Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

 

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Scheduled Execution Prayer and Action Alert Update

The Florida Supreme Court has lifted the stay of execution for Manuel Valle. A new execution date has  been scheduled for September 28 at 4pm. Your parish is encouraged to continue to pray for Mr. Valle, his family, the victim’s family and friends, that they will continue to receive healing through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; for all the public officials involved in this scheduled execution; for Governor Scott, that he will discern God’s will and apply the teachings of our Catholic faith on the death penalty. Please contact Governor Scott  and ask him to consider an indefinite stay of execution. Manuel is a committed Catholic who regularly receives the sacraments. Please refer to the petitions and bulletin insert below.  For more information, contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice, advocacyjustice@orlandodiocese.org or 407-246-4819.

 

Sample Bulletin Announcement

SCHEDULED EXECUTION IN FLORIDA – ALL HUMAN LIFE IS SACRED:

The U. S. Catholic Bishops have called all Catholics to participate in a campaign to achieve the abolishment of the death penalty, see: www.usccb.org/deathpenalty/.

 

Our Bishops have stated that, “At a time when the sanctity of life is threatened in many ways, taking life is not really a solution but may instead effectively undermine respect for life.”  This pending execution gives Florida Catholics the opportunity to be a part of the campaign in a very personal way.  Our hearts and lives must have special space for the victims and their loved ones as well.  But let it be known that “standing with families of victims does not compel us to support the use of the death penalty” (U.S. Bishops).  For more information, contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice, 407-246-4819.

 

Sample Petitions for Liturgy

•For men and women who sit on death row awaiting the end of their life.

•For the victims of violence and hatred, that they may be freed from pain and fear.

•For the loved ones of those who have suffered death at the hands of another person, may their hearts experience the healing and reconciling power of the Spirit.

•For the families of those condemned to die, that the hope of the resurrection and the truth of the Gospel of life might strengthen them in their time of need.

•May the witness of the Church to the sacredness of all life, even of those who have done evil acts, serve to call our nation to a new awakening in responding to crime and determining punishment.

 

Pray for the DREAM

Between September 18th and October 9th, dioceses, parishes and other faith groups will be planning events and/or incorporating petitions, homilies, and prayers into the Sunday Masses in support of our DREAM Act eligible students and youth. We plan to lift up the human face of suffering from an otherwise political issue through personal stories and testimonies, while also sharing many of the ways that Catholic Social Teaching calls us to support our innocent immigrant youth who want nothing more than a chance to succeed in this world and reach their God given potential. Visit www.justiceforimmigrants.org/parishes.shtml for resource to participate in Pray for the DREAM.

 

Respect Life Sunday, October 2 – 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 www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/respect-life-program/2011/2011-respect-life-program-pamphlets.cfm.  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!    

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, 407-246-4819.

 

Cabrini College Implements St. Francis Pledge

Carrie Nielsen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Science at Cabrini College reports that: This semester, the Green Team at Cabrini College has formed a St. Francis Pledge Committee to encourage students, staff, and faculty to take the Pledge, and to provide programming on campus to help us all live out our commitment to Pray, Learn, Assess, Act, and Advocate.  They feel that the five steps of the pledge fit perfectly with Cabrini’s mission and our dedication to social justice.

At the recent student activities fair, over 40 students (along with some faculty and staff members) signed the St. Francis Pledge.  In the coming weeks, they will be getting the word out about the Pledge through our college website.  In October, in order to support the first step in the Pledge, “Pray,” the Green Team is collaborating with Campus Ministry to put on a Prayer Walk.  They will use the environment of its beautiful wooded campus to contemplate our connection to nature and rededicate themselves to caring for God’s creation. 

Learn more about the mission-based sustainability efforts at Cabrini College here.

 

National Catholic Student Coalition Promotes Pledge and Toolkit

The National Catholic Student Coalition (NCSC), a proud Catholic Climate Covenant Partner, is inviting campus ministries at Catholic colleges and universities across the country to renew interest and initiate action on the Covenant.  The NCSC website points out that, [a]s the future of our planet unfolds, we as college students and campus ministers need to take responsibility for the ‘care of creation.’  St. Francis tells us to, ‘Keep trying to do what is necessary, then what’s possible and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.’

In order to help Catholic college students respond to the Church’s call for ecological stewardship and climate action, NCSC recommends that its supporters read and distribute Sustainability and Catholic Higher Education: A Toolkit for Mission Integration (which is co-published by the Coalition, NCSC, and many others), the Press Release about the Toolkit, and the postcard which was recently sent to thousands of Catholic institutions.  Read their letter of endorsement here.

As collegiate student leaders in the United States of America, the National Catholic Student Coalition (NCSC) strives to empower students to further the mission of the Catholic Church through spiritual, educational and leadership opportunities.

 

Conference Official Urges Youth to be Catalysts of Change

At a conference on renewable energy, Fr. Conegundo Garganta, Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Youth, urged youth to be catalysts of change in society including consumers of renewable energy.  Sixty percent of the Philippine population is youth so educating them about energy choices may help advance renewable energy in a country where a renewable energy law languishes.  Read more here.

 

Churches Call for “A Time for Creation”

At a time when the impact of climate change remains a major global concern, churches around the world are calling for a renewed commitment towards the environment and ecosystems.

From 1 September to 4 October 2011, churches and organizations from Germany to Australia, India to South Africa, the Pacific to North America, are observing the “Time for Creation”, a month-long celebration of creation and demonstration of concern for climate justice.  They seek to renew their commitment towards the environment and eco-systems.

A “Time for Creation” is part of climate justice initiatives by the World Council of Churches, through which the churches and faith networks are stressing the ethical and spiritual aspect in debate on environmental issues.

Read more about the “Time for Creation” here, and plan to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis on October 4 with these Coalition resources.

 

Diocese of Orange Hosts Fourth Annual Blessing of the Waves in Surf City USA

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange will, in solidarity with other faith traditions, host the fourth annual “Blessing of the Waves” at the iconic Huntington Beach Pier (400 Pacific Coast Highway) October 2, 2011, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. The goal of this Diocesan sponsored prayer service and blessing is to bring together ocean-minded people, regardless of their faith tradition, to show spiritual appreciation for the ocean and all that it gives the planet and its population. This gathering demonstrates concern for a cherished environment already compromised by the effects of climate change, toxic emissions, and other pollution.

Says Most Reverend Tod D. Brown, Bishop of Orange, In Orange County our beaches are more than simple geography; they are a cultural and spiritual center of our community. It is important that we recognize this common element in all our lives, regardless of faith tradition. Pope Benedict XVI and other spiritual leaders have called on all people to commit to the protection of the gifts of nature and preserve them for future generations. As we give thanks for this natural gift we must recognize that climate change disproportionately affects the economically disadvantaged. Environmental protection and curbing climate change is a matter of social justice that demands immediate action.  Learn more about the Blessing of the Waves here.

 

Food Insecurity — A Harsh Reality for Many Immigrants Families

Children of immigrants are 1.5 times more likely to live in families with incomes below the poverty threshold, putting them at greater risk for food insecurity.  And immigrant families who have been in the country less than five years are actually 145 percent more likely to be food insecure than U.S. born families.  Although many immigrant families enroll in food assistance programs, cultural and language barriers as well as confusion about eligibility are an obstacle for others. Read a special report on Immigrant Children and Nutrition by First Focus.

 

America’s Checkup: Children of Color at Greater Health Risk

While white children from poor families are at increased risk for some health-related issues, in general, children from racial and ethnic populations face more challenges in terms of their health and wellness.  African American children are less likely to have regular access to pediatric facilities and are more likely to suffer from severe behavioral health issues, dental problems, and pre-term birth.  And Latino children are at far greater risk for obesity or food insecurity and are the least likely to be covered by insurance.  Read more in a report from the National Center for Children in Poverty.

 

Preparing for World Food Day, Sunday October 16 

When we sit down to dinner, rarely do we realize that our meals depend on a global system that involves people both locally and across oceans. This World Food Day, October 16, why not take a moment to consider where your food comes from, who is behind its cultivation, and how we can make the food system more just and sustainable.

OXFAM AMERICA has prepared World Food Day materials to help you plan a dinner conversation with family friends about the global food system – and what you can do about it. In a world facing the challenges of the current famine in East Africa, constrained land and water, and an erratic climate, one of the best ways to combat global food insecurity is to invest in farmers and remove barriers that limit their productivity.

Reflections on Food and Faith on NCR EcoCatholic blog 

In case you missed it, Father Charles Morris offers a two part reflection and call to action on “food and faith: possibilities for parishes” in the online EcoCatholic blog of National Catholic Reporter. Part One of his blog begins by explaining “that something is seriously out of kilter with the American food system.” Part Two describes “models that can enhance our witness of a more just and sustainable world through the promotion of local and organic methods of food production, especially focusing on what parishes can do.”

                You can read additional Commentaries on food and faith at our own Food & Justice section on the NCRLC website. We encourage the widespread use of these commentaries, such as diocesan newspapers or social network blogs.  

 

National Food Day, Oct. 24  

Not to be confused with World Food Day mentioned above, a US-based Food Day is set for October 24 starting this year.   National Food Day seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life – parents, teachers, and students; health professionals, community organizers, and local officials; chefs, school lunch providers, and eaters of all stripes – to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.

To begin this year, campaign organizers are working with people around the country to create events in homes, schools, churches, farmers markets, city halls, and state capitals. Learn more and see how you might join in. Some cities and localities still need local groups to set up activities. Click here for more details

NCRLC supports the principles of Food Day which are very much in line with our own Ethics of Eating campaign.

 

New Content on USDA’s Farm to School Website 

We heard from our friends at USDA’s Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that a new interactive map has been added to the Farm to School website. The map will guide you to Farm to School contacts at State government agencies across the county. Click here to take a look.   

The USDA Farm to School website is an online resource set up to assist schools in starting or expanding their Farm to School activities; assist in the communication between farmers and schools; and share information about Farm to School activities across the Nation.

 

Advocacy Efforts

Legislation Introduced to Restore Abstinence Funding

Legislation was announced on the floor of the House of Representatives that will restore funding for Abstinence –Centered Education by reallocating prevention funds for this purpose.  The Abstinence-Centered Education Reallocation Act (H.R. 2874), sponsored by Rep. Randall Hultgren (R-IL), is a bill that will put a priority on the sexual risk avoidance message found in abstinence programs. The bill follows a recent HHS study, The National Survey of Adolescents and Their Parents which reported that 70% of parents and nearly as many teens support the abstinence until marriage message. It also acknowledges the recent CDC report that shows teens are increasingly choosing abstinence with 68% of boys and 67% of girls ages 15-17 reporting that they have not had sex.

 

Conscience Rights Violated by Sweeping HHS Contraceptive Mandate

In implementing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the new health care reform law), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued a rule requiring almost all private health plans to cover contraception and sterilization as “preventive services” for women. The mandate even forces individuals and groups with religious or moral objections to purchase and provide such coverage if they are to receive or provide health coverage at all. This poses an unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom.

Please send an e-mail message to HHS by visiting www.usccb.org/conscience. Once you send your comments to HHS, you will be automatically invited to send a message to your elected representatives in Congress, urging them to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179/S. 1467) to ensure that such federal mandates do not violate Americans’ moral and religious convictions.

 

Tell your Senators to Protect Victims of Trafficking!

-Download in PDF

Send your message to your Senators now! 

What’s the issue? Trafficking of people is a modern day scourge that afflicts millions of people, particularly women and children, around the world resulting in extreme forms of sexual exploitation and forced labor. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) established the United States’ efforts and leadership to combat the multi-billion dollar industry. Since then, the U.S. government has worked to prevent trafficking in persons; prosecute those who profit from it; and protect victims. Catholic Relief Services partners with U.S. government agencies and others to prevent trafficking and protect victims in more than 35 countries around the world. 

Learn more about:

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act expires on September 30, 2011 and Congress must act to reauthorize it. If the bill does not pass, U.S. pressure on countries across the globe to combat modern-day slavery will suffer. In this precarious economic environment, more vulnerable and marginalized people may fall victim to those who would exploit them.

What do you want me to do? Contact your Senators and ask them to support S. 1301, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and express strong support for the following:

  1. The bill’s increased authorization of funding for trafficking victim services and strong emphasis on partnerships with organizations like Catholic Relief Services to combat trafficking in persons.
  2. Authorization of funding for the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, tasked with assisting governments in responding to urgent needs.
  3. Establishment of child protection compacts that would help specific countries to develop and implement comprehensive anti-trafficking plans to protect children. 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!

  • E-mail your Senators; Contact Florida Senator Marco Rubio by email or by calling: 202-2243041. Contact Florida Senator Bill Nelson by email or by calling 202-224-5274.
  • Call 702-577-2339 for talking points and to be connected to your Senator’s office; and
  • Visit our Action Center: http://actioncenter.crs.org for more action alerts and information.

 

Senate Appropriations Committee Allocates $120M for EFSP

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Homeland Security funding bill, which provides funding for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (ESFP). If passed and signed into law, the funding as set out by the Senate Appropriations Committee would allot $120 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. This would be $20 million above the budget request level and $240,000 above the fiscal year 2011 level. 

The committee continues to support the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, and recognizes it as one program, in conjunction with others, that serves those in immediate need of food and shelter assistance. This appropriation funds grants to non-profit and faith-based organizations at the local level to supplement their programs that supply emergency food and shelter to provide for the immediate needs of the homeless.

In addition to the EFSP program other nutrition programs funded by the Senate Appropriations Committee in the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations include: The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CFSP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the Emerson/Leland Hunger Fellowship Program.

 

Resources 

Recently Published: Theology, Ecology and Climate Change

As the fall semester gets underway, two new books on theology, ecology and climate change have recently been published by eminent Catholic theologians.

In Confronting the Climate Crisis: Catholic Theological Perspectives (Marquette University Press, edited by Jame Schaefer, Ph.d., Associate Professor of Systematic Theology & Ethics at Marquette University), members of the Catholic Theological Society of America’s Interest Group on Global Warming have dug deeply into the biblical to contemporary traditions, reflected systematically, and produced seventeen original essays that demonstrate fruitful ways to approach the climate crisis so that current and predicted effects may be mitigated. The essays are framed by an overview of basic scientific findings and statements by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Pope Benedict XVI.

In Green Discipleship: Catholic Theological Ethics (Anselm Academic , edited by Tobias Winright, Ph.d., Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics at St. Louis University), scholars from the fields of theology and the social and hard sciences discuss green discipleship and ethics, and consider how a proactive approach to the earth’s welfare is, essentially, a moral obligation of Christians and all people of good will and deep faith.

See more resources on the new Coalition Reading Suggestion webpage here.

 

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 the new study guide and leader’s guide! The new guide is great for individual or group-based study. Visit the website to learn more, or use store to order. Coupon code: 20percent.