Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates




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:;  407-246-4819. 

The Earth is the Lord’s – Caring for Creation an Interfaith Dialogue

The earth is a unique and beautiful creation. It is our home. Come join us for a continuing discussion of how our congregations in the Central Florida community may be more responsible stewards. Dialogue will take place on Wednesday June 15 at the Congregation of Reform Judaism (928 Malone Drive, Orlando, FL 32810) from 12 p.m. -1:30 p.m. Lunch will be provided. RSVP to

 Meeting Calls for Vatican Guidance on Environmental, Corporate Ethics

Catholics are looking for guidance and a larger voice from the Vatican on ethical principles for the world of finance and the environment. This was the message by some invited participants attending a recent Vatican gathering on social justice in a globalized world. Some 200 people involved in social justice issues for the church gathered May 16-18 for an international conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The meeting celebrated the 50th anniversary of Blessed Pope John XXIII’s social encyclical, Mater et Magistra. National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) Board member Dr. Christopher Thompson presented a paper on American agriculture. Contact NCRLC to receive a copy. The gathering also 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.

 Learn About Protecting Clean Water in Your Community

Are you concerned about clean water in your community? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will host a 45-minute call for faith and neighborhood based organizations on Thursday, June 9, 2011, at 11:00 am (Eastern) to discuss a draft guidance for determining whether a waterway, water body, or wetland is protected by the Clean Water Act. 

Clean water serves everyone, from families who want safe places to swim, to fishermen who want to know their catch is safe to eat, to farmers who rely on it to grow their crops, and everyone in between. What happens in one part of a system affects the whole system. On this call, senior officials from EPA’s Office of Water and the Army Corps of Engineers will discuss the draft guidance. They encourage you to review the draft guidance and other background material in preparation for the call. 

  • Conference Call: June 9, 11 am (Eastern)
  • Dial-in Number:  877-290-8017
  • Conference ID:  69583493

Adoption Awareness Training

An Infant Adoption Awareness Training under the auspices of Catholic Charities will be available July 12 at the Diocese of Orlando (50 E. Robinson St., Orlando) from 9 a.m. -4:30 p.m. RSVP at or contact the FL Training Coordinator, Geralyn Ryan, at 352-219-7248 or .  This event is open to anyone but will be of special assistance to pregnancy center staff in reaching out to their clients and helping them with an adoption plan option. 

National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) Study Guide: “Food Security & Economic Justice”

In tandem with the Oxfam campaign, NCRLC offers an educational resource titled “Food Security and Economic Justice: A Faith-Based Study Guide on Poverty and Hunger.” This study guide applies Catholic social teaching to the problems of hunger and poverty in a world of abundance, and how we can act to resolve this contradiction. The study guide can be used for individual learning or group discussions and is now available online at the NCRLC website or in the NCRLC store.  Print copies are also available for $6, or 10 percent less when ordering 10 or more. 

Senate Agriculture Committee Holds First Hearing on Farm Bill

Last week USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed members of the Senate Agriculture Committee at the Committee’s first hearing on the 2012 Farm Bill. The Secretary listed previous lessons learned as 1) the importance of investing in research  2) the need to conserve natural resources  and 3) the need to use science and technology to solve problems.  Vilsack stressed the difficulty of achieving results with a tightened budget, given that “no doubt the 2012 Farm Bill will be smaller than the 2008 Farm Bill.” He asked the Committee to avoid “prescriptive programs” and give USDA the flexibility to shift funding as needed as long as it meets overall goals. At the same time, Vilsack noted that he was concerned about the proposed cuts to USDA conservation programs, because of their benefit to both producers and the environment.  Read more at National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition webpage.

Respect for Rights of Conscience Act

The new health care reform law creates special threats to religious freedom and rights of conscience. To correct these problems, Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Dan Boren (D-OK) introduced the Respect for the Rights of Conscience Act, H.R. 1179. 

In a letter to Congress, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo stated that PPACA’s list of “essential health benefits” and the section on “preventive services” may open the door to required coverage of various procedures rejected by teachings of some religions, such as abortifacients, contraception, sterilization, in vitro fertilization, treatments using material from deliberately killed unborn children, and perhaps even abortion as a “preventive service” for women. H.R. 1179 does not reverse or alter current law. “[I]t only prevents PPACA itself from being misused to deny Americans’ existing freedoms to seek health care coverage that meets their medical needs and respects their deepest convictions.” See:

Please urge your Representative to cosponsor and support H.R. 1179. See NCHLA’s Action Alert: 

House Subcommittee Approves Agriculture Spending

Last week, the House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee passed by voice vote a $125.5 billion bill to fund agricultural and nutrition programs for FY2012. While the overall bill would increase mandatory spending for programs by 3 percent, the bill includes provisions that would significantly cut funding for discretionary programs by 13 percent. 

As passed the bill would:

  • Fund the Women, Infants, and Children’s (WIC) program at $5.9 billion, 12.4 percent below the FY2011 level. It is estimated that up to 475,000 participants could be cut from the program. Currently, the WIC program provides nutritious food to 8.9 million women and children.
  • Cap funding for The Emergency Food Assistance program (TEFAP) at $200 million, $51 million less than FY2011. TEFAP provides food commodities for emergency food assistance. In addition, the proposal would provide $37.5 million in spending, a $12 million cut in funding for program administration which includes funding for storage and distribution.
  • Reduce funding for The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) by $38 million. The CSFP provides food packages primarily for seniors, but also low-income women and children.
  • Cut by $2 billion funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). However, program participant benefit levels would not be affected as the reduction in funding is to taken from the SNAP reserve fund. This pool of funding is provided in case the SNAP participation rate is higher than expected and the allotted fund is insufficient.
  • Provide $18.8 billion in spending for Child Nutrition programs, a $1.5 billion increase in funding from FY2011.

DREAM Act Reintroduced

One day after President’s Obama’s speech in El Paso, TX calling for comprehensive reform, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), reintroduced the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, legislation that would put children of undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. prior to age 16, have lived in the United States for at least five years, and have graduated from high school on a path to legal permanent residence and eventual citizenship if they attend college or join the military for two years. In addition, the proposal would allow students to attend college at in-state tuition rates. 

It is unlikely that the bill will receive consideration in the House. However, Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested that the measure could be attached to a web-based employment proposal expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives. According to the Congressional Quarterly, expanding the E-Verify system is a top priority of House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith R-TX, who is expected to introduce such legislation later this year. 

Reports of Misused TANF Funds Prompts Legislation

On May 11, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and ranking member Orin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Welfare Integrity Now Act, bipartisan legislation intended to prohibit the misuse of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds by program participants. This action was prompted by reports of beneficiaries using federal money at casinos, clubs, and liquor stores. According to a press release, in California, from January 2007 through May 2010, $3.9 million in state-issued cash benefits was withdrawn in casinos, and $20,000 in adult entertainment establishments. 

The bill would require states to implement policies to prohibit TANF beneficiaries from being used in Casino, liquor stores and adult entertainment venues. States failing to demonstrate compliance within two years of enactment would receive a five percent reduction in its TANF block grant. 

Update on Debt Limit Discussions

Negotiations on reducing the U.S. national debt continues. As reported in the Congressional Quarterly, participants in the White House-led debt reduction working group expressed optimism that they will be able to reach an agreement on a substantial level of deficit reduction. In addition, the publication reports that Vice President Joseph R. Biden and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), both said they believed that negotiators could agree on more than $1 trillion in savings. This savings reportedly would come from savings to changes in Medicare and Medicaid. However, a point of contention remains on tax increases.

Aging Resources

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.  Please promote this awareness in parishes and parish ministries.  For speakers or more information, contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice:

Community Fair:  You’re invited to a community fair focused on education and awareness of elder abuse. It’s June 15 from 10 am to 2 pm, Lutheran Haven Fellowship Hall, 1525 Haven Drive, Oviedo (off SR 426). For info, contact or 407.265.0534.

Caregiving Symposium – “Enriching our Journey for Long Life” is a day-long conference open to elders, families and professionals at the Canterbury Retreat and Conference Center on June 10 or June 11 (same program both days). Dennis McCullough, M.D., a nationally known geriatrician and author of “My Mother, Your Mother”, is the keynote speaker. For info and the program, visit

Hurricane Expo – Orange County’s annual hurricane expo is June 3 (9 to 5) and June 4 (10 to 4) at the Fashion Square Mall.  Free safety classes, prizes and giveaways include NOAA weather radios and disaster kits (until supplies are gone).  Our Office on Aging will be there too!

Brain Health – Dr. Paul Nussbaum, a nationally known neurophysiologist and author of “Save Your Brain”, will be speaking about brain health at Emeritus at Ocoee, 80 N. Clarke Road, on June 16 at 9 am and 2 pm. Space is limited to the first 50 to RSVP for each time. Call 407.299.2710.

Cool Website“Drivers 65 Plus” is an online test that allows drivers to assess their own performance. It provides specific safety suggestions based on the driver’s answers to 15 questions. Visit

Disaster Kit – Visit get tools to develop your disaster kit.

Caregiver Products – Visit for ideas on products to help frail elders “age in place”.

National Caregiver Website – Visit, while you’re there, sign up for their FREE Fearless Caregiver Weekly Newsletter.

Organ donor – You can sign up online to become an organ donor in Florida at file://


USCCB Life Issues Forum Pro-life Newsletter 

Current Life Issues Forum can be found in both English and Spanish and will soon be available on our website. (To access click on:

 Recent Advances in Adult Stem Cell Research And Other Alternatives to Embryonic Stem Cell Research/Cloning

(An update provided by the USCCB)


·         “Doctors create urethras with patients’ own cells for first time,” The Boston Globe, March 9, 2011,


·         “Research at Marshall University may lead to new treatments for Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders,” Marshall University Research Corporation March 24 2011,


·         “Transplanting umbilical cord and menstrual blood-derived stem cells offer hope for disorders,”, March 7, 2011,


·         “Stem cells may provide treatment for brain injuries,”, March 10, 2011,

·         “Stemedica treats first patient with ischemic allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells,” Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, March 24, 2011,


·         “Stem cell therapy shrinks enlarged hearts,” US News and World Report, March 17,  2011,


·         “Promising new gene therapy for HIV immunity,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 17,  2011,



·         “Stem cells may show promise for people with rapidly progressing MS,”, March 21, 2011,


·         “Scientists create neurons with symptoms of Parkinson’s disease from patient’s skin cells,” Stanford School of Medicine, March 3, 2011,


·          “University of Pittsburgh researches study new ways to help those with facial injuries,” WNDU-16 (South Bend, Indiana NBC-TV affiliate), April 18, 2011,


·         “The use of human umbilical cord blood for wound healing, burns, and brain injury in combat zones,” Military Medicine, April 1, 2011,;col1


·         “First partial transplant of a bioengineered larynx,” New Scientist, April 29, 2011,

·         “Penn scientists develop a new way to re-grow cartilage,” Penn Current (University of Pennsylvania), April 21, 2011,


·         “Brain bypass surgery sparks restoration of lost brain tissue,” Science Daily, April 24, 2011,


·         “Scientists identify a surprising new source of cancer stem cells,” Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, April 11, 2011,


·         “Live human heart grown in lab using stem cells in potential transplant breakthrough,” The Daily Mail (London), April 4,  2011,


·         “New gene therapy technique on iPS cells holds promise in treating immune system disease,” Science Daily, April 28,  2011,