Peace & Justice

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

Thursday, August 26, 2010

St. Bernard's Convocation

Wednesday, September 8 marks the Academic Convocation at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. This year’s speaker is well known and deeply loved: Father Chris DeGiovine, Dean of Spiritual Life and Chaplain at The College of Saint Rose and faculty member at St. Bernard’s. He is one of the most sought-after presenters in our diocese because of his style, zeal, and ability to challenge.

This year we observe the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the Vatican II document on interfaith dialogue.

Father Chris will ask: Where are we 50 years later? Have we learned much? What are the current and future challenges? And why should we even care?

The convocation is open to all; invite your friends.

Place: St. Vincent de Paul Church, Madison Avenue, Albany
Time: 7 p.m.

There is no fee; all are welcome. Caution: you may be challenged.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Help Haiti this Friday and Saturday

If you have some time on Friday or Saturday of this week, please consider helping the members of the Commission on Peace and Justice and we prepare a shipment for Haiti.

The Commission will send to Haiti a 40-foot container filled with humanitarian aid. The contents must be counted and weighed, and the seeds approved by the US Department of Agriculture.

On Friday we'll count, list and weigh as much as we can. On Saturday, we'll finish that and pack everything.

The container is now in the parking lot of the former Our Lady of Mercy Church at 26 Wilson Avenue in Colonie. From Westgate Plaza, go 1.2 miles west on Central Ave. and turn right onto Wilson. (At the corner, there's a white, green and red sign for the American Italian Heritage Museum.)

On both days, we'll start at 9 am, break for a pizza lunch and continue as long as you, the volunteers, wish. Please help, even for an hour. There will be a job for everyone. If you can't lift, you can count the items in a carton.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Welfare Report Released

NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby has released a report on the struggles of people living in poverty in the midst of the current recession. The report, titled TANF Tested: Lives of People in Poverty, is based on interviews with adults from more than 800 families who receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, also known as welfare. The interviews were conducted at 70 emergency-service agencies throughout the country, including Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany
The report describes NETWORK’s findings and includes recommendations about how the nation can address poverty more effectively, including investment in human needs programs, better coordination of services, appropriate help for people facing multiple barriers to employment, and more emphasis on education and job training.
NETWORK’s goal is to inform Congress, policy experts and the public about how the U.S. can do a better job of helping people rise out of poverty, especially as Congress considers the reauthorization of TANF in the coming months.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Manhattan mosque calls for a Christian response

Walter Ayres, a member of the Commission on Peace and Justice, wrote a column about this in The Evangelist:
In 1775, at the start of the American Revolution, only one of the 13 colonies permitted Catholics — then a religious minority — to practice their faith freely. Catholic priests found in New York risked imprisonment or hanging.

While Catholics today have risen to positions of power, today’s religious minorities face some of the same bigotry that our ancestors in the faith suffered in the past.

Do we identify with people who are persecuted, or with the ones who do the persecuting?

Controversy surrounds plans to build a mosque in Manhattan just a few blocks from Ground Zero. For many, this is an affront to the memory of those who died on 9/11. For others, these plans are a demonstration of America’s tolerance.

Too often, the fears we have are based on inaccurate information about a religious minority, just as the fears that led white Anglo-Saxon Protestants to ban Catholic priests were based on unfounded fears of Catholics.

The rest of the article is here.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nurturing Loving Kindness

Bruce Gardiner, a member of the Commission on Peace and Justice, will lead a retreat on Nurturing Loving Kindness on Saturday, August 21 from 9 a.m. to noon at Christ the King Church.

Learn how to give love not only to those you know and love, but also to those with whom you have lukewarm and even hostile relations.

Beginners are very welcome.

Schedule for the Morning Retreat

8:45 Arrival
9:00 Opening Prayer / Two 20-minute periods of Centering Prayer
(Overview of Centering Prayer for newcomers)
10:00 Break
10:20 Nurturing Loving Kindness - Introduction and Practice
11:30 Period of Centering Prayer
12:00 Adjourn

Getting to Christ the King:

From Albany , head west on Western Avenue, past the entrance to Crossgates Mall. After the mall entrance, you will see your first of two silver diners on the right. Continue a mile plus further on Western. When you see the second silver diner on the right, make an immediate left, which is Sumter Avenue. Christ the King is at the end of the block on Sumter.

If you miss Sumter Avenue, you can take either of the next two lefts. All will lead you to the Church which is just a block or so off of Western Avenue. You have gone too far if you cross Route 155.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Don't Cut Deficit on Backs of the Poor

Dozens of organizations committed to fighting poverty have signed onto a letter urging the federal commission charged with recommending ways to reduce the federal deficit by 2015 to take into account the needs of low-and moderate-income households.
The letter calls on the commission to:
(1) adopt as a basic principle that its proposals should not make lower-income
individuals and families worse off.
(2) obtain and make public in a timely way a distributional analysis (e.g., by income deciles or quintiles) of the impact of the proposals that it considers. This would make clear who is bearing the burdens of changes in spending and tax policy.
The more than 100 signatories to date on the letter include NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby; the Franciscan Action Network; the organizations for leaders of orders of women and men religious; and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.
The letter is in response to suggestions by the commission leader that federal spending be limited to its average proportion of the economy since 1970 -- 21 percent. This does not take into account such factors as the aging of the population, new homeland security expenses and rising health care costs.
More information on the commission is available here.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Campaign to End World poverty

The Obama Administration has unveiled the United States’ plan for meeting the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, eight ambitious targets aimed at reducing global poverty and disease by 2015. These targets include cutting extreme poverty in half; reducing by two-thirds the mortality rate for children under age 5; and providing primary and secondary education to all children regardless of gender.
The U.S. plan features four principles for reaching those targets: innovation, sustainability, tracking development outcomes and mutual accountability
The strategy also outlines the elements critical to achieving these principles, according to a report on the plan by ONE, a grassroots campaign and advocacy organization committed to reducing extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa. For example, the plan identifies good governance and broad-based economic growth as critical to achieving sustainable poverty reduction and preserving development gains already achieved. Investing in local capacity to strengthen service delivery is also included as a key component of sustainability, as is the empowerment of women and girls and the mainstreaming of gender into core development efforts.
The plan comes before the United Nations’ meeting on the Millennium Development Goals, planned for September.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mark your calendar

St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry will have its opening convocation at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 8, at the Church of St. Vincent de Paul in Albany. Father Chris DeGiovine, long-time faculty member and Dean of Spiritual Life and Chaplain at The College of Saint Rose, will discuss “The Future for Interfaith Dialogue: Why You Should Care”

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the Vatican II document on interfaith dialogue, where are we now? Have we learned much? What needs to happen among us?

Please invite your friends and colleagues to this rich evening of reflection, celebration, and challenge.

All are welcome; there is no charge.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Eliminate waste

One way to find the money necessary to provide needed services to the State’s residents is to eliminate waste and duplication in government. Adam Lisberg of the Daily News reports on how a deputy mayor in New York City is trying to do just that.
Deputy Mayor for Operations Stephen Goldsmith said the city will shrink its office space and vehicle fleets, centralize how it buys parts and manages computers and take other less-than-glamorous - but necessary - steps to save $500 million a year by 2014.

"The quality of customer service can go up at the same time we save taxpayer dollars," said Goldsmith, who said the city is paying for 10,000 desks with no employees at them.

The rest of the article is here.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

First Lady Supports Nutrition Bill

Congressional reauthorization of child nutrition programs is getting a lot of attention lately.
First Lady Michelle Obama called on Congress to reauthorize child nutrition programs in an August 2 op-ed in the Washington Post
She pointed out: “The bill will make it easier for the tens of millions of children who participate in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program — and many others who are eligible but not enrolled — to get the nutritious meals they need to do their best… We owe it to the children who aren't reaching their potential because they're not getting the nutrition they need during the day.”
Senate Agriculture Committee chair Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), and other senators held a rally July 29 urging the Senate to reauthorize child nutrition programs before they leave for their summer recess, due to begin next week.

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Sunday, August 01, 2010

Celebrate Catholic Charities Sunday

Catholic Charities USA will celebrate its Centennial anniversary on Sept. 25, 2010. This anniversary provides a once-in-a- lifetime platform from which to proclaim the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the person and call all individuals, families, communities and organizations to work together to eliminate oppression and build a just and compassionate society.

In honor of the centennial, the U.S. Catholic Bishops designated Sunday, September 26, 2010 as National Catholic Charities Sunday. National Catholic Charities Sunday provides parishes with the opportunity to celebrate Catholic Charities' long standing efforts to provide help and create hope for millions of people in need each year and to advance a vision for our society in which individuals and communities can reach their God-given potential.

Catholic Charities USA has developed materials to help parishes celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Catholic Charities by reflecting on the Gospel and the witness of Catholic Charities, raising their voice to advocate for life and dignity for all, and responding to need and injustice in their communities. These materials are available in English and Spanish here.

At the same time, hundreds of staff and board members from Catholic Charities agencies from throughout the country will be gathering in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the Centennial with workshops oriented toward Catholic Charities’ mission. They also will visit Capitol Hill, to ask legislators to partner with Catholic Charities USA toward achieving the goal of cutting poverty in half by 2020.