Hahn, Richert emphasize importance of engaging in local politics

| September 30, 2016 | 3 Comments

Kimberly Hahn speaks about getting involved in local-level politics for the 150-plus people gathered at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul Sept. 21. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Presidential election mania often overshadows the multitude of critical races other than the one for the White House.

“[It’s] through the local level where we restore the foundation and begin to rebuild … the culture,” Scott Richert told the crowd gathered at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul Sept. 21 for the Bishops’ Fall Study Day hosted by the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

Richert, the executive editor of “Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture,” joined Kimberly Hahn in giving the keynote addresses for the “Our Corner of the Vineyard” conference. Six of Minnesota’s seven bishops attended the event.

Hahn, the wife of Catholic Scripture scholar Scott Hahn, has first-hand experience of local-level government with her service as a city council member in Steubenville, Ohio. She talked about the impact local government can have and how to get involved. Hahn also called political involvement essential in living out the Christian life.

“We need to engage our culture, to help warn our culture, to expose what is evil and reward what is good,” Hahn said.

Moreover, that essential call to all Catholics stems from the fundamental call to love one’s neighbor. Hahn referenced what Pope Francis had to stay in that regard.

“Pope Francis says, ‘Politics according to the social doctrine of the Church is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good,’” Hahn said.

Seeking the common good led Hahn to serve on the Steubenville city council in 2015 after homeschooling six children, writing books and giving talks. She wants to improve a struggling community that has only 30 percent of its residents working.

It doesn’t mean that she believes local government can solve all of the eastern Ohio town’s ailments, though. Both Hahn and Richert highlighted the importance of subsidiarity, which means a government allows a society to manage the things it can on its own instead of being micro-managed.

“It is so essential that we support this understanding and how we detangle the mess we are in,” Hahn told the 150-plus people gathered at UST.

In his presentation, Richert described how the current government infringes on family life. It spells trouble for society since “the family is the original cell of social life,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which Richert referenced.

Religious freedom also came up at the conference. Hahn made it clear that religious freedom cannot stop at freedom to worship.

“Our society must allow the Church to do what she has been called to do, which is to proclaim the truth,” Hahn said.

It behooves Catholics to keep standing up for the right to life. Hahn added that candidates who support abortion miss more than one issue.

“I think someone is unqualified to run for office if there is any segment of our population they refuse to represent,” Hahn said.

Hahn encouraged the crowd to consider serving in politics. She said it takes prayer and talking with others to gauge support. She added that watching for motives of anger and gaining power also matter.

“It’s about service,” Hahn said.

Richert set up that point earlier when he talked about all human authority coming from God, again referencing the Catechism. Politicians can’t save the world either, even at the presidential level.

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