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Coming off another election cycle, it seems a fitting time to propose the vocation to public office. By this I mean the “call within a call” of a lay person to consider whether God may be calling them to serve as an elected representative.

The world is all too easily mired in rancor, hatred, and division. One need only spend about 30 seconds on a political social media post to verify the truth of this claim. But these movements are not of the Spirit of God. A Christian rises above these elements of our circumstances and intervenes with goodness, truth, and beauty.

Given the results of this election how will I continue to look to Christ’s Kingship? How will the desires of His Most Sacred Heart guide my politics in the days, months, and years ahead? Will I serve Him above all things and rightly order everything else in politics to the Heart of Christ?

The Church offers universal principles on faith and morals that are to be applied across the board in various circumstances. Whether you are voting in the 2020 presidential election or sitting around at a local school board meeting, the Church’s teaching is meant to be universal enough for you to apply it in the particular situation you find yourself.

Catholics have a serious obligation to form their consciences according to the Truth. Ultimately, Truth is most fully revealed to us through faith and reason. We access the truths of faith through Jesus Christ and the Church He has given us, which provides us with the Sacred Deposit of Faith—Scripture and Tradition. We access the truths of reasons by exercising our intellect in the various sciences, openly and honestly seeking to know how God has revealed Himself through the natural world.

Catholic social teaching recognizes that gambling can be a moral activity if certain conditions are met. When those conditions are not met, the act of gambling becomes immoral and harmful.

By voting “FOR” Initiative 428 Nebraska can implement a reasonable interest rate cap of 36% on payday loans. This policy honors the poor and vulnerable in our state who are simply looking for a hand-up—not a hand-out—during a time of financial need.

A message from Bishop Hanefeldt
Words from Mother Teresa
and more!

As our attention turns toward the Supreme Court, while we simultaneously remain attentive to the presidential debates and election and take inventory of the countless political campaign flyers that hit our mailboxes, let us pray in the days ahead those words that mark the opening of every session of the Court: “God save… this Honorable Court.” Indeed, may God save this honorable nation.

In This Issue:
What does it mean to love my neighbor in this political climate?
Bishop Barron encourages us to be kind on social media.
and more!

Conscience is beautiful and powerful. It is God working in the human heart, showing us the truth and calling us to “do good and avoid evil.” To put it a bit more thoroughly, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right.”

In This Issue:
What does it mean to form my conscience?
Fr. Mike Schmitz helps answer, "Do I have a good conscience?"
and more!

All of this can easily raise questions in our heart: Why should I vote? Why even get involved in the train wreck that is politics? Especially, as a Catholic, why get involved when it seems like few too many political candidates and political parties fully understand and care about the moral and biblical principles that guide Catholic social teaching?

The simple answer, of course: Jesus Christ. He is the reason why.

Up and Down the Ticket. As we all prepare ourselves for Election Day, one important piece of advice always bears repeating: while it is important to be prepared to vote in major races, like the U.S. Presidency, it is just as important to pay attention to the “down ballot”—to all those races listed after the big ticket races, like the Presidency, U.S. Senate, and U.S House of Representatives.

While battling the Culture of Death and promoting a Culture of Life through policy is critical, advancing the Gospel of Life must be a broader cultural activity that goes beyond the legislative chambers, court rooms, and basements of bureaucratic buildings. Changing minds and hearts on the fundamental issue of human dignity requires concerted efforts within the parish, in the home, on the streets, in our classrooms, through our pregnancy support centers, on our knees, among many other places.

On the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Aug. 15) and surrounded by hundreds of pro-life friends and advocates, Governor Pete Ricketts enthusiastically signed into law LB814 which outlaws the dismemberment abortion procedure. This moment marked another major victory for the pro-life movement in Nebraska

The inability to see this fundamental fact about human existence readily reminds one of the various passages in Scripture where one has eyes, but cannot see, and ears, but cannot hear. This blindness, of course, is a result of the wages of sin, which is death, as St. Paul tells us. The culture of death surrounds any attempt to advance the Culture of Life which the Lord so desires.

The late Justice Antonin Scalia often critiqued the U.S. Supreme Court for what he called “the abortion distortion.” By this he meant the Court’s refusal to follow its own rules when it came to abortion cases, and its tendency to twist itself into fresh legal and logical contortions in order to rule in favor of the “abortion right” imposed by Roe v. Wade.

With the stroke of a pen, the U.S. Supreme Court has re-written the meaning of “sex.”

“AKA Jane Roe” is a new film by FX purporting to tell the “true story” of the late Norma McCorvey (the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade) and, by implication, the “true story” of the pro-life movement.

Although there have been many advancements in the way of civil rights and discrimination laws, unjust hatred and prejudice against our brothers and sisters of different races or ethnicities has never really gone away. It is as ancient as Cain and Abel.

...there is much political news to talk about, and too little space. Be that as it may, I’ll strive to offer some, brief commentary, but ultimately invite you to join me in taking time this summer to seek a greater understanding of issues that matter most to us as Catholics.

In Christ, Who was present at creation, we find the way and truth for caring for creation.

Under the CARES Act, local public schools are required to consult with non-public schools to ensure that students in non-public schools get an “equitable share” of the relief aid. And, herein resides the issue.

A less known form of relief that was contained in the third relief packages (recently passed by Congress)—the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—was education relief funding.

Just last week our voter guide went live. After publishing our voter guide we have received a variety of questions about the purpose and scope of our voter guide. In order to help everybody have a better understanding of the voter guide, I want to offer the following frequently-asked questions.

Even though coronavirus has disrupted much of normal life, the primary election is still scheduled. While physical polling places are still scheduled to remain open on primary election day, many people are considering early voting through a mail-in ballot. This is certainly a great way to exercise caution and prudence during these uncertain times.

While we are in the midst of great uncertainty and many changes to our daily lives, remember we still have the choice to love God and our neighbor, to feed our souls and minds, and to engage in faithful citizenship.

Evangelium Vitae is beautiful and worth reflecting upon in its 25th anniversary year.

And, like that, seemingly overnight, the coronavirus crisis has swept our communities, state, and nation.

Subsidiarity. The common good. Solidarity. Human dignity. These four fundamental principles of Catholic social teaching can often seem like amorphous terms and realities. They are not only difficult to define, but also seemingly impossible to identify and apply in the day-to-day of life.

As we prepare to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pope Saint John Paul II’s monumental encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, take a moment to recall those words of our Lord, Jesus Christ, that John Paul never tired of repeating: “Do not be afraid.”

As we enter into the last half of the session, recall the words chiseled into the side of the State Capitol: “The salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen.” As our Legislature works away, Nebraskans are called to remain vigilant to their activity.

In this context of LB814, ‘it is what it is’ is about the closest thing you’ll find to an abortionist admitting to the brutality that is dismemberment abortion, a 21st century so-called “medical” procedure used between the 13th and 24th weeks of pregnancy to tear apart a living human being limb by limb in utero.

Pope Francis has a knack for using strong language when categorically condemning moral evils. He has compared the evil of abortion to “hiring a hitman” or “resorting to a contract killer to solve a problem.” He has also condemned gender ideology—the notion that a person can choose and change their own gender—as “demonic” and comparable to “the educational policies of Hitler.”

“A good Catholic meddles in politics,” said Pope Francis during a daily Mass homily in 2013.

The beautiful (and fun) part about being Catholic and working on legislative issues is that on any given week we are working on a mixed bag of policy proposals. As I mentioned in my last column, all things belong to Christ and Christ wants all things restored to Him.

When it comes to public policy efforts, the month of January is one of those that makes the ol’ adage, “When it rains, it pours,” sound like an understatement.

In past legislative sessions, my column has maintained a close and keen focus on major legislative proposals the NCC has supported or opposed, such as pro-life, religious liberty, and school choice policies. This year, I hope to provide more commentary on other legislative proposals the NCC is engaging but aren’t our top tier priorities.

Jeremy Ekeler, principal at Cathedral of the Risen Christ School in Lincoln, will join the Nebraska Catholic Conference as its associate director for education policy after he completes the 2019-2020 school year.

Action rooted in prayer is at the core of the Nebraska Catholic Conference’s support of LB814. Introduced by Senator Suzanne Geist of Lincoln (Legislative District 25), LB814 would end the barbaric practice of dismemberment abortion in Nebraska.

...let’s talk about two upcoming events you should put on your calendar and, of course, attend!

Christ, Hope for Humanity. While Christ invites us to suffer with Him and enter into His redemptive work, the burdens and evils of this world were not meant for us to shoulder. From the outset of salvation history, God the Father has promised the Messiah to atone for our sinfulness (see Genesis 3:15).

The political question for DACA youth is whether Congress will have the courage to permanently address their tragic situation by passing something like the DREAM Act, which the U.S Bishops have supported, or whether they will continue to be treated as a political football by a dysfunctional Congress unable to achieve even the slightest degree of immigration reform.

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