Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

Respect Life Sunday, October 3 – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time 
is celebrated on the first Sunday in October, as designated by the U.S. Bishops. This year’s theme is: The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.  Every parish has received a USCCB packet with liturgical ideas and educational resources on timely social issues, including: Death Penalty, Pro-Life Youth, End of Life Care, Losing a Child to Suicide, and Sex Trafficking.  This year’s liturgy guide offers Intercessions for Life, suggested preaching reflections for Respect Life Sunday and January 22, a “Litany for Life,” and a Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The program combines education, prayer, service and advocacy.  Respect Life Sunday is observed in virtually all of the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States. All resources are available in English and Spanish and may be downloaded from:  If your parish needs resources or assistance in planning an event or educational opportunity to celebrate the sacredness of human life during October, call the Office of Advocacy and Justice, 407-246-4819 and share the good news.

2011 Catholic Campaign for Human Development Multi-Media Youth Arts Contest!
The Multi-Media Youth Arts Contest is an annual effort organized by the USCCB Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). It is designed as a tool for schools and parishes to engage Catholic youth in grades 7 through 12 in learning about the causes of poverty, Catholic social teaching, and CCHD. The 2011 contest theme is: “Our Faith, Our Mission, Our Future: Building Community, Overcoming Poverty, Defending Human Dignity.”

Entries must be turned into the Office of Advocacy and Justice by March 1, 2011 and awards will be given at the Diocesan celebration of World Communication Day during the Light of Faith Awards on Thursday, May 12, 2011. The Arts Contest Program offers almost 100 pages of lesson plans and activities that can be used across disciplines – by theology, art, English, social studies, government, music, and other teachers – as well as in youth ministry and catechetical programs, to educate the entire school or parish.  As a part of the program, young people are equipped to become educators of their peers, families, and the wider community about what they have learned. For contest information and rules, visit: or .

To view a webcast about the contest featuring this year’s 2nd place national winners from our own diocese who were recognized at the Light of Faith Awards, visit:

40 Days for Life
From September 22 – October 31, 2010 7a.m. to 7 p.m. commit to praying and bearing witness to the sanctity of human life by praying outside the local abortion facility on Tampa Ave. in Orlando. For more information visit: 
or contact: Winnie Hollinger Bell, 407 929-1108,

Stem Cell Research Study
As the U.S. Senate prepares to hold a hearing on human embryonic stem cell research (HESCR), a new public opinion poll shows that a plurality of Americans (47 percent) oppose federal funding of stem cell research that involves destroying human embryos, while only thirty-eight percent (38 percent) support such funding. The poll, conducted by ICR / International Communications Research, surveyed 1,006 adults September 8-14. It was commissioned by the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  The survey conducted by ICR compared three identical polls over six years (
August 2004, May 2005, and May 2006) which indicates that most Americans support funding only stem cell research that does not require destroying human embryos.

European Bishops Call Care for Creation Our First Vocation
Bishops from the Episcopal Conferences of Europe participated in the “Pilgrimage for the Safeguarding of Creation” from September 1-5, 2010.  In their final message, they echoed Pope Benedict XVI in
Caritas in Veritate that nature speaks to us, and that care of creation is our first vocation.  They highlighted seven key principles of Catholic social teaching that should guide our fulfillment of this vocation: commitment to the common good, the universal destination of the goods of the earth, subsidiarity, solidarity, distributive justice, intergenerational justice, and seeing clearly that, “respect for the ecology of the human person is integrally connected to respect for creation.”  Read the statement here.

Archdiocese of Port of Spain Issues Environmental Statement
Archdiocese of Port of Spain (of Trinidad and Tobago) issued a
“Draft Framework Towards an Environmental Policy” as a call to reflect and act on the environmental/ecological crisis which Pope Benedict XVI says is an urgent moral crisis: “Our earth speaks to us, and we must listen if we want to survive” (2007). From the document:

The Catholic Church in Trinidad and Tobago is concerned to protect and promote authentic human development and environmental ecology which are both inextricably linked. Creation is the work of God and is God’s gift to us. Human beings were created in God’s image and likeness and given the responsibility to “cultivate and care for” God’s Creation (Genesis 2:15). The Church has always urged humankind to care for, preserve, develop and restore the environment. Our responsibility as stewards of God’s creation must be placed within the context of the mystery of the Incarnation of God, which, as St Ambrose says is the “salvation of the whole of Creation.” Read more here. 

Change Lives around the World through Catholic Relief Services Work of Human Hands
Bring meaningful
holiday gifts to your parish with a fun, community-building event. Hosting a Work of Human Hands Consignment Sale gives members of your parish the opportunity to provide self-sufficiency and a stable income to disadvantaged artisans through their purchases. Artisans use the income from the sales of their crafts to send their children to school, feed their families and invest in their communities.

Start planning your sale now! Set a date, and ask friends, family or a youth group to join you in planning and hosting the sale. Consider hosting a joint sale with another parish or organization, or in combination with another event. Your important work is a powerful reminder that together, we can promote real change for the better.

All the information you need to get started is available here, or call 1.800.685.7572 to request a Work of Human Hands Sale packet if you have not yet received one. Visit to learn more.

Plan Your Feast of St. Francis Use the Step-by-Step Guide
Your parish and school celebration of the Feast of St. Francis (Monday, October 4) is an opportunity to promote the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor using the helpful planning guide posted on our website.  The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change and the Franciscan Action Network, a Coalition member, offer a ready-made
list of resources and practical suggestions to help you organize your school or parish around the St. Francis Pledge.   Download the planning guide and all of the resources for your Feast of St. Francis Celebration. Please visit and get started today!

Environment a Major Theme in Forming Conscience
As elections near, many state Catholic conferences are urging Catholics to look again at the U.S. bishops’ 2007 statement, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States”  Among the themes for Catholics to consider as they make choices at the polls is the candidates’ position on care for creation. Natural resources are God-given and we are all responsible for protecting them.  As an example, check out the resources offered by the Wisconsin Catholic Conference.

Disabilities Resources:  Welcome back to a new Ministry Year!
Please don’t forget to visit the National Catholic Partnership on Disabilities website to take advantage of the resources you will find to use as you plan your programs for the year, prepare for catechist inservice, and focus on awareness in parishes so children and youth with disabilities will be brought to register for parish and Catholic school programs. 

Inclusion Tip: Guidelines for Teachers and Catechists
Marsha Rivas of the Diocese of Toledo has provided a timely article as so many of us make our way back to the classrooms.
Click here to see the article.  For a complete listing of Inclusion Tips, click here.  Visit for webinar archive links, downloadable handouts, PowerPoints, bibliographies, and much, much more.

National Catholic Network on Mental Illness – Sign Up Now
In September, 2009, the NCPD Council on Mental Illness launched the National Catholic Network on Mental Illness (Network) to facilitate communication and sharing of resources and ideas from people interested in this ministry from throughout the US and the world.  A free monthly electronic newsletter, MI NETWORK NEWS, is provided to Network members. 
Click here to sign up for the Network–membership is free. To view previous issues click on the logo.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 NCPD Webinar Threats to the Lives of People with Disabilities, Part I:  Prenatal Diagnosis of Lethal or Non-lethal Conditions & Disability
With the increasing use of prenatal testing, many expectant mothers experience pressure to undergo abortion if their unborn child is found to have a potential physical or mental disability. Recent studies have shown that 90% of women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, for instance, decide not to carry their child to term.  Yet when parents receive appropriate information and support—that percentage drops significantly. Live from Catholic University of America, Washington DC, from 1:00pm – 2:30pm. See: for more details. Click here for a flyer.

Advocacy Efforts:

Congress Returns from Summer Recess
~ short time for legislative action ~

Congress returns to Washington this week after their summer recess. There are less than three weeks — and only a handful of actual legislative days — before the start of the new federal fiscal year, October 1. With a packed agenda and the need for a quick exit in October to get back on the campaign trail before mid-term elections (November 2) it is very important to encourage legislators to focus on some very important social issues:

Justice for Immigrants: Advocating for the DREAM Act
The Senate has indicated that they may take up the DREAM Act, which is the bill to assist in the legal status of unauthorized immigrants who entered the U.S. before the age of 16. This bill will make it possible to allow public universities to grant them in-state tuition. You can send a message to your
Senators and Representative by clicking here For information and background on the need for this legislation, see the USCCB Justice for Immigrants website: Justice for Immigrants