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Will Bishop Gainer be a political knight? - abc27 WHTM

Will Bishop Gainer be a political knight?

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Bishop Ronald Gainer's installation in the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg also cements his position in Pennsylvania politics.

During an interview this week, the 66-year-old said he plans to be heavily involved with state legislators.

"I look forward to the engagement with our elected representatives," he said.

Because the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is seated in Harrisburg, Gainer assumes the position as president. Spokesperson Amy Hill said the newly installed bishop will immediately begin to represent the view of 3.3 million Catholics across Pennsylvania.

"He will indeed have a hand in directing policies and advocacy that we do here at the state Capitol," Hill said.

Gainer was no stranger to Kentucky state politics while Bishop of Lexington. He said he held more than 60 town hall meetings. Gainer also frequented Frankfort to persuade Bluegrass State lawmakers on Catholic issues.

According to a 2004 Associated Press article, Gainer requested pro-choice lawmakers to refrain from receiving communion in order to advocate for pro-life policies.

Hill said she hopes Gainer will lobby on Catholic issues in Pennsylvania.

"We hope to interject Catholic perspective on a lot of important issues that the legislators debate every day," she said.

Wednesday's installation was by invitation only. In attendance were state Reps. Ron Marsico (R-Lower Paxton) and Sue Helm (R-Dauphin), who said she is willing to work with Bishop Gainer on state legislation.

"There's a lot that I need to learn on the Catholic side," Helm said, "but when they come to the Capitol and they participate in what we do, I think it's wonderful and I look forward to doing it."

Pennsylvania Congressman Lou Barletta (R-11) was also present. He was excited to witness the installation of Bishop Gainer and also welcomed any opportunity to work with him on the federal level.

"I think we need to stand together and fight through the things and the right to be able to worship who we please," Barletta said.

As Bishop Gainer settles in Harrisburg, do not be surprised if he frequents both the House of God and state House of Representatives. The bishop acknowledges he is challenged by parishioners and the church to be a loud voice under the Capitol dome.

"There is a unified system of teaching regarding social issues," Gainer said. "I hope to be able to articulate that clearly and convincingly."

 

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