Peace & Justice

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

Sunday, August 31, 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 September 7

Beware of the readings this week if you don’t want the challenge to be a very active Christian. Each reading exhorts us to pay attention to God speaking in the world around us; acting on the invitation to love as God loves; and to nurture, care for and repair as necessary all the relationships and responsibilities we have towards others.

This is no weak message. The readings give a call to purposeful living, speaking the truth and living by an active love, not passivity.

In this election year, these readings call us to our responsibility to listen to social analysis and weigh proposed solutions according to how they will affect our neighbors, especially the poor. These readings call us to listen for the truth and “speak that truth to power” as we build a future that leaves no one on the fringes.

Reflection: Do you know what the candidates are proposing in
economics, health care, for the environment? Are you making decisions with your neighbors in mind and the call to “love your neighbor as yourself?”

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Labor Day Statement

The United State Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following news release regarding the conference’s annual Labor Day statement:
Labor Day Message Calls For Action On Just Economy, Dignity, Workers’ Rights

WASHINGTON – An American Catholic Tradition, the U.S. bishops’ 2008 Labor Day statement calls for “renewed vigor as we seek to build together a society that cares for its own, reaches out to the poor and vulnerable, and offers true hope to all.”

Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the statement to highlight the needs of the nation’s workers, economic inequalities and the responsibilities of all citizens to help improve working conditions.

He drew inspiration from the late Monsignor George Higgins, the “labor priest” who worked for fifty-plus years for workers’ rights and was an outspoken bridge between the Catholic Church in the United States and the labor movement. He described how Monsignor Higgins might address current economic stresses.

“Above all, Monsignor Higgins would be concerned about the worker, the person, and the family whose lives are affected by a host of factors,” Bishop Murphy said. “He would weigh up and measure all those factors by their overall impact on human beings. Monsignor would have pointed out the lack of union representation in so many of the emerging industries and workplaces where exploitation has been most evident.”

The Church, Bishop Murphy said, continues to focus on the dignity of the worker as “the cornerstone of Catholic teaching on economic life.” The “challenge of overcoming poverty brings the Catholic community together,” he said.

Given the coming national elections, the Labor Day statement reminds Catholics to use Catholic social and moral teaching to assess issues of economic justice, human life and dignity. Bishop Murphy cited the bishops’ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, a document updated every four years, in stressing the need to form a correct conscience in decision-making, based not on personal feelings or individual popularity, but on the truth of the human person and human society. Bishop Murphy said this is determined by examining “candidates and issues from the perspective of human life and dignity, the true good of society, the common good of us all in our nation and in this world.”

The Labor Day statement highlights Faithful Citizenship’s words on economic justice, work and workers’ rights. It outlines what comprises a just economy and “makes both links and distinctions between the fundamental duty to oppose what is intrinsically evil (i.e., the destruction of unborn life) and the obligation to pursue the common good (i.e., defending rights of workers and pursuing greater economic justice),” Bishop Murphy said.

The entire statement is here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Count us in

We will be participating in Blog Action Day.
Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.

One Issue, Thousands of Voices

Global issues like poverty are extremely complex. There is no simple, clear answer. By asking thousands of different people to give their viewpoints and opinions, Blog Action Day creates an extraordinary lens through which to view these issues. Each blogger brings their own perspective and ideas. Each blogger posts relating to their own blog topic. And each blogger engages their audience differently.

What is the aim of Blog Action Day?

First and last, the purpose of Blog Action Day is to create a discussion. We ask bloggers to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on an important issue.

By doing so on the same day, the blogging community effectively changes the conversation on the web and focuses audiences around the globe on that issue.

Out of this discussion naturally flow actions, advice, ideas, plans, and empowerment. In 2007 on the theme of the Environment, we saw bloggers running environmental experiments, detailing innovative ideas on creating sustainable practices and focusing audience’s attentions on organizations and companies promoting green agendas. In 2008 we aim to again focus the blogging community’s energies and passions, this time on the mammoth issue of global poverty.

More information is available here.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Poverty rates held steady

On Wednesday, Cathleen F. Crowley of the Times Union wrote:
The number of Americans with no health insurance dropped by a million in 2007 and household income rose modestly, but poverty rates held steady, according a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census.

"We take no comfort in the fact that there's no big increase in poverty," said Martha Pofit, director of policy for Catholic Charities of Albany. "It should be going down since the year that (the Census report) captures is presumably the last year of an economic expansion."

The entire article is available here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Election Novena

From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) invites U.S. Catholics to pray before the November election a novena for life, justice, and peace called Novena for Faithful Citizenship. It is a podcast and available for download.

Joan Rosenhauer, Associate Director for the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, said that the special novena is part of “the bishops’ campaign to help Catholics develop well-formed consciences for addressing political and social questions.” The bishops issued their statement on forming consciences for faithful citizenship in November 2007.

Helen Osman, USCCB Secretary of Communications, expressed hope that the novena could help “Catholics enter into prayerful reflection as they prepare to vote.” Seventy-one percent of all visitors to the USCCB’s web site download the free podcasts of the daily NAB readings. These same visitors are encouraged to use the novena podcast for prayer. Osman said that the USCCB wants to support Catholics as they weigh pre-election issues and that “providing a prayer resource on the Web can help us focus on our common values and identity as Catholics.” The novena emphasizes the dignity of life, justice, and peace.

The Novena for Faithful Citizenship runs for nine days and can be used consecutively, one day each week, for nine days prior to the election, or “in any way that works best for a community or individual,” said Rosenhauer.

The novena will be available for download until the election and it can be downloaded online here.

Labor in the Pulpits

Each Labor Day weekend, religious congregations across the country and across New York state host union members and labor leaders to reflect on faith, work, justice and the meaning of Labor Day. All faith traditions strongly support the principles of justice in the workplace and share these values with the labor movement:

* All people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
* The economy should work for human beings, not the other way around.
* All workers contribute to society's productive efforts and deserve to share in society's prosperity.
* All workers should earn enough for life's basic necessities.

To see 2008 worship materials from Interfaith Worker Justice, click here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Faithful Citizenship for Homilists and Liturgy Planners

As the election draws near, there may be weekends when parish leaders feel it's appropriate to incorporate political themes into prayers, music, or homilies. Active, involved citizenship is an ongoing part of being a good Catholic; loving God and our neighbor should be reflected in all aspects of our lives. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has posted prayers of petition, music suggestions, homily helps and other liturgy resources on their website at

Some appropriate times could be during the convention weeks in August and early September, early October as the deadline to register (October 10) approaches, or in the weeks leading up to the election. Once again, it's very important that homilists and bulletin editors remain nonpartisan and focus on values rather than candidates.

Pope Benedict XVI has called us to celebrate the "Year of St. Paul" in honor of the 2000th anniversary of the saint's birth. Many of the Sunday readings from St. Paul in the coming weeks call us to live lives as attentive followers of Jesus - the way of the faithful citizen. September 7 reminds us of the primacy of the Law of Love, Sept. 21 to "conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ." Sept 28 is a beautiful call to reject selfishness and take on the attitude of Jesus, looking out for others. Equally beautiful is the October 5 reminder to take on "whatever is true...honorable...just...pure...lovely...gracious...." These are essential messages when political advertising plays on fear and self-interest.

Saturday, August 16, 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 31

Today’s Gospel calls us to think as God does. Jesus’ life of selflessness, sacrifice for others, and unconditional love, gives us insight into how God thinks! Our U.S. Catholic Bishops help us understand this call in their pastoral, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: “The Church equips its members to address political and social questions by helping them develop a well-formed conscience. Catholics have a serious and lifelong obligation to form their consciences in accord with human reason and teaching of the Church. Conscience is the voice of God resounding in the human heart and revealing the truth to us – calling us to do what is good while shunning what is evil.”

Reflection: How can we prepare for the November elections? Are we willing to examine the facts about political and social questions of our day, study Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Church, pray to discern the voice of God?

Thursday, August 07, 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 24

The call to be informed, conscience-driven citizens does not begin and end in election years. Volunteering in our communities, being a principled worker or employer, spending and investing in ethical ways, staying informed and engaging in reasoned dialogue on important issues are only a few of the daily activities that impact the health of our society. Living our faith is a daily challenge to grasp “the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God.

The U.S. Catholic Bishops encourage us to follow several steps
in forming our consciences:

* A desire to embrace goodness and truth that is reflected in our willingness to study Scripture and the teachings of the church.
* Examining the facts and background information of our choices
* Prayerful reflection

Are my opinions of candidates and issues shaped by good conscience formation and a desire for the common good?