Peace & Justice

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

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Choosing To Forgive

Catholic News Service distributed the following about an interfaith religion special to air Sunday, June 8, on the CBS network:
Choosing to Forgive, an interfaith religion special on the meaning and practice of forgiveness, will be broadcast Sunday, June 8 on the CBS Television Network. For exact airing time check your local station.

Choosing to Forgive presents the idea of forgiveness from both a religious and a scientific point of view. Several major faiths teach we must forgive those who do us wrong. In recent years, the subject has interested psychologists who have studied it as a potentially effective means of getting past wrongs and injustices.

This special presentation is produced in cooperation with the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission (IBC), including the National Council of Churches, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), a consortium of Jewish organizations and the Islamic Society of North America.

“IBC suggests a variety of ideas to the CBS production staff. We look for topics that relate to many faiths. Forgiveness seemed a natural topic for all,” said Ellen McCloskey, assistant director of the USCCB’s Office of Digital Media.
. . .
The special also includes a visit to St. James Catholic School in Madison, to see first graders learn the basic steps in forgiveness. The program hopes to aid them in choosing to forgive throughout their lives.

You can learn more here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Building Faithful Citizenship

Building Faithful Citizenship is a brief, weekly bulletin reflection on the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

For Sunday Bulletins on June 8
“I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” With these words, our Lord challenges both us and our culture to adopt a stance that reaches out to the sinner, inviting each person to come to know Christ’s love and healing forgiveness. If Christ seeks mercy, shouldn’t we as well? The U.S. bishops model this when they write, for example, “An ethic of responsibility, rehabilitation, and restoration should be a foundation for the reform of our broken criminal justice system. A remedial, rather than a strictly punitive, approach to offenders should be developed.” (#85, Faithful Citizenship)

Reflection question: When I look at the political options before me, do I seek propositions and people who speak of mercy more than punishment, of reconciliation more than retribution?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Building the Peace

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester distributes a newsletter called Justice Update. We would like to share a portion with you:
Five years after the start of the war in Iraq, there is wide consensus that little good has come from the decision to go to war. Anger and fear after the September 11 attacks clouded the judgement of many citizens and legislators, allowing the ill-conceived pre-emptive war to proceed. We are left with the responsibility for a country in ruins - many of it's people dead or scattered as refugees, thousands of our own dedicated young men and women dead as war casualties, tens of thousands of others whose lives have been shattered by visible and invisible war wounds, our own economy in shambles, and no good way out.

Shortly after the start of the war, Pope John Paul II declared, "When war, as in these days in Iraq, threatens the fate of humanity, it is even more urgent to proclaim with a determined voice, that peace alone is the way to construct a more just and caring society." Later that same day, the Pope said, "Violence and arms can never resolve the problems of men.”

The next peace needs to begin today. We may not have all the answers about how to withdrawal from Iraq, but that should not keep us from speaking out loudly and regularly against policies that threaten human dignity and for policies that build peace. Our economy should not be based on the profitability of the weapons industry. Torture has no place in American policies. Lessening our dependence on imported oil means developing technologies that use renewable forms of energy.

How can we begin to build that peace today? Some thoughts:
Spend quiet, reflective time in prayer each day. Peacebuilders need to be centered in peace and open to God's nudges.

Find a community of supporters. Peacebuilding can make others uncomfortable. You need some like-minded people who believe in peace and can support your efforts.

Bring it into the conversation in your parish. Bulletin quotes, small group discussions, prayer services can help to remind parishioners that decisions about war and peace have everything to do with our religious beliefs. Take advantage of important dates to raise up peace issues. Small Christian Communities or Bible study groups might be challenged to study and discuss, "The Challenge of Peace" on the 25th anniversary of it's publication by the U.S. Catholic Bishops.