Catholic Conference, Justice and Life Office Working to Provide Faithful with Resources on Issues

 By D.F. Kratzer WEST VIRGINIA— The diocesan Justice and Life Office and the Catholic Conference of West Virginia (CCWV) are working to provide West Virginia Catholics with information and resources concerning issues and Catholic social teaching and to inspire the faithful to continued political awareness. This, said Jesuit Father Brian O’Donnell, executive secretary of CCWV, will occur through “a consistent interweaving of three campaigns”—the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Faithful Citizenship and Respect Life Program and Catholic Charities USA’s Campaign to Reduce Poverty. The issues of and discussions prompted by these campaigns, Father O’Donnell said, promote pro-life issues and provide the opportunity to “enter a dialogue with different constituencies in the diocese.” To help people throughout the diocese understand these documents and issues, the Justice and Life Office and CCWV will distribute materials concerning the three campaigns and make their services available to parishes, schools and other organizations, among other efforts. Rev. Mr. Todd Garland, director of the Justice and Life Office, said that his office and CCWV will “help members of the diocese to get access to good materials from the Catholic Church.” “It is not the role of Church leadership to tell people how to vote,” he continued, “but it is the responsibility of the Church to help people form their conscience.” Faithful Citizenship, the Respect Life Program and the Campaign to Reduce Poverty, Deacon Garland said, are a body of ethical and moral teachings that work as a powerful evangelism tool. “Catholic social teaching,” he said, “is probably one of our greatest evangelism tools because it presents, in a very cohesive form, a consistent ethic of life that isn’t skewed to either side of the political spectrum.” Deacon Garland encourages concerned Catholics to write letters to elected officials, make their beliefs known to candidates at all levels of government, enter ongoing conversation with elected officials, run for office and volunteer with any of many Catholic or community organizations. The efforts of the Justice and Life Office and CCWV will not end after election day, Deacon Garland said, because “it’s very important to carry our responsibility of political participation beyond the election, to pay attention to what our elected officials are doing … and to hold them to accountability to what we believe.” For more information about the offerings and resources available via the Justice and Life Office and CCWV, contact Deacon Garland at 343-3360 or at or Father O’Donnell at 380-0159 or at For more information about Faithful Citizenship, visit; the Respect Life Program, visit; the Campaign to Reduce Poverty, visit; and the diocese’s evangelization efforts, visit