Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

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Stand for Life: Ecumenical Prayer and Witness

On May 5, 2012 thousands will gather in silent prayer from 10 a.m. -12 p.m., covering every abortion center in Florida. Visit http://www.stand4life.info for more information

Living Will Forums

Do you have questions about Advance Directives or Living Wills?  Concerns about end-of-life care and Catholic teaching? Confused about designating a Health Care Surrogate?  These and other questions can be answered at a living will forum by a panel consisting of a Catholic physician, attorney and clergy. To schedule a forum for your parish contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice: advocacyjustice@orlandodiocese.org or 407-246-4819.

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship Presentations
 A presentation on the US Bishop’s document, FORMING CONSCIENCES OF FAITHFUL CITIZENSHIP: A CALL TO POLITICAL RESPONSIBILITY FROM THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF THE UNITED STATES,”  is available to parishes and will include the topics of the HHS Mandate and Religious Liberty as well as November ballot initiatives. Please contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice to schedule presentations: advocacyjustice@orlandodiocese.org; 407-246-4819. Take advantage of this opportunity – especially relevant in this election year – to learn what the Church teaches about public policy and participation in political life. 

 

Easter Message from Pope Benedict XVI 

Reading Pope Benedict XVI’s Easter Vigil homily, Creation is directed towards the coming together of God and his creatures; it exists so as to open up a space for the response to God’s great glory, an encounter between love and freedom.  He reflects on the theme of light: It is daylight, which makes it possible for us to act. To say that God created light means that God created the world as a space for knowledge and truth, as a space for encounter and freedom, as a space for good and for love. Matter is fundamentally good, being itself is good. And evil does not come from God-made being, rather, it comes into existence only through denial. It is a “no”.

In our time, what we see in the light we cannot deny.  Pope Benedict states that if God and moral values, the difference between good and evil, remain in darkness, then all other “lights”, that put such incredible technical feats within our reach, are not only progress but also dangers that put us and the world at risk.  We cannot remain in the darkness of Good Friday but must embrace the brightness of Easter morning calling us to open our eyes and see God’s glorious creation!

 

Neumann University (Aston, PA) and Saint Joseph’s College take the St. Francis Pledge 

Both Neumann University (Aston, PA) and Saint Joseph’s College of Indiana have endorsed the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor.  As part of its commitment to fulfill the five aspects of the Pledge, Neumann University has made Sustainability and Catholic Higher Education: A Toolkit for Mission Integration. The decision of Saint Joseph’s College of Indiana to endorse the St. Francis Pledge builds on the school’s previous sustainability work and on-going commitment to care for God’s Creation.  The school currently maintains a Learning Garden from which freshmen prepare a weekly meal and learn about local farming. Neumann is a private, Catholic, co-educational University founded and sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia.  Saint Joseph’s College of Indiana is primarily an undergraduate Catholic college founded and sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. 

 

Catholic Health Association of the United States

The Catholic Health Association of the United States has published a new resource that considers the causes and consequences of anthropogenic climate change in light of the Catholic health care ministry.  Titled Climate Change and Health Care: Is There A Role For The Health Care Sector?, the document recognizes that Catholic health care ministry has a moral imperative to respond to the issue of climate change because the adverse impacts of climate change disproportionately harms the poor and vulnerable—especially the unborn, children, older adults.

The document describes in some detail the various negative health impacts caused by climate change now and in the future including heat-related illnesses, poor birth outcomes, malnutrition and food insecurity, degraded water quality and availability, vector-borne diseases, respiratory diseases, numerous psychological impacts and premature death.

Responding to these ethical challenges, the document encourages the health care industry to embrace a variety of Opportunities for Action.  Some of these actions can also be found on the Healthier Hospitals Initiative website.  HHI is a national campaign to implement a completely new approach to improving environmental health and sustainability in the health care sector.

 

Resources

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship  

In the last few weeks, many new Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship resources have been added to the website.

 

Environmental Justice Resources

If the start of Spring and Earth Day (April 22, 2012) reminds you of our call to be stewards of God’s creation, here are resources that can help you put your faith in action:

 

 

Sacraments and Social Mission Monthly Feature: Anointing of the Sick 

This month’s handout in the Sacraments and Social Mission series is on “Anointing of the Sick: Joined to Christ, Witnesses of Hope and Healing” (also available in Spanish). Through this sacrament, the Church carries out Jesus’ mission of compassion and healing. The one who is ill can also be a minister to others. By uniting their suffering to Christ, those who are sick can be signs of faith and witnesses of Christ’s resurrection to the entire community. Share this resource with those involved in sacramental catechesis, and all Catholics!  This is the seventh and final resource in the “Sacraments and Social Mission” series. Get past sacrament handouts here in English and Spanish.

 

World Fair Trade Day
On May 12, more than 100,000 people will attend hundreds of celebrations across the country to celebrate World Fair Trade Day. As the largest Fair Trade event of the year in the United States, World Fair Trade Day is an excellent opportunity to promote economic justice in your community, and to visibly stand in solidarity with our disadvantaged brothers and sisters abroad. You can act and give of your time by holding a Fair Trade coffee fundraiser in your school, hosting a Work of Human Hands Sale in your parish, or participating in an event already taking place in your community. Or, you can simply include the farmers who grow the cocoa that goes into your chocolate in your daily prayers. Learn more about Fair Trade and World Fair Trade Day by visiting crsfairtrade.org! or contact the Orlando Diocese Office of Advocacy and Justice Fair Trade Ambassador: advocacyjustice@orlandodiocese.org.

 

JusticeWalking: A Journey of Being Rooted and Grounded in Love
“…our love must be not just words or mere talk, but something active and genuine.” ~1 John 3:18
JusticeWalking is a small group process from JustFaith Ministries that engages youth and young adults in hands-on experiments in gospel living. Key to this process is the relationships created within each J-Walking community and with the people they engage on the margins of society. Through prayer, retreats, dialogue and reading, J-Walkers are rooted and grounded in the compassionate spirit of gospel justice and are empowered to live justly in their everyday lives. Learn more and find out how to get a JusticeWalking group started in your school or parish community.

 

Advocacy Efforts

Circle of Protection

Call or email your Member of Congress and urge them reject any proposals that would exclude immigrant working families from the Child Tax Credit, a vital source of security for many working poor families.

Current Situation: The House Committee on Ways and Means may vote on legislation Wednesday that would exclude immigrant working families from claiming the Child Tax Credit. The tax credit helps millions of working families escape poverty.

USCCB Position/Church Teaching: Our Tradition teaches that all workers have a right to a wage that allows them to raise and support a family in dignity. The Child Tax Credit helps low-wage workers support their children. Today, Bishop Stephen Blaire, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote to the Ways and Means Committee in opposition to proposals that would exclude immigrant working families and their children from the Credit. Contact Your House Members Now.

 

Help Promote Peace in Sudan
Last July, when South Sudan was established as the world’s newest nation, the world was full of hope for the future of the Sudanese people. But now, less than a year later, the long-term peace and stability of Sudan and South Sudan are at a critical juncture. Sign this letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging her to ensure that the Administration is engaged in every way possible to prevent a return to war, to end attacks on civilians, and to protect the basic rights of the Sudanese people, including the freedom of movement and access to humanitarian aid.

Immigration Update and Action Alert 

Visit this month’s Migration Memo for a summary of the USCCB’s most recent activities around immigration, such as the USCCB’s March 26 Supreme Court brief on Arizona v. United States.  The bishops are also encouraging Catholics to send a letter to the President requesting work authorization for immigrants who have been granted prosecutorial discretion from deportation. Learn more and take action here!

 

EPA Proposes Carbon Pollution Standards

On March 27, the Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules designed to curb greenhouse gases which were ruled pollutants by the US Supreme Court in 2007 and deemed a threat to the health and welfare of the American people.  The rules apply to power plants built in the future and reflect the current trend by many energy producers to reduce dangerous emissions. 

The Franciscan Action Network (FAN), a member of the Catholic Climate Change Coalition, welcomed the new proposal: FAN supports efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions as consistent with the teaching that John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and the Franciscan tradition have articulated, stated FAN Executive Director Patrick Carolan.

 

Food Stamps (SNAP) are Threatened With Cuts!

Urge the House Agriculture Committee to Oppose Cuts or Changes That Hurt Hungry, Poor and Vulnerable People in Need!

Tell members of the House Agriculture Committee that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP– formerly the food stamp program) helps children, seniors, and others in need. Urge them to create of a “circle of protection” around the SNAP program and to oppose cuts or other reductions to the SNAP program that will harm hungry, poor and vulnerable people.

CURRENT SITUATION: SNAP helps feed millions of households every day; 76 percent of which include a child, senior or person with a disability. This also includes workers who cannot provide sufficient nutrition for their families. The House Agriculture Committee is expected to amend and debate a bill Wednesday that will cut $33 billion from the food stamp program to comply with instructions in the House-passed budget resolution.

At this time of continued unemployment and high levels of poverty, the House Agriculture Committee should oppose cuts to this effective and efficient anti-hunger program that helps people live in dignity. If cuts are necessary, the committee should first look towards reducing and targeting commodity and subsidy programs that disproportionately go to large growers and agribusiness.

The bishops acknowledge that reducing future unsustainable deficits is important but remind Congress that their decisions are not just economic but “political and moral choices with human consequences.” As pastors and teachers they offer several moral criteria to help guide difficult budgetary decisions. Read their recent letter on potential SNAP cuts here.

USCCB POSITION/CHURCH TEACHING: Last October in his Address on the Occasion of World Food Day 2011, Pope Benedict stated that “liberation from the yoke of hunger is the first concrete expression of the right to life.” The U.S. bishops join the Holy Father in asserting that food is a fundamental human right. In, For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food,” the bishops wrote, “the primary goals of agriculture policies should be providing food for all people and reducing poverty among farmers and farm workers in this country and abroad.” The U.S. bishops urge Congress to join them and other Christian leaders by forming a “circle of protection” around programs that serve hungry, poor and vulnerable people.

Contact Your House Members Now