Peace & Justice

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

Monday, November 07, 2022

Voter guides for Catholics

The Catholic Church does not offer voter guides. However, several Catholic organizations do. Here are two recent ones for those who have not yet cast a ballot.
 
US Catholic magazine offers a free, downable guide. It reminds us that abortion is not the only issue to consider. “Catholic voters are responsible for knowing the church’s values and what role faith plays in our political decisions. Morally responsible voting reflects appreciation of the common good, the various issues that support or hinder its realization, and the quality and character of the candidates who can help make this happen.”
 
As the US Conference of Catholic Bishops reminds us in their document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, “As Catholics we are not single issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support.” 
 
Among seven other issues to consider, US Catholic lists climate change, racial justice, the culture of violence, immigrants and refugees, poverty, health care and international relations.
 
The document also includes seven reflections about Catholic political engagement that address how we should vote.
 
You can download the guide here.
 
The Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States reflects on our Gospel call to promote the common good in the public square with this guide. They note that many people today will describe politics with terms like polarized, dysfunctional, ugly, vitriolic or even irredeemable, Pope Francis has called it one of the “highest forms of charity.” They explain, “Charity, or the Latin caritas, is the highest theological virtue and a word for what we more commonly call ‘love.’ So, Pope Francis is saying that politics is an important way of loving God by loving our neighbor in an incarnational, concrete way. Catholics are called to get involved in politics — to ‘meddle,’ even! — instead of disengaging and avoiding the messiness of political life.”
 
We read, “If we approached civic involvement open to finding God in the messiness of politics, how might our engagement be different from the darker spirit we often find on cable news and social media? Maybe we would find some of the same fruits that often come with praying the Examen daily: increased gratitude, deepened awareness of God in unexpected places, humility in acknowledgment of our own shortcomings paired with trust in God’s gentle mercy to help us grow. These are all gifts of the Holy Spirit that would benefit our political life immensely.”
 
These guides are helpful not just for this year’s elections, but also for how we can approach politics in the coming years.

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Friday, October 28, 2022

Faith, Food, and the Environment

Did you know that modern food production is responsible for one-quarter of the world's greenhouse gas emissions?  

According to Catholic Rural Lifea national, Catholic nonprofit organization dedicated to the vitality of the American countryside, the use of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides can be hugely damaging to our environment and to human health. “Yet, farmers, farmworkers, and rural communities are also disproportionally impacted by climate change and chemical pollution. In some ways, they are both the canaries and the prophets of how we change the current unsustainable agricultural paradigm.”
 
James F. Ennis, Executive Director, Catholic Rural Life, will discuss faith, food, and the environment in a webinar scheduled for November 3 at 2 p.m. The webinar will be recorded and a link to the recording will be sent to all who register.
 
According to description of the event, Catholic Rural Life has focused on answering the critical questions: 

• Can our farming methods give back as well as take from creation? 
• Can we rediscover a more intimate, conscious, and respectful relationship to Earth, its biodiversity, and its creatures? 
• Can we organize economic enterprises in such a way to sustain us while also broadening our awareness of the ecological whole? 
 
For more information or to register, click here.

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Monday, October 24, 2022

October 25 - learn about voting and conscience formation

With Election Day just two weeks away, the St. Columban Mission for Justice, Peace and Ecology is offering a free webinar on voting and conscience formation tomorrow (October 25) at 7:30 p.m. The speaker is Jill Rauh, Director of Education and Outreach for the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

Among the questions she will address in the 90-minute session are these: 
-       How do you cast a vote that's in line with your values and is best for your community? 
-       How do you form your conscience? 
-       How do you evaluate what's true and not? 
-       What role does faith play in this?
 
Before joining the USCCB in 2007, Rauh developed Catholic social teaching resources with the Education for Justice project at the Center of Concern, worked in civic engagement with Latino youth, contributed to parish and campus ministry efforts, and served as an international volunteer with Rostro de Cristo in Ecuador.
 
Click here to register.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

End-of-Session Round-Up

At the end of each Legislative Session in Albany, the New York State Catholic Conference issues its end-of-session round-up, which includes a special mention of the members of the NYS Catholic Action Network – Catholics who lobby the legislature on issues of concern to the Conference.
 
In case you have not seen it, here is a summary of some of the many bills of concern to the Conference.
 
Gun Control
In the wake of the two most recent mass shootings, Governor Hochul called for a package of new measures, including a licensure requirement and raising of the age for purchasing or possessing semi-automatic weapons, adjustments to the state’s existing “red flag” law, and other measures. We supported the entire package, which passed both houses and was signed into law. 

Hospice Care
A package of two bills to increase access to palliative care and hospice care, and create a public service awareness campaign, passed both houses. The Catholic Conference worked with the Senate sponsor on this legislation. 
 
Catholic Schools
Health, Safety & Security: We tripled funding, from $15 million to $45 million, to support health and safety projects, including a new authorization to cover critical repair and maintenance and other capital needs of religious and independent school facilities such as air purification systems, roof repair and remediating any hazardous conditions.

STEM:  $58 million, a nearly 40 percent increase, is included to reimburse schools for a portion of the salaries of Science, Technology, Engineering & Math teachers.

Mandated Services Aid (MSA) and Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP): A total of $195,028,000, an increase of $1.9 million, is provided to fully reimburse schools for mandated administrative costs for the 2021-22 school year.

Immunization: We were able to restore $1 million, not included in Governor Hochul’s Executive Budget proposal, to reimburse our schools located in New York City, Buffalo, and Rochester for expenses in complying with the state’s childhood immunization program. 
 
Respect Life/Moral Values
Physician-Assisted Suicide: Once again this issue did not get a vote in the Health Committee of either house, because in each case proponents were still one or two votes short, thanks to your advocacy. 
 
For a full list of all the legislative issues of concern to the Conference, as well as links to their memos in support or opposition, click here

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Sisters of St. Joseph promote Plastic Free July

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are joining with people around the world to recognize Plastic Free July, a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution. They have issued an eco-challenge asking people to analyze the amount of single-use plastics in their regular shopping purchases, and then search for and buy alternative purchases without plastic.

They also urge people to contact their UN Permanent Representative to urge them to support the Global Plastic Free Treaty. The congregation’s website notes that, “as plastic pollution increases, researchers are finding plastic in our food chain, our water supply and the air we breathe. Only about 9% of all plastics are recycled, so the only solution to the problem is curbing plastic production in the first place.”
 
Furthermore, they say, developing an enforceable global treaty that sets standards can make a huge impact. This year, 175 countries agreed to initiate a legally binding instrument to address the full life cycle of plastic globally by 2024.
 
Sister Patty Johnson, CSJ, a member of the Congregational Leadership team, said, “This momentum comes at a critical time. Addressing the full life cycle of plastic in meaningful ways will allow us to reduce plastic pollution as a global community. A systemic solution is needed. Working together, the countries of the world can put forth meaningful legislative solutions that will force the needed changes and lead to decreased threats to our health and environmental sustainability of our planet.”

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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Laudato Si’ Week

Hundreds of thousands of Catholics are uniting this week to mark the seventh anniversary of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the care of creation. 
 
In the Diocese of Albany, a planning group is being organized to prepare a Laudato Si’ Action Plan that will outline tangible actions that can be taken to meet the seven Laudato Si’ Goals in the coming years. Members of the committee are expected to be announced shortly.
 
The theme for the week is “Listening and Journeying Together.” The eight-day global event is guided by the following quote from Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’: “Bringing the human family together to protect our common home” (LS 13).
 
On May 27, the day celebrating ecological education, footage from "The Invitation,' a new feature-length documentary film on Laudato Si’, will be shown to the general public for the first time during a live-streaming event. "The Invitation" will have its global release later this year. Registration is required and is available here.
 
More information on the week’s activities and the complete schedule is here.

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Monday, May 16, 2022

Mobilizing for social justice

Noting how difficult it can be to get people of faith to join advocacy initiatives or campaigns, the St. Columban Mission for Justice, Peace and Ecology is offering a webinar on how to mobilize people for social justice.
 
This free event is tomorrow (Tuesday, May 17) at 4:00 p.m. It is 90 minutes long and includes time for questions and answers.
 
The sponsor notes how overwhelming it can be to reach out to our communities, especially when some people can be indifferent or hostile to the issue we care about (such as with immigration reform) or even deny there’s a problem (such as with climate change). The announcement states that they will share “some of the tools to have effective and transformative one-on-one conversations about social justice issues as well as how to organize your community to achieve advocacy ‘wins.’”
 
Here is information about the panelists:
Colin Martinez Longmore is the Outreach and Education Specialist at NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. Prior to working at NETWORK, Colin served in parish ministry for seven years in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in Southern California. He directed bilingual faith formation programs, led retreats, and spoke at Diocesan youth conferences. He also mentored teens and young adults in juvenile hall and youth vocational work programs.
 
Wesley Cocozello is the Communications and Outreach Manager for the St. Columban Mission for Justice, Peace and Ecology. In this role, he organizes mission exposure trips, facilitates advocacy skills trainings, and creates educational content. Before this, he worked for Catholic Climate Covenant, ending his tenure there as Director of Operations. He holds a degree in English Literature from the Catholic University of America, and has produced a number of literary and theatrical projects.
For more information or to register, click here. If you are not able to attend the webinar, you can watch a recording here.

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