Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Stopping Christian Genocide

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is asking all people to support a petition to stop genocide in the Middle East and convince the U.S. Department of State to include Christians in any formal declaration of genocide.

The call to action was issued days before the U.S. Department of State is expected to make a decision on the issue, and as a congressional resolution gains support in Congress.

"For months, the Catholic Church has been a voice for Christians and other religious minorities facing the evil of deadly persecution," Archbishop Kurtz said. "Please, make sure your name is added to the witness. The very future of the ancient Christian presence in the Middle East is at stake."

The petition is available here.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Meddling in politics?

More than two years ago, the Italian newspaper La Stampa reported on a talk Pope Francis gave about politics. According to the paper:
The Pope pointed out that there is a tendency to only speak ill of leaders, and to mutter about "things that don’t go well." "You listen to the television and they’re beating [them] up, beating [them] up; you read the papers and their beating [them] up. . . ." He continued, "Yes, maybe the leader is a sinner, as David was, but I have to work with my opinions, with my words, even with my corrections" because we all have to participate for the common good. It is not true that Catholics should not meddle in politics: "‘A good Catholic doesn’t meddle in politics.’ That’s not true. That is not a good path. A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern. But what is the best that we can offer to those who govern?".
You can find the answer to that question here.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

World Day of Peace resources

On January 1, we celebrate the 2016 World Day of Peace. The theme of Pope Francis' message is "Overcome Indifference and Win Peace."  The Holy Father urges us to replace isolation with community, and indifference with solidarity. He challenges families, schools, and other institutions to foster awareness and avenues for response to problems such as intolerance, religious persecution, slavery, war, and the plight of refugees.  

Parishes might want to share this two-page handout now (also en Español) and encourage parishioners to celebrate the World Day of Peace with Pope Francis. 

For a link to the Pope’s message and additional resources, go here

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bulletin insert for the Year of Mercy

The Jubilee Year of Mercy is December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016.  The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has prepared a two-page handout that offers a brief reflection on the Year, as well as ideas for prayer and action. It makes an excellent insert for your church bulletin. You can read it here.

Among the topics it addresses:
 - Jesus is the “face” of the Father’s mercy
 - Mercy is “the beating heart of the Gospel”
 - Mercy “demands justice”
 - Ideas for Living Mercy during the Jubilee Year.

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Thursday, October 01, 2015

Syrian Refugee Crisis

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany has a website devoted to providing information about the Syrian refugees and the European migrant crisis. They explain that the situation is not new.

For more than four years, Catholic Relief Services and its local partners have been working to assist more than 600,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and northern Iraq. They are also working in the transit countries of Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Albania, where resources to help the migrants are limited. In response to the Holy Father’s call to help resettle migrants in Europe, we are working with Caritas Germany to resettle refugees by providing accommodations, job assistance, early-integration activities and volunteer training.

Many people have asked what their parishes can do to help refugees being resettled in America. Currently the U.S. is accepting very few Syrians. Catholic Relief Services and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops are working together on advocacy opportunities to expand U.S. policy on accepting refugees from Syria and Iraq, provide more U.S. funding to refugees in neighboring countries, and exercise leadership for diplomatic efforts to end the fighting.

Catholics are urged to contact President Obama and their members of Congress today and urge them to lead the world in a coordinated response to save the lives of refugees. The United States must do its part to resettle many more Syrian refugees here, and provide more humanitarian and development assistance to refugees in the Middle East who hope to return home or to remain in the region. Finally, our nation should lead a concerted diplomatic effort to finally end the fighting in Syria so that refugees can return to their homeland in safety.

The Catholic Charities’ website also has links to background information about the situation as well as things that we can do now.

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Friday, September 04, 2015

Video series on Catholic Social Teaching

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have worked together to create a seven-part series on Catholic Social Teaching, designed to be an introduction to this important body of thought.

The first video, “Care for God’s Creation,” was released in conjunction with Pope Francis’ declaration of September 1 as a day of prayer for creation. Other videos will be released every three weeks in conjunction with notable events on the Church calendar.

 “Catholic Social Teaching is at the core of why and how CRS performs its mission to serve the poorest of the poor and people in need at times of emergency,” said Carolyn Woo, CEO and president of CRS. “These teachings are embedded in our identity as employees and servants of God.”

“Care for each other and care for creation, what Pope Francis calls integral ecology, are at the heart of our witness as disciples of Jesus Christ. This series will help us put our faith into action,” said Jonathan Reyes, executive director of USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development.

You can learn more here.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Pray with Pope Francis Tomorrow

Earlier this year, Pope Francis announced that he was establishing a World of Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to be celebrated on September 1 every year beginning tomorrow. In making the announcement, the Pope wrote: 

As Christians we wish to offer our contribution towards overcoming the ecological crisis which humanity is living through.  Therefore, first of all we must draw from our rich spiritual heritage the reasons which feed our passion for the care of creation, always remembering that for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for us, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us.” ([cfr Encylical Letter. Laudato Si,]  216).  The ecological crisis therefore calls us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them.” (ibid., 217).  Thus, “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”(ibid). 

One way to mark the day is to pray the Prayer to Care for Our Common Home, from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. It is based on the Pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si. 

You might also visit the website of Catholics Confront Global Poverty, an organization formed by the USCCB  and Catholic Relief Services. It offers information on Church teachings and provides ways to get involved in addressing the issues.
Catholic Charities' Commission on Peace and Justice is looking at appropriate ways mark the day next year.

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