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Diocesan public-policy agenda targets physician-assisted suicide

Mike Latona/Catholic Courier    |    07.22.2019
Category: Local News


ROCHESTER — A gathering of social-ministry leaders July 16 at Sacred Heart Cathedral served a dual purpose: to address the Diocesan Public Policy Committee’s agenda for 2019-20, and to honor the recently retired Ruth Putnam Marchetti for her service.

The new public-policy agenda, which has been approved by Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, comprises one advocacy priority and three educational issues.

For advocacy, the committee is targeting physician-assisted suicide due to increasing pressure in New York state to legalize this form of suicide for patients diagnosed with serious illnesses. The state’s Catholic bishops are urging continuation of the ban on physician-assisted suicide while calling for better access to palliative and hospice care. Catholics across the diocese will sign petitions backing the bishops’ stance when Public Policy Weekend takes place in parishes in February 2020.

The educational issues are:

Addiction. Parishes are being asked to raise awareness about addiction while supporting folks in addiction recovery and their loved ones. At the July 16 meeting, Public Policy Committee members noted the rise of opioid addiction and vaping, as well as the potential decriminalization of marijuana in New York state. They added that addiction is not limited to drug usage, noting, for instance, the spread of casinos across the state and their potential to fuel a spike in gambling addiction.

Faithful citizenship. Committee members observed that the next presidential election is only 15 months away, so it’s not too early to study potential candidates and their stances. The committee is encouraging Catholics to access “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” issued by the U.S. bishops, as a guide. That document calls for Catholics to be fully engaged in the political process, applying church teaching and values to their voting decisions while striving to remain nonpartisan in the process.

Funding for schools. The committee is seeking $200 million in state aid for key capital projects at religious and independent schools, as well as grants and loans for energy-efficient initiatives. Committee members noted that private schools don’t receive state aid for such projects and are powerless to levy taxes for them — but they nonetheless deserve state aid, since the existence of such schools saves taxpayers the cost of educating students who would otherwise attend public schools.

In addition to discussing the public-policy agenda July 16, those in attendance at Sacred Heart paid tribute to Marchetti, who retired July 25 after seven years as social-ministry coordinator at Rochester’s Catholic Family Center. Marchetti’s service with Catholic Charities dates back to the early 2000s, when she coordinated the Works of Love service and learning initiative emphasizing Catholic social teaching. She then spent nine years as the Catholic Charities justice-and-peace coordinator in the Finger Lakes area. Marchetti also is a longtime member of the Diocesan Public Policy Committee.

“I just think it’s so important,” she said of her work. “I love Catholic social teaching. … I had the opportunity to work with amazing people, both staff and people out in the field. Social-ministry people are amazing people.”

In her most recent role with Catholic Family Center, Marchetti worked alongside Marvin Mich, who had served as CFC’s longtime director of advocacy and parish social ministry until his death last Nov. 21.

“He just was a gift. He was a wonderful and wise coworker, mentor and advocate, caring about the community and especially those who were most vulnerable,” said Marchetti, who on June 19 was named the recipient of CFC’s inaugural Marvin Mich Salt and Light Award.

Marchetti’s position with CFC has been filled by Marcus Ebenhoe, who has assumed Mich’s former duties as well. Ebenhoe served the previous six years as the Cathedral Community’s parish social-ministry coordinator and pastoral minister. Marchetti, meanwhile, said that she plans to continue her social-ministry efforts on a volunteer basis, assisting both Ebenhoe and her parish of St. Joseph in Penfield.

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