Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

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Alternative Gift Giving for Christmas 100% Good

Caring for the Climate: A Life Issue

Caring for the Environment is Part of Catholic Social Teaching

Farm Bill: Looking Ahead to 2012 Helpers’ Mass and Rosary Procession

International Climate Negotiations Update

Jobless Rate Drops as Congress Debates Unemployment Benefits

School Gardens: Whole Kids Foundation

Senate Takes Up High-Skill Visa Caps

Word of Life Intercessions and Bulletin Briefs for January and February

World Food Day: Keep the Conversation Going

 

Helpers’ Mass and Rosary Procession

The next Helpers’ Mass and Rosary procession will be held at St. Augustine Catholic Church (375 N. Sunset Drive, Casselberry) on Saturday, January 7, 2012 beginning with Mass at 9:00 a.m. Following Mass we will recite the rosary at the nearby abortion facility on Maitland Ave. Please join us in praying for the protection of human life. For more information, contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice; 407-246-4819; eclayton@orlandodiocese.org

 

Word of Life Intercessions and Bulletin Briefs for January and February

This USCCB resource contains Intercessions and Bulletin Briefs for every Sunday Mass during the year. You may find items for January and February (English/Spanish):  http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/resources-for-the-eucharist/word-of-life/. Please forward this information to your parish liturgy coordinator as well as the person designated to create the bulletin.

 

Caring for the Climate:  A Life Issue

Just posted to the AMERICA magazine website, in light of the UN conference on climate change in Durban, South Africa, Elizabeth Groppe makes the case for climate change as a pro-life issue. “In the coming decades, climate change can bring deadly famine, displacement and disease to large sectors of the human population and spawn mass extinctions of other species. In the long term, the climate could change so radically that the earth could no longer support human civilization. In this sense, caring for the climate and the biosphere is a paramount pro-life issue.”  Click here to read more.

 

World Food Day: Keep the Conversation Going

You may recall that we were involved in promoting World Food Day (October 16) activities and encouraging our network members to visit our

Food & Justice web section.  We also encouraged members to participate where they could with Oxfam America events that brought home the reality of world hunger. We continue to collaborate in their GROW campaign and keep the conversation going on how to end hunger where it persists.  Check out the Oxfam America youtube “thank you” to all those who helped to start the conversation during this year’s World Food Day.

 

School Gardens: Whole Kids Foundation

School gardens are a vital educational tool. Every seed planted sprouts a new opportunity for kids to cultivate healthy eating habits. Teaching kids to garden helps them learn about complex topics like conservation, food systems and community awareness. It can also lead to healthy eating and how this creates healthy bodies.

So why not help start a school garden? The Whole Kids Foundation is charitable organization that will provide children with access to healthy food choices through partnerships with schools, educators and organizations. School garden grant applications will be accepted through December 31st.  You will find other helpful resources on school gardens and healthy eating by visiting the Whole Kids Foundation website.

 

International Climate Negotiations Update

The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) continues for two weeks in Durban, South Africa, wrapping up on Friday, December 9.  Pope Benedict XVI has voiced his concern that the negotiations produce a fair and just international climate agreement: I hope that all members of the international community can agree on a responsible, credible and supportive response to this worrisome and complex phenomenon, keeping in mind the needs of the poorest populations and of future generations.

Caritas Internationalis President, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (of Tegucigalpa, Honduras), is leading a 20-member delegation to the talks.  He has been a prophetic and courageous voice not only for the Catholic community but for the global community.  Below are some of his most powerful statements.  You can read much more on the Caritas blog from Durban.

During a December 1 interfaith panel, he said: Our economic system and its search for money above all have dehumanized human beings. Religious groups have a duty to humanize them again … We are just administrators of the Earth, not its owners.  Creation was given to us as a treasure, to safeguard, not to destroy. We must work for the common good, but we have forgotten to be faithful administrators.

In a special Mass at Emmanuel Cathedral in Durban on December 4, Cardinal Rodriguez said: How long will countless people have to go on dying before adequate decisions are taken? It’s true that in faith we wait “for the new heavens and the new earth” as the second reading told us, but this does not mean indifference or complicity with those who destroy this land where we live. “Living holy and saintly lives” means living in justice with creation and the environment, and especially with the poor people who are the primary victims of this serious problem.

 

Caring for the Environment is Part of Catholic Social Teaching

In an article for Intermountain Catholic, official publication of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, Jean Hill, Director of the Diocese’s Peace and Justice Commission, reminds readers that caring for God’s Creation is a key dimension of Catholic Social Teaching (CST).

In Caring for the Environment is Part of Catholic Social Teaching, Hill recognizes that the most obvious [dimension of CST involved in addressing environmental harm] is our duty to care for Creation. The Church calls us to address climate change not only to care for creation, but in recognition of the profound impact climate change has on the right to life and that [i]n keeping with Catholic teaching, our efforts to protect creation must also account for the disproportionate effects of climate change on the poor.

Read the entire article here.

 

Alternative Gift Giving for Christmas 100% Good

You probably already know that products from CRS Work of Human Hands help artisans and their families around the world. But did you know that our catalog has the largest selection of Fair Trade products in the United States? We’re a nonprofit too.

It’s true! No matter what item you choose, you can be sure that your money benefits Fair Trade artisans.

Catholic Relief Services offers both fair trade gifts (coffee, chocolate and handmade products) that support their development efforts around the world, as well as “shares” to help support projects and programs around the world.  These shares are the perfect gift for the friend or relative who has all they need and would appreciate a gift in their name.

Snail’s Pace is a line of environmentally and socially responsible paper goods from the Monks at Abbey Press Printing in Indiana. The line includes note and greeting cards, gift wrap and bags, journals, notebooks and more, most printed locally in their own facility using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified recycled paper, soy-based inks and eco-friendly processes. Every Snail’s Pace product celebrates the artistry of God’s Creation and invites the user to slow down and rediscover the written word. Visit their gift shop here.

Please consider alternative gifts such as these this Christmas.  This year, make Christmas good for everyone. Every purchase you make brings income to struggling artisans and farmers, and contributes to the CRS Fair Trade Fund. Learn more at www.crsfairtrade.org/craftShop Today!

 

Advocacy Efforts

Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Congress is preparing to act on an Omnibus Appropriations Bill that will include the nine remaining fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills. The House version of the Labor/Health and Human Services appropriations bill (not numbered) contains the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA). It is critical that this conscience protection bill remains a part of the omnibus appropriations bill.

Please click this link to send this message to your Representative and Senators: “Please keep the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act as a part of the omnibus appropriations bill. No health care provider should be forced by government to perform or participate in abortions.”  ANDA strengthens existing federal conscience protection laws and affirms the principle that no health care entity should be forced by government to perform or participate in abortions.

The need for ANDA is clear from recent increased threats against pro-life health care providers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has begun discriminating against grant applicants that will not do abortion referrals, claiming that current conscience laws do not forbid this. The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey recently threatened the jobs of twelve nurses who would not assist in abortions, saying the nurses have no right to sue them in court because existing laws do not clearly state this.

 

Jobless Rate Drops as Congress Debates Unemployment Benefits

Leaders in both parties have advocated for the extension of benefits for workers who have been jobless for long periods of time before Congress leaves town at end of the year. A major sticking point is expected to be the cost.  

The debate took place against a backdrop of mostly positive economic news, as the Labor Department reported a drop in the unemployment rate from 9 percent in October to 8.6 percent in November. However, the number of people looking for work also fell as discouraged workers dropped out of the labor force.

 For more information on the unemployment benefits discussions or the macroeconomic indicators reported by the Labor Department, please contact Patrick Brown, Manager, Strategic Initiatives, at Pbrown@CatholicCharitiesUSA.org

 

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Introduced

On November 30th, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced the Violence Against Women Act of 2011 (VAWA), legislation to reauthorize for 5 years domestic violence and sexual assault programs such as support for victim services, transitional housing and legal assistance. VAWA initially enacted in 1994 has been successful in reducing the annual incidence of domestic violence by 50 percent. The current legislation expired in September 2011.

As outlined by the committee summary, VAWA includes the following:

  • Improvements in tools to prevent domestic violence homicides by training law enforcement, victim service providers, and court personnel on identifying and managing high risk offenders and connecting high risk victims to crisis intervention services;
  • Improvements in responses to the high rate of violence against women in tribal communities by strengthening concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over perpetrators who assault Indian spouses and dating partners in Indian country;
  • Measures to strengthen housing protections for victims by applying existing housing protections to nine additional federal housing programs;
  • Measures to promote accountability to ensure that federal funds are used for their intended purposes;
  • Consolidation of programs and reductions in authorizations levels to address fiscal concerns, and renewed focus on programs that have been most successful;
  • Technical corrections to updates definitions throughout the law to provide uniformity and continuity throughout the law.

While the bill makes some significant improvements, authorized funding for many of the provisions has been significantly reduced by more than $144 million or 19 percent from previous enactment in 2005. Catholic Charities USA is conducting a detailed analysis of the proposal and will keep you informed as the bill moves through the legislative process.   For more information, contact Lucreda Cobbs, Senior Director, Policy and Legislative Affairs at lcobbs@catholiccharitiesusa.org.

 

Senate Takes Up High-Skill Visa Caps

The House passed legislation last week that would eliminate country-based caps on the number of employment visas issued annually and boost limits for immigrants sponsored by relatives living in the United States. The bill, which passed 389-15, would not increase the total annual admission numbers.

Current immigration law sets a limit of 140,000 visas annually for employment-based legal permanent residents and specifies holds that each country be limited to 7 percent of those admissions. That means that the system ends up with backlogs, with certain countries forcing potential immigrants to wait decades in order to be eligible for a work visa. Proponents of the legislation argue that the bill will help streamline the flow of high-skill workers from countries such as India and China into our country.

The bill now makes its way to the Senate, where it is currently being placed on hold by Iowa Senator Charles E. Grassley. Other Senators will attempt to move the bill into a markup committee by late next week.

For more information on this legislation, entitled HR 3012, the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2011,” please contact Patrick Brown, Manager, Strategic Initiatives, at Pbrown@CatholicCharitiesUSA.org

 

Farm Bill: Looking Ahead to 2012

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said that Farm Bill action will begin in the new year with some hearings by February, noting that the outline of a bill crafted for the Super Committee would serve as the foundation for a new 2012 Farm Bill. (However, that draft bill has not yet been made public.) The path for now is to head into 2012 looking at a more normal farm bill process, but at the same time staying alert as Congress grapples with larger spending, stimulus, tax, and deficit reduction measures.

There are many possible scenarios under which a farm bill gets finished next year or perhaps not until 2013. It may be months yet before the ultimate path to the new farm bill becomes clear. NCRLC will remain ready to work for a new farm bill that promotes a fair, sustainable farm and food system. You can follow us by visiting the Agriculture & Food section on our website.