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.

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.

Florida Sentences More People to Death than any Other State

The Death Penalty Information Center has released “The Death Penalty in 2012: Year End Report.” It’s official: Florida now sentences far more people to death than any other state. In 2012, Florida has 21 new sentences of death out of 78 nationally…that’s more than ¼ of ALL new death sentences in the U.S.  One small corner of our state, the Jacksonville area, had ¼ of all new Florida death sentences. While death sentences have dropped dramatically in other states, Florida is expanding our use of the Death Penalty. Florida has long held the national record for most exonerated Death Row prisoners (at least 23 so far). It is both tragic and ironic that the state that has sent the highest number of wrongfully convicted people to Death Row is now the one sending the most people there. To learn more about what the Catholic Church teaches on the death penalty please see here. For updates on executions in Florida follow this link.

Calendar of Events

 

Catholic Relief Services – Lenten Rice Bowl Program

Catholic Relief Services has rolled out a new Rice Bowl for 2013.  Now called, CRS Rice Bowl, there are many new facets to this phenomenal Lenten journey.  Register your rice bowl online to become part of the CRS community committed to praying for the poorest of the poor – learn more about our brothers and sisters from around the world as you pray through the weeks of Lent.  As always all rice bowl materials are free and include a committed way to pray, fast, learn and give through these Holy Weeks.  If you are interested in ordering the materials or learning more, call Stephanie Bosse at 407-246-4822 or email at rlointern@orlandodiocese.org

March for Life in Washington, D.C.

We offer our prayers and expressions of support for all those traveling to Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life. This Friday, an open rally will be held on the National Mall. Following prayer with U.S. Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bishops, participants will march to Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has also produced web-based resources. Information and campaign materials about Pro-Life Activities can help parishes and groups to teach respect for all human life, from conception to natural death, and organize for its protection. Please visit their website to learn more.

From the Archdiocese of Washington: “Caring for Creation” Calendar

The Archdiocese of Washington has published its annual “Caring for Creation Calendar” for Lent 2013.  In an e-mail message to the Archdiocesan faithful, Charity and Justice director Tony Bosnick said: Inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s teaching on Creation and the environment, the archdiocesan Care for Creation Committee offers you a new “Caring for Creation Calendar” for Lent 2013 in the Year of Faith. The calendar offers practical ways you can grow in your understanding of what it means to be a wise steward of God’s Creation and to deepen your commitment to practices and attitudes, which promote care for Creation.

Consider giving copies of this Caring for Creation Calendar to others.  The calendar is not meant just for those committed to the Church or to the environment.  It is for all people who might want to learn more and who want practical tips to help them grow in stewardship of Creation.  Most people are likely to be surprised and intrigued by the Church’s teaching on Creation and the environment.  It is likely to show them the beauty and wonder of the Church’s concern for all things which are genuinely human (see Gaudium et Spes, 1).

 

Rubber Meets the Road

That may not be the best metaphor in a climate-compromised world, but we use it to express our appreciation for the impressive and ongoing work of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Climate Change Task Force.  This month, they highlight “signs of hope.”:   

  • The passion for energy efficiency of the Archdiocese’s incoming Property and Real Estate Manager, Jeff Bohrer;
  • The ongoing commitment from more parishes and schools for efficiency upgrades; and
  • More efforts by parishes to find ways to care for creation, including Lenten activities that remind us our need to exercise temperance      for the common good.

 

Blessed are the Peacemakers

In an Ecojesuit article titled Blessed are the peacemakers,  Al Fritsch, S.J., Director of Earth Healing, reflects on Pope Benedict XVI 2013 World Day of Peace Message.  Focusing on the Holy Father’s connection between environmental degradation and economic globalization, he observes: The Pope’s concern about globalization meshes with his equal concern about environmental dangers.  In this critical hour it is not sufficient for Jesuits to let this connection go in silence.  Excessive consumption of material goods primarily by the affluent nations leads to an insatiable addiction for more and more resources in competition with other consumers, and in this race to the top, affluence breeds insensitivity to the legitimate needs of others who are left behind.

Fr. Fritsch calls on Jesuits to work principally at an apparent first level of eco-humility…on local projects or regional problems, [. . . and engage in] immersion among the poor, and that includes acknowledging our addictiveness (as impoverished) to excessive consumer goods and our need for God to free us and our world from them. He concludes that Jesuit environmentalists need courage to defend our Pope and his team who have received criticism for their concern about climate change from some inside and outside of the church.

 

Franciscan School of Theology

The Franciscan School of Theology (FST) Summer Institute opens up new horizons for reimagining how we live our lives in faith.  Each summer, FST hosts an institute at the beautiful Mission Renewal Center in Santa Barbara to learn how to draw from the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition to enliven your ministry, organization or personal faith.  Old Mission Santa Barbara, with its historic buildings, ample facilities, landscaped gardens and walking paths, is a world-famous destination offering pleasant summer weather and easy access to the beach.

The 2013 Summer Institute is titled Washing Feet: The Example of Jesus and Franciscan Leadership and will occur July 7-12, 2013.  Three leading Franciscan scholars will share insights from their respective academic areas of expertise to help you understand the characteristics and hallmarks of Franciscan leadership.  Br. Bill Short brings a vast knowledge of Franciscan spirituality, Dr. Darleed Pryds provides scholarship about lay preachers in the Church through the centuries, and Fr. Garrett Galvin offers a biblical perspective.  To learn more, e-mail Fr. Franklin Fong at ffong@fst.edu.

 

Statement from the President on Climate Change

In his Presidential Inauguration Address on Monday, January 21, 2013, President Barack Obama highlighted the importance of climate change and his commitment to addressing this issue in his second term:

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

For more coverage of the President’s statements on climate change in his Inaugural Address, click here.

 

Climate Change a Priority

Since 2009, Pope Benedict XVI has explicitly supported the idea of an international treaty through the United Nations to address climate change.  The Holy Father has offered this support in his 2009 Message to the Climate Change Summit,  2010 Message to the Diplomatic Corps,  and his Angelus on November 27, 2011.

For 2013, it appears that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will make an international agreement a top priority as well.  According to the Associated Press, one of his chief concerns in 2013 will be securing a binding international agreement to address climate change: Climate change is fast happening – much, much faster than one would have expected [. . .] Climate and ecosystems are under growing strain [. . .] I will do my best to mobilize the political will and resources so that the member states can agree to a new legally binding global agreement on climate change.

 

Resources

USCCB Newsletter – Life Issues Forum

This issue of Life Issues Forum can be found in both English and Spanish and is available on our website. (To access the Word documents or the website, click on the relevant hyperlinked text.) Back issues of Life Issues Forum can be found at www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/life-issues-forum/ (June 2011 onward) and old.usccb.org/prolife/publicat/lifeissues/index.shtml (prior to June 2011).

Lenten Journey from Cosmic Dust to Easter Garden

For Lent this year, Sr. Terri MacKenzie, SHCJ offers “Spirituality of Soil: A Lenten Journey from Cosmic Dust to Easter Garden,” a five-week program for groups or individuals. Each week contains a closing activity and suggestions for Earth-care action. Users can adapt this material in any way that will deepen participants’ consciousness of the sacred interconnection of all life and our part in co-creating a sustainable future. This program is available online. Simply click here to access Lent 2013 (soil).

*You will also see links to Lenten resources for 2014 (water) and 2015 (air).