Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates





Calendar of Events


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

Invite schools and parishes in your diocese to participate in this year’s contest, now through March 1. 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.  The contest can be facilitated by any diocesan office – for example, the CCHD, Parish Social Ministry, Youth Ministry, Religious Education, Catholic Schools, or Hispanic Ministry office, so this is a great opportunity to partner with and educate your diocesan colleagues about CCHD. Finally, in addition to selecting winners to send on to the national contest, you can also feel free to hold a more extensive contest locally in which you celebrate as many local winners as you like. Visit the contest materials now in English.

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!

For more information please visit the CCHD page in our website or you can email us at or call us at 407-246-4819.  

Tax Season is coming up! Don’t forget about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC).

Congress extended for five years the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). As a result, these powerful antipoverty initiatives will continue. In an effort to help working families take advantage of this tax credit the IRS has created a helpful website, There you can find information on how to determine eligibility and on the proper way to fill out tax forms. Please see here for the information flyer. It is also available in Spanish here.


Rachel’s Vineyard Post-Abortion Retreat

The Rachel’s Vineyard Post-Abortion Retreat will be held on 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 For additional information about Rachel’s Vineyard, please visit or contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice at 407.246.4820. 


Exhibit on Modern Day Slavery

Church of the Resurrection, 3520 Old Highway 37, Lakeland will host a speaker from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) on Saturday, February 9 at 5:30 p.m., in the church and the exhibit depicting the history and evolution of forced labor in Florida agriculture will be available for viewing on the church grounds.  The speaker is Mr. Gerardo Reyes Chavez who is a leader of the CIW and one of the world’s best known anti-trafficking organizations whose efforts has led to freedom of thousands of workers in Florida.  For more information, contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice at or call Resurrection parish: 863-646-3556.

40 Days for Life Lenten Program Orlando

During Lent, several parishes are participating in the 40 Days for Life Lenten Prayer Witness at the Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando abortion facility on Tampa Ave. This is a prayerful presence in solidarity with the national 40 Days for Life campaign occurring across the country. The focus of this program is to pray, fast, and outreach into our community as a witness to the sacredness of life.  Each Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday during Lent from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM people from parishes in the Orlando area will stand and pray outside of Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando located at 726 S. Tampa Ave, downtown, next to the Citrus Bowl.   Please consider joining us by taking a prayer shift as part of your Lenten observance. To sign up, or for more information, call the coordinator Irene Sandler at 847-807-5729

USCCB Signs Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence Letter

On January 14, Bishop Steven E. Blaire, Chair of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, joined 46 other faith leaders by signing a letter urging Congress and the Administration to support reasonable national policies to help prevent gun violence. The letter calls for:

  • Requiring every person who buys a gun to have a background check;
  • That high capacity weapons and ammunition magazines not be available to civilians; and
  • That gun trafficking be made a federal crime. 

In response to President Obama’s January 16 proposal calling for action on gun violence, Bishop Blaire stated, “The bishops hope that the steps taken by the administration will help build a culture of life . . . the frequent mass shootings over the course of 2012 reflected a tragic devaluing of human life, but also pointed to the moral duty of all people to take steps to defend it.”

Interfaith Call In Day against Gun Violence

Ensure that the faith voice rings throughout the halls of Congress. A national coalition of faith-based organizations are speaking out against gun violence and encouraging others to do the same. 

On Monday, February 4, join other people of faith in calling their lawmakers and say: Enough pain. Enough despair. Enough injustice. We can and must transform our grief into action.

Visit the Faiths Calling website to learn how you can join the February 4th call-in. Join with many others to tell Senators and Representatives that gun violence prevention laws work.  Let them know that as a constituent and member of the faith community, you demand action.


Nominate a Catholic Young Adult Age 18-35 for Leadership Award

The nomination process is now open for the 2013 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award. This award honors a Catholic young adult (age 18-35) engaged in efforts to end the root causes of poverty in the United States. The winner receives $1,000 and is honored at an annual reception attended by dozens of bishops. Watch a video about the 2012 winner. Help us celebrate young adult involvement in the mission of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development to fight poverty in the United States. Please spread the word to parishes, community organizations, college campuses, young adult ministers and other potential nominators in your diocese, or nominate someone yourself!

University of Notre Dame Climate Change Conference

From Monday, April 8 to Wednesday, April 10, 2013, the University of Notre Dame will host Climate Change and the Common Good, a multi-disciplinary conference sponsored by eleven centers and institutes at the University of Notre Dame, including the Center for Social Concerns, College of Arts and Letters, College of Engineering, College of Science, Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, Department of Theology, Environmental Change Initiative, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Office of Sustainability, Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, and the School of Architecture.  Along with Coalition director Dan Misleh, other conference speakers include:

Dr. David Archer: Professor of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago
Dr. Celia Deanne-Drummond: Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame
Dr. James Elser: Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University
Dr. Stephen M. Gardiner: Professor, Department of Philosophy and the Program on Values in Society, University of Washington
Dr. Jessica Hellmann: Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame
Dr. Ian Noble: Chief Scientist, Global Adaptation Institute
Dr. V. “Ram” Ramanathan: Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences,  Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego AND co-author of the Pontifical Academy of Science’s, Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene.
Andrew Revkin: Author of the New York Times’ Dot Earth Environmental Blog
Andrew Rosenberg: Director, Center for Science and Democracy, Union of Concerned Scientists
Dr. David Titley: Chief Operating Officer, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

To register for the conference, click here

Life & Dignity in the News

Here are some more stories about the Church’s work on life and dignity:

Annual National Day of Prayer for the African American and African Family

Sunday February 3, 2013 is the 24th Annual National Day of Prayer for the African American and African Family.  This day is sponsored by the National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life (NBCAL), which has created a prayer resource downloadable here for printing and distribution.

This Lent, Participate in CRS Rice Bowl

Lent begins February 13! CRS Rice Bowl is Catholic Relief Services’ Lenten faith formation program that connects Catholics in the U.S. with the poor around the world through the traditions of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The program benefits CRS’ work across the globe, and a portion of CRS Rice Bowl funds support local hunger and poverty alleviation efforts in dioceses throughout the United States. Visit to order ready-made resources for parishes, schools, families, and individuals to enable all people and ministries to live out the spirit of Lent more fully.

Advocacy Efforts

House Approves Debt Ceiling Plan

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved a plan to extend the government’s ability to borrow money for at least four months, as congressional leaders looked to avert the threat of a default. The House’s legislation would suspend enforcement of the debt-limit ceiling until May 18, and require the Senate – which has not passed a budget since 2009 – to pass a budget blueprint or face having their paychecks withheld.

The Senate is expected to pass the plan this week, and the White House announced the President would likely sign the bill once it arrives on his desk. A key budget committee member stated the committee’s intention is to produce a budget draft before April 15.

The next deadlines facing Capitol Hill are March 1, when the package of automatic spending cuts known as the sequester goes into effect, and March 27, when the appropriations authorization for spending programs runs out, which could lead to a government shutdown. Catholic Charities USA will continue to monitor these developments and provide opportunities to make your voice heard at moments of maximum impact. 

USCCB Justice for Immigrants Post-card Campaign:

Now is the time to pass just and compassionate immigration reform

Send an electronic postcard your U.S. Senators and Representatives asking that they pass just and compassionate immigration reform legislation in the 113th Congress.

Senate Immigration Framework Important First Step

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, welcomed principles set forth by a group of eight U.S. Senators as a blueprint for reform of our nation’s immigration system. “It is an important first step in the process and sets a bipartisan tone,” Archbishop Gomez said this week.

The framework released by the “Group of Eight” working group would include a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented in the nation. It also would reduce family backlogs in the immigration system, which requires family members to wait years to reunite with their loved ones.

World Bank President Joins Chorus For Action

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, urged national governments to make climate change a priority in 2013. Kim argues that [s]trong leadership must come from the six big economies that account for two-thirds of the energy sector’s global carbon dioxide emissions. He says that [t]he world’s top priority must be to get finance flowing and get prices right on all aspects of energy costs to support low-carbon growth.  Kim furthermore says that second immediate step is to end harmful fuel subsidies globally, while a third step is sustainable urban planning.

Kim concludes by writing, After the hottest year on record in the United States, a year in which Hurricane Sandy caused billions of dollars in damage, record droughts scorched farmland in the Midwest and our organization reported that the planet could become more than 7 degrees warmer, what are we waiting for? We need to get serious fast. The planet, our home, can’t wait. 

Read latest news here. 


Update on 2013 Farm Bill: first, the budget

A new Congress means a new start to the Farm Bill, which will now be referred to as the “2013” Farm Bill. The outgoing Congress of the last session extended the old 2008 Farm Bill until September 30 of this year. Once again NCRLC and many other advocates will monitor actions in the Senate and House Agriculture Committees and advocate for a fair and just bill. Presumably, these committees will revise their previous bills once they know what the federal budget will look like over the next several years.

The public will also know more about spending levels as Congress moves forward with negotiations around a multi-year budget, sequestration (automatic spending cuts), and the upcoming fiscal year spending bill. Once Senate and House committee members know spending levels, then they can unveil a new Farm Bill.



Stations of the Cross and Climate Change

To help Catholics enter into the season of Lent, the Holy Names Province of the Order of Friars Minor has produced a Stations of the Cross Reflection based on John Paul II’s climate quotes. The Stations of the Cross with John Paul II: On the Path of Ecological Conversion, is a resource prepared especially for those who have a deep admiration and love for Blessed John Paul II. If you are one of those people, and if you want to continue to be inspired and challenged by his prophetic message, these Stations of the Cross are meant in a special way for you and your faith community.   This resource is available in both English and Spanish.


Free Webinar- The Franciscan Climate Campaign

Coalition member, the Franciscan Action Network, invites you to join a free webinar on Thursday, February 7 from 4 to 5 p.m. EST. Franciscans have long been organizing around the issue of climate change.  During this webinar they will share strategies for grassroots organizing and examine the “inside game” and the “outside game” especially with regards to public policy.  They will also touch on the magnitude of climate change and offer several tools for raising awareness and building constituencies. Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now.


USCCB Pro-life Postcard Campaign 

In the next Congress pro-life strength on average remains the same in the Senate and drops somewhat in the House. It is important that pro-life voices speak out strongly and early. Votes could occur in March 2013 when Congress is expected to complete work on the fiscal year 2013 appropriations bills. The postcard message focuses on respect for life and religious freedom. Members of Congress are urged to support and strengthen laws that (1) prevent federal funding and promotion of abortion and (2) protect rights of conscience in health care.*

The Postcard Campaign

Three program materials are available:

(1) A postcard strip with three postcards and a Response Card. The postcards are to be sent to your U.S. Representative and to your state’s two U.S. Senators. The Response Card asks for a person’s name, e-mail address, state and diocese, and is to be returned to NCHLA. The postcard strips will be available in English and Spanish.

By signing the Response Card people can express their desire to receive follow-up e-mails on federal and state efforts to protect life and religious liberty.

(2) An education/action flier, also available in English and Spanish.

(3) Leader instruction booklet, with Spanish translation of selected texts.

Post-cards may be submitted directly online or, as in the past, through the use of a PDF order form. More information can be found on the NCHLA webpage at: Please send in your order as soon as possible.

*Wording of the Postcard:

“The new Congress should come together to respect life and religious freedom. Please support and strengthen laws that (1) prevent federal funding and promotion of abortion, and (2) protect rights of conscience in health care. Government must not force Americans to violate their religious and moral beliefs on respect for life when they provide health care or sponsor or purchase health coverage. As your constituent, I would appreciate a written response telling me how you will vote on these matters.”