It’s January, and that means that the Rhode Island General Assembly has once again commenced with “the people’s work” in another legislative session, which this year began on New Year’s Day. Of great concern are the severe budget deficits and limited funding for programs that affect those who live on the fringe of our society. It is the powerless and voiceless poor who will be directly affected most by the budget cuts and trims that undoubtedly will be brought forward for consideration. The issue of same-sex marriage will once again be pushed by a small but vocal minority as they seek legal recognition.
The Catholic Church has long allied herself with the powerless, the poor, the marginalized, and the passionate volunteers in advancing the common good of our society. The Diocese of Providence has consistently called upon the Rhode Island General Assembly to discharge their duties with that common good in mind. Chief among the common good is the protection of all human life from conception until natural death, along with the protection of traditional marriage and family life.
Pope Benedict XVI focused upon family life in his 2008 Message for World Day of Peace. He stated: “Everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, everything that directly or indirectly stands in the way of its openness to the responsible acceptance of a new life, everything that obstructs its right to be primarily responsible for the education of its children, constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace. The family needs to have a home, employment and a just recognition of the domestic activity of parents, the possibility of schooling for children, and basic health care for all. When society and public policy are not committed to assisting the family in these areas, they deprive themselves of an essential resource in the service of peace.”
We call upon the leaders and members of the Rhode Island General Assembly to commit themselves to policies that assist families. They must seize the opportunity to advance the common good of all the citizens, especially the unborn, the poor, the elderly and the children of our great state. They must work for the protection and preservation of traditional marriage in an effort to strengthen family life.
There is much work to be done in “the people’s house” on Smith Hill, and we offer our support and prayers to our elected public servants.