Peace & Justice

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

Thursday, September 14, 2023

USCCB Budget Comments

The heads of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development; International Justice and Peace; and Migration have written to Congress to express their views on the Biden Administration’s August 10, 2023, request for emergency Fiscal Year 2024 supplemental funding.

Among the programs they support are requests for rural housing rental assistance, the Commodities Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), and the Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) “in order for these critical programs to continue meeting basic nutrition and housing needs. It is especially important to address WIC funding to ensure all mothers, infants, and young children in need have access to life-saving nutrition and health services. Ensuring the WIC program is strong and effective is vital to building a truly life-affirming society.

Among the proposals they oppose the Secure the Border Act of 2023 (H.R. 2), which they describe as “a divisive border and immigration bill that the House narrowly passed earlier this year. We believe that such provisions would severely weaken humanitarian protections long enshrined in U.S. and international law. Catholic social teaching clearly recognizes a country’s right to secure its borders in accordance with the common good. However, the USCCB opposes measures that seriously contradict our nation’s fundamental commitment to humanitarian protection, especially those that would undermine protection for the sanctity of human life.”

The full letter is here.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Catholic Relief Service Action Campaigns

Catholic Relief Services has an on-line mobilization calendar that provides information about their various campaign to help us act throughout the year and create lasting change for our global family. Content is updated monthly.

Here are two upcoming events:

September 24 -- World Day of Migrants and Refugees

October 4 -- Email Congress Day. Email your members of Congress to fund international development and humanitarian aid, especially within the Green Climate Fund and Development Assistance.

More information and the downloadable calendar are here.


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Immigration funding

Several Catholic organizations are circulating a letter asking Congress “to invest in programs that support immigrants and communities and divest from programs that militarize the border and criminalize immigrants.” 

NETWORK, the Catholic Lobby for Social Justice; the St. Columban Mission for Justice, Peace and Ecology; the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers; and the Maryknoll Sisters are a few of the groups asking Catholics to urge Congress to assist border communities by them with robust critical funding for shelter, transportation, and emergency services.
They also want Congress to shift decisively away from a punitive response to migration and to reject any attempts to direct further funding for immigration militarization programs outside of regular appropriations this year.
They hope to collect 10,000 signatures by the end of the week. To learn more, or to sign the letter, click here.

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Friday, August 25, 2023

Season of Creation 2023

The Season of Creation is the annual Christian celebration that begins September 1, the Day of Prayer for Creation, and ends October 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology beloved by many Christian denominations.

This year, the Catholic Climate Covenant, Laudato Si' Movement, Pax Christi USA, and the Ignatian Solidarity Network are using the time to explore the theme “Let justice and peace flow” and how the call to creation care and integral ecology is also a call to nonviolence. 
Participants can participate by receiving a piece of the Vow of Nonviolence each week, and join a live Zoom session where they can make the vow in community on Oct. 2, 2023 – Gandhi’s birthday.  
Each week during the Season of Creation you will receive an email with a:
 - short video exploring the weekly theme;
 - scripture quote;
 - practical invitation to practice nonviolence in your daily life;
 - set of reflection questions.
To sign up for the weekly emails, or participate via the website click here.  #SeasonOfCreation2023 

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Thursday, August 10, 2023

Respect Life Month Webinar

Staff of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops will hold a webinar at 2 p.m. on Thursday, August 17, to help parishes celebrate Respect Life Month in October. According to the announcement: “USCCB staff will walk through this year's new materials, as well as the perennial Respect Life Month action guide. This introductory-level webinar is perfect for parish staff and volunteers, but anyone is welcome to join.”

Although developed with parishes in mind, the materials are adaptable to a variety of settings, such as Catholic schools, youth ministry, and more.


To register, click here.


Friday, July 14, 2023

Cluster munitions

Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, today raised concern about the use of cluster munitions in the Russia-Ukraine war.

He noted that more  than 100 countries, including the Holy See, have signed the 2010 Convention on Cluster Munitions banning their use, recognizing their indiscriminate nature and risk to civilian populations long after fighting has ceased.

He also said, "I, and my predecessors as chairmen of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, have long urged the U.S. government to sign on to both the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty."

His full statement is here. A brochure about cluster munitions is here

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Wednesday, July 05, 2023

End-of-Session Round-Up

At the end of the legislative session each year, the New York State Catholic Conference – which represents the bishops of the state in working with government to shape laws and policies that pursue social justice, respect for life and the common good -- issues an end-of-session round-up that provides the status of the major pieces of legislation the Conference tracked over the last six months. Here are some highlights:
Physician-Assisted Suicide 
S2445-A (Hoylman-Sigal)/A995-A (Paulin)
The Conference credits Catholics, together with its partners in the disabilities community, patients-rights advocates, and other religious faiths, with once again preventing enactment of the physician-assisted suicide bill in the 2023 session, “despite an unprecedented push by sponsors and advocates.” This was the Conference’s top legislative priority. 
Abortion Pill on SUNY/CUNY Campuses
A1395-C (Epstein)/S1213-B (Cleare)
This legislation, which the Conference opposed, requires all public university campuses to make the abortion pill available to students, either directly on campus or through contracts with local providers. The bill passed both houses of the legislature in April and was signed into law by Governor Hochul.
Hospice and Palliative Care Access and Quality
S4858 (Hinchey)/A5587 (Wallace)
This bill, which the Conference supported, would establish the Office of Hospice and Palliative Care Access and Quality to increase access to such care for patients at the end of life. New York ranks last in the nation in access to hospice care. The bill passed both houses last year but was vetoed by the Governor, who explained in a veto message that since the bill had fiscal impact to the state, it should be done in the budget process. The bill again passed both houses of the legislature and awaits Executive action.
Equality Amendment
S108-A (Krueger)/A1283 (Seawright)
This legislation would amend the state Constitution to ban unjust discrimination against persons based on a broad variety of classes and characteristics. Fortunately, revised language rightly places religion on the same level of the expanded list of classes. Unfortunately, it also includes “reproductive healthcare and autonomy” and “pregnancy outcomes” in this list, which effectively makes abortion a constitutional right in the state. The amendment has now passed two separately elected legislatures and now advances to a referendum, which will be on the ballot in 2024.
Clean Slate Act
S7551-A (Myrie)/A1029-C (Cruz)
While supportive in concept of this legislation, which would seal misdemeanor and most felony convictions (except Class A felonies and sex crimes) after a certain timeframe, the Conference has long expressed strong concerns with the legislation because, as originally drafted, it would not have permitted background checks conducted for Catholic schools and other church ministries to utilize sealed conviction records for positions that involve working with children or vulnerable adults. In the three-way agreement negotiated with Governor Hochul and the two houses of the legislature, the bill was amended to permit such records to be utilized in background checks for our schools. The bill passed both houses and awaits Executive action.
Mandated Services Aid
Our Catholic schools are now receiving their Mandated Services reimbursement payments in two rounds, the first being 90 percent of their payment, then a second round of another 7.5 percent, for a total of 97.5 percent.  Fortunately, we were successful in having the legislature reject the Governor’s proposal to limit the state’s liability for such payments to the “amount appropriated” within the state budget. This means the 2.5 percent deficiency will be paid to our schools in next year’s state budget, if not before.
The entire session Round-Up is available here

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