Pap named Catholic Citizenship executive director

BOSTON -- Boston-based Catholic Citizenship recently appointed a Weymouth parish council member and former legislative aide as its new executive director. Victor Pap’s installation was announced in a statement dated May 7.

Pap told The Pilot in a May 8 interview that he is looking forward to educating the Catholic laity on getting more involved in the political process. Catholic Citizenship is a nonpartisan grassroots organization, which promotes public policy education and participation of Catholic laity in politics.

“I am excited at the opportunity to work on the many issues that face Catholics in the commonwealth and to be as helpful as possible to the priests and various parishes in educating the laity about these issues,” Pap said.

There is a “wide variety” of issues important to Catholic voters, including getting the marriage amendment on the ballot and obtaining funding for abstinence education, he said.

The marriage amendment, meant to restore the traditional definition of marriage in Massachusetts, must be approved by 25 percent of the joint Legislature this year before it can appear on the 2008 ballot.

Pap added that many people, especially parents raising young children, can find it difficult to keep up with all of the political news that affects them.

“Raising families is very difficult. I know because I am a father. We don’t have a lot of time,” he said.

Pap said that he wants to help educate Catholic families on how to contact their legislators and voice their concerns. Reaching them means reaching out to parish priests who are also strapped for time, he said.

President of Catholic Citizenship, Ray Flynn, said in the statement, “Victor is a committed Catholic who, like me, believes our faith must inform our politics, and we must be a voice for the voiceless.”

Pap has served as a legislative aide and press secretary for state Rep. George Peterson, R-Worchester, and state Sen. Bob Hedlund, R-Weymouth.

“He also worked in party politics organizing the grassroots, fundraising and providing campaign strategy for numerous successful candidates,” the statement said.

Pap is a parishioner at St. Jerome Parish in Weymouth where he is a member of the parish council. He serves as commissioner of the Weymouth Housing Authority. He is also fluent in Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese. Pap lives with his wife, Mary, and daughter in Weymouth.

The previous director of Catholic Citizenship, Larry Cirignano, resigned in January. While serving as executive director, Cirignano was instrumental in the legislature’s Jan. 2 vote to move the marriage amendment forward. Cirignano left his position with Catholic Citizenship in order to head a Washington, D.C. organization dealing with the issue of same-sex marriage nationwide.

Cirignano was recently charged with misdemeanor assault and battery and civil rights violations. Sarah Loy, a same-sex marriage supporter, claims that Cirignano pushed her to the ground at a rally at Worchester City Hall on Dec. 16. Cirignano pled not guilty to the charges in Worchester District Court on April 11.