Peace & Justice

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bishop Hubbard Commends Senate Ratification of New Start Treaty

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops today issued the following news release:
Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, NY, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, commended today’s ratification of the New START Treaty by the Senate.

“I welcome today’s ratification of the New START Treaty by the Senate,” Bishop Hubbard said. “It was important that senators joined across party lines to support this Treaty. The Holy See and our Bishops’ Conference have long supported efforts to promote nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation based on the Church’s moral concern for indiscriminate and disproportionate weapons.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been a steadfast supporter of strong and bipartisan action on the New START Treaty.

The rest of the release is here.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Report from Haiti

Earlier this year, the Commission on Peace and Justice sponsored visits to various local churches by Rev. Joseph Philippe, a Haitian priest who made two fundraising visits to the Capital Region after the earthquake. One of the people who met with him was Ed Mahood, a member of the St. Joan of Arc parish in Menands. What happened next is the subject of a story by Paul Grondahl in the Times Union this week.
At a time when many are trying to escape Haiti, which has been rocked by violent demonstrations over charges of a fraudulent presidential election and a deadly cholera outbreak, Ed Mahood is back for a second time.

Mahood, 73, a retired state worker, bought a one-way plane ticket to the Caribbean nation and this week began an open-ended stint as a volunteer in Fondwa, a poor area of peasant farmers outside the capital of Port-au-Prince.

"I'll stay as long as they need me and I can be of help," Mahood said. "If they give me a teaching assignment, I'll stay for six months."

Mahood returned home at the end of October after 21/2 months in Fondwa. He contributed his expertise as a computer programmer to help salvage and repair laptops and a computer network damaged in the Jan. 12 earthquake. The 7.0-magnitude temblor killed an estimated 250,000 people, injured 300,000 and left more than 1 million homeless across Haiti.

Fondwa is a mountain village of about 8,000 people, two hours southeast of Port-au-Prince. The subsistence farmers grow corn, beans and bananas. It is one of the most impoverished places in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Many of the peasant families get by on the equivalent of less than $1 a day. Only about 1 in 4 can read and write.

The earthquake killed 30 people in Fondwa, hundreds were injured and 80 percent of the houses, mainly cinderblock huts, were severely damaged or destroyed. Most were made of an inferior cement mix without steel reinforcement bars because they couldn't afford it.
The rest of the article is here.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rededication of the Cathedral

On November 21, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard spoke at the rededication of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. His remarks were reprinted last week in The Evangelist:
It is with great joy that we gather today to celebrate the rededication of our renovated and restored Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 158 years to the day of its formal opening on November 21, 1852.

There are many thanks to be expressed today. First and foremost, I thank God, who has showered choicest blessings upon our Diocese of Albany for the past 163 years.

I am grateful to Mary, the mother of Jesus, who, under the privilege and title of the Immaculate Conception, has served as the patroness of our Diocese and of this cathedral.
. . .
In the mid-19th century, its parishioners were looked upon by the wider community as socially and religiously inferior. But by their sweat equity and their nickels and dimes, they built this edifice to communicate the message, “We are here; we are Catholics; we are Americans and we are proud.”
The rest of his comments are available here.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The co-creator of Glee on being Catholic

Ian Brennan, co-creator of Glee, gave the following during his acceptance speech at the 17th Annual Catholics in Media Awards at which the Fox Television show was honored.
A few weeks ago, when we learned Glee would receive this award, the other creators of the show and I sort of looked at each other and said, “Wait, really?” Our first thoughts were that, a) Catholics in Media had not seen our show, or that b) my dad, himself a former Paulist, had bribed them. Then at a certain point we all just sort of shrugged and thought, “we’ll take it”, thinking cynically that it’ll be a great to have when we inevitably begin to be boycotted by evangelical groups, which, a few weeks later, actually happened. And I hesitate to even gratify it by talking about it, but one of the cast members stumbled upon a website so inflammatory that it took several weeks to decipher that it was not, in fact, satirical. This website described the show Glee as, and I swear I am not making this up, “engayenating”, and then, in the same article, claims that the Golden Girls turned an entire generation of men gay in the 1980’s. Which is harder to argue with. In any case, we were happy to have a religious award under our belt.

But the more I thought about it, the more my puzzlement that we’d be honored with this award puzzled me. My reaction belied a division in my own perception about the Catholic Church, and that’s kind of what I’d like to say a few words about.

I think there are kind of two churches, and sadly, when people consider the church, they are forced to think of its contingent that I identify with the least. And I don’t mean to bash the Church, I identify very deeply with it, and I’m deeply defensive of it. I recently kind of stopped dating a girl because she made a disparaging remark about Catholicism.

But it’s difficult, as Catholic, to see William Donohue go on TV and claim to speak for me and all other Catholics, as if he had that right. Or watch bishops deny communion to people whose beliefs they don’t approve of. Or to hear people throw around the term “Cafeteria Catholics”, as if the tenets of the Church itself were so flimsy that they can’t withstand examination. And, sadly, I think it’s that church that most people see. But I believe it to be just a tiny, tiny fraction of the true body of the Church, the one that I grew up in, the one I feel that I know.
You can read the rest of his speech here.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

You Can't Save the World

Megan Sherrier, a graduate student at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, wrote the following for the website Catholics on Call:
Breaking news to my fellow young adults: It is not our vocation to save the world.

Your colleges told you otherwise. Your service programs and volunteer corps advertised it as your given right. There is a drive deep within you desperately yearning to “fix things.”

You cannot.

For centuries, the most inspiring of people have given their entire hearts to the world, and yet devastation remains. Even after Mother Teresa’s lifetime of sacrificial, loving work there are still children dying on the streets of Kolkata this very day. No matter what you do, it will never be enough.

At first read, this sounds cynical and fatalistic. Rather, it is the opposite. We should all be thankful for this reality. Thank God it is not up to us! What a weight is lifted once we can surrender control back to the One who holds it in the first place! There lies a paradox that we must first deny perfection in order to affirm goodness.

Our determination to save the world can lead us to a place even darker than the troubled world which we are trying to heal in the first place. Our well-intentioned drive turns from love to frustrated anger when not emptied in faith to a power beyond ourselves.

The rest of this well-written article is here.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The four churchwomen

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of four U.S. churchwomen, Dorothy Kazel, Maura Clarke, Ita Ford and Jean Donovan, who were brutally murdered in El Salvador in 1980. Dorothy, Maura and Ita were nuns, Jean was a layworker.

According to Catholic News Service:
El Salvador was experiencing civil unrest, repeated military coups and finally civil war. Amid the death squads and countless disappearances, the four churchwomen attempted to bring life to the communities they served.

Ita Ford wrote about her experience in El Salvador: "Am I willing to suffer with the people here, the suffering of the powerless? Can I say to my neighbors, 'I have no solutions to this situation; I don't know the answers, but I will walk with you, search with you, be with you.' Can I let myself be evangelized by this opportunity? Can I look at and accept my own poorness as I learn it from the poor ones?"

The Commission on Peace and Justice will have a memorial of these brave women on Saturday, December 4 at noon in the Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary at the College of Saint Rose, 959 Madison Avenue in Albany.

More information about the churchwomen is available here and here.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Bishops Support Ratification of Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops yesterday issued a news release announcing support of the new START treaty.
The new president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace have urged the United States Senate to ratify the New START Treaty. The treaty, signed by President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on April 8, would reduce the nuclear arsenals of both countries by 30 percent.

“The Church’s concern for nuclear weapons grows out of its commitment to the sanctity of human life,” wrote Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, in a November 29 letter to the Senate. “Consistent with Catholic teaching, the Holy See and the U.S. bishops have long supported reducing the number of nuclear armaments, preventing their spread to other nations, and securing nuclear materials from terrorists. For decades they have promoted the twin and interrelated policy goals of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. We understand this is an ideal that will take years to reach, but it is a task which our nation must take up with renewed energy.”

Bishop Hubbard chairs the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.
The rest of the release is here.