Reversing the tide in favor of a culture of life and justice

Categories: Editorial

Getting involved in the legislative process is one way to have an effective impact

Joe Towalski

There has been a good deal of talk in recent months about the “throwaway culture” that is plaguing much of our world. Pope Francis referenced it in a just-released book in which he criticized abortion, inattention to the elderly and a global economy that too often focuses on money instead of the well-being of people.

And, in a Jan. 12 speech to diplomats, the pope condemned the terrorism perpetrated by extremists in Paris, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and other parts of the world as another consequence of a “throwaway culture” that fails to respect the sacredness of human life and dignity. It is a mentality that underlies other pressing issues, internationally as well as close to home: conflict, poverty, family breakdown and environmental degradation.

So, what can be done about it? Finding solutions can seem like a daunting task. What impact can one person or one family really have on problems this large in scope?

The answer is: plenty. There is much we can do right here in Minnesota to change hearts and minds and reverse the tide of the “throwaway culture” mentality.

Beliefs into action

Our Catholic faith always challenges us to put our words and beliefs into action. This often involves volunteering for charitable causes and service projects that make a positive difference in the lives of individuals or communities. Or making a financial contribution to a worthy non-profit.

But here’s something else to consider if you haven’t before: Get involved in the legislative process. By educating yourself about important issues facing our state, you can help our elected officials in St. Paul to pass laws and policies that counter the “throwaway culture” with a culture of life and justice.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his followers they must be “salt for the earth” and “light for the world” — to be an influence on the world for good. And the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that we citizens need to take an active part in public life.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of our state’s Catholic bishops, makes it easy to follow what’s happening at the Capitol and have an impact on public policy debates. Those who sign up for the MCC’s Catholic Advocacy Network at will receive e-updates and action alerts with suggestions for simple, concrete actions to take on behalf of human life and the common good.

Further, each edition of The Visitor during the current legislative session, which began Jan. 6, will feature the MCC’s “Faith in the Public Arena” column highlighting a specific issue on which the conference is focusing and how it ties into the church’s social teachings. Each column also will include an action alert and an accompanying feature story that illustrates how the issue impacts real people.

This week’s edition of The Visitor also includes a Page 1 story previewing the MCC’s overall approach to the 2015 session.

If we Catholics in the St. Cloud Diocese and around Minnesota work together this legislative session and into the future, we can help bring about significant changes in our state that will go a long way toward creating a culture that throws away no one created in the image and likeness of God.