The MCC has voiced staunch opposition to the comprehensive sexual abuse reform act (known as Bill 1523 in the current session) since the effort began several years ago. There seems no reason to expect any change in 2009.
But what, exactly, is the MCC, and what does it stand for?
In this installment, we consider this question.
The stated goals of the MCC include the following:
THE ROLE OF THE MASSACHUSETTS CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
The staff of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC) assists the bishops of the four Roman Catholic Dioceses in the Commonwealth by giving witness to spiritual values in public affairs. Under the direction of the Archbishop of Boston, and the Bishops of the Dioceses of Fall River, Springfield, and Worcester, the MCC will:
- Apply Church teaching to any public policies and programs affecting the common good of all Massachusetts citizens and the interests of Catholics_____
- Speak for the Roman Catholic Church in Massachusetts before all branches of government and before all groups concerned with social policy
- Identify needs in the areas of morality, health, welfare, education, human and civil rights, and determine ways to meet those needs
Ordinarily, it is the Executive Director of the MCC, Attorney Ed Saunders, Jr., who actually testifies in front of the legislature, often, if not always, before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. His testimony is often underpinned by research conducted by fellow attorney Daniel Avila, who appears to be the number two staff person. A third member of the staff, Kathryn Davis, was added in Feb. of this year. Ms. Davis has been a legislative aide in the House for many years. The staff is rounded out with an office manger.
When Saunders was appointed in July of 2005, then-Archbishop O'Malley stated that it is "…imperative that the Church's voice on…moral issues be competent, always civil and consistently faithful to a moral vision…". He also stated that "The Bishops and Board of the Mass. Catholic Conference look forward to working with Ed Saunders to meet the objectives".
For his part, Saunders said that both the state and the church faced important public policy issues that will have long-term effects. He looked forward to working with the legislators on behalf of the MCC and "…being able to provide our lawmakers with the information that they need to make informed decisions…"
The press release announcing Saunder's appointment stressed that the MCC has always concerned itself with the "…foundational social issues affecting the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of all human lives." However, the MCC cannot achieve its goals alone.
It "…serves as an informational resource and encourages the active participation of all Catholics in these important public debates." Indeed, for the MCC, the "…involvement of all Catholics in the public policy arena is absolutely crucial…" because of the "…threats posed by the legalization of abortion and euthanasia, the re-institution of the death penalty, the redefinition of marriage and the family, and economic injustice…".
The perceived severity of the threats may explain the vigorous outreach program conducted by the MCC. Their web site contains a sign-up page (MCC-NET) so that interested Catholics can avail themselves of the latest alerts - 11 so far this year - broadcasting MCC-sanctioned positions. The sign-up sheet is well worth studying and is located at:
(to be continued)