Peace & Justice

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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Asian-American voters disenfranchised?

Are Asian-American voters in New York disenfranchised by the way election districts are set up in the state? Members of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund think so. According to an article in the Daily News:
Asian-American voters in Queens and Brooklyn sued the governor and other state officials this week, saying their voting power is unfairly limited by the way the state’s legislative districts are drawn.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a complaint Wednesday on behalf of four New Yorkers, arguing they must get equal political representation when the state rejiggers district lines after the most recent census.

"The current district lines are invalid under the U.S. Constitution and state law because Asian Americans' votes count less than the votes of other New Yorkers,” said Glenn Magpantay, director of AALDEF's Democracy Program.

The way lines are currently drawn, AALDEF argues, the city’s largest Asian-American neighborhoods are split up into different districts, breaking up what could be a powerful voting block.

While New York City’s Asian-American population spiked by 32% to over one million in the past ten years, according to the census, there is only one Asian-American representative in the entire state legislature — Flushing Assemblywoman Grace Meng.

Because the lines are currently drawn by a state task force largely made up of legislators themselves, critics say pols simply try to move boundaries to help their own party’s interest, sometimes creating wacky shapes.
The rest of the article is here.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

The 1,000 Faith Leaders Initiative

Albany Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, in his role as Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is one of the early signatories to a letter on a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to embrace economic justice for the world’s poorest with international financial reform and debt cancellation.

The letter is an initiative of the Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of more than 75 religious denominations and faith communities, human rights, environmental, labor, and community groups working for the definitive cancellation of crushing debts to fight poverty and injustice in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. From the Jubilee website:
This spring, Jubilee is bringing together faith leaders from across the country to advocate for debt relief. Our goal is to gather more than 1,000 signatures on a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to embrace economic justice for the world’s poorest with international financial reform and debt cancellation.

With you and your faith community’s activism, we can continue to break the cycle of debt that impoverishes countries and their citizens.

What is the Faith Leaders Initiative All About?

The letter calls for:

- An extension of debt cancellation
- A neutral platform for future decision making around debt
- The establishment of responsible standards of lending and borrowing
- Reducing the need for loans by stemming illicit resource flows and mobilizing grant assistance
- Transform International Financial Institutions to make them accountable to the people most affected by their decisions

Jubilee USA has been reaching out to high-level faith leaders from all over the country urging them to sign on to the letter.
You can learn more here.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It runs in the family

Rex Smith, the editor of the Times Union, also is familiar with religion, since the clergy in his family include his paternal grandfather, maternal grandfather, father and brother. Cousins and uncles also became clergy. So when he talks about religion, he is not without some standing.

On Christmas, his column in the Sunday Times Union dealt with religion and politics, topics close to the hearts of those who read this blog.

Mr. Smith discusses his father’s view about the role that people of faith should play in the world, and he goes on to quote an influential African-American theologian, Howard Thurman, a student of Gandhi and a mentor of Martin Luther King Jr., who wrote:
"When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flock, then the true work of Christmas begins:

"To find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among others, to make music in the heart."
We recommend the entire column, which is available here.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

This day we receive good news of great joy. The Jesuits at Loyola Press offer this three-minute retreat to appreciate the meaning of Christmas.

Merry Christmas.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Support grows for independent redistricting

A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows that support for independent redistricting among New York state voters has risen to 52 percent. Frankly, we are disappointed that it is not higher. From the news release:
An independent commission with no ties to the New York State Legislature should draw district lines from which legislators are elected, 52 percent of voters say in a Quinnipiac University poll released today. This is up slightly from 48 percent in an October 26 survey. Another 27 percent support a commission with some legislative input and 11 percent support the current system where state legislators create election districts.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should veto any legislative districting plan that is not created by an independent commission, voters say 45 - 37 percent in the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh- pe-ack) University poll.

"Drawing new legislative and congressional district lines will be high on Albany's 2012 agenda. Quinnipiac University has been tracking this sleeper issue for some time and we see support for an independent commission to draw the lines is edging up," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "By a decisive 56 - 36 percent, New York State voters say keep legislators away from this so-called independent commission."
The rest of the release is here.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More on CST and the Occupy Movement

Over at The Theology Salon, Fr. Thomas Massaro SJ, Professor of Moral Theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, reflects on Labor and Work in Catholic Social Teaching and the Occupy Movement:
Pope John Paul II began his 1981 encyclical letter Laborem Exercens(On Human Work) with the stunning claim that “work as a human issue is at the very center of the ‘social question.’” This pope who had held some interesting jobs himself during his lifetime (factory hand, actor, mineworker) reminded his readers that “the Church considers it her task always to call attention to the dignity and rights of those who work, to condemn situations in which that dignity and those rights are violated, and to help to guide changes so as to ensure authentic progress by man [sic] and society.

”In many ways, the agenda of the Occupy movement reflects this same set of concerns. As diffuse and disputed as its agenda may be, the Occupy movement has called unprecedented attention to the great imbalances in power and material outcome experienced by Americans today. One could quibble with the movement’s tactics and demands or even with its math (that overly simplistic motif of the 99% and the 1%), but you would have to possess a very large blind spot indeed not to notice the ambient social inequities surrounding us today.

At the very root of many of these disparities and inequities is human work. One need not subscribe to a crass Marxism to recognize that work arrangements do indeed determine the life prospects for just about all of us. The way that labor is divided, distributed and remunerated makes a huge difference in promoting or frustrating the attainment of social justice.
The rest of the reflection is here.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Watching the future church

Local author Mary DeTurris Poust wrote about spending three days with 23,000 teenagers at the recent National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis. Her column in Catholic New York is headlined Watching the Future Church in Action:
Sitting on the 50-yard line of the packed stadium, I was overwhelmed by the willingness of these teens to open themselves up to a faith experience like none other. They prayed the Divine Office in song and dance, they sat it total silence during lectio divina, they stood on line by the hundreds at the nearby convention center to go to confession, they rushed to Victory Park to ask the 30 bishops in attendance to sign their bishop trading cards, and they went to adoration and diocesan Masses and one workshop after another.
. . .
At the closing Mass, after an awesome procession of almost 300 priests and deacons, 175 seminarians and eight bishops—a sight that left the kids wide-eyed with gratitude and excitement—the teens were told to take out their cell phones and text the words “called to glory” (the theme of the event) to all of their contacts, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. As screens glowed in the darkness and kids clicked “send,” there was a powerful sense of what’s to come for all of us, and I couldn’t help but smile and look forward with anticipation to what this group of Catholic teens will one day do to shape our Church and our world.

The surveys and headlines may tell us things look bleak, but, from where I was sitting amid a sea of teens in hats and T-shirts emblazoned with the words and signs of their faith, the view was bright and clear and brimming with hope.
The rest of the column is here.


Friday, December 16, 2011

A visit to Occupy Albany

Deacon Walter Ayres writes in The Evangelist about a visit to the site of Occupy Albany by members of the Commission on Peace and Justice:
Authentic spirituality and good political activism share at least two characteristics: They affirm that which is good and reject that which is evil.

Toward that end, several members of the Albany diocesan Commission on Peace and Justice recently visited the Occupy Albany site across from the State Capitol and, as a result, had our picture appear in a local newspaper.

Not everyone was pleased.
The rest of the column is here.


Fox News and the so-called “War on Christmas”

Jim Wallis blogs about Fox News and the so-called “War on Christmas” at
It is theologically and spiritually significant that the Incarnation came to our poorest streets. That Jesus was born poor, later announces his mission at Nazareth as “bringing good news to the poor,” and finally tells us that how we treat “the least of these” is his measure of how we treat him and how he will judge us as the Son of God, radically defines the social context and meaning of the Incarnation of God in Christ. And it clearly reveals the real meaning of Christmas.

The other explicit message of the Incarnation is that Jesus the Christ’s arrival will mean “peace on earth, good will toward men.” He is “the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.” Jesus later calls on his disciples to turn the other cheek, practice humility, walk the extra mile, put away their swords, love their neighbors — and even their enemies — and says that in his kingdom, it is the peacemakers who will be called the children of God. Christ will end our warring ways, bringing reconciliation to God and to one another.

None of that has anything to do with the Fox News Christmas. In fact, quite the opposite.

Making sure that shopping malls and stores greet their customers with “Merry Christmas” is entirely irrelevant to the meaning of the Incarnation. In reality it is the consumer frenzy of Christmas shopping that is the real affront and threat to the season.

Last year, Americans spent $450 billion on Christmas. Clean water for the whole world, including every poor person on the planet, would cost about $20 billion. Let’s just call that what it is: A material blasphemy of the Christmas season.
. . .
The real Christmas announces the birth of Jesus to a world of poverty, pain, and sin, and offers the hope of salvation and justice.

The Fox News Christmas heralds the steady promotion of consumerism, the defense of wealth and power, the adulation of money and markets, and the regular belittling or attacking of efforts to overcome poverty.

The real Christmas offers the joyful promise of peace and the hope of reconciliation with God and between humankind.
The Fox News Christmas proffers the constant drumbeat of war, the reliance on military solutions to every conflict, the demonizing of our enemies, and the gospel of American dominance.

The real Christmas lifts up the Virgin Mary’s song of praise for her baby boy: “He has brought the mighty down from their thrones, and lifted the lowly, he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich empty away.”

The Fox News Christmas would label Mary’s Magnificat as “class warfare.”

The rest of his column is here.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thanking immigrants, legal or not

On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Hispanic/Latino Bishops of the United States released a letter to immigrants, signed by 33 bishops:
We the undersigned Hispanic/Latino Bishops of the United States wish to let those of you who lack proper authorization to live and work in our country know that you are not alone, or forgotten. We recognize that every human being, authorized or not, is an image of God and therefore possesses infinite value and dignity. We open our arms and hearts to you, and we receive you as members of our Catholic family. As pastors, we direct these words to you from the depths of our heart.

In a very special way we want to thank you for the Christian values you manifest to us with your lives—your sacrifice for the well-being of your families, your determination and perseverance, your joy of life, your profound faith and fidelity despite your insecurity and many difficulties. You contribute much to the welfare of our nation in the economic, cultural and spiritual arenas.
. . .
Immigrants are a revitalizing force for our country. The lack of a just, humane and effective reform of immigration laws negatively affects the common good of the entire United States.

It pains and saddens us that many of our Catholic brothers and sisters have not supported our petitions for changes in the immigration law that will protect your basic rights while you contribute your hard work to our country. We promise to keep working to bring about this change. We know how difficult the journey is to reach the border and to enter the United States. That is why we are committed to do all that we can to bring about a change in the immigration law, so that you can enter and remain here legally and not feel compelled to undertake a dangerous journey in order to support and provide for your families. As pastors concerned for your welfare, we ask you to consider seriously whether it is advisable to undertake the journey here until after just and humane changes occur in our immigration laws.

Nevertheless, we are not going to wait until the law changes to welcome you who are already here into our churches, for as St. Paul tells us, “You are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; you are fellow-citizens with the holy people of God and part of God’s household” (Eph 2:19).

As members of the Body of Christ which is the Church, we offer you spiritual nourishment. Feel welcome to Holy Mass, the Eucharist, which nourishes us with the word and the body and blood of Jesus. We offer you catechetical programs for your children and those religious education programs that our diocesan resources allow us to put at your disposal.
The rest of the letter is here. San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller told Reuters, "This letter is pastoral in nature and is not about politics or programs. It is my desire to offer comfort, kindness, and compassion to all immigrants who are suffering, especially at this time of year."


Monday, December 12, 2011

Bishops renew poverty awareness program

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops today announced that it is renewing its povery awareness program, Poverty USA:
With 15 percent of all Americans, including nearly 1 in 4 children, living in poverty, the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development (JPHD) of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is renewing its poverty awareness campaign, Poverty USA, complete with a revamped website and a new social media presence and Poverty Awareness Month event in January.

“Our culture of life begins with a love that binds us to the hopes and joys, the struggles and the sorrows of people, especially those who are poor or any way afflicted,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, chairman of the bishops’ domestic anti-poverty effort, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). “We march with immigrant families toward a society made stronger and safer by their inclusion. We embrace the mother and her unborn child, giving to both of them hope and opportunity. We measure our own health by the quality of care we give to those most vulnerable. We labor with those whose work is burdensome.”
The rest of the news release is here.

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Friday, December 09, 2011

Government transparency (updated)

The New York Times has joined several good government groups in taking Governor Andrew Cuomo to task for the way in which he pushed a new tax bill through the state Legislature this week. As the Times noted in its editorial:
New York’s legislators began arriving in Albany on Tuesday morning, and, by late Wednesday night, the Legislature had voted to revamp the entire state income tax code. The Senate voted less than half an hour after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 19,000 word bill was made public. As for the voters and taxpayers? They were out of the loop.

The governor’s plan, which drew only eight no votes from the entire Legislature, will raise about $2 billion next year, less than half as much money as the so-called millionaires’ tax that expires at the end of December. It also means that the state will still face a deficit of at least $1.5 billion next year.
. . .
At a press conference after the voting, Mr. Cuomo dismissed criticism by good-government groups for failing to allow full public debate. And, as for legislators, he said that if any had not been thinking about state tax policy, “then that is a person who shouldn’t be serving in the Legislature.”

That is not the point, of course. Everybody has thought about taxes. It is the specifics of tax law that matter, not the generalities.

The entire editorial is here. Also worth reading is Jimmy Vielkind’s article in today’s Times Union, about how pressure was brought on legislators to approve the measure. Here is a portion:
Assembly Republicans were huddled late Wednesday in the parlor where they hold their private conference. It was about 9:30 p.m., 30 minutes after a bill to restructure the tax code was finally printed.

Members were asking questions based on the legislation, which had been announced via news release Tuesday afternoon, when, according to four sources in the room, the phone rang.

It was Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

He asked Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, to hurry up, the sources said. The leader said his members were reviewing the bill, and to back off. Kolb had said he was going to vote against the measure earlier in the day, but as the governor phoned, the 32 Republicans in the Senate were leading the way to its unanimous approval in that chamber.

Cuomo then told Kolb he wanted a unanimous vote, and threatened to campaign in the district of any member who voted against the package, Kolb repeated to the room, according to the sources.
The Governor's office has not denied the electoral threat.

[UPDATE: Governor Cuomo says the story is “inaccurate,” but others disagree.]

Prior to the vote, Bill Hammond at the Daily News had written about the effort to bring the legislators back and push through an overhaul of the state tax code:
That is absurd. Overhauling the state’s entire tax code, with billions of dollars at stake, is not something to be squeezed in between shopping trips to the mall. It’s serious business that demands serious, thoughtful consideration and debate.

New York’s Constitution provides a step-by-step procedure for making large-scale decisions about revenue and spending. It’s called the budget process. Cuomo should use it.
Apparently very few in state government were listening.

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Thursday, December 08, 2011

Is capitalism at odds with Christian values?

A survey conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service found that, overall, more Americans believe that Christian values are at odds with capitalism and the free market than believe they are compatible.
Among Christians in the U.S., only 38% believe capitalism and the free market are consistent with Christian values while 46% believe the two are at odds. Religiously unaffiliated Americans look similar to the general population and to Christian Americans, with a plurality (40%) saying capitalism is at odds with Christian values, compared to 32% who say they are compatible; 14% say they do not know.
Other findings:
More than 6-in-10 (62%) Americans believe that one of the biggest problems in this country is that more and more wealth is held by just a few people. About 1-in-4 (24%) say that this is not that big a problem.
. . .
Nearly two-thirds (66%) say that it’s fair for wealthier Americans to pay more taxes than the middle class or those less well off.
. . .
Overall most (61%) Americans disagree that most businesses would act ethically on their own without regulation from the government. Less than 4-in-10 (37%) believe that they would. This holds true across political and religious lines, with the lone exception of those who identify with the Tea Party movement (53% agree).
You can read more here.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

NY's tax and poverty rates a'changing

As New Yorkers wait for legislative action on a possible change to the State’s tax code, which might generate in the neighborhood of $2 billion, America magazine is reporting on alarming trends in poverty across the United States. Citing data from Catholic News Service, its own staff and other sources, the magazine is reporting the following:
The impact of increasing poverty and the diminished economic resources of the U.S. middle class became evident in late November. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that poverty among school-age children showed “a statistically significant increase” in one in five counties across the nation, and an analysis by The New York Times of Department of Agriculture data concluded that the number of students receiving subsidized school lunches rose to 21 million in the 2009-10 school year from 18 million in 2006-7, a 17 percent increase. According to the analysis, 11 states had four-year increases of 25 percent or more, “huge shifts in a vast program long characterized by incremental growth.”

Reports from Catholic Charities USA agencies across the nation were just as discouraging. According to the organization’s 2011 Third Quarter Snapshot Survey, 66 percent of Catholic Charities agencies saw an increase in requests for assistance from families with children and 59 percent reported increases in aid requests from middle-class families. Eighty percent report increased requests for assistance from the working poor.

Perhaps most alarming were the snapshot’s findings related to the toll the rising demand was having on C.C.U.S.A. capacity. More than 88 percent of local agencies reported that they maintained a waiting list or had to turn people away for at least one of their programs or services in the last quarter, and 64 percent reported that they could not meet the need they faced for emergency financial assistance. Fifty-six percent of Catholic Charities agencies were unable to respond to some requests for utility assistance.

Commenting on the report, the Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, said that while the need for food and utility assistance has been consistent, never in his experience had so many agencies been forced to turn clients away or place families on waiting lists. “Many never had to do this in the past,” he said. “This is really very difficult emotionally for our staff, to have to do that.”
The rest of the article is here. Also of interest is this blog post by Jimmy Vielkind of the Times Union, who has put together spreadsheet showing the income tax brackets and marginal rates.

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On Civility in Political Communication

Albert Merz, OFM, has written a short paper for the Franciscan Action Network entitled On Civility in Political Communication. Here is an excerpt:
One of the consequences of incivility in how we talk “to” or “at” each other is alienation. People are pushed apart rather than pulled together. The roots of solutions to society’s problems have to be found in common ground. It is almost impossible to find this common ground in a non-relational environment.

The more threatening consequence of incivility in how we talk “to” or “at” each other is that it can become a “seed of violence.” Our minds and our emotions feed on words. Both the speaker and the hearer are affected by them. There is an old saying: “We become what we eat.” In an applied sense we might say: “We become what we speak.” The very words we speak change us. We can calm ourselves and we can ignite ourselves by the words and tone we use. Likewise we can affect the ones to whom we are speaking.

. . .

Recently I read that the public school system in the United States grew out of a concern on the part of our political leaders that people were losing a sense of the common good, i.e., they were becoming uncivil. Therefore, the need for education in civics in the original meaning of the word was deemed necessary. Civility, then, really means more than just being polite. It means genuinely respecting and caring for one another.

It seems to me that we need to revive such courses in civics, but this time in adult education programs. I would visualize the course syllabus to include the following topics:

1) How perspectives are formed – thus we could respect how others obtained their points of view;

2) The value of open-mindedness to a diverse pool of ideas – thus we might spawn a greater idea;

3) The necessity of serving the common good – thus we would realize the need for some individual sacrificing;

4) The importance of building trust in the community – thus we would be able to function together;

5) The significance of respect and civility in communication – thus we could maintain a positive atmosphere for creative progress.
We suggest that you read the entire statement here.

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Monday, December 05, 2011

Bishop Hubbard addresses global poverty

Albany Bishop Howard J. Hubbard has recorded two public service announcements for radio, addressing the need to protect lifesaving foreign assistance in the federal budget. You can listen to them here, under the heading “What’s New”. And you can learn more, here.

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Sunday, December 04, 2011

A labor strategist's tools

Clayton Sinyai, director of strategic campaigns for the Amalgamated Transit Union and a member of the Catholic Labor Network, writes about faith, Scripture Catholic social teaching in America magazine:
I draw a great deal of strength and direction from the study of Scripture and the social encyclicals of the popes. Reading Scripture teaches me humility. Every time I pick up the Bible I find myself baffled by something or other about our mysterious God. Scripture reminds me how little I understand of the highest things, how high God’s thoughts are above my thoughts.

The social encyclicals complement my study of the words of Scripture almost perfectly, offering desperately needed counsel in great clarity. Think of it: Who among the laity enjoys so much guidance in their vocation as I? I searched in vain for passages in the papal letters that might tell one how to be a worthwhile machine operator or railroad clerk or letter carrier. But Leo, Pius, John Paul and Benedict are full of advice on how to be a good trade unionist.
The rest of the article is here.

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Saturday, December 03, 2011

On visiting Occupy Albany

Barbara DiTommaso, executive director of the Commission on Peace and Justice, wrote an article for the religion page of today’s Times Union. In it, she discusses a recent visit with other religious leaders to the site of Occupy Albany and raises some interesting questions:
Pop quiz: In the Jewish and Christian scriptures, how many references are there to the rights of those who are poor and vulnerable? How many mentions are there of the rights of the rich? If you answered "over 190" to the first question, you're correct. If you replied "zero"to the second, you're right again.

This clear orientation was in evidence on Nov. 4 as Capital Region religious leaders and their representatives led prayers and reflections relating to Occupy Albany, and the larger Occupy movement across the country, to our religious beliefs.

In a cold wind that drove home the personal sacrifices made by those who were staying during the day and night in Academy Park, we were warmed by the familiar phrases that had moved me to choose social ministry as my life's focus.

The orphan, the widow and the stranger — or, as we would say today, the immigrant — of special concern to God because they cannot fend for themselves, and so their counterparts in today's world must be of special concern to us of Judeo-Christian heritage. Those who are marginalized in society aren't to be merely the objects of our concern. We care about them because we identify with them and their suffering. Many in the Occupy movement understand this.
The rest of the column is here.


Friday, December 02, 2011

Remembering the martyrs of El Salvador

On December 2, 1980, Maryknoll sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, lay missioner Jean Donovan, and Ursuline sister Dorothy Kazel were murdered by a death squad for their work helping the poor of El Salvador and for their human rights advocacy, which were considered subversive activities during a brutal civil war that claimed an estimated 75,000 lives.

Today, on the 31st anniversary of their deaths, we ask you to recall their stories and stories of all the Central American martyrs, including Father Rutilio Grande and Archbishop Oscar Romero and the thousands of anonymous people who suffered persecution, torture, and death in Central America in the 1980s.

You can learn more here, here, here and here.

May thoughts of their continued impact bring peace and inspiration to you today and through your Advent journey.

“The great problem in Nicaragua as in all Latin America is the problem of terrible injustice - the small number of very rich and the great percentage of miserably poor.”

“I see in this work a channel for awakening real concern for the victims of injustice in today’s world; a means to work for change, and to share deep concern for the sufferings of the poor and marginated, the non-persons of our human family”
Maura Clarke, M.M., killed December 2nd, 1980.

+ + + + + + +

"No hay amor cristiano sin lucha de justicia"
[There is no Christian love without a fight for justice]
Ignacio Ellacuria S.J., killed Nov. 16th 1989

+ + + + + + +

“The reasons why so many people are being killed are quite complicated, yet . . . many people have found a meaning to life, to sacrifice, to struggle and even to death! And whether their life spans 16 years or 60 or 90, for them their life has had a purpose. In many ways, they are fortunate people. . . . I hope you come to find that which gives life a deep meaning for you.

Something worth living for, maybe even worth dying for, something that energizes you, enthuses you to keep moving ahead. I can't tell you what it might be. That's for you to find, to choose, to love. I just encourage you to start looking and support you in the search.”
Ita Ford, M.M., killed December 2nd, 1980, in a letter to her 16-year-old niece.

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Thursday, December 01, 2011

USCCB On-line Advent Calendar

The U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has an on-line Advent calendar here with activities for each day, such as praying for those with HIV/AIDS, observe Human rights Day, pray a Scriptural Rosary for justice and peace, and learn about the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching.

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SSM lawsuit may reveal government maneuvering

Regardless of how one feels about the law that allows same-sex marriage in New York, one has to be intrigued by the door it may open into the inner workings of New York State government.

This week, a State Supreme Court justice ruled that there is an issue with how that decision was achieved, perhaps in violation of the State’s Open Meetings Law. Acting State Supreme Court Judge Robert Wiggins also questioned the need for a "message of necessity" issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The lawsuit challenging the law claims that Governor Cuomo improperly sent the message of necessity to the Senate for an immediate vote on the bill; without such a message, the bill normally would have had to be submitted to lawmakers three days in advance. The message said the continued delay in passing it would deny 50,000 same-sex couples critical protections currently offered others.

"Logically and clearly this cite by the governor is disingenuous," Wiggins wrote, shortening the required three days of consideration to change a law that had been in effect for generations. Nevertheless, Justice Wiggins said the Senate voted to accept the message, and it was not within his province to nullify it.

The Times Union, which supported the bill in earlier editorials, also supports Justice Wiggins in today’s editorial:
It took a state Supreme Court justice’s ruling in what smacks of a futile lawsuit to remind us of that magnificent night six months ago when New York legalized gay marriage.

You could feel the drama at the state Capitol. Passion was in the air. History was being made. Justice was being served.

And through it all, then as well as now, it’s fair to ask, what’s the rush? Why was Governor Cuomo insisting on a vote by the Senate that night, June 24, on a bill that had just been submitted? Why not the usual process of what’s known as letting bills age for three days?

Those nagging questions are at the core of acting Justice Robert Wiggins’ ruling that a lawsuit in opposition to the same-sex marriage law and how it was passed can proceed.
. . .

Here’s Justice Wiggins, citing the state’s Public Officers Law:

“The people must be able to remain informed if they are to retain control over those who are their public servants. It is the only climate under which the commonwealth will prosper and enable the government process to operate for those who created it.”

There is more here, here and here.

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