Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

 

Helpers of God’s Most Precious Infants Mass and Rosary Procession
The next Helpers’ Mass and Rosary Procession will be held Saturday, December 4 at the newly renovated St. James Cathedral, Orlando. Mass will begin at 8:00 AM. Following the mass we will process to the nearby abortion clinic on Lucerne Terrace. Helpers’ Vigils are scheduled on the first Saturday of the month. See our web site for a full schedule: www.advocacyjustice.org. Please join us in praying for the protection of human life.  For more information, contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice; 407-246-4819; advocacyjustice@orlandodiocese.org.

Interfaith Prayer Service for Peace
Join in an Interfaith Prayer Service for Peace on January 19, 7 p.m. at the Anglican Cathedral of the Incarnation (1515 Edgewater Dr., Orlando).  Representatives from area faith communities will come together to pray for peace and justice in the world. 

Keep Those in Recovery and Healing in Prayer
This weekend, November 19-21, a Rachel’s Vineyard Post Abortion Retreat will be held at San Pedro Center. Perpetual Adoration will be available at the retreat center during the weekend. Please consider attending a holy hour for the intention of the retreat participants. Or if you have the opportunity for adoration in your own parish, please offer an hour before the Blessed Sacrament for this intention. For more information contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice:  email: advocacyjustice@orlandodiocese.org.

USCCB Asks the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to Exclude Contraception, Sterilization and Abortion in Health Care Act
The US Bishops Office of the General Counsel has asked HHS to not mandate as ‘preventive’ services, contraceptives, sterilization and abortion in the Interim Final Rules included in the Health Care Reform Act.  Contraceptives pose health risks to women and coverage in any health plan, along with sterilization and abortion, would impact conscience rights of consumers. To read the letter from the USCCB General Counsel and learn the background on this issue, see: www.usccb.org/ogc/preventive.pdf.

Historic Breakthrough in Florida’s Tomato Fields
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange (FTGE) have reached an agreement that will extend the CIW’s Fair Food principles – including a strict code of conduct, a cooperative complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process – to over 90% of the Florida tomato industry. The breakthrough agreement comes after fifteen years of often contentious relations between the CIW and the growers’ association.  It also comes in the wake of bilateral Fair Food agreements announced last month with tomato industry leaders Pacific Tomato Growers and Six L’s. Visit: www.ciw-online.org for more information.

White Ribbon against Pornography Campaign (WRAP)
Fighting pornography is a year round challenge. Visit www.wrapfamily.com for individual and group activities on education, awareness, and advocacy. 

CRS Help Needed for Cholera Outbreak in Haiti
Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population reported that, as of Nov. 12, 917 people had died and more than 14,640 people had been hospitalized since the cholera outbreak began Oct. 19 in rural Artibonite department near the city of St. Marc. Some aid agencies have said the toll could be higher because the government does not track deaths in rural areas where people never reached a hospital or one of the emergency cholera treatment centers. Catholic Relief Services, more than 40 nongovernmental organizations, five U.N. agencies and the International Organization for Migration have joined with the Haitian health ministry in a massive education program aimed at preventing the disease from spreading. Donate through Catholic Relief Services. Read more at: www.uscatholic.org/news/2010/11/haiti-cholera-toll-rises-medical-supplies-are-rushed-victims 

CRS Fair Trade in Advent
You can give your loved ones a gift that touches the world when you shop from the new Catholic Relief Services Gift Catalog. The CRS Gift Catalog is a creative way to make a real difference. When you buy, you are alleviating human suffering and protecting the dignity of life among the most desperate people overseas. You are giving a gift of hope. Take a few minutes to read about the work CRS performs every day through projects that feed the poor; encourage self-sufficiency; build a better society and promote health.

Philippine Bishops Speak against Mining
The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro is protesting the city council’s resolution approving the application of two mining companies for permits to extract copper and gold in the countryside.  Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma said the archdiocese will formally file its protest before the city council and the mayor’s office that holds final approval in all small-scale mining applications. “We will protest that. I think all well-meaning Kagay-anons should protest that,” he told a Philippine news organization. Archbishop Ledesma said that all mining activities, whether legal or illegal, should be stopped because mining, being an extractive activity, destroys the natural environment.  Read more here.

Ghana’s Bishops Call for End to Surface Mining
The Ghanaian Catholic Bishops Conference has advocated for the immediate abolition of surface mining because of its harmful social and environmental consequences.  In a communiqué issued by the Conference at the end of their annual plenary assembly in Sefwi Wiaso, the bishops acknowledged that mining has been going on in the country for a long time.  “But regrettably we cannot affirm that the advantages derived from the mining activities are in any way commensurate with their disastrous impact on the natural environment,” they said.  And furthermore: “We urge the International Community to insist on transparent, fair and accountable processes in the exploration and production of the oil as well as the management of revenues for the creation of wealth to enhance the quality of life of all people in the country.” Read more here.

Advocacy Efforts

  • Congress is now engaged in a “lame duck” session.  This session will not include those newly elected, except for Senators Kirk of Illinois, Coons of Delaware, and Manchin of West Virginia who were elected to fill vacant seats. Your support of three important pieces of legislation would be greatly appreciated. With the upcoming Thanksgiving recess from November 22-26, this is a perfect time to plan to meet and get to know your legislator and advocate for the needs of those vulnerable populations.
  • Help Poor and Unemployed Families (extending unemployment, tax credits, TANF and the Housing Trust Fund); see: Support the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act
  • The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (reauthorizing the children’s nutrition programs); see: Action Alert: Tell Congress to Help Poor and Unemployed Families
  • Ratification of the New START Treaty (to reduce U.S./Russian nuclear arsenals in verifiable ways).  To read more, see:  Action Alert on New START Treaty

Please contact members of Congress urging them to address these three issues of justice and peace before adjournment. Thank you for your leadership. 

Background:
If enacted, the DREAM Act would create a pathway through which undocumented immigrant students could obtain conditional permanent residency and, ultimately, American citizenship.  Under the legislation, certain students would be eligible for conditional permanent residency if they meet certain criteria, including: entering the United States before age 16; living in the U.S. for at least five continuous years immediately before the bill becomes effective; graduating from high school or gaining admission into an institute of higher education; having “good moral character” and not committed certain crimes; and being younger than 35 when the bill becomes effective.  Students must also demonstrate that they have not been under a final order for deportation.  After a six year period of conditional permanent residency, these individuals could apply for citizenship if they had continued to demonstrate “good moral character,” continued to live in the U.S., and completed at least two years of higher education or served at least two years in the military.

The DREAM Act has always had strong bipartisan support, and the U.S. Catholic bishops have been long standing supporters of the legislation.  Archbishop Jose Gomez, co-adjutor archbishop of Los Angeles and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, recently reaffirmed USCCB support for the legislation, stating that passage of the bill was “the right thing to do.”

The DREAM Act would make a difference in the lives of undocumented youth who were brought to the United States by their parents and now, because of their lack of legal status, face obstacles to their future.  By removing such barriers, the DREAM Act permits immigrant students to pursue a promising future through college education or military service.  Those benefitting from the DREAM Act are talented, intelligent and dedicated young people who know only the U.S. as their home.  More information about the DREAM Act may be found at www.justiceforimmigrants.org/learn-issues.html

The DREAM Act could come up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives as early as the week of November 29th.  To promote Congressional action on the DREAM Act, send the letter below to your Senators and Representative and ask them to co-sponsor or publicly support the DREAM Act.  Indeed, a limited number of weeks remain in the current “lame duck” session as our windows of opportunity to move the DREAM Act, and federal lawmakers will act only if they hear from you. 

Click on the “Take Action” button on this email or go to www.justiceforimmigrants.org or call your Senators Nelson and Rubio and your Representatives (www.house.gov). 

For the U.S. Senate:  202-224-3121.  For the House of Representatives:  202-225-3121. 

Resources

  • Climate Change and Catholic Social Teaching
    How can climate change be understood in light of the 7 Key Themes of Catholic Social Teaching? Many people recognize that the issue of climate change relates to the seventh theme, Care for God’s Creation, which reminds us of our duty to cultivate and care for the gift of the Creation (Genesis 2:15). As the U.S. bishops observe, If we harm the atmosphere, we dishonor our Creator and the gift of creation, (Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good, 2001).  But it is also true that other principles of Catholic Social Teaching can help inform our consciences and actions as we face the question of climate change.  In light of this, the Coalition has created a resource that offers quotes from the Vatican and the U.S. bishops demonstrating how climate change involves and engages the six other key themes: Human Life and Dignity; Community, Family and Participation; Rights and Responsibilities, Option for the Poor; Right to Work; Solidarity; as well as Care for Creation.   Find the entire resource here.

Looking for more on Catholic Social Teaching?  See this USCCB website for an activity that asks: “How well do you know your Catholic Social Teaching documents?”  

  • Pope Benedict XVI Urges a Reevaluation of Agriculture
    The time is now to launch a reevaluation of agriculture, and place the sector back into its rightful place in the global economy, says Benedict XVI. The Pope reflected on the situation of modern agriculture before praying the midday Angelus on Sunday, November 14, which coincided with Thanksgiving Day in Italy.

“The current economic crisis,” the Holy Father began, “must be taken in all its seriousness: It has numerous causes and sends a powerful message about the need for a profound revision of the model of global economic development.” And one area that needs revision and “a strategic re-launching,” he added, is agriculture.

“I believe that this is the moment for the reevaluation of agriculture, not in a nostalgic sense, but as an indispensable resource for the future,” the Pontiff affirmed. See full article: www.zenit.org/article-30959?l=english 

  • New Lenten Study Resource for Christian Simplicity
    The Passionist Earth & Spirit Center www.earthandspiritcenter.org/  has revised and improved its 7-week faith formation program of conversion for Catholic churches.  Lent 4.5 offers practical opportunities for people of faith to apply church teaching on Gospel simplicity to their everyday lives.  Why “Lent 4.5”?  If the Earth were divided equally among all of us, each person living on the planet would receive 4.5 acres. Now consider that everything you need – food, energy, home, clothing, appliances, gadgets – must come from those 4.5 acres.   Lent 4.5 offers a new way of observing Lent that helps us care for God’s creation and bring forth a just society by taking steps toward using only our fair share of its resources. The program includes bulletin inserts, online resources, small group discussion course books, and an optional component for Catholic schools grades K-8. Download the flyer here.