Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

In this week’s installment:

Catholic Campaign for Human Development Approves $300,000 for Grants Assisting Those Affected by Gulf Oil Spill
Catholic Charities Agency Testifies on Fatherhood Programs Before House Committee
House Budget Committee Holds Hearing on Spending Reduction
Inspiring Stories of Catholics Going Green
JustFAITH
Nashville, TN Floods // Catholic Charities Relief Response
New Report on Climate Change
Resource: Booklet on Faith and Climate Change
Sisters of Mercy Go Way Beyond Green
Word of Life Intercessions and Bulletin Briefs

Catholic Campaign for Human Development Approves $300,000 for Grants Assisting Those Affected by Gulf Oil Spill
Catholic Charities Agency Testifies on Fatherhood Programs Before House Committee
House Budget Committee Holds Hearing on Spending Reduction
Inspiring Stories of Catholics Going Green
JustFAITH
Nashville, TN Floods // Catholic Charities Relief Response
New Report on Climate Change
Resource: Booklet on Faith and Climate Change
Sisters of Mercy Go Way Beyond Green
Word of Life Intercessions and Bulletin Briefs

JustFAITH
JustFaith, a 30-week adult educational and formational program, offers an opportunity for parishioners to experience a spiritual journey into compassion. Most of us long to be a generous and compassionate people, however, occasions to explore this in a deliberate and engaging way have largely not been available. JustFaith provides a lively and challenging format to read, view, discuss, pray, experience and be formed by the faith tradition that changes lives, inspires faithful witness, and transforms the world through love and service. If you would like more information on how to promote, plan and prepare for a JustFaith group in your parish, email the JustFaith Ministries office (info@justfaith.org) or call (502) 429-0865 and request “JustFaith Getting Started 2010-11” document, provided at no charge.

Word of Life Intercessions and Bulletin Briefs
This USCCB resource contains Intercessions and Bulletin Briefs for every Sunday Mass during the year. You may find items for July in English and Spanish at: www.usccb.org/prolife/liturgy/wolarchive.shtml. Please forward this information to your parish liturgy coordinator as well as the person designated to create the bulletin.

On May 31, 2010, the Holy See announced Pope Benedict’s prayer intentions for June, which include the following prayer for life:
 
English:  “That every national and trans-national institution may strive to guarantee respect for human life from conception to natural death.”
 
Spanish:  “Que toda institucion nacional e internacional se esmere para garantizar el respeto a la vida humana desde la concepcion hasta la muerte natural.”

Catholic Campaign for Human Development Approves $300,000 for Grants Assisting Those Affected by Gulf Oil Spill
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—The Catholic Campaign for Human Development approved grants up to $300,000 to assist people and dioceses affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Meeting June 12, the Subcommittee for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development approved these funds outside of the regular funding cycle of the Campaign in order to help low-income people and vulnerable communities impacted by the oil spill to have an effective voice in shaping the response to this terrible challenge.

Nashville, TN Floods // Catholic Charities Relief Response
As you may recall, middle and west Tennessee were hit with unprecedented rains and flooding, resulting in 48 of the state’s counties being declared Federal Disaster Areas.  While no one can say for certain that this or any other such event is a direct result of climate change, most scientists do believe that dramatic weather events such as this are likely to be more frequent in the future because of climate change.  In the Nashville area 13.5 inches of rain fell over two days, caused the Cumberland River to crest at 12 feet above flood stage, and resulted in nearly $2 billion in damages.

Fr. Larry Snyder of Catholic Charities USA urged in late May for Catholics to be as generous as they have been with previous natural disasters and noted that, “Frankly, Nashville’s flood devastation has been somewhat overshadowed by the oil spill.” Catholic Charities of Tennessee (Diocese of Nashville) responded to the flooding by establishing the Flood Relief Distribution Center to assist the 3800 households that experienced damage and loss.  The materials donated are distributed at no charge.  For more information, contact Catholic Charities at 615-760-1027 or floodrelief@cctenn.org.   Direct financial donations can be securely made here.

New Report on Climate Change
A new Pew Center on Global Climate Change report, Adapting to Climate Change: A Call for Federal Leadership, urges aggressive policies to reduce carbon emissions.  They recommend three key components to create a new national adaptation program in the United States:

  • A Strategic Planning Initiative to articulate the overarching goals, objectives, and priorities for the program.
  • A National Climate Service to provide stakeholders with much needed information on climate change impacts and adaptation options.

An Adaptation Research Program to ensure that appropriate emphasis is placed on adaptation research as part of the larger federal climate research effort.

Resource: Booklet on Faith and Climate Change
A booklet published by the Office of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation by the General Curia of the Franciscans in Rome entitled Integrity of Creation –An Issue for Religious Today: Climate Change and Global Warming aims to “give you clear information on the issue of Climate Change and Global Warming as well as some tools to address the issue at your local, regional and national levels [and] help you to better understand the complexity of the issues, and the need for action to save our planet.”  It addresses the following questions:

  • What is global warming and climate change?
  • What are the causes of global warming?
  • What are the consequences for social justice?
  • What are the implications?
  • Why should religious be concerned and involved?
  • What does our faith tradition say regarding ecology?
  • What can we do now?

Download the booklet here.

Inspiring Stories of Catholics Going Green
Catholic teens on the island of Guam are leading the way to care for the environment and show concern about climate change.  Working with the organization Guam 350.org, Catholic schools are engaged in a variety of activities including, “limited use of air conditioning, using natural lights in the classroom, using recycled paper, sporting clothing items with positive environmental messages and limited use of styrofoam products,” said Edna Hardy, of the Academy of Our Lady of Guam and president of Guam 350org.

 
Sisters of Mercy Go Way Beyond Green
The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, as part of the Mercy Earth Harmony Network, is committed to not only raising awareness about caring for God’s Creation but following new and specific guidelines throughout their many ministries.  These include:

  • Live simply and resist consumerism.
  • Eliminate products that are only good for one-time use, whenever possible.
  • Begin meetings by asking how what we do here affects people who are poor and all other living things.
  • Conduct a periodic environmental audit in our institutions and homes of those elements that impact the bioregion’s air, water, land and all of nature, and develop a plan with annual self-evaluation steps.
  • Look for environmentally sensitive specifications on goods and services we purchase…
  • …and many more.
  • Read more here.

Catholic Charities Agency Testifies on Fatherhood Programs Before House Committee
On June 17, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support held a hearing to review the effectiveness of Responsible Fatherhood Programs in improving the relationship between non-custodial parents and their children. The hearing featured seven witnesses.
 
On the first panel, David Hansell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services, provided the Obama Administration’s proposal to reshape fatherhood programs. He noted that while there are currently many promising practices, there are not yet sufficient proven evidence-based practices. He recommended continued efforts to fund these programs, and build connection among federal, state, and community-based partnerships.
 
On the second panel, Nathan Rauschendorfer, Parenting Services Program Manager at Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, provided the local perspective on Catholic Charities’ efforts to operate a responsible fatherhood program. He provided examples of local efforts used to reconnect families and encourage parent-child interaction, and stressed the importance of getting fathers to recognize paternity and responsibility. He also noted the current challenges faced by their program such as limited staff resources, and suggested to the Subcommittee that model programs should provide flexibility to address local cultural differences.
 
Ralph Smith, Executive Vice President of The Annie E. Casey Foundation, noted the long-term efforts and experience that the Casey Foundation has had in the field and the bipartisan support and general success seen by the cause and the individual programs. He offered several policy recommendations including mandatory pass-through and disregard for TANF recipients, prohibition from treating incarceration as “voluntary unemployment”, expansion of place-based opportunity, and a priority for a two-generation approach to build stronger families.
 
Other witnesses on the panel included The Honorable Milton C. Lee, Jr., Magistrate Judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia, who detailed a court-based fatherhood program in the District of Columbia to serve formerly incarcerated fathers.  Ronald Mincy, Ph.D, Maurice V. Russel Professor of Social Policy and Social Work Practice, Columbia University School of Social Work, provided data to dispel the myth that non-resident fathers do not care. He noted the significance of the steady decline over the past 30 years in the wages of unskilled labor as contributor to father absence.
 
Mark J. Perry, Ph.D., Scholar, The American Enterprise Institute, and Professor of Finance and Business Economics, University of Michigan-Flint, presented recent unemployment data and argued a case that men were hit especially hard in the recent recession.  Kirk E. Harris, Ph.D., Facilitator, National Fatherhood Leaders Group, argued that fatherhood programs must be organic as well as measure success both in qualitative and quantitative terms. Read more information about the hearing.
 
Advocacy Efforts:

House Budget Committee Holds Hearing on Spending Reduction
On June 17, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Budget held a hearing on an expedited rescission proposal.  The proposal would create an expedited procedure which would guarantee an up or down vote on certain rescissions proposed by the President.  It would:

Authorize the President to propose fast-track consideration of rescissions of discretionary and non-entitlement spending;
• After enactment of funding, give the President 45 days to decide whether or not to submit a rescission package;
• Gives the House and Senate no more than 25 days to vote on the rescission package without amendments; and
• Allow the President to withhold funding for up to 25 days.

Jeffrey B. Liebman, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget testified on behalf of the Obama Administration and noted that the measure is part of the Administration’s efforts to restrain government spending.  Other Administration efforts to reduce spending include a recommended three year freeze on non-security, discretionary spending.