Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

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The Feminine Face of Migration

A recent paper by Caritas-Italy highlights the need for national governments and the international community to improve their response to female migrants and the families they leave behind, to provide protection and social services and social and legal advice, www.comboni.org//contenuto/view/id/105970.

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship

Dozens of resources at www.faithfulcitizenship.org can help you share Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship with your parishes. Visit the website for materials geared toward:  Church TeachingAll CatholicsDiocesan & Community LeadersParishes & SchoolsCampuses & Young AdultsYouth, and Media.  Don’t forget to register to vote! Florida registration deadlines are: July 16, 2012 for the Primary Election and October 9, 2012 for the General Election. Register to vote here.  We encourage parishes to host a voter registration drive over the summer, please contact the Supervisor of Elections in your county or contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice, 407-246-4819.

America Magazine Addresses Throwaway Society

In many ways, consumption is at the heart of climate change.  Developed countries such as the United States consume far more of the world’s resources than developing nations.  And much of this is, quite literally, trash.  In an insightful cover article for America magazine, Gregory M. Kennedy, S.J., examines the culture of disposable consumption that pervades modern life in the industrialized world.  

In Trash Talk, A Christian response to our throwaway society,  Kennedy observes that [w]e Catholics consider ourselves people of the book, but we are equally people of the body. Our belief in the incarnation and physical resurrection of Christ requires us to take matter very seriously… Of all municipal solid waste, the single largest share, 30 percent, goes to containers and packaging: polystyrene “clamshells,” tin cans, plastic this, that and the other thing. 

Kennedy wonders, “Shouldn’t we, as partakers of the Eucharist, where Christ reconfirms his real presence in matter, cultivate a distaste for disposables—objects that, made to be good for nothing, already are as good as nothing?  He concludes by asserting that [e]very shopping bag you refuse, every coffee cup you re-use, every piece of plastic you eschew, takes you another step toward “the dazzling centre where all the innumerable fibers of the manifold meet.”

Maryknoll Magazine Focuses on the Environment

Many Catholic households subscribe to Maryknoll Magazine.  This month, they will be receiving an issue about the care for creation with stories that reflect Maryknoll’s concern for and commitment to good stewardship of God’s Creation. 

While most of us have spent our lives working with and ministering to the poor and vulnerable around the world, only a few were connecting the dots and realizing that the degradation of our local environment was contributing to the health problems and exploitation of many people, said Father Edward M. Dougherty, superior general, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. It was usually at the nexus of this realization that certain Maryknollers began to inform themselves about how environmental issues were related to justice concerns.   Read more here

Climate Change Impacts on U.S. Corn Belt

A new study by Stanford (CA) and Purdue (IN) University researchers warns that corn grown throughout the Midwest will likely be adversely affected by climate change in the coming years.  Rising temperatures and more frequent severe weather events are predicted to seriously curtail corn crops in the Midwest and send price shocks more severe than those caused by either public policies or the price of oil. 

In a press release from Stanford University, one of the study’s co-authors, Noah Diffenbaugh, an assistant professor of environmental Earth systems science at Stanford’s School of Earth Sciences, said Frankly, I was surprised that climate had the largest effect of these three influences. These are substantial changes in price volatility that come from relatively moderate global warming.  Diffenbaugh continued: Severe heat is the big hammer.  Even one or two degrees of global warming is likely to substantially increase heat waves that lead to low-yield years and more price volatility.

The authors also point out that public policies have the potential to diminish—or exacerbate—these negative impacts. Read the entire study, published April 22 in the journal Nature Climate Change, here.

JustFaith and Climate Change Study Circle

The Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi in Raleigh, NC is doing wonderful work that you can replicate in your parish: 

Study circles will meet once a week for 8 weeks and use materials developed by JustFaith.   

One of the study circles will be on climate change and was developed collaboratively by the Coalition and JustFaith.  The study circle will ask: What does the Church say about climate change? Is it real, and what impact would it have on the poor?…The approach to global climate change by the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change and the Catholic Bishops’ Environmental Justice Program has been to focus on the themes of prudence, poverty and the common good, as well as Catholic social teaching. This eight-session module expands and explores these principles and has a strong emphasis on how climate change will impact the poor at home and abroad. It draws out arguments for and against action, and demonstrates—through both faith and science—the hazards to poor people of doing nothing. To sign up for the Climate Change Study Circle, click here.

Celebrations of Earth Day Took Many Forms

All across the country, Christians and people of good will celebrated Earth Day on April 22.  Here is a small sampling of some of the ways that faith communities celebrated:

  • Catholic Charities USA in Washington, D.C. celebrated Earth Week by sending staff e-mail with tips on area events and household and office practices; holding a prayer service and playing “Eco Family Feud” during noon hour on April 25; and participating in a beautification project with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington on April 27. 
  • St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center in Cincinnati, OH:  We held a Brown-Up Morning on April 21st inviting volunteers to wear brown to honor St. Francis, St. Clare and Earth Day weekend.  We completed caring for creation projects around our parish. We donated 20 hours of volunteer time.  We prayed together and shared snacks while we installed 3 LED night lights, installed foam insulating pads behind light switches and power outlets, covered a damper, fixed a hot water leak, installed a door sweep, used green cleaning supplies to clean a variety of projects, sanded and primed our bike rack and composted two cubic feet of material from our parking lot.
  • St. Thomas More Catholic Community in Chapel Hill, NC: We celebrated Earth Day by expanding our regular monthly small-item recycling program at all Masses to include three items not just one; giving free raffle tickets on a solar-powered, hand-cranked emergency radio to all those who recycled; having displays about the church’s Environmental Stewardship ministry and the school’s earth actions in science classes; kicking off a pilot WFLW (waste-free lunch week) in the school. 
  • Quebec, Canada: 300 000 Quebeckers walked in the streets of Montreal to shape a huge tree/hand for Earth Day. The Green Church program was part of the organizing committee.  Other gatherings were happening on Church steps in hundreds of places in Quebec, and around 1200 Churches rang their bells for the event. Video

Pope Benedict XVI on the Environment

A new book published by Our Sunday Visitor, The Environment by Pope Benedict XVI, is an unprecedented collection of excerpts from what the Holy Father has had to say regarding the environment-a treasure trove of insights and inspiration surrounding the Church and the world in which we live. 

Pope Benedict has not been shy in regards to issues of the environment. He has spoken frequently about everyone’s right to food, right to water and responsible sharing. He has spoken about the real meaning of progress and development and what that means for our planet of limited resources. He has discussed climate change, the connection between science and nature, and how the path of cultivating peace is directly linked to protecting creation.
Learn more and order a copy of this resource here

Hot Off the Press: Spring Issue of Catholic Rural Life 

The new issue of Catholic Rural Life, Food & Faith: Why Eating is a Moral Act, will be in members’ mailboxes! This issue will showcase what Catholic families, parishes and others are doing to create healthy food choices and build local food systems.

For a sneak peek at one of this issue’s articles, “Jubilee Farm Educates Young and Old on Ethical Eating,” visit our website

Sign up for USDA Webinar on Partnering with the USDA 

The USDA is hosting a webinar at 2 p.m. (EDT) on May 16, titled “Together We Can Connect for Success: How to Partner with USDA.” This webinar program will share opportunities to collaborate with USDA to help those in need in your community. It will equip organizations with introductory knowledge, best practices, and contact information to help your organization understand and access USDA nutrition assistance programs. 

This webinar also marks the beginning of the USDA’s “Together We Can” Partnership Series for community and faith-based organizations. These one-hour training sessions, which will continue until the end of October, will cover topics such as providing summer meals, teaching nutrition education, and building local food systems. Participants can attend all of the sessions, or join the ones most relevant to your organization and community. 

For more information and how to register, CLICK HERE.  If you have any questions about the webinar, please contact collaborate@usda.gov or via phone at (202) 720-2032.

Preparing for Food Day 2012 

Food movement leaders are gearing up for the second annual Food Day, the nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food. More than 2,300 events in all 50 states took place last year. Organizers intend for Food Day 2012 to represent an even bigger grassroots campaign for improved food policies. Food Day is October 24 every year. Food Day brings together organizations and individuals working on food issues as varied as hunger, nutrition, agriculture policy, animal welfare, and farmworker justice.  Learn more about Food Day here.  Food Day brings together organizations and individuals working on food issues as varied as hunger, nutrition, agriculture policy, animal welfare, and farmworker justice.

Advocacy Efforts

Farm Bill Update:  Your Voice Made a Difference 

In a joint statement released by the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, Catholic Relief Services, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities USA, they stated: Thanks in part to your many e-mails, phone calls, visits and letters, the Senate Agriculture Committee last week passed a 2012 Farm Bill with provisions that the Catholic community strongly supports, especially regarding international food aid.

However, the bill also includes some provisions that we will try to change:

  • Reduction in funding for conservation efforts that preserve our nation’s wetlands, grasslands and promote stewardship of God’s creation; and
  • Reduction in funding initiatives that support small family farmers and rural American communities such as making broad-band telecommunications services available.

To read the entire statement, visit this website.