The Convocation of Catholic Leaders was originally intended as an opportunity to bridge the false divide between the defense of life and the pursuit of social justice. Those in public ministry, particularly state Catholic conference directors, had been asked well in advance to be a part of that conversation.
It has been a major advocacy priority of our office to nurture a consistent ethic of life among Catholics, helping them transcend partisan divisions and offer a distinctly Catholic public witness. The original goals of the convocation were consistent with that vision, and thus we deemed it important to be present to think together as a church about fulfilling this mission.
The convocation developed, rightly, I think, into something centered instead on Pope Francis’s “The Joy of the Gospel.” Pope Francis calls us to understand all of the Church’s ministries in a missionary and evangelical key, and that includes the church’s social ministry.
So, an effort to forge unity in the church on public policy matters actually turned into a greater evangelical moment of common witness for all those gathered at the convocation. There was a powerful sense of shared conviction that the answer to all of our challenges, whatever our ministry, was to help people grow closer to the person of Jesus Christ. Intramural disputes about politics pale in comparison to the urgency with which we need to make Jesus Christ known and loved. Therefore, people left the convocation with clarity that helping people forge a deeper relationship with our Lord is the key to addressing a whole host of problems that beset the church and society.
The opportunity for the staff of the Minnesota Catholic Conference to be a part of that important moment of shared mission in the church left us with deeper conviction that our work is rooted in one key goal: nurturing faithful citizens who view politics through the lens of building a society where it is easier for men and women to meet our Lord and live a life of flourishing in relationship with him, as well as who see in Catholic social teaching an evangelical opportunity to situate the church as a credible witness within society.
MCC Staff felt really blessed to go to Orlando to pray and reflect more fully about how our policy and lobbying work connects with the church’s missionary mandate to make Jesus Christ known and loved.
Jason Adkins is executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference.