Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

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Religious Liberty Supports to Text ‘Freedom’ or ‘Libertad’

The U.S. bishops launched a text messaging campaign June 21 to provide a new way for people to join the national campaign for religious freedom. Catholics and supporters of religious freedom from all other faiths around the nation now can send the text message “Freedom” to 377377 to join the movement. Texters can then receive information regularly on how to help protect religious freedom worldwide.

“Across America, our right to live out our faith is being threatened – from Washington’s forcing Catholic institutions to provide services that contradict their beliefs, to state governments’ prohibiting religious charities from serving the most vulnerable,” said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. “We encourage all supporters around the country to text the simple, meaningful word ‘Freedom’ (for English) or ‘Libertad’ (for Spanish) to 377377 to join the movement.”

The U.S. bishops have issued a call to action to defend religious liberty and urged laity to work to protect the First Freedom of the Bill of Rights. In one major initiative, the Fortnight for Freedom, from June 21 to Independence Day, July 4, dioceses and parishes will commemorate this special two-week period of prayer, study and public action to emphasize both the Christian and American heritage of liberty.

The U.S. bishops plan to communicate with supporters by SMS (short message service) about twice a month. Standard text message and data rates may apply. Reply STOP to opt-out. Reply HELP or contact FREEDOM@USCCB.ORG for help. Bulletin inserts about the texting campaign can be found at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/upload/fortnight-for-freedom-bulletin-insert.pdf (English) or http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/upload/fortnight-for-freedom-bulletin-insert-spanish.pdf (Spanish). Visit www.Fortnight4Freedom.org for more details.

 

Catholic Relief Service: The Million Meals Challenge Orlando

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States, touching millions of lives overseas.  The Diocese of Orlando has been selected to participate in a new CRS volunteer program addressing world hunger entitled, ‘Million Meal Campaign.’ CRS has always depended on the generosity of Catholics in dioceses across the U.S. to donate funds to their network of onsite partners in more than 100 countries, providing food, services and educational opportunities to those who have none. 

This November 18, Catholic Relief Services is partnering with a local meal packing agency, Stop Hunger Now, to generate a million meals packed by people in Central Florida to be shipped to Burkina Faso, one of the poorest nations in Africa. The staff of the Office of Advocacy and Justice is working with CRS representatives to coordinate local participation.

The event will be held at Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando and will include an educational component regarding a goal of CRS to help Catholics in the U.S. connect with people of other lands who need our prayers and our assistance and the hopeful impact of this specific effort.  Families, schools, parishes and individuals are invited to participate.

You may learn more about this event from the attached flyer or by visiting https://helpinghands.crs.org/.    If you have any questions, please contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice at 407-246-4819 or advocacyjustice@orlandodiocese.org

Save the Date! Faithful Citizenship Presentation on September 24, 2012

A Faithful Citizenship Presentation will be held at Annunciation Catholic Church on  September 24, 2012. A presentation for clergy will be from 4pm-6pm. The presentation for the public is from 7pm-9pm.

This election year all Catholics have an opportunity to be Faithful Citizens. And this year it is more important than ever! On September 24 come learn:

  • How to inform you conscience
  • What are the threats to our religious freedom
  • Why the Church supports Amendment 6 and 8
  • What is the Catholic’s role in political participation

Speakers will be:

  • Bishop John Noonan of the Diocese of Orlando will speak on Forming Your Consciences in an election year
  • Kathy Saile, Director of Domestic Policy at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will speak on Political Responsibility & Protecting Human Life
  • Michael Sheedy, Associate Director for Health at the Florida Catholic Conference will speak on State Voter Education and Amendment 6 and 8.

Register to attend by emailing:  advocacyjustice@orlandodiocese.org

Interactive Map of the Sahel Region

The World Food Programme has an excellent interactive map of the countries affected by the current Sahel food crisis.  Click on the image below to go to the interactive map, which is a good compliment to OCHA’s Snapshot of the Sahel Crisis.

 

Advocacy Efforts

Farm Bill

If you haven’t made your voice heard yet, call your Senators now! Urge them to support a Farm Bill that feeds the hungry, preserves creation, supports small family farmers and helps rural America thrive. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or visit www.senate.gov to find direct contact information.

ACTION: Contact your Senators and urge them to support a fair Farm Bill. The Senate will also be debating amendments to the Farm Bill. The Senate has agreed to debate over 70 amendments. Some of these amendments will make devastating cuts to programs that help poor and vulnerable people while others will restore proposed cuts to these programs.

Urge your Senators to oppose cuts to critical programs such as SNAP (food stamps) and conservation programs that help people and communities in need. Tell them to support amendments that restore cuts to SNAP (food stamps), support targeted assistance for crop insurance to small and medium sized farms, promote growth in U.S. rural communities, adequately fund international food assistance and development programs, and encourage stewardship of creation.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in partnership with Catholic Relief Services and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, support important provisions in the 2012 Farm Bill and urge the Senate to support amendments that:

  • Support domestic hunger and nutrition programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps) and oppose harmful cuts or changes to these programs that will harm hungry and vulnerable people;
  • Maintain funding for the Food for Peace Food Aid program to combat chronic hunger and provide nutritious foods to poor and malnourished families overseas;
  • Preserve funding for overseas anti-hunger programs that provide resiliency in the face of emergencies and are funded through the Food for Peace development “safe box”;
  • Fully fund important conservation programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) that promote stewardship of God’s creation;
  • Preserve funding for rural development programs such as Value-Added Producer Grants, the Rural Micro-Entrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) and other programs that helps rural communities thrive;
  • Redirect subsidies for crop insurance to small and medium-sized farmers that truly need assistance.

CURRENT SITUATION: The Senate plans to debate and to begin votes on its version of the Farm Bill this afternoon (Tuesday)! The Senate plan will reduce agriculture funding over 10 years by $23 billion. This includes over $4 billion in proposed cuts to the food stamp (SNAP) program and over $6 billion in cuts to conservation programs. At a time of continued unemployment and high levels of poverty, we pray the Senate oppose cuts to effective anti-hunger programs that help people live in dignity.

The bishops acknowledge that reducing future unsustainable deficits is important but remind Congress that their decisions are not just economic in nature but are “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.

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.

Resources

Word of Life Intercessions and Bulletin Briefs for July

This USCCB resource contains Intercessions and Bulletin Briefs for every Sunday Mass during the year. You may find items for July in English and Spanish:   http://usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/resources-for-the-eucharist/word-of-life/. Please forward this information to your parish liturgy coordinator as well as the person designated to create the bulletin.