Catholic News Service
While the advocates told Catholic News Service Nov. 9 the issues that they prioritize will not change, they will be looking for cues from President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team so that they can shape their messages on concerns as diverse as religious liberty, human dignity and climate change.
That requires putting aside the feistiness and anger that arose during the campaign, said officials from agencies such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA and advocacy groups Jubilee USA and Network, a Catholic social justice lobbying group.
“Two priorities that we have are unity and governance,” said Jonathan Reyes, executive director of the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development. “So this divisive election, we somehow have to get to the other side. That will not be easy, but it’s essential to governance.”
Healing and unity must be achieved among elected officials as well as voters, he said.
Brian Corbin, executive vice president of membership services at Catholic Charities USA, echoed Reyes.
“We certainly and constantly hope that regardless of party affiliation, that an elected official uses the power of their office to bring people together, break down silos and help the most vulnerable,” Corbin said.
How quickly the healing occurs remains to be seen. Reyes said the Catholic Church and its agencies are positioned to help build the understanding the country needs.
“The bishops have done a good job of being honest brokers. We try to stay as above the fray as we can and say what’s true from the level of principles, give arguments to the things we support according to principle,” Reyes said.
“The whole point of the church’s voice is to be that voice that can have some credibility for being consistent,” he added.
Officials who work on legislative issues for Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA are looking to learn more about the future Trump administration’s positions on a variety of fronts.
Bill O’Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy at CRS, said the agency has closely worked with congressional Republicans and Democrats on foreign assistance bills funding HIV/AIDS treatment, human trafficking and hunger. O’Keefe said he hopes those good relations will carry over to the Trump administration, especially when it comes to the effects of climate change on poor farming communities and the need to assist refugees from the world’s war zones.
He acknowledged that Americans, Catholics in particular, are concerned about the lives of poor and marginalized people.
“The incoming administration does not have a clear record on many of these issues and we do look forward to contributing our Catholic experience and our approaches as they form their plans and policies,” O’Keefe told CNS.
We will be seeking meetings with the (Trump) transition team and with the objective of sharing our experience and helping them see the importance of the really wonderful bipartisan efforts to help the poor around the world.
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