Peace & Justice

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

World Day of Peace resources

On January 1, we celebrate the 2016 World Day of Peace. The theme of Pope Francis' message is "Overcome Indifference and Win Peace."  The Holy Father urges us to replace isolation with community, and indifference with solidarity. He challenges families, schools, and other institutions to foster awareness and avenues for response to problems such as intolerance, religious persecution, slavery, war, and the plight of refugees.  

Parishes might want to share this two-page handout now (also en Español) and encourage parishioners to celebrate the World Day of Peace with Pope Francis. 

For a link to the Pope’s message and additional resources, go here

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bulletin insert for the Year of Mercy

The Jubilee Year of Mercy is December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016.  The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has prepared a two-page handout that offers a brief reflection on the Year, as well as ideas for prayer and action. It makes an excellent insert for your church bulletin. You can read it here.

Among the topics it addresses:
 - Jesus is the “face” of the Father’s mercy
 - Mercy is “the beating heart of the Gospel”
 - Mercy “demands justice”
 - Ideas for Living Mercy during the Jubilee Year.

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Thursday, October 01, 2015

Syrian Refugee Crisis

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany has a website devoted to providing information about the Syrian refugees and the European migrant crisis. They explain that the situation is not new.

For more than four years, Catholic Relief Services and its local partners have been working to assist more than 600,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and northern Iraq. They are also working in the transit countries of Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Albania, where resources to help the migrants are limited. In response to the Holy Father’s call to help resettle migrants in Europe, we are working with Caritas Germany to resettle refugees by providing accommodations, job assistance, early-integration activities and volunteer training.

Many people have asked what their parishes can do to help refugees being resettled in America. Currently the U.S. is accepting very few Syrians. Catholic Relief Services and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops are working together on advocacy opportunities to expand U.S. policy on accepting refugees from Syria and Iraq, provide more U.S. funding to refugees in neighboring countries, and exercise leadership for diplomatic efforts to end the fighting.

Catholics are urged to contact President Obama and their members of Congress today and urge them to lead the world in a coordinated response to save the lives of refugees. The United States must do its part to resettle many more Syrian refugees here, and provide more humanitarian and development assistance to refugees in the Middle East who hope to return home or to remain in the region. Finally, our nation should lead a concerted diplomatic effort to finally end the fighting in Syria so that refugees can return to their homeland in safety.

The Catholic Charities’ website also has links to background information about the situation as well as things that we can do now.

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Friday, September 04, 2015

Video series on Catholic Social Teaching

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have worked together to create a seven-part series on Catholic Social Teaching, designed to be an introduction to this important body of thought.

The first video, “Care for God’s Creation,” was released in conjunction with Pope Francis’ declaration of September 1 as a day of prayer for creation. Other videos will be released every three weeks in conjunction with notable events on the Church calendar.

 “Catholic Social Teaching is at the core of why and how CRS performs its mission to serve the poorest of the poor and people in need at times of emergency,” said Carolyn Woo, CEO and president of CRS. “These teachings are embedded in our identity as employees and servants of God.”

“Care for each other and care for creation, what Pope Francis calls integral ecology, are at the heart of our witness as disciples of Jesus Christ. This series will help us put our faith into action,” said Jonathan Reyes, executive director of USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development.

You can learn more here.

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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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