Peace & Justice

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

Monday, February 25, 2008

Meeting with elected officials

Pax Christi offers a number of tips for meeting with elected officials here.
Requesting A Meeting:
Request a meeting in writing and then follow up with a phone call.

Indicate specific times that you are available to meet.

Indicate the issue or legislation to be discussed.

Specify in your written and oral communication that you are a constituent of the elected official.

Preparing For The Meeting:
Determine who will participate in the meeting. Be sure as many groups as possible who will be impacted by the legislation/issue are represented. Limit the number of participants to no more than five.

Decide what points will be emphasized, who will open the conversation and what delegation members will take the lead on each talking point.

Determine a clear goal and what action you want taken.

During the Meeting:
Be on time—elected officials run on a very tight schedule.

Be cordial. Introduce yourself and thank the official for the opportunity to meet.

Stay focused. You will have very little time to make your case so stay on topic.

Before wrapping up the meeting, ask your elected official to set a specific timeline for when he/she will make a decision about his/her position on the issue/legislation.

Thank your elected official and restate the agreed upon deadlines for his/her response.

Following The Meeting:
Send a written thank you to the elected official.

Promptly provide additional materials or information requested by the elected official.

Check back with the elected official for his/her position regarding your issue on the agreed upon deadline. If he/she has not made a decision by the stated deadline, ask the official to commit to another deadline—be friendly but persistent.

To which we add one thing. Ask your elected officials what they are doing to bring the issue to a vote. Often, elected officials may say they support a bill, but do nothing to move it through their legislative house. Do not hesitate to ask them what they are doing to help pass the legislation you support.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ecology and Spirituality

Jeff Peck, a member of the Commission on Peace and Justice, offers the following Lenten reflection.

Getting What You Want or Wanting What You Have?

We are all aware of the condition of the physical world. Depletion of fossil fuels, climate change, raising rates of asthma among children, concerns over water purity, and other signs indicate that we are having an effect on the environment around us. At the heart of many of these problems is the extreme to which our consumerism has gone. The drive to own more and use more is not at the heart of our Christian faith.

We are called to develop a holistic relationship between ourselves and nature. In Genesis, we are given stewardship over the Earth and its inhabitants. We are given the opportunity to see the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living things. In a sense all living things are our neighbors. Jesus calls us to love our neighbor and therefore to seek what is good for them. This good includes a healthy world. Part of Christian spirituality is the belief that humankind has a serious responsibility to care for the earth’s resources by using them wisely and replenishing them.

We are to live our lives virtuously. We can do so through:
· Temperance – embracing a simple balanced lifestyle.
· Prudence – Using good judgment in consuming the world’s resources.
· Justice – Right action toward the earth through a deep respect for all creation and doing what is needed to help it flourish.
· Fortitude – Having the courage to redress the ecological problems which exist today by recognizing our obligation to collaborate with God to bring all of creation to completion.

One of the frequent “church conversations” at this time of year includes the issue of what to give up or do for Lent. We are often urged to do something positive. We can be both penitential as well as outwardly constructive if we simply resolve in a very concrete way to consume less.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Building Peace with Justice, final edition

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

For Sunday Bulletins on February 24
The World Health Organization says that every year more than 3.4 million people die from water related diseases, making it the leading cause of disease and death around the world with most of the victims being young children.

Catholic Social Teaching insists that we “protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions which cannot be ignored.” In addition, “it teaches that human dignity must be protected by allowing every person a fundamental right to life and to those things required for human life," like clean water.

Today Jesus shares his "living water" with us, which satisfies all our human needs, both physical and spiritual.

Reflection: How do we ensure that our world’s children have enough clean water? How do we live in the world as witnesses to Christ’s living water?

The End of Building Peace with Justice
From a letter written by Fr. Brian Cool, Diocesan Public Policy Chairperson, to Pastoral Leaders and Bulletin editors:

"Nearly five years ago, as the United States began the war in Iraq, the Diocesan Public Policy Committee initiated a bulletin series to counteract the public’s impression that the Catholic Church had little to say about the morality of pre-emptive war. From the beginning, the series, initially called “In Time of Conflict” then “Building Peace with Justice”, called Catholics to hear the challenging, prophetic voices from our own tradition who call us to live lives of courage that reflect our Gospel call to love one another.

The war goes on, but we feel it’s time to bring the series to an end.

This week we publish the last edition of Building Peace with Justice for publication in bulletins on February 24. Next week, a new series will begin called “Building Faithful Citizenship.” This series will run at least through this present election year and will present bulletin-friendly excerpts from the U.S. Catholic Bishops recent statement, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the catholic Bishops of the United States, along with a brief reflection."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Voices from Darfur

Voices from Darfur, a national speaking tour featuring Darfuri refugees that will be visiting Schenectady on Thursday. Voices from Darfur offers a unique opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of the genocide from the people who have lived through it.

What: Voices from Darfur - a National Speaking Tour
When: Thursday, February 21, 6:00 p.m.
Where: Union College
Nott Memorial
807 Union Street
Schenectady, NY 12308


Friday, February 15, 2008

Darfur has a post called "Faith Outreach" that's worth checking out...

Darfur: A Call to Action is a 20 minute documentary film produced by the Save Darfur Coalition. The film provides background on the genocide…


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Death Penalty Talk Thursday

New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty Executive Director David Kaczynski will disucss the death penalty and its impact during a presentation at the College of St. Rose in Albany on Wednesday February 13. Mr. Kaczynski will also share his personal experiences as the brother of the Unabomber.

Time: 7:30 pm
Place: St. Joseph's Auditorium
The College of Saint Rose
432 Western Avenue
Albany, NY 12203


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Economic stimulus package

NETWORK is a progressive voice within the Catholic community that has been influencing Congress in favor of peace and justice for more than 30 years. They sent us the following information on the economic stimulus package:
An economic stimulus package must be timely, temporary and targeted. It must also be passed by both the House and the Senate and signed by the president. Unfortunately, many desirable provisions would make it unlikely to pass in both chambers.

Amid the furor to improve the economy, the president released his budget request on Monday, February 4, in which he promotes expansion of tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans - estimated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to cost $4.3 trillion over ten years.

According to the National Women's Law Center analysis, households with incomes over $450,000 a year (top 1%) will be gifted with over $1 trillion in tax cuts in this time - an average tax savings of $8,000 per year.

Funding for this gift to the wealthiest earners in the nation materializes through cuts to programs that provide necessities to low-wage workers, seniors, and persons with disabilities - including veterans.


Contact your representative and senators; tell them to support an economic stimulus package that will:

- get money into the hands of seniors
- get money into the hands of veterans and other people whose disabilities keep them from significant earning, and
- extend unemployment insurance, expanding it to cover those who lost low-wage and part-time work
- increase funding for LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program), as the costs of energy skyrocket, even for those living in poverty.

More information is available here.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Building Peace with Justice

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

For Sunday Bulletins on February 10
In today's Gospel reading, Jesus turns away from the temptations of satisfaction, well being, and power. He shows us true poverty of spirit, choosing to rely completely on God.

Francis of Assisi followed this example, rejecting the Crusades of his day and adopting a poverty that Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff describes as "a way of being by which the individual lets things be what they are; one refuses to dominate them, subjugate them, and make them objects of the will to power." In doing so he became open to God's plan for his life.

Reflection: Are we willing to look closely at our desire for power in our families, communities and world? Might we become closer to God if we choose service and sacrifice instead of control?

For Sunday Bulletins on February 17
In today’s readings we hear God calling a people to be his own through Abram. To guide this people, God gave both law and prophecy. But humankind, whether as individuals or in the societies that we create, has a tendency to overlook or distort the guidance of the law and prophets. When God entered directly into history through Jesus, he fulfilled both, through his commands to love God and love one another. At the Transfiguration, the power of that love was so strong that a brilliance of light appeared, and this light is promised to us if we listen to Christ.

Reflection: This Lent, are we making room in ourselves to be brighter bearers of the light of love?