Peace & Justice

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

Monday, August 31, 2015

Pray with Pope Francis Tomorrow

Earlier this year, Pope Francis announced that he was establishing a World of Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to be celebrated on September 1 every year beginning tomorrow. In making the announcement, the Pope wrote: 

As Christians we wish to offer our contribution towards overcoming the ecological crisis which humanity is living through.  Therefore, first of all we must draw from our rich spiritual heritage the reasons which feed our passion for the care of creation, always remembering that for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for us, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us.” ([cfr Encylical Letter. Laudato Si,]  216).  The ecological crisis therefore calls us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them.” (ibid., 217).  Thus, “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”(ibid). 

One way to mark the day is to pray the Prayer to Care for Our Common Home, from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. It is based on the Pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si. 

You might also visit the website of Catholics Confront Global Poverty, an organization formed by the USCCB  and Catholic Relief Services. It offers information on Church teachings and provides ways to get involved in addressing the issues.
Catholic Charities' Commission on Peace and Justice is looking at appropriate ways mark the day next year.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Labor Day resources

The Catholic Church has been speaking out strongly on the rights of workers since at least 1891, when Pope Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum, "On the Condition of Labor."

Here are some of the main points, according to The Busy Christian’s Guide to Catholic Social Teaching, on the website of U.S. Catholic magazine [you should bookmark this page]:
Promotion of human dignity through just distribution of wealth. Present inequality creates a decline of morality as shown in alcohol consumption, prostitution, and divorce. Workers have basic human rights that adhere to Natural Law, which says all humans are equal. Rights include the right to work, to own private property, to receive a just wage, and to organize into workers' associations. Employers and employees each have rights and responsibilities: while the worker should not riot to create a situation of conflict with the employer, the employer should maintain an environment respecting worker's dignity.
The Church’s support of labor continues to this day, with the release of the latest Labor Day statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It was written by Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. The Archbishop writes:
We share one common home as part of a larger, single family, so the dignity of workers, the stability of families, and the health of communities are all intertwined. The path to a renewed society is built on authentic solidarity and rooted in faith. It rejects the individualism and materialism that make us indifferent to suffering and closed to the possibility of encounter.
He goes on to write about personal conversion, a living wage, the struggles of families, the importance of work, and other issues.

This statement would make a good bulletin insert for the weekend of September 5 and 6.

The USCCB also offers a pastoral aid with comments on the readings for the day, points for theological reflection from the statement, suggestions for parish activities, and prayers for the faithful, among other topics.

An archive of past Labor Day statements, going back almost 30 years, is available here.

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Host a Pope Francis Watch Party

Pope Francis is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress on September 24, at 9:20 a.m. Will you be watching? If so, will you be watching by yourself or your parish?

The Ignatian Solidarity Network is organizing “watch parties” across the nation. The group is offering “free resources like Pope Watch BINGO cards, suggested discussion questions, and fun giveaways for your participants.”

The Ignatian Solidarity Network is a national social justice education and advocacy network working in partnership with Jesuit universities, high schools, and parishes, along with many other Catholic institutions and social justice partners.

In order to receive the free resources, parties must be registered by September 12. More details are available here.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Iran nuclear deal

The Chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has written to Congress urging passage of the recent nuclear deal with Iran. The deal aims to curb Iran’s development of nuclear weapons while allowing the country to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

In his letter, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, wrote:
Since 2007, our Committee on International Justice and Peace, reflecting the longstanding position of the Holy See, has urged our nation to pursue diplomacy to ensure Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. For years, we have supported dialogue and a negotiated resolution of the conflict in collaboration with international partners.
It is no small achievement that the United States, the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, China, Germany and France have reached this agreement with Iran. We hope that the full implementation of the agreement will gradually foster an environment in which all parties build mutual confidence and trust, so that progress will be made toward greater stability and dialogue in the region.  In that spirit, our Committee will continue to urge Congress to endorse the result of these intense negotiations because the alternative leads toward armed conflict, an outcome of profound concern to the Church.
The entire letter is available here.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The debate on immigraton

Recent comments by presidential candidates have re-ignited the debate over immigration. Therefore, it is useful to know what the Catholic Church teaches on the subject, as well as some facts that are relevant.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has a webpage devoted to immigration. It includes links to their 2001 pastoral statement, Welcoming the Stranger Among Us; Unity in Diversity, as well as Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, a pastoral statement by the Bishops of the United States and the Bishops of Mexico.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Remembering Oscar Romero

On Monday, June 1, 2015, at 5:15 p.m., the Chapel + Cultural Center, located on the RPI campus, will have a Mass of Thanksgiving for the initial and ongoing ministry of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who as beatified on May 23.

Following the liturgical celebration will be a presentation by Fr. John Spain, MM, a native of Troy who was an associate of Archbishop Romero and has ministered in El Salvador for many years.

You can learn more about the event here.

Here is an article about Fr. Spain in the Times Union.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Helping Catholic Schools

As the state’s legislative session in Albany winds down, there is still time to tell legislators to support legislation that will benefit Catholic schools. Specifically, a bill called the Parental Choice in Education Act will help keep Catholic schools affordable by providing $150 million in education tax credits annually. These tax credits will provide:

·         - Tax credits directly to low-income families who send their children to Catholic and other schools, 
·         - Scholarships to students from low- and middle-income families to attend a school of their choice, 
·         - Donations to public schools for enhanced educational programming,
·         - Tax credits to teachers for their out-of-pocket classroom expenses.

The Catholic Action Network has a website that will identify your legislators and help you compose a letter to them. You can learn more at

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