Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates



Prayer and Support for Hurricane/Hunger Victims

Today we keep the victims of Hurricane Irene and other natural disasters like the droughts (in the Southwest) at home, the poorest people on earth who are dying by the thousands from a record-breaking famine in the Horn of Africa.  You are invited to be generous in your support of Catholic efforts at home and abroad.  Give what you can to Catholic Charities of Central Florida  and to Catholic Relief Services.   Note on your contribution for a donation to a specific disaster.


Webinar on Multi-Media Youth Arts Contest  

Please help us reach out to your diocesan Catholic education, religious education, and youth ministry colleagues, as well as teachers and catechists, by inviting them to participate in a webinar about the Multi-Media Youth Arts Contest. 

This contest, sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, is a tool to teach youth (grades 7-12) about poverty in the U.S. and Catholic teaching. Using the contest materials, youth learn about the causes of poverty and the Church’s response, then create “art” of any form (painting, video, photograph, skit, song, PowerPoint, etc.) to communicate what they have learned to others. Dioceses judge entries locally and honor local winners, then send top entries to the national contest. The grand prize winner receives $500 plus a matching grant for an anti-poverty organization and a trip to a national conference. 

Participate in the webinar on September 12 at 4 p.m. to learn more.  RSVP now! 

You can also view the webinar invitation and forward it to others. 


Respect Life Sunday Resources (October 2)

Below is information regarding the new annual Respect Life Program material from the USCCB.  If you have trouble with any of the links, you can access the material at

Each of the 8 articles is available in a two-page 8-1/2” x 11” bulletin insert version (English and Spanish) – great for newsletters (Knights of Columbus, CCW, etc.), parish bulletins (perhaps a monthly series), handouts, etc.  Be creative!  Share the wealth of knowledge!    


Resources for Celebrating the Feast of St. Francis – October 4

As a reminder, new resources are ready for use as you work with others in your community (parish, school, office) to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis by promoting the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor.  We recently posted:

Friending Planet Earth: Helping Youth Understand Solidarity & Sustainability in Light of Climate Change: six lesson plans on climate change for Catholic youth in school and parish settings. The sessions are grounded in Scripture and Catholic social teaching, and use multi-media, prayer, hands-on activities, simulations, games, quizzes, art and music.

The Parish and School Planning Guide to Take the St. Francis Pledge offers detailed suggestions for ensuring that the entire parish or school is involved in taking the St. Francis Pledge.


NEW:  Toolkit on Sustainability & Catholic Mission

As Catholic colleges and universities across the country begin a new school year, eight national Catholic organizations are publishing and promoting an exciting new resource, Sustainability and Catholic Higher Education: A Toolkit for Mission Integration. 

The Toolkit is being co-sponsored by the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities, the Lasallian Association of College and University Presidents, Catholic Relief Services College, the Catholic Campus Ministry Association and the National Catholic Student Coalition.  

It is organized around the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor, and each section of this Toolkit examines a different dimension of the Pledge by:

– Identifying who on campus can most effectively address each dimension.

– Offering suggestions for how each element might be implemented on campus.

– Suggesting ways in which the institution might go “beyond the campus” and into the community.

The Toolkit will be officially released to schools (and posted on the website) Tuesday, September 6, but you can read the press release which was sent to Catholic media this week.


Notre Dame Students Shed 180,000 lbs. Overnight

On Sunday evening, August 28, Notre Dame’s Sustainability Commissioners and student volunteers went door-to-door in their dorms, switching out inefficient incandescent light bulbs for Compact Fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).  The students distributed over 1,500 bulbs, a move which will avoid 180,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year that the bulbs last.

The CFL Exchange is a great kick-off to the ND green movement for this upcoming academic year said Keough Sustainability Commissioner Michael Comuniello. Not only is this an opportunity to reduce energy consumption in Keough (dorm), but it’s also an opportunity to get to know other[s] and to promote actions which will benefit the environment.

The CFL Exchange has happened annually since the fall of 2008. This year’s exchange placed the total number of bulbs replaced at almost 9,000 and the accumulated energy savings at over $40,000. The CFLs are purchased by the Office of Sustainability through the Green Loan Fund, a $2 million revolving fund established by the University to support energy and resource conservation projects.  Read the entire story here.


CRS World Report: Climate Change and Coffee

Catholic Relief Services recently posted a Podcast documenting that while Central America produces great coffee beans, the crop and its farmers are in increasing danger due to the effects of climate change:

As temperatures rise, rainfall becomes more erratic, coffee production is threatened in Mexico and Central America.  Land at 4,000 feet, where some of the world’s most celebrated coffee is grown, will be too hot for coffee plants by 2020.  Many poor farmers in the region rely on growing coffee beans to support their families.  And for these farmers, the changing climate threatens their families’ future. 

CRS is helping farmers adapt to the changing conditions in two ways.  The first is that  CRS can help farmers plant shade trees that will lower the temperatures over the coffee plants.  The second is that with rainfall being a lot less predictable, CRS can help them introduce drought-resistant varieties.

Listen to the entire Podcast and find out how CRS is continually “giving hope to a world in need.”  For more information about how your parish may be more involved with this issue contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice, 407-246-4819; email:


Our “Car-centric Culture”

In a provocative essay in America Magazine, Rev. Thomas Massaro, SJ, professor of social ethics at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, challenges the continued reliance on autos as our default mode of transportation.  While acknowledging that personal vehicles provide a certain amount of satisfaction and convenience, Fr. Massaro says, I find it hard to deny the downside of excessive car use. Owning and operating a vehicle is expensive, ecologically harmful and has a pernicious way of insulating us from our social and natural environments. Burning endless gallons of imported gasoline to propel our self-contained private vehicles on nonessential trips near and far is the very embodiment of self-indulgence and unsustainability.

Solutions such as employing disincentives for auto traffic, especially single-passenger use, urban planners and transportation officials should continue to enact positive measures to enhance reliable public transportation and encourage pedestrian-friendly zones rather than allow cars to dominate public spaces are offered but, Massaro concludes, we must face up to the imperative to renegotiate the relationship. Since our reliance on gas-guzzling vehicles is not serving us well, it is time to challenge our overly car-centric culture.  Read the entire article here.


Energy & Climate Survey

We wish to express our appreciation to all those who participated in our online survey regarding energy and climate concerns. Thanks again for taking a few minutes to share your opinions. This is the final week to participate; we will close it by Friday and begin tabulating the responses. This will help us shape our future messages on economic development and the care of creation.  Take our survey here.


USDA Proposes New Animal ID Legislation

Earlier this month, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a proposed rule about the official identification and documentation requirements for the traceability of livestock moving interstate. This national animal ID system has caused some alarm among small farmers who raise cattle, sheep, goats, swine, horses, poultry or other livestock.

USDA’s stated purpose for implementing the rule is to improve the agency’s ability to locate animals that may be infected with or exposed to an animal disease. Read more about this controversial animal ID system at the website of the National Sustainable Ag Coalition.


Food Security and Economic Justice Study Guide Promotion!!

Just a reminder that from now until the end of September you can receive 20% off all orders of our new study guide and leader’s guide! The new guide is great for individual or group-based study. Visit our website to learn more, or our store to order. Coupon code: 20percent.


Advocacy Efforts 

Action Alert!

Urge Congress to support life-saving poverty-focused international assistance and protect 12 million East Africans from hunger now!

-Download in PDF

Send your message to your members of Congress now!

What’s the issue? More than 12 million of our brothers and sisters in East Africa—more than the entire population of the state of Ohio—face malnutrition and starvation in the midst of the region’s worst drought in decades. Meanwhile, Congress is gearing up to debate how to deal with our nation’s deficits, with some proposals drastically cutting international and domestic assistance to people in dire need such as those in East Africa.

Learn more about:

° The humanitarian catastrophe in East Africa and how you can respond;

° A recent USCCB/CRS letter sent to the House Appropriations Committee leadership on
cuts to poverty-focused international assistance; and

° Poverty-focused international assistance and its connection to your Catholic faith.

As Catholics, we are called to protect people who are hungry, thirsty, seeking refuge and care. Life-saving poverty-focused international assistance that fights hunger, disease and makes drought-prone communities more resilient to hunger crises is less than 1% of the budget. While our nation’s leaders must address the deficit, we desperately need your help now to protect proven and effective poverty-focused programs.

What do you want me to do? Contact your members of Congress now and urge them to preserve life-saving, poverty-focused international assistance in the upcoming deficit reduction negotiations and the FY 2012 appropriations process.

Take Action Now! Contact your members of Congress now or visit our Action Center:

Catholic Relief Services East Africa Web Page
We are pleased to let you know Catholic Relief Services has created an
East Africa web page for the current crisis.  This page provides links to Catholic Relief Services’ work in East Africa, stories on how your regular support has saved lives, resources for your parishes and faith communities in the diocese and meaningful ways to help East Africa now and in the future.  Please share it with parishes and other communities in your diocese.  Please contact your CRS regional office or call the U.S. Operations Call center at 866-608-5978 for any additional information. Thank you for your heartfelt concern for the people of East Africa.

Immigration Caution Advised: New Obama Administration Enforcement Priorities
On August 18
, the Obama Administration announced in a letter to 22 U.S. Senators that the U.S. government will no longer focus scarce resources on deporting low-priority individuals, such as college students and U.S. military veterans. Under the new policy an interagency working group consisting of Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice officials will review on a case by case basis the approximately 300,000 cases in deportation proceedings. Individuals in proceedings that are found to meet the criteria for “prosecutorial discretion” will have their deportations suspended and may be eligible to apply for a work permit. It is important, however, for immigrants and their families to understand that there are no rules or guarantees as to…
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Aging Resources:  

Annual “Listen to a Life” Essay Contest – Open to youth ages 8-18 years who interview a grandparent or grandfriend about their life’s hopes, dreams, and challenges. Contest starts September 11, National Grandparents Day. Get details @ 

Elder Abuse Study – The MetLife Mature Market Institute just released a study that determines the extent and consequences of elder financial abuse. Visit  

Minority Elder Report – This report finds that African American, Asian American and Latino senior citizens are economically vulnerable and getting more so.  Visit


Did You Know. . .  

Active Aging Week is September 25 -October 1, 2011. It promotes an active and healthy lifestyle. See how you can participate at 

National Falls Prevention Awareness Day is observed the first day of fall, September 23, to promote and increase public awareness about how to prevent and reduce falls among older adults. For info on falls prevention, visit


Comments Requested on HHS Preventive Services Rule
As you know, in implementing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently issued guidelines requiring almost all private health plans to cover contraception and sterilization as “preventive services” for women. On August 3, HHS published an interim final rule that references these guidelines, and allows HRSA to implement a very narrow and inadequate religious exemption. This action poses an unprecedented threat to the religious freedom of individuals and institutions. 

The public comment period on this interim final rule ends September 30. 

In coordination with the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, NCHLA has issued an Action Alert urging people to send an e-mail message to HHS on the interim final rule. See: