Peace & Justice

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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bishops on Health Care

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following news release last Friday:
The U.S. bishops called for steps to protect the lives of the most vulnerable, provide fairness for immigrants and guarantee conscience protections for individual and institutions in a statement on health care reform issued May 21.

The statement was offered by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice, Peace and Human Development, and Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Immigration.

“Following enactment of the health care reform legislation, our challenge remains formidable but in some ways is simpler,” the bishops said. “Since the battle over the bill is over, the defects can be judged soberly in their own right, and solutions can be advanced in Congress while retaining what is good in the new law. Indeed, any failure to do so would only leave these genuine problems as ammunition for those who prefer total repeal of the law.”

The bishops said the current situation “provides a new opportunity for the Catholic community to come together in defense of human life, rights of conscience and fairness to immigrants so we will have a health care system that truly respects the life, dignity, health and consciences of all.”
The statement is here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Is union busting a sin?

Catholic News Service reports that a group of Catholic scholars argues that efforts by management to break labor unions are tantamount to committing mortal sin, by violating the First, Fifth and Seventh commandments, which deal with idolatry, scandal and theft. The scholars issued a document titled "Union Busting in Mortal Sin" earlier this month.
Joseph Fahey, professor of religious studies at Manhattan College in New York City and chairman of the scholars group, told Catholic News Service May 14 that the statement analyzes the criteria for mortal sin much like a priest would during the sacrament of reconciliation. "We said, 'What commandments does (breaking a union) violate? What specific matters of Catholic teaching does it go against? Is it a grave matter? If it is, is there an objective case for mortal sin?" Fahey explained.

The rest of the article is here.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Answering immigration questions

In the May 2 issue of Our Sunday Visitor, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, answered some of their readers’ toughest questions about the Church’s position on immigration. A few of the questions follow, with a partial answer to each one. The full answers to these and other questions can be found here.

Question: What don’t the bishops understand about “illegal”? Why disrespect the rule of law?

Answer: The U.S. bishops and the teachings of the Catholic Church have consistently respected the right of the sovereign to control its borders, as well as the rule of civil law. However, the Church, along with other members of our democratic society, has the right to work to change laws which are believed to violate basic human dignity, dignity imbued by the Creator.

. . .

Question: The current situation of illegal immigration is causing an unsustainable strain on social services. Do the bishops not see that as a problem?

Answer: There are several myths in this area. First of all, most studies show that, although at an early age immigrants consume more than they contribute, over a lifetime they are net contributors to our economy through the taxes they pay, the goods they produce and consume, and their labor. Moreover, legal immigrants do not qualify for welfare or health care for the first five years of their residency in the United States, while undocumented immigrants never qualify for such benefits. In fact, undocumented immigrants pay billions in income taxes each year and at least $7 billion in Social Security taxes, helping to sustain Social Security for the baby-boomer generation.

. . .

Question: Why should not the priority be on the development in the countries the immigrants come from so they do not want to come here in the first place?

Answer: In fact, the U.S. bishops have stated that Congress should look at the “push factors,” such as the lack of living-wage employment, that compel immigrants to leave their home countries and risk their lives to come to the United States in search of jobs.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

For college students

The Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development has launched a new Web site to help campus ministers and college students promote Catholic social teaching on campus. The Web site, "Transforming Our World: Our Catholic Faith in Action," is at and includes Catholic social teaching, prayer materials, small group resources, tools for action, and multimedia such as videos and podcasts. Although the website targets young people, it has a wealth of resources you may find useful, including:

• Videos and podcasts
• Links to the major social teaching documents
• A great graphic on the "Two Feet of Social Justice"
• Prayers on specific topics
• Description of retreats like "Journey to Justice" and "Food Fast"
• Activities to do with groups
• Suggestions for Catholic groups and opportunities like CCHD, St. Vincent de Paul, JustFaith, CatholicCharities, etc.
• Background materials on a variety of life and social justice issues