State Legislature considers how to best allocate these historic funds, we will be advocating that state senators, consistent with Catholic social teaching, retain a preferential concern for the poor and other populations, such as refugees, who have been most adversely affected by the pandemic.

It’s that time of year for you to register and join the Nebraska Catholic Conference for our annual Catholic advocacy day, Catholics at the Capitol. This year’s Catholics at the Capitol lineup is promising and will equip you to be an informed and faithful citizen.

Though the yearly memorial of Roe brings with it sadness beyond measure as we consider the 63 million preborn human lives lost to abortion, we rejoice knowing Roe’s days are numbered. Roe, like slavery, will ultimately go down as a stain on our nation’s history.

As with any “short” 60-day session, there are many events taking place simultaneously. Bill introductions. Bill analysis. Floor debate. Committee hearings. Advocacy. Negotiations. There is no shortage of excitement, even if there is a shortage of sleep for those closely working at and with the Unicameral. Given so many things taking place, I thought it’d be good to give you some bite-size samplings of what is taking place.

The United States is at a pivotal point in its history. Deliberations for the historic Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization have spurred a national conversation about the future of abortion. Many states, including Nebraska, are reckoning with their abortion laws.

Take action. Your advocacy will be critical this legislative session. Stay in the know by joining the Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska (CANN). Through CANN e-mails, we will provide regular updates on the major issues taking place at the Capitol.

Deeply embedded in our political situation, structures of sin create obstacles to relief for the poor and vulnerable, the immigrant, the unborn, the un- and under-educated, the prisoner, among others.

There is no controversy over when human life begins. The truth of it is denied to shield pro-abortion ideological belief from examination of the logical consequences.

Roe may well be, at long last, on its way out. But two things are essential to remember: first, the reality of human weakness; and second, the notorious unreliability of anything said in these proceedings to predict how the Court will rule in six or seven months. In the interim, please persevere in prayer, every day, for these justices. God grant them wisdom and courage, and His will be done.

This legislative session will be marked by many great issues. The legislature will deal with major topics like pro-life, marriage and family, human sexuality, education and school choice, anti-poverty, criminal justice and juvenile justice reform, housing, immigration, among so many other important matters.

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