Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates
Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Louisville is encouraging individuals, families, parishes and schools to take and promote the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor. Sister Mary Schmuck, RSM, says of the effort: It’s asking people in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi to promise to pray about taking better care of creation, to study the whole state of creation issues, to look at how I’m using resources and make some choices about being better about it. It’s not just environmentalism; it’s also taking care of the poor people who get hurt when we don’t take care of creation. Towards that end, Sr. Schmuck has conducted annual surveys to ASSESS the extent to which Catholic organizations in the Archdiocese have taken steps to care for God’s good gift of Creation. Learn more about Creation care efforts in the Archdiocese of Louisville and the outstanding work of Sr. Mary Schmuck, RSM.
The University of Notre Dame once again celebrated the Feast of St. Francis with a Mass, special desserts and a lecture on the Church’s authentic teaching on caring for Creation. As reported in the University’s newspaper, The celebration began with a mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart led by Fr. Tom Doyle, University vice president for Student Affairs. Doyle said the life of Saint Francis is still relevant today, as it pertains to the role of Christians as stewards of creation. Students were then treated to animal and environment-themed desserts in the dining halls before a talk by Professor Matthew Ashley, chair of the Theology Department. His lecture stressed the importance of the Catholic influence on the debates of sustainability and environmentalism in the past and present. Click here for more of this story.
St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY also celebrated Franciscan Week with a lecture by Catholic Climate Ambassador, Dr. Rose Zuzworsky, in which she considered the issues of environmental degradation and climate change in light of authentic Catholic teaching. Read more here. To schedule an Ambassador in your area, see the complete list of all Catholic Climate Ambassadors.
As part of its commitment to mission-based sustainability, Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, signed an agreement with Constellation Energy in 2009 to lease 100 acres of its campus to house one of the nation’s largest solar photovoltaic power farms creating more than 22,000,000 kilowatt hours of emission-free, clean electricity. The amount of clean electricity generated compares to the same amount from non-renewable sources or 15,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide; the equivalent of the emissions of more than 3,000 cars. According to the University, the project is one of the largest solar farms on any private college campus in the United States. Upon completion, the project will generate energy to power the Mt. St. Mary’s and add to the grid of the local community. Learn more about the project here.
DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, is known for its excellent sports teams and top-tier music program. But now the all-boys school will be known for becoming one of the first high schools in the area to generate a substantial portion of their energy from the sun. Working with a firm headed by alums, 550 solar panels are about to go online. School principal, Dr. Dan McMahon said, The students have a sense of service, not only to do things to make a living but to do things to make living better. And science department chairman, Rick Reeves says that the environmental science course offering has grown over the years from 8 students to over 100. Clearly DeMatha is tapping into the awareness and enthusiasm of younger Catholics to do right by the planet and by their faith. Read more here.
According to a rule approved by the House Rules Committee, the Protect Life Act, H.R. 358, is set to be considered by the House of Representatives on Thursday, October 13. After approval of the rule, there will be one hour of debate, with one motion to recommit the bill to committee. If you have not yet done so, please click on the link below to send your Representative this suggested message: “During floor consideration, please vote for the Protect Life Act, H.R. 358, and oppose any motion to weaken the bill. This bill will amend the health care reform law to preserve longstanding federal policies on abortion and conscience rights.” (You will also be able to send a message to your two U.S. Senators, urging support and co-sponsorship of the companion bill in the Senate, S. 877.)
If you have already sent an e-mail message, please consider phoning your Representative’s office with the above message. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, and ask for your Representative’s office. The health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), was signed into law in 2010. The Protect Life Act will bring PPACA into line with policies on abortion and conscience rights existing in other federal health programs. Click the link below to log in and send your message:
Last week, the U. S. House of Representatives passed a short-term spending bill to keep the government operating through November 18. The bill, which passed 352-66, allows for a $1.042 trillion spending cap as agreed to in the debt limit law enacted in August.
Now that the bill has been signed into law by President Obama, appropriators will determine how to allocate the FY2012 discretionary funding for 12 annual spending bills. Appropriators are hoping to reach an agreement on allocations relatively quickly in order to meet the November 18th deadline. Once “top line” spending levels are set, appropriators will have to determine funding levels for federal programs.
While spending for FY2012 remains uncertain, it is possible that the individual spending bills could be combined into one spending bill – referred to as an “omnibus bill” – or several small packages. Given the contention the over the health care law and foreign aid, battles are expected with the Labor-HHS-Education and the State Foreign Operations bills.
In a recently released survey of public opinion by Farms Food Fuel on agriculture and the environment, the majority of people surveyed approved of priorities in line with the sustainable agriculture community. This is good news for stewardship advocacy efforts in the next Farm Bill and for federal funding for sustainable agriculture.
Highlights of the survey’s findings on conservation programs include:
— 69 percent said reducing the use of chemicals that contribute to water pollution should be a top priority of agriculture policy.
— 60 percent said farmers should be required to meet environmental standards such as protecting water quality or soil health as a condition of receiving subsidy payments and subsidized crop insurance.
— 57 percent did not agree with cutting funding for farm conservation programs, saying that these programs save money by preventing pollution.
In addition, in response to a question about the top priorities for agriculture policy, 78 percent of those surveyed flagged making nutritious and healthy foods more affordable and more accessible as a top priority. The next highest priority, for 75 percent of those surveyed, was making sure family farmers can stay in business.
NCRLC will advocate for these practices and improvements in the upcoming Farm Bill. Be sure to regularly visit our
Agriculture and Food web section for information & updates.