Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

Advocacy Day
Feast of St. Isidore, May 15               
“The Future of Food”: video presentations of DC forum
Keep the Flame Alive
May:  Mental Health Awareness Month
Questioning Direct Payment Subsidies in U.S. Farm Bill
Remembering the Spiritual Needs of Farmworkers
Stewards of the Earth

Advocacy Day
Feast of St. Isidore, May 15               
“The Future of Food”: video presentations of DC forum
Keep the Flame Alive
May:  Mental Health Awareness Month
Questioning Direct Payment Subsidies in U.S. Farm Bill
Remembering the Spiritual Needs of Farmworkers
Stewards of the Earth
 

Advocacy Day
Mark your calendars! On June 11, 2011 from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 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

Keep the Flame Alive: Living the Spirit of Mission at Home
Have you always wanted to go on a mission trip? Have you been on a mission trip and find yourself wanting to get back to that atmosphere of simple living and giving? Have you experienced the great joy and solidarity of helping your brothers and sisters overseas and wanted to keep that feeling alive in your life, to share it with others? Come share your story and join us for an afternoon of exploring how to keep your desire for social justice in your daily life. Together we will learn that a mission trip can be as close as your home address as we discuss what mission truly means in our Catholic Social teaching and the simple things we can do every day to make our hopes a reality. Please join the Offices of Advocacy and Justice, Catholic Charities, and the Mission Office on Saturday, August 6 at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Winter Park from 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. for this informational and life changing workshop. (Continental breakfast provided; please bring an international dish for a luncheon potluck). To RSVP contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice: 407-246-4819; eclayton@orlandodiocese.org.  

May is Mental Health Awareness Month
The month of May is an opportunity to raise awareness and erase stigma surrounding mental illness. What can parishes do? 

  • Run the series of bulletin articles available from NCPD at www.ncpd.org/ministries-programs/specific/mentalillness.
  • Prayers of the Faithful for people with mental Illness also on the NCPD website.
  • Sunday Homilies: One Sunday have a homily at all the Masses relating the Gospel to issues of support/stigma/justice/compassion for people with mental illness and after the Masses have local mental health providers and support groups available for discussion. See a sample homily at www.ministry.org on the announcements page.
  • Show Welcomed and Valued DVD to parish organizations.  An accompanying discussion guide is available from NCPD.
  • Invite speakers to come and talk on mental health, justice and support issues, etc, to parish organizations.
  • Start a support “faith” group for people with mental illness. The leader should have some training, but just as we don’t have to be an oncologist to help people with cancer to pray, we don’t have to be a psychiatrist to help people with mental illness to pray. We do have to know about our boundaries and limits. This is a good opportunity to bring people with mental illness and family members into ministry.
  • Uphold the dignity of the individual by using “people first” language, e.g., “people with mental illness” rather than “the mentally ill. We all want to be known by the person we are and not the disease we have. Avoid stigmatizing language that feeds stereotypes. See page 21 of the Welcomed and Valued Resource Binder.
     For other ideas check www.NAMI.org and www.mentalhealthamerica.net.

Feast of St. Isidore, May 15               
The feast of St. Isidore is May 15. St. Isidore is the patron saint of farmers and was himself a farm laborer who tended the fields of a wealthy landowner. His chief appeal is to those who work the land day after day, as he did. But his good qualities — wholehearted trust in God, his enthusiasm and vigor in his daily work, his spirit of prayer and devotion to the Eucharist — can be admired and imitated by all of us, rural and urban. 

Remembering the Spiritual Needs of Farmworkers
“Migrant farm workers are hard working, good people who need more appreciation by society and a more gentle welcome by our Catholic churches in the United States.” These are the words and observations of Fr. Mike McAndrew, director of Campesino Ministry for the Diocese of Fresno, Calif. While changes in agriculture have reduced the numbers of this mobile work force, there are parts of this country that still have an influx of workers at certain times of the year. These workers often find themselves outside the normal life of the church and experience difficulties of gaining attention to their spiritual needs.
 
In honor of St. Isidore, we invite you to read the campesino commentaries by Fr. McAndrew posted on our NCRLC website.  You will see these in the News section of our website.

“The Future of Food”: video presentations of DC forum
For those of us who could not get to Washington, DC, for a recent forum on “The Future of Food,” it is now possible to hear presenters online.  This conference brought together many of the world’s leading experts on food, including Prince Charles of Wales, a lifelong environmentalist and organic farmer, Eric Schlosser, author of “Fast Food Nation,” and Wendell Berry, author, poet and farmer.  Experts from some of world’s biggest food companies, academia and nonprofits discussed trends in agriculture and consumer behavior that is shaping the future of food. Click here for select videos.

Questioning Direct Payment Subsidies in U.S. Farm Bill
Agriculture and family farms are the foundation of strong and healthy rural communities. However, a key aspect of U.S. agricultural policy does not meaningfully contribute to the success of the majority of family farms: most federal farm subsidies are outdated and inequitable.
 
In an era of fiscal constraint and more immediate budget priorities, many of these ineffective subsidies can no longer be justified, according to a report by the Center for American Progress.  “The federal government each year pays owners of historical croplands $4.9 billion in ‘direct payment’ subsidies regardless of whether the people receiving the payments farm their lands. And these payments are automatically made every year despite rising fiscal deficits and a relatively healthy farm economy that saw net farm income grow by 27 percent in 2010.”

Stewards of the Earth

Global Warming already affecting food crops worldwide
The U.S. Corn Belt has experienced relatively small temperature trends, so it is not surprising if complacency or skepticism about global warming has set in. But a new study suggests that would be misguided. Global warming is likely already taking a toll on world wheat and corn production, according to a study led by Stanford University researchers. But the United States, Canada and northern Mexico have largely escaped the trend.
 
“It appears as if farmers in North America got a pass on the first round of global warming,” said David Lobell, an assistant professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford University. “That was surprising, given how fast we see weather has been changing in agricultural areas around the world as a whole.” Read more at Sustainable Business.com.

Vatican Issues Major Report on Science of Climate Change
A working group of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, one of the oldest scientific institutes in the world, issued a sobering report on the impacts for humankind as a result of the global retreat of mountain glaciers as a result of human activity leading to climate change.

In their declaration, the working group calls, “on all people and nations to recognize the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and by changes in forests, wetlands, grasslands, and other land uses.”  They echoed Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 World Day of Peace Message saying, “…if we want justice and peace, we must protect the habitat that sustains us.”

Veerabhadran Ramanathan of the Scripts Institute of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego—a member of the Pontifical Academy since 2004 and a co-chair of the working group said to Energy and Environment Daily, “”I have never participated in any report in 30 years where the word ‘God’ is mentioned. I think the Vatican brings that moral authority.”
 
The report focuses on the impact of anthropogenic climate change on mountain glaciers and warns that, “Failure to mitigate climate change will violate our duty to the vulnerable of the Earth, including those dependent on the water supply of mountain glaciers, and those facing rising sea level and stronger storm surges. Our duty includes the duty to help vulnerable communities adapt to changes that cannot be mitigated. All nations must ensure that their actions are strong enough and prompt enough to address the increasing impacts and growing risk of climate change and to avoid catastrophic irreversible consequences.”  (Emphasis added.)

The working group recommends three measures to reduce the threat of climate change and its impacts:

  1. “Reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions without delay, using all means possible to meet ambitious international global warming targets and ensure the long-term stability of the climate system.  All nations must focus on a rapid transition to renewable energy sources and other strategies to reduce CO2 emissions.  Nations should also avoid removal of carbon sinks by stopping deforestation, and should strengthen carbon sinks by reforestation of degraded lands.  They also need to develop and deploy technologies that draw down excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. These actions must be accomplished within a few decades.
  2. “Reduce the concentrations of warming air pollutants (dark soot, methane, lower atmosphere ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons) by as much as 50%, to slow down climate change during this century while preventing millions of premature deaths from respiratory disease and millions of tons of crop damages every year.
  3. “Prepare to adapt to the climatic changes, both chronic and abrupt, that society will be unable to mitigate.  In particular, we call for a global capacity building initiative to assess the natural and social impacts of climate change in mountain systems and related watersheds.”

You are strongly encouraged to read the entire report which we have posted on the Catholic Climate Covenant website.