Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates




Florida Bishops Sponsored Respect Life Conference – October 12-13

The Annual Respect Life Conference is a statewide event sponsored by the Florida Catholic Conference and Florida’s Diocesan Respect Life Directors. With an outstanding lineup of Pro-Life speakers, this year’s conference is sure to invigorate the Respect Life movement, motivate and inspire new leaders and prepare the faithful for challenges that lie ahead.  There is also a separate FREE Youth Track for high-school students from 2 – 5 PM, October 13, 2012.  For more details and to register, please click here


Stay of Execution

Governor Rick Scott has placed John Ferguson’s execution, formerly scheduled for October 16, on hold. The Governor has convened a panel of three doctors to determine whether Mr. Ferguson is sane and aware of why he is scheduled to be executed.

If the panel determines that Mr. Johnson is sane the execution will go ahead as planned on October 16th. If however he is found insane, the Governor has requested that he be transferred to a mental health institution until he is sane and the execution can be rescheduled.

Please pray for Mr. Ferguson, his family and also the victims and their families, and for Governor Scott. As Catholics we must defend human life from conception to natural death, please pray that our state and federal governments recognize the dignity of all human life.


Respect Life Sunday, October 7 – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Respect Life Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday in October, as designated by the U.S. Bishops. This year’s theme is: “Faith Opens Our Eyes to Human Life In All Its Grandeur and Beauty”.  Every parish will receive a USCCB packet with liturgical ideas and educational resources on timely social issues, including: Religious Liberty, Conscience Protection in Healthcare, assisted suicide, Marriage, Pornography, Contraceptives. This year’s liturgy guide offers Intercessions for Life, suggested preaching reflections for Respect Life Sunday and January 22, a Mass for Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life as well as a Prayer Service for Forgiveness and Healing.

Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program brings Church teaching on the value and dignity of human life to the Catholic community and the wider public. The program combines education, prayer, service and advocacy.  Respect Life Sunday is observed in virtually all of the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States. All resources will be available in English and Spanish and may be ordered or downloaded from:

If your parish or school needs resources or assistance in planning an event or educational opportunity to celebrate the sacredness of human life during October, call the Office of Advocacy and Justice, 407-246-4819.


CRS Million Meal Challenge Orlando – November 18

Do you have a heart for mission and service but aren’t quite sure what to do?  Do you have limited time and resources and want to go somewhere to help?  On November 18th at Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel during the hours of 9-12, 12-3, and 3-6 we are BRINGING THE MISSION TO YOU!  The Orlando Million Meal Challenge. Sponsored by Catholic Relief Services, Stop Hunger Now in collaboration with educational partner the Diocese of Orlando and Catholic Charities will be both:  highlighting issues of local poverty and packaging ONE MILLION MEALS for the third poorest country in the world, Burkina Faso.  This all age, family friendly day will fulfill your desire to answer our baptismal call to take care of the poor.  Please sign up online at – sign up as parish teams, families or individuals.  The event is free.  Pre-educational talks/workshops are available to all groups and are presented by the Diocese/Catholic Charities.  Please email the Office of Advocacy and Justice: or call 407-246-4822 for more information.


Farmworkers call for Fair Food Agreement with Chipotle

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has an urgent request. This week is a particularly pivotal moment in their long-running campaign to urge Chipotle Mexican Grill to sign a fair food agreement with farmworkers. CIW is asking people of faith and other social justice advocates to participate in a national day of prayer this Friday, Oct. 5. We pray that Chipotle would include farmworkers in its vision of food with integrity and join the Fair Food Program.

Chipotle is holding a major “Cultivate” festival in Denver this Saturday, Oct. 6, where they will celebrate a vision of sustainability, but one that bypasses dignified worker treatment. CIW and supporters will be present outside the Cultivate Festival, engaging with Denver-based supporters in peaceful prayer, procession and vigil.


Celebrating St. Francis

This is always a special time for the Coalition: we’ve built a whole campaign around the saint’s love of creation and love of poor people.  But beyond the backyard St. Francis birdbath statue, what else could be said of the patron saint of those who promote ecology, as designated by Pope John Paul II?  We do know that an entire theological and philosophical school of thought was begun by St. Francis, himself a fairly uneducated man.  Most notably is John Duns Scotus’ work on haecceity or “thisness.”

Scotus needed a term that described the uniqueness of every individual thing that exists.  “Thisness” is a principle of individuation where each being is unique and unrepeatable and created that way by a loving God.  It’s the “thing” that makes me, me and you, you and my dog Stretch, Stretch.  Scotus intuited this through the early stories of St. Francis especially the ones that describe Francis as totally immersed in the beauty of what was in front of him: a cricket, a wolf, a leper.  Francis saw the Incarnation, the spark and likeness of God, in every person and every thing he encountered.  I often wonder how the world would change if each of us approached creation with that same sense of awe and affection. 


20,000 Catholics to Learn of Current Climate Impacts

More than 21,000 Catholics in 42 states and the District of Columbia will celebrate the Feast of St. Francis on October 4 by participating in a film screening of Sun Come Up, a documentary about climate refugees from the Carteret Islands.  Through the film and by engaging in discussion, participants in hundreds of Catholic colleges and universities, parishes, high school religion classes and youth groups will gain a deeper appreciation of how climate change is impacting people of the Carteret Islands (near Papua New Guinea) and how the Catholic community is responding.  The Coalition is providing numerous resources to parishes, schools, and colleges to help them act, in faith, to the problem of global climate change including taking the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor.  (Participation is not limited to the Feast of Saint Francis. Find out more here.)


Candidates’ Environmental Positions

A recent Catholic News Service Brief says that the environmental positions of Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama “leave something to be desired” for many Catholics.  The article quotes Dan Misleh, Executive Director of the Coalition, who says, Like many issues of concern to the Catholic community, neither President (Barack) Obama nor Governor (Mitt) Romney seem to give climate change or environmental justice the serious attention these issues deserve. 

Despite what many see as inadequate attention to climate change and environmental concerns, Walt Grazer, a consultant to the National Religious Partnership for the Environment and former director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Environmental Justice Program, commends the U.S. bishops for their continued concern for the environment.  Grazer affirms that the bishops call it a moral issue, protecting the earth and the environment.  This is also clear in the bishops’ election-year resource Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.  It says: We have a moral obligation to protect the planet on which we live – to respect God’s creation and to ensure a safe and hospitable environment for human beings, especially children at their most vulnerable stages of development.


Xavier University

Xavier University, a Jesuit university in Cincinnati, OH, was recently the feature of a two-part series on creation care in Catholic higher education.  The article describes how Xavier has worked to integrate creation care into all aspects of the University and that every student participates in experiential learning components related to sustainability before they graduate.  Additionally, the article describes how creation care is woven into the curriculum through courses from history to theology. 

The article notes that in 2008 the university’s president, Jesuit Fr. Michael J. Graham, signed the school’s name to The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment to become climate-neutral.  Since then, the University has further integrated sustainability into the areas of construction, food services and residential life.


Aging Resources

Florida Department of Elder Affairs “Elder Update”

The September/October edition is available.  Click here to view. 

Medicare Open Enrollment starts October 15, 2012

Beginning October 1st, seniors should begin receiving the 2013 “Medicare & You” handbook in the mail. Open enrollment runs from October 15th to December 12th with benefit changes take effect January 1st.. To learn more about your options, call the Elder Helpline by dialing “2-1-1” or click here to see where and when Shine volunteers will be in the community. Other information can be found at these Federal websites: and

Older Americans 2012

This 2012 guide covers the key indicators of well-being and is divided into five subject areas: population, economics, health status, health risks and behaviors, and health care. Click here to view the report