Peace & Justice

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

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

The members of the Peace and Justice Commission of the Diocese of Albany wish you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving.
Prayer at Harvest and Thanksgiving

O God, source and giver of all things,
You manifest your infinite majesty, power and goodness
In the earth about us:
We give you honor and glory.
For the sun and the rain,
For the manifold fruits of our fields:
For the increase of our herds and flocks,
We thank you.
For the enrichment of our souls with divine grace,
We are grateful.

Supreme Lord of the harvest,
Graciously accept us and the fruits of our toil,
In union with Jesus, your Son,
As atonement for our sins,
For the growth of your Church,
For peace and love in our homes,
And for salvation for all.
We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers, compiled by The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors.

More prayers from our Franciscan friends are available here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Catholic Campaign for Human Development

The National Collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is this Sunday, November 23. We offer the following from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by funding community programs that encourage independence. You are essential to its success. Your generous donations will give those in poverty the support they need to make lasting changes.

Love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to [the Church] as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, No. 22).

For over 37 million Americans, there is a thin line: between eviction and home, between hunger and health, between unemployment and work, between anxiety and stability. This line is the Poverty Line.

For a family of four, that line is $21,203 a year. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States, 2007.)

Together, we can make a difference in families and communities. Please donate prayerfully and generously. Thank you.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How Cool is Your Congregation?

From the National Catholic Rural Life Council:
Interfaith Power and Light has developed a carbon footprint calculator designed specifically for congregations and congregants. Input basic energy use information and find out the "footprint" size in pounds of carbon and acres of land.

This tool can help parishes find out where their emissions are coming from and help identify steps they can take to significantly reduce energy use. Then, they'll be on the path toward saving money and caring for creation at the same time. Interfaith Power and Light is offering $10,000 in cash prizes to congregations that make the most progress in shrinking their footprints.
For more information, go here.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Centering Prayer

Bruce Gardiner, a member of the Commission on Peace and Justice, also is the local contact person for Contemplative Outreach in the Albany and upper Hudson Valley area. He will present a Centering Prayer Morning Retreat on Saturday, November 15th, 9 a.m. to noon at The Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary, 959 Madison Avenue in Albany.

Bruce has completed the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Formation for Ministry Program and has been a FMP retreat leader and staff member; he also has been commissioned by Contemplative Outreach and Fr. Thomas Keating to teach Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina.
Centering Prayer Morning Retreat
Saturday, November 15th, 9 a.m. to noon
at The Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary
959 Madison Avenue, Albany

Please note slight changes in agenda

9:00 Opening Prayer
9:10 1st Period of Centering Prayer (and overview of Centering Prayer for newcomers)
9:30 2nd Period of Centering Prayer
10:00 Break
10:15 Fr. Thomas Keating Video and Discussion
"Dismantling the Emotional Programs "
11:30 3rd Period of Centering Prayer
12:00 Adjourn

We are making a slight change to the schedule, as shown above, so that we are able to view one complete video tape during each Saturday session.

Please use the rear entrance of the Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary, not the front door facing Madison. We meet downstairs in the Library.

There will be a free will offering to cover our rent and snacks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Pope and Kristallnacht

Catholic News Service reports:
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- German-born Pope Benedict XVI said he still feels "pain for what happened" in his homeland in 1938 when Nazi mobs went on the rampage against Jews, an event that became known as Kristallnacht.

The pope was 11 years old when, on the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938, "the Nazi fury against the Jews was unleashed in Germany."

Marking the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht -- German for Night of the Broken Glass -- the pope asked Catholics to pray for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and he condemned all forms of anti-Semitism.

Pope Benedict spoke about the anniversary during his midday Angelus address Nov. 9 at the Vatican.

During Kristallnacht throughout Germany "stores, offices, homes and synagogues were attacked and numerous people were killed, initiating the systematic and violent persecution of German Jews that concluded with the Shoah," or Holocaust, the pope said.

"I still feel pain for what happened in that tragic circumstance whose memory must serve to ensure that similar horrors are never repeated again and that we commit ourselves, at every level, to fighting anti-Semitism and discrimination, especially by educating the younger generations in respect and mutual acceptance," the pope said.

He also asked Catholics to pray for the victims of the Nazis and "to join me in showing deep solidarity with the Jewish world."
The entire article is here.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Work of Human Hands

The Commission on Peace and Justice is now working with local churches to present the annual Work of Human Hands sale. All of the items being sold are “fairly traded,” which means that we participate in a system that not only aims to pay fair wages, but also creates long-term, direct trading relationships with farmers and artisans around the world based on dialogue, transparency, equity and respect. Fair trade is not about charity; it uses a fair system of exchange to empower producers to develop their own businesses and to foster sustainable development. We follow a set of internationally-accepted fair trade principles and practices that are designed to improve the livelihood of low-income people through alternative trade, including:

Commitment to fair pay for labor

Equal opportunity for women

Concern for the environment

Respect for cultural identity

Reasonable working conditions

No child exploitation

Here is the schedule of sales for the rest of the year:

November 8-9 Our Lady of Grace, Ballston Lake
St. Joseph’s, Scotia
St. Clement’s, Saratoga Springs

November 10 College of Saint Rose – in student union near Camelot Room; 8:30am – 8:30pm

November 13-14 Pastoral Center (9:30 am – 7:30 pm)

November 15-16 St. Peter’s, Stillwater
Christ the King, Guilderland
Sacred Heart, Castleton

November 22-23 St. Margaret of Cortona, Rotterdam Junction
St. John’s/St. Ann’s, Albany

December 6-7 St. Vincent de Paul, Albany
St. John The Baptist, Valatie
St. Helen’s, Schenectady

December 13-14 St. Peter’s, Saratoga Springs
St. Thomas the Apostle, Delmar
St. Catherine of Siena, Albany


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Public Policy Newsletter

Sr. Marianne Comfort, CSJ, from Catholic Charities' Public Policy Office, sends the folowing announcement:
Click here for Catholic Charities' fall public policy newsletter, which includes articles on lessons learned during roadtrips to our agencies throughout the 14-county Albany diocese as well as updates on some of our anti-poverty advocacy. Also included are statements from candidates for national and state office who responded to a letter signed by Bishop Hubbard and other faith leaders that asked what those candidates would do, if elected, to address poverty in their first 100 days in office.

We are pleased that Catholic Charities' new website is now up and running, at We encourage you to visit the public policy page, which includes links to materials you can use in your parishes and schools to educate others about and involve them in our anti-poverty campaign. We also encourage you to invite others to sign up on the website to join our email advocacy network, of which you are a member. We expect soon to begin sending out occasional email alerts to engage you in contacting state and federal legislators on poverty-related issues at critical times in the legislative process.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Faithful Citizenship -- Making Moral Choices

From The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, a summary of the United States bishops’ reflection Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, available here.
How Does the Church Help Catholics to Address Political and Social Questions?

Making Moral Choices

Difficult political decisions require the exercise of a well-formed conscience aided by prudence. This exercise of conscience begins with always opposing policies that violate human life or weaken its protection. “Those who formulate law therefore have an obligation in conscience to work toward correcting morally defective laws, lest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops [USCCB], Catholics in Political Life).

When morally flawed laws already exist, prudential judgment is needed to determine how to do what is possible to restore justice—even if partially or gradually -- without ever abandoning a moral commitment to full protection for all human life from conception to natural death (see Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, no. 73).

Prudential judgment is also needed to determine the best way to promote the common good in areas such as housing, health care, and immigration. When Church leaders make judgments about how to apply Catholic teaching to specific policies, this may not carry the same binding authority as universal moral principles but cannot be dismissed as one political opinion among others. These moral applications should inform the consciences and guide the actions of Catholics.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Faithful Citizenship -- Doing Good and Avoiding Evil

From The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, a summary of the United States bishops’ reflection Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, available here.
How Does the Church Help Catholics to Address Political and Social Questions?

Doing Good and Avoiding Evil

There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. These intrinsically evil acts must always be rejected and never supported. A preeminent example is the intentional taking of human life through abortion. It is always morally wrong to destroy innocent human beings. A legal system that allows the right to life to be violated on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed.

Similarly, direct threats to the dignity of human life such as euthanasia, human cloning, and destructive research on human embryos are also intrinsically evil and must be opposed. Other assaults on human life and dignity, such as genocide, torture, racism, and the targeting of noncombatants in acts of terror or war, can never be justified. Disrespect for any human life diminishes respect for all human life.

As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.

Opposition to intrinsically evil acts also prompts us to recognize our positive duty to contribute to the common good and act in solidarity with those in need. Both opposing evil and doing good are essential. As Pope John Paul II said, “the fact that only the negative commandments oblige always and under all circumstances does not mean that in the moral life prohibitions are more important than the obligation to do good indicated by the positive commandment” (Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, no. 52). The basic right to life implies and is linked to other human rights to the goods that every person needs to live and thrive—including food, shelter, health care, education, and meaningful work. The use of the death penalty, hunger, lack of health care or housing, human trafficking, the human and moral costs of war, and unjust immigration policies are some of the serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Faithful Citizenship -- The Virtue of Prudence

From The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, a summary of the United States bishops’ reflection Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, available here.
How Does the Church Help Catholics to Address Political and Social Questions?

The Virtue of Prudence

The Church also encourages Catholics to develop the virtue of prudence, which enables us “to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1806). Prudence shapes and informs our ability to deliberate over available alternatives, to determine what is most fitting to a specific context, and to act. Prudence must be accompanied by courage which calls us to act. As Catholics seek to advance the common good, we must carefully discern which public policies are morally sound. A good end does not justify an immoral means. At times Catholics may choose different ways to respond to social problems, but we cannot differ on our obligation to protect human life and dignity and help build through moral means a more just and peaceful world.