Peace & Justice

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Sandy Hook ten years later

Ten years have passed since twenty children and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then, there have been more than 4,000 mass shootings where four or more people were killed. Firearms used in assaults, accidents, and suicides are now the leading cause of deaths for children ages 1-19.

Twelve years before Sandy Hook, the U.S. bishops issued their pastoral statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, in which they wrote, "We support measures that control the sale and use of firearms and make them safer (especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children or anyone other than the owner), and we reiterate our call for sensible regulation of handguns."

More recently, in 2020, the Bishops issued this backgrounder discussing those reasonable measures, which include:

  • A total ban on assault weapons, which the USCCB supported when the ban passed in 1994 and when Congress failed to renew it in 2004.
  • Measures that control the sale and use of firearms, such as universal background checks for all gun purchases; 
  • Limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines;
  • A federal law to criminalize gun trafficking;
  • Improved access to and increased resources for mental health care and earlier interventions;
  • Regulations and limitations on the purchasing of handguns;
  • Measures that make guns safer, such as locks that prevent children and anyone other than the owner from using the gun without permission and supervision; and 
  • An honest assessment of the toll of violent images and experiences which inundate people, particularly our youth.

For information on how to contact your Congressional representative, or even to learn who that is, click here.

Friday, December 09, 2022

Farm Workforce Modernization Act

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, United Farm Workers, and others to urge the Senate to pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021, which was passed by the House of Representatives last year.

According to the USCCB:


As the United States grapples with labor shortages, supply chain challenges, and high inflation, now is the time for Congress to pass the reforms contained in H.R. 1603. Moreover, we know many of the men and women who cultivate our fields, work in food processing plants, and perform other vital roles within our food supply chain currently face mistreatment, exploitation, and dangerous conditions because they lack legal status, even though our very way of life has come to depend on them and, quite literally, we would not be able to live without the fruits of their labors.


H.R. 1603, as passed by the House, would:


Establish a program for agricultural workers in the United States to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment and contributions to the U.S. agricultural economy;


Reform the H-2A guest worker program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers; and


Establish an E-Verify employment eligibility verification system for all agricultural employment. 

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Mario Dorsonville, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, have stated that this bill “would help many hardworking immigrants reach their God-given potential, not only for their benefit but for that of the entire country.” 


Unless the Senate approves the bill by the time the current Congress ends on January 3, 2023, it will need to be reintroduced and the whole process begun anew in the 118th Congress, starting January 4, 2023. 


Click here to send a message to your senators. 

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