Office of Advocacy & Justice Updates

 

This year’s Respect Life Sunday theme: Open Your Hearts to Life, reminds us that life is all about sharing God’s love with one another. Every person, from the tiniest embryo to the ailing and elderly, is created in God’s image and worthy of our love and respect.

Detail-Baby-Jesus

Enkindling Deeper Faith

Respect Life Sunday, October 6th

This year’s Respect Life Sunday theme: Open Your Hearts to Life, reminds us that life is all about sharing God’s love with one another. Every person, from the tiniest embryo to the ailing and elderly, is created in God’s image and worthy of our love and respect.  Every parish has received a USCCB packet with liturgical ideas and educational resources in English and Spanish that may be downloaded, see: http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/respect-life-program/.  

Forming Leaders in Christ

Scheduled Execution Prayer and Action Alert Update

On September 10, Marshall Gore, is scheduled to be executed at Florida State Prison, in Starke, Florida. Your parish is encouraged to continue to pray for Mr. Gore, his victims, his family, the victims’ family; for all the public officials involved in this scheduled execution; for Governor Scott, that he will discern God’s will and apply the teachings of our Catholic faith on the death penalty. Please contact Governor Scott to voice your concern. Parishes are encouraged to participate in prayer services at the parish or to attend a prayer service at the execution site in Starke. A bus will be leaving from the parking lot of Our Lady of Lourdes 201 University Blvd, Daytona Beach, 32118, at 2:30pm. A prayer service will be held at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Mt. Dora at 3 pm. For more information on the prayer service, contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice, advocacyjustice@orlandodiocese.org or 407-246-4819.

Death Penalty

Thanks to your advocacy, along with the U.S. Catholic bishops, the Maryland Catholic Conference and the Catholic Mobilizing Network, Governor Martin O’Malley signed legislation in May ending the death penalty in Maryland. Bishop Stephen Blaire, Chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development celebrated the victory: “Americans are beginning to realize that we can do better than the death penalty both to punish crime and keep our society safe. We welcome the decision by the Maryland legislature and Governor O’Malley to abolish the use of the death penalty in Maryland. This is a courageous step toward a culture of life.” With your continued advocacy the tide is changing. Thank you advocates!

Don’t Miss the 2013 Florida Respect Life Conference! (Oct. 18-19) (Brochure)

Every year a different Florida diocese hosts the Florida Respect Life Conference to spread awareness of pro-life issues and bring pro-life advocates together from all over the state. This year the Diocese of Palm Beach will be hosting the 2013 Florida Respect Life Conference and the theme is “I Give my Heart to Jesus”. We will be hearing from a diverse group of speakers that will discuss life topics from abortion to the death penalty. Please the brochure for more information. To register please call 561-360-3330 or online at http://www.diocesepb.org/rlconf.  

 

Advocacy Efforts

Protect Rights of Conscience and Religious Liberty

The Obama Administration’s contraceptive/abortifacient/sterilization mandate will begin to be enforced against nonprofit religious schools, charities and health care providers on January 1, 2014. NCHLA has updated its Action Alert on the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. The Alert was distributed at the Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference held in Boston August 3-6 and can be found online at: nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=292. 

Still Time for Postcards

With the latest enforcement deadline pushed to January 1, dioceses are encouraged to continue to promote participation in the Project Life and Liberty postcard campaign. Dioceses that have not yet undertaken the campaign still have time to do so, and others may find it useful to follow-up with their parishes by again urging them to order postcards or to conduct additional signing events. Both postcard strips and educational fliers are available in English and Spanish. A helpful parish instructions booklet also is available. Orders can be placed online at: nchla.org/issues.asp?ID=55.

So far nearly 3.5 million postcard sets–more than 10.4 million individual postcards–have been ordered or printed in the field. Thanks for all you do in support of life! 

Start a Rural Life Group, or Plan a Rural Life Day

We know many parishes and some dioceses have Catholic Rural Life groups and hold annual Rural Life Days. For instance, the Diocese of Des Moines is holding their annual Rural Life Mass on August 25 as a way to honor and celebrate rural family life. This special Mass will take place on the farm of Robert and Jo Mulvihill in Cumming, Iowa.

The Diocese of La Crosse also holds an annual Rural Life Day. Our readers may be interested in reading the very well reported story in the diocesan newspaper Catholic Times from last year’s event held in September.  This may inspire you to plan a Rural Life Day in your own parish or diocese.

For more about Creating a Rural Life Group, click here.

Start Planning Now: Food Day, October 24

Food Day, held every year in late October, describes itself as “a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food.” Many of the ideas they promote fit well with our Ethics of Eating principles, so we thought their website and resources might prove healthful for our network members.

At the Food Day website, you will see a listing of events happening in various parts of the country. Plan to participate if you can, or perhaps be inspired to organize your own local event. The website provides helpful information on how to become informed and involved in sustainable food practices.

By the way, World Food Day is another annual occasion, but this one calls us to solve the problem of hunger around the world. World Food Day is October 16, the founding date of the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization in 1945. This year’s focus in on sustainable systems for food security and nutrition.

NCRLC has developed a faith-based study guide on poverty and hunger. To learn more and download a copy, see the Food and Justice web section.

CongressReminder: Send Message to Congress

Although there are many important issues in our nation to face, we encourage you to take action on behalf of the least of us. In true Christian spirit, take action to ensure that food assistance programs for low-income families are protected, that bipartisan immigration reform passes, and that Congress supports a budget that protects poor and vulnerable people.

 Send an electronic message to your elected officials. The staff of the Office of Advocacy and Justice are currently working on setting up appointments with legislators and their staff to advocate on immigration reform and other issues. If you are interested in participating please call us at 407-246-4819 or email us at advocacyjustice@orlandodiocese.org.

 

From our friends at the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development: What your advocacy has accomplished!

 

 

Circle of Protection

Because of your advocacy, the spending bills and budget deals agreed to by Congress and the Administration over the last two years have maintained a circle of protection around programs that help poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad. However, on March 1, 2013 the sequester (a mandatory across the board cuts to most federal programs) went into effect because Congress and the Administration were unable to reach an alternative agreement on federal spending and deficit reduction. During the August recess, please continue to tell your Members of Congress that the budget for FY 2014 should replace the sequester with fair and just spending and revenues that reweaves a circle of protection around those programs that provide vital services to poor and hungry people at home and abroad. Learn more.

 

Palestinian Assistance/Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

You’ve done it again just as you did last year! At the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in February, participants advocated for the release of $500 million in funding for Palestinians so that critical humanitarian, economic and institution building needs could be met. Your voice helped make a difference. In March, this aid was released to the Palestinians.   With attention refocused on a restart of talks between Israelis and Palestinians, steps such as these can help bolster negotiations for a two-state solution to the longstanding conflict, a secure and recognized Israel living in peace with a viable and independent Palestinian state. This is something the USCCB and CRS have long supported and thanks to your advocacy our nation is taking the lead in restarting negotiations. 

 

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Conflict Minerals

Thanks to your continued advocacy and concern about conflict minerals, the State Department has appointed and empowered a Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region that includes the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.   The Special Envoy, former Senator Russell Feingold, is an international affairs expert who worked with CRS and USCCB to help craft the Congo Conflict Minerals Act.  This law requires companies using such conflict minerals to abide by regulations issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to trace their sources to avoid financing militias who abuse and terrorize local populations to extract these minerals. Your continued advocacy helped preserve the efficacy of newly issued SEC regulations in the face of a challenge in court by companies. This decision and the appointment of the Special Envoy will help ensure that companies continue to comply and make it more possible for the citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to avoid the ravages of war. 

 

HIV/AIDs and Poverty-Focused Assistance

You helped insure that those with HIV/AIDS are treated and that mothers have access to medication to prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS to their babies. Your advocacy has meant critical health, nutrition, development assistance and emergency programs remain funded despite pressures in this budget-cutting environment. Despite the House of Representatives proposing cuts of 19% in FY 2014 foreign assistance overall, most of the funding for USCCB/CRS’s priority programs such as mother and child health, development assistance, disaster assistance and aid to refugees and migrants, has been preserved. The President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, which celebrated its 10 year anniversary this year, has saved 1 million babies from becoming infected.  

 

You can find out if your Congresspersons co-sponsored particular legislation — and how they voted — at www.congress.gov

Take Action! Continue to Advocate on These and Other Issues!

Your legislators are currently on recess through September 6, 2013. During the recess, make a visit to their local office or participate in a town hall meeting to encourage them to act to support life and dignity.

Join our Action Network, and we’ll send you updates on how you can regularly speak out on important issues that impact human life and dignity.

 

2013 FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS

Start Planning Now!

Join tens of thousands of other Catholics who will learn about the dramatic evidence of climate change and explore Catholic teaching on climate change. This year’s Feast of St. Francis program is: Melting Ice, Mending Creation: a Catholic Approach to Climate Change.  It’s not too early to be looking ahead to your celebration of the Feast of St. Francis.

This year our Feast of St. Francis program (about 90 mins. in Parish, College, and High School/Youth Education Kits*) will highlight the Pontifical Academy of Science’s Working Group (PAS) statement, Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene, combined with viewing a “TED” talk by James Balog, the science photographer behind the documentary film Chasing Ice, who documented some of the most vivid evidence yet of climate change through time-lapse photography of receding glaciers around the world.  

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St Francis Assisi Prayer Card

View the PRESS RELEASE about this year’s Feast of St. Francis program.

*Education Kits will be available online by Sept. 1.