Peace & Justice

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

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Are we doing this right?

U.S. Catholic magazine has an informative interview with an expert in international relations who had advised both the Clinton and Bush administrations. According to the article, “Maryann Cusimano Love knew that it was only a matter of time before terrorists would hit the United States, but it was a dead car battery that kept her out of harm’s way on September 11. She was supposed to be teaching a class on terrorism in the wing of the Pentagon that was hit. All of her students survived, and one briefed the president that night.” From the interview:
Are our actions at least making us safer?

People think that, because we’ve spent a whole lot of money since September 11, we are safer. The dirty secret is that most spending on the War on Terror has had nothing to do with combating terrorism. A lot of defense contractors have gotten very rich off our fear and have not made us one iota safer, while a lot of the programs that actually could and do make us safer are struggling for financial and political support.  
Sometimes the simple things are the most effective ways to make us safe. Updating our roads and bridges, improving air traffic safety, and protecting our food supply and public health systems protect us against an array of everyday threats and from terrorists exploiting our civilian infrastructure.  
Instead we’re spending billions on a Cold War military architecture, like aircraft carriers and the latest fighter jets for the Air Force, when Al Qaeda doesn’t have an air force. There’s a real mismatch between our values and what we’re doing to combat terrorism, and also a mismatch between what we’re doing and what actually works.
What works in fighting terrorism then?

The good news is that terrorists have never defeated a democratic state. Terrorism doesn’t win. It is, by definition, a desperate attempt by a minority group that does not have mass public support. Al Qaeda isn’t organizing mass social movements in central squares in Egypt and Jordan because they don’t have that kind of support.
Al Qaeda is of great concern to the United States, but groups that deliberately target noncombatants have been around since at least the 1700s. When terrorist groups have been defeated, it’s been by slow, long-term pressure, using law enforcement and intelligence, and addressing the larger-scale grievances that give greater sympathy and support to the cause.
The rest of the interview is here.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

This prayer was specially written for the National Moment of Remembrance.

Almighty God,
You loved humankind into being
and you bless us now with each precious moment of life.
Our hearts are grateful for your loving faithfulness.
Grateful, too, are we for the millions of loving acts
that blossom from human hearts around us every day

On this Memorial Day
help us to remember, with deepest gratitude and awe,
the extraordinary men and women who, out of love, gave their lives
to protect our beloved country and preserve our liberty.

Keep these fallen heroes in your loving care.
Help us to be ever mindful also of the wounded heroes in our midst
who, with valorous hearts, risked their lives that we might prosper
and that our children’s futures be secured.


Prayer written by
Rev. Lawrence Madden, S.J.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Need for Discussion and Debate Among Church Leaders

Daniel P. Horan, OFM writes a blog in which he reflects on “the possibility of understanding relationship of prayer as Dating God in the everyday and ordinary experiences of the twenty-first-century world.” Coincidentally, the blog is called Dating God, as hiis his new book. If his name sounds familiar, it might be because he taught in the Department of Religious Studies and the Foundations Sequence at Siena College during the 2010-2011 academic year. Earlier today, he posted the following:
Few people seem to remember what the early Church was like. I mean the EARLY Church. Go back and look at the Acts of the Apostles, the Letters of Paul, the evangelists’ accounts of the Good News of Jesus, the non-canonical sources and so on. Discussion and debate permeated the style of leadership of the early Church communities because everything was so new and uncertain. The first generations of the “followers of The Way,” as Christianity in its inchoate state was known, were trying to grapple with questions about who Jesus of Nazareth was and is, what it means to talk about resurrection, what it means to talk about humanity and divinity together. There were questions about who was and was not part or could be part of the community. Was it only Jews? Could Gentiles convert? Did they have to be Jews first?
You have two of the most significant followers of Jesus of Nazareth, Peter and Paul, on two very different sides of the proverbial aisle on the question of who could and couldn’t be admitted to the nascent Christian community. It was a very public and well-known debate.
You have, just a few centuries later, the famous Christological Ecumenical Councils, at which some of the most foundational creedal statements of the Christian faith were concretized. By the standards of the outcomes of those Councils, many of the bishops who entered the Council did so as technical heretics, at one time convinced of an opposing or all-together different theological view.
Even at our most recent ecumenical council, the Second Vatican Council, we have the best documented historical record of any over the course of some two thousand years and in the record reveals a very lively and at-times contentious discussion and debate about procedure, theology, canon law, engagement of the Church with the world, interreligious dialogue, the meaning of the Church and so on!
Had there been no discussion and debate among Church leaders at any point in history, we simply wouldn’t be the Church and the Spirit wouldn’t be able to work through the gifts, minds and hearts of a diverse body of leaders.  
So why do so many Church leaders today, particularly in the in the United States, believe that discussion and debate are bad for the Church? Why are certain partisan voices permitted to reign hegemonically, while critical voices or alternative views are silenced, ignored or pushed away?
The rest of the blog is here.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Catholics at war

The impact of Mexico's three-year Cristero Rebellion in the 1920s will enter American popular culture next month with the release of a new film, "For Greater Glory," which stars Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria.

Catholic News Service reports:

The rebellion saw Catholic clergy and laity taking up arms to oppose government efforts to harshly restrict the influence of the church and defend religious freedom. In the end, the rebellion of the Cristero -- soldiers for Christ -- was quelled in 1929, leaving the church sidelined for much of the last century and its role limited to a pastoral concerns with no say in the public policy arena.

Ask Mexicans about the rebellion and the answers about what it means today depends on a person's point of view.

. . .

Victor Ramos Cortes, a professor at the University of Guadalajara, said any reading of history must consider the factors of religious intolerance, agrarian land issues in a country with numerous landless farmers and the threat posed by the church hierarchy to the liberal elites of the time.

Such nuanced readings of the era are rare.

"In our country, each history is presented as if it were the only true version and the other is erroneous," Ramos said.

The Cristero legacy remains somewhat divisive, with the conflict and the beatification and canonization of Cristero martyrs at the center of the church's agenda.

The Archdiocese of Guadalajara is building a large sanctuary on a prominent hilltop to memorialize Mexico's martyrs, and Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass during his visit in March for 640,000 people at the foot of the Cerro del Cubilete, site of a giant Christ statue built to remember those fighting the rebellion.

Father Manuel Corral, Mexican bishops' conference spokesman, has seen the film and speaks well of its message of "showing young people that there's something worth fighting for."

He also considers its release a sign of how much Mexico has changed in terms of religious tolerance and the more prominent role the church is taking in public life.

"Twenty-five years ago, it would have been impossible to release a movie like this," he said.

The rest of the article is here.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Churches to Collect Sewing Machines for Overseas Programs

Churches to Collect Sewing Machines for Overseas Programs

For more information, contact Charlie Hughes at 518-439-1789

ALBANY, NEW YORK – The parishes of St. Vincent de Paul, All Saints and Mater Christi are collecting portable sewing machines for poor people in developing countries. Collections will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 2 and 16 at the Saint Vincent de Paul Parish Center, 984 Madison Avenue, across from the college of St. Rose.

The portable sewing machines must be in working condition and include pedals and electric cords. They will be shipped to developing countries where some will be used to teach poor people how to sew and others be given to graduates of the sewing programs. In the developing world a sewing machine means instant income.

Today, many unwanted portable sewing machines exist in people’s homes, often headed for a landfill. By collecting these sewing machines, the churches not only save valuable space in landfills, they help poor people support themselves.

A $10 donation is requested with each machine to help cover shipping costs.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Do facts matter?

This is something we have long wondered. Are our politics more consistent than our opinions? It appears that they are.

On a range of issues, partisans seem partial to their political loyalties over the facts. When those loyalties demand changing their views of the facts, he said, partisans seem willing to throw even consistency overboard.

Read this.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Poverty in America

As the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” To get the facts on poverty in America, we suggest that you visit the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has lots of details. For example:
In November 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau announced a new supplemental poverty measure (SPM) that with different measures of both economic resources and living costs. New adjustments take into account federal food, housing and energy subsidies, as well as additional costs including payroll taxes, medical out-of-pocket expenses, and work related expenses such as child care.
By the SPM measure:
- Child poverty in 2010 declined to 13.6 million
- The total number of those in poverty increased to 49 million.  
- The poverty rate among seniors rose from 9% to 15.9% based on medical expenses.  
- The poverty rate among working age adults stayed relatively the same, 15.1% to 15.2%.
By the way, the site includes links to the sources of their information.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Facts worth considering

In his monthly column in The Evangelist, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard discusses important issues facing Congress and the New York State Legislature, and he does so with facts and statistics rather than the rhetoric that seems to cloud so much of what passes for political dialogue these days. Some of what he writes:
. . . from 1979 until the eve of the Great Recession, the top one percent of Americans received 36 percent of all gains, while the median income of non-elderly households actually fell. In fact, the top one-tenth of the one percent received more than 20 percent of all after-tax income between 1979 to 2005, compared to 13.5 percent enjoyed by the bottom 60 percent of households. In other words, the total of new income going to roughly 300,000 people was one-and-a-half times the size of the total going to roughly 180 million people.
. . .  
from 1979 to 2007, after-tax income grew by 275 percent for the one percent of the population with the highest income. More startling still, out of this small group of one percent - namely, the richest one-thousandth of the population, or 0.1 percent - it rose by 400 percent.  
. . .  
What is even worse is that the rise of poverty in our country has occurred as corporate CEO compensation ballooned from 24 times the average worker's wages to 300 times that amount. Just six members of the Walton family alone, whose patriarch founded Walmart, now have as much wealth as the bottom 30 percent of the entire U.S. population.
The rest of his column is here.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Rural and Migrant Ministry Lobby Day

Since 1981 Rural and Migrant Ministry (RMM), a statewide, non-profit organization, has served the rural and migrant communities throughout New York. Members of the organization will be in Albany on Monday, May 21 to lobby the state Legislature as part of its Justice For Farmworkers Campaign. The Campaign’s primary goal was to improve working and living conditions for New York’s farmworkers. Here is the organization’s Mission Statement:
Rural and Migrant Ministry works for the creation of a just rural New York State through:
Nurturing leadership
Standing with the disenfranchised, especially farmworkers and rural workers
Changing unjust systems and structures

RMM implements its mission through three program areas:
ACCOMPANIMENT - RMM supports and stands with farmworkers as they seek to improve their living and working conditions in New York.
EDUCATION - RMM raises leadership skills and awareness of opportunities and issues.
YOUTH EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM - RMM works with rural, migrant and immigrant youth.
We are located throughout New York with offices in Dutchess, Sullivan, Monroe, Wayne, Albany and Tompkins counties.

More information about the lobbying activities scheduled for May 21 is available here.


Monday, May 07, 2012

Spring enrichment

Every year, the Diocese of Albany offers its Spring Enrichment program, designed to provide everyone with the opportunity to come together to find out more about their faith and to deepen the skills and understanding of individuals serving in catechetical, youth, liturgical, pastoral care and other parish ministries.

This year’s conference will run from Monday, May 14 to Thursday, May 17 at the College of Saint Rose in Albany. It includes 111 on-site, two hour workshops and courses. Interspersed with these workshops will be major presentations on spirituality, catechetics end evangelization. On Wednesday there will be two special presentations focusing on bullying and throughout the conference there an increased number of offerings on using technology in support of ministry.

Among the other sessions are Introduction to Social Justice, What the parables teach about social justice, and Faithful Citizenship in an election year: do’s and don’ts for Catholic Citizens and Churches.

The complete list of sessions, together with a registration form, is available here.


Sunday, May 06, 2012

TV Clip of Bishop Hubbard Discussing the Minimumm Wage

New York’s Catholic Bishops are adding their support to the push to raise the minimum wage. They say the working poor are unable to get by on the current amount, and need help to get ahead. Recently, Albany Bishop Howard J. Hubbard appeared on YNN’s Capital Tonight to discuss how the Catholic Conference is trying to build support for the bill. You can watch the interview here.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Nun Thanks Bishop

Sister Doreen Glynn, Justice Coordinator for the Sisters of St. Joseph Albany Province, has a letter in today’s Times Union in which she thanks Bishop Howard J. Hubbard for his leadership:
Just hours after learning the sad news that the Vatican has ordered the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the organization representing 80 percent of U.S. Catholic nuns, to reform itself and place itself under the orders of an archbishop and two bishops, I read about our own beloved Bishop Howard J. Hubbard using his time and energy to speak on behalf of the poor.
Thank you, Bishop Hubbard, for giving me hope. Thank you, Times Union, for your coverage of our bishop addressing a panel of Senate Democrats about the gap between the rich and the poor in the state and nation ("Hubbard: Pay gap threatens social justice," April 19). Along with other faith leaders, Bishop Hubbard was advocating for raising the minimum wage.
The entire letter is available here.

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Do politicians talking about religion too much?

In a recent survey, the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life found that more people think politicians talk about religion"too much," outnumbering those who think such talk is "too little" or "the right amount."
There is a political factor, with twice as many Democrats saying politicians talk too much about religion as Republicans. But both parties saw sharp increases in the number of voters who want to hear less about religion from politicians.

Religious talk played a big role in recent elections, with Barack Obama distancing himself form his longtime pastor in 2008 and George W. Bush benefitting from a surge in so-called values voters in 2004.

"I think morality is being talked about a lot more in 2012," said David Brody, chief political correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network.

"Not necessarily religion, but now we've seen the budget cloaked in moral terms by Roman Catholic (Congressman) Paul Ryan and by Catholics who think he's wrong, on moral grounds," he said. "Immorality has been invoked a lot more in 2012."

Brody noted another possible factor, saying that many voters question the sincerity of how some candidates talk about faith.

"There are some (politicians) who are natural when they talk about faith," Brody said, "there are other politicians who may do it more for political purposes."

For now, it seems that the more politicians talk about religion, the more voters want them to stop such talk.

You can read more here.