Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

poverty20131122

A series of Messages of Hope from the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development on poverty and the injustice in today’s economy include an introductory message and messages on Fair Wages and Economic Security; Immigration; Nutrition and Food Security; and the Environment.

Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops pray before the second day of proceedings at the bishops' annual fall meeting Nov. 12 in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

 poverty20131122

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Execution of Askari Muhammad Stayed, Keep Praying! 

On December 3, Askari Muhammad, was scheduled to be executed at Florida State Prison, in Starke, Florida. Because of problems with the new drug used in Florida to execute prisoners, the execution has been stayed. Please contact Governor Scott to voice your concern about this new method of execution that has been proven faulty. 

All Human Life is Sacred

The U. S. Catholic Bishops have called all Catholics to participate in a campaign to achieve the abolishment of the death penalty.  Get more information on this initiative at Catholics Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty, see: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/

News from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)

Legislative Updates

Bipartisan Group Introduces Second Chance Act Reauthorization

On Wednesday, a bi-partisan coalition announced the introduction of legislation to re-authorize the Second Chance Act, a law that supports state and local efforts to reintegrate former offenders into society.

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), sponsored the bill, which aims to improve prisoner reentry policy and reduce the number of repeat offenders.

The Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2013 (S. 1690) would reauthorize the funding, first passed into law in 2008, for another five years. The provisions in the bill would offer grant funding for creative job training programs, expand eligible applicants for several programs to include nonprofit organizations, and expand testing and audits throughout the program.

Immigration Reform Postponed Until 2014 at Earliest

Despite ongoing efforts to highlight the need for a more fair and just immigration system, it appears that a legislative push to pass immigration reform will be delayed until 2014 at the earliest.

In his weekly press conference on Wednesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that while the House majority would continue to discuss moving forward with step-by-step reform components, they were unwilling to negotiate over the comprehensive bill passed by the Senate over the summer.

He did leave the door open, however, to letting individual bills advance after Congress returns in January 2014. If reform does not happen in early 2014, the upcoming election could postpone movement until 2015, or, pending the results of the mid-term elections, after the 2016 elections. 

White House Announces Health Care Change to Extend Current Plans

On Thursday, President Obama announced an administrative change to the Affordable Care Act that could allow people who were at risk of losing their current insurance plan to keep it for one more year.

According to a White House fact sheet, Americans on the individual health insurance marketplace who had been facing cancellation of their current plans to choose between extending their current insurance option or selecting one on the federal marketplace.

The announcement was made amid the ongoing technical problems with the HealthCare.gov website, which has prevented many low-income Americans looking for subsidized health insurance coverage from accessing the insurance exchange. Numbers released last week showed that fewer than 27,000 people were able to sign up for health insurance coverage through the federal website during its first month of operation. 

From the USCCB

Messages of Hope in a Broken Economy

A series of Messages of Hope from the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development on poverty and the injustice in today’s economy include an introductory message and messages on Fair Wages and Economic Security; Immigration; Nutrition and Food Security; and the Environment. Access the reflections here. The double-sided handouts are ideal for parish bulletins. Supplemental resources, including Catholic Social Teaching Primers, discussion questions, prayers, articles, and a Prezi/video, are also available.

World Day of Peace Resource (Jan. 1)

In his 2014 Message for the World Day of Peace (January 1), Pope Francis urges us to open our hearts in a new way to those brothers and sisters affected by poverty and injustice. When we break free from indifference and see ourselves as members of one human family, we can truly “encounter” one another and build peace. Share this double-sided handout in your parish bulletins.

Celebrate Poverty Awareness Month in January

January is Poverty Awareness Month!  Visit PovertyUSA.org and PobrezaUSA.org today to begin planning how you can raise awareness about poverty. In December, look for a simple calendar with suggestions for learning and action on each day of January.  Daily Twitter-length suggestions will be available for re-posting to get out the word about poverty and its root causes via social media.

Young Leaders Honored by CCHD; 65 Bishops in Attendance

The winners of the 2013 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award were honored at a reception attended by 65 bishops at the recent Bishops’ meeting. The award went to brother and sister pair Jose Luis and Ana Claudia Aguayo for their faith-inspired work to empower low-income workers through the Northwest Arkansas Workers’ Justice Center. The annual Award honors a Catholic young adult who demonstrates leadership in fighting poverty in the United States through community-based solutions.  Read about the winners. Learn more about the award.

Upcoming Webcast on Advocacy to Confront Global Poverty

The next Catholics Confront Global Poverty webcast is Wed., Dec. 11 from 1:00-1:30 P.M. EST. This session will celebrate Catholics’ tremendous efforts to confront global poverty in 2013 and share one of this year’s best practices for communicating with Congress.  Reserve your spot now!

International Religious Freedom

In his final address as outgoing USCCB President, Cardinal Dolan focused on international religious freedom, citing examples from around the world where believers, especially Christians, have been attacked for their faith. He called for increased awareness of and advocacy for the plight of religious minorities. Read Cardinal Dolan’s address.

Updates from Catholic Rural Life

Our thoughts and prayers are with Midwest tornado victims

Catholic Rural Life once again expresses our deep concern for those affected by powerful winds. It is at times like these, after a display of the raw power of the earth, that we also witness the strength of a people gathered for the purpose of helping others.

We join with all the voices who ask the Lord to bless all those who have lost their homes, their livelihoods, their security and their hope. Bless the work of relief agencies and those providing emergency assistance.

Here’s one link where your assistance and contribution would be most welcomed: Diocese of Peoria.

Food Safety Modernization Act: last chance to comment 

This week is the last opportunity to weigh in on the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed Food Safety Modernization Act regulations.

The FDA’s new proposed rules as written will unfairly burden family farmers, target sustainable and organic farming, and reduce the availability of fresh, local food in our communities.

There is still time to submit comments – but you must do so by this Friday, Nov. 22. Visit this link to learn more and see a sample comment form for you to use.

Visit organizational comments by Catholic Rural Life. some of the main problems with the proposed regulations are listed. 

Stewards of the Earth 

Filipino Typhoon and Climate Negotiator Hunger Strike

The New York Times reports that The typhoon that struck the Philippines produced an outpouring of emotion on Monday at United Nations talks on a global climate treaty in Warsaw, where delegates were quick to suggest that a warming planet had turned the storm into a lethal monster.  The article goes on to report that Naderev Saño, the chief representative of the Philippines at the conference, said he would stop eating in solidarity with the storm victims until a meaningful outcome is in sight. The article concludes by observing that Saño’s declaration, coupled with the scope of the disaster, moved many of the delegates to tears.  You can watch Saño’s speech, along with the tearful response from U.N. climate negotiators. In addition, National Geographic has published an extensive Q&A with Saño about his hunger strike that can be accessed here

Climate Change Inequality

Two recent stories from The New York Times highlight how the disproportionate impact of climate change on the poor is becoming more contentious in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. The Inequality of Climate Change reports that Typhoon Haiyan has left an estimated 10,000 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless in the Philippines. And it has once again underscored for many development experts a cruel truth about climate change: It will hit the world’s poorest the hardest.  In addition, a Sunday Times cover story reports that Following a devastating typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, a routine international climate change conference here turned into an emotional forum, with developing countries demanding compensation from the worst polluting countries for damage they say they are already suffering.

Ghanaian Bishops on Environment

Ghana Business News (GBN) reports that the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference has called on public office holders to lead by example and conduct themselves with integrity and love. In particular, the bishops’ communiqué expressed concern about the indiscriminate exploitation of the nation’s natural resources that had led to the wanton destruction of the environment.  The communiqué reminds Catholics that We have a God-given task to protect and use the environment judiciously and with responsibility for future generations who equally have a stake in the world. GBN goes on to note that the statement exhort[s] pastors in localities where destructive activities of the environment like illegal mining, indiscriminate felling of trees through chainsaw operations and bushfires are being carried out to support advocacy programmes on behalf of the people whose lands and sources of livelihood are being threatened.