Peace & Justice

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

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Forgiveness Sets You Free

Plough, the publishing house of Church Communities International, a Christian community movement with branches in the United States, England, Germany and Australia, offers free articles on its website at

A recent article by Carmen Hinkey is entitled Forgiveness Sets You Free.
Today the headlines are full of the news about the theft of the sign over the gate to Auschwitz, which states in wrought iron, "Arbeit macht Frei." ( Work Sets You Free)

Indignation and sadness are the emotions that people are expressing, both entirely justified. I hope the police find the sign and restore it to its place.

A few weeks ago I would not have read more than one article about this incident. I may not have even opened a story, but been satisfied with reading a headline. Today I read everything I can on it. Why?

I have been invited, with my husband, to be part of a delegation to visit Auschwitz at the end of January. January 27, 2010, marks the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the camp. I want to walk under that sign, and step in the shadow of millions of feet that walked in that gate and never walked out.

But our delegation is very different from other groups who will be there for the official ceremonies. The slogan "never forgive, never forget" has been used in events remembering the holocaust. Our delegation, lead by survivor Eva Kor, will never forget, but we hope to learn about forgiveness. Eva, a survivor of the infamous Mengele Twins group in Auschwitz, has freed herself from victimization by declaring that she has forgiven Josef Mengele and all other Nazi officials who inflicted suffering on her. She has discovered, and promotes, the rebirth from victim to healer that happens when we can forgive deep hurts. Outrage is usually the response of other survivors when they hear Eva’s story, and it’s understandable. I cannot explain how Eva forgives. But I have taken it deeply into my heart, and thought about it.

The rest of this brief article is here.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

we are filled with the new light
by the coming of your Word among us.
May the light of faith
shine in our words and actions.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Opening Prayer from the Mass at Dawn on Christmas Day

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What child is this?

As we await Christmas, it might be well to stop and reflect on the question, “What child is this?” The writer Megan McKenna offers some insight in a brief article with that as its title. Here is a portion:
What child is this, born to us today? This godchild Jesus born today is humankind born for life, for truth, for tender regard of all that is made, and for love. This child born today is every one of us born through incarnation, born for good news and for life, ever more abundantly.

We are born for atonement, for restitution, for peace and reconciliation, for communion, and for liberation. We are born for singing with angels and for standing in silence and awe before the lowliness and loveliness of our God born in every human’s body and heart.

This is the Christmas child that ardently desires to be born in our hearts this day. We believe that our God will come again in glory. Perhaps God does, in the shining eyes of every child born on earth.

Maybe this year we will come and kneel before one another in awe and wonder, bringing the gift of peace to the earth and to our God who, from the beginning, has been hiding among us, hoping for all of us to become the Christmas child.

The rest of the article is here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Signs of hope" in Jerusalem

Catholic News Service reports:
Although politicians have failed to reach a solution to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Palestinians still face occupation, house demolitions and separated families, hope is still alive in the Holy Land, said Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem. "In the Holy Land, everything is not desperate. There are a few signs of hope," he told journalists at a Dec. 22 press conference to present his Christmas message.

You can read more here -- scroll about half-way down.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What remains of Advent

It still is not too late to make use of the Advent time that remains before Christmas. Pax Christi offers Advent 2009: Pray, Study, Act which is available here

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Health care reform resources

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has a number of Prayer and Liturgy Resources regarding health care reform, available here. One of them is a Prayer for the Uninsured:
Father of goodness and love,
hear our prayers for the uninsured members of our community
and for all who are in need.
For those who seek care but find that it is out of reach,
may they find consolation in your healing presence.
For all who are blessed with health and security,
may they work to fulfill the needs of those who are sick and insecure.

For leaders who make decisions that affect the health and well-being of others,
may they strive to ensure the fundamental right to health care.
We ask this through Christ our Lord
who healed those who believed.



Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holy Father’s General Intention for December

That children may be respected and loved, and never be the victims of exploitation in its various forms.


Saturday, December 05, 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 December 13.

“Don’t worry, be happy”, was a catchy phrase from a delightful tune that was popular a few years ago. Those words sum up beautifully the essence of today’s Scripture readings. They invite us to shout for joy because God’s love is very close at hand; ready to be born among us in Jesus. The readings encourage us to let go of our fears, our negative attitudes, all that weighs us down and rejoice in God’s all encompassing love. The joy of God’s love relationship with each person calls us to be more than who we are at this moment.

Reflection: Who do I leave out of my circle of justice and love…some relatives, co-workers, immigrants, Muslims, my neighbors…?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Work of Human Hands

The Commission on Peace and Justice is 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:

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