Office of Advocacy And Justice Updates



Respect Life Month Activities

  • 40 Days for Life

From September 22 – October 31, 2010 commit to praying and bearing witness to the sanctity of human life by praying outside a local abortion facility by signing up for 40 Days for Life. Participating locations include:

Daytona Beach: Abortion Clinic on Mason Ave. For more information visit: or contact Joe and Maureen Kubasky: – 386-447-3455

Ocala: Abortion Clinic on N. Pine Ave. in Ocala. For more information visit:  or contact Fred Herbert: 352-861-4397; 

Orlando: Abortion Clinic on Tampa Ave. For more information visit: or contact Winnie Hollinger Bell: 407 929-1108,

  • Helpers of God’s Most Precious Infants Mass and Rosary Procession

    The next Helpers’ Mass and Rosary Procession will be held Saturday October 2, at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church, Altamonte Springs. Mass will begin at 8:00 a.m. and will be followed by the rosary at the nearby abortion clinic on Maitland Ave. Helpers’ Vigils are scheduled on the first Saturday of the month. See our web site for a full schedule: Please join us in praying for the protection of human life.  For more information, contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice; 407-246-4819;

  • Giving the Gift of Life

    In Catholic Teaching, each human life is sacred, a gift from God. This gift freely given may be shared in the service and love of our neighbor in the form of organ, tissue, and blood donation.

    Promoting and protecting the common good; Catholics are especially encouraged to participate in regular donation of blood. Respect for life, human dignity, bodily integrity, and the desire to relieve suffering should guide donation decisions. This type of donation is a conscious decision to offer, without reward, a part of one’s own body for the health and well-being of another, usually an unknown person, and reflects the highest form of solidarity with the poor and sick.

    Jesus, in offering his most precious body and blood for the redemption of all is an essential point of reference and inspiration for the understanding of the love and solidarity we share with our brothers and sisters when considering to generously give the gift of life.

    During the month of October, Respect Life Month, we are highlighting the need for organ and tissue donation but more specifically blood donation among our Catholic community. Florida’s Blood Centers is offering parishes in the counties they serve an opportunity to promote a larger blood drive effort on a convenient ‘special event’ weekend in a parish hall or gymnasium.  Along with the familiar Big Red Bus, extra Blood Centers’ staff will be available with extra chairs and will sponsor a special breakfast for participants.  If you are interested in hosting such an event at your parish or you would like more information, please contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice, 407-246-4819 or  For more information on Florida’s Blood Centers, see:  To learn more about tissue and organ donation, see: and for information on Church teaching, see: 

September Luncheon and Dialogue with Bill Sublette

Join us on September 30 at St. Margaret Mary Church in Winter Park for a luncheon and dialogue with Bill Sublette, the newly elected Orange County School Board Chair. Take this opportunity to ask questions, voice your concerns, and learn about his vision for Orange County schools and educational directives. Don’t miss this chance to be involved in your children’s education. Lunch is from 12pm-1:30pm and costs $7.00. To RSVP call 407-782-0478 or email

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services Campaign for Peace in Sudan

Sudan is at a life or death crossroads and the fate of its people hangs in the balance.   In early January, 2011 the people of southern Sudan will vote on a referendum that will determine if the country of Sudan should be divided into two separate countries…north Sudan and south Sudan.  It is possible that a resolution could be as good for Sudan as the election of Nelson Mandela was for the people of South Africa, or the referendum could trigger violence as horrendous as the genocide in Rwanda.

The bishops of Sudan are calling us to act.  Our Catholic tradition demands we answer the call to be peacemakers.  In this vote, we don’t take sides, but stand up for the poor and vulnerable.  We stand up for peace. 

Today, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) through the Catholics Confront Global Poverty (CCGP) initiative are launching an effort for Peace in Sudan to draw attention to the need for a peaceful vote in Sudan and call for the attention of global leaders, particularly the United States.  This effort begins on September 21, 2010, the International Day of Peace and goes for 101 days ending on January 1, 2011, the World Day of Peace.

In the coming days and through the referendum vote, Catholics Confront Global Poverty will keep you informed about the unfolding situation in Sudan. Prayers, liturgical suggestions, lesson plans, activities and youth/young adult focused resources and legislative advocacy opportunities will be available on the website

Here are some resources that can help you get started:

  • PRAY: Join with our brothers and sisters in Sudan and with all people of good will in praying earnestly for a peaceful and fruitful referendum. May our God of justice and truth guide us all at this momentous time.
  • Prayer for Sudan – This prayer can be used in liturgy or offered everyday between September 21, 2010, the International Day of Peace and January 1, 2011, the World Day of Peace.
  • Change Your Heart-Change the World: Reflections for 101 Days of Prayer for Sudan – A collection of 101 daily reflections, scripture passages and prayers created by the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference to be used by individuals, families and communities of faith in Sudan and around the world to foster a peaceful referendum in Sudan.
  • LEARN: Learn about the history of Sudan and meet some of its people.  What exactly is peacebuilding and how do you build peace?
  • Sudan:  Tipping the Balance toward Peace – Background on the Referendum and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Sudan.
  • Peacebuilding 101: No Fear – “People think of peace as cease-fire,” says Father Joseph Mawa, pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in Nimule, southern Sudan. “But peace is more than that. Peace is absence of fear, absence of anxiety.”
  • Perilous Crossroads for Sudan – Editorial by Sean Callahan, Executive Vice President for CRS’ Overseas Operations. 
    ADVOCATE: Contact your elected officials.
  • Send your Congressperson a message – Take Action Now! Contact your Representative now and urge him/her to co-sponsor the bipartisan House Resolution 1588 that supports full implementation of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement and efforts to promote peace and stability in Sudan.
  • Tell President Obama Sudan needs our support – Take Action Now! Contact President Obama now and urge him to do everything he can to support full implementation of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement and efforts to promote peace and stability in Sudan. 

USCCB Officials Urge the US Department of HHS NOT to require coverage of Contraception and Sterilization

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is considering inclusion of required coverage of contraception or sterilization in group and individual health plans as part of “preventive” services for women in the Health Care Reform legislation, (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) passed this year.   The USCCB sent a letter to HHS pointing out the fact that contraception and sterilization poses significant health risks to women along with mandating such coverage would be an unprecedented threat to rights of conscience.   The full text of the letter can be found online at:

Advocacy Efforts:

  • DREAM Act

    The Senate voted 56-43 on Tuesday to deny a motion to proceed with consideration of the Defense Authorization Act.  This vote effectively prevents the Senate from considering the DREAM Act, which would have been offered as an amendment to the defense bill, if the motion to proceed had received 60 votes and passed.  It is likely that the Senate may take up the legislation after the election.  For information on the DREAM Act, see:

  • Justice for Immigrants Campaign Hosts Conference

    The USCCB Office of Justice for Immigrants will be hosting a conference entitled “Immigration in a New Congress”.  The conference will take place November 3 – 5, 2010.  Topics will include:
    • Answering the tough questions on immigration
    • Responses & strategies to local immigration initiatives
    • Analysis of election results
    • Best practices for organizing
    • Immigration 101 – Immigration policy basics
    • Catholic Social Teaching and Migration
    • Opportunities to network
    • Messaging, communications and media
    • Developing a long term strategy for immigration reform 
    The conference will be held at the Four Points Sheraton, Chicago O’Hare, 10249 West Irving Park Road, Schiller Park, Illinois 60176.  If you are interested in attending, please contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice,

  • Congress to Redirect Pakistan Assistance to Help Victims of Flooding Disaster

    Download in PDF.
    Take Action Now!  Contact your Representative today and thank him/her for passing the bipartisan House Resolution (H.Res. 1613), expressing solidarity with Pakistani Flood Victims, which overwhelmingly passed Sept. 16, 2010.  Urge him/her to pursue the resolution’s call to use funds authorized under previously approved legislation for long-term recovery and rehabilitation of flood-affected areas and populations in Pakistan.

    • Why Is this Action Important Now?  Our brothers and sisters in Pakistan are currently suffering through the aftermath of the worst disaster in living memory.  Homes have been destroyed, livelihoods washed away.  According to the government of Pakistan, more than 20 million people–comparable to the total population of Florida–have been affected by the floodwaters. The U.S. government estimates more than 1.8 million are homeless.  The United States has demonstrated leadership in supporting the people of Pakistan with immediate humanitarian assistance as well as long-term reconstruction aid, but much more needs to be done  At least one fifth of Pakistan’s land area has been devastated by the floods, and just before the winter planting season.  This natural disaster could create further instability in this country which is critical to regional stability.
    • What Is the Church’s Position? Passage of H.Res. 1613 signals Congress’ willingness to provide more humanitarian assistance funding to help victims of the Pakistan flooding.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) support “a reexamination of priorities for spending of funds authorized by the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, with a view toward ensuring that the needs of the Pakistani people are appropriately addressed in the aftermath of the disaster,” as called for in H.Res. 1613.
    • What Does the Flooding in Pakistan Have to Do with my Faith? Our faith calls on us to to uphold life and human dignity at all times. Catholic social teaching is clear that we must do everything we can to assist the poor and vulnerable, and victims of natural disasters such as our brothers and sisters in Pakistan.
    • How is the Church Responding to this Disaster? Catholic Relief Services (CRS), in collaboration with the Church and our partners in Pakistan, is assisting affected Pakistanis by providing shelter and hygiene kits containing plastic sheeting, bed mats, soap, kitchen supplies, water purification tablets, rehydration salts and covered buckets to store water.  CRS is also hiring residents in cash-for-work programs to repair damaged infrastructure and to restore clean drinking water by rebuilding water supply systems. At the same time, our Church leaders are urging assistance be provided to our brothers and sisters in Pakistan.  Pope Benedict XVI recently stated: “”May our solidarity and the concrete support of the international community not be lacking for these brothers and sisters of ours, who are so harshly tried.”  USCCB and CRS are advocating to ensure that funding needs are met to assist the people who are in such dire need.
      For more information, see:

Support the New START Treaty Ratification

Thanks to concerted advocacy, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution of ratification of the New START Treaty on a solid bipartisan vote of 14 to 4. Now the New START Treaty needs to go to the full Senate for a vote. President Obama and President Medvedev of Russia signed a New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) to verifiably reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles and to put in place new verification requirements (which had expired in December 2009 with the old START Treaty).

The New START Treaty: reduces deployed strategic warheads from 2,200 to 1,550, 30 percent below the existing ceiling; limits both nations to no more than 700 delivery vehicles; and includes new verification requirements.  The Treaty is supported by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Holy See.

Action: The floor vote will likely come before the end of the year. Please urge Senators Nelson and LeMieux to publicly support the New START Treaty because it makes our nation and world safer by reducing nuclear weapons in a verifiable way.  Ask them to encourage Senate leadership to bring it to the Senate floor.  To contact your Senators, you can visit or

Three Bishops Celebrate Mass at 40th Anniversary of Catholic Committee of Appalachia

The Catholic Committee of Appalachia (CCA) celebrated 40 years this past week with a Mass concelebrated by three Appalachian prelates: Bishop Michael Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, Bishop Dan Conlon of Steubenville and Bishop Emeritus Walter Sullivan of Richmond at St. Patrick Church in Hinton, WV.  Founded in 1970, “The CCA is comprised of religious and laity, Catholics and non-Catholics who share in the Catholic Church’s concern for environmental and social issues affecting the people of Appalachia,” explains Jeannie Kirkhope of Spencer, administrative director

In 1975, the bishops of the region published a powerful and influential letter, This Land is Home to Me: A Pastoral Letter on the Powerlessness in Appalachia.  It is a poetic reflection on the chronic and wrenching poverty in the region and on the Church’s response.  Twenty years later, the bishops wrote a second letter, At Home in the Web of Life: A Pastoral Message on Sustainable Communities in Appalachia, which focused on the continuing needs of the region and especially the impacts of environmental degradation on the land and its people.  This degradation continues today (fueled in part by our thirst for low-cost energy), and CCA continues to work for social and environmental justice in the area.  You are urged to read these letters on the CCA website. Read more here.

Ecological Examen

An “examen” provides an opportunity to prayerfully consider our actions as informed by our faith, and St. Ignatius of Loyola made the Examen of Conscience one of the cornerstones of Ignatian spirituality.  In this tradition, Fr. Joseph Carver, a Jesuit of the Oregon Province, has developed the “Ecological Examen” which urges all to reflect on how we have expressed our care for God’s creation.  It begins with this question: 
All creation reflects the beauty and blessing of God’s image. Where was I most aware of this today?

Individuals and small groups may find the Examen a useful tool when reflecting on our need to care for Creation and the poor.  Download it here.

Diocese of Austin Reminds City Hall: Remember the Poor When Going Green!

In 2009, when Austin Energy’s new “Resource Generation and CO2 Plan” was announced as a way to help the city reduce it’s carbon footprint, it also noted that energy costs will rise up to 50 percent within five years.  With the alarm raised, the Diocese of Austin began a campaign with city officials and others to urge Austin Energy to find ways to offset these costs for it’s low-income customers.  Working with the diocese, Austin Energy is now offering low-income homeowners weatherization and assistance for more energy efficient appliances and is exploring other ways to ease the burden of these rising energy costs for low-income consumers.  Learn more about their efforts.