Peace & Justice

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

Friday, September 21, 2007

Action alert

Stephen M. Colecchi, Director of the Office of International Justice and Peace for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has distributed the following:

For a long time the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for a "responsible transition" to bring an end to the war in Iraq "as soon as possible." A major component of a "responsible transition" is the protection of vulnerable populations, including refugees and internally displaced persons. Their humanitarian situation is dire.

Below you will find the text of an "Action Alert" related to Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons. Please contact your Senators and urge them to support the bipartisan REFUGEE CRISIS IN IRAQ AMENDMENT to the Defense Authorization bill.

It is urgent that you contact your Senators by September 20. Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of vulnerable Iraqis.

More information follows:

The content of the amendment is the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Bill (S. 1651)


There are more than 4.2 million refugees and displaced persons in and around Iraq

Many have helped U.S. troops and are thus now targeted by insurgents

Vulnerable groups – including Christian Chaldeans and Mandeans - face exploitation and shortages of food and clean water

The United States has only admitted 719 Iraqi refugees so far this year*

Other countries in the region are closing their borders, leaving those fleeing persecution nowhere to go

The Refugee Crisis in Iraq Amendment would:

Prioritize vulnerable Iraqi refugees who fear death by insurgents

Provide expedited special immigrant visas for Iraqis who helped U.S. troops

Allow persecuted individuals to apply for refugee status from within Iraq

Tell your Senators:

Whether we support or oppose the war, we can all agree that vulnerable refugees deserve our protection

The bill should be included in the Defense Authorization bill, since the safety of refugees directly impacts the stability of Iraq

They should cosponsor and vote YES on this bipartisan, humanitarian bill

Please phone, fax, or email your Senators by September 20, the date most amendments will be offered to the Defense Authorization bill. Call 202-224-3121 or find your Senators’ phone numbers at or by following our links.
*To be admitted to the United States, Iraqis must pass extended screening processes in addition to rigorous background checks and security procedures mandated for all refugees

The Bill is sponsored by Senator Kennedy (MA)
Cosponsors as of Sept. 12, 2007: Biden (DE), Brownback (KS), Durbin (IL), Feinstein (CA), Hagel (NE), Leahy (VT), Levin (MI), Lieberman (CT), Menendez (NJ), Smith (OR), Voinovich (OH), Whitehouse (RI) & Wyden (OR)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

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.

For Sunday Bulletins on September 23
"You cannot serve both God and mammon," Jesus tells his
disciples. Most of us can reflect on our daily lives and feel
satisfied that our desires are modest. We are not slaves to
our possessions, are we?

Yet, consider the amount of time we spend maintaining our
lawns, updating our computers, shopping for clothes, checking
stock portfolios and strolling the mall. If we skipped those
activities occasionally, think of the hours we might have available
to serve God.

Reflection: Compare the time and resources you spend tending
to material possessions. Do you devote yourself equally to
spiritual treasures such as generosity, compassion and mercy?

Centering Prayer Morning Retreat

Bruce Gardiner, a member of the Commission on Peace and Justice conducts monthly retreats on centering prayer.
Saturday, September 15th, 8:30 – 11:30 AM
St. Vincent’s Church, 900 Madison Avenue , Albany
8:30 Coffee and…Intro to Centering Prayer for newcomers
9:00 Centering Prayer (2 twenty minute periods)
9:55 Break
10:10 The Vision of Contemplative Outreach /
Plans for Our Saturday Meetings
11:10 Centering Prayer
11:30 Adjourn
PLEASE NOTE: This month we are meeting at St. Vincent’s, as the Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary is not available. Come to the back of the building to enter. All other meetings this year will be held at Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary.

If you plan to attend, or have quesitons, please contact Bruce at 518-325-5546.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Rabbi to address united efforts

Karen Dietlein Osborne writes in the current issue of The Evangelist:
In 2004, two dozen Philadelphia Jews, Christians and Muslims gathered for four days of interfaith dialogue and understanding.

It was "a very intensive and vigorous and thoughtful and heartfelt retreat in which people shared their own spiritual journeys that brought them" together, said Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia and one of the organizers of the event.

He will speak about the weekend and interfaith understanding at the Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, Sept. 10, 7:30 p.m.

Each person in the 2004 retreat was able to further understand each other's positions, the rabbi said, because they shared their faith and spiritual journey.

It "brought us close together as human beings and carriers of our own spiritual traditions," he said. "This went much deeper -- to the heart of what we believe."

At Rabbi Waskow's Shalom Center in Philadelphia (, different faiths continue to "work together to know each other and work at shared actions," he said.

You can read the rest of the article here. Rabbi Waskow’s talk is being sponsored by the Albany diocesan Commission on Peace and Justice, the Interfaith Alliance, and the Capital District Board of Rabbis. At 7 p.m., a "Stop the Hate Vigil" will precede his talk. We hope to see you there.