The good guys do exist: Catholic senators serving our state

Therese Bussen

The good guys don’t make the headlines very often. So here’s a friendly reminder that, in the political world, they do still exist.

Senators Kevin Priola and Jack Tate are both Catholic family men who were concerned about their community and decided to take action. And most importantly, their faith remains central to their lives and informs their service to the state.31`

This is the first of what we hope will be many profiles of Catholic legislators serving in the State Legislature. To start, here are two of your senators and their most important issues – you might be able to say hello if they go to your parish.

Kevin Priola – Republican, Senate District 25

kevinpriolaSenator Kevin Priola grew up a Colorado native and

attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, graduating with a business degree.

Priola got involved in politics because of his concern for
the state, especially after having children, and the environment they would grow up in, he said.

But his faith is most important.

“I try to live my life informed by my faith and let my faith direct decisions I make serving,” Priola said.

Priola is especially passionate about green industry issues at the Capitol, opposes new taxes and fee increases and believes in the importance of private property rights, especially small businesses. Other issues listed on his website include quality education standards, keeping sexual predators safe from families and reducing traffic congestion with transportation solutions. He also believes in the commitment to the protection of human dignity, beginning at conception and ending at natural death.

He and his wife, Michele, a fifth grade teacher, have four children and live in Adams County. On their days off, they enjoy hiking, camping or skiing. They attend Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Northglenn.

For more information, visit his website, http://kevinpriola.com.

Jack Tate – Republican, Senate District 27

Jack TateOriginally from Nashville, Tenn., Senator Jack Tate has been a resident of Colorado for 18 years. He received an engineering degree from Duke University and graduate degrees from the University of Colorado Denver in finance and marketing. He also completed graduate work in political science and economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Important issues include creating jobs, attending school needs, fixing problems with rising housing costs, energy efficiency, constitutional rights and attending to fixing the healthcare system.

“I am not the guy with all the answers,” Tate says on his website. “Instead, I’m the guy who can listen, understand and work hard to discover those answers and solve problems…We must seek thoughtful solutions as opposed to making ‘pie in the sky’ promises. We should ask that of all politicians.”

Tate and his wife Kathleen, a physician and surgeon in private practice, attend Our Lady of Loreto Parish with their three children and his interests include youth soccer and basketball, literary interpretation, Colorado railroad history, skiing, tennis, golf and fishing.

For more information, visit his website, http://jacktate.org.

Get to know your state legislature leadership

As the Colorado state legislative session opens, it’s good to know who some of the key players are. Just as knowing your local mayor and state governor is important, it’s good to know who’s who in the Colorado House and Senate. It’s also worth noting that the House of Representatives is a Democrat majority, while the Senate is a Republican majority.

House Majority: Democrats by nine seats
65 seats – 37 Democrat, 28 Republican

KC BeckerHouse Democrat leader – KC Becker (D)

District 13
Counties: Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson
Issues: Poverty, Forest Health, Public Health, Energy and the Environment, Death Penalty

Patrick Neville picHouse Republican leader – Patrick Neville (R)

District 45
Counties: Douglas
Issues: 2nd Amendment, Life, Traditional Family Values, Religious Liberty, Education, Right to Work, Health Care, Illegal Immigration, Energy

Senate Majority: Republicans by one seat
35 seats – 18 Republican, 17 Democrat

S-Holbert, ChrisSenate Republican leader – Chris Holbert (R)

District 30
Counties: Douglas
Issues: 2nd Amendment, Life, Environment, Education

Lucia GuzmanSenate Democrat leader – Lucia Guzman (D)

District 34
Counties: Denver
Issues: Education, Energy, Agriculture, Human Rights

COMING UP: Relativism: An obstacle to the pursuit of truth

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When I was a kid, my favorite television show was The Partridge Family. Mostly because I was completely enamored of the late David Cassidy, whom I was convinced I would marry some day. But also because the show featured just the kind of mildly corny humor a seven year old is inclined to enjoy.

I remember one joke in particular. Keith (David Cassidy) is trying to give big brotherly advice to Danny (Danny Bonaduce). He says “If you just believe, you can be anything you want to be.”

Danny responds, “Great! I want to be a black woman.” Laugh track ensues. Because everybody knows that a pale white, red-headed, freckle-faced kid cannot grow up to be a black woman.

I was thinking about that scene as I was listening to Bishop Robert Barron Feb. 6, giving a riveting talk on relativism to a packed house here in Denver. As he spoke about the philosophical underpinnings of relativistic thinking, I realized that joke couldn’t be told today. Because, as a society, we don’t seem to agree that race, gender, or just about anything else, are based in any kind of objective truth.

Bishop Barron spoke of a video you may have seen. A rather short male interviewer asks college students what they would think if he told them he identifies as a woman. Then an Asian woman. Then a 6’4” Asian woman. They hesitate at times, but all ultimately agree that if that is his “truth,” then he is indeed entitled to be a tall Asian woman.

That is the ultimate expression of relativism.

Relativism, boiled down, is essentially the belief that there is no “objective” truth that is true for all. Rather, we as individuals, each establish our own subjective “truths,” and we live “authentically” to the extent that we honor these individual “truths.”

The speed with which we have descended down this path is breathtaking. When I was in my 20’s (which was not long ago at all — right???), I used to debate abortion at Berkeley. Not exactly a friendly audience — I remember mentally noting exits, including windows, that I could utilize if things got out of hand. But they showed up, and they listened, because there was still some understanding in society that there was such a thing as truth, and hence an openness to listen to others to see if together we could arrive at that truth. Or, at the very least, that I could employ the truth as I see it to convince you that your understanding of the truth is flawed.

Not so today. Open discussion of controversial issues is almost nonexistent on most college campuses. Of course. If I have my truth and you have your truth, what would be the point? We are just supposed to respect each others’ truths and move on.

But the problem is that we all have to play together in the same sandbox. Somebody’s truth has to rule our social interaction. If we can’t come to an agreement about whose truth is truer, then the only option left is force. And so, instead of listening to what you have to say, I attempt to forcibly shut you down. I smash windows. I disrupt your talk. Or, alternatively, I call on the authority of the university to do that dirty work for me while I hide in a safe space with my crayons and puppy videos.

Pope Benedict XVI called relativism a “dictatorship.” And, ironically, it is. The philosophy that purports to allow everyone to believe as he wishes, actually allows no one to believe in anything but relativism. And because there need be no rhyme nor reason behind any individual belief, enforcement through persuasion becomes impossible. Hence, the inevitable clash of ideologies. And it will be the stronger, not the most persuasive, who will prevail.

Parents, please — teach your children that there is such a thing as truth. That yes, we may disagree with others about what that truth is. That we respect people — all people — regardless of their beliefs. (Another objective truth.) But beneath the disagreement, there is a truth. There is a God or there isn’t. Jesus Christ is divine or He isn’t. Sexual expression has an inherent meaning or it doesn’t. Gender is fixed or it isn’t.

[And parents, if you want help with this, get your hands on Chris Stefanik’s book Absolute Relativism, and check out his YouTube videos on the same subject.]

In any disagreement about objective truths, someone is right and someone is wrong. Or perhaps both are partially wrong and neither grasps the full truth. But the truth is there.

In the old days, our goal was to find it.