Peace & Justice

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

Friday, October 27, 2006


The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns’ largest educational outreach is NewsNotes, a 26-page newsletter which is produced every other month. NewsNotes presents information and analysis about situations in countries where Maryknollers work, and about global trends, U.S. policies and multilateral policies that impact these countries. Articles and reports in NewsNotes are concise and readable, and most articles provide directions to help readers obtain more information about the articles presented.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Tablet, the newspaper of the diocese of Brooklyn, notes in an editorial that War Is Not Unavoidable.

More and more commentators are asking whether in terms from the sport of boxing Catholic moral theologians have not “thrown in the towel” when it comes to the Middle East. Have the terrorists cornered us into silence? Have they distorted the meaning of “martyrdom” to justify suicide bombing and let their fanaticism be translated into moral zeal?

The recent Hezbollah-Israel conflict came down to suicide bombing vs. lobbing devastating bombs and rockets from out of reach into populated areas without regard for civilians let alone schools, hospitals and social service institutions. Roads and bridges were destroyed as military “infrastructure.”

The other side disguises combatants as civilians, attack with women and children making a moral defense impossible.

We see the effect of all this in the increasing brutalizing of soldiers, assuming tactics in violation of the rules of warfare and the war goes on with casualties counted in the thousands. The war in Lebanon slips into the war in Iraq. Where is the moral outcry?

The “seconds” in a boxing ring throw in the towel when the outcome is futile and only violence remains. Should some moral voice do the same in Iraq?

No, rather, we need to pursue a peace that is brokered by the United Nations, if it can get beyond its own paralyzing inertia, and help rebuild these ancient civilizations that have been further chipped away.

This past week, in Assisi, Italy, Muslims knelt on prayer rugs in the town hall, Shintoists performed rituals in the garden of a Franciscan convent, and Buddhists meditated in a room full of Renaissance frescoes.

Christians filled the town’s cathedral to pray until the tolling of the church bells called members of all faiths to an evening procession for peace through the streets of the medieval city.

This annual interreligious gathering to pray for peace told the world, in its official appeal, that “War is not unavoidable. Religions never justify hatred and violence. Those using the name of God to destroy others move away from true religion.”

The editorial in available on-line here.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

2006 New York State Catholic Voter Guide

The U.S. Bishops have made clear that Catholics have a moral responsibility to participate in the political process. In their pastoral statement, Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility they write: “All believers are called to faithful citizenship, to become informed, active, and responsible participants in the political process. Every voice matters in the public forum. Every vote counts. Every act of responsible citizenship is an exercise of significant individual power.”

With this in mind, the state’s Catholic Bishops, through the New York State Catholic Conference, sent out a 10-question survey to every candidate for governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, attorney general, state Senate and state Assembly. The intent was to serve as a guide to Catholics as they consider who to vote for on Election Day, November 7.

The questions were mailed the day after the September 12 primary elections to candidates of both major and minor political parties. Candidates were instructed that they should return their responses by September 28. The Catholic Conference received responses from only 27 percent of those who were sent surveys. When candidates failed to respond, all boxes associated with their names were left blank. In some cases, the candidate responded with a letter but did not answer the questions, usually stating that he or she has a policy of not answering such surveys. These candidates are indicated in the Voter Guide with the line, “Response did not include answers to survey questions.” In the letter that was sent with the survey, candidates were told that explanations of their positions could not be accommodated, given space constraints. Nevertheless, some did send written responses that could not be accurately categorized as support, oppose or no position. In these cases, the answer is listed as QR, which stands for qualified response. If a candidate left a question blank, it is indicated by NR, or no response to that question.

The results are at

Monday, October 16, 2006

Theology Library on Peace and Justice

Spring Hill College, the Jesuit College of the South, has an excellent Theology Library on Peace and Justice issues, which begins with this quote:
"Beneath an outward appearance of indifference, in the heart of every person there is a will to live in community and a thirst for justice and peace."
- Pope Paul VI, Octogesima Adveniens

You can find the on-line library at

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ask a Franciscan

The Ask a Franciscan section from St. Anthony Messenger discussed whether the Gospel affects social issues.

Q: Recently I have been reading about several 20th-century Christians who applied Jesus' teaching to social issues. That prompted a number of questions in my mind. Is this an essential aspect of the gospel message? Why is it necessary that the life and message of Jesus be embodied in new ways in each historical period?

A: The Good News of Jesus Christ affects all our relationships—not simply those with friends and family members but also relationships with people we will never meet. Jesus did not preach a privatized religion that influences only a fraction of someone’s daily life. Anyone who tries to keep the Good News so tightly reined runs the risk of saying “Lord, Lord” but refusing to do God’s will (see Matthew 7:21). When Jesus told the parable about the sheep and the goats at the Last Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46), Jesus taught that following him has implications for every relationship, for every attempt to reflect divine justice.

You can

Faithful Citizenship

Every four years since 1976, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement on the responsibilities of Catholics to society. The purpose of the statement is to communicate the Church’s teaching that every Catholic is called to active and faith-filled citizenship, based upon a properly informed conscience, so that each disciple of Christ publicly witnesses to the Church’s commitment to human life and dignity with special preference for the poor and the vulnerable.

You can learn more at

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


JustFaith Ministries develops and offers workshops and programs that empower people and expand commitment to social ministry within faith communities. Through these opportunities members of a parish or congregation study the Church’s commitment to the poor and vulnerable in a lively, challenging, multifaceted process, all experienced in the context of a small community of faith.

You can learn more at