Peace & Justice

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

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Catholic Social Ministry Gathering

In just over two weeks, the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) will virtually gather Catholic social ministry leaders for an event organized by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and 20 national Catholic organizations.

For more than 30 years, this event has brought together hundreds of participants whose faith inspires them to address pressing current domestic and global challenges affecting our most vulnerable brothers and sisters at home and around the world. Registration is $50 for this multi-day event. Financial assistance is available for leaders from under-represented ethnic, cultural, or disability communities, as well as those experiencing economic hardship.

This year’s virtual gathering will include:

-       Inspiring speakers and grassroots voices in Church and society 

-       Workshops with policy experts and community leaders 

-       Intentional opportunities for best practice-sharing among participants 

-       Resources from dozens of Catholic social ministry organizations 

-       Virtual advocacy visits with elected officials 

-       And much more.

The program will be bilingual (English and Spanish), with translation available for plenary sessions and unique Spanish-only workshops.

For more information, or to register, click here.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, when we recognize the fact that, each year, an estimated 17,000 vulnerable men, women and children are trafficked across our borders and then forced into slavery. According to the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), many are fleeing terrible situations in their home countries, and come to the United States to find a better life. Unfortunately, the nightmare often begins when they reach our shores.
The USCCB has been a national leader in advocacy and education to eradicate sex and labor trafficking. The mission of the Bishops' Anti-Trafficking Program is to educate people on the scourge of human trafficking as an offense against fundamental dignity of the human person, to advocate for an end to modern day slavery, to provide training and technical assistance on this issue, and to support survivors through community-based services.
Another program of the USCCB is Migration and Refugee Services, which leads efforts to combat trafficking in human persons, carrying out the commitment of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Migration to protect the life and dignity of the most vulnerable. Their initiatives include advocacy, awareness raising, training and technical assistance, and integration services.
You can learn more here. To donate to the Catholic Fund Against Human Trafficking, click here.

Monday, January 03, 2022

World Day of Peace

In his message for the 55th World Day of Peace on January 1, Pope Francis discussed an “architecture” of peace, to which different institutions of society contribute, and an “art” of peace that directly involves each one of us. He offers us three paths for building a lasting peace: 

First, dialogue between generations as the basis for the realization of shared projects. Second, education as a factor of freedom, responsibility and development. Finally, labor as a means for the full realization of human dignity. These are three indispensable elements for “making possible the creation of a social covenant”, without which every project of peace turns out to be insubstantial.


“In every age,” writes the Pope, “peace is both a gift from on high and the fruit of a shared commitment.” Part of that shared commitment is dialogue, the first path discussed by Pope Francis:

Although technological and economic development has tended to create a divide between generations, our current crises show the urgent need for an intergenerational partnership. Young people need the wisdom and experience of the elderly, while those who are older need the support, affection, creativity and dynamism of the young.


Great social challenges and peace processes necessarily call for dialogue between the keepers of memory – the elderly – and those who move history forward – the young. Each must be willing to make room for others and not to insist on monopolizing the entire scene by pursuing their own immediate interests, as if there were no past and future. The global crisis we are experiencing makes it clear that encounter and dialogue between generations should be the driving force behind a healthy politics, that is not content to manage the present “with piecemeal solutions or quick fixes”, but views itself as an outstanding form of love for others, in the search for shared and sustainable projects for the future.

Education, the second path, is also important for peace. Pope Francis writes:

In recent years, there has been a significant reduction worldwide in funding for education and training; these have been seen more as expenditures than investments. Yet they are the primary means of promoting integral human development; they make individuals more free and responsible, and they are essential for the defense and promotion of peace. In a word, teaching and education are the foundations of a cohesive civil society capable of generating hope, prosperity and progress.


Military expenditures, on the other hand, have increased beyond the levels at the end of the Cold War and they seem certain to grow exorbitantly. 


It is high time, then, that governments develop economic policies aimed at inverting the proportion of public funds spent on education and on weaponry. The pursuit of a genuine process of international disarmament can only prove beneficial for the development of peoples and nations, freeing up financial resources better used for health care, schools, infrastructure, care of the land and so forth.

The third path discussed by the Pope is labor.

Labor is an indispensable factor in building and keeping peace. It is an expression of ourselves and our gifts, but also of our commitment, self-investment and cooperation with others, since we always work with or for someone. Seen in this clearly social perspective, the workplace enables us to learn to make our contribution towards a more habitable and beautiful world.


The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively affected the labor market, which was already facing multiple challenges. . . .


In a particular way, the impact of the crisis on the informal economy, which often involves migrant workers, has been devastating. Many of the latter are not even recognized by national legislation; it is as though they did not exist. They and their families live in highly precarious conditions, prey to various forms of slavery and with no system of welfare to protect them. Currently only one third of the world’s population of working age enjoys a system of social protection, or benefit from it only in limited ways. . . .


Labor, in fact, is the foundation on which to build justice and solidarity in every community. For this reason, our aim should not be “that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment”. We need to combine our ideas and efforts in order to create the solutions and conditions that can provide everyone of working age with the opportunity, through their work, to contribute to the lives of their families and of society as a whole.

The entire message, which discusses these three paths in greater detail, is here.

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Saturday, January 01, 2022

Pope's Prayer Intentions for 2022

The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network, which traces it origins to 1844, has issued the monthly prayer intentions of the Holy Father for 2022. In January, we are asked to pray for all those suffering from religious discrimination and persecution.

Other intentions during the year include a Christian response to bioethical challenges, for families, small businesses, for a Church open to everyone, and for children who suffer.

The Prayer Network is a pontifical work 
with the mission of mobilizing Catholics through prayer and action, in the face of the challenges confronting humanity and the mission of the Church.

According to Vatican News, “These challenges are addressed in the form of prayer intentions entrusted by the Pope to the entire Church. Its mission is inscribed in the dynamic of the Heart of Jesus: a mission of compassion for the world.”

The complete list of intentions for each month is here.