Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem., professed solemn vows to the Community of St. Norbert Abbey in 1991. For several years, he headed the justice and peace ministry of St. Norbert Abbey and presently serves as Manager of Mission and Ministry, Catholic Charities USA, Alexandria, VA. His current ministry connects him to national Catholic issues and Church ministers throughout the country.
DISCLAIMER: This blog represents Br. Herro's own opinions and experiences. It does not represent an official position or opinion of neither of the organizations, St. Norbert Abbey nor Catholic Charities USA, nor of any of the organizations' members.
May 4, 2013
Entry #15: "To insure that justice flows like water"
by Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.
Kate Gaskill, director for Grassroots Advocacy and Communication, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, shared a memorable story with us at Ecumenical Advocacy Days last month:
“A nationally recognized faith leader was meeting with a 20th century U.S. President to advocate for budget protection of the most vulnerable people in our society. The President challenged his guest, ‘How do you propose we do this? How do you propose we pay for this?’ The clergy responded, ‘Mr. President, will all due respect, it is my job – as a faith leader – to advocate and insure that justice flows like water. It is your job – as a public official – to figure out the plumbing.’”
A day later, more than 700 Christians from perhaps 12 different faith traditions would descend upon Capitol Hill to meet their Congressmen and Senators and advocate on behalf of poor people during Congressional debate on the Farm Bill.
Kate’s story reminded me of what other Christian social policy professionals remind us of at advocacy conferences and lobby days. We are called to lobby on behalf of poor people who do not have the financial resources to hire K St lobbyists or buy hours of airtime. As a person of faith advocating to an elected official on “you name the policy,” our role is not necessarily to draft the bill but is to insure that policymakers view the bill through the lens of the protection of the life and dignity of all of creation with a special preference for the marginalized.
How did my day of lobbying fare? Several of us from Wisconsin met with staff from both Wisconsin Senators and several Congressmen. My closing comment to Cong. Ribble’s staffer acknowledged that Congress and the president have difficult tasks ahead of them as they debate to renew the Farm Bill and fashion a 2014 federal budget; difficult choices will have to be made, and real lives are at stake. I assured the aid that I prayed every day that the president and Congress would govern to protect the lives of the most vulnerable in our midst. Or, as Cardinal Hummes whispered to Cardinal Bergoglio shortly before he was elected Pope, “Don’t forget the poor.” Or, as Marty Haugen writes in “Who Will Speak:”
“…Who will speak for the ones who are voiceless, speak the truth in the place of power? Who will speak so their voice will be heard? Oh, who will speak if we don’t?”
Archived Blog Posts
- Entry #14: "Pope Francis gains early praise from Catholic social action figures" (April 10, 2013)
- Entry #13: The moral impact of sequestration (March 3, 2013)
- Entry #12: "My first U.S. Presidential Inauguration" (February 2, 2013)
- Entry #11: "Time to vigorously embrace reduction of gun violence as a Catholic pro-life issue" (January 8, 2013)
- Entry #10: "December is not too early to think about community gardens" (December 4, 2012)
- Entry #9: "Vengeance ≠ Justice" (November 5, 2012)
- Entry #8: "Is it a sin not to vote?" (October 9, 2012)
- Entry #7: "Costing monarchies and election campaigns during an international economic downturn" (September 9, 2012)
- Entry #6: "Neighborliness and the extreme summer weather of 2012" (August 4, 2012)
- Entry #5: "Eph 6: 13-17 and a first round victory for DREAMers and their advocates" (June 17, 2012)
- Entry #4: "Cultivating Joy, Gratitude and Compassion in Today’s Church" (May 12, 2012)
- Entry #3: "God is Neither Red Nor Blue" (April 14, 2012)
- Entry #2: "Operation Rice Bowl Opens Doors to Understanding Global Development Issues" (March 5, 2012)
- Entry #1: "We're 27! We're 27!" (January 14, 2012)