Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates




Homily Suggestions and Bulletin Insert for September 2

September 2, 2012 is one of four Faithful Citizenship Sundays on which all parishes are encouraged to reflect on important themes. The theme of the September 2 homily suggestions (also available in Spanish) and bulletin insert (also available in Spanish) is “Conscience Formation”. In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship the bishops describe their role to “help Catholics form their consciences correctly, to provide guidance on the moral dimensions of public decisions, and to encourage the faithful to carry out their responsibilities in political life” (FCFC, no. 15). You may wish to use these materials along with the video by Bishop McManus and the Guide to Faithful Citizenship video on the same topic. 


Faithful Citizenship Audio Announcements

30-second and 60-second audio messages that explore the major themes of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship are now available at The messages invite listeners to visit this website for further learning about topics such as civility, conscience formation, human life and dignity, and more. You can share these audio messages with your local Catholic radio stations. Listen to the messages now.


Faithful Citizenship Webinar for Family Life Ministers (August 16, 2012)

How does Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship relate to everyday family life? In partnership with the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM), JPHD will offer a webinar on Families and Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship on August 16, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time. If there is a family life ministry contact in your diocese, please share this invitation with them. They can RSVP for the webinar here. 


Color the World with Justice CST Coloring Activity: Monthly Education Feature

 “Color the World with Justice” is a Catholic social teaching coloring book developed by a former CCHD intern in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The coloring book can help introduce youth to seven themes of Catholic social teaching through pictures and age-appropriate examples. The resource includes:
Activity Instructions and Answer Key, Seven themes overview, and Coloring pages. Consider sharing this and other activities that are featured on our “Resources and Tools” page with Catholic school teachers and religious educators.


Walking with the Two Feet of Love in Action Webinar (September 20, 2012)

The Two Feet of Love in Action model describes two distinct, but complementary, ways that we can put love in action: Social Justice and Charitable Works. Tune into the webinar on Sept. 20 at 2:00 p.m. EDT to learn how the model has been revised in the light of Pope Benedict XVI’s teachings on justice as foundational to social action; the common good; the integral importance of community and relationship; and the virtue of charity which enlivens and motivates our work.  Explore also how the Holy Father’s call for a New Evangelization sets a helpful framework for introducing this new model to your audiences.  RSVP here. 


Bulletin Inserts on Contraception and Sterilization

The bishops have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform to ensure access to life-affirming health care for all, but legislation is still needed to fix conscience protection, abortion funding, immigration problems. In order to better educate Catholics about Church teaching on love and sexuality, the USCCB offices for Pro-Life Activities, Evangelization and Catechesis and Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth have created a series of three bulletin inserts (English and Spanish) explaining the Church’s teaching on these topics. Follow the link and see the box on the right side of the page. Get the inserts here. 


Helping Catholics Respond to the Situation in Syria

Catholics around the world continue to be deeply concerned about the ongoing violence in Syria. A Special Report contains information on how Catholic Relief Services is helping those in need. This prayer and general intercessions can help us to pray that our brothers and sisters will find a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict.

Advocacy Efforts

Conscience Rights Protection Needed Now

On August 1, the HHS mandate requiring health care coverage of morally objectionable services went into effect for most employers. In an August 3 letter to Congress, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo stated that the time is overdue for Congress to pass corrective legislation. See: .

NCHLA has updated its Action Alert in support of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. Members of House and Senate are urged to support and work for the enactment of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act this year. See:

Contact Members during August Recess

Congress is scheduled to begin the August recess, and is slated to return September 10 after the conventions. When in their local states and districts, Members form judgments about what is important to constituents. Please make your voice heard. Decisions are being made now about what will happen during the remaining days of the current Congress.

  • Meetings: In addition to e-mails and phone calls recommended in the Action Alert, set up meetings with Members at their local offices. Such meetings are an effective tool for leaders to communicate their concern about the need to pass conscience protection legislation. Please do what you can to arrange meetings of this kind.
  • Attendance at Public Appearances: Urge pro-life people to attend town meetings and other public events at which Members make appearances. These venues are ways for all constituents to communicate their concerns directly to Members.
  • Participation in Public Debate: Letters-to-the-editor in local papers and participation in radio or TV call-in shows can serve to publicly demonstrate within the community support for conscience legislation.

Congress Heads into August Recess Under Shadow of Sequester

The House and Senate headed to their traditional August recess with less than 100 days until Election Day, setting the stage for a potentially action-filled lame duck session. One of the biggest issues still to be resolved is the “sequester,” a series of automatic budget cuts totaling $1.2 trillion that were agreed to as part of the debt-limit deal reached last August. A report released last week by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA, illustrated the potential impact of the across-the-board cuts scheduled to take place at the end of this year. The report bases its findings on the estimate, provided by the Congressional Budget Office, that the sequester would inflict a 7.8 percent cut in non-defense discretionary programs. A chart with highlights from the report can be found here [pdf].

House Votes to Approve Drought Relief Package

On Thursday, the House approved a bill providing aid to farmers affected by the worst drought in decades. The $383 million package passed 223-197, and is meant to aid livestock producers whose cattle and sheep are being severely affected by the extreme weather.

The passage of the drought aid bill caused House leadership to pull the planned vote on a one-year extension of the farm bill from the House floor. The House remains at an impasse over reauthorization the full five-year farm bill; the Senate passed its version of that legislation on June 21.

The chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, indicated late on Thursday that her chamber would not take up the drought relief package passed by the House, instead calling on the House to pass the version of the farm bill passed by the Senate.

The Department of Agriculture released numbers on Wednesday which indicated that more than half the counties in the United States have been designated disaster areas in 2012, mostly because of the record drought. To read the full text of the drought relief bill passed by the House, please click here.

USDA Announces New Latino Food Insecurity Resource

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the following initiative aimed at reducing food insecurity in the Latino community:

“The USDA’s Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is happy to announce that the webcast for the La Mesa Completa Toolkit  in Spanish is now available via YouTube.

“La Mesa Completa is USDA’s initiative to reduce hunger in the Latino community by improving access and increasing participation of eligible Latinos to our federal nutrition assistance programs. The toolkit is a .PDF file written in Spanish that navigates like a website with helpful links, best practices, stories, and even videos of personal testimonies to help connect your community with USDA’s resources. Other useful resources, available in English and Spanish, can be found on the La Mesa Completa/Latino Outreach Website

“Latinos are the hungriest and fastest growing demographic in the country. The USDA Center recognizes the unique role that faith-based organizations have in reaching out to this population, particularly in a time of need. As conveners and trusted partners in addressing many of the Latino community’s pressing needs, we rely on your commitment to help and ask you to pass along this information to others in your networks.

“It is our firm belief that together we can join forces to ensure that more people have access to the information and resources they need to reduce hunger and increase access to nutritious food.”

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on HUD Rental Housing Assistance

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hosted a hearing on HUD’s rental housing assistance program. The panelists at the hearing expressed a desire to see rental assistance programs, such as the Moving to Work program, expanded to serve more clients in broader geographic regions.

The witness panel was comprised of: Keith Kinard, Executive Director, Newark Housing Authority; Dianne Hovdestad, Deputy Director, Sioux Falls Housing and Redevelopment Commission; Howard Husock, Vice President for Policy Research, Manhattan Institute; Will Fischer, Senior Policy Analyst, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; and Linda Couch, Senior Vice President for Policy and Research, National Low Income Housing Coalition. They highlighted the need to streamline housing programs for greater efficiency and a sustained focus on helping clients move from rental assistance to self-sufficiency.

To read the full testimonies or get more information about this hearing, visit the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs website.