Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

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Execution Scheduled for February 26th  

Paul Howell is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, February 26th.  Please pray for Mr. Howell, his family, the victim’s family and friends, that they will continue to receive healing through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; for all the public officials involved in this scheduled execution; for Governor Scott, that he will discern God’s will and apply the teachings of our Catholic faith on the death penalty. Please refer to the petitions below. If you would like to schedule a prayer service for your parish or want more information, contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice, advocacyjustice@orlandodiocese.org or 407-246-4819, or research our website at www.advocacyjustice.org.

Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Daytona Beach offers transportation and will participate in a prayer service at the prison during the execution on February 26.  The bus will leave the parish grounds at 2:30pm that Tuesday. You may contact them at:  386-255-0433 for more information.

The U. S. Catholic Bishops have called all Catholics to participate in a campaign to achieve the abolishment of the death penalty, see: www.usccb.org/deathpenalty/.

Our Bishops have stated that, “At a time when the sanctity of life is threatened in many ways, taking life is not really a solution but may instead effectively undermine respect for life.”  This pending execution gives Florida Catholics the opportunity to be a part of the campaign in a very personal way.  Our hearts and lives must have special space for the victims and their loved ones as well.  But let it be known that “standing with families of victims does not compel us to support the use of the death penalty” (U.S. Bishops). 

PETITIONS:

  • For men and women who sit on death row awaiting the end of their life.
  • For the victims of violence and hatred, that they may be freed from pain and fear.
  • For the loved ones of those who have suffered death at the hands of another person, may their hearts experience the healing and reconciling power of the Spirit.
  • For the families of those condemned to die, that the hope of the resurrection and the truth of the Gospel of life might strengthen them in their time of need.
  • May the witness of the Church to the sacredness of all life, even of those who have done evil acts, serve to call our nation to a new awakening in responding to crime and determining punishment.

Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) Youth Arts Contest Deadline is March 1st!

The deadline to submit your art work for the 2013 CCHD Youth Art Contest is quickly approaching. The 2013 theme is “Be a Disciple! Put Two Feet of Love in Action“-the contest is a great opportunity to teach about the new two feet model. Educators lead participants through 5 easy steps to learn about U.S. poverty, CCHD’s response, and the Two Feet of Love in Action.  Visit the contest materials now in English, or call the Office of Advocacy and Justice for details and ways teachers can meet their class objectives through the implementation of the art project.  Call 407-246-4819 or email: advocacyjustice@orlandodiocese.org for more information.  DEADLINE is March 1.

Watch the recent interview with 2012’s contest winner, Harley June Smith from St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School and her teacher Mrs. Gilda Brink for ideas on how to get started on your art project submission, here!  Or go to our CCHD page in our website.  

Catholic Days at the Capitol (Tallahassee)

Join us as we meet and build relationships with our legislative representatives and Catholic bishops from all across Florida in our state’s capital, Tallahassee. It is a great opportunity to advocate on social issues and church teachings. We will be in Tallahassee from March 19th to the 21st. For more information please call the Office of Advocacy and Justice at 407-246-4819, you can also reach us by email at advocacyjustice@orlandodiocese.org. See registration form here!

Catholic Relief Services Lenten Rice Bowl Program

CRS Rice Bowl has a new look.  When you open your Rice Bowl this Lent, you will notice that half of the insert is now a place mat so that Rice Bowl has a place at your table.  The other half of the insert is the weekly country information and meatless Friday recipes.  The usual Lenten daily calendar is available this year on the website:   

CRS Rice Bowl Daily Calendar.

There are MANY other resources to share with your parish on the  CRS Rice Bowl Website – Please make certain to have your community use the QR code on the Rice Bowls or just go to the website to REGISTER their rice bowls this year.  Last, “like” CRS Rice Bowl on Facebook so you can get weekly information and watch the US expand in supporters of the poorest of the poor around the world.

FROM ORLANDO:  We have an exciting resource for all of you!  A weekly “lesson” for Rice Bowl is available by contacting Stephanie Bosse at rlointern@orlandodiocese.org. These few pages include Information on Lent, prayer journaling space, country information, games, word definitions and more.  It is a fun, simple resource that can be put in your bulletin each week – given to your students and even EMAILED home to families.  Huge thanks to Christina at the Fathers Table Foundation for putting this resource together for us.

Need a speaker for Rice Bowl?  Would you like a short speech to introduce the program to your community next week?  Do you need more Rice Bowls?  Contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice, CRS Rice Bowl Coordinator, Stephanie Bosse, at 407-246-4819 or rlointern@orlandodiocese.org for questions.

Thank you for participating in the many resources from Catholic Relief Services and for your continued assistance to the poorest of the poor around the world.  

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 407.246.4820. 

Transforming Hearts for Justice

Jack Jezreel of JustFaith, An award-winning educator, founder and executive director of JustFaith Ministries will be speaking at Ascension Catholic Church in the School Cafetorium, Bldg F, 2950 N. Harbor City Blvd, Melbourne on March 7 from 7-9 p.m. Jack Jezreel is a powerful speaker who, across the U.S., has brought thousands to their feet as he puts the life-giving vision of the Gospel call to peace, justice and an option for the poor into the framework of today’s world.  For more info: ascensionjustfaith@live.com, Becky Cawley 314-409-5034

Energy Policy Guidance from the USCCB

In many ways, the U.S. Catholic bishops offer timeless and sage advice that dates back decades but in particular in their 1986 pastoral letter on the economy in which they ask three fundamental and tough-to-answer questions that ought to guide the Catholic community in evaluating economic projects (and, by extension, economic and energy projects): What does the economy do for people? What does it do to people? And how do people participate in it?

Notice the common denominator in all three questions: people.  We would say that, yes, the environment is included here because people and the environment cannot be separated.  Why would we want to spoil our own environment and threaten our very lives and the lives of our families?  Weighing the pros and cons of our current energy choices, policies and projects are complicated, as the editors of America Magazine point out below.

 

America Magazine Editorial About New US Oil Boom

In their editorial dated February 11, America Magazine will comment about the present oil boom in the U.S. and, That unexpected transformation will also yield higher tax revenues, more jobs and lower energy costs for other industries. It all sounds too good to be true. It, of course, is. Behind the boom lurk some considerable dangers.

One of the dangers the editors identify is the environmental impact including the current practice of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas and the long-term environmental implications of the practice that they call underscrutinized. In addition, the burning of fossil fuels is also the primary driver of climate change and over time has a significant effect on human and ecological health. The editors also identify the danger of compromising Intergenerational fairness, noting that [i]n confronting climate change and issues related to sustainable economic growth in the future, Pope Benedict XVI has spoken of the need for both international and intergenerational solidarity. Just as the burdens of confronting climate change cannot morally be shifted to the world’s poorest and least powerful, neither can this generation’s responsibility to the next be discounted.

In summary, the editors warn that the present oil boom—which may be the last of its kind—can become just another opportunity for short-term profit for a few, a transfer of risk to the many and oil-intoxicated indolence on climate change.

 

Gonzaga University Seeks Carbon Neutrality by 2050

Gonzaga University has announced in a press release that President Thayne McCulloh has approved Gonzaga’s first comprehensive Climate Action Plan, which aims for Gonzaga to achieve climate neutrality – zero emissions – by 2050, said Brian G. Henning, associate professor of philosophy and co-chair of Gonzaga’s Advisory Council on Stewardship and Sustainability. Gonzaga will work to achieve this goal by reducing emissions, from 2009 baseline levels, 20 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2035, according to the plan. In the press release, President McCulloh says, Care for the planet is an important emphasis for the Church and the Jesuits; thus, Gonzaga’s mission calls us individually and collectively to be good stewards of the earth’s resources. This Climate Action Plan provides a road map for carrying out our commitment to sustainability.

 

U.S. Carbon Emissions Fall to Lowest Levels Since 1994

Some very good news on the emissions front: according to a new report from the Business Council on Sustainable Energy and compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Carbon dioxide (CO) emissions from the energy sector were on pace to sink to their lowest level since 1994.

In the past five years, carbon dioxide emissions fell by 13%.  One major factor has been energy saving technologies and the doubling of the use of renewable energy.

According to an article about the report by The Guardian newspaper in London, Lisa Jacobson, president of the BCSE, said the Bloomberg findings countered the argument by some that acting on climate change would be a drag on the economy. Instead, carbon emissions declined even as GDP was going up.

 

EPA Report on Children’s Health and the Environment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released America’s Children and the Environment, Third Edition,” a comprehensive compilation of information from a variety of sources on children’s health and the environment. The report shows trends for contaminants in air, water, food, and soil that may affect children; concentrations of contaminants in the bodies of children and women of child-bearing age; and childhood illnesses and health conditions. The report incorporates revisions to address peer review and public comments on draft materials released in 2011. This report can be seen as an addition to the EPA’s resource Climate Change and the Health of Children.

Both reports highlight the need for the ongoing efforts of the USCCB’s Catholic Coalition for Children and a Safe Environment (CASE). The bishops note that [a]s Catholics, we are called to care for God’s gift of creation and to protect the most vulnerable among us [especially children who are the] most susceptible to the effects of environmental hazards…Because children may be exposed to environmental hazards at an earlier age than adults, even before they are born, they can develop slowly-progressing, environmentally-triggered diseases such as asthma, childhood cancer, mercury and lead poisoning.

 

Advocacy Efforts:

Call Your Senators and Representative and Urge Them to Support Policies To Reduce Violence!

Take Action Now!

ACTION:  Join other faith leaders this week and call your Senators and Representative and tell them to take steps to defend human life by supporting national policies that reduce gun violence. Take this opportunity to call and tell them to support measures that will strengthen regulation of firearms and offer treatment for those in need who may become violent. These include:  

  • Require universal background checks for all gun purchases;
  • Limit civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines;
  • Make gun trafficking a federal crime;
  • Improve access to mental health care for those who may be prone to violence.

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 are called to work for peace in our homes, our streets, our communities and in our world now more than ever.  

There are countless examples of gun violence that have plagued our nation in recent years: Virginia Tech, mall and cinema shootings in Oregon and Colorado, the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and the list goes on. These tragic events should lead us to live out what Pope Benedict XVI calls “our innate vocation to peace.” 

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 the 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 especially for legislators to:

  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.

Take Action Now!

Your voice is needed today to make sure that our nation’s policies build a culture of life and promote peace in our homes and communities. Call your Senators and Representative and urge them to support policies that save lives by helping prevent gun violence.

Americans for Citizenship

On Monday, a group of eight senators released a set of principles for advocating for citizenship, leading to hope that bi-partisan agreement could be reached on a plan for overhauling the nation’s immigration system. The next day, in Las Vegas, the President announced his own plan, which overlaps with a number of the elements found in the Senate proposal.

In order for legislation to be debated on the floor, the House and Senate will first hold hearings, likely in February, followed by legislation to be introduced at some point in March. As always, Catholic Charities USA will work alongside the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and other Justice for Immigrants partners in our pursuit for comprehensive reform of our broken immigration system. We will also continue to monitor all developments on this important issue and provide you opportunities to lend your voice on behalf of those on the margins of society.

To learn more about these proposals, please see this fact sheet on the principles announced Monday, this background information about the President’s plan, and the statement released by Catholic Charities USA’s President, Fr. Larry Snyder. A statement was also released by the USCCB, available here.

Senate Passes Debt Limit Suspension Deal

The Senate agreed to suspend enforcement of the government’s $16.4 trillion borrowing limit until May 19, alleviating the threat of default and agreeing to tie their own pay to their ability to pass a budget.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 64-34 and now heads to the White House, where it is expected to be signed into law by President Obama. By suspending the debt ceiling until May, Congress has decided to postpone the threat of a default by the federal government until after discussions over the package of automatic spending cuts scheduled to go into effect on March 1, as well as the expiration of current spending on March 27.

The legislation will require both the House and the Senate to pass a budget by April 15 or face having their pay docked. Senate leadership announced that they will passed a budget this year, their first since April 2009.

CFED Releases 2013 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard

On Wednesday, the Corporation For Economic Development (CFED) released its 2013 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard. The Scorecard provides a comprehensive source of data on household financial security outcomes and public policy solutions to protect and build assets.

This year’s Scorecard found that 43.9% of households, or roughly 132.1 million people, are liquid asset poor, meaning they do not have sufficient savings to live at the poverty line for three months.

Additional information and resources are available through CFED’s website, including: detailed data by issue area (Financial Assets & Income, Business & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care, and Education); custom reports and data; and state summary profiles.

Lenten Resources

Lent offers us “time outside of time” to turn our attention to the ways our regular daily actions connect with the whole human family. Ash Wednesday is a reminder that despite our ultimate physical end, we are also invited to new life in the resurrection. We are indeed the Body of Christ.

In case you need additional reflections, we have posted a list of web resources that may contribute to a growing awareness of living more simply on this earth so that others may live more fully. Click here for Lenten resources

 

Aging Resources 

Chronically Disorganized?

The Institute for Challenging Disorganization has information and resources for people who struggle with organizing challenges, including a quick reference guide to a clutter-hoarding scale.  To learn more, click here.

Florida “On Guard” Website

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer has a new website that provides educational information on investment, charities and other financial transactions. To learn more, click here.

Florida Discount Drug Card 

If you are struggling with the cost of your prescriptions, you may want to compare the price you’re currently paying with the Florida discount drug price.  Click here to sign up for this FREE discount drug card.  The website lists participating pharmacies and can even help you find the best price for your medication in your area.  

Family Caregiving

This report finds that 46% of the nation’s 42 million caregivers handle medical and nursing tasks such as giving injections, caring for wounds or administering I.V.s. To learn more, click here.