Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, gave Catholic social ministry leaders these words of advice before they went to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers: “Be courageous, be compassionate, be civil, stay calm. Do not fear. Go forth.”
The archbishop in his homily at the Feb. 10 Mass at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington — where more than 500 Catholic leaders had been meeting and attending workshops for three days — stressed that they were “not only about facts and figures, about programs and policies (though you are properly armed to make a case!) but you are people who have met someone, and this has changed your life.”
He told participants of the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering: “You are likely here because of that someone,” noting that “all work for justice in this world has a ‘face,’ a ‘someone.'”
He said the faces he keeps in mind in his ministry include his older brother, George, who was born with Down syndrome; a Haitian man he recently met who was working in a newly rebuilt hospital and spoke of his love for God and his family; and the Little Sisters of the Poor, who care for the frail elderly in Louisville, and are advocating for their religious freedom.
The archbishop urged the participants to keep the faces of those in their minds and hearts as they presented their cases on Capitol Hill advocating for “just immigration policies; for a budget that does not forget those who are poor; for efforts in the Middle East – in the land which Jesus walked; for a lasting peace.”