Peace & Justice

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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Catholic Teaching on Economic Life

We are pleaesd to pass along this news release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).


WASHINGTON—In response to the current economic crisis and its moral and human impacts, a new USCCB Web site has been developed to better share Catholic social teaching on economic life and how it can shape the responses of Catholics to the economic crisis.

Catholic Teaching on Economic Life ( features the ten-point “A Catholic Framework for Economic Life,” which is downloadable in handout form. The Web site is sponsored by the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The site includes statements on economic life from both the U.S. bishops and Pope Benedict XVI and the Holy See, ideas for parishes, stories of groups responding to the crisis, prayer guides, Podcasts, videos, and even an interactive quiz. The site also features a database of information on issues related to the crisis, including health, housing, labor, and trade. All resources are designed for practical use on the parish level for making sense of the economic crisis.

Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee of Domestic Social Justice and Human Development, outlined a central theme in a letter to the nation’s leaders: “This crisis involves far more than just economic or technical matters, but has enormous human impact and clear ethical dimensions which should be at the center of debate and decisions on how to move forward. Families are losing their homes. Retirement savings are at risk. People are losing jobs and benefits. Economic arrangements, structures and remedies should have as a fundamental purpose safeguarding human life and dignity.”

"Our hope is that Catholics across the United States can use these new resources to understand the economic crisis in the light of Church teaching on economic life. One of the central themes of this teaching is that the dignity of the human person always comes first. This is a message of hope in tough economic times,” said John Carr, Executive Director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Building Peace with Justice

Building Peace with Justice is a brief, weekly bulletin reflection on Catholic social teaching written by members of a Rochester Diocese Public Policy sub-committee. This is the reflection for June 14, 2009

For the Israelites, no other substance than blood could symbolize the solemnity of their covenant with God. The new covenant, based on love and sealed with Jesus own blood would be ritualized with wine become-blood. To uphold our end of the covenant we need simply to follow Jesus, going from the Eucharist, reaching out to the world as healers.

In the southwestern desert, Catholics gather each year with their bishops to celebrate the Eucharist on either side of a fence separating Mexico from the U.S. They pray for the many people - men, women and children - who will cross the desert looking for work and for government leaders in both countries to find a solution to this crisis that will keep desperate people from dying in the desert.

Reflection: How does the Eucharist call us to respond to the immigration crisis?


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Catholic Charities Newsletter

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany has posted the latest issue of its Public Policy Education Network News here. The newsletter includes articles explaining the budget restorations and their importance to people in need in our communities. You'll also find information on other critical legislation we're following as the legislative session winds down. And you'll find an interview with David Hansell, Commissioner of the state's Office of Temporary and Disabilities Assistance, and information about the federal economic stimulus bill.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Farm Workers

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany has joined the campaign for fair treatment of farm workers under New York State's labor laws.

Farm workers are excluded from most of the laws that establish worker protections, including a 24-hour day of rest in each calendar week, overtime pay, collective bargaining rights, and employer contributions to the unemployment and workers' compensation funds.

Urge your lawmakers and the governor to support the Farm Worker Fair Labor Practices Act being considered in the state Assembly and Senate.

Take action now to send a fully editable message to these leaders through the New York State Catholic Conference here.

Also, the Daily News today has another editorial in favor of this legislation:

Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, has added her voice and the spirit of her slain father to the fight for equal rights for farmworkers.

Her presence in Albany, where the Legislature appears to be inching toward a historic breakthrough, is most welcome. Because this is the year when fieldhands must, at last, gain the labor protections afforded to virtually all other workers in New York.

Led by Speaker Sheldon Silver, the Assembly is again poised to pass a bill to do just that. Gov. Paterson says he stands ready to sign it. The final piece of the puzzle is the state Senate, where the legislation has languished.

Its shift from Republican to Democratic control has brought hope. The obligation to lift hope into reality is Majority Leader Malcolm Smith's.

It has been an enduring shame that, unlike almost everyone else who earns a paycheck here, New York farmworkers are not guaranteed a day off per week or overtime pay. They are denied the right to organize.

This page has long called for reform. Last November, we opined that passage of a farmworker bill would be a greater tribute to RFK than renaming the Triborough Bridge in his honor.

We recalled that he fought for "the downtrodden, including migrant farmworkers who lived in miserable conditions on substandard wages," and that he "championed the fieldhands and their families in an alliance with legendary labor leader César Chávez."
The rest of the editorial is here.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fairness for Farmworkers

From the New York State Catholic Conference:

The Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act (A1867, s.2247) would eliminate exemptions in New York’s labor, public health and workers compensation laws that currently prevent farmworkers from accessing rights and privileges available to other workers in N.Y. State. The New York State Catholic Conference supports the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, and strongly urges enactment of this legislation.

Farmworkers are excluded from most of the laws that establish worker protections, including overtime pay, employer contributions to the unemployment and workers’ compensation funds, and public health protections including sanitation and housing standards. In addition to ending these exclusions, this bill would require that farmworkers be given a 24-hour day of rest in every calendar week which, whenever possible, would coincide with the laborer’s traditional day for religious worship.

There is no legitimate reason for treating farmworkers inequitably. They should be afforded the same rights, protections and benefits that other workers in New York State receive. By recognizing the rights of farmworkers and the unique contributions of agriculture, New York can develop policies which bring economic fairness, safety, and dignity to the production of agricultural goods from which we all benefit.

Please contact your state legislators today and ask them to pass this legislation.


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Nuclear weapons

Former Secretary of state George Shultz has joined the effort to eliminate nuclear weapons. The Washington Post blog God in Government notes:

The fact is that Schultz has been working on that for a while with some old friends -- former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, ex-Senator Sam Nunn and former Defense Secretary William J. Perry.
. . .
It's another issue around which Christians of various stripes have been able to achieve at least some common ground, including global warming, immigration, poverty and abortion.

This is the latest news in the on-going effort to eliminate nuclear weapons. Statements on this issue from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops can be found here.


Friday, May 01, 2009

Peace vigil

The monthly peace vigil at St. Thomas Church in Delmar will be held on Saturday, May 2 at 12 noon around the Peace Pole on the Adams Place side of the Church. For more information, call the church at 439-4951.