Peace & Justice

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

Monday, March 13, 2023

Eco-spirituality workshops available

Sr. Linda Neil, CSJ is a hiker and naturalist who holds a Masters Degree from the Earth Literacy Program at St. Mary of the Woods College, and a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

She shares her love of nature and the environment in presentations that weave art, music, poetry and story to engage hearts, inform minds and fire passions to transform and celebrate our relationship with the Earth community.  Here are some of her offerings:

Living Simply in a Consumer Society: listening to the “cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor” amidst the din of our consumer culture.

Earth, Our Common Home: Exploring our place in the web of life through the lens of Laudato Si’.

Healing Earth with the Beatitudes: Deepening our awareness of how humans are wounding the planet and reflecting on ways to be a healing presence. 

Celebrating the Bliss of Being: The “Beatitudes of Being” are the path to the fullness of being human and holy in this precious life of ours. We take time to experience the grandeur of being and the call to deepen our delight in living.

Celebrating Simple Living: We pause to consider ways to hone our life-style for the sake of our own sanity, for the good of our dear neighbors of every species and for the benefit of the Earth. (This presentation uses the Corporal Works of Mercy and Laudato Si' as a lens to reflect on simple living)

For more information, please contact Sister Linda at 518-393- 0528, or email

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Friday, March 10, 2023

Earth Day program from Catholic Climate Covenant

The Catholic Climate Covenant has released its 2023 Earth Day program. The theme is “Simple Living: God’s Vision of Abundant Life.”
The program includes a Facilitator Guide (with all the materials, script, links, and instructions for an event organizer) and a Participant Guide (suitable for in-person and online [i.e., Zoom] group events).  
According to the organizers, the approximately one-hour interactive program (with prayers, readings, discussion questions, and practical activities) may be used to celebrate the 53rd anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd, or the 8th anniversary of the Pope’s encyclical on the care of creation, Laudato Si' (Laudato Si’Week is May 21-28, 2023), or at any time that fits a community's schedule.
The link is here.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2023

At the end of Black History Month . . .

As we come to the end of Black History Month, the Penitential Act from the beginning of Mass has been on my mind. You will recall the opening, “I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; . . .”
And what, you might ask, does that have to do with Black History Month? It is a reminder that so much of Black history is the result of action or inaction by white people.
Just read this section of Rev. Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail:
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
Rev. King wrote this letter 60 years ago. Since then some things have changed, but many have not. Perhaps he had a premonition of this when he wrote later in the letter, “I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action.”
In the years since those words were written, there have been many bouts of civil unrest, some of which resulted in investigations and reports by various government agencies. It seems each of those reports contained a similar finding, one that was seen in earlier reports on the 1919 riot in Chicago, the Harlem riot of 1935, and the report of the investigating committee on the Harlem riot of 1943. As one commentator noted, “the same analysis, the same recommendations, and the same inaction.”
The analysis was that the chief cause of the unrest was white racism, which still leads to problems today. Fortunately, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has prepared this guide to assist Catholics and people of good will in reflecting on the evil and harm of racism. Although not a comprehensive list, it provides actionable steps to help Catholics to reflect and respond in faith. With the aid of Holy Scripture, Catholic social teaching, and sacred tradition, it is an open invitation to journey toward reconciliation. I would encourage you to share it with your parish community. Future possibilities of civil unrest rest on what we do or what we fail to do.
And for an excellent history on civil unrest and the government reports about it, read this excellent article by Harvard historian Jill Lepore in The New Yorker. You will learn a lot.

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Thursday, February 23, 2023

POSTPONESD-- Ecumenical and Interfaith Advocacy Days next week

Because of the expected snow storm, this event had been re-scheduled to March 20-21.

The New York State Council of Churches will have its annual Ecumenical and Interfaith Advocacy Days in Albany on February 27 and 28. This year’s focus is on immigration and the housing crisis in New York.
According to promotional material, the Council expects that the Governor and the Legislature will focus on addressing the affordable housing crisis in 2023. In addition, they believe, the issue of immigration will be front and center on the political stage because of the lifting of Title 42 and the influx of immigrants across the state.
The evening begins at 6:00 p.m. on Monday with a gathering at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 262 State Street in Albany. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. The guest preacher is Reverend Reginald Bacchus, Senior Pastor at Mt. Ollie Baptist Church in Brownsville, Brooklyn. A reception will follow at 8:00 p.m.
Participants will gather again at the church on Tuesday, February 28, at 9:00 a.m. to hear about what the Council is seeking in terms of legislation. A news conference is tentatively scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at the Capitol, followed by lunch and legislative visits.
More information and a registration form are available here. The registration fee of $25 will help cover costs of food and materials provided.
You can contact the Council directly at or 518-436-9319.


Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Every year, millions of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers in their own countries and abroad.  No sector or industry is immune from human trafficking.  Victims may be workers in food processing factories, waiters or cooks at restaurants, construction workers, agricultural laborers, fishers, housekeeping staff at hotels, domestic help in private residences, or sex trafficked women and men in brothels, spas and massage parlors.”

-       United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. You may be surprised to know that there are almost 25 million victims of forced labor and sexual exploitation worldwide. According to information provided by the USCCB:

-       The average person has purchased goods or services that were produced, at least in part, by victims of human trafficking. This includes everything from fish, cotton, rice, cement, and even Christmas decorations.


-       While human trafficking does occur in illicit underground industries such as brothels and the drug trade, it is also found in legitimate businesses, such as in the hotel, construction, agriculture, and restaurant sectors.


-       Men, women, and children do not need to be kept in chains or beaten to be considered victims of trafficking. Traffickers often use methods of fraud and coercion to "imprison" their victims. This may take many different forms, including threatening to kill or harm loved ones, tricking the victim into thinking he/she owes him/her a debt, or threatening deportation in the case of the foreign-born victims.


Although the problem may appear to be so overwhelming and big that there is nothing one individual can do to make a difference, the truth is that every person can help bring an end to human trafficking. You can learn more here and here.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2023

January 6 Interfaith Vigil

On January 5, Bishop John Stowe of Kentucky, President of Pax Christi USA and Sr. Carol Zinn, SSJ, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, are joining the Franciscan Action Network and others for an on-line interfaith vigil to commemorate the attack on the nation's Capitol on January 6, 2021. 

According to the organizers, "The aim is to reclaim January 6 and make it a  day of unity, tolerance and respect.  No partisan speeches or politicians, just people sharing their faith in song and prayer. It all starts with our interfaith candlelight prayer vigil on Capitol Hill!"

They will be joined by Rabbi Stephanie Crawley, Associate Rabbi at Temple Micah, Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, President & CEO Interfaith Alliance, Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Director of the Kairos Center for Religion, Rights, and Social Justice and Imam Dr. Talib M. Shareef, President, Masjid Muhammad, The Nation’s Mosque.

The on-line event will be from 6-7 p.m. For more information or to register, click here.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Sandy Hook ten years later

Ten years have passed since twenty children and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then, there have been more than 4,000 mass shootings where four or more people were killed. Firearms used in assaults, accidents, and suicides are now the leading cause of deaths for children ages 1-19.

Twelve years before Sandy Hook, the U.S. bishops issued their pastoral statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, in which they wrote, "We support measures that control the sale and use of firearms and make them safer (especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children or anyone other than the owner), and we reiterate our call for sensible regulation of handguns."

More recently, in 2020, the Bishops issued this backgrounder discussing those reasonable measures, which include:

  • A total ban on assault weapons, which the USCCB supported when the ban passed in 1994 and when Congress failed to renew it in 2004.
  • Measures that control the sale and use of firearms, such as universal background checks for all gun purchases; 
  • Limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines;
  • A federal law to criminalize gun trafficking;
  • Improved access to and increased resources for mental health care and earlier interventions;
  • Regulations and limitations on the purchasing of handguns;
  • Measures that make guns safer, such as locks that prevent children and anyone other than the owner from using the gun without permission and supervision; and 
  • An honest assessment of the toll of violent images and experiences which inundate people, particularly our youth.

For information on how to contact your Congressional representative, or even to learn who that is, click here.