Peace & Justice

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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Enrichment

The 40th annual Spring Enrichment will be held at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, from Monday, May 13 through Thursday, May 16th. A total of 136 separate 2-hour workshops and classes are being offered. For schedule, full brochure, registration and other information go to or call the Office of Evangelization, Catechesis & Family Life at 518-453-6630.

While regular registration will close on Wednesday, May 8, when possible we will accommodate walk-in registrations at St. Rose during the program itself. The fee is $12 per class, with a maximum of $108 for 9 or more sessions.
For forty years the Albany Diocese has had an annual gathering each spring which provided attendees with a wide variety of opportunities to find out more about their faith and, if they were engaged in a church ministry, to deepen their skills and understanding of that ministry. With the Year of Faith’s call for Catholics to study and reflect on the work of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church in order to deepen their knowledge of the faith and renew their relationship with Jesus and his Church, this year’s Spring Enrichment is a wonderful opportunity to do just that with its 136 different workshops and courses spread out over the four days of the conference.
The theme of the 40th Spring Enrichment is "Filled with the Spirit", which is the theme of the third and final year of our Diocese’s three year evangelization initiative, Amazing God. As such the program’s schedule includes a variety of sessions dealing with the Holy Spirit, Vatican II, evangelization and both basic and advanced theological and scriptural topics. There will also be numerous opportunities for spiritual renewal, culminating with a concert Thursday evening, May 16. For most of the four days participants will be able to visit our "Marketplace" and check out the products and services available from various publishers, artists, service providers, crafters, retreat/spiritual centers as well as diocesan offices and programs.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Denying the science of climate change

Reporter Carolyn Lochead of The San Francisco Chronicle has written a fascinating article about how we went from a nation in which most people believed in climate change to one in which it is a partisan issue that divides the electorate:
In 1990, "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher, the conservative hero, scientist and former leader of Britain who died April 8, called for swift action to combat climate change.
She said scientists knew enough that governments should proceed with an "insurance policy" against catastrophe. 
Thatcher borrowed the insurance idea from former President Ronald Reagan, who led negotiation of the 1987 Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer.
Eight days after Thatcher died, talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said, "There is no science in global warming." What science there is, he said, "is not settled. Besides that, we all know that it's a hoax now." 
On a chilly day this past March, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Tex., stood outside the Capitol calling for more global warming and denouncing efforts to set a price on carbon as "recycled liberal policy that raises taxes and kills jobs." 
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz insisted last month on removing the word "climate" from a resolution celebrating International Women's Day. 
How did the conservative movement travel so far, so fast? How did a party that prided itself on reason become a hotbed of scientific denial? 
The transformation has paralyzed U.S. policymaking and squandered decades that could have been spent weaning the world from fossil fuels. Twenty-three years after Thatcher urged action, the United States has no policy on climate change, even as its effects are evident and the window for action is closing. 
In 1997, "There was no difference between the way Democrats and Republicans across America viewed the issue," said Ed Maibach, executive director of George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication, a research center. Two out of three Democrats and two out of three Republicans believed that climate change was both real and serious. 
"Somewhere along the way, conservatism became, 'I've got a God-given right to drive my SUV wherever I want to go and we'll send somebody else's kids to the Middle East to fight for it," said former South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis, who lost his 2010 primary election over global warming and now runs the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, where he is pushing for a price on carbon pollution. 
A growing trove of scholarly studies, interviews with former Republican politicians and with leaders of the denial camp show a concerted public relations campaign to cast doubt on climate science. 
That campaign is funded by fossil fuel interests, nursed by a network of think tanks and amplified by conservative media. 
The think tanks rely on a tiny cadre of scientists who dispute mainstream climate science; some also questioned the science of tobacco, acid rain and ozone depletion.
. . .
Naomi Oreskes, a science historian at UC San Diego, whose 2010 book, "Merchants of Doubt" with historian Erik Conway traced climate denial's origins to the tobacco industry's efforts in the 1950s and 1960s to muddy the science on smoking, said raising doubt about science has proven extremely effective. 
"You don't actually have to lie, you just have to ask questions," Oreskes said. "The problem is the questions actually have answers. Scientists have actually answered them. So by posing the question, it gives the public the impression that these questions have not been answered, even though in fact they really have."
You can read more here.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Immigration and today's readings

Sister Maryann Mueller, CSSF, Justice and Peace Coordinator of the Felician Sisters of North America, notes that today’s reading “provide us with a glimpse of the transforming power of love. The night before he would die, Jesus taught us a lesson that may be the most life-giving for us and for the world: ‘I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.’ (John 13: 34)”
Jesus knew that acting with love is the essential element that gives life meaning. Acting with love has the power to transform us as individuals and is vital to empower us to live to our God given potential. In the early Church, Paul and Barnabas proclaimed to the people of Antioch the gifts and blessings of "what God had done with them" (Acts 14:27) as they experienced the transforming power of love.
However, it is not merely the individual who changes in light of God's love. The person's perspective of "other," of how the person sees the world and all with whom we share our world, is also transformed. "This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13: 35) God promises that whenever we seek to act with love out of a desire to follow his example we will see with new eyes, "...the old order will pass away...Behold, I make all things new." (Rev. 21: 4-5A)
Almost 20 years ago, the U. S. Catholic Bishops issued a statement on immigration under the title reflected in today's Gospel, "This is my commandment: Love one another as I love you." Debate about humane and comprehensive immigration reform continues. Viewpoints and conversation at times disregard or diminish the basic dignity of other human beings made in the image and likeness of God. As Christians, we follow One who as a child resided as a refugee in a foreign country. How are we called as Christians to act with love towards our brothers and sisters born in other lands?
Jesus understood that there would be times when we would all find it difficult to live up to the commission to love one another. He assures us that as we seek to love as He loves "God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them..." (Rev. 21: 3) Only by prayer and by staying focused on the One who loves us can we recognize our God given dignity and treat all our brothers and sisters with the same dignity.
You can learn more here.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

The rich get richer . . .

An analysis of newly released data from the Census Bureau shows the current truth of that old saying, "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer."
During the first two years of the nation’s economic recovery, the mean net worth of households in the upper 7% of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28%, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93% dropped by 4%, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly released Census Bureau data.

From 2009 to 2011, the mean wealth of the 8 million households in the more affluent group rose to an estimated $3,173,895 from an estimated $2,476,244, while the mean wealth of the 111 million households in the less affluent group fell to an estimated $133,817 from an estimated $139,896.

These wide variances were driven by the fact that the stock and bond market rallied during the 2009 to 2011 period while the housing market remained flat.
The rest of the report is here.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Pacem In Terris" at 50

Earlier this month, Bishop Richard Pates, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, discussed Solidarity and U.S. Foreign Policy at the “Peacebuilding 2013: Pacem In Terris at 50” Conference at the Catholic University of America. He addressed several situations in the world.
Our Conference of Bishops has repeatedly made solidarity visits to the Holy Land. We have heard and made our own the narratives of both Israelis and Palestinians. Both parties do need to put themselves in one another’s shoes. Based on the best interests of each nation our country needs to do the same.
U.S. policy has to be based on holding both parties accountable for the mutual steps needed for a just peace. It requires a position that takes no sides but calls for the resolution of problems that are evident. There is plenty of blame to be addressed on each side.
Palestinians must promote security by halting attacks on civilians, blocking illegal arms shipments and disarming militias, and improve governance and transparency to build capacity for a future state. They need to disavow clearly and forever their radical ranks who have proposed the destruction of Israel.
Israel needs to freeze immediately expansion of settlements, withdraw “illegal outposts,” ease movement for Palestinians by reducing military check points, and refrain from disproportionate military responses. The city of Jerusalem is sacred to the three principal representative faiths. It calls for an international character that respects and facilitates free access for adherents to the three religions, all of whom have a stake in this sacred ground.
Lasting peace is built on justice for both peoples. . . .
The entire speech is here.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Jesuits report on immigration failures

The Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a bi-national humanitarian ministry of the Society of Jesus, in conjunction with Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and the Jesuit Conference, has published a study about the human cost of the current immigration system witnessed by staff and volunteers who serve at KBI’s Aid Center for Deported Migrants.
Research indicates that immigration enforcement programs intended to discourage migrants from entering the U.S. without authorization have a negligible, if any, deterrent effect. Instead, findings show that these programs have contributed to needless and widespread family separation, often driving further irregular migration and exacerbating the vulnerability of recently deported women, men and children.
The study, entitled “Documented Failures: The Consequences of Immigration Policy on the U.S./Mexico Border,” is available here.


Thursday, April 04, 2013

Pope Benedict’s unexpected social justice legacy

An article by Kevin Clarke in U.S. Catholic reflects on Pope Benedict’s focus on the church’s tradition of social teaching:

In two encyclicals, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) in 2005 and Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth) in 2009, Benedict reminded Catholics of the perils of indifference to modern human and ecological maladies. In Deus Caritas Est, Benedict details the church’s proper role in works of charity and in seeking social justice, expressing the interconnectedness of justice and charity as the complementary requirements of all people of faith. "Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due," he writes, "is an essential task which every generation must take up anew."
In Caritas in Veritate, released just as the world awoke to a nightmare of economic disorder that began with the U.S. housing bubble bursting, Benedict cast a critical eye on global capitalism and overconsumption. He warned of the spiritually and materially corrosive effects of economic globalization drained of humanity, unmitigated by charity and solidarity. The encyclical memorably called for restraint and accountability among world financiers and suggested the creation of a new overarching authority to contain their excesses.

"The conviction that the economy must be autonomous, that it must be shielded from ‘influences’ of a moral character, has led man to abuse the economic process in a thoroughly destructive way," Benedict wrote.

Benedict also elevated the church’s care for creation before the eyes of Catholics worldwide. Dubbed the "green pope," he frequently spoke of the need for balance in the use of natural resources and the impact of humankind on the environment.

You can read more here.

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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The seven themes of Catholic social teaching

The Church's social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. Modern Catholic social teaching has been articulated through a tradition of papal, conciliar, and episcopal documents. The depth and richness of this tradition can be understood best through a direct reading of these documents. In some brief reflections, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops highlights several of the key themes that are at the heart of our Catholic social tradition.
You can read more here.

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