Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Catholics visit legislators at state Capitol March 6

By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published February 20, 2014

ATLANTA—The eighth annual Catholic Day at the Capitol has been rescheduled for Thursday, March 6. The event provides the opportunity for lay Catholics to be advocates for public policy in Georgia that promotes the common good.

Originally scheduled for Feb. 11, the legislative lobbying day was postponed due to the ice storm.

Catholics from both the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah are invited to participate. The event, sponsored by the Georgia Catholic Conference, runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., beginning with Mass, at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 48 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, SW, in Atlanta. People are encouraged to arrive beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Immediately following Mass, there will be a legislative briefing on issues of concern this session and information on how to speak with legislators. Participants will then walk to the state Capitol to view the opening session and meet with state lawmakers.

The event is free, but participants are required to register at the archdiocesan website. Parking information and directions are also available online.

Frank Mulcahy, executive director of the Georgia Catholic Conference, has been closely following several issues this session.

Items of interest include the need for prohibiting abortion funding from insurance polices issued under the new federal health insurance exchanges; support of school choice with emphasis on expansion of tax credits available to student scholarship organizations such as G.R.A.C.E. Scholars; and support of Senate Bill 312, the New Americans Act. This act would require the state Department of Human Resources to identify and assist legal immigrants in obtaining citizenship through naturalization.

But the issue most in the spotlight is gun control.

Mulcahy issued a statement on behalf of Georgia’s Catholic bishops during a Feb. 5 press conference, joining other interfaith religious leaders in voicing opposition to House Bill 875. The bill would expand the availability of weapons in houses of worship and on college campuses.

On Feb. 7, the bill passed the Georgia House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.

Mulcahy said the measure is likely to be debated by the full House during the week of Feb. 17.

The thrust of the bill, noted Mulcahy, is that those who have obtained a carry license for firearms should not be restricted from carrying weapons except under limited circumstances.

Among the provisions being opposed by the Georgia Catholic Conference is the elimination of the long-standing prohibition of weapons in houses of worship. The new legislation would also drop a prohibition on weapons in bars. Carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus would no longer be a criminal offense, but would carry a civil fine of $100.

HB 875 also expands who may be authorized to carry weapons in a school safety zone, at a school function, or on a school bus. In the absence of certified peace officers, concealed weapons would be permitted in public libraries, senior centers, recreation centers, and similar locations.

To read a point by point explanation of the opposition, go to, the website of the Georgia Catholic Conference, and click on “Georgia Legislative Session Update 1.”

“The state has a fundamental obligation to provide protection for its people, but the common good is not advanced by expanding the availability of weapons and expanding the places where weapons are permitted, particularly when those are places where children, elderly, infirm and other vulnerable people are located,” said Mulcahy.

In a joint statement, Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory and Savannah Bishop Gregory Hartmayer, OFM Conv., urged the Georgia General Assembly not to change the current state weapons law.

“As pastors, we see too many examples of the anguish of families, friends and neighbors of victims of violence to which access to dangerous weapons contributes,” Archbishop Gregory said. “The proliferation of guns in our society is not the answer to the tragedies that we have witnessed all too often. As bishops and pastors, we support measures that control the sale and use of firearms, including sensible regulation of handguns, measures that make guns safer; measures to protect society from the violence associated with easy access to deadly weapons, including assault weapons; and, most importantly, a serious commitment to confront the pervasive role of addiction and mental illness in crime.”

Bishop Hartmayer also shared the reasons for his position.

“Houses of worship from all faith traditions are places where all people, most especially young people, the vulnerable elderly and the infirm, should be given the assurance of protection by our laws, not exposed to greater risk,” said the bishop. “In houses of worship, we seek to reconcile all people through teaching, charity and divine worship, not through weaponry. In schools of all types, we seek to educate the young in values of justice and peace.”

Mulcahy encouraged those who want to voice opposition to HB 875, but are unable to attend Catholic Day, to contact their legislators directly.

Mulcahy hosts informal Tuesday meetings throughout the legislative session for all those interested in legislation and politics from the perspective of Catholic teaching. “Tuesdays at the State Capitol” begin at 9 a.m. at the parish house of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and will be held Feb. 25, March 4, 11 and 18.


To register for Catholic Day at the Capitol, visit the website at or call Joy Place at 404-920-7346.