Peace & Justice

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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

To Go Forth

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development (JPHD) has a new blog called To Go Forth. It takes its inspiration from Pope Francis’ challenge to go forth to the “peripheries” to share the Good News and stand in solidarity with those suffering poverty and injustice.

JPHD promotes awareness of Catholic social teaching and opportunities to live the Baptismal call to love God and neighbor.

Efforts include the anti-poverty mission of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, as well as advocacy in support of poor and vulnerable persons and communities, in the U.S. and abroad.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Catholics on Call in Albany

The Vocation Office of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany is offering a "Catholics on Call in Albany" weekend for young adults (ages 18-30) on October 10-12, 2014 at the Carondelet Hospitality Center in Latham. Register today at http://albanyvocations.org/catholicsoncall/onlinereg.htmlhttp://albanyvocations.org/catholicsoncall/onlinereg.html before the October 6, 2012 deadline, for space is limited. Call Sister Rosemary at 518-674-3818 or email catholicsoncall.inalbanyny@rcda.org for more information.

From the flier:

Quiet Time
Social networking can undermine our need for quiet time. Time alone is essential for discernment. God speaks to us at every moment. When listening to a song, my soul stirs. When in conversation with another, I may gain spiritual insight. But these unplanned inspirations are not enough.

Know Yourself
I need quiet time to know myself. There is a deeper part of me which I need to own. From this deeper place come my attitudes, actions and indicators for the choices I make. I know why I choose the things I do, think or say. I know when something is not in sync with who I am. I know why something else may exhilarate me. I ask myself "Why did I do that?" or say "I made a mistake in judgment here. What influenced me to make that decision?"

When I make quiet time a daily practice, it will also become a time of prayer. I don’t face challenges alone. God is there. God speaks to me in the depths of my listening heart. God has lots to tell and to ask me. As I make time for these sacred conversations of my life, I grow more and more in my desire to be perpetually "On Call" and available to the promptings of God's voice and will for me. I learn to hear God’s voice in the ordinary.

Missed Opportunities are Sad, but Possible
The call to selfless living as a single, married, ordained or consecrated person is challenging but "sitting on the fence" is not an option if I know the truth of what God is asking of me. In 1975 I spoke with a fifty year old woman who knew herself and knew who God created her to be. I encouraged her, but she sat on the fence of decision-making and never jumped off. Today she would be in her eighties. She had missed many opportunities to live fully, because she chose to sit on the fence. She did not allow herself to be "On Call." 

I am not the only one "On Call".
It is not all up to me. God is "On Call" for me 24/7. God will help me find my way as I take the time to listen. It is as simple as that. I am and will be sustained and guided by God’s presence in my life. God is always "On Call" to help, encourage and guide me.

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Friday, September 05, 2014

A modern day martyr

On September 20, Catholic Charities’ Commission on Peace and Justice is presenting “Rooted in Love: The Life and Death of Sister Dorothy Stang.”  It tells the story of an American nun who was martyred in 2005 while helping Brazilian peasants who were trying to protect the Amazon rainforest.

Since her death, Sister Dorothy has been widely honored for her life and work by the United States Congress and by a number of colleges and universities across the United States. She was posthumously awarded the 2008 United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights. Books, movies, documentaries and an opera have been developed about her. And she was formally recognized by the Vatican as a modern day martyr.

This one-woman play will be presented on Saturday, September 20 at 7 p.m. in the Chapel + Cultural Center, 2125 Burdett Avenue, Troy. For more information, or to buy tickets, call 453-6654 or go to http://www.ccrcda.org/peacejustice.htm 

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Monday, September 01, 2014

Bishops' Labor Day Statement

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued their annual Labor Day statement which said, in part:
This year Pope Francis canonized Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II. Both made immense contributions to the social teaching of the Church on the dignity of labor and its importance to human flourishing. St. John Paul II called work "probably the essential key to the whole social question" (Laborem Exercens, No. 3) and St. John XXIII stressed workers are "entitled to a wage that is determined in accordance with the precepts of justice" (Pacem in Terris, No. 20).

Pope Francis added to this tradition that work "is fundamental to the dignity of a person.... [It] 'anoints' us with dignity, fills us with dignity, makes us similar to God... gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one's family, [and] to contribute to the growth of one's own nation." Work helps us realize our humanity and is necessary for human flourishing. Work is not a punishment for sin but rather a means by which we make a gift of ourselves to each other and our communities. We simply cannot advance the common good without decent work and a strong commitment to solidarity.

Labor Day gives us the chance to see how work in America matches up to the lofty ideals of our Catholic tradition. This year, some Americans who have found stability and security are breathing a sigh of relief. Sporadic economic growth, a falling unemployment rate, and more consistent job creation suggest that the country may finally be healing economically after years of suffering and pain. For those men and women, and their children, this is good news.

Digging a little deeper, however, reveals enduring hardship for millions of workers and their families. The poverty rate remains high, as 46 million Americans struggle to make ends meet. The economy continues to fail in producing enough decent jobs for everyone who is able to work, despite the increasing numbers of retiring baby boomers. There are twice as many unemployed job seekers as there are available jobs, and that does not include the seven million part-time workers who want to work full-time. Millions more, especially the long-term unemployed, are discouraged and dejected.

More concerning is that our young adults have borne the brunt of this crisis of unemployment and underemployment. The unemployment rate for young adults in America, at over 13 percent, is more than double the national average (6.2 percent). For those fortunate enough to have jobs, many pay poorly. Greater numbers of debt-strapped college graduates move back in with their parents, while high school graduates and others may have less debt but very few decent job opportunities. Pope Francis has reserved some of his strongest language for speaking about young adult unemployment, calling it "evil," an "atrocity," and emblematic of the "throwaway culture."
. . .
At their best, labor unions and institutions like them embody solidarity and subsidiarity while advancing the common good. They help workers "not only have more, but above all be more... [and] realize their humanity more fully in every respect" (Laborem Exercens, No. 20). Yes, unions and worker associations are imperfect, as are all human institutions. But the right of workers to freely associate is supported by Church teaching in order to protect workers and move them--especially younger ones, through mentoring and apprenticeships--into decent jobs with just wages.
. . .
Supporting policies and institutions that create decent jobs, pay just wages, and support family formation and stability will also honor the dignity of workers. Raising the minimum wage, more and better workforce training programs, and smarter regulations that minimize negative unintended consequences would be good places to start.

In doing this we follow the lead of Pope Francis in rejecting an economy of exclusion and embracing an authentic culture of encounter. Our younger generations are counting on us to leave them a world better than the one we inherited.
The entire letter is available at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/labor-employment/labor-day-statement-2014.cfm

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Day 5 – Immigration Q & A

Do immigrants increase the crime rate?
Research has shown that immigrant communities do not increase the crime rate and that immigrants commit fewer crimes than native born Americans.

Do immigrants take jobs away from Americans?
A study produced by the Pew Hispanic Center reveals that “Rapid increases in the foreign-born population at the state level are not associated with negative effects on the employment of native-born workers.”

Are immigrants are a drain on the United States economy?
The immigrant community is not a drain on the U.S. economy but, in fact, proves to be a net benefit.  Research reported by both the CATO Institute and the President’s Council of Economic Advisors reveals that the average immigrant pays a net 80,000 dollars more in taxes than they collect in government services.

Longer answers to these and other questions can be found at http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/myths.shtml

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Day 4 – Immigration Q & A

Today we look at some of the basics of immigration such as:

Who is an immigrant?
According to U.S. law, an immigrant is a foreign-born individual who has been admitted to reside permanently in the United States as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR).

Who is a refugee?
A refugee is a person outside of the United States who seeks protection on the grounds that he or she fears persecution in his or her homeland. To obtain refugee status, a person must prove that he or she has a "wellfounded fear of persecution" on the basis of at least one of five specifically-enumerated and internationally recognized grounds.

What public benefits do immigrants and refugees receive?
Most benefits programs are open only to long-term, lawful immigrants. A small number of programs (such as school lunch programs and emergency medical services) are open to all people in need.

Longer answers to these and other questions can be found at
http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/immigration-basics.shtml

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day 3 -- Immigration Q & A

Does the Catholic Church support “amnesty”?

The Catholic bishops are proposing an earned legalization for those in this country in an unauthorized status and who have built up equities and are otherwise admissible. “Amnesty,” as commonly understood, implies a pardon and a reward for those who did not obey immigration laws, creating inequities for those who wait for legal entry. The bishops’ proposal is not an “amnesty.”

The Bishops’ earned legalization proposal provides a window of opportunity for undocumented immigrants who are already living in our communities and contributing to our nation to come forward, pay a fine and application fee, go through rigorous criminal background checks and security screenings, demonstrate that they have paid taxes and are learning English, and obtain a visa that could lead to permanent residency, over time.

Learn more at http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/faq.shtml

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