Brian Burch – 2018 Defender of the Faith
Co-founder of catholicvote.org helps Catholics apply faith to public issues
As the President of CatholicVote.org and a married father to nine children, the youngest being a three-month-old, Brian Burch doesn’t have a lot of time for hobbies.
“Life goes by too quickly. Thankfully as Catholics, we believe there is something after this. Otherwise, it would be very odd,” said Burch, 43, who in 2008 cofounded CatholicVote.org, a nonprofit aimed at presenting a Catholic voice and perspective in the public square.
Burch is also a member of Legatus’ DuPage County Chapter in Illinois. In that capacity, Burch received the 2018 Defender of the Faith Award at the Legatus Summit in January. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine.
How did you feel about being named the 2018 Legatus Defender of the Faith?
I felt both honored and undeserving at the same time, given the caliber and prestige of many of the past recipients. But certainly, I’m grateful for the recognition of the work that, not myself on my own, Catholic Vote has accomplished over the last decade in trying to serve the Church and to help Catholics better understand and apply the teachings of our faith to American public life.
What is CatholicVote.org’s mission?
It’s in the world of public policy and law, which incorporates elections and the virtue of prudence, which is often misunderstood. This is why it’s important that lay people carry out this work. The Church doesn’t have specific blackand-white answers on every political question. It involves certain principles that must be faithfully applied to the greatest extent possible by people of good will seeking the common good.
How would you describe CatholicVote.org’s work in the last ten years?
The longer you are involved in politics, the more you grow to be chastened a bit by the reality of how difficult and how cyclical things sometimes seem to be. At the same time, the fact that the Church, in spite of its extraordinary mistakes and lack of courageous leadership on the part of some, remains a critical and viable voice in the public culture and in the public debate on issues of perennial importance is a testament not necessarily to the work we do, but to the triumph of the truth despite our human condition.
What are some issues you see playing a critical role for Catholic voters in the 2020 elections?
There’s the basket of issues that apply to any election that involves what the Church calls the foundational issues. In any serious moral culture and in an American context, that includes the sanctity of life, the continued efforts to protect the autonomy of religious institutions and persons of conscience, and certainly protections for the traditional understanding of the family.
Of course those issues extend to all sorts of other issues that involve prudence, such as the good of the economy. Increasingly health care will be a prominent issue driving the debate. Immigration will certainly be there. Federal judges have also been cited as an important issue for Catholics.
Mixed up in all those particular policy debates is also the question of what kind of country we hope to become. I think that debate in many ways is playing out in the minds of many Catholics today when they hear some proposals, particularly on the Left, to revolutionize the way we understand our economy, protect the environment, provide medicine, while throwing into doubt the ideas of gender, the family, of traditional institutions such as churches and the role of religion itself.
When did you join Legatus? Has it benefited your spiritual life?
I’ve been a member for about two years. To have an opportunity to pray the rosary, go to Mass, to hear from a fantastic speaker is itself a gift, but the caliber of speakers and the relationships we’ve established with the members of our chapter have really been a wonderful aid in living out our faith in the midst of the chaos of this world.