Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates


Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl Lenten Program

In Lent 2014, CRS Rice Bowl is new and improved with a mobile app, Lenten photo challenge, recipes from the global kitchen, along with the traditional faith formation resources and community reflections. Remember, too, that all CRS Rice Bowl resources are available in both English and and


Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl Lenten Program

In Lent 2014, CRS Rice Bowl is new and improved with a mobile app, Lenten photo challenge, recipes from the global kitchen, along with the traditional faith formation resources and community reflections. Remember, too, that all CRS Rice Bowl resources are available in both English and Spanish – and 

This week, CRS Rice Bowl takes us to Guatemala, where we meet thirteen-year-old Yuvi. Yuvi is now able to attend school and focus on her studies thanks to a CRS community education program that encourages families to protect their child’s right to an education, play and development.  Read Yuvi’s Story, watch the video and be sure to share on Facebook, Twitter, and other outlets you use to communicate with your diocese.

And join us again in CRS Rice Bowl’s Global Kitchen! This time, we’re cooking Frijoles Volteados from Guatemala with Father Leo of Grace Before Meals. 

Lent – There’s An App For That!

Looking for a new way to bring Lent to life? Download CRS’ first-ever mobile app and have daily reflections sent directly to your phone throughout the 40 days of Lent. Track your Lenten sacrifices, learn about this year’s featured countries and prepare simple meals, all right from your iPhone or Android device! It’s not too late to get started! Visit to download the app. 

CCHD Seeks Nominations of Catholic Young Adult Leaders who are Working to End Poverty

Do you know a young, faith-filled Catholic (age 18-40) who is actively engaged in work to break the cycle of poverty in the U.S.? Consider submitting a nomination (deadline April 30, 2014) for the 2014 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award, an annual award given by the USCCB/Catholic Campaign for Human Development to a Catholic young adult leading efforts in communities, through organizations, or on campuses, to address the causes of poverty. The award recipient will receive $1,000 and be honored at the annual meeting of the U.S. Catholic Bishops on Jun. 11, 2014.  Nomination forms can be downloaded here or requested via email.

USCCB Resource

A new PowerPoint presentation/template is now available to help Catholics respond to Pope Francis’ call to be a “Church which ‘goes forth'” — a “community of missionary disciples” in the world. Download the PowerPoint now.

Modeled on the popular resource booklet and handouts on Sacraments and Social Mission: Living the Gospel, Being Disciples, this PowerPoint connects celebration of the sacraments with our social mission as followers of Jesus and members of the Body of Christ.   


Sacraments and Social Mission: Living the Gospel, Being Disciples: English and Spanish 

Electronic, printable handouts on Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick: English and Spanish 

PowerPoint presentation/template for use with above materials. The PowerPoint features a variety of Pope Francis quotes to supplement and enrich your presentation of the content. Currently available in English only, but may be translated in response to interest/need.

These materials are perfect for use during the RCIA process, in sacramental preparation, or as part of other efforts to form Catholics as members of a “Church which ‘goes forth’.” Access the new PowerPoint here! 

Lenten Reflections on U.S. Poverty and Our Catholic Response

Join Ralph McCloud, Director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, as he reflects during Lent on the meaning of charity, the spiritual practice of fasting, and the model of Pope Francis. See reflections.

LENT 2014: Resources

As you prepare for this Lenten season, here are several creation care resources available for your consideration:

Lent 4.5 is a seven-week faith formation program which inspires and informs Christian communities on how to use the traditional Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to protect God’s creation, embrace Gospel justice and nurture spiritual fulfillment. It offers practical opportunities for people of faith to apply the values of Christian Simplicity to their everyday lives. The Passionist Earth and Spirit Center has “scholarship” funding available for its Lent 4.5 program.

The Care for Creation Committee in the Archdiocese of Washington has published its 2014 Lenten Caring for Creation Calendar. The resource suggests spiritual reflections and sacrificial actions everyone can consider during Lent. These are ways to help you grow in your commitment to be a wise steward of God’s Creation now and for future generations.

The Lenten Energy Fast booklet produced by the Marianist Environmental Education Center is available here.  This resource includes the science of climate impacts, Scripture from Sunday Lectionary (Cycle A), reflection and prayer suggestions to guide the reader through the Lenten Season in consideration of climate justice. It features Catholic Social Teaching on the Environment and quotes from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Popes Francis and Benedict.  Included are suggestions for an Energy Fast and Forty Ways in Forty Days to cut personal energy use.  Suitable for individuals or communities.

Dan Misleh is one of the featured writers in Revealing Light: Daily Victory Over Darkness a booklet of Lenten reflections from New Vision Renewable Energy and the Evangelical Environmental Network.  Order your copy through the NVRE website! 

Rosemont College and Saint Francis University Endorse St. Francis Pledge

Rosemont College has become the 23rd Catholic college/university to endorse the St. Francis Pledge and become a Catholic Climate Covenant Partner. The signing adds a distinctly Catholic element to the school’s sustainability work, which includes signing the American Colleges and Universities Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2007. Rosemont College is operated by the Society of the Holy Child Jesus and located in Rosemont, Pennsylvania. 

Saint Francis University, which signed the St. Francis Pledge on October 4, 2013, recently sent pictures of the signing ceremony that included University President Rev. Gabriel Zeis and Director of Mission Integration Fr. Joseph Lehman. 

Franciscan Action Network

The Franciscan Action Network’s (FAN) Earth Corps program is in the news!  Religion News Service recently ran a story about it and that story was picked up by the Washington Post.   The article describes FAN’s Franciscan Earth Corps, as a national, ecumenical program [that] encourages young adults, aged 18 to 35, to connect social and environmental justice activities with Franciscan teachings that stress the interconnectedness of creation. The article quotes Earth Corps director Rhett Engelking, who describes the importance of connecting environmental work to Franciscan spirituality: without religion and spirituality, all you’re doing is reordering everything on the outside and not affecting anyone on the inside. 

Gather At White House:  Encourage Action on Climate Change

White House Event with Faith Leaders on Environmental Stewardship and Climate Change (watch and listen to the inspiring messages here). Administrator McCarthy also announced the availability of the new ENERGY STAR Action Workbook for Congregations and here.  Speakers representing the faith community included Ms. Cecilia Calvo, United States Catholic Conference of Bishops; the Rev. Gerald Durley, Atlanta, Georgia; the Rev. Emilio Marrero, Esperanza; Bishop Vashti McKenzie, African Methodist Episcopal Church speaking on environmental justice. Faith Leaders speaking on climate action included Mr. Loay Assaf, Chief Operating Officer, Islamic Society of Boston Community Center; Dr. Carroll Baltimore, President, Progressive National Baptist Convention; Mr. Arjun Bhargava, Associate Project Director, Hindu American Seva Communities, the Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, Founder, Interfaith Power and Light and the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President, Evangelical Environmental Network.

ENERGY STAR certified buildings are responsible for 35% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than their peers. ENERGY STAR certified buildings and plants have cumulatively saved more than 950 MMTCO2e. Every year, ENERGY STAR certified buildings and plants save more than 118 MMTCO2e. That’s equal to the emissions from nearly 18 million homes every year (electricity)… or from nearly 25 million passenger vehicles… or from 33 coal-fired power plants. Learn more at

12 Measures to Save Energy In Your Parish

Use this helpful list from GreenFaith showing how congregations can conserve energy.

Advocacy Efforts

Please consider calling the office of Ron DeSantis and urge him to join Florida Representative Alcee Hastings in supporting and/or co-sponsoring Senator Paul Simon’s Water for the World Act of 2013, H.R. 2901. Passing the Water for the World Act, which requests no additional funding, will help to ensure that U.S. Government investments in safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene provide the greatest possible benefits to our sisters and brothers overseas in the long-term.  Click to send Ron DeSantis an email or call his office by dialing 1-866-596-7030. Get talking points here.

aj money20140314Time to Turn Advocacy Efforts to Appropriations

Our advocacy work for a new Farm Bill is over, so now we turn our attention to funding and the appropriations process. This is an annual exercise and begins when the President presents his budget proposals for the year. The real battle, of course, is when the House and Senate take up appropriations.

Catholic Rural Life, as part of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, will alert our network accordingly when it is time to contact members of Congress and urge them to support critical conservation, beginning farmer and rural development programs. This action will begin in the next two weeks and continue into April.

In the meantime, please take a moment to look over the sustainable agriculture “Wins & Losses” in the 2014 Farm Bill

 Bishops Back Senate Bill on Defense of Marriage 

‘Every just effort to stand for the unique meaning of marriage is worthy of support’

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, strongly endorsed the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 (S. 2024) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Ted Cruz.  A companion bill (H.R. 3829) was previously introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Randy Weber.  Archbishop Cordileone noted that the Department of Justice is the most recent federal agency “to use a ‘place of celebration’ rule rather than a ‘place of domicile’ rule when determining the validity of a marriage for purposes of federal rights, benefits, and privileges.”  To read more: 

Pray and Work for Peace in the Holy Land

During Lent, our minds turn to the Holy Land, the place of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. We pray for those seeking an end to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict as Secretary of State Kerry works with others to achieve a framework for peace.  On our Israel-Palestine page you will find resources, including the “Way of the Cross – Way of Faith” (in English and Spanish), prayers of the faithful (in English and Spanish), and letters from Bishop Richard Pates, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice & Peace, and bishops across the globe, urging support for peace.

Loving Our Neighbors Across the Globe

Here is just a small sampling of the Church’s efforts of solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world.

Conflict in South Sudan
The USCCB is attentively following the crisis affecting the people of South Sudan that began in December of last year. See Bishop Pates’ letter to National Security Advisor Rice to encourage U.S. support for civil society and peace.

Religious Freedom
Bishop Pates, together with the Southern Baptists, wrote Senators Coburn and Lee urging the creation of a Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom in the Near East and South Central Asia. He also offered remarks on International Religious Freedom during a recent Congressional Briefing.

In a letter to Congressional leadership, Bishop Pates encouraged Congress to pursue the path of engagement and negotiation with Iran in order to achieve a genuine peace that addresses concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

USCCB and Catholic Charities USA Urge Support of Second Chance Act

Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Fr. Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA, recently called on Congress to pass the Second Chance Act to assist those leaving incarceration with important support programs to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victim support and other needed services. Every year, more than 650,000 men, women and juveniles reenter society from federal and state prisons, local jails, and detention centers and they face significant challenges. Second Chance helps them reenter society in healthy and productive ways that keeps communities safe while promoting healing and restoration.  

National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath

On March 13-16, 2014 faith communities across the country will participate in the National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend by incorporating prayer, reflection, readings or educational activity on the issue of gun violence. Participation can help your parish or small church community learn how gun violence prevention laws save lives. The website includes event ideas, sample materials, and more. The next Congressional recess period is March 17-21, 2014. This is a great time for you and a small group of friends and parishioners to plan a district visit with your legislators to raise these issues. Contact your CRS Regional Office to help you get started today.