Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

 

Stand4Life: May 7, 2011
Stand4Life, a statewide network of Christian Churches, is inviting all Christians to join a witness for life at each abortion facility in the State of Florida from 10am – 12pm on May 7, 2011. Every Catholic is encouraged to participate and prayerfully stand for an end to abortion at the abortion facility nearest you. More information at: http://www.stand4life.info/Stand4LIFE/Stand_Locations.html 

Advocacy Day
Mark your calendars! On June 11, 2011 from 9am – 12:30pm the Office of Advocacy and Justice will sponsor an Advocacy Day which will provide tools to:

  1. Become better informed on how public policy issues impact the poor & vulnerable, both locally & globally
  2. Recognize advocacy avenues to engage parishioners
  3. Be able to include advocacy in ministry, including how to communicate its importance
  4. Recognize some key tools, such as the importance of team building and base building

Representatives from the Diocese of Orlando, Florida Catholic Conference, and Catholic Relief Services National Staff will teach us how to live our calling to be Faithful Citizens. There is no charge for this event. For more information contact: eclayton@orlandodiocese.org; 407-246-4819. 

World Refugee Day
In recognition of World Refugee Day on June 17th Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services Office will host a wine and cheese reception and interfaith prayer service followed by a viewing of a documentary on the situation in the Sudan. Celebration will take place at Harry P. Leu Gardens (920 N. Forest Ave., Orlando) beginning at 6pm. Download the flyer for more information. RSVP to eclayton@orlandodiocese.org; 407-246-4819. 

2011-2012 School Year Multi-Media Arts Contest Materials – Available Now
Before this school year ends, please help us get the word out to parishes and schools in your diocese about next school year’s Multi-Media Youth Arts Contest, sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Materials for the ‘11-‘12 school year are available now on the CCHD website. Letting schools and parishes know about these materials now can allow them to integrate the contest into their curriculum next year. 

The theme for the ’11-’12 contest is Put Faith in Action! Uproot Poverty Together. The contest guides students to learn about poverty, its causes, Catholic social teaching, and the Church’s response. Collaborate with your diocesan Catholic schools, youth ministry, and religious education colleagues to promote the contest together. Access the contest packets for young artists, educators, and diocesan contacts here! 

USCCB and Interfaith Worker Justice Collaborating to Minister to the Unemployed
. . . unemployment today provokes new forms of economic marginalization, and the current crisis can only make this situation worse. Being out of work or dependent on public or private assistance for a prolonged period undermines the freedom and creativity of the person and his family and social relationships, causing great psychological and spiritual suffering. I would like to remind everyone, especially governments engaged in boosting the world’s economic and social assets, that the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is man, the human person in his or her integrity: “Man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life”
    -Caritas In Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI (2009) 

The Economic Pain Continues. . .
Media reports of the recent decline in the unemployment rate mask the reality faced by millions of Americans and their families:

  • In addition to the 13.7 million unemployed workers, 8.3 million are underemployed (involuntarily working part-time) and 2.7 million have given up looking for work. In sum, 16% of the country is unemployed or underemployed.
  • For every five unemployed people, there is one job opening.
  • A disproportionate number of the jobs created have been in low- and middle-wage jobs.
  • The average length of unemployment is nine months. The longer a person is out of work, the less likely he is to be hired eventually.

Unemployment–and the insecurity that comes with it–has devastating effects on emotional and physical health, marriages, families, and whole communities. The bishops of the United States believe that we have an obligation to minister to the spiritual and social needs of the unemployed, as well as support them in their search for economic security. 

What We Can Do
Working in collaboration with Interfaith Worker Justice and other faith-based groups, the Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development is intensifying its efforts to support our unemployed brother and sisters, and their families. 

The Faith Advocates for Jobs Campaign has been launched to:

  1. Advocate policies that protect families and ensure access to just and decent jobs with fair wages; and
  2. Empower parishes and other faith communities to minister to the spiritual, social, and employment needs of their parishioners and congregants. 

For more information on the Campaign, to join, and to download the Toolkit, visit: Faith Advocates for Jobs

Catholic Climate Ambassadors Available Nationwide
Contact information for all 24 Catholic Climate Ambassadors is now available on the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change website. The Ambassadors are ready to offer presentations on the moral dimensions of climate change consistent with Catholic teaching as outlined by our Holy Father in his World Day of Peace Message of 2010, “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation,” and in the U.S. Catholic bishops’ statement, “Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good.”

Click here to read about each Ambassador, find one nearest you, and contact him/her about scheduling.

New Report on Soil Erosion; call for sustainable practices 
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released a new report on soil erosion. The report, entitled Losing Ground, states that soil in Iowa and other Corn Belt states is “being swept away at rates many times higher than official estimates.” According to EWG, changing weather patterns, federal policies that push farmers to plant crops fence row to fence row, and inadequate enforcement of conservation compliance plans are the main drivers of the current rising trend of erosion and runoff in the region. There is an urgent need for stronger protections.  

FYI: To learn more about care for the land and conservation, read Matt Liebmann’s article in NCRLC magazine, Catholic Rural Life.

NCRLC Collections at Marquette University
Rich history is preserved at the Marquette University Archives. Archivists have recently completed online guides to the records of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and the papers of Msgr. Luigi G. Ligutti. The Ligutti Papers and the NCRLC Records document Catholic efforts to promote the welfare of rural people in the United States and worldwide. Ligutti symbolized the Catholic rural life movement during his long tenure as NCRLC executive director  (1940-1959) and representative of the Vatican to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (1949-1970). Historian David Bovée based his recent book “The Church and the Land” on research in both collections. Inquiries from scholars, students, and the general public are welcome. Visit the NCRLC website for more information.   

Pope at Easter: Without Attention to all of Creation, Salvation History is too Small
Easter greetings to all of you!  As the Church celebrated this most holy of days, Pope Benedict XVI offered a beautiful reflection on Creation during the Easter Vigil: Our profession of faith begins with the words: “We believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth”. If we omit the beginning of the Credo, the whole history of salvation becomes too limited and too small. The Church is not some kind of association that concerns itself with man’s religious needs but is limited to that objective. No, she brings man into contact with God and thus with the source of all things. Therefore we relate to God as Creator, and so we have a responsibility for creation. Our responsibility extends as far as creation because it comes from the Creator. Read the Easter Vigil homily in its entirety here

Philippine Bishop calls for ‘Green’ Trash-Free Holy Week
Last week, Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Permanent Committee on Public Affairs, invited Catholics to commemorate Holy Week by taking steps to more fully care for God’s good gift of Creation.  Said the bishop:
A green Holy Week is a timely call in response to the wastefulness and greed that is blatantly trashing our fragile environment …I encourage everyone to plan for an earth-friendly and spiritually nourishing week. Read more here

Webinar Recording on Climate and Creation Care
Did you miss the free webinar “Climate and Creation Care” with Coalition Director Dan Misleh (discussing Catholic social teaching as it relates to environmental stewardship) and author/farmer/Catholic Climate Ambassador Kyle Kramer (reflecting on his decade of trying to put the principles of good stewardship and simplicity into practice on a small-scale organic farm)?  If so, you can revisit the webinar recording here

Catholic Climate Ambassador Story
The Adrian Dominican Sisters in Michigan recently featured a story about Patty Gillis, an Adrian Dominican Associate and Catholic Climate Ambassador.  The story says in part:
The training prepared Ms. Gillis [Southfield, Michigan] to give presentations on climate change in the light of Catholic social teachings, particularly on the need for human beings to care for God’s creation. In the coming year, she will give her presentations to Catholic parishioners, students, pastors, and ministers throughout the Midwest. “We are asking people to take the
St. Francis Pledge to pray, learn, assess, act, and advocate in regard to climate change,” she said.
Read more here.  To inquire about scheduling Patty or another Ambassador to speak at your school, parish or diocese, visit the Catholic Climate Ambassador webpage.  

Catholics Caring For Creation in Atlanta
This Sunday, May 1 at 2 p.m., the second Annual Catholic Earth Day celebration will take place at Ignatius Jesuit Retreat House in Atlanta, GA. The focus of the day is “The Air We Breathe and Make”. This afternoon event features guest speakers that will touch on the spirituality of our call to care for God’s creation as well as informative presentations on air quality and key factors that contribute to the area’s pollution. The day will conclude with Mass at 5pm and a celebratory reception immediately following Mass.

The Catholic Earth Day committee is a group of volunteers dedicated to educating, engaging and promoting issues of Environmental Justice throughout the Atlanta Archdiocese. The group formed in 2009 out of a desire to increase Catholic presence on environmental issues. Catholic Earth Day uniquely focuses on how the poor are affected by climate change. Also more about Ignatius House here

Elementary School Celebrates with St. Francis Pledge
St. Vincent de Paul Elementary School in Petaluma, CA reports that they have:
[H]ad a full slate of activities and learning opportunities leading up to Earth Day.  Last week, students created a poster and took the St. Francis (of Assisi) Pledge, taken by Catholics throughout the country to care for the environment and people less fortunate than themselves. A speaker from the Petaluma Refuse and Recycling Center spoke to the student body about basic recycling choices and every student received a newsletter containing tips on how everyone can make a difference through their everyday choices.
The students participated in a Green Day in which they decorated their school uniforms with green, and at the end of the week, to encourage the use of recyclable bags for shopping (there was a raffle for a St. Vince
nt school bag). The week ended with the unveiling of a new St. Francis statue to reinforce the St. Francis Pledge. Read more here.

High School Students Take St. Francis Pledge
Students in Fr. Ross Miceli’s theology class at Elk County (Pennsylvania) Catholic High School were recently invited to finish studying the faith community’s tradition of environmental stewardship by taking the Catholic Climate Covenant: The St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor.
“[Knowing more about these environmental issues] is important because we need to learn how to take care of the most vulnerable in the world – the poor, not only in the world, but in our own community,” Miceli said. “Another thing is that the United States is the second-largest producer of greenhouse gas, so we have a huge impact on how the world is taken care of.”

After learning about the environmental issues, the students were encouraged to sign the St. Francis Pledge earlier this week in conjunction with Earth Day, though doing so was not mandatory.

“They’ve been through it deciding what level of commitment they’re interested in making, and their job over the next couple of weeks is to invite other people to also make that commitment,” Miceli said.  Read more here

Aging Resources: 

2011 Senior Directories – The Senior Resource Alliance (the local Area Agency on Aging) has just released it’s 2011 Directory.  Access it on-line at http://www.50plusfyi.org/.  For copies of Heritage Publishing’s Orlando Senior Services Directory, email malamad@heritagepublishinginc.com.

Alzheimer’s Symposium – Learn about recent research developments and new methods in caring for people living with Alzheimer’s at the May 17 event at the Daytona State College.  It’s open to families and professionals (CEUs offered).  For info, contact 1.800.272.3900 or infocnfl@alz.org.

Cool Website – “Statehealthfacts.org Goes Mobile” … Statehealthfacts.org is now optimized for use on your mobile device. Now, when you are on the road or in a meeting and need to know how many Florida residents are uninsured, or the percent of adults with disabilities, just go to http://smtp01.kff.org/t/10681/395126/488/0/ on your mobile device and easily find the answer. 

Telephone Scammers – The Florida Attorney General’s Office is warning of a new scam targeting elderly and disabled citizens that uses false caller identification displaying a relative or friend’s information and personal details of the victim to solicit funds. To report a scam call 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226), or by file a complaint online at www.myfloridalegal.com and click on “consumer protection”, then “fraud & scams”.

Twenty Questions for Long-Distance Caregivers – If you know of anyone who is trying to take care of someone far away, this 48-page reference might help answer questions they have.  Learn more at: www.bu.edu/alzresearch/care/documents/NIAtwentyquestionsforlongdistancecaregivers01-06.pdf.

Advocacy Efforts:

Fiscal Year 2011 Appropriations: Update
On April 14, Congress passed a long-term CR to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 (H.R. 1473). Of the policies included in the earlier House-passed full-year funding bill, H.R. 1, only the ban on D.C. abortion funding survived intact.

  1. The ban on the use of all appropriated monies, federal and local, to pay for abortion on request in the District of Columbia was re-instated.
  2. Funding for international family planning was adjusted downward from its fiscal year 2010 level, though the Mexico City Policy, which would deny these funds to organizations that perform and promote abortion as a method of family planning in Third World countries, was not included.
  3. Funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and funding for the Title X domestic family planning program were not eliminated but were reduced from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2008 levels.

The proposal to deny federal funding to Planned Parenthood was addressed in a related measure, H. Con. Res. 36, introduced by Reps. Diane Black (R-TN) and Martha Roby (R-AL). On April 14, H. Con. Res. 36 was approved by the House, 241-yes, 185-no, 1-present (Roll Call 271), but was rejected by the Senate, 42-yes, 58-no (Vote Number 60). In both cases, “yes” was a pro-life vote. See: nchla.org/keyvotes.asp.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, urged Congress to vote for H. Con. Res. 36. See: nchla.org/datasource/idocuments/houseppltrfinal.pdf.

For background, see: Vicki Evans, “Taxpayer funding and Planned Parenthood,” Life Issues Forum (April 1, 2011) (www.usccb.org/prolife/publicat/lifeissues/040111.shtml) and Susan E. Wills, “Things Planned Parenthood’s ‘Truth Team’ Forgot to Mention,” American Thinker (April 14, 2011) (www.americanthinker.com/2011/04/things_planned_parenthoods_tru.html).

For more details, see: nchla.org/legissectiondisplay.asp?ID=794. Our thanks to everyone who responded to the various Action Alerts throughout all this! Congress is in recess until May 2.