Peace & Justice

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

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

Labels: , , , , , , ,

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

Labels: , , ,

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

Labels: ,

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

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Day 2 -- Immigration Q & A

Does the Catholic Church support illegal immigration? 

The Catholic Bishops do not condone unlawful entry or circumventions of our nation’s immigration laws.  The bishops believe that reforms are necessary in order for our nation’s immigration system to respond to the realities of separated families and labor demands that compel people to immigrate to the United States, whether in an authorized or unauthorized fashion. 

Our nation’s economy demands foreign labor, yet there are insufficient visas to meet this demand.  Close family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents face interminable separations, sometimes of twenty years or longer, due to backlogs of available visas.  U.S. immigration laws and policies need to be updated to reflect these realities.

Labels:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Q & A about immigration reform



Today we begin a week of questions and answers about immigration reform and the Catholic Church. All the answers are taken from the Bishops’ website at http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org

Today’s question: Why does the church care about immigration policies?


The Catholic Church has historically held a strong interest in immigration and how public policy affects immigrants seeking a new life in the United States. Based on Scriptural and Catholic social teachings, as well as her own experience as an immigrant Church in the United States, the Catholic Church is compelled to raise her voice on behalf of those who are marginalized and whose God-given rights are not respected.

The Church believes that current immigration laws and policies have often led to the undermining of immigrants’ human dignity and have kept families apart.  The existing immigration system has resulted in a growing number of persons in this country in an unauthorized capacity, living in the shadows as they toil in jobs that would otherwise go unfilled.  Close family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents must wait years for a visa to be reunited.  And, our nation’s border enforcement strategies have been ineffective and have led to the death of thousands of migrants. 

The Church has a responsibility to shine the message of God on this issue and help to build bridges between all parties so that an immigration system can be created that is just for all and serves the common good, including the legitimate security concerns of our nation.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Global Day of Prayer for Peace

The international pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need, united with His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, is asking people to join in a Global Day of Prayer for Peace to be held on Wednesday, August 6 – the Feast of the Transfiguration.

Patriarch Sako has personally composed this Prayer for Peace:
Lord,
The plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.
Glory be to you forever.
To learn more, go here.

Labels: , ,