Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates






Conversion in the Year of Faith at St. Andrew Catholic Church – Sunday, April 21:

To witness to the “New Evangelization” of the Catholic faith requires an examination of how the teachings of the Church form our understanding of the value and dignity of each person in an increasingly secular and relativist world view. The goal of this day is to provide a forum for examining the profound respect each person is owed in justice and how we may express that Truth through our personal and collective conversion. Come join us at St. Andrew (801 N. Hastings St. Orlando) on Sunday, April 21, 2013.  We begin with Mass at 11:30am, with a keynote from Fr. Trans, a Redemptorist priest who ministers to Vietnamese and Burmese refugees in the Carolinas.  Other sessions will include Dale Recinella, who has served as spiritual advisor for those on death row. The Knights of Columbus and their many programs and charities especially among persons with disabilities will be featured along with a new ministry that helps women and families deal with a poor prenatal diagnosis. To RSVP and for more details please contact the Advocacy and Justice Office at 407-246-4819 or email us at More information here!


Stand Up for Life

Join us with members from many faith communities on Saturday, May 4th from 10 am-12 pm to stand in prayerful witness at abortion sites across the state.  If you are not sure where the nearest abortion facility is in your community, contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice for locations.  This is an opportunity to be in solidarity with others, praying at the foot of the cross at Calvary.


Vatican Posts Pilgrim Information and Registration for June 15-16 Celebration of Evangelium Vitae in Rome

In his homily at the Opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life, Cardinal O’Malley, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued an invitation to those who work for a culture of life to attend a celebration of “Evangelium Vitae” in Rome this summer.

As part of the Year of Faith events, the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization has designated June 15-16 as days of celebration of “Evangelium Vitae,” Blessed Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on the Gospel of Life. Several events that weekend will culminate in a Papal Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday morning, June 16. The celebration will provide our new Pope Francis with his first opportunity to share with the world a message on the sanctity of all human life. How exciting to have the chance to be a part of this great moment in the history of the Church!

In particular, two events on Saturday, June 15, are being planned for English speaking/American pilgrims.


  • 9:00-11:30 – Educational Conference: The Gospel of Life and the New Evangelization, at the Pontificia Università Urbaniana, Via Urbano VIII, 15
  • 12:00-1:00 – Holy Hour for Life: Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, at the Santo Spirito in Sassia Church, Borgo Santo Spirito, 3
  • Pilgrimage information and registration forms have just been posted on the Vatican website for the Year of Faith Events here.

( This page will continue to be updated so check back for updates.


USCCB Religious Liberty Chair Backs Litigants Opposing HHS Mandate  

Goal is to secure religious freedom

Need freedom to serve common good without violating religious principles

Praises people from all denominations challenging the mandate

A statement by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, expressed “deep gratitude” and “solidarity and appreciation” for litigants challenging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, which forces employers to pay for contraceptive services even over their religious and moral objections. The statement was issued April 8. Archbishop Lori issued his statement as dozens of lawsuits against the mandate are being considered nationwide. Among litigants are Catholic dioceses, Catholic and other religious non-profit organizations and for-profit companies that operate according to the religious principles of their owners.

In voicing his support for bishops and other Catholic entities, he noted that “Their goal is nothing less than securing the freedom of the Church to continue to obey the Lord’s command-and, in turn, to serve the common good-by providing charitable ministries in health care, education, and service to the poor, all without compromising Catholic beliefs.” He also expressed “deep gratitude to the scores of people and organizations-from various denominations and walks of life-who have challenged the HHS mandate in federal courts around our country over the last year.

“We continue to pray for the success of all of these lawsuits,” he said.

The full statement can be found at


USCCB Project Life and Liberty Post-card Campaign

Thank you to those parishes who participated in this U.S. Bishops’ postcard campaign.  Over 10,000 postcards were ordered by five parishes in the Orlando Diocese: Queen of Peace, Blessed Trinity, Corpus Christi, St. John Vianney and St. Paul.  You may still order postcards for your parish.  If you are interested, please call the Office of Advocacy and Justice at 407-246-4819 or email


USCCB Comments on Over-the-Counter Sale of Contraceptives to Minors

A federal district judge in New York has ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lift all age limits on over-the-counter access to the so-called “emergency contraceptive” drug Plan B and its generic versions.

“Plan B is a large dose of a powerful hormonal drug (levonorgestrel) that is available only by prescription when used in smaller doses for contraception.The court has acted irresponsibly by making this powerful drug available without a prescription to minor children.

“Plan B does not prevent or treat any disease, but makes young adolescent girls more available to sexual predators. The court’s action undermines parents’ ability to protect their daughters from such exploitation and from the adverse effects of the drug itself.

“Many studies have shown that wider access to “emergency contraception” among young people does not reduce pregnancy or abortion rates, but can contribute to higher rates of sexually transmitted disease.No public health consideration justifies the unregulated distribution of such drugs to children.This ruling should be appealed and overturned.”


Stewards of the Earth

New Resource on the Environment

The Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has outlined eight central themes in its new resource Building a New Culture – Central Themes in Recent Church Teaching on the Environment.  

The citations in the document are from various messages, speeches, homilies and Encyclicals of Blessed John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Although Pope Francis is not specifically quoted in the document, the Holy Father has already spoken about the environment in his first speeches and homilies.

The eight central themes identified  by the CCCB Commission for Justice and Peace are the following: our creation in God’s image; creation’s intrinsic order; the relationship of “human ecology” to environmental ecology; responsible stewardship; the morality of caring for the environment; solidarity; creation and spirituality; and necessary responses to environmental problems.


Creation Care Major Focus at World Youth Day 2013

Catholic News Service is reporting that When hundreds of thousands of young Catholics gather with Pope Francis in Rio de Janeiro in the summer, reflections on safeguarding the environment will be part of the program [. . .] “From the beginning of planning — under Pope Benedict XVI — we thought that a major theme in Brazil, known as ‘the lungs of the world,’ would have to be the environment,” said Marcello Bedeschi, president of the John Paul II Foundation for Youth, a Rome-based organization that assists with World Youth Day planning.

The article goes on to note that Corrado Clini, Italy’s environment minister, has been working with the foundation, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Brazilian government and the Rio church’s World Youth Day organizing team to promote the reflection of young people on the importance of biodiversity and protecting the environment. He also is working to encourage cooperation between several Italian and Brazilian companies to reduce the energy and water used at WYD and to recycle as much of the refuse they produce as possible.


Celebrate EARTH DAY with Sun Come UpScreening Event

In celebration of Earth Day (April 22), the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change is promoting screenings of the Academy Award-nominated film Sun Come Up (view trailer). This film depicts some of the world’s first climate change refugees, inhabitants of the Carteret Islands in the South Pacific, who have begun relocation efforts to a larger island with the help of the local Catholic diocese.

The Coalition has revised and re-published the Sun Come Up Education Kit and Facilitator’s Guides for colleges, parishes, and youth groups. Using these guides, as well as the bulletin inserts, flyers, and other promotional material, we encourage you to schedule a screening of Sun Come Up in celebration of Earth Day or some other time this spring.

  • The screening and accompanying Educational Kit are designed for Catholic colleges, universities, high schools, youth groups, dioceses and parishes.
  • The Education Kit includes a step-by-step discussion guide to encourage actions to take in response to the unfolding climate crisis: actions that are consistent with Catholic teaching and the priorities of the U.S. bishops and the Vatican.

If you already own a copy of the Sun Come Up video we urge you to hold another viewing, consider another venue in your community or share your copy with someone who would like to promote the project this spring. If you do not have a copy, you can rent one for $11 from New Day Films (directions are on the Coalition’s website) or write to us and we will try to put you in touch with someone in your area that may be willing to lend theirs.


Two Tar Sands Oil Spills in the U.S.

In the last two weeks, two spills involving Canadian tar sands oil occurred in the U.S. In Parkers Prarie, Minnesota, the AP reports  that Thousands of gallons of oil leaked onto frozen ground after a train carrying crude from Canada derailed Wednesday in western Minnesota [. . .]  An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 gallons leaked onto the ground, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spokesman Dan Olson said.

On March 29, the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline, which can carry more than 90,000 barrels per day of Canadian tar sands oil from Illinois to Texas, ruptured in Maryflower, Arkansas. An estimated 84,000 gallons of crude tar sands spilled into a residential area, and Reuters reports that more than twenty homes had to be evacuated. The EPA has posted dozens of disturbing photos of the spill site here.  Where does the Catholic Church stand on these issues?  The Coalition recently posted an annotated bibliography of Catholic statements on energy. The resource contains two statements on Canadian tar sands from Canadian bishops:

Letter of Most Reverend Luc Bouchard, Bishop of St. Paul, Alberta, Canada: I am forced to conclude that the integrity of creation in the Athabasca Oil Sands is clearly being sacrificed for economic gain. The proposed future development of the oil sands constitutes a serious moral problem.

Letter of Most Revered Murray Chatlain, Bishop of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, Yellowknife,
Northwest Territories, Canada
: [W]e must call for and work towards: Support for [. . .] more environmentally sound energy sources and overall energy conservation to ensure that we do not take away opportunities for future generations.


Climate Change Conference at Notre Dame

In the lead-up to the conference Climate Change and the Common Good held at the University of Notre Dame April 8-10, Notre Dame alumna and Notre Dame Magazine editor Kerry Temple (’74) has written Saving Planet Earth. Ms. Temple reflects on how the Catholic Church has explicitly recognized climate change as a moral issue, and notes that creation care cannot be ignored by Catholics who subscribe to Church teachings.

In this light, Ms. Temple is hopeful that the Notre Dame conference will gather … to talk about what’s going on and what can be done about it. The faculty is also hoping to nudge the University into more of a leadership position in response to environmental concerns and to bring Catholic social teaching into the conversation.


Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School

Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, IN reports that its Conservation Club is using the month of April 2013 to not only promote awareness for the need of conservation – they are doing something about it. Headlining the month of April for the Conservation Club is the second annual GreenCon event, Green Con: Reducing our Schools Ecological Footprint.

The article notes that [t]he goal of this conference is to provide a forum of collaboration with other schools in Central Indiana to raise awareness of sustainability in our schools and the greater community. Students also plan to provide authentic learning experiences and leadership opportunities for students. The ultimate goal of GreenCon is to prepare future leaders who understand the role of sustainability in their decision making now, and in the future.


Parish Holds Viewing Despite Winter Storm

Sandra O’Brien, Co-Chair of the Church of Annunciation Parish in Minneapolis Peace and Justice Committee reports on the success of a Sun Come Up education effort.  She says, We planned it for early Lent and made it a combo event, feeding participants “family friendly vegetarian food” after Mass one Sunday.  Unfortunately, a snow storm started that day, but we still had 20 people attend, and we were able to keep up our big display in the community room of our church with information on it throughout all of Lent.

In addition we added a Lenten project–our church has a Mission Haiti–and asked people to consider joining the Meatless Monday movement and donate the saved money to our church’s Mission.  We were able to successfully tie it all together–without if feeling like we were over-reaching–and it all supported the information regarding the climate change refugees in the film.  At the end we all took the St. Francis Pledge together.

See what they’re doing for Earth Day: “Caring for Creation & the Poor” Mass and
a Blessing of Bikes



April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Check out the USCCB resources for your parish:


Advocacy Efforts

The Senate is About to Vote on Legislation to Reduce Gun Violence!

Contact Your Senators and Urge Them to Support Legislation That Will Help Reduce Gun Violence! 

Take Action Now!


ACTION: Following the Easter recess, the Senate is expected to take up legislation to address gun violence. Call or email your Senators today and tell them to support provisions that will help defend human life by strengthening regulation of firearms. Tell them to support policies that:

  • Require universal background checks for all gun purchases;
  • Limit civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines; and,
  • Make gun trafficking a federal crime;

The Senate is discerning what the final legislation to be considered will provide. Amendments will be permitted to be offered to the main bill. Tell them to support amendments that: 

  • Ban assault weapons; and,
  • Resist expanding minimum mandatory sentences as punishment for gun violations.

The rising rate of incarceration partially stems from the pervasive use of minimum mandatory sentencing. One-size-fits-all policies are counter-productive, inadequate and replace judges’ assessments with rigid formulations. Punishment for its own sake is never justified.

CURRENT SITUATION: In the face of the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, and because of the daily examples of gun violence in our homes and communities, it is important that we speak out against the culture of violence infecting our country. All of us must respond to what Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, called our “innate vocation to peace,” and build a culture of life in our homes, our streets, our communities and in our world now, more than ever.


USCCB POSITION/CHURCH TEACHING: In 2000, the U.S. bishops issued their pastoral statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice. In this statement the bishops called for all people to work for a culture of life and to do more to end violence in our homes and in particular, legislators should: 

  1. Support measures that control the sale and use of firearms;
  2. Support measures that make guns safer (especially efforts to prevent their unsupervised use by children and anyone other than the owner);
  3. Call for sensible regulations of handguns;
  4. Support legislative efforts that seek to protect society from the violence associated with easy access to deadly weapons, including assault weapons;      and,
  5. Make a serious commitment to confront the pervasive role of addiction and mental illness in crime. 

Please see our letter to the full Senate addressing gun violence legislation here. Please also see recent USCCB testimony on gun violence submitted to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary by clicking here.

Take Action Now!

Your voice is needed today to make sure that our nation’s policies help build a culture of life and promote peace in our homes and communities. Call or email your Senators and urge them to support policies that save lives by helping prevent gun violence. To get the telephone number of your Senators, click here.

For more information, including updates and alerts, see the USCCB Take Action Now page by clicking here. Thank you for your dedication and advocacy on behalf of human life and dignity.


Ask Members of Congress to protect SNAP (food stamps)

A resolution was introduced by Reps. Jim McGovern (MA) and other Representatives to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from any proposed cuts. Their resolution states that the House of Representatives should reject any bill that includes cuts to SNAP.

You can also help to protect this vital program by encouraging more members of Congress to co-sponsor this bill. Please send an electronic message to your Representative by visiting the NETWORK action site. (The action site will switch the message automatically, depending on your zip code and your Representative’s sponsorship status.)


Local Farms, Food, & Jobs Act of 2013 introduced in Congress

Catholic Rural Life is joining with sustainable agriculture and family farm groups to endorse the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act that was introduced this week by Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine.

The legislation expands opportunities for farmers and ranchers, and increases consumer access to healthy foods. The legislation addresses production, processing, marketing, and distribution barriers that limit growth in local and regional food markets. The bill also makes targeted investments in programs that create jobs and spur economic growth through food and farms.  

We ask our network members to also express their support. If you are a part of an organization, please encourage them to add their name to this organizational sign-on statement.