Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates





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 4 p.m. 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 to ask for his clemency. Manuel is a committed Catholic who regularly receives the sacraments. Please refer to the petitions and bulletin insert below.  Two priests from the Diocese of Orlando will be travelling to the execution site in Starke, FL as they do on every execution to lead a prayerful witness against executions. Please feel free to join them on September 28 at the prison before 4pm. For more information, contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice, or 407-246-4819.

Respect Life Weekend: Helpers’ Mass and Rosary Procession

The next Helpers’ Mass and Rosary procession will be held at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church (861 Maitland Ave., Altamonte Springs) on Saturday, October 1, 2011 beginning with Mass at 8:00 a.m. Following Mass we will process to the nearby abortion facility on Maitland Avenue while prayer the rosary. Please join us on this Respect Life weekend in praying for the protection of human life. For more information, contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice; 407-246-4819;

Rachel’s Vineyard Post-Abortion Retreat:  November 18-20 at San Pedro Center in Winter Park.  If you have been affected by abortion and need healing, community and the love of God, this retreat is for you.  This confidential retreat offers a safe, non-judgmental environment where women and men find healing and reconciliation for the most painful experience of abortion.  For more information or to register, please contact Karen Reilly at 321.662.5097 or email You may also visit for information about Rachel’s Vineyard.  

New Roman Missal Training for Sign Language Interpreters

Beginning in Advent 2011 we will be using the New Roman Missal in our parishes. A training for Sign Language interpreters will be held at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Orlando on Tuesday, October 18 at 6 p.m.  Come ready to discuss and learn ways to accurately interpret these new translations. Fr. Leo Hodges will be our presenter. All are welcome to attend. Click here to download the flyer. RSVP to or call 407-246-4819.

Speaking the Truth in Love with Scott Klusendorf
The Central Florida Pregnancy Center presents “Speaking the Truth in Love” with Scott Klusendorf. Scott Klusendorf is the president of Life Training Institute. Scott travels throughout the United States and Canada training pro-life advocates to persuasively defend their views in the public square. Presentation will take place at University High School (1000 W. Rhode Island Avenue, Orange City, FL 32763) at 7 p.m. For reservations call 386-574-5894.

Human Trafficking = Modern-day Slavery Webcast

September 28, 2011 – 1:00-2:00 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time RSVP now

Background: Our Catholic faith teaches us that human trafficking-the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of forced labor, sexual exploitation and even the sale of organs-is a crime against the most basic aspects of human dignity and human rights. The reality of thousands of our brothers and sisters laboring in modern-day slavery compels us to act now to stop human trafficking and to support the survivors of this crime.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which establishes the United States’ efforts and leadership to combat human trafficking and protect its victims, expires on September 30, 2011. If Congress doesn’t pass the bill in time, U.S. pressure 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.

Join us for this webcast to discuss:

  • The reality of human trafficking,
  • Its effects on people around the world,
  • What the Catholic Church is doing about it, and how you can make a difference through Catholics Confront Global Poverty.

Learn more about:

Attacks on DOMA Threaten Marriage Warns Archbishop Dolan in Letter to President Obama

President Obama Administration’s fight against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, will undermine marriage and create a serious breach of Church-State relations, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote in a September 20 letter to President Barack Obama.  To read the full letter see:

Stewards of the Earth

Special Report on Ecology from the Society of Jesus

Last week, the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat of the General Curia, Society of Jesus in Rome published, Healing a Broken World: Special Report on Ecology.  The document affirms the establishment of the Task Force on Jesuit Mission and Ecology (2010) and that the Church and the Society of Jesus today must make ‘reconciliation with creation’ an integral part of the Society of Jesus’ activities.  The report also proposes a set of practical recommendations.

The document notes that Ignatian spirituality…provides a deep source of inspiration to develop insights and new relationships with regard to creation.  Healing a Broken World specifically addresses the issue of climate change, saying that [m]any of our ecosystems and poorer communities will suffer the extremes of climate change and only have a limited capacity recover given their present natural and social systems; they need a supporting response from society to regenerate. Read the entire document here.

Viatorians Become a Catholic Climate Covenant Partner

The Provincial Council of the Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians) has become a Catholic Climate Covenant Partner by officially supporting the Catholic Climate Covenant.  The Viatorians’ website notes that [a]s climate disruption escalates and weather patterns become increasingly unpredictable (dramatic flooding, prolonged droughts, etc.) one thing is for certain: the life and dignity of those with the fewest resources and living in the poorest places on earth will be impacted the most. As Pope Benedict reminds us: ‘Environmental degradation makes the life of the poor especially unbearable.’

In response to these challenges, the Viatorians say that [b]oth the St. Francis Pledge and the Catholic Climate Covenant — which embodies values from the life of St. Francis — are ways to respond to the call of Pope Benedict XVI and the U.S. bishops, to embrace climate change solutions consistent with Catholic social teaching.

The Viatorians recommend that individuals, families, schools, parishes and dioceses take the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor and register their commitment at

Read more here.

Media Publicize Toolkit for Catholic Colleges and Universities

Two weeks after the official publication of Sustainability and Catholic Higher Education: A Toolkit for Mission Integration, Catholic media outlets are still giving coverage to the Toolkit.  The Catholic Sentinel of the Archdiocese of Portland, OR, published a story titled Groups Seek to Advance Catholic Colleges on to Green Ways.

This story was re-published by Catholic Relief Services’ Newswire, adding, Catholic Relief Services is one of a group of national Catholic organizations that have created a new resource that will help Catholic colleges and universities integrate environmental sustainability into their missions.

Santa Clara University also featured the Toolkit in its Sustainability Update Newsletter, and quoted Reverend Gregory F. Lucey, S.J., President of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (Toolkit co-sponsor) as saying, Ignatian spirituality seeks to find God in all things, including the natural world. The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities recognizes that environmental stewardship is an integral part of both our Catholic mission and Jesuit spirituality. This will help us build on our efforts toward mission-based sustainability.

Caritas Helps to Hold Back the Desert in the Face of Climate Change

Vast tracts of northwest Bangladesh are in danger of turning into desert after withering bouts of prolonged, severe drought. As many as 100,000 hectares of arable land have gone barren, resulting in the loss of a million tons of crops. We can’t grow crops because there’s so little rain and the drought extends over months. We need to travel miles just to collect drinking water, said Paulina Tudu, 36, a Catholic from Santal.

Bangladesh Meteorological Department reports that in 2010 the country witnessed its lowest rainfall in 15 years.  Caritas Bangladesh ( is now hard at work, looking for ways to alleviate the problem and bring some hope to the affected families. Besides planting thousands of trees ourselves, we’re encouraging people to plant trees themselves and follow drought adaption methods, said Caritas program officer, Arook Toppo. We’re also introducing drought-tolerant crops and rainwater preservation for drinking. To help with that, we’ve excavated ponds so we can reserve water for irrigation and fish cultivation. And we’ve set up water tanks and purification systems for drinking and other domestic uses. Finally, from time to time we hold awareness programs that explain the vulnerability and show how to adapt to drought. And we’re promot[ing} livestock rearing as an alternative living for people.

Read more here.  

Appeal for Nature, Cultural Preservation in Bangladesh– Rajshahi Diocese

The environment and local cultures were two of the biggest concerns highlighted at a recent a pastoral assembly held in northwestern Rajshahi diocese.  211 Catholics from 18 parishes attended the three-day event, including members of the clergy at the Christo Jyoti Pastoral Center, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Joseph Marino and Holy Cross auxiliary Bishop Theotonius Gomes of Dhaka.

The assembly expressed serious concerns over land that climate change is rendering useless through drought and sinking water tables.  The representatives were encouraged to set up and strengthen Small Christian Communities to care for the environment, ensure proper management of natural resources and preserve cultural traditions.  Read more here.

Agriculture as Sacrament

Father Bud Grant, Assistant Professor of Theology at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, offers some thoughts about agriculture and sustainable farming practices in his latest commentary on the NCRLC website. He concludes that “eco-farming will entail a degree of salvific (literally “saving”) suffering as we restore creation and renew our role within it.  This is the very core of the gospel: sacrifice is redemptive. This is agriculture as sacrament.”

Read his full commentary here.

Advocacy Updates

Update on Agriculture Appropriations and Potential Budget Cuts

With the end of the federal fiscal year approaching quickly (September 30), Republicans in the House of Representatives intend to vote next week on a two-month “continuing resolution” to keep the government funded through November 18. They need to do this because Congress has yet to pass any of the twelve appropriations bills for fiscal year 2012, which begins on October 1.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition provides an update on the current outlook for farm conservation and rural development programs. NCRLC is part of this Coalition, which will deliver a set of recommendations to the special committee next week to ensure that any farm bill funding decisions do not undermine sustainable agriculture policies and programs.

ACTION ALERT: Help protect aid for poverty alleviation overseas  

As part of the Catholics Confront Global Poverty campaign, we join with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services to urge our members to take action on the upcoming foreign aid appropriations vote in the U.S. Senate. The Catholic community should be a voice to ensure that this funding and other poverty alleviation programs remain top priorities in the nations’ foreign assistance efforts.

Action Step: Click into this alert to learn more. You will also see a way to send a message to your member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Ask them to give priority to poverty-focused international assistance within the Foreign Operations Appropriation. This funding has a direct impact on Catholic Relief Services’ ability to save lives around the globe.

Migration Issues Complicate Farm Worker Ministry

President Obama has announced administrative changes in deportation policy for those undocumented who do not present a danger to American society. The changes are good news for families being separated by present practices and for students who have lived most of their lives in this country. “Yet the changes only apply to the small percentage of people who are caught in the web of deportation proceedings,” writes Father Mike McAndrews in his latest online commentary.

He says that the politicking around the issue is a distraction from the need for comprehensive reform of American immigration law and policies. “For those involved in Church ministry, the reality of global migration calls us to focus on the complex reality of migration rather than the politics of the moment and sound bites that move American society.”  Read Father Mike McAndrew’s commentary here.

Stand up for DREAM Act

We encourage our members to visit the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants website and continue to stand up for the DREAM Act. This legislation (S.952) would authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain alien students who are long-term United States residents and who entered the country as children. The DREAM Act is not an alternative to comprehensive immigration reform, but a step in the right direction.

At the Justice for Immigrants website, you can download parish toolkits and other resource materials. And you can also send electronic postcards to President Obama and the U.S. Congress asking them to protect innocent DREAM youth from deportation.