There has been much controversy in the press concerning the creation of the Catholic Alliance, A Division of Christian Coalition. Most of the commentary has been premature as the Catholic Alliance was formally initiated on October 8, 1995, and is still in its formative stages.
However, as the executive director of the Catholic Alliance, I welcome this opportunity to present the mission of the Catholic Alliance and the reasons that I, as a lay Catholic American, believe that there is a vital need to unite with like-minded people of varying traditions in an organized public policy effort.
The Catholic Alliance mission statement clearly asserts that we are animated by the call of the Second Vatican Council, enlightened by our faith, and motivated by our citizenship to promote, through action, a free and truly just society. We acknowledge that lay Catholic Americans have a duty to participate in the legislative process in order to help bring about greater justice and peace. We approach this task realistically and recognize that at times there exist real differences among Catholics of goodwill as to the best means to achieve these lofty ends. We accept Pope John XXIII’s admonition, “When it comes to reducing these teachings to action, it sometimes happens that even sincere Catholics have differing views. When this occurs they should take care to have and to show mutual esteem and regard, and to explore the extent to which they can work in cooperation among themselves.”
The Catholic Alliance does not pretend to represent all Catholics. Our goal is to galvanize like-minded Catholics, as outlined in our mission statement, and to work with all people of goodwill in the promotion of pro-life and pro-family legislation.
The Christian Coalition is clearly one of the most successful grass-roots organizations in the country. In just six years, people of varying faiths, races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and political affiliations, representing every state in this nation, have dedicated themselves to establishing the most effective pro-family coalition in the country. In six short years, the Christian Coalition has grown to be a formidable voice in public policy debates. Catholics have made a tremendous contribution to this success.
According to an internal survey of the Christian Coalition, approximately 250,000 Catholics are already members of the organization. It is through the efforts of Christian Coalition grass roots members that nonpartisan information is distributed regarding issues and candidates’ positions on them. The information provided by the Coalition empowers voters to make informed decisions in good conscience when they vote in their local, state, and national elections. It is largely because of the efforts of these like-minded Americans that we now are represented by the most pro-life Congress this country has elected in years. Catholic Americans who join in an alliance with the Christian Coalition are offered the strength of the Coalition’s grass-roots organization, while we are informed by our Catholic faith.
Pope John Paul recently released Ut Unum Sint, an entire encyclical dedicated to the cause of Christian unity. But much distinguishes Catholics from other Christians. Some of our brethren do not share, for example, the affection and esteem in which we hold the Blessed Mother of our Lord, nor do they embrace certain aspects of our devotional prayer life, our liturgical worship, our teachings on marriage, and much more. The Catholic Alliance, however, is clear about the common ground we seek with Americans of other traditions. For instance, we can support the limitation of federal government in the lives of citizens in good conscience and in the parameters of Catholic social teaching.
The Catholic Alliance as part of the Christian Coalition is a nonpartisan, public policy initiative. The Christian Coalition is not a religion, denomination, or a substitute for anyone’s faith. We are simply Americans of faith who are uniting in support of a particular public policy agenda. The Catholic Alliance does not presume to be the voice of the Roman Catholic Church any more than do other political or public policy associations of Catholics.
As Catholic Americans, our religious beliefs and social attitudes are formed by scripture, tradition, and the magisterium of the Church. The Catholic Alliance is an outreach to encourage Catholic Americans to participate with other concerned citizens in a successful grass-roots organization for the promotion and advancement of legislation that protects life and the family.
I invite all like-minded Catholics to enter into this cause and to support each other with their prayers, hard work, and an honest hope.