Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

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Catholic Relief Services Mother’s Day Gift

What better way to show your love for Mom than by blessing the world with a mother’s care and devotion? Catholic Relief Services invites you to celebrate your mom and all the mothers in your life by making a generous gift to the agency that serves women and their families overseas.

You can make this Mother’s Day a very special one by donating to CRS in honor of Mom. When you do, you are reflecting the beautiful compassion she inspired in you.

Your gift will be as boundless as your mother’s love because it will help CRS care for God’s most vulnerable children in nearly 100 countries.

Justice for Immigrants

On April 25, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of Arizona’s immigration law, SB1070.  The Court is expected to announce its ruling in mid to late June.  The U.S. Bishops’ have filed an Amicus Brief against SB1070 and can be read at the JFI website along with other resources on the impact of the Supreme Court decision: www.justiceforimmigrants.org.

Connecticut Becomes 17th State To Repeal Death Penalty

The Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty hails Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s decision to sign legislation repealing the death penalty today, making Connecticut the fifth state to end the death penalty in five years. CMN also acknowledges with gratitude the hard work of the members of the state’s legislature who fought for this bill and ensured its passage last week. In particular, CMN recognizes the courage and convictions of several Catholic members of the legislature who spoke in favor of, and voted for, repeal, citing their Catholic faith as a key motivation. Connecticut will join Illinois, New Mexico, New Jersey, and New York to become the fifth state in five years to repeal the death penalty.  For more information, see: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/

Hold on Palestinian Aid Lifted 

Thanks to months of advocacy by USCCB and CRS and other partners, including the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering hill visits and an interfaith statement to Congress, the Congressional hold on humanitarian and poverty-focused development aid to Palestinians has been lifted! On April 12, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, decided to release the remaining portion of life-saving aid to the Palestinians. USCCB strongly commends the release of this vital humanitarian and poverty-focused development aid. On behalf of USCCB and CRS, thank you to all those who helped advocate for this important cause. 

Federal Budget Choices Must Protect Poor, Vulnerable People, Says U.S. Bishops’ Conference 

As Congress began work on the FY 2013 budget and spending bills, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) wrote several letters that reinforced the bishops’ ongoing call to create a “circle of protection” around poor and vulnerable people and programs that meet their basic needs and protect their lives and dignity.

U.S. Bishops Call on President to Ban Landmines

Bishop Richard E. Pates, chairman of the USCCB Committee of International Justice and Peace, has joined a call from 76 nongovernmental organizations to President Obama, urging the United States to relinquish antipersonnel landmines and join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty without further delay.

Powerful U.S. Bishops/United Methodist Church Statement Marks Earth Day

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the United Methodist Church (UMC) marked Earth Day 2012 with the release a joint statement on the Eucharist and the environment.  The statement, Heaven and Earth are Full of Your Glory, affirms that both Methodists and Catholics believe their celebration of the Eucharist helps them to see God’s glory in all of creation and therefore leads to greater care for the environment. 

The document says: Jesus chastises the Pharisees for being able to interpret the appearance of the skies while being unable to interpret the signs of the times (cf. Mt 16:3).  In our time the appearance of the skies has become a sign of the times.  The threat of climate destabilization, the destruction of the ozone layer, and the loss of bio-diversity point to a disordered relation between humankind, other living beings and the rest of the earth (emphasis added). 

The elements of nature—grain for bread and grapes for wine—become part of salvation through the Eucharist and that salvation itself is an act of God at work in all of creation and all creation encountering God.  Additionally, the document call[s] both Methodists and Catholics to participate more deeply in the Eucharist by recognizing its intrinsic connection with the renewal of creation. 

Bishop William Skylstad, retired bishop of Spokane (and honorary chairman of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change) and Methodist Bishop Timothy Whitaker of the UMC Florida Conference co-chaired the dialogue. 
Read the entire statement here.

Marking Earth Day by Endorsing St. Francis Pledge

To celebrate Earth Day, a number of Catholic institutions became Catholic Climate Covenant Partners by endorsing the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor: 

The Archdiocese of Ottawa became the seventh arch/diocese to endorse the Pledge, joining Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Hartford, Green Bay, Stockton (CA) and Houma-Thibodaux (LA).

On Saturday, April 21, President Marie Angelella George, Ph.D., helped Cabrini College (Radnor, PA) celebrate Earth Week by endorsing the Pledge on behalf of the College.  Cabrini College is a Catholic, liberal arts college dedicated to academic excellence, leadership development, and a commitment to social justice.

On Monday, April 23, Stonehill College marked Earth Day with a Sustainability Fair at which President Mark Cregan, C.S.C., signed the St. Francis Pledge on behalf of the school.  Stonehill is a selective Catholic college located near Boston on a beautiful 375-acre campus in Easton, Massachusetts.

Saint Anselm College (Manchester, NH) has also become a Partner by endorsing the Pledge.  In the school’s press release, Brian Penney, a biology professor who heads the college’s Environmental Stewardship Committee, said, Because environmental issues disproportionately affect people in developing nations and on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic scale, we have to start looking at our environmental practices differently,” he says. “Many students here serve the community and try to help the needy, and they want to do more. This pledge casts attention on the small actions that we make on a day-to-day basis that build up to affect the health of the planet.  Founded in 1889 by the Benedictines, Saint Anselm College has been named one of the country’s “Colleges with a Conscience” by The Princeton Review.

Holy Cross Abbey (Berryville, VA) has also become a Partner by endorsing the St. Francis Pledge. Holy Cross Abbey is a monastery of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance (Trappists) sheltered by the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Cistercians dedicate their lives to seeking God according to the sixth-century Rule of Saint Benedict, living the vows of obedience, stability, and conversion of life in the monastic School for the Lord’s Service.

Mexican Senate Unanimously Passes Climate Change Legislation

The Associated Press reports that Mexico’s Senate has unanimously [78-0] passed a climate change bill aimed at reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050, following Britain in creating legally binding emissions goals. The law — approved late Thursday and which still needs to be signed by President Felipe Calderon — seeks to promote policies and incentives to reduce carbon emissions, decrease the use of fossil fuels and make renewable power more competitive.

In their deliberations, the senators underlined how the country of 112 million was already experiencing the effects of climate change, including a record drought in many areas this year and heavier and more frequent rains in other regions. 

The USCCB and Catholic Relief Services invite Catholics to advocate for policies that reduce the impact of climate change on people living in poverty. Well-designed climate change policies can help both reduce the severity of climate change and protect the most vulnerable by:
–Creating new and necessary resources to assist poor and adversely affected communities in adapting to and easing the effects of global climate change in the U.S. and in the most vulnerable developing countries;
–Ensuring that the most useful technology is promptly made available to people in the most vulnerable developing countries to help them adapt to the effects of climate change (adaptation) and reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation); and
–Promoting the participation of local communities in programs for adapting to climate change and easing its effects.

Catholic Health Association Resource Garners More Attention

The Catholic Health Association of the United States recently published a resource that considers the causes and consequences of climate change in light of the Catholic health care ministry.  The official CHA press release is available here.

National Mental Illness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. For resources, see: www.ncpd.org.

Aging Resources

Cool Website

Check out this national portal to information, tools and resources to assist elders during all types of natural disasters. Click Here.  

New “Administration for Community Living”

On April 16, the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services established the Administration for Community Living that created a single agency with the goal of increasing access to community support systems and full participation, while focusing attention and resources on the unique needs of older Americans and people with disabilities. Click Here.

Older Driver Safety Publications 

The Hartford has a web page focused on “older driver safety” that includes on-line assessments, publications and tools on driving safely. Click Here.

Advocacy Efforts

Farm Bill: Ensure our nation feeds the hungry, preserves God’s creation, supports small family farmers and rural America within the 2012 Farm Bill (Urgent – act by April 25!) 

Upcoming Webcast on “Preventing Hunger: Preparing for the Reauthorization of the Farm Bill”
On May 2, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. EST, a special webcast on the issue of hunger as it relates to the reauthorization of the farm bill will be presented. This webcast is sponsored by Catholics Confront Global Poverty, a collaboration of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services.  RSVP for the webcast here. 

Sudan: Urge Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to stand with the Sudanese people for peace

Global Poverty: Urge Congress to hear the cry of the poor

Peace in the Holy Land: President Obama: Press for two-state peace agreement in the Holy Land

Religious Freedom:

Please click on the link below to send messages to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Congress telling them to stand up for religious liberty and conscience rights.

On February 10, the Administration adopted as a final rule “without change” a mandate requiring almost all private health plans under the new health care law to include sterilization, all FDA-approved birth control (such as the IUD, Depo-Provera, ‘morning-after’ pills, and the abortion-inducing drug Ella), and “education and counseling” to promote these to all “women of reproductive capacity.” The rule allows only a very narrow exemption for a “religious employer.” Religious organizations providing education, health care and charitable services to all in need cannot qualify for the exemption. They will have an extra year to comply.

Message to HHS: On March 21, HHS published an “advance notice of proposed rulemaking” (ANPRM) that suggests various ways the new mandate can be applied to religious organizations (Federal Register, 3/21/12, 16501-08). The ANPRM does not address the fundamental legal and moral concerns about government intrusion into religious ministries. Whatever funding and administrative mechanisms are ultimately chosen, many deeply religious institutions that serve the common good will be forbidden to provide their own employees or students with health coverage consistent with their values.  The deadline for comments is June 19.

Message to Congress: While the response to the ANPRM is the primary focus of this alert, it is also important to continue to urge Members of Congress to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467). With the Administration’s insistence on its contraceptive mandate, this legislation is needed to ensure that those who participate in the health care system “retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions.” On March 1, the Senate voted, 51-yes, 48-no, to table this bill when it was presented as Senate Amendment 1520 to the Transportation Authorization Bill. As Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the amendment’s sponsor, stated: “This fight is not over.” Click the link below to log in and send your message: http://actions.nchla.org/link/target/nchla/rBg32iJE.aspx