Peace & Justice

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

Monday, September 27, 2010

Haiti -- The story continues

Gerard Thomas Straub writes about his visit to Haiti in National Catholic Reporter:

After five full days of living in a slum here, I was ready to give up. Life was just too harsh. I didn’t think I could survive another day.

I am a documentary filmmaker and I’ve filmed in slums like this all over the world -- this was my fourth trip to Haiti in the last eight months -- but to live in one is another story, a horror story laced with rodents, roaches, ants and mosquitoes. Life without running water and electricity is exhausting. The stench of human waste and rotting garbage is inescapable. Violence and corruption are commonplace. The slum where I stayed for two full weeks is in an area known as Girardo-ville. Access to the heart of the slum is limited to one unpaved road that is almost impassable. The difficult physical journey out of the slum is symbolic of the even more difficult journey out of hopelessness in a city where death and disease linger everywhere in the toxic air.

The rest of this article is here.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A new website for social justice

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has a new website for campus ministers and students. It features Catholic social teaching, prayer resources, activities, videos, podcasts, an Idea of the Week, and more. Visitors can also submit their own ideas.

The website, “Our Catholic Faith in Action” is available here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week of Action on DREAM Act

The US Bishops' Justice for Immigrants campaign is calling for a Catholic Week of Action for the DREAM Act.
If enacted, the DREAM Act would create a pathway through which undocumented immigrant students could obtain conditional permanent residency and, ultimately, American citizenship. Under the legislation, certain students would be eligible for conditional permanent residency if they meet certain criteria, including: entering the United States before age 16; living in the U.S. for at least five continuous years immediately before the bill becomes effective; graduating from high school or gaining admission into an institute of higher education; having "good moral character" and not committed certain crimes; and being younger than 35 when the bill becomes effective. Students must also demonstrate that they have not been under a final order for deportation. After a six year period of conditional permanent residency, these individuals could apply for citizenship if they had continued to demonstrate "good moral character," continued to live in the U.S. , and completed at least two years of higher education or served at least two years in the military.
The DREAM Act has always had strong bipartisan support, and the U.S. Catholic bishops have been long standing supporters of the legislation.
The DREAM Act would make a difference in the lives of undocumented youth who were brought to the United States by their parents and now, because of their lack of legal status, face obstacles to their future. By removing such barriers, the DREAM Act permits immigrant students to pursue a promising future through college education or military service. Those benefitting from the DREAM Act are talented, intelligent and dedicated young people who know only the U.S. as their home.
More information about the DREAM Act may be found here.
To promote Congressional action on the DREAM Act, the U.S. Catholic bishops will be sending letters to Capitol Hill expressing their support of the legislation. We urge you to act in accordance with the Bishops by participating in a Catholic Week of Action for the DREAM Act and send an alert to your Senators and Representative and ask them to co-sponsor or publicly support the DREAM Act.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Celebrate 100 Yearsof Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities USA is inviting all parishes to join in the national organization's centennial celebration by hosting National Catholic Charities Sunday, September 26, 2010.

Honor Catholic Charities for its long standing efforts to provide help and create hope for millions of people in need each year, includiong the thousands of people served by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany.

This Web site contains all of the materials you need to celebrate during the Mass and carry the Spirit of Catholic Charities Sunday forward in your outreach efforts.

Monday, September 13, 2010

International Peace Day

NETWORK: the Catholic Social Justice Lobby reminds us to participate in praying for peace on September 21, the United Nations’ International Day of Peace. You can find ideas at and

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Film on Threat of Nuclear Disaster

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops suggests a new film, Countdown to Zero,
that raises awareness about the real possibility of nuclear disaster and the need to seek a world free of nuclear weapons. The film is particularly relevant since the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is expected to take up action on the New START Treaty when Congress returns this week from the Labor Day recess.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Bishops' Labor Day Statement

Catholic News Service reports on the 2010 Labor Day Statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, here:
With millions unemployed and U.S. workers experiencing tragedies such as mining deaths in West Virginia and the oil rig explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Americans “must seek to protect the life and dignity of each worker in a renewed and robust economy,” said Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York. Bishop Murphy addressed these issues in the 2010 Labor Day Statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), entitled “A New ‘Social Contract’ for Today’s ‘New Things,’” which can be found online in English ( and Spanish (

Bishop Murphy, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, compared the challenges faced by today’s workers to the changing society of the Industrial Revolution addressed by Pope Leo XIII in the 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum (Of New Things).

“America is undergoing a rare economic transformation, shedding jobs and testing safety nets as the nation searches for new ways to govern and grow our economy,” said Bishop Murphy. “Workers need a new ‘social contract.’” Bishop Murphy said that creating new jobs would require new investments, initiative and creativity in the economy. He also drew on the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI, which call for placing the human person at the center of economic life and emphasize the role of civil society and mediating institutions such as unions in pursing the common good.

“Workers need to have a real voice and effective protections in economic life,” said Bishop Murphy. “The market, the state, and civil society, unions and employers all have roles to play and they must be exercised in creative and fruitful interrelationships. Private action and public policies that strengthen families and reduce poverty are needed. New jobs with just wages and benefits must be created so that all workers can express their dignity through the dignity of work and are able to fulfill God’s call to us all to be co-creators. A new social contract, which begins by honoring work and workers, must be forged that ultimately focuses on the common good of the entire human family.”

Saturday, September 04, 2010


Update, the newsletter of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, is available here:

We particularly like the section Peace & Justice Initiatives. Here is a sampling from two articles. More details are included in the complete stories.
In solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA) has launched a national campaign, “Dine With Dignity,” to show students across the country how to take action for the dignity of farm workers in Florida’s fields.

SFA encourages students to take action on campus by campaigning and discussing with their campus dining services directors the conditions under which the food on their campuses is produced.

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The Franciscan Action Network is designed to bring a coordinated and effective voice to matters of Justice, Peace, and Care for Creation in our world. Through education and advocacy, the Franciscan Action Network hopes to bring a spirit of healing and reconciliation for the transformation of the world, as inspired by the Spirit of God. We see that we have the power to effectively advocate for redistribution of resources, the responsible care for creation, and the healing of relationships within society.

Four broad activity areas form and grow our membership:

1) Spiritual formation and prayer—FAN provides resources for its members. For example, FAN has dedicated the month of June to prayer and action in response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Information and resources for individual and communal prayer and suggested action are available in the “Care for Creation” section of FAN’s website.

2) Capacity building— FAN helps members increase both the quantity and quality of justice, peace, and care for creation opportunities within their own ministries and institutions. In early fall, FAN will be hosting “Ours to Do” which is a workshop designed especially to meet these needs. Email Monica Herald ( for more information.

3) Networking— FAN helps Franciscans and Franciscan-hearted people connect locally, regionally and nationally for social action formation, direct service, and other opportunities.

4) Effective Advocacy—FAN enables the growing network of Franciscans to share and amplify their message of change in efficient, timely, and strategic ways. We do this through action alerts ( that our members receive.

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