Sanctity of Life
Every person has value and dignity not because these are assigned by an external society or government, but because each one is created in the image and likeness of God. A just government merely recognizes the inherent dignity that already exists in individual persons.
Whether one is elderly or infirmed, living with a disability or in desolation, whether a child yet to be born, or a convicted felon, every person is cherished in the eyes of God. Recognizing this truth, it is imperative that Catholics continually work to provide a growing awareness of the irreplaceable value that is every person. Changing hearts and minds, one by one, will yield an increased respect for life and the worth of all our brothers and sisters. Therefore, the Diocese supports:
* State initiatives that promote adoption and assistance to pregnant women
* Measures to limit abortion and promote the safety of women
* Regulations on human embryo research
* Legislation banning the death penalty
* A ban on physician assisted suicide.
“As a gift from God, every human life is sacred from conception to natural death. The life and dignity of every person must be respected and protected at every stage and in every condition. The right to life is the first and most fundamental principle of human rights that leads Catholics to actively work for a world of greater respect for human life and greater commitment to justice and peace.”
After life, the liberties to believe and speak for ourselves are our most cherished rights. The freedoms to exercise our religious beliefs and to act according to our consciences are rights belonging to every person. Thankfully, these rights are recognized in America. Over the course of our history, these bedrock principles have been defended time and again. However, recent actions taken by the federal government and in some states have challenged our ability to follow our collective conscience and to provide services to the general public in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church. To that end, the Diocese supports:
The rights of faith-based providers, institutions, and all individuals to conscience protections in the delivery of services and in their practices
The equal application of the law to all persons and institutions regardless of their faith
Opposition to insurance regulations mandating coverage for abortion, or contraception, or sterilization
“If religious liberty is not respected, all people suffer and are deprived of the essential contribution to the common good, be it in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that the Church and other people of faith make every day, both here at home and overseas.”
“Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.
Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society.”
Marriage and the Family
Pope John Paul II described the family as the fundamental unit of society, and at the heart of the family is the indispensable institution of marriage. For all of human history and across all cultures, the defining characteristic of marriage has been the union of man and woman, as is our design. Every child deserves a mother and a father. When children see the unique yet complementary gifts that their mother and father provide within the family, they are enabled to truly value diversity. Out of its ancient recognition of the unique importance of the family, the Catholic Church stands in strong support of efforts to ensure its preservation.
The Poor & Vulnerable
For 2000 years, the Catholic Church has manifested a special concern for the poor and the vulnerable. This is a central tenet of our faith. The Church is a provider and supporter of services that help those among us most in need of assistance. In these difficult economic times, those with little, and those unable to help themselves, are in particular need of society’s compassion. People of good will may disagree about the best way to care for the poor. Unfortunately, many in our country have adopted an either or mindset (i.e caring for the poor is either the responsibility of government programs or organized charity.) However, the poor in our communities cannot wait for an argument to be settled; they are in desperate need today. Christians are also called to remember the words of Jesus when he said “Whatever you did for the least of my people, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40 Therefore, along with the assistance of government programs and organized charities, we must also be willing to individually and personally encounter Christ who is in the poor. If we have a crisis of faith in our world today, it is because we have a crisis of charity in our hearts toward Christ in the poor and vulnerable.
The Catholic Church promotes the belief that all people should have access to medical care. What policies best serve that end is a matter of considerable debate. What is not open for debate amongst faithful Catholics, however, is the fact that abortion and euthanasia are not health care and that no American should be forced to participate toward these ends. True health care reform is in service of the goal of expanding health care opportunities for all, in particular the poor.
The Catholic Church teaches that each person has dignity and the right to basic human necessities. Individuals therefore have the right to migrate in order to secure those needs for themselves, and their families. At the same time, immigrants must also respect and abide by the laws and traditions of the countries in which they reside. Immigration laws must:
Uphold the human dignity of all persons and work against any injustice which would compromise the dignity of immigrants, and
Recognize and promote the values that immigrants provide to Wyoming’s culture and economy.
A quality education is essential for the development of the human person and a necessary tool to eliminate poverty. Our society depends upon an educated citizenry. The Catholic Church supports the freedom of parents to choose a school for their children with a safe, productive learning environment, and believes that a parent’s address and income level should not determine a child’s educational opportunities.
Restorative justice emphasizes repairing the damage done by crime rather than focusing on retribution. Our system of justice should focus on rehabilitation of the offender, repairing the harm done to victims of crime, and restoring a sense of safety to communities. Criminal offenders must be punished, but in a way that enables them to return to the community as productive members of society. Victims of crime must receive restitution that includes physical and emotional health services. Citizens should feel safe in their communities and not live in fear of crime and violence. In order to advance restorative justice, the Conference supports:
* Policies that seek to reduce violence in society
* Policies that provide just compensation to crime victims, and treatment for their physical and emotional injuries
* Policies that incentivize intensive probation programming in order to reduce recidivism
* Adequate state funding to ensure accused indigent persons receive professional legal representation
* Sentencing guidelines and parole practices that reflect an individual’s potential threat to society.