Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates





August 27—  Spirit to Serve Living to Serve Day of Reflection at Holy Family Catholic Church, Orlando

This day is dedicated to those who serve others or who may be discerning a call to ministry. Come away for a day to reflect on our relationships to God, to others and to ourselves.  Fr. Bruce Nieli, CSP will be the keynote speaker. Topics include: Formation and Vocation, Service and Evangelization, and Advocacy and Transformation. Register by contacting; 407-246-4819


September 10—Knights of Columbus Holy Family Council 9236 Annual Pro-Life Seminar at St. Nicholas Catholic Church, 5153 Sand Lake Road, Orlando

The guest speaker of this Annual Pro-Life Seminar will be Fr. Peter West from the Priests for Life along with Loretta Fleming from the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment and Deborah Shearer with the Office of Advocacy and Justice. Conference fee is $20 and includes lunch. Deadline to register is September 5. To sign up; email: or call 407-656-8617.


October 14-15—Statewide Respect Life Conference

The 25th annual Florida Statewide Respect Life Conference, “With God All Things Are Possible” will be held October 14-15 in Sarasota Florida. The keynote speaker will be Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City. Other guest speakers include:

– Abby Johnson, Former Planned Parenthood Director, Bryan, TX, Author of unPLANNED

– Dale Recinella, Catholic Lay Chaplain to Florida’s Death Row

– Sheila Hopkins, Florida Catholic Conference, Associate Director for Social Concerns/Respect Life

The conference will be held at Bishop Nevins Academy/St. Martha School, Sarasota, FL. The registration fee: $75 per person, $65 for students and $140 for married couples. Click here for hotel options with reasonable rates. The conference is sponsored by the Florida Catholic Conference  and hosted by the Diocese of Venice. Contact (941) 441-1101 or for more information. Click here to register on-line.


October 2—Respect Life Sunday, 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Respect Life Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday in October, as designated by the U.S. Bishops. This year’s theme is: “I came that all might have life, and have it to the full”.  Every parish has received a USCCB packet with liturgical ideas and educational resources on timely social issues, including: abortion, contraception, the death penalty, persons with disabilities, embryo destructive research, end of life issues, reproductive technologies, and the meaning of human sexuality, family and marriage. This year’s liturgy guide offers Intercessions for Life, suggested preaching reflections for Respect Life Sunday and January 22, a Nuptial Rosary, and a Holy Hour for Life.


Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program brings Church teaching on the value and dignity of human life to the Catholic community and the wider public. The program combines education, prayer, service and advocacy.  Respect Life Sunday is observed in virtually all of the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States. All resources will be available in English and Spanish and may be ordered or downloaded from: .  If your parish needs resources or assistance in planning an event or educational opportunity to celebrate the sacredness of human life during October, call the Office of Advocacy and Justice at 407-246-4819.


October 27— Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace

Pope Benedict XVI calls people of good will to join him in working for peace during a “day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world” to be held in Assisi on Oct. 27 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul’s World Day of Prayer for Peace. The theme of the gathering is “Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace”. To prepare for the event, the Pope will lead a prayer vigil at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on the evening of Oct. 26. Church communities are invited to organize simultaneous events to pray for its success. According to the statement, “the Pope asks the Catholic faithful to join him in praying for the celebration of this important event and he is grateful to all those who will be able to be present in Saint Francis’ home town to share this spiritual pilgrimage.” To assist in planning your own peace celebration, visit Spirit of Assisi  for sample ecumenical, interfaith, and Catholic prayer services as well as other resources.


Advocacy Efforts 

Congress Reaches Deal on Debt Ceiling

Months of rancorous debate ended on Sunday with a deal to raise the federal debt ceiling and avoid default. President Obama, Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, and Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner announced an agreement on a package of spending cuts and a so-called “super-commission” that is intended to help get the government’s debt problem under control.

According to the CBO study of the bill released Monday, the deal establishes caps on discretionary spending through 2021 and requires that the House and Senate vote on a joint resolution proposing a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. It also establishes a procedure to increase the nation’s current $14.3 trillion debt limit by $400 billion initially and procedures “that would allow the limit to be raised further in two additional steps, for a cumulative increase of between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion,” the CBO said.

The bill was passed by the House of Representatives by a 269-161 vote, with 95 Democrats joining 174 Republicans in support of the deal. It was been passed in the Senate and signed by President Obama yesterday, leaving just enough time for the Treasury Department to raise the debt ceiling and avoid an unprecedented default. It is not known if, or how, this will affect the nation’s credit rating.

Now that Congress has passed a bill intended to get spending under control, members of the special commission will have to determine how to make the cuts to discretionary funding. It is imperative that we all work to educate members on the importance of programs that serve the poor and the vulnerable. Therefore a back home strategy will be critical when members are back in district offices for the Congressional recess.


Report on the Debt Ceiling Debate: Good News, Bad News, and Worse News

The Bishops’ Conference is deeply engaged with a series of letters, visits, and action alerts (  that emphasize moral responsibility to put the nation’s fiscal house in order, to reduce unsustainable deficits and future debt, and to do so in ways that protect human life and dignity, especially among “the least of these”( Matthew 25).

In addition, the USCCB is leading the effort to bring together an unprecedented group of Christian leaders and communities to advocate a common moral principle and a unifying priority: protect and improve the programs that safeguard the lives and dignity of those who are poor and vulnerable in our own nation and in the poorest places on earth. This Circle of Protection is a focused, effective, and faithful vehicle for delivering a common message to diverse leaders and communities.

Fears of cuts to poverty-focused international development and humanitarian assistance are well founded. The House Committee on Appropriations already proposed cutting these programs in Fiscal Year 2012 by a disproportionate 20% in addition to the 8% cut last year. The bishops have called these deadly cuts unwise, unjust, and unnecessary (

In August and throughout the fall, we will be called upon to be the ‘cry of the poor’ and make our case that it would be wrong to further cut programs that serve those with the greatest needs in our own country and around the world.  As Bishop Blaire and Bishop Hubbard wrote the Congress (

The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless or poor are treated. Their voices are too often missing in these debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources.


Senate Committee Approves Ex-Offender Legislation

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S.1231), a bipartisan proposal that addresses barriers faced by those exiting the prison system, by a vote of 10 to 8. The bill, sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rob Portman (R-OH,) would provide resources to state and local governments, and community-based organizations to assist with reintegrating ex-offenders back into communities.  If passed, the bill would:

  • Extend the original grant program authorized under the Second Chance Act for five years
  • Provide incentives for inmates to participate in recidivism reduction programs
  • Require periodic audits of grantees
  • Enhance accountability measures for grantees by requiring periodic audits, Prohibiting funds from being held in offshore accounts, and transparency around compensation for nonprofit executives

To view a copy of the bill and the bill summary, please click here.  Now that bill has passed the judiciary committee, it will move to the full Senate for consideration. Second Chance Reauthorization legislation has yet to be introduced in the U.S. House.



Reflections on the Ministry of Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation, a newly published 28-page research document by Comboni Missionaries, Fr. Pierli, Br. Parise and Br. Pettersen, fully examines the dimensions of a “JPIC” ministry, within the Comboni Institute and from a global perspective in the context of the social tradition of the Church. It presents the challenges, initiatives and overarching spirituality of the JPIC ministry. Available in English, Italian, Spanish, French. Visit or