Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

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Year of Faith – Bringing the Light of Christ: A Convening for Ministry Leaders

Join us on Saturday, July 28 at San Pedro Center for a day of reflection and education on the upcoming Year of Faith. Fr. Ben Berinti will keynote the day with a presentation on the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II. Session I will focus on living the Gospel in the light of justice–offered in both English & Spanish. Session II will focus on sharing best practices of lived mission–presented by local parish ministry leaders. Registration is available at www.sanpedrocenter.org. Contact eclayton@orlandodiocese.org or call 407-246-4819 for more information. 

Engaging Spirituality: JustFaith Co-facilitator Training

There will be an Engaging Spirituality JustFaith Co-facilitator Training event on August 25th at Ascension Catholic Church in Melbourne.  Engaging Spirituality is a small group spiritual deepening process designed to deepen participant’s faith and his/her compassion for the people in our world who are poor, neglected, oppressed, or suffering in any way. More than just learning, Engaging Spirituality humbly invites participants to live more deeply, by engaging God in contemplation, and to love more broadly, by following Jesus into our broken world and engaging all we find there with compassion.

The training event serves both as an introduction to the program as well as training for the co-facilitators of a group. If you would like to attend, contact Becky Cawley at: moritzcawley@gmail.com or 314-409-5034.  Check out the JustFaith website (justfaith.org), Programs, for more information on Engaging Spirituality and all the many other programs JustFaith offers.  

“Together We Can” Feed Kids During the Summer 

On Wednesday, May 30, at 2 p.m. Eastern (1 p.m. Central), USDA will host a conference call and webinar of its new “Together We Can” Partnership Series for community and faith-based organizations. This webinar program will share opportunities to collaborate with USDA to help those in need in your community. This session will focus on programs your organization can utilize to provide meals for kids during the summer months.  These sessions are free of charge for all participants. You will need access to a phone line and a computer with internet access to participate. Register here for the webinar

Moms for Antibiotic Awareness, Connection to Food 

Driven by the increasing awareness of antibiotic resistance and its link to animal production practices, The Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming is co-hosting a Supermoms Against Superbugs Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., this week to unite individuals across America working to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for their children and families.  The goal of this advocacy day is to shine a spotlight on the use of antibiotics in livestock production and to inform, educate and inspire more consumers to take action. It is fitting for mothers to lead the charge since they are the primary food carers for their family. Learn more about Supermoms Against Superbugs Advocacy Day.  

Kansas Diocese Opening Green Cemetery

A recent article reports that [t]he open Kansas prairie – tall natural grasses and the quiet of nature – is where the Catholic Diocese of Wichita will open the area’s first natural burial area. Director of the Catholic cemeteries, Jim Sheldon, explains: [t]he idea is that we’ll have natural gamma grasses, little blue stem, tall to have area like it used to be like the Kansas prairie.  Sheldon continues:  “a natural burial area will not only save money for the families who are burying loved ones, but it will save the environment, according to the Casket and Funeral Association of America.  This is largely due to the fact that [e]very year, 827,000 gallons of embalming fluid – dangerous chemicals – along with tons of steel, copper, and bronze are buried in the ground, causing potential environmental dangers.”  To learn more about green burials, visit this article by U.S. Catholic Magazine. 

Is the Catholic Church Green?

William L. Patenaude, who writes on the Catholic perspective of ecology at The Rhode Island Catholic and at catholicecology.blogspot.com, recently wrote an article that surveys the development of ecological concern in recent Catholic teaching.  The article, Is the Catholic Church Green, chronicles how Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Coalition member, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have progressively integrated care for God’s Creation into official Church teachings and statements.  To learn more about authentic Catholic teaching on the environment, and particularly the issue of climate change, visit our Catholic Teachings page.  There, you can read creation care statements from the Vatican, U.S. and international bishops, as well as other Catholic voices from around the world.

Climate Change Impacting Coffee Growers

Catholic Relief Services has posted the story of Dolores Calero Ruiz, a coffee grower in Guatemala, who has witnessed dramatic shifts in the weather patterns that, in turn, have very negative impacts on her livelihood.  CRS says: The questions of whether or why the earth’s climate is changing can be cause for debate and disagreement.  However, in our work in almost 100 countries, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and our partners are currently witnessing new environmental realities in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  We believe it is important to share stories of how the environment is impacting the poor to help Catholic individuals and institutions in the United States discern their responses.  Read Dolores’ story and discern what it calls you to do. To see how CRS has drawn connections between climate change and their relief and development work as well as the developing partnership and collaboration between CRS and the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, click here.

American Lifestyle:  Reliance on Cars 

In a provocative article, Park it: Get out of your car, in U.S. Catholic Magazine, Fr. Thomas Massaro, S.J., observes that of the myriad ways of getting around in the course of a day, most Americans gravitate disproportionately to the car, even when it makes no sense to rely on one…Even more, [Americans] usually drive alone in vehicles that are generally much larger than the trip requires. We seem constitutionally incapable of calculating the gains and losses of gratuitous car use, or conducting an honest cost-benefit analysis.

Fr. Massaro considers the financial and social downsides of this overreliance on vehicles.  He observes that beyond these obvious costs are the serious harms rendered to the environment, since building and driving more and larger cars leaves a huge carbon and resource footprint. The ecological bill for excessive auto use will eventually come due, especially given the growing aspiration for Western lifestyles in parts of the globe where car ownership was, until recently, quite rare. 

Part of the solution to America’s over-reliance on cars, Fr. Massaro concludes, is a combination of forward-thinking policies and personal discernment and spirituality. Thomas J. Massaro is currently professor of moral theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, and was recently appointed Dean of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.

Washington State Catholic Universities: Sustainability in the News

The Gonzaga Bulletin reports that the Spokane, Washington schools won an Outstanding Recyclers Award from the Washington State Recycling Association for 2011. Through the university’s Advisory Council on Stewardship and Sustainability, the school has cut down approximately 25 percent of its garbage through recycling, composting and reducing efforts.  The article also notes that an increase in efficient composting also contributed to GU earning the award.  “We’ve been composting for two years or so, mainly in resident dining,” Sarah Clifford, Sodexo’s unit marketing specialist, said. “When we first started [composting], we were only getting about half of a bin full of one compost bin, once a week. We now get a full bin that’s picked up twice a week.”  Learn more about the sustainability work happening at Gonzaga University and Seattle University.

Holy Family Catholic French Immersion School Wins Environmental Award 

Ron Thomson recently wrote in the Woodstock Sentinel-Review (Ontario, Canada) that area schools were challenged in March to do their part to help the environment and the schools stepped up to the challenge. The Woodstock Environmental Advisory Committee (WEAC) issued a challenge to each Woodstock school to partake in an Environmental Makeover Challenge, which saw each school submit a proposal of how it will reduce its ecological footprint.  The article reports Holy Family Catholic French Immersion School won the contest at the elementary level and College Avenue Secondary School won at the high school level. 

At Holy Family… a two-part plan was implemented. Part 1 was building The Holy Family Eco-Wall, which is displayed in the cafeteria. From there, the plan is to create a mini one in each of the classrooms…The wall shows examples of the proper way to recycle…Each Eco-Wall will consist of four bins — garbage, Good On One Side paper bin and plastic/metal and paper.   

The second part of Holy Family[‘s]… proposal was a composting video. A group of students took it upon themselves to assemble [the] video [and] bring attention to the school’s need for better composting. Statistics show 90% of all recyclable material is put into the garbage. In the end, the school aims to lower the percentage to about 30. Read the entire article here.

Advocacy Efforts

House Passage of Anti-Violence Act Sets Up Showdown With Senate  

On Thursday, May 17, the House of Representatives passed a bill reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) by a 222-205 vote. The House version of the bill contained some differences from the bill that had been previously passed by the Senate weeks earlier. But an expected conference committee to resolve the two bills was delayed due to disagreement over a procedural question. 

Later that day, the House cited a provision of congressional rulemaking that holds that all revenue bills must originate in the House, and refused to acknowledge the Senate’s language as it did not originally come from the House. The impact of this constitutional debate remains to be seen, but will shift the timeline backwards in the ongoing discussion over the legislation’s reauthorization. To see how your member voted, please click here.

Senate Votes Down Five Proposed Budgets 

On Thursday, May 17, the Senate took up five separate proposed budgets and voted each of them down in largely symbolic votes on Capitol Hill. While overall spending levels were agreed to in the Budget Control Act during last summer’s debt-limit crisis, House leadership has pushed for the Senate to introduce and pass a budget before the upcoming November elections. 

The Senate voted down the budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, which was passed by the House last week, on a vote of 41-58. The budget based on President Obama’s budget was voted down 0-99, and three other budget blueprints offered by individual senators were also voted down.

House Budget Committee Holds Hearing on Strengthening Safety Net 

On Tuesday, May 15, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security approved $150 million in appropriations for the Emergency Food & Shelter Program (EFSP). That figure is $30 million more than the $120 million approved by appropriators in the House of Representatives. 

The full Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to pass and approve the Subcommittee on Homeland Security’s recommendation when it votes on Tuesday, May 22. While previous funding levels for the program were as high as $200 million, $150 million would be a welcome step in light of the increased need for emergency assistance provided by EFSP.

Take Action on the Farm Bill 

Next week, Senators will be in their home states during the Memorial Day recess. We encourage you to take the opportunity to visit, call or write your Senators and urge them to support a Farm Bill that will provide a safety net for family farms, help feed hungry people here at home and abroad and promote stewardship of God’s creation. The Senate will vote soon on its version of 2012 Farm Bill and their decisions will impact the lives of hungry people at home and abroad.  Take Action Now:  (You will be able to send an email to your Senators.)  For more detailed information about the Farm Bill and next steps by Congress, we invite you to visit the website blog of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Also see: NCRLC websection on the 2012 Farm Bill.