Peace & Justice

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Social Justice Calendar for February

February, 2007
African American History Month

2nd - Presentation of the Lord (Feast)
11th - World Day of the Sick
13th - Economic Justice in South Africa * Pastoral Statement (1999)
14th - Valentine's Day
19th - President's Day
21st - Ash Wednesday
22nd - Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, Apostle
25th - First Sunday of Lent

Monday, January 29, 2007

Time to act

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote as early as Tuesday to raise the minimum wage, and support is coming from what some might consider unlikely sources.
The usual array of "“Chicken Littles" have claimed a hike in the wage floor will be bad for business and hurt low wage-workers. Earlier this month, columnist George Will suggested that the "“minimum wage should be the same everywhere: $0. Labor is a commodity."

So it'’s surprising and refreshing when you meet small business owners and CEOs who believe the opposite: that competing on the basis of who pays less is a dead end.

"People who tell you that raising the minimum wage will hurt small business are flat out full of it,"” said Lew Prince, co-owner of Vintage Vinyl, a music retail business in St. Louis. "Small business owners know that keeping workers is easier and cheaper than finding and training new ones."

Prince and a growing number of small business owners argue that paying a decent wage lowers employee turnover, improves morale and is the right thing to do. "“Our long-term employees are way more likely to establish ongoing relationships with customers,"” said Prince.

Prince has joined several hundred business owners in signing a public petition of business owners and leaders who support a hike in the federal minimum wage. The effort is coordinated by the interfaith coalition Let Justice Roll and a network currently in formation called Business for Shared Prosperity.

Some of the well-known signers include Jim Sinegal, CEO of Costco; Eileen Fisher, CEO of apparel giant named after her; Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and Bill Foster, the cofounder of Electronic Theater Controls.

You can read more here. Please take action today and contact the local offices of Senators Clinton (518-431-0120) and Schumer (518-431-4070).

Friday, January 26, 2007

Capital punishment

Catholic News Service reports on efforts in two states to end capital punishment.
In separate actions the Maryland Catholic Conference and Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Rapid City, S.D., have called for an end to the death penalty in their states.

Both states currently face a de facto moratorium on executions because of legal difficulties over the use of lethal injection to carry it out.

Maryland Catholic Conference executive director Richard J. Dowling Jan. 25 urged the state's General Assembly to adopt legislation that would substitute life imprisonment without parole for all crimes currently punishable by death in Maryland. The conference is the public policy agency of the bishops of Maryland.

"Most Marylanders are ready for repeal" of capital punishment, Dowling said in a one-page statement that noted the Catholic Church "has long been a leader on this issue."

He said a poll two years ago showed that 63 percent of Marylanders of voting age "viewed life without parole as an agreeable alternative to death by execution."

Read more here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Public Policy Forum

The New York State Catholic Conference's 2007 Public Policy Forum, in which Catholic New Yorkers from across the state demonstrate their political strength in Albany, will be held on Tuesday, March 13, at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.

Training materials and free registration are available here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Introduction to Lectio Divina

Introduction to Lectio Divina Workshop
at the Diocese of Albany Pastoral Center, 40 North Main Avenue in Albany

January 27th from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Lectio Divina is the ancient monastic practice of praying the Scriptures. It unfolds in four stages or moments:

Lectio – Reading the Word of God

Meditatio – Reflecting on the Word of God

Oratio – Responding to the Word of God with heartfelt prayer

Contemplatio – Resting in God in silence

There will be four short talks and two experiences of Lectio Divina.

Suggested donation, $25. Please bring a bag lunch. Refreshments provided

For more information or to register, call Bruce Gardiner – 325-5546
Or email:


Centering Prayer Introductory Workshop

February 24th at the Pastoral Center
9:00 am – 3:00 pm. Suggested donation $25.
If you sign-up for both workshops, $35

Building Peace with Justice

Building Peace with Justice is a brief, weekly bulletin reflection written by members of a Public Policy sub-committee of the Diocese of Rochester that links the Sunday readings to Catholic social teaching. Many parishes publish them as space allows. Your parish is invited to do the same.

For Sunday Bulletins on January 28, 2007
Nowhere are children more at risk than in places where violence and poverty directly and indirectly kill children. Gang violence, war, terrorism, lack of clean water, nutritious food, and healthcare violate the basic right to life of children. Pope Benedict's 2007 World Day of Peace Message puts the responsibility in our hands: "I wish to make an urgent appeal to the People of God: let every Christian be committed to tireless peace-making and strenuous defense of the dignity of the human person and his inalienable rights” Jesus has revealed to us that God is love (1 Jn 4:8) and that the highest vocation of every person is love. In Christ we can find the ultimate reason for becoming staunch champions of human dignity and courageous builders of peace.

Reflection: How can I move from the sidelines to the front line of peace building, especially for the sake of the children of our world?

For Sunday Bulletins on February 4, 2007
We can become overwhelmed by the violence, suffering, poverty, greed, and destruction evident in our world so discouraged that we haul in our nets and give up. In today's Gospel, Jesus offers us this assurance: he will get into the boat of life with us, and, he asks us not to give up living a life of love. Our U.S. Catholic Bishops remind us in their pastoral statement, Everyday Christianity, "Working for justice in everyday life is not easy. There are complex and sometimes difficult challenges encountered by women and men as they try to live their faith in the world. We applaud the efforts of all Catholics to live the Gospel by pursuing justice and peace in their everyday choices and commitments."

Reflection: How can we (personally and our parishes) be catalysts for the change the world needs?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bishops Remind Congress That Budgets Reflect Moral Choices

Calling the nation’s spending decisions “not only policy choices but moral ones,” the U.S. Conference of Bishops (USCCB) is urging Congress not to neglect the needs of the poor here and abroad as funding is appropriated for the new fiscal year.
“When setting priorities, Congress should seek to advance the common good of all, which cannot be achieved unless the essential needs of the poor and vulnerable are met,” Bishop Thomas G. Wenski, chairman of the USCCB international policy committee and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, chairman of the USCCB domestic policy committee, wrote in a joint letter to senators.

Specifically, the bishops expressed concern that the Continuing Resolution for FY 2007 may reduce essential funding to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in developing countries. Noting that the United States has become “a leader of a major international effort to address these devastating diseases,” the bishops urged Congress to approve $4.36 billion—the amount proposed by the Senate Appropriations Committee—for morally appropriate HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis programs in FY 2007.

In the past few years, the bishops also write, Congress “has failed to fully fund the operation of the public housing system, leaving many local communities to increase rents for low income tenants, defer maintenance on an aging housing stock, and reduce important services to their residents.”

They called on senators to approve the Senate Appropriations bill funding level of $3.6 billion for the operation of public housing, $15.9 billion for the Section 8 voucher program that serves 2 million low-income families, as well as a new voucher distribution formula that would better serve struggling families. The bishops also urged Congress to provide support for refugees and other vulnerable persons. They requested $833 million for the Migration and Refugee Assistance account, $55 million for the Emergency Refugee Migration Assistance account, and $615 million for the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

“As pastors and teachers, we are convinced that the fundamental moral measure of our nation’s spending policy is whether it enhances or undermines those most in need,” the bishops said. “These are difficult times with few easy choices, but there are some right choices. In a time of war, mounting deficits, and growing needs, our nation’s leaders must ensure that there are adequate resources to protect and enhance the lives and dignity of people who are poor and vulnerable both here at home and around the world.”

You can learn more here.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Minimum wage

The U.S. bishops' called for an increase in the federal minimum wage in a January 8 letter to Congress.
"The minimum wage needs to be raised not just for the goods and services a person can buy but for the self-esteem and self-worth it affords," said the letter signed by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, chairman of the bishops' Domestic Policy Committee.

Bishop DiMarzio said that the bishops as pastors see many working people who need realistic salaries.

"“We serve too many families where men and women work full time and still live in destitution," Bishop DiMarzio said. "Congress needs to make budget and policy choices that will ensure adequate funding to help families escape joblessness, move beyond welfare, choose decent education for their children, gain needed health care coverage, and overcome hunger and homelessness."

You can read more here.

There also is an expanded discussion of this issue at Albany Catholic here.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Martin Luther King Day

Here is a quote from Dr. King, posted by Errol Louis of The Daily News on the paper's blog:
Deep down in our non-violent creed is the conviction there are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they're worth dying for. And if a man happens to be 36-years-old, as I happen to be, some great truth stands before the door of his life--some great opportunity to stand up for that which is right.

A man might be afraid his home will get bombed, or he's afraid that he will lose his job, or he's afraid that he will get shot, or beat down by state troopers, and he may go on and live until he's 80. He's just as dead at 36 as he would be at 80. The cessation of breathing in his life is merely the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. He died...

A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.

So we're going to stand up amid horses. We're going to stand up right here in Alabama, amid the billy-clubs. We're going to stand up right here in Alabama amid police dogs, if they have them. We're going to stand up amid tear gas!

We're going to stand up amid anything they can muster up, letting the world know that we are determined to be free!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

National Migration Week

National Migration Week focuses on Welcoming Christ in the Migrant:
As the political debate over immigration reform and border security heightens around the country, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will highlight the need for solidarity with migrants, immigrants, refugees, human trafficking victims and other displaced individuals during National Migration Week, Jan. 7-13.

The theme for this year’s migration week is Welcoming Christ in the Migrant, which marks the 26th year of the annual observance.

You can read more here, here and here.
Bishop Hubbard’s column on immigration is here.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Father Bob Pagliari, C.SS.R., Ph.D writes a column in Catholic New York, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York, and his most recent is titled A New Year's Resolution for the Next 100 Years
Perhaps the best New Year's resolution we can make, regardless of how young or old we are, is that by the end of this year other people could say about us: The world has become a better place because of you. Happy 2007.

The entire article is available here. All of us at the Commission on Peace and Justice wish you a just and peaceful New Year.