Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

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Pope Francis appears for the first time on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 13. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected the 266th Roman Catholic pontiff.

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Calendar of Events

Click here for a listing of events on Conversion in the Year of Faith, Holy Saturday Helpers Prayer Service, and other opportunities to share the Gospel.

 

Rachel’s Vineyard Post-Abortion Retreat

May 17-19 at San Pedro Center in Winter Park. Have you been affected by abortion?  Do you need peace, community and the love of God?  This weekend is for you. This confidential retreat offers a safe, non-judgmental environment where women and men find healing and reconciliation for their painful experience of abortion. For more information or to register, please contact Karen at 321.662.5097 or karenreilly57@gmail.com. For additional information about Rachel’s Vineyard, please visit www.rachelsvineyard.org or contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice at 407.246.4819. 

 

Farm Workers, Allies March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food 

Last week, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers stepped off on a 200-mile trek through Florida to call on Publix to join the Fair Food Program. Watch the inspirational video of the march as it began. The march will continue through this weekend (March 15-17) of this unparalleled journey. Click here for details on how to join or contribute

In a related item, the National Farm Worker Ministry is posting stories that lift up the voice and value of farm workers. Despite their importance to our food system and national economy, most farm workers lack legal status and suffer abuse for fear of speaking up. They deserve Comprehensive Immigration Reform that provides them with a path to citizenship.

 USCCB Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty – Divine Mercy Sunday Resources

As mentioned in earlier memos and as part of the U.S. Bishops’ nationwide Year of Faith prayer initiatives on behalf of life, marriage and religious liberty, we are pleased to share the attached resources for the observance of Divine Mercy Sunday, which falls this year on April 7, 2013.

Resources include the following:

  • a template for a Eucharistic Holy Hour for use in cathedrals and parishes on Divine Mercy Sunday (ideally, during the Hour of Mercy from 3:00-4:00 PM)
  • “Notes and Quotes” as homily helps for the priest or deacon presiding over the Holy Hour
  • A guide to praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Some parishes may also wish to offer public recitation of the Divine Mercy Novena, beginning on Good Friday and ending on Easter Saturday, and to encourage private recitation of the Novena for those unable to attend the brief daily prayer service. The Novena consists of praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy along with the day’s prayer intention, posted here. Pamphlets with the Chaplet and Novena prayers may also be purchased from that website.

Weather-permitting, some pastors may wish to host an outdoor procession, led by the Divine Mercy image, during which participants may recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in public witness to God’s merciful love for every human being.

A variety of poster- and life-sized Divine Mercy images are available from here and many other vendors on the web.

Beseeching God for mercy on our nation and ourselves, and thanking him for the unmerited grace of his forgiveness and steadfast love, is a fitting way to conclude the Octave of Easter. May the Divine Mercy of our Lord animate all our diocesan and parish efforts, especially in our ministry to post-abortive women and men!

Global Warming is Epic, Long-term Study Says:

An article titled Global warming is epic, long-term study says reports that Global warming has propelled Earth’s climate from one of its coldest decades since the last ice age to one of its hottest — in just one century. The article further notes that [a] heat spike like this has never happened before, at least not in the last 11,300 years said climatologist Shaun Marcott, who worked on a new study on global temperatures going back that far.

Based on this new study, the article says that If not for man-made influences, the Earth would be in a very cold phase right now and getting even colder, according the joint study by Oregon State University and Harvard University. In fact, the article notes, climate scientists say that the planet should now be in a period of cooling—rather than warming—according to historical patterns of climate variations.

 

Upcoming Conference on Creation

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences is planning a joint workshop on sustainability in May 2014.  An official Vatican press release says: Contemporary discussions on the questions are now several decades old. If they have remained alive and are frequently shrill, it is because two opposing empirical perspectives shape them. On the one hand, if we look at specific examples of what one may call natural capital, there is convincing evidence that at the rates at which we currently exploit them, they are very likely to change character dramatically with little advance notice. The melting of glaciers and sea-ice are recent symptoms. On the other hand, if we study trends in food consumption, life expectancy, and recorded incomes in regions that are currently rich and in those that are on the way to becoming rich, resource scarcities wouldn’t appear to have bitten so far.

That is why we are proposing a joint PAS-PASS workshop on Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature. Our idea is not to catalogue environmental problems. We propose instead to view Humanity’s interchanges with Nature through a triplet of fundamental, but inter-related Human needs – Food, Health, and Energy – and ask our respective Academies to work together to invite experts from the natural and the social sciences to speak of the various pathways that both serve those needs and reveal constraints on Nature’s ability to meet them.

National Agriculture Day, March 19

National Agriculture Day is an annual occasion to recognize and celebrate our nation’s farmers, ranchers and food producers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture promotes this day every March 19th with events in Washington, DC, as well as local promotions. Click here for a short promo video about the 2013 National Ag Day.

For a longer (five minute) informative video produced in 2011 about American farming, click here.

Screen Sun Come Up

In celebration of the 2012 Feast of St. Francis, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change sponsored a nation-wide screening of the Academy Award-nominated film Sun Come Up. 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.

In preparation for Earth Day (Apirl 22), we have published revised editions of 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, consider scheduling a screening of Sun Come Up in celebration of Earth Day. 

Franciscan Action Network Urges Obama to Hold Climate Summit

Coalition member, Franciscan Action Network, is encouraging Catholics to sign a petition to President Obama urging him to host a climate summit.  FAN says: Pope Benedict, in his 2010 World Day of Peace Message, stated, “The ecological problem must be dealt with not only because of the chilling prospects of environmental degradation on the horizon; the real motivation must be the quest for authentic world-wide solidarity inspired by the values of charity, justice and the common good.”

In response, the Franciscan Action Network is leading an effort to get 10,000 Catholics to sign a letter to president Obama urging him to host a solutions-focused national summit on climate change.  We need national and global leadership to move forward on an issue that has been slowly increasing in its intensity.  Scientists agree 2012 had some of the most extreme weather conditions we have seen.  We stand with Pope Benedict in his statement: “Our Earth is talking to us and we must listen to it and decipher its message if we want to survive.” 

If you wish to sign on to the letter or encourage others, go here.

Thirty-Eight Leading U.S. National Security Experts Urge Action on International Climate Change 

A recent press release states that the Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) launched their newest open letter, signed by 38 Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, on the national security threats of climate change at a bipartisan panel event on Capitol Hill.

Lenten Energy Fast

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has constructed a Franciscan Lenten energy fast calendar, offering spiritual reflections and scripture passages relating to creation, but more than anything, simple and practical ways to lessen the energy wasted each day, according to an article titled, “Lenten energy fast offers spiritual reflections, practical tips.” The calendar, created by the St. Francis Pledge Team at St. Monica-St. George church in Cincinnati, focuses each week of Lent on a section of Francis’ “The Canticle of the Creatures”: week one, beginning Ash Wednesday, Brother Sun; week three, starting Wednesday, Brother Wind-Air; and week six, Sister Mother Earth.

 

Columban Fathers Publish Climate Document

The Columban Fathers in Australia have published a revised edition of their excellent resource, Let the Son Shine: An Australian Catholic Response to Climate Change. Authored by Fr. Charles Rue and first published in 2009, this new edition seeks to prompt Catholics towards a practical new ‘calling’; to believe the Earth deserves commitment and compassion in a similar vein to the option for the poor, the Church’s great invitation to its followers based on Christ’s sentiments about the virtue of ministering to those with no perceived status. In order to address the issue of climate change from a Catholic perspective, Fr. Rue recommends that people of faith and goodwill employ the See-Judge-Act model that animates much of Catholic social teaching. In addition to outlining how to address climate change through the See-Judge-Act model, Fr. Rue also reflects on current climate change initiatives of the Church and identifies opportunities for individual and social action.

 

Students Urge Boston College to Divest of Fossil Fuel Companies

Two weeks ago, we reported that a student-led movement at Georgetown University is urging the school to divest from fossil fuel corporations as a way to respond to climate change and faithfully live its Catholic mission. This week, we report that a similar student-led movement at Boston College is now advocating that BC divest from fossil fuel corporations.

BC Fossil Free has sent a letter to Boston College President Father William Leahy, S.J., requesting a meeting to discuss the possibility of divestment. In addition, BC Fossil Free has begun circulating a petition that reads in part: [T]he Catholic Church has explicitly and repeatedly recognized climate change as a moral issue and called on people of faith and goodwill to address this challenge.  In view of the mission-based imperative that Boston College has as a Catholic, Jesuit institution, the undersigned students, alumni, faculty, and staff ask that the University immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies, and divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds.

 

New York State Catholic Conference on Fracking

In January 2012, the New York State Catholic Conference—which represents the Catholic bishops of New York—submitted comments regarding the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s high-volume horizontal hydraulic-fracturing natural gas mining (“fracking”) proposal.

The statement offers solid moral guidance for New Yorkers and others trying to discern both the benefits and hazards of fracking.  Among their recommendations, the Conference advocates for public awareness and input, the development of a comprehensive energy strategy, transparency about the methods and materials for fracking the natural gas, and responsibility by the companies to the small towns, public roads, and water resources.  We encourage you to read the full statement.

Cardinal Urges Support for Health Care Conscience Rights Act

Choosing between religious integrity and participation in health care system unacceptable. Religious freedom, conscience rights foundational to American society. Conscience rights protections essential to Catholic ministries

Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives to support the Health Care Conscience Rights Act of 2013.  H.R. 940 was introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) on March 4; the bill has 66 co-sponsors.

“Protection for conscience rights in health care is of especially great importance to the Catholic Church, which daily contributes to the welfare of American society through a network of schools, social services, hospitals and assisted living facilities,” Cardinal O’Malley wrote in a March 8 letter to Congress. “These institutions, which have been part of the Church’s ministry since the earliest days of the Republic, arose from religious conviction. They provide a substantial savings to communities and states throughout the nation, and we believe they contribute to the common good.”

Cardinal O’Malley wrote that “while those protections have long enjoyed bipartisan consensus, they are under greatly increased pressure today.” He cited the mandate for coverage of contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs and devices under the Affordable Care Act’s “preventive services” provision and referred representatives to a letter written by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, who set forth the need for such legislation in greater detail.

The full text of Cardinal O’Malley’s letter may be found at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/Letter_to_Congress_Cardinal_O-Malley_Mar8_2013l.pdf and Archbishop Lori’s February 15 letter is available at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/Letter-from-Archbishop-Lori-to-Congress.pdf.

Advocacy Efforts

Action Alert: Help restore funding for Conservation Stewardship Program

Congress is at work on a Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government afloat through the rest of fiscal year 2013. To avoid government shutdown, this must happen by March 27. The House already passed its version of spending for the fiscal year, but did not restore funding for important agriculture programs.

The Senate is at work on their version and expected to finalize early this week. This is a last chance to secure 2013 funds for the Conservation Stewardship Program and other important stranded programs for our nation’s farmers and rural communities.

Learn more and take action by visiting National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. You will see a message to pass along to Senators, asking them to support farm stewardship programs.