FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 22, 2015
DC Vote Calls on Pope to Acknowledge Denial of Democracy in DC Runs Counter to Church Teachings
WASHINGTON, D.C. – When Pope Francis is in the District of Columbia, he will interact with thousands of Americans who are governed in a way that does not align with the Catholic Church’s pronouncements on democracy. In 1991, Pope John Paul II spelled out the Church’s views on democratic government in an encyclical letter, Centesimus Annus.
“The Church values the democratic system inasmuch as it ensures the participation of citizens in making political choices, guarantees to the governed the possibility both of electing and holding accountable those who govern them, and of replacing them through peaceful means when appropriate.”(Paragraph 46)
[For more detail about the Catholic Church, democracy and DC, check out this short piece by DC Vote Executive Director Kimberly Perry]
As the Pope visits local Catholic congregations and service providers, DC Vote hopes he considers the stance of John Paul II, and the way Congress treats the residents of the District.
Residents of the District have no representation in their national legislature and thus have no role in making political choices. A Congress elected by people from outside the District, can at any time -- and does -- impose laws upon District residents. The lack of democratic rights for the people of DC, and the continued ideologically-driven actions imposed upon DC by members of Congress unaccountable to DC residents violates the 1991 encyclical on nearly every point.
Kimberly Perry, the executive director of DC Vote, said that she hopes the Pope will recognize this inequality as he stands before Congress, in a place where democracy is denied by the very body he is addressing.
“No doubt the Pope has a lot of ground to cover during his U.S. visit,” Perry said. “But part of that ground is the District of Columbia, a place I call home, and a place where the United States has fallen short of the teaching of the Church regarding democracy.”
DC Vote, founded in 1998, advocates for democratic equality for Americans living in the District of Columbia. . According to the 2010 U.S. census, nearly 660,000 Americans lack the right to a voice in their national legislature because they live in the nation’s capital. This violates multiple international human rights treaties as well as the teachings of the Catholic Church.