Peace & Justice

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

Friday, July 27, 2012

National Peace Conference in Albany Diocese

The Evangelist has an article on the upcoming conference in Fonda:
Peace activists of all faiths will meet at the National Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in Fonda for the annual Kateri Peace Conference Aug. 17-18.

The theme for the weekend is "Crossing the Line: A Call to Revolutionary Love" - which means overcoming fear and focusing on love, coordinators said.

The word love "needs to be rehabilitated," said conference founder John Amidon. "People are cynical about the concept of love and the way we treat each other and what it actually means. We seem to be possessed with fear and militarism."
The rest of the article is here. More information on the conference is here.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

From Quinnipiac University:
New York State voters oppose 80 - 16 percent a pay raise for state legislators. Opposition is over 70 percent among every group and in every part of the state, except voters with household income of more than $250,000, who oppose the pay raise 53 - 45 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. 
Suggesting a pay raise for legislators as part of a deal to increase the minimum wage in New York State is a bad idea, voters say 66 - 28 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN- uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Again, there is strong opposition from every group and in every region.
You can read more here.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bishops support tax credits

Today, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a copy of letter to United States senators urging them to preserve the Earned Income Tax Credit and the refundable Child Tax Credit, noting:

A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons; it requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.

Poverty in this country is historically high and growing. Currently over 46 million Americans live in poverty; over 16 million of them are children. In America today, the younger a person is, the more likely they are to live in poverty. Low-income tax credits are pro-work, pro-family, and some of the most effective antipoverty programs in our nation. Every year, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the refundable Child Tax Credit lift millions of American families out of poverty and help them live in dignity and with greater economic security. These investments should be supported and protected, not undermined or forgotten. In particular, it would be unjust and unwise to fail to renew improvements and extensions of low-income tax credits as the Congress addresses tax cuts for middle-income and wealthy Americans. Poor working families and their children may not have the most powerful lobbies, but they have the greatest needs and the most compelling claim.
The rest of the letter is here.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Van or SUV Urgently Needed

The good people at Rural & Migrant Ministry have sent out the following appeal:





LAURA 845-485-8627 or BILL 585-615-8313


Monday, July 23, 2012

Celebrate the Feast of Mary Magdalene Tonight

Mary of Magdala was the apostle to the apostles, commissioned by Christ himself to proclaim the good news that love is stronger than death! Because her story was conflated with those of two or three other women in the gospels and the gesture of wiping Christ’s feet with their hair, Mary came to be called a prostitute. But the gospel simply says that Jesus cast 7 demons out of her (he healed her of something), and that she and other women traveled with Jesus and the apostles and supported them financially. And of course, she was with Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the foot of the cross.

When: Monday evening July 23, 2012 at 7:00pm.

Where: Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary, 959 Madison Avenue, Albany

Contact: Steve at (518) 370-1615 or Ellen at (518) 462-2299

Resisting the New Polarization

Charles C. Camosy, assistant professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University in New York City and author of "Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization," writes on the blog Catholic Moral Theology:
Polarization in American culture is nothing new. In fact, it seems to built almost intentionally into our two-party system. For a very long time now, many of us have assumed that are basically two answers or “sides” to issues and questions in our public discourse. But we are now more polarized than at any other time in our nation’s history since the Civil War. And with the obsession this current Presidential campaign has had with negative ads, rather than talking about positive proposals to solve problems, it looks to get even worse in the coming months.  
But our broader culture need not cave to how its media and other public institutions present the world to us. We can resist. Based on my experience working to push back against polarization, I published an Op-Ed with the Seattle Times describing five relatively simple practices that may help this effort.
You can read those suggested practices here.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has a good story about Bishop Matthew H. Clark, who turns 75 on Sunday and is submitting his resignation to the Holy See, as is required of all bishops in the Catholic Church who reach that age.
Bishop Matthew H. Clark remembers the letter: stern, foreboding, and signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — the man whom the world knows today as Pope Benedict XVI. Delivered to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester in 1986, the Vatican’s letter said that Rev. Charles E. Curran’s beliefs on the subjects of masturbation, homosexuality and premarital sex would promote a questionable “pluralism in teaching moral doctrine,” and that Clark was not to defend the man’s opinions any more. But Clark didn’t back down. “Your Eminence, I fail to see how such a description does justice to what I wrote,” Clark responded in a return letter. “My intention was to portray moral theology as a living discipline, which ever faces new questions and which historically has developed a great deal.” The exchange occurred only a quarter of the way through his tenure, but is a microcosm of Matthew Clark’s 33-year career as bishop of the Rochester diocese.
The rest of the article is here.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bishops Write to Secretary Clinton

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Chairman of their Committee on International Justice and Peace has written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops shares the hopes expressed by Pope Benedict XVI earlier this year: “In the Holy Land, where tensions between Palestinians and Israelis affect the stability of the entire Middle East, it is necessary that the leaders of these two peoples adopt courageous and farsighted decisions in favor of peace. … I express my hope that [negotiations] … will lead to a lasting peace which guarantees the right of the two peoples to dwell in security in sovereign states and within secure and internationally recognized borders.”
The entire letter is here.

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

The uses of statistics

Do you ever wonder how political ads come up with seemingly contradictory statistics on matters of public policy? It’s easy. For example, let’s examine the question of which political party is best at creating jobs.

The answer is Republicans.

Or Democrats.

It depends on how you use your statistics.

And political ads use them in many ways.

A recent news story on the top five job-generating states shows that three of them have Republican governors. Call that 60%. Republicans win.

But if we tweak the numbers, we learn that the two Democratic governors were in large states that created 54% of the new jobs. Democrats win.

So when political adds tout the job-creating abilities of a certain political party, you might ask yourself how they came up with those numbers, and how relevant those numbers are to the situation in your state.

By the way, the numbers used here just reflect payrolls in June. Depending on a campaign’s needs, statistics in political ads tend to use those months that make their candidate look good and the opponent look bad. Therefore, it is good to know whether a candidate is citing all the numbers, or just those that make the candidate look good.

As for the recent job numbers, you can read more here.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Other America

Fifty years ago, Michael Harrington wrote The Other America, which chronicled the state of the American poor at that time. How important was the book? Well, it helped convinced the Johnson administration to launch the war on poverty. Now, the think tank Demos is marking the anniversary with a fascinating series of interactive charts on the current state of poverty in America by race, age, gender, education and family type. You can see them here.
To learn more about what has happened to poverty since The Other America, go here.


Monday, July 09, 2012

The editors of America magazine take a look at the state of today’s labor unions , and offer some good insights into the reality of the American workerforce:

Despite repeated allegations about compensation packages that grossly exceed those found in the private sector, analysis of comparable public and private sector positions shows negligible differences in pay and benefits. But those comparisons may ultimately miss the point. The problem is not that public employees are compensated too generously, but rather that private sector workers are buckling under decades of income and benefits stagnation.

What makes the union death watch especially galling, in fact, is how quickly fellow workers, overcome by pension envy, have been persuaded to turn on their union brethren. Their outrage might better have been directed at the relentless assault on the middle class within America’s private sector, accelerated by the 2008 economic crisis and the breakdown in family wealth it caused.

Also disheartening has been the muted response of the church as this coordinated attack on public service unions, the last redoubt of organized labor, rolls on. The Catholic Church and the union movement stood together throughout much of the 20th century, propelled by landmark Catholic social teaching and accompanied by church leaders, from Cardinal James Gibbons to Msgr. George Higgins. Unions, often led by lay Catholics, have been vibrant expressions of both the spiritual and civic dimensions of Catholic social teaching. It is not an exaggeration to say this partnership effected profound improvements in the daily life of all Americans, raising standards of living and educational attainment and bringing decency and dignity to the workplace. Those advances have been gradually turned back, and they may fall away even further in this new century.

Middle-class and working-class people throughout the United States owe much to the 20th century union movement. It deserves better than to be served up as a scapegoat for a national economic crisis that has been cleverly exploited by forces eager to accelerate the demise of organized labor.

You can read more here.


Friday, July 06, 2012

Helping women on the margins

The newsletter of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, here, has an interesting article about helping women in Washington and Oregon:
Twelve years ago, a coalition of Catholic religious communities with an impressive record of seeking social justice in the northwestern United States turned its attention to women on the margins of society, particularly Latina immigrants. Adjusting the traditional organizing model, the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center (IPJC) helped low-income women form Women’s Justice Circles to identify and address the conditions that keep them poor, unstable, and marginalized.  
More than four thousand women in four dioceses in Washington and Oregon have now participated in the grassroots empowerment process that brings formerly excluded women into the mainstream effort to promote change for the common good. The groups are led by low-income or immigrant women and those living in crisis or otherwise on the edges of society. They work in partnership with economically stable women from local faith communities to devise concrete steps out of poverty.


Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy Independence Day

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, discusses the Catholic call to faithful citizenship in this video produced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, of which he serves as president. To read the U.S. Bishops’ statement Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, go here.

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