Dozens of resources at www.faithfulcitizenship.org can help you share Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship with your audiences. Here is one new resource added since the last Notes for Neighbors: Bulletin Announcements, including over a dozen announcements that you can use between now and the elections to help Catholics in your parish to reflect on the messages of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. Don’t forget that a PowerPoint presentation is firstname.lastname@example.org available by request to diocesan and state Catholic conference staff. Florida deadlines to register to vote are: July 16, 2012 for the Primary Election and October 9, 2012 for the General Election. Register to vote here.
For the past year, Catholics have been “fasting” on the first Friday of each month in solidarity with persons in poverty by limiting meal spending to the amount allotted for a family of their size in the USDA Modified Thrifty Food Plan. April 6 is Good Friday, as well as the first Friday of the month. On Good Friday, we reflect on the passion and death of Christ. The passion also reminds us that “the Lord hears the cry of the multitudes” (Pope Benedict XVI, Lenten Message, 2006). On April 6, join other Catholics in practicing the traditional Good Friday fast, and also limiting meal spending in accordance with First Fridays for Food Security. This special handout is available to assist your reflection on that day.
In 2009, the Diocese of San Jose formed the Catholic Green Initiative and asked all members of the Diocese to take the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor. On March 9, 2012, Bishop Patrick J. McGrath observed that “[i]n the intervening years [since 2009] we have seen how environmental degradation and climate change are affecting God’s creation, including people here and all over the world. This is a particular tragedy because it is the poorest and most vulnerable who suffer the worst, even though they have contributed the least to these problems.”
With this in mind, Bishop McGrath has asked Catholics in the Diocese to renew their St. Francis Pledge commitments. In his letter, the Bishop said, “Our Catholic Social Justice Teaching impresses upon us that nature is not something to exploit; rather, is God’s creation to preserve. We are called to celebrate the splendor of God’s handiwork, to be good stewards of creation, and to safeguard the integrity of all that God has made.
In his 2010 World Day of Peace Message Pope Benedict XVI asked, Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change . . . Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of “environmental refugees”, people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it – and often their possessions as well – in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement? A recent article shows how prophetic these words have become.
Fearing that climate change could wipe out their entire Pacific archipelago, the leaders of Kiribati are considering an unusual backup plan: moving the populace to Fiji. Kiribati President Anote Tong told The Associated Press on Friday [March 9] that his Cabinet this week endorsed a plan to buy nearly 6,000 acres on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. He said the fertile land, being sold by a church group for about $9.6 million, could provide an insurance policy for Kiribati’s entire population of 103,000.
The article notes that some villages have already moved due to seawater contaminating underground fresh water used for crops and trees. Changing rainfall, tidal and storm patterns pose as much of a threat as rising ocean levels.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales has developed an extensive environment webpage with many resources to help Catholics understand and act upon the Church’s ecological teachings. The resources include materials for action in the home, school, work, and parish.
The website notes that: The Church calls on us to consider our role and to question what we are each doing to protect the earth. It may not seem that we can do much but ‘the might of the ocean is made up of single drops of water’. Whatever the degree of commitment to reducing our carbon footprint or considering the environment, there is always an interest in reducing energy and water bills and this can be achieved by learning new habits.
Franciscan Action Network: Stations of the Cross
The Franciscan Action Network is pleased to offer Stations of the Cross with John Paul II: On the path of ecological conversion in both English and Spanish. You may download the Stations in PDF form and to access other Lenten resources. Feel free to link to each version in your promotion of the resource: English OR Spanish
Earth Day Resources on Caring for Creation from CRS
April 22 marks Earth Day, a day for reflection on and appreciation of creation. To help your school or parish mark this day, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has a wide array of resources for you to use to educate young people about our responsibility to care for creation, a gift from God. Learn more about how CRS is responding to climate change. CRS is also promoting the St. Francis Pledge as an Earth Day action: If your school or parish hasn’t done so already, consider signing the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor.
The Catholic Mobilizing Network has collected Lenten resources in a section on our website. A new addition to the page is a Good Friday Liturgy from Bro. Brian C. Halderman. During Lent, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops encourage you to participate in weekly ‘tiny retreats’-or five-minute reflections-to better lead you to solidarity with your brothers and sisters around the world.
By Fr. George Williams, SJ (NEN)
San Quentin State Prison is an iconic American prison. Over 150 years old, it has witnessed thousands of prisoners pass through its massive iron gates. In the face of such indifference to the plight of the incarcerated (and their families), Catholic prison ministry is needed more than ever. Click here to read Fr. Williams Easter Reflection.
The first act of the day for many of us is to drink fresh, clean water. We are readily able to quench our thirst, and we always expect plenty more out of the tap. Is there any other natural resource we take for granted more than water? World Water Day on March 22nd is a reminder that this is not the case for more than 800 million people around the world.
Earlier this week after his Marian prayer, Pope Benedict XVI remarked that Thursday is World Water Day. He expressed his hope that initiatives by the world community would contribute “to ensuring equal, secure and adequate access to water, thus promoting every human being’s right to life and nutrition, and the responsible use of the goods of the earth for the benefit of present and future generations.”
For more information, see: Water: A Sacramental Commons for more reflection on this essential resource of God’s creation. Also visit Sunshine State Interfaith Power and Light for more information about what is happening in the State of Florida.
The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns has posted a new video at their Stop Gambling on Hunger website. The website serves as an informal clearinghouse for resources, news, and action updates from U.S. and international campaigns to curb excessive speculation in food and energy markets. The website’s purpose is to raise public awareness and help bring back commonsense regulations to these essential markets.
A broad range of religious and faith-based groups are organizing activities around a moral and ethical response to the climate crisis this Earth Day, April 22 (a Sunday). Events will take place in Washington, DC, and continue through Earth Day week, April 22-26. Learn more about this interfaith call to action by visiting this web site: www.interfaithactiononclimatechange.org. You will find details about specific actions to take place.