Peace & Justice

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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

USCCB issues statement on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church has issued a statement on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom:
Marking this 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, we join our voices to those who call for and foster continued dialogue and non-violence among people of different races and cultures, and who work tirelessly for the transformative, constructive actions that are always the fruit of such authentic dialogue. We rejoice in the advances that have occurred over the past 50 years, and sadly acknowledge that much today remains to be accomplished. However, we must always view the task that remains from the perspective of the continued call to hope and in the light of faith. Dr. King once stated, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Those who participated 50 years ago in the March on Washington rooted themselves in infinite hope. Pope Francis wrote in Lumen Fidei, “Faith teaches us to see that every man and woman represents a blessing for me, that the light of God’s face shines on me through the faces of my brothers and sisters.” We also must join with one another rooted in infinite hope and, in light of what faith teaches, work to advance and fulfill the dream. We join the call for positive action that seeks to end poverty, increase jobs, eliminate racial and class inequality, ensure voting rights, and that provides fair and just opportunities for all.
The entire statement is here.

Labels: ,

Monday, August 19, 2013

Act now for immigration reform

Because the U.S. Senate has passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation and the House of Representatives is currently considering whether to address immigration reform legislation, now is a critical time to contact your House members and urge them to pass common sense immigration reform. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has many resources at the Justice for Immigrants website, including a bulletin announcement that tells us:
The U.S. Catholic Bishops, through the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), have urged Congress to pass immigration reform which: 
- Provides a path to citizenship for undocumented persons living in the United States; 
- Preserves and strengthens family unity as a cornerstone of our national immigration system; 
- Provides legal avenues for low-skilled immigrants to come and work in the United States; 
- Restores due process for individuals caught up in the immigration system 
- Promotes efforts that will address the root causes of migration, such as poverty and persecution Please contact your House members today and urge them to support immigration reform legislation that provides a path to citizenship for the undocumented and that preserves family unity.  
Action: Contact Members of Congress through e-mail, phone calls or FAX letters. - To send a pre-written, instant e-mail to Congress go to - Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121 and ask for your Members’ offices. For more information, go to  
Message: Please pass bipartisan immigration reform legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship and preserves family unity.   
When: Act today and encourage others to do so as well.

For those who wish to meet with their Representatives in person, here are talking points for immigration reform from Catholics Confront Global Poverty, an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services. You can also watch this recording of a recent webcast for some tips and tools to make your advocacy efforts more effective.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Pope sends mesage to Muslims at end of Ramadan

Pope Francis has sent a message to Muslims throughout the world for the end of Ramadan:
To Muslims throughout the World  
It gives me great pleasure to greet you as you celebrate ‘Id al-Fitr’, so concluding the month of Ramadan, dedicated mainly to fasting, prayer and almsgiving.  
It is a tradition by now that, on this occasion, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sends you a message of good wishes, together with a proposed theme for common reflection. This year, the first of my Pontificate, I have decided to sign this traditional message myself and to send it to you, dear friends, as an expression of esteem and friendship for all Muslims, especially those who are religious leaders.  
As you all know, when the Cardinals elected me as Bishop of Rome and Universal Pastor of the Catholic Church, I chose the name of “Francis”, a very famous saint who loved God and every human being deeply, to the point of being called “universal brother”. He loved, helped and served the needy, the sick and the poor; he also cared greatly for creation.  
I am aware that family and social dimensions enjoy a particular prominence for Muslims during this period, and it is worth noting that there are certain parallels in each of these areas with Christian faith and practice.  
This year, the theme on which I would like to reflect with you and with all who will read this message is one that concerns both Muslims and Christians: Promoting Mutual Respect through Education.  
This year’s theme is intended to underline the importance of education in the way we understand each other, built upon the foundation of mutual respect. “Respect” means an attitude of kindness towards people for whom we have consideration and esteem. “Mutual” means that this is not a one-way process, but something shared by both sides.
The entire message is here.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Rep. Paul Ryan and Sr. Simone Campbell can agree on one thing

Over at the blog of U.S. Catholic magazine, managing editor Scott Alessi, opines about the views of Rep. Paul Ryan and Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK and organizer of last year’s Nuns on the Bus tour.
Campbell and her fellow nuns went out into communities to mobilize the faithful against a budget proposal that they felt would hurt the poor. Ryan, during an unsuccessful bid for the White House as Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick, attempted to sell voters on the idea that cutting government spending was beneficial to those who were hit hard by a down economy. During a highly polarizing political campaign, Catholics were sharply divided over which side represented “true” Catholic teaching on the matter: The nuns drew hefty criticism from Republican supporters, while proponents of Catholic social teaching lambasted Ryan’s application of church teaching to his policies.

With all of the election drama now behind us, perhaps we’re in a better place to focus on the real issue, the one that hasn’t gone away or gotten much better during the last year—the massive numbers of people in our country who still struggle to make ends meet. So finally, after all of their talk about the best ways to address poverty, Campbell and Ryan came face to face yesterday during a House budget hearing entitled, “The War on Poverty: A progress report.”

Campbell’s testimony addressed the very real challenges many Americans face, including those whose wages aren’t enough to cover their expenses, and how government aid like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps) helps to keep them afloat. “As more people needed help, the program provided it to them,” Campbell said of SNAP, “giving the working poor the help they need to bridge the gap between their wages and the costs of raising the families, and giving the jobless and most vulnerable the ability to sustain themselves.” Addressing poverty, Campbell said, will not mean cutting these government programs, but rather finding new ways to "promote opportunity" for the poor while still providing a strong safety net.

Ryan, in his opening remarks, acknowledged the country’s failures in the war on poverty and blamed government programs as being part of the problem, not the solution. To Ryan, the supposed safety net is actually a hindrance to the poor that keeps them from getting out of poverty, and it is our local communities, not the federal government, that should be taking the lead in helping people in need. Ryan did, however, welcome a conversation on how to rethink our approach to poverty and, most importantly, how to get people out of it.

Though their approaches are still completely at odds, it was good to see Ryan and Campbell coming together as part of a joint discussion on how to help the poor in this country. Hopefully we are past the point of Catholics taking sides in the debate and trying to claim that one of the two viewpoints is any more or less Catholic than the other. Catholic teaching makes clear what the goal of our efforts should be in addressing poverty, but how we get there is certainly open to interpretation, and Ryan and Campbell clearly have different interpretations. What is most important is that both sides are working toward the same goal, and that they can find a mutually acceptable way of getting there.
That last sentence stirred up a bit of disagreement. You can read the blog entry, and the comments, here.

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 05, 2013

New E.D. at NYS Council of Churches

Dr. Paula J. Gravelle has been appointed Executive Director of the New York State Council of Churches. Here is the news release:
Bishop Marie Jerge, President of the Board of the New York State Council of Churches, has announced that the Rev. Dr. Paula J. Gravelle has been appointed Executive Director of the organization. She states, "In this position, Rev. Gravelle will provide leadership which will enable the Council to be a place where we can network and dialogue across denominational lines, advocate for and with those who have little voice or power in our society and provide for certification and training for chaplains in our state institutions." 
"The Rev. Dr. Paula Gravelle has a good sense of what it means to work in ecumenical partnerships and has a passion for social justice as well as a heart for pastoral care. I expect that she will lead us into the future with creativity, enthusiasm, energy, and grace. She understands the work of social ministries and advocacy as it is grounded in the Biblical call to care for others and for the earth." 
Pastor Gravelle has served in active ministry for 29 years and most recently has been Director of Pastoral Care at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, New York. When accepting the position at the New York State Council of Churches she said, "I believe the voice of Christians needs to be heard in the public forum. I am energized by the conversations that eventually bring a group of people to focus on a particular issue. It is an honor to have a leadership role in these conversations and to work with the diverse group of people who sit at the NYSCC table." 
Rev. Gravelle begins her work with the council on July 15th, 2013. After making the appointment, Bishop Jerge expressed gratitude for the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Robert A. White who served as Interim Director as the Council moved through a transition in its governance during the last eighteen months.
Congratulations Rev. Gravelle!


Friday, August 02, 2013

Kateri Tekakwitha Peace Conference

The 15th Annual Kateri Tekakwitha Peace Conference will be Friday, August 16 and Saturday, August 17 at the National Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine in Fonda, New York.
Our conference is designed to encourage . . . nonviolent standing up and speaking out by providing some of what we need to learn and know (education) and suggesting some of the important steps that can be taken ( ideas for action) to ensure that peace and justice form the bedrock of all national policy.

We are deeply committed to nonviolence as we firmly believe that nothing moral or sustainable can come from violence. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love." Gandhi stated, "Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary."

But leaders such as Gandhi, King and Jesus were all willing to throw themselves, body, mind and heart into the cauldron of struggle for as non-violent political activists they did not shy away from engaging in nonviolent conflict grounded in love.

In the brief time we will spend together, we can only touch upon some of the important ideas and actions which need to be embraced or undertaken. We think however you will be inspired by both the depth and variety of knowledge our presenters convey and we invite you to join us in our 15th annual Kateri Tekakwitha Peace Conference on Friday, August 16 and Saturday, August 17, 2013 at the National Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine in Fonda, NY.
You can learn more here.

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 01, 2013

A changing religious/political landscape?

An article in The London Times explores how American Millennials may be re-shaping the country’s political and religious landscape:
America’s Religious Right, one of the mightiest political forces in the country over the past three decades, is on course to be superseded by a new power bloc: the Religious Left.  
A survey highlights a generational swing among young Americans. It shows that a quarter between the ages of 18 and 33 are “religious progressives” who hold liberal views on issues such as gay marriage and abortion.  
In the same age bracket, only 17 per cent are religious conservatives, a group also more likely to read the Bible literally and be in favour of small government and lower taxes.
To learn more, go here.

Labels: , ,