Peace & Justice

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

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 http://www.nyscatholic.org/nys-catholic-conference-action-center/?vvsrc=%2fcampaigns%2f36383%2frespond

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change

Cardinal Peter Turkson, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, delivered an address today to the participants in a major international conference sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on climate change and stewardship of creation. It was titled Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.

Here is an excerpt:
Without moral conversion and change of hearts, even good regulations, policies, and targets in the world are unlikely to prove effective. Without this ethical foundation, humanity will lack the courage (moral substance) to carry out even the most sensible policy proposals. Yet without effective policies, our moral energy is all-too-easily dispersed. 
This is an all-embracing moral imperative: to protect and care for both creation, our garden home, and the human person who dwells herein – and to take action to achieve this. If the dominant, pervasive ethos is selfishness and individualism, sustainable development will not come about. For progress towards sustainability requires a fundamental openness to relationship or, in other words, justice and responsibility, opening up new avenues of solidarity. 
Citizens of wealthier countries must stand shoulder to shoulder with the poor, both at home and overseas. They have a special obligation to help their brothers and sisters in developing countries to cope with climate change by mitigating its effects and by assisting with adaptation. A simple analogy might help make this clear. Imagine ten people walking in a vast desert. Two of the ten people have already drunk half of the group’s combined supply of water. The other eight are growing weak from thirst. And there is no more water in sight. In such a desperate situation, the two who have drunk their fill have a moral duty to scout ahead to find an oasis. When they find it, they have a moral duty to guide the rest of the group there, making sure that no life is lost. 
As this suggests, the wealthiest countries, the ones who have benefitted most from fossil fuels, are morally obligated to push forward and find solutions to climate-related change and so protect the environment and human life. They are obliged both to reduce their own carbon emissions and to help protect poorer countries from the disasters caused or exacerbated by the excesses of industrialization. 
This moral obligation extends to all – political leaders, corporate leaders, civil society, and ordinary people too. Corporations and financial investors must learn to put long-term sustainability over short-term profit, and to recognize that the financial bottom line is secondary to, and at the service of, the common good. And every single person of good will is summoned by an inner call to embrace the personal virtues that ground sustainable development – and the most important of these is an enfolding charity that radiates outwards from the self to others, from those alive today to those not yet born.
The entire text is here.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day reflection

Daniel J. Misleh, Executive Director of Catholic Climate Covenant, offers an Earth Day reflection through Catholic Charities USA’s Daily Reflections and Prayer Resources. Today he writes about Pope Francis, poverty and climate change. Here is a selection:
Shortly after his election, Pope Francis explained that he chose his papal name to honor St. Francis of Assisi because, “For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation; these days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we?” Since then, Pope Francis has repeatedly affirmed the insight from his predecessors that poverty and creation care are intimately related, especially in the face of climate change. 
This summer, Pope Francis will release the Church’s first papal encyclical devoted to ecology. Given Francis’ popularity and his unquestioned moral stature, this document is expected to have a profoundly positive impact on the efforts of both the Church and the world to address climate change. Pope Francis’ attention to ecology will be particularly good news for the world’s poorest people and communities: they are the most vulnerable to the adverse consequences of climate change—even though they have contributed very little to the problem.  The fact is that the world’s poorest people emit less carbon into the environment because they do not have as many vehicles, nor as many temperature control systems that heat and cool the air, nor as many electronics and machines powered by electricity, nor do they consume as much food (primarily meat) that requires more energy to produce, than those who are not poor.  However, when they live in coastal areas, with less money to construct safeguards against extreme weather brought about by climate change, those who are poor are more likely to feel the effects of such disasters.
You can read more here.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Remembering Archbishop Romero

Today is the 35th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who is scheduled to be beatified next month.

According to an article from Catholic News Service:
Pope Francis formally recognized Feb. 3 that the slain Salvadoran archbishop was killed "in hatred of the faith" -- and not for purely political reasons. 
While Archbishop Romero's sainthood cause began in 1993, it continued for years as church officials combed through thousands of documents related to his life. The effort began moving forward under Pope Benedict XVI. In May 2007, he said: "Archbishop Romero certainly was a great witness to the faith, a man of great Christian virtue." 
The process advanced rapidly with the election of Pope Francis in 2013, the first Latin American pope in history. From the first moments of his papacy, he showed interest in declaring Archbishop Romero a saint. 
Pope Francis signed the decree recognizing Archbishop Romero as a martyr, which meant there was no need to prove a miracle for his beatification. However, a miracle is ordinarily needed for canonization as saint. 
Archbishop Romero, an outspoken advocate for the poor, was shot and killed March 24, 1980, as he celebrated Mass in a hospital in San Salvador during his country's civil war. Archbishop Paglia [Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the postulator or chief promoter of the archbishop's sainthood cause] said in early February that the two decades it took to obtain the decree were the result of "misunderstandings and preconceptions." 
During Archbishop Romero's time as archbishop of San Salvador -- from 1977 to 1980 -- "kilos of letters against him arrived in Rome. The accusations were simple: He's political; he's a follower of liberation theology." 
All of the complaints, Archbishop Paglia said in February, slowed the sainthood process.
However, promoters of the cause, he said, collected "a mountain of testimony just as big" to counter the accusations and to prove that Archbishop Romero heroically lived the Christian faith and was killed out of hatred for his words and actions as a Catholic pastor. 
"He was killed at the altar," Archbishop Paglia said, instead of when he was an easier target at home or on the street. "Through him, they wanted to strike the church that flowed from the Second Vatican Council."
This week’s issue of America magazine has a cover story devoted to Archbishop Romero. It is written by Kevin Clarke, senior editor and chief correspondent of America and the author of Oscar Romero: Love Must Win Out. He recalls the homily that the archbishop gave on the eve his assassination:
The night before his murder, the archbishop made a personal appeal in a desperate attempt to place some sort of moral obstacle before the escalating pace of the killing in El Salvador. He spoke directly to those soldiers of the night who were most responsible for the growing horror. “I would like to appeal in a special way to the men of the army,” he said, “and in particular to the troops of the National Guard, the police and the garrisons. Brothers, you belong to our own people. You kill your own brother peasants; and in the face of an order to kill that is given by a man, the law of God that says ‘Do not kill!’ should prevail. No soldier is obliged to obey an order counter to the law of God. No one has to comply with an immoral law. It is time now that you recover your conscience and obey its dictates rather than the command of sin.... Therefore, in the name of God, and in the name of this long-suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven every day more tumultuous, I beseech you, I beg you, I command you! In the name of God: ‘Cease the repression!’” 
The applause was so thunderous the radio station’s beleaguered audio technicians at first took it for some sort of short circuit or feedback in the system that had knocked the good archbishop off the air.

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