Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates


Word of Life Intercessions and Bulletin Inserts
English Word of Life and Spanish Word of Life are available at these links and will be posted to the website:

No Mas Hambre: Confronting Hunger in Latino Communities
This week in Washington, DC, organizers of the “No Mas Hambre” Summit are bringing together hunger-relief activists and community leaders from around the country to develop a Latino anti-hunger agenda. No Mas Hambre is an initiative of LATINO Magazine, the Alliance to End Hunger and other partners, intended to raise public awareness of hunger in the Latino community.
Nearly 50 million Americans went hungry last year, but for Latinos the news is even worse. Just over 29 percent of Latinos faced hunger, compared to less than 12 percent of non-Hispanic whites. While this can be attributed to economic factors such as unemployment, anti-hunger advocates believe this is also due to a lack of awareness of emergency feeding programs. It is time to mobilize the Latino community to take action. Learn more at the NO+HAMBRE — No Mas Hambre, or No More Hunger — website.

Extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti Beneficiaries
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced the extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti beneficiaries. This extension will be effective July 23, 2011 and is for an additional 18 months. It will allow these TPS beneficiaries to remain in the United States through Jan. 22, 2013. The designation of TPS for eligible Haitian nationals who had continuously resided in the United States since Jan. 12, 2010 was originally announced by Secretary Napolitano on Jan. 15, 2010 and became effective on Jan. 21, 2010. Currently, approximately 48,000 Haitian nationals with TPS reside in the United States. Read More…

Stewards of the Earth

Odd Weather and Vatican Climate Change Report
Epic floods and killer tornadoes: are they climate change related?  This question has been on our minds especially in Missouri and Oklahoma. The answer: scientists simply don’t know.  Scientists say that La Nina in the Pacific may play a role and the jet stream is particularly strong.  In addition, some of the biggest tornadoes are hitting heavily populated areas—rather than rural areas and open spaces—and so the destruction is much more in the news.  But should this pattern continue for several more years, scientists may finger climate change as a factor.  But it is also true that climate scientists have predicted bigger storms as a result of a warmer planet.  Regardless, the consequences for people and the planet, as we have seen, are very real and very sad, indeed. In response, we urge you to please donate to Catholic Charities USA.  The agency is helping impacted communities along the Mississippi River flood plain and in areas hit by killer tornadoes.

More on Vatican Science Report
Two Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives highlighted the Pontifical Academy of Sciences’ (PAS) recent report as well as one recently released by the National Academy of Sciences to encourage the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold another hearing on the science of climate change. In April, the House voted to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases.  The vote came after several members of the committee expressed doubt about the science of climate change during a March hearing.  The PAS report sets aside any scientific doubt that climate change is driven primarily by human activity and specifically urges the global community to consider the needs of those in the poorest nations who are already suffering the impacts of a changing climate. 

Religious Leaders Unite to Explore the Impact of Climate Change on Poor
On Thursday, May 19, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE)—of which both the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change are members—sponsored a conference on Capitol Hill about how the faith community is addressing climate change and helping the poor respond to its adverse consequences. Titled “Adapting to Climate Change Impacts in Developing Countries: the Moral Imperative and the Practical Challenges,” the conference gathered top personnel from faith-based relief and development agencies, along with experts from the government, business and security communities to present compelling stories and case studies of the best practices and how we can work together to make these programs of the highest quality and a key priority of the United States.
The conference echoed the words of Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), in a June 3, 2010 letter to Congress: United States leadership and increased international resources to address this global challenge will be essential.  Leaving poor persons who have contributed least to causing this problem without the needed resources to confront it is unacceptable.  Read more about the conference here. Find a complete list of speakers and an outline of the agenda here.

Meeting Calls for Vatican Guidance on Environmental, Corporate Ethics
Adapted from Catholic News Service (CNS):
Catholics are looking for guidance and a larger voice from the Vatican on ethical principles for the world of finance and the environment, said some participants attending a Vatican meeting on social justice in a globalized world.  The May 16-18, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace-sponsored meeting celebrated the 50th anniversary of Blessed Pope John XXIII’s social encyclical, “Mater et Magistra” and was designed to find ways that the Church’s social teaching, including Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 social encyclical “Caritas in Veritate,” could be applied to bring greater justice to a globalized world. Pope Benedict XVI spoke at the conference and lamented the emphasis on short-term interests when it comes to energy needs, which then causes “negative consequences on the environment and humankind.” Oblate Father Seamus Finn said that while current social teaching has made inroads in outlining the social responsibilities of corporations and governments, the church has “only scratched the surface” in addressing care for creation.  Read the entire article here.

College Corner:  College Becomes Catholic Climate Covenant Partner
Saint Michael’s College—near Burlington, Vermont—recently became the first institution of Catholic higher education to become a Catholic Climate Covenant Partner by formally endorsing the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor.
“As a Catholic college, we need to make this commitment to protect God’s Creations and be strong advocates on behalf of people in poverty who face the harshest impacts of global climate change,”  said Dr. Karen Talentino, Saint Michael’s Vice President for Academic Affairs.  “A commitment to sustainability, both personal and institutional, should be part of our mission,”  Professor Talentino, a biologist, added. Professor Talentino heard Coalition director, Dan Misleh, at a conference on sustainability at the University of Notre Dame in October 2009 and became “convinced…that sustainability should be a mission-related priority at Catholic colleges,” Dr. Talentino said.
Read more here.

Ambassador Addresses Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
Last week, Catholic Climate Ambassador and director of the Franciscan Action Network (a Coalition partner) Patrick Carolan shared remarks on the Catholic perspective on climate change during an ecumenical breakfast with Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ambassador Carolan said, “It is because we value our relationship with God and God’s creation that climate change is for us Catholics a profoundly spiritual, ethical and moral issue.”  He went on to describe the Christian vocation to “cultivate and care for” (Gen 2:15) God’s good gift of Creation, and articulated how the Church is particularly concerned with climate change impacts on the “least among us.”  Ambassador Carolan concluded his remarks by saying, “Catholic social teaching calls on us to first consider how our actions and policies affect the poor marginalized and most vulnerable people. As God’s children, we must never forget our moral obligation to our brothers and sisters in need.” To schedule a Catholic Climate Ambassador in your area find their contact information on this webpage.

For Reflection: Living the Gospel on a Climate Disrupted Planet
Recently, Brother Keith Douglas Warner, OFM, Religious Studies lecturer and assistant director for education at the Center for Science, Technology & Society at Santa Clara University, published Living the Gospel on a Climate Disrupted Planet.  Shared in the online newsletter of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, Br. Warner considers some of the unique contributions that the Franciscan charism and intellectual tradition can make to the issue of climate change.

In order to apply the ethic of St. Francis to the problem of climate change, Br. Warner advocates that “ecological literacy” of current challenges is also necessary:  We need a contemplative spirit that can feed our spirits, but also a practical wisdom that, when combined with scientific literacy, can guide us through the clouds of supposed uncertainties. I believe that our Franciscan tradition has essential tools for fashioning a Catholic response to these crises. Our Father Francis is patron saint of the poor, but also the patron saint of ecological literacy. This, plus our contemplative tradition, must be our guides as we journey more deeply into a climate-disrupted world. Read his entire article here.

Doing God’s Work Goes Green: Quebec Churches Switch to Environment-Friendly Wine
In recent years, the idea of consuming only foods that are produced within 100 miles of where you live has been popularized as way to reduce the need for long-haul trucking and to keep greenhouse gas emissions in check. Now the Earth-friendly principle is about to be applied to the Roman Catholic Eucharist meal. A Quebec wine is set to replace the altar wine now in use in Catholic churches, a wine from California vineyards about 4,000 kilometers away. The new “Vin de Messe” will be produced by Domaine des Cotes d’Ardoise, a 7,500-hectare vineyard near Dunham, Que., a popular stop on the Eastern Townships wine route. “It is part of our efforts to become more ecologically responsible,” said Brian McDonagh, the Montreal Archdiocese’s director of social action. Although, he added, individual parishes will decide whether they want to use the new wine or not. “It’s very symbolic,” said Norman Levesque, the man behind the initiative. “By taking bread and wine and replacing those elements with ones that are more environmentally friendly, we are touching the core of people’s faith.” Read more here.

Caring for God’s Creation: Books for Budding Environmentalists
In the recent issue of America Magazine, Maryann Cusimano Love, Professor of International Relations at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and author of several children’s books, describes ten books designed to help children foster an ethic of environmental responsibility and stewardship.  In addition to new titles such as St. Francis and the Animals and Man Gave Names to All the Animals, as well as The Lorax, a Dr. Seuss classic, Professor Cusimano Love annotates the following books:

  • My Garden
  • Let’s Save the Animals
  • Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa
  • Scat
  • What’s the Point of Being Green?
  • Earth in the Hot Seat: Bulletins from a Warming World
  • A Kid’s Guide to Global Warming: How It Affects You and What You Can Do About It

Read the entire article, which includes book descriptions.

Impact of Flood Waters on Rural Areas, Farmland
As flood waters moved down the Mississippi River, reports eventually came of intentional flooding along various points to reduce the impacts on populated areas. This meant directing waters to flood plains along the river, from the Bootheel area in southeast Missouri to Cajun country of Louisiana. But this also meant flooding crop land and some rural dwellers. This is not a criticism of those necessary actions, nor questioning a “cities first” policy, that is clearly carried out for the safety and security of human lives. But before we simply let the waters drain away and mark this as another spring flood – albeit, a major historical one – let’s take a moment to understand the actual impact on farmers and rural communities. Read more…

Upcoming Events of Interest
An ecumenical National Gathering on “Changing the Politics of Hunger,” sponsored by Bread for the World, will be held on June 11-14 in Washington, DC.
The Social Action Summer Institute, sponsored by the Roundtable Association of Catholic Diocesan Social Action Directors, will be held July 10-13 in New Orleans.
The Catholic Charities USA 2011 Poverty Summit and Annual Gathering is September 18-21 in Fort Worth, Texas.
For rural development groups and advocates, don’t forget about the National Rural Assembly to be held in St. Paul, Minnesota, on June 28-30.

Online Tools to Help Identify Food Insecure Families
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (Food Stamps) helps low-income people buy the food they need for their daily nutrition. Through its outreach efforts, USDA works with state and local agencies, community advocates, and faith-based organizations to reach out to eligible low-income people who are not currently participating in SNAP and provide information about nutrition assistance. You can help to get the word out to those communities hardest to reach but most at risk for hunger. Click and scroll down to view USDA’s National Media Campaign. Another online tool for advocacy use is the Food Desert Locator. A food desert is defined as a low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store. The online “locator” provides a way for you to see which neighborhoods in your city or area are “food deserts”. You can learn more about location population characteristics. The intent is to help groups in their anti-hunger research and community planning.

Advocacy Efforts
The Budget Reflects Our Values
Commentary by Fr. John S. Rausch
Last February when the U.S. Catholic bishops wanted to underscore the morality involved in budget priorities, they asked Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire to write members of Congress. “On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,” he wrote as chairman of their Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, “we call on Congress to place the needs of the poor, the unemployed, the hungry, and other vulnerable people first in setting priorities in the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Appropriations Resolution.”
For people of faith the bishops are right to flag the morality of budget priorities.  A budget actually reflects society’s values.  It quantifies the importance of what to cut and what to cultivate.  The bishops’ perspective rests on the common good and the enhancement of community, not simply the enrichment of the individual.  In essence, the budget process asks what kind of community we want to promote. Read Fr. Rausch’s commentary at the NCRLC website.

Impact of Federal Budget Cuts on Agriculture and Food
Last week, House Republican appropriations leaders outlined their plans for the Fiscal Year 2012 government funding bills, with a goal to scale back funding by a net of $30 billion relative to FY 2011. Agriculture has been asked to come up with a $2.7 billion (13.4 percent) cut on top of the $3 billion (14 percent) cut included in the final FY 2011 bill. The FY 2011 bill for agriculture included the termination of several programs that had long been on the potential budget chopping block. This next time around, fiscal cuts will be even more serious, cutting into very basic functions and programs in agricultural conservation, food safety, nutrition, rural development, food aid, and farm credit. Family farm and sustainable agriculture groups fear that these deep cuts will sharply reduce the amount of funding available to the Agriculture Committee when it sits down to write the 2012 Farm Bill next year. Read more about the current budget situation at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition website.

President Obama: Stand with Sudan
Download in PDF
What is the issue? After decades of war between the north and south, the people of southern Sudan voted to become the world’s newest nation on July 9, 2011. However, the long-term peace and stability in all of Sudan is at a critical juncture. 

With only weeks to independence, many of the key issues of the peace agreement that brought an end to the north-south civil war in 2005, known as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), remain unsettled. These include border demarcation, citizenship, wealth sharing, and the security and rights of minorities, particularly of those remaining in the north.  In response to recent fighting in Abyei, a disputed border area, the northern army attacked and has occupied the town, while tensions in Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile continue to escalate. This violence threatens the CPA. The suffering and insecurity of the people in Darfur must also be resolved.
Learn more about:
• The situation in Sudan, its connection to our Catholic faith and how you can get involved to support peace;
• USCCB’s efforts to address the situation in Sudan;
• How CRS is respondingto the needs of our brothers and sisters in north and south Sudan and Darfur.
Without a resolution to these issues, violence could erase the hope and progress of the recent referendum. Bishop Howard Hubbard, Chairman of the USCCB International Justice and Peace Committee and Catholic Relief Services President Ken Hackett emphasized the need for active U.S. leadership on these issues in their letter to the Administration: “It is crucial that the United States remain actively engaged in Sudan throughout the post-referendum period.”
What do you want me to do?  Urge President Obama to focus his Administration’s efforts on ensuring that the outstanding issues between north and south Sudan are resolved before the end of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. 
Take Action Now!
• E-mail President Obama from our Action Center;
• Call 1-866-596-7030 for talking points and to be connected to the White House.