Peace & Justice

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

Wednesday, July 30, 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 August 10
Hearing and acting on the voice of God requires a certain discipline. We need to find quiet time to listen for God’s voice of love. We need to understand the teachings of our faith and how they relate to the world.

The US Bishops remind us in Faithful Citizenship that “conscience is not something that allows us to justify doing whatever we want, not is it a mere “feeling” about what we should do or should not do. Rather conscience is the voice of God resounding in the human heart, revealing the truth to us and calling us to do what is good while shunning evil. Conscience always requires serious attempts to make sound moral judgments based on the truth of our faith.”

Reflection: Are we preparing for the upcoming election by
studying the teachings of our Church on the moral issues such as
abortion, war, euthanasia, economic injustice and capital
punishment? Are we praying for courage to insist that our leaders
recognize the dignity of all human beings?

For Sunday Bulletins on August 17
In our reading from Isaiah today we hear: “Thus says the Lord: Observe what is right, do what is just.” Our bishops remind us that, as members of a community of faith, we have resources and assets for sorting out what is “right and just” in the political arena.

“The Catholic community brings important assets to the political dialogue about our nation’s future. We bring a consistent moral framework—drawn from basic human reason that is illuminated by Scripture and the teaching of the Church… We also bring broad experience in serving those in need…” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, #12).

Reflection: How does your experience of serving those in need
help you to make political choices that are “right and just”? Are you
seeking a consistent moral framework that is informed by Scripture
and the teaching of the Church?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thought for the day

We don't accomplish anything in this world alone ... and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.
- Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Torture is a MORAL Issue: A Catholic Study Guide

Waterboarding? Electric Shocks? References to torture can be found in newspapers, radio and TV programs, and even in cartoons.

What does the Church have to say about torture? This four chapter study guide, from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will offer reflections on torture as a moral issue. Get a group together to discuss this timely issue and what you can do to stop torture.

To download the entire study guide as a PDF, click here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mark your calendars

You are invited to hear Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ speaking on Dead Man Walking: The Journey Continues Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. at La Salle Institute, 174 Williams Road, Troy (next to Hudson Valley Community College).

Sister Helen is widely known as an advocate for the abolition of the death penalty. She wrote Dead Man Walking about her experiences with prisoners on death row. The book was made into a feature-length film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, and also into an opera of the same title.

A freewill offering will go towards Sr. Helen’s ministry.

For more information: or (518) 283-2500 ext 565

This event is co-sponsored by La Salle Institute of Troy and the Commission on Peace and Justice of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Pope on Climate Change

The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change sends us the following:
God's creation is one and it is good!
His Holiness Benedict XVI, Sydney, Australia, July 17, 2008

As we celebrate the full sunshine of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, Pope Benedict is exhorting young people in Australia to have courage and faith in the face of so many global challenges including "the concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment."

Reflecting on his long airplane journey from Rome to Australia, Pope Benedict told the audience that he marveled at the beauty of the Mediterranean, the deserts of Africa, the lushness of Asia. He also saw

"…scars which mark the surface of our earth: erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world's mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption. Some of [the gathered youth] come from island nations whose very existence is threatened by rising water levels; others from nations suffering the effects of devastating drought. God's wondrous creation is sometimes experienced as almost hostile to its stewards, even something dangerous. How can what is "good" appear so threatening?"

But he reminds us that in baptism we have become a new creation. We who have been made in God's image and likeness embrace "God [who] has a human face - Jesus Christ" and are called to bear witness to our Savior. "Our hearts and minds are yearning for a vision of life where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. This is the work of the Holy Spirit! This is the hope held out by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is to bear witness to this reality that you were created anew at Baptism and strengthened through the gifts of the Spirit at Confirmation."

We are indeed blessed that our Holy Father continues to bear witness to the need to listen to the "voice of the earth" as he said to a group of priests last year.

For the full texts of Pope Benedict's speeches and homilies at World Youth Day, go here.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Quote

Civic and political education is today supremely necessary for the people, especially young people. Such education should be painstakingly provided, so that all citizens can make their contribution to the political community.

Let those who are suited for it, or can become so, prepare themselves for the difficult but most honorable art of politics. Let them work to exercise this art without thought of personal convenience and without benefit of bribery. Prudently and honorably let them fight against injustice and oppression, the arbitrary rule of one person or one party, and lack of tolerance. Let them devote themselves to the welfare of all sincerely and fairly, indeed with charity and political courage.

Gaudium et Spes
Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World
Second Vatican Council, 1965

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


The ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan, continues. You can help the people of Darfur by finding out more about the conflict, checking out resources and educating yourself about the status of current legislation here and here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Proclaiming Christ 2008

The Paulist National Catholic Evangelization Association is hosting an online conference for ministry leaders who wish to broaden their understanding of Catholic evangelization in the U.S. today. It will be held September 16 through 18, 2008, and is called Proclaiming Christ 2008, Sharing the Gift of Our Catholic Faith.

Participants will view presentations by ministry experts, raise and discuss questions with the presenters and other participants, learn about the latest resources, and experience the strength that comes from being part of a nationwide evangelizing Catholic community.

What are the benefits of this conference?

* Explore spirituality, research and models for Catholic evangelization in the U.S.
* Focus on reaching today’s inactive Catholics
* Discuss your ideas and insights with your peers from around the country
* Take away practical ideas for follow-up after the conference
* Learn about resources to assist you in your evangelizing mission

Conference Registration Only $100. Sign up before August 22, 2008 and receive the early-bird special rate of $75. There is a group rate for 3 or more registrants is $50 per person.

For more information, go here.

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 July 27

In today’s reading from 1 Kings, God was so pleased with Solomon’s unselfish request for an “understanding heart” that God blessed Solomon with great wisdom. Attaining wisdom can be challenging for voters as voices on every side present opposing positions on issues as varied as stem-cell research, treatment of immigrants, economics, war and fuel prices. Perhaps a measure for that wisdom can be found in the U.S. Catholic bishops call to a consistent ethic of life that “,,,provides a moral framework for principled Catholic engagement in political life and, rightly understood, neither treats all issues as morally equivalent nor reduces Catholic teaching to one or two issues. It anchors the Catholic commitment to defend human life, from conception until natural death, in the fundamental moral obligation to respect the dignity of every person as a child of God.” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship #40)

Reflection: Do I vote as if I believe that God is present in every human being?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Remembering Sister Anita

Carol DeMare of the Times Union wrote of beautiful obituary last week for Sister Anita von Wellsheim, a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart for 69 years, who worked in both Nicaragua and Haiti. Sister Anita died at Kenwood Convent of the Sacred Heart on South Pearl Street in Albany.
She traveled to war-torn Nicaragua with Witness for Peace, a human rights and economic justice organization, where she was one of 28 kidnapped by Contra forces at gunpoint in 1985 and in deep jungle mud made to march up a mountain before being freed after 29 hours.
. . .
For 40 years she was a teacher and administrator.

In her mid-60s, she took on a new career, that of an activist. She traveled to Haiti as a social worker in the early 1990s and wasn't deterred by paramilitary forces.

"She certainly was a very dedicated person and about midway in her ministry years, she became very involved with social justice issues and concern for the poor and was insatiable in her desire to do whatever she could," said Sister Marie Buonato, director of pastoral care at Kenwood. "She immersed herself in Haiti and the Fonkoze."

Fonkoze was a well-known bank in Haiti that provided services to the poor as a means of encouraging self-sufficiency. Sister Anita was a prominent member of the enterprise who helped raise money for it.

"It is not God's will that they should live in such dire poverty and oppression," she said in a 2001 Times Union story. "This is the result of a system that is not just."
. . .
Sister Anita had a soft spot for the less fortunate, and in the 1980s was director of refugee resettlement for the Albany diocese.
. . .
Contributions can be made to the Society of the Sacred Heart, 4389 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO. 63108.

The rest of the story is available here.

National Migration Conference

The 2008 National Migration Conference is co-sponsored by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS) in partnership with Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Relief Services.

The conference will be July 28-31 at the Hilton Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Over 600 participants expected, including representatives from the CLINIC and USCCB/MRS networks, government and non-government partner agencies, Church officials, and other interested individuals and organizations.

According to the organizers, the conference will feature:
* Renowned experts and speakers covering a wide range of migration-related topics, including a discussion of services to and the pastoral care of immigrants, migrants, refugees, unaccompanied immigrant children, victims of human trafficking, and other people on the move.

* Opportunities for networking, information-sharing, staff recognition, celebration and special liturgies.

* Public advocacy, featuring Congressional visits to Capitol Hill.

Questions? Contact Izzy Menchero, CLINIC at (202) 635-5825 or Jim Kuh, USCCB/MRS at (202) 541-3220 or via e-mail at Or, you can visit the conference website here.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Farmworker Update

If you can access online videos, here are two short ones on the current immigration issue. The first link takes you to a very short video filmed in Sodus at the Church of the Epiphany. The second one tells about the dangers at the border.

Church Watch:

Border Angels:

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 July 20

Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed and yeast -
things unremarkable in themselves, yet with latent power to produce
marvelous results. We, too, can help grow the kingdom in the here
and now, by living Jesus' command to "love one another."

As we survey the political landscape, we can easily become cynical
and withdrawn, convincing ourselves nothing can be done to change
politics, rectify injustice, or alleviate lethal poverty. However, our Bishops
remind us (in Faithful Citizenship) that we have a "moral obligation" to
participate in political life. "We are called to bring together our principles
and our political choices, our values and our votes, to help build a better
world." (§14)

Reflection: Imagine the power of millions of "faithful citizens" embedding their mustard seeds or yeast into the political life of our nation!