Peace & Justice

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

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hawks Against the Bomb

In light of Dr. Lawrence Wittner’s presentation regarding “The Necessity of Nuclear Abolition” on October 27 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Delmar, we thought you might be interested in this article from Sojourners magazine:
What on earth happened to George Shultz? So wondered Republicans and Democrats alike when, in 2007, President Reagan’s former secretary of state emerged as one of the leading champions of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

Their confusion was forgivable. Whether or not you liked Shultz, you knew where he stood: a consummate Cold Warrior and the architect of a foreign policy regarded as the modern apotheosis of “peace through strength.” Detractors regarded this legacy with alarm, recalling what they saw as unremitting nuclear brinkmanship and ideological anti-communism. In the eyes of supporters, these same traits established him as a chief spokesperson for the halcyon days of Ronald Reagan.

That’s why this new move to ban the bomb seemed, to many, like an about-face for Shultz—reminiscent of Robert McNamara’s famous retrospective disavowal of Vietnam-era policies he’d designed. But it turns out that this represents a fundamental misunderstanding, both of Shultz the man and his nearly seven-decade career.

The rest of the article can be read here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Respect Life Month

Adam Rossi of The Evangelist reports on an upcoming presentation on nuclear weapons:

With October being Respect Life Month, many Catholics may spend their time advocating to end abortion, prevent euthanasia or promote respect for people with disabilities.

But how many will think about nuclear warfare?

“Growing up during the Cold War, this seemed to me to be the preeminent issue of our time and in many ways it still is,” said Dr. Lawrence Wittner, a professor at The University at Albany, who will speak on “The Necessity of Nuclear Abolition” Oct. 27 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Delmar.

For decades, many Catholics have counted nuclear disarmament — or at least arms control — as a central issue in the pro-life spectrum.

Generally, however, attention to the consistent ethic of life has generally swirled around abortion, birth control, embryonic stem cell research, assisted suicide and reproductive technology.

Nuclear disarmament had moved down the list until recent scares over the bomb-making capabilities of North Korea and Iran.

You can read more here.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

An award for Fr. Peter Young

The Elfenworks Foundation has given its Harmony with Hope Award to Fr. Peter Young, for his lifetime work with addicts. From the news release announcing the award:
A simple three-legged stool is the symbol of Father Peter Young's lifetime of work. He uses it to explain his successful model for rehabilitating addicts: his three program requirements (treatment, housing and employment) are akin to the stool's three legs. Missing one leg, the stool cannot stand.

Father Young came to this understanding through his half century of work with the disenfranchised of his Albany parish. The parish he was assigned to was in what was called the "combat zone." He spent the first 18 years of his ministry giving his all—quite literally. By 1976, he was near bankruptcy. He had racked up a personal debt of more than $200,000 trying to lift up his parishioners. And he was fast becoming an expert on overcoming addiction.

His financial salvation came in the guise of a full-time job as chaplain of the state-run McGregor Correctional Facility. Added to the 18 years he'd already spent ministering to the needs of local inmates at the county jail, his 15-year tenure at McGregor gave Father Young a seasoned perspective on addiction, crime, and recovery.

He didn't need to have the statistics recited to him—70% of inmates owe their incarcerations to substance abuse problems—he witnessed it first-hand. Father Young chose to address the problems he saw within the existing framework, but without accepting the status quo. His approach has been to work with the state to promote legislative and regulatory change that makes a difference. His first coup, shortly after he started at St. John's, was to introduce legislation that removed public intoxication from the penal code.

Father Young also learned the value of good contacts: with the help of then-Governor Rockefeller, Young developed the state's first alcohol crisis center and extended care facility.

Not resting on his laurels, Father Young worked with the New York State Department of Corrections to create the first Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment program. The program relies on the principles of Father Young's stool: full recovery is only possible in concert with housing and employment.

We at the Commission on Peace and Justice would like to congratulate Father Young on this well-deserved award. We suggest you read the entire news release here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Justice for Farmworkers

Across New York During the Month of October
People from Many Different Backgrounds Will Gather for...
A Statewide Vigil
for Farmworker Human Rights

In the 1930s . . . in the midst of the Jim Crow era . . . farmworkers were excluded under New York Labor Law from basic human rights, including a day of rest, overtime pay and protection while bargaining collectively. Now, in 2009, the New York State Senate can right this wrong, and all of New York can feel the freedom of the yoke of injustice being removed.

Join Us!

Albany area
Thursday, Oct. 15
5:30-6:30 p.m. (Outside the headquarters of the New York State Farm Bureau, 159 Wolf Rd. in Colonie)

Friday, Oct 16
6 p.m. (United Presbyterian Church, 50 East Main St., former Webb Horton Church)

Friday, Oct. 16
6 p.m. (Grace Episcopal Church, 3328 Franklin Ave.)

New York City
Saturday, Oct. 17
7 p.m. (Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 316 E 88th St.)

Sunday, Oct. 18
6 p.m. (St. John's Episcopal Church, 15 St John St.)

White Plains
Monday, Oct 19
7 p.m. (St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, 82 Prospect St.)

Monday, Oct. 19
5 p.m. (First Baptist Church, Dewitt Park)

Long Island
TBD (Setauket)
For further information call the Rev. Noelle Damico (631) 371-9877.

Wednesday, Oct. 21
7 p.m. (St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, 15 St Mary's Place)


For more information, call Rural & Migrant Ministry at (845) 485-8627
or go to


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Work of Human Hands

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, and no child exploitation

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

Oct. 10 & 11 St. Madeleine Sophie, Guilderland
Christ the King, Westmere

Oct. 17 & 18 St. Joseph’s, Greenwich (open to the public)

Oct. 24 & 25 St. Clare’s, Colonie
St. Joseph’s, Schenectady

Oct 26 & 27 Pastoral Center, 40 N. Main Avenue, Albany

Oct. 31 & Nov. 1 Immaculate Conception, Glenville
Our Lady of Grace, Ballston Lake
St. Henry’s, Averill Park

Nov. 7 & 8 Our Lady of Fatima, Niskayuna
Holy Spirit, East Greenbush
Assumption/St. Paul, Mechanicville
St. Michael’s, Troy

Nov. 14 & 15 St. Edward’s, Clifton Park
St. Joseph’s, Scotia
St. Catherine of Siena, Albany
Our Lady of Fatima, Delanson

Nov. 21 & 22 St. Therese, Gansevoort
St. Clement’s, Saratoga Springs
Sacred Heart, Castleton

Dec. 5 & 6 St. Vincent de Paul, Albany
St. John the Baptist, Valatie
St. Matthew’s, Voorheesville

Dec. 10 & 11 Pastoral Center

Dec. 12 & 13 St. Thomas the Apostle, Delmar
St. John’s/St. Ann’s, Albany

Dec. 19 & 20 St. Peter’s, Saratoga Springs

Help impoverished peoples adapt to climate change.

Please contact your U.S. senators.

Bishop Howard Hubbard, as chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, has been talking with senators about helping to protect people living in poverty around the world from the effects of climate change.

Please help re-enforce his message by contacting your Senator and urge that any climate change legislation considered in the Senate allocate $3.5 billion of funding generated by the bill to international adaptation programs starting in 2012 and increase rapidly to $7 billion annually by 2020 so that people living in poverty around the world can be protected from the effects of climate change.

This is an important time for action since the Senate Environment and Public Works, Finance, and Foreign Relations Committees responsible for climate change policy will soon consider legislation that begins a serious and overdue effort to face up to our moral and environmental challenges. The House of Representatives has already passed climate change legislation, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the United States Conference of Catholic
Bishops (USCCB) want to ensure that any climate change bill lowers greenhouse gases and protects the poor and vulnerable-both at home and abroad-who contribute least to climate change but are likely to suffer its worst consequences.

While CRS and USCCB appreciate several provisions in the House's bill, we are deeply disappointed that the funding committed to international adaptation-only 1% of available resources, or approximately $700 million- falls fundamentally short of what is needed initially and that increases in resources are pushed too far off into the future. We therefore urge Senate Committee members to ensure that the Senate's bill include at least $3.5 billion of available funding for international adaptation programs that will help poor and vulnerable peoples around the world.

Please send a message to your senator now. Enter your zip code into the box on the right, labeled “Write to Congress” to get the link for your senator.


Monday, October 05, 2009

Innocent On Death Row?

Innocent On Death Row?
The Case of Troy Davis

Amnesty International of Albany would like to invite you to learn about Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis and his 18 year struggle to prove his innocence.

When: Thursday, October 8th at 7PM
Where: Albany Law School Main Building Room W 212
80 New Scotland Ave., Albany

The program will feature a presentation by members of Amnesty International and David Kaczynski of New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. There will be a discussion led by law school students and opportunities for advocacy. Refreshments will be served.

This event is free and open to the public!

For more information, visit the Amnesty Albany website:
or contact Carrie Kuehl at