Peace & Justice

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hunger Action

The folks at Hunger Action are making a push to get their agenda included in Governor-elect Spitzer's 2007-08 State of the State address and state budget proposals.

Toward that end, they have prepared holiday post cards to be sent to Mr. Spitzer on the themes of emergency food (HPNAP), universal health care, and a higher welfare grant.

Please contact Mark Dunlea if you would like postcards to hand out at your program in the next few weeks -- at community meetings, in food bags and holiday baskets, mailings, church / temple services, union halls, etc. The cards are 4 by 6.25 inches. Minimum order: 20.

The text is below. There will also be a drawing from our Children's Anti-Hunger Poster Project on the front side.


Mark Dunlea
dunleamark@aol. com
518 434-7371, ext 1#
------------ --------- ---------
Front side:

Seasons Greetings:
End hunger and poverty

Drawing with words: Imagine it was your own bowl left empty

More Funds for Emergency Food
Health Care for All
Raise the Welfare Grant

side 2

Dear Governor Elect Spitzer:

Too many New Yorkers go hungry. Please increase funding for emergency food (HPNAP) by $9.4 million. Enact a Food Policy Council. Expedite Food Stamps

Welfare benefits have not been raised since 1990. We must do more to help raise these families out of poverty. All the other democracies in the world have health care for all. It is time for NY to do the same.

Name ____________________
Address __________________

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Stop the Hate on Monday

You are invited to attend the sixth annual Stop the Hate prayer vigil on Monday, November 27 at 7 p.m. in the Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary at the College of Saint Rose, 959 Madison Avenue in Albany.

The vigil is sponsored by The Interfaith Alliance of NYS, Campus Ministry at The College of Saint Rose, Church of St. Vincent dePaul, and the Commission on Peace and Justice for Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.

Speakers include:

Ed Solomon, Deacon St. Vincent dePaul Church

Djafer Sebkhaoui, Imam, Troy Area Mosque

Rabbi Robert Kasman, President, Board of Rabbis

Jai Misir, Hindu Temple in Schenectady

Reverend Robert Lamar, First Presbyterian Church

Reverend Paul Smith, Chaplain, University Heights

Reflections by Dr. Ed Tick, author of War and the Soul

For more information, please call The Interfaith Alliance 783-7769.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Catholic Campaign Against Global Poverty

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services invite Catholics throughout the U.S. to join this campaign "as we advocate for U.S. policies that foster economic and social development for people living in poverty throughout the world."

The campaign focuses on three areas of U.S. economic policy:

* Trade: Shaping U.S. trade policies so that overcoming poverty and promoting human development are central priorities;

* Aid: Supporting effective programs that foster long-term development and empowerment of the poor.

* Debt: Eliminating the debt of the poorest countries in ways that reduce poverty and promote human dignity.

Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. - Matthew 25:40

You can learn more about the campaign here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Should Be a Verb

Ten years ago, the magazine St. Anthony’s Messenger published an article with the title, Thanksgiving Should Be a Verb.
For Catholics, the act of thanksgiving is at the very heart of our celebrations and beliefs. Every time we share in the Eucharist (which means thanksgiving, gratitude), we thank God for the gifts God has given us.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says it well: “The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all ‘thanksgiving’”(#1360).

Every time we gather for Eucharist, we celebrate the promise of the living Christ through Jesus’ resurrection, but how many of us live out that promise throughout the year? How many of us take the thanksgiving of the Eucharist and make it active in our lives outside Mass?

The entire article is available here. We wish all of you a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Emmaus House

If you are not familiar with the Albany's local Catholic Worker house, this article from the Times Union will be a good introduction. If you are familiar with Emmaus House, perhaps this will inspire you to send a contribution. In addition to helping others, they still are in the process of trying to pay the bills for the move to their new digs.
Like many families, Fred Boehrer and Diana Conroy live below the poverty level and are struggling to raise three children. But what sets them apart is that they're poor by choice.

They run Emmaus House of Hospitality at 45 Trinity Place. They're still unpacking at the long-vacant 19th-century home in the Albany's South End, where they just moved after 10 years on North Main Avenue.
. . .
The movement promotes personal responsibility to help the needy, sick and imprisoned. It campaigns for social justice and nonviolence and is active in protesting war, as well as the unequal distribution of wealth globally.
. . .
With the Christmas season and cold weather fast approaching, the family is in need of many donations, including money, nonperishable food, cold medicine, and Price Chopper or Hannaford gift cards, to help homeless families on Thanksgiving.
. . .
Donations can be sent to Emmaus House, Albany Catholic Worker, 45 Trinity Place, Albany, NY 12202. For more information, call 482-4966.

If it's not too much trouble, tell them Albany Catholic sends our prayers.

Friday, November 17, 2006

School of the Americas

The people at School of the Americas Watch report on the demonstrations this weekend.
As human rights activists throughout the United States travel to Fort Benning, Georgia, thousands more around the world are preparing for massive demonstrations to call for the closure of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC). Thousands are expected to gather November 17-19 at Fort Benning, Georgia, home of the school, while simultaneous demonstrations will take place in Ecuador, El Salvador, Paraguay, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Arizona and California.

The SOA/WHINSEC, a military training facility for Latin American security personnel, made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Despite this shocking admission and hundreds of documented human rights abuses connected to soldiers trained at the school over its 60-year history, no independent investigation into the training facility has ever taken place.

You can learn more here and here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Voting is not enough

Jeffrey C. Peck, a member of the Commission on Peace and Justice, also is Professor of Political Science at Adirondack Community College and the American correspondent for the Netherlands publication matchbook & politic. He wrote the following article for the Glens Falls Post-Star on Sunday, November 5. Although the election is over, we believe the points raised are important. The article is reprinted here with permission.
We Americans have long considered our country to be the modern cradle of democracy. This week we once again have an opportunity to prove this to ourselves and the world. We will, of course, do nothing of the kind. Academics and commentators have long sought the reason for our general lack of interest in politics as evidenced by, among other things, poor voter turnout. The reasons often cited for poor turnout include voting on a weekday, too many elections (between three and five depending on the year and place of residence), and simple apathy arising from a variety of causes. One often overlooked and more complicated reason is that we expect too much from voting.

The downside of voting is that it only changes the leadership, can be anticipated (as in late November legislative pay raises), is considered by the authors of the recent book fragmenting to be economically inefficient, and perhaps most importantly is a non-specific behavior. Many of us who do vote put too much faith in the power of the ballot. Voting does not express policy preferences. The winner of an election only knows one thing from an election, that he or she got more votes than his or her opponent.

This is increasingly true given the lack of clear positions candidates take as they try to attract independent and undecided voters. Further evidence that an election is not about policy is the increased use of negative ads which are designed to depress voter turnout not to inform voters. Another frightening phenomenon associated with voting is the general lack of information the general voter possesses. The average voter acquires his or her knowledge of politics from television, the poorest possible source given its lack of depth and need for visual images. Some research has shown that the votes cast by the least informed voters are practically at random.

Voting is not the magic bullet of true democracy. An informed and active citizenry is the real answer. As we have become more self-absorbed we have frequently placed our personal needs ahead of that of the nation. We are too busy to keep informed and too sure that what we know is right regardless of the source. If voting is to have real meaning then it must be one part of our political behavior, not the only one. Without other action, on our part, voting is an exercise in frustration.

The simple prescription for a government attentive to our needs is to use more than one source of information (and it is especially important to use a print source), to vary the sources used, using occasionally even those sources we disagree with, and to make an effort to act politically on occasion. The most efficient way to get attention is to let a representative know your opinion, especially by letter. Other effective means of communication include attending a meeting and speaking, protesting, if that is within your comfort level, and telephoning the officialÂ's office. Email and petitions are less effective. These activities are very different from voting, they are personal, require knowledge, and are specific. They also enable us to hold elected officials directly responsible for their specific actions.

Dorothy Day is reputed to have said, "Don'’t vote, it only encourages them."” Miss Day'’s point is particularly salient given our representatives'’ claims that winning an election is a mandate. Without our active and specific participation in addition to voting, winning an election is not a mandate, it is license. We will all feel good after stepping out of the voting booth on Tuesday having discharged our civic duty. Our real duties as citizens only begin with voting.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Bishop William S. Skylstad, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement earlier this week calling for a more substantive, civil and non-partisan discussion about a responsible transition in Iraq.

“The Administration and the new Congress need to engage in a collaborative dialogue that honestly assesses the situation in Iraq, acknowledges past difficulties and miscalculations, recognizes and builds on positive advances, and reaches agreement on concrete steps to address the serious challenges that lie ahead,” Bishop Skylstad said.

While not addressing a specific timeline for withdrawal of troops, Bishop Skylstad stated that the military should remain in Iraq “only as long as their presence contributes to a responsible transition. Our nation should look for effective ways to end their deployment at the earliest opportunity consistent with this goal.”

The complete text of Bishop Skylstad’s statement is here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Saddam Hussein

Earlier this month, Catholic News Service (CNS) reported on Vatican reaction to the death penalty imposed on Saddam Hussein.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The head of the Vatican's justice and peace office and an editor of a Vatican-approved Jesuit journal said it would be wrong to carry out the death penalty against Saddam Hussein.

The former Iraqi president was sentenced to death by hanging Nov. 5 in a case involving the deaths of 148 Iraqis in 1982.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said, "For me, to punish a crime with another crime, such as killing out of vengeance, means that we are still at the stage of 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.'"

In a Nov. 5 interview with ANSA, the Italian news agency, the cardinal said both Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), and the Catechism of the Catholic Church teach that modern societies have the means to protect citizens from the threat of a murderer without resorting to execution.

"God has given us life, and only can God take it away," the cardinal said, adding, "the death sentence is not a natural death."

"Life is a gift that the Lord has given us, and we must protect it from conception until natural death," he said.

"Unfortunately," he said, "Iraq is among the few countries that has not yet made the choice of civility by abolishing the death penalty."

If you live in the Albany diocese, you live in one of the few countries that “has not yet made the choice of civility by abolishing the death penalty." In particular, although New York State currently does not have the death penalty, there is talk in the State Legislature of re-imposing it. We will keep you updated on any legislative activity. In the meantime, you can read the rest of the CNS article here.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Forgiveness in Politics

On January 9, 2006, William Bole, a fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, gave a talk titled “Blessed are the Peacemakers: Forgiveness in Politics as a Road to Peace.” It was part of the Year of Prayer lecture series sponsored by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus. Bole drew from Woodstock’s 2004 book, Forgiveness in International Politics: An Alternative Road to Peace (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops), which he co-authored with Robert Hennemeyer and Drew Christiansen, S.J. Here are some of his remarks:
We reached a rough consensus -- that there is a politics of forgiveness. There’s a politics of forgiveness that can contribute to social healing and international conflict resolution. But I don’t think anyone ever lost sight of the politics in all this. And I heard faint echoes of John F. Kennedy telling his staff: “Forgive your enemies, but don’t forget their names.”

I’d like to make a few basic points in these remarks here. The first is that, admittedly, the whole notion of forgiveness can seem counter-intuitive in the age of global terrorism and extreme ethnic conflict. It’s an unlikely topic, but it’s real – and that’s the second point. Forgiveness has shown itself to be a political reality, and we think a strategically useful concept -- useful in helping to repair relationships that have been long sundered in a number of fractious societies. And, my third point is that forgiveness in politics is in politics, which means that it’s subject to the limitations and liabilities of any political project. And I’ll close with some fleeting remarks about why forgiveness is a fitting framework for dealing with some of today’s most intractable conflicts, entangled as they are in the intangibles of group identity.

You can read more here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Contemplative Prayer

Contemplative Prayer Outreach of the Adirondacks invites you to a Contemplative prayer workshop on Saturday, November 18 from 10am till 3pm at the Christ the King Spiritual Life Center Library in Greenwich.


* Sister Mary Elizabeth, who, in collaberation with Father Joseph Byrne, will give a presentation on Contemplative Prayer & the Journey of Faith - according to Saint Teresa of Avila.
* Father Paul Hart will discuss his experiences in forming and nurturing Contemplative Prayer Groups.

The cost is $20.00 per person.

It's important to know how many people plan on attending so please reply as soon as possible.

In Christ,
John Beaudoin
Brother Fire Contemplative Prayer Outreach

For directions and information about Christ the King Spiritual Life Center go here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

We mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. In Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility, the United States Catholic Bishops state: Politics in this election year and beyond should be about an old idea with new power--the common good. The central question should not be, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" It should be, "How can ‘we'--all of us, especially the weak and vulnerable--be better off in the years ahead? How can we protect and promote human life and dignity? How can we pursue greater justice and peace?"

To help us answer those questions, the bishops have a number of resources available here.
We hope you will find the resources available here helpful. They are designed to help you learn, share, and act on Catholic teaching about how our faith can and should shape our choices and opportunities as citizens, so that we can build a world more respectful of human life and dignity and more committed to justice and peace.

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.

Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility was approved by the USCCB Administrative Committee in September 2003. With the release of the statement, the bishops are launching a major campaign to share this important message. To help Catholics learn more about our responsibilities in public life, and to help dioceses and parishes share this teaching, the USCCB has produced a brief brochure summarizing the statement as well as a video outlining its message. In January 2004, Faithful Citizenship resource kits were mailed to dioceses and parishes across the United States. This web site contains the contents of the parish kits as well as a wide range of additional resources, including liturgical and homily ideas, education materials and lesson plans for various age groups, and information on conducting non-partisan voter registration and education programs.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Peace Prayer Vigil

The monthly Peace Prayer Vigil at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Delmar will be held on Saturday, November 4 at noon around the Peace Pole on the Adams Place side of the church. The vigil normally lasts less than 30 minutes. Join with members of the community as they pray for peace in our world. For more information, call the church at 439-4951.