Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

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For a Justice that Restores and Redeems

A Statement on the Death Penalty from Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles
The work of “restorative justice” is vital to the Church’s mission of creating a city of love and truth and a culture of peace and reconciliation. It’s not easy to love those who commit violence and other crimes. But Jesus calls us to love our enemies. That includes those who make themselves our enemies by threatening our safety and the decency and common good of our society.  So as we pray for one another this week, let’s ask for the grace to remember that those who break our laws are still children of God. Read the full statement: English | Spanish

 

Reflections on Abolishing the Death Penalty

by Andrew Rivas, Director of the Office of the Vicar for Clergy, Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Since 1980 the Roman Catholic Bishops of the United States have called for an end to the use of the death penalty in our country. Because of their loving and persistent pastoral guidance on this important life issue, states such as New York, New Jersey, New Mexico and Illinois have abolished its practice. In April 2012, Connecticut abolished its practice for any future crimes, bringing the total to 17 states that have removed capital punishment from local statutes. Other states such as Nebraska, Kansas and California are poised to take the final step away from fighting violence with violence. Our Bishops understand that such a social strategy does not achieve a common good, nor does it allow us to foster a respect of life that moves beyond vengeance. Read the entire article in English or Spanish

 

Global Warming on the Minds of Undecided Voters

A joint Yale University/George Mason University (GMU) survey found that most undecided voters want more action from President Obama and Congress to fight global warming. A substantial percentage say the topic will influence their ballot for president.

Sixty-four percent of undecided voters believe Obama should be doing more to address climate change, and 72 percent say Congress should be doing more. Read more at The Hill blog.

This is a good reminder for those who haven’t taken the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor to do so by joining the Catholic Climate Covenant. The St. Francis Pledge is a promise and a commitment by Catholic individuals, families, parishes, organizations and institutions to live our faith by protecting God’s Creation and advocating on behalf of people in poverty who face the harshest impacts of global climate change.

 

One Week Until the Feast of St. Francis

The Church will commemorate the Feast of St. Francis on October 4.  As many of you did last year, we hope you will take advantage of the variety of helpful tools and programs found on our resources web page, including bulletin inserts, prayer cards, worship aids, posters and a Planning Guide for Parishes and Schools to Take the St. Francis Pledge.

For those celebrating the Feast Day by participating in our national screening of Sun Come Up, http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/resources/sun-come-up-screening/ you can download one of three versions of the Education Kit with Discussion Guide (College, Parish and Youth) and the“Carteret Island Tulele Peisa Update” PowerPoint show

 

Holy Cross Seminary at Notre Dame Joins Green Seminary Initiative

The University of Notre Dame has announced that Moreau Seminary recently joined the Green Seminary Initiative, an organization that promotes efforts by theological schools and seminaries to incorporate care for God’s creation into the identity and mission of the institution.  According to the Congregation of Holy Cross website, Moreau Seminary serves as the major seminary for the Congregation in the United States. Seminarians live at Moreau and take their courses at the University of Notre Dame.

David Halm, a seminarian who is directing Moreau’s sustainability efforts, reflects on how [i]f we really consider it, a commitment to sustainability is the natural response to God’s love shown in creation. These blessings are many and like any treasure we want to protect and properly use them.

Beth Norcross, Interim Director of the Green Seminary Initiative, explains that GSI is dedicated to building a nationwide coalition of theological schools that engage faculty, staff, and students in infusing care of the earth into all aspects of theological education.  Specifically, the initiative encourages the education of seminarians and the ‘greening’ of seminaries in five broad areas: Education, Worship, Buildings and Grounds, Community Life, and Public Ministry.

 

Sisters Build Peace through Justice and Care of Creation

Independent Catholic News reports that Nearly 40 Sisters of St Joseph of Peace (CSJP) and associates have gathered in London this week from the United States, Haiti, El Salvador and Britain to explore their mission of Peace and Care for Creation. The article notes that ‘Peace and God’s Earth’ was the title of a talk given by eco-theologian Edward Echlin, where he lamented that “it is quite clear that humans are destroying the Earth and the future”. He suggested that a “commitment to economic growth” by politicians and economists is part of the problem and urged Christians to revisit the issue of simpler lifestyles and self-sufficiency, to move away from an oil-based lifestyle, and undertake food gardening, supporting local environmental initiatives such as farmers’ markets.

Also speaking was Ellen Teague.  Her theme, The Catholic Social Justice Programme and Peacemaking Action’, focus[ed] more on advocacy, and the building of peace through social and environmental justice. She showed photos of Church initiatives making links between issues – such as Climate Change, Desertification and Conflict – and stressed that action usually emerged from the pastoral cycle process of Experience – Social Analysis – Theological Reflection – Action.

 

The Church and the Ethics of Climate Change

In a thoughtful article titled, The Church and the Ethics of Climate Change, Clive Hamilton recognizes that the question of what to do about climate change is fundamentally a moral one. In light of this, he addresses: Who is responsible for the problem? Who will be most harmed? What are our obligations to future generations? Who should take the lead in cutting emissions?

Hamilton draws on Catholic tradition to answer these questions, and notes that Pope Benedict XVI too has been harshly critical of those who refuse to accept the need to take measures to protect the climate, singling out “the negligence or refusal of many … to exercise responsible stewardship over the environment.” Urging international cooperation to respond to human-induced climate change, he wrote that he shares “the growing concern caused by economic and political resistance to combating the degradation of the environment.” 

 

Lewis University Engages in Creation Care

The creation care efforts of Lewis University, a De La Salle Christian Brothers school in Romeoville, IL, have been featured in a recent article. The article notes that at Lewis, sustainability practices are incorporated into campus buildings, grounds keeping, science majors, daily campus living, extracurricular activities, spirituality and theology. 

Clearly and consistently communicating how creation care is animated and inspired by Catholic mission is a point that Brother James Gaffney, FSC, President of Lewis, sees as a top priority. Brother Gaffney says: We want to create a beautiful campus which connects us to all of God’s creation. With beauty comes truth and goodness.  Additionally, the article describes how campus ministry has worked to foster Catholic mission-based sustainability: Each spring, campus ministry organizes eco-immersion trips to “Rooted in Hope,” the Racine, Wis., Dominican Sisters’ Eco-Justice Center.

The creation care work of Brother Gaffney at Lewis University reflects his larger commitment to Catholic mission-based sustainability through his concurrent role as President of the Lasallian Association of College and University Presidents (LACUP).  Last year under Brother Gaffney’s leadership, LACUP partnered with the Coalition and six other national Catholic organizations in higher education to co-sponsor the publication of Sustainability and Catholic Higher Education: A Toolkit for Mission Integration. Since the publication of the Toolkit, thirteen Catholic colleges and universities have become Catholic Climate Covenant Partners by institutionally endorsing the St. Francis Pledge.

 

Advocacy Efforts

Congress Reaches Continuing Resolution Accord before Recess

The Senate joined the House in passing a “clean” continuing resolution.

The bill, which is expected to be signed into law by President Obama, extends spending authority for six months – past the “fiscal cliff” scheduled for January 1 – and largely maintains overall spending at a total of $1.047 trillion, the same amount agreed to last summer during the debt-limit negotiations. The bill, which passed by a vote of 62-30 early Saturday morning, sets a mechanical formula that automatically increases most non-emergency spending by 0.612 percent, or about $8 billion.

The House and Senate are not expected to come back into session before election day, but depending on the outcome of November’s elections, could come back for an action-packed lame-duck session.

No Movement on Farm Bill before Deadline

Congress left town for campaign season late Friday night, meaning all chance of passing a farm bill re-authorization before its expiration on September 30 left as well.

Although the House Committee on Agriculture passed a version of the farm bill weeks ago, the bill has remained in limbo due to uncertainty over the level of support among House leadership. The chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Frank Lucas (R-OK,) urged his colleagues to pass the farm bill before recess, but leadership indicated they did not think there was broad enough consensus around their version of the bill. The Senate passed its version of the farm bill in June.

Theoretically, without an extension of the current 2008 law, the federal price supports for farmers would revert to the 1949 level. However, the administration is expected to ignore that law and current continue farm policies while negotiations are ongoing. It is expected that the makeup of the Congress following the November elections will have a large impact on the bill’s future. Possibilities for reauthorization range from a short, one-year extension of the current law to a large-scale, five-year overhaul of the bill, which includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Resources

Mental Illness Awareness Week – October 7-13, 2012
The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Resources for the day and week can be found in the resource manual “Welcomed and Valued” available on the NCPD website (click here).