Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

“Journey with Haiti” Speakers Available from Catholic Relief Services
Would you like to bring in a speaker from Haiti to speak to your parish, school, or ministry? Catholic Relief Services will have speakers coming at the end of 2010 and into 2011 available to speak to you on Haiti’s Past, Present, and Future. Contact Bill Ferrand at
wfarrand@crs.org  for more information and to schedule a speaker. 

Ignite the Spark Within Us! 24th Annual Florida Respect Life Conference; October 29-30
The greater the struggle the more magnificent the glory! The 24th annual Florida Respect Life Conference aims to shows us the glory that comes from working in Respect Life and Social Justice ministries and to ignite again the spark within each of us. Workshops include:

  1. Living in the Fullness of Truth: Understanding God’s Plan for Love and Life” by Barbara Groeber
  2. “Abortion in the Context of Catholic Social Teaching” by Rev. Richard Mullen, OSA
    “Ethical Stem Cell Research: the Advancements Continue” by Claire Thuning-Roberson, Ph.D.
  3. “Come Back to God Who is Love and Mercy” by Rev. Carmello Romanello
  4. “Final Hour or Final Exit” by Joseph Mauceri, MD
  5. “Let Punishment Achieve Remediation, Not Retribution: What Does Our Church Say About the Death Penalty?” by D. Michael McCarron, Ph.D.
  6. “Hope Amidst Adversity” by Fr. Alfred Cioffi, STD, Ph.D.

 The 2010 Conference will take place October 29-30 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For additional details and registration information visit the Florida Catholic Conference. 

Vatican Preparing New Document on Effects of Abortion on Women
The new president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, announced that his dicastery is preparing a document on the effects of abortion on women, often called post-abortion syndrome. The document will focus on the study of the “habit of abortion” and is expected to be published next year. For more information, see: 
www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=103025

Vatican Condemns Use of Embryonic Stem Cells in Tests on Humans
The Vatican condemned the recent decision by U.S. regulators to begin using embryonic stem cells in clinical tests on human patients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave final approval for a clinical trial of embryonic stem cells as a treatment for patients with spinal-cord injuries, making the United States the first country to allow the testing of such cells on human beings. Geron Corp., the U.S. company which won the FDA approval, plans to perform tests on a small group of patients paralyzed by a spinal cord injury. In a July 31 interview with Vatican Radio, Bishop Sgreccia said science itself recognizes the human embryo “is a human being in the making.” Destroying embryos “receives a completely negative judgment” from an ethical point of view, no matter what justifications are given for their use, he said. The Italian bishop said embryonic stem cells have not been proven to be effective in therapies. 

“Planet Earth”
Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane and Honorary Chairman of the Catholic Climate Covenant, wrote a personal reflection entitled “Planet Earth” which appeared in the July 29, 2010 edition of the Diocese of Spokane paper, the Inland Register:

Concern about the environment has been accompanied by extremes of concern or lack thereof. The Catholic Church’s teaching on the environment takes a middle ground approach, highly nuanced, Scripturally based, with a call to wise stewardship of the earth on which we live, acknowledging the need for responsibility in the moment and for future generations. We have a strong tradition in the Church of sensitivity to the created world about us, both in Sacred Scripture and in some of our saints, like Francis of Assisi. Read more here.  

Young Adult Leaders Are Encouraged to Apply
The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change encourages young adult leaders to consider becoming a member of the Speakers Bureau.  The Bureau is being created to better meet the demand by schools, parishes, and other organizations to understand Catholic teaching on this important moral issue.  Trainings will be in December in Washington, DC and March in San Jose, California, and expenses (including a stipend) will be covered by the Coalition.  Learn more and complete the candidate
application here

Australian Catholic Education Week Focused on Sustainability
Catholic Education Week in Australia centered on the theme “called to be stewards of a sustainable future”.  Executive Director of Brisbane Catholic Education, David Hutton, said, As Catholics we are called to be stewards of a sustainable future: to celebrate the splendor of God’s creation; to commit to protect and sustain it; to appreciate and cultivate it; and to take action today to shape its future. This year’s theme reflects the message of Pope Benedict XVI last year, when he said the environment must be seen as God’s gift to all people and reminded us that we have a shared responsibility to care for it.   2010 is also a time for the Catholic education community to celebrate the Year of Environmental Sustainability, observed in all Queensland schools. Catholic schools are committed to sustainable practices, Mr. Hutton said.  Check out the exciting
videos of Catholic Schools sustainability activities on the Archdiocese of Brisbane’s website. 

Advocacy Efforts

House Approves State Aid Package
On August 10, the U.S. House of Representatives temporarily returned from its summer recess to approve legislation that will provide over $26 billion in aid to states. The “Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act of 2010,” (HR 1586) passed the House by a vote of 247 to 161. The package includes $10 billion to pay for education related jobs and $16.1billion for enhanced Medicaid payments to states for the next six months.  Now that the bill has passed the Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives will need to take action on its version of the child nutrition reauthorization bill passed by the House Education and Labor Committee in July. As previously reported, an issue of contention, in the House, has been on the absence of revenues to pay for the proposed reforms. To view a Catholic Charities USA press statement regarding the Senate child nutrition reauthorization bill, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (S.3307), please
click here.