The Archdiocese of Portland has been organizing visits to the offices of Oregon’s congressional delegation to lobby for policy in accord with Catholic teaching.
“Deep down, in our hearts, people of faith know and feel that we are all in this together,” Matt Cato, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace, said during a March 8 meeting with Grace Stratton, a field representative for Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat.
Saying he was representing 400,000 Catholics in western Oregon, Cato asked that Wyden fight for vulnerable people.
“We are called to the common good, where no one is left behind,” Cato said.
With Cato at Wyden’s Portland office were Hannah Macfarlane, volunteer coordinator for refugee resettlement at Catholic Charities of Oregon; Adam Kohl, executive director of Outgrowing Hunger; Jesus Huerta of Catholic Relief Services; and Maura White, executive director of the Mother and Child Education Center in Portland.
Cato and the others spoke out on three issues: standing with refugees, preserving international aid and providing health care to Americans.
Cato quoted Pope Francis for Stratton, saying, “Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity.”
“We have always valued welcoming vulnerable refugees, regardless of their nationality or religion,” Cato said, asking that Wyden do what he can to mitigate President Trump’s executive order on refugee resettlement. Along with the U.S. bishops, Cato asked that the number of refugees allowed into the nation be bumped from 50,000 to 75,000 for the fiscal year.
The Catholic team urged Wyden to support investment in overseas peacekeeping and the Green Climate Fund to help people in poor countries adapt to climate change.
“International assistance is an essential tool for promoting human life and dignity, advancing solidarity with poorer nations and enhancing security throughout the world,” Cato said. “International assistance is not optional. It is a moral responsibility.”
Quoting Pope Francis, who calls health care a “universal right” and not “a consumer good,” the group urged Wyden to protect adequate and affordable health care for all.
“Health care policy must protect human life, especially the most voiceless, the most vulnerable and the unborn,” Cato told Stratton, adding that the issues he cites are not just Catholic issues, but matters of concern to many Oregonians.