Monday, September 29, 2008

Conscience and the Catholic Voter

An insightful article by Mary Ann Walsh, RSM -- director of media relations for the USCCB -- appears in the October 6 issue of America. Entitled "Conscience and the Catholic Voter," this article offers 10 things Catholic voters should consider during the November election. One blogger (Rocco Palmo) has called this, "Faithful Citizenship, Cliffs Notes." It is worth taking the time to read. An excerpt follows:

2. You have to work to become informed. A Catholic must be informed both intellectually and morally. Getting one’s head around an issue means gathering information. A key
source of information is the U.S. bishops’ Web site (, which includes the text of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political
, by the Catholic bishops of the United States. The statement explains the teachings of the church that can help Catholics form their consciences in order to make
moral choices in public life.

Other good sources of information include the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its companion, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults also provides updated teaching on issues such as justice and poverty. Many Catholic colleges offer programs and lectures on Catholic social thought, and church periodicals explore contemporary issues.

Principles of social justice ought to guide decision-making. Among them is the principle that people have a right to jobs that pay a living wage and a right to join a union. People have a right to affordable and accessible health care. In 1935, when the elderly were facing an economic crisis in the wake of the Depression, the government under President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized a basic right to a decent life, which led to the creation of the Social Security
system. There is a comparable need today for access to health care.

Opposition to unjust discrimination is another principle of social justice. Racial, ethnic and religious discrimination, both overt and subtle, have no place in society. Catholics are
called to defend against discrimination, whatever its roots. All are children of God, and all fellow citizens are our brothers and sisters. A society that discriminates unjustly diminishes not only the victims of discrimination but the society itself. Such discrimination seems to rise up whenever people feel economic or other pressures in society.

Our current immigration system violates those principles related to opposing discrimination, respecting the dignity of every person, defending the family and protecting the dignity and rights of workers. We need to replace a dysfunctional system with a system of immigration laws that work and can be enforced.

Being informed requires keeping up-to-date with developments in church teachings, such as what constitutes a just war or whether there is such a thing as a “legitimate preventive
strike.” Catholics must work to avoid war. People and nations have a right to defend themselves, but any response to aggression must be proportionate. If someone shoots you, you cannot annihilate his or her whole family or country to send a message. The Catechism of the Catholic
Church also points out that the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. Given the power of nuclear weapons at a nation’s disposal today, it is hard to conceive a justification for their use.

Church teaching on the death penalty also has developed in recent decades. The catechism states that the death penalty is not acceptable if there are alternative means to
keep a criminal from harming others. Penal sentences, such as life sentences without parole, protect society and make the death penalty seem to be based more on a desire for
vengeance than for justice.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

November Vigil and Action to Close the SOA

November 21-23, 2008 Vigil and Direct Action to Close the School of the Americas

Five SCC's will be joining the protest. Perhaps others wish to join them:
Join thousands at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, this November. Speak out for justice and take a stand against the School of the Americas and the foreign policy that this shameful institution represents. The vigil will take place just two weeks after the presidential elections. It will be an opportunity for the progressive movement to set our agenda for justice and peace, whatever the results of thatelection will be.Visit the SOA Watch webpage at for updates about the organizing and for the latest information about hotel availability, transportation,accessibility issues, translation, the schedule of events, and more...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Catholic Charities Action Alert

WHAT: Congress and the Bush Administration are working to craft a rescue package for the American financial services industry. As proposed the financial services recue would allow the Treasury Secretary to buy back bad mortgage debt and increase regulation of the investment banking sector. The proposed rescue package would cost taxpayers $700 billion dollars and legislation authorizing the plan is scheduled to be completed before Congress adjourns on September 26th.

ACTION NEEDED: Click on "Take Action Now" and enter your zip code to contact President Bush and your Members of Congress and:

• If Congress is going to spend $700 billion on Wall Street they can spend $50 billion of that on programs will assist low and middle-income Americans cope during these difficult economic times.
• The economic challenges facing our nation require an expedient and comprehensive response that includes both Wall Street and Main Street. This comprehensive economic recovery package is necessary to boost our economy and assist American citizens and businesses during this economic crisis.

BACKGROUND: For Catholic Charities USA's joint letter with the Catholic Health Association and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's, click here
For more information, please contact Desmond Brown, Senior Director of Government Affairs, at or, Joseph Devine, Policy Analyst, at .

"Let's Play Bailout" -- Worth Watching

From Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Troy Davis: Stay of Execution

Two hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection, Troy Davis was issued a stay of execution by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will meet on Monday to decide whether to hear the appeal of the Georgia Supreme Court's ruling. For more information, read this article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Hurricanes Gustav and Ike: How to Help

Go to the Catholic Charities USA website to learn how you can help ease the pain of the destruction caused by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. From a Catholic Charities Press Release: Misery abounds: 2 million people were displaced by Hurricane Gustav. 1.9 million people are still without power because of Hurricane Ike. 51 people are dead. Power may not be restored for a month, many still do not have clean water, and food and gas lines are long. The rebuilding will take years.
For some, Catholic Charities has been the only source of help.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Novena for Faithful Citizenship - Week 4

Remember to continue to pray the Novena for Faithful Citizenship.

The Situation in Vietnam

Please be aware of the situation facing the Catholic church in Hanoi. Click here to read the Associated Press article by Ben Stocking, who has been beaten by Vietnamese authorities for attempting to report on and photograph the protests. Let's pray for the Catholics of Vietnam.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Developments on

Do you want to brush up on your German or Spanish? How about having your students work on the symbols for elements or their English grammar? Now, offers these subjects and more! As before, each correct answer donates rice to the UN World Food Program. Go to as you have been doing, but click on "Change Subjects" to see other possibilities.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

International Day of Peace

As we commemorate the International Day of Peace, let's try to remember to be peaceful in all our relationships -- today and every day of the year. May Peace Prevail on Earth! For more information on the International Day of Peace, click here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bishops ask Homeland Security to Drop Raids

Thanks to Sister Joann Marie for alerting us to this:

Speaking on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Bishop John C. Wester, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Migration, urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and President Bush to reexamine the use of worksite enforcement raids as an immigration enforcement tool.

“The humanitarian costs of these raids are immeasurable and unacceptable in a civilized society,” Bishop Wester said. “While we do not question the right and duty of our government to enforce the law, we do question whether worksite enforcement raids are the most effective and humane method for performing this duty, particularly as they are presently being implemented.”

The statement, released September 10, addresses the increase in worksite enforcement raids across the nation over the last year, in which DHS has targeted employers who hire unauthorized workers by using force to enter worksites and arrest immigrant workers. During the process of these raids, U.S. citizen children have been separated from their parents, immigrants arrested have not been afforded the rights of due process, and local communities, especially relatives including legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens, have been left to cope with the aftermath.

For more information, go to USCCB's Office of Migration and Refugee Services website.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Message from the USCCB and NCEA: Faithful Citizenship

From the NCEA, via Sister Joseph:
The recent publication of the guidance document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, by the Catholic Bishops of the United States, sends out a strong call to all of us to participate in public life guided by the values of our faith. In addition to our personal efforts to meet this goal, we can also engage in helping children and youth, through our educational ministries, to form faith-filled consciences that will guide their future decisions and help them become informed and engaged citizens in their daily lives.

With that privileged position in mind, we encourage you to make full use of the Faithful Citizenship website by incorporating its ideas and lesson plans into your programs and activities. The web site and its interactive, multimedia materials are helpful for:
religious education programs
elementary and secondary Catholic school classes
independent research and study projects
youth ministry programs
intergenerational family settings
Boards and Parent Associations

You will find specific suggestions for the pre-November weeks of the new school year at the following links:

Click here for Elementary lesson plans.

Click here for Junior-Senior High lesson plans.

Click here for High School lesson plans.

Click here for the "Young Catholic" link, which includes hands-on activities, a coffee discussion guide, and videos to encourage young Catholics to consider how they can make a difference.

Adult Formation Sessions are available here.

The Family Guide for Faithful Citizenship is available here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Troy Davis - Clemency Denied!

Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed on September 23 for the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail in Georgia, yet serious doubts of his guilt remain and compelling evidence of his innocence has not been heard in court. On Friday, September 12, the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles denied clemency to Davis -- we must urge them to reconsider their decision. Take action at the Amnesty International USA web site.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Father Louis Vitale, OFM Anti-Torture Speaking Tour

Franciscan priest Louie Vitale is currently conducting a nationwide speaking tour following his March 14 release from prison after serving 5 months forhis nonviolent action of crossing the line at Fort Huachuca, AZ, training center for Army Intelligence Officers in "enhanced interrogation" (i.e.torture) techniques. This is also where the School of Americas torture manuals were written. He also served 3 months in Columbus, GA for crossing the line at the SOA in 2005. Father Louie is a Pax Christi USA Ambassador ofPeace and co-founder of Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service where he currently serves as the Nonviolent Action Advocate. Those interested in organizing a speaking event for Father Louie, or learning where current events are scheduled can contact Ken Preston at 510-268-8765, or

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

SOAW Urges Action on Bolivia

Bolivia is facing a critical moment in which the survival of a new era of hope is gravely threatened. After suffering decades of military dictatorships followed by years of economic dictatorship, Bolivia heralded in a new moment of dignity with the election of its first indigenous president, Evo Morales. However, just one month after a recall referendum gave Morales 67% of the vote, Bolivia's secessionist movement has unleashed unprecedented violence throughout the country. After three days of riots,8 people have died, several government institutions have been destroyed and Bolivia´s gas pipeline has suffered millions of dollars in damage. OAS SecretaryGeneral José Miguel Insulza has called for the violent actions of opposition groups to end. Citing involvement with the opposition movement, Bolivia´s president Morales declared US Ambassador to Bolivia, Phillip Goldberg, persona non grata and asked him to leave the country. Among Ambassador Goldberg´s closest friends are Croatian businessmen in the city of Santa Cruz who lead the city´s powerful separatist movement. Washington responded by asking Bolivia´s ambassador to return to his country. South America´s presidents have united their voices in declaring support forBolivia´s democracy and Evo Morales. Venezuela, in solidarity with Bolivia, asked the US Ambassador to leave the country and recalled their ambassador from theUnited States. Venezuela is also citing US involvement in recent destabilizationattempts in Venezuela.

Unfortunately, as we know too well form our campaign to close the SOA/WHINSEC, the US has a long history of US intervention in the region. Morales has called for restraint by the military, a markedly different response fromthat of Bolivia´s military dictatorships. SOA Watch founder, Fr. Roy Bourgeois was one of the many recipients of the torture and random detention which was commonplace under the dictatorship of General Hugo Banzer, an SOA graduate. Thousands of Bolivians were tortured and hundreds disappeared under the Garcia Meza dictatorship leading military command were SOA graduates. Last year PresidentMorales announced his decision that Bolivian troops would no longer train at theSOA/WHINSEC. Venezuela was the first to make this announcement in 2004, and since then a total of 5 countries have followed step.

The SOA Watch urges you to take immediate action. Please call the White House with the message to please stop interfering in Bolivia and other Latin American Democracies. Please call the capital switchboard and ask for your Senators and House Members. Ask them to immediately investigate if the White House is trying to destabilize the democraciesof Bolivia and Venezuela.

Phone numbers: White House (to reach the President): (202) 456-1414
Capitol Switchboard (to reach your Senate or House Member): (202) 224-3121

Novena For Faithful Citizenship - Week 3

Remember to pray the Novena for Faithful Citizenship. The text of the Novena can be found here. A podcast of the prayers is also available on the web site.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Million Doors for Peace

On September 20, 2008 thousands of people from across the nation will talk to our neighbors about ending the Iraq war and ask them to sign a petition to their member of Congress.
The goal is to knock on one million doors, so we need all the volunteers we can get. NETWORK has joined with other organizations - Pax Christi USA, Catholics United, Peace Action, United for Peace & Justice, and others - to sponsor this activity and help recruit volunteers.
So gather a couple of friends and sign up now at

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Platform for the Common Good

This is a reminder that signatures to the Platform for the Common Good are still sought, as well as sending the Platform to elected officials. For a summary of the Platform and to contact Congress visit the NETWORK website. To sign the Platform, go to The full document can also be downloaded. (The Platform for the Common Goodwas adopted at the Convention for the Common Good held in July in Philadelphia. Many women religious were involved in the process.)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Stay of Execution: Dennis Skillicorn

Check out the website of Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty for the Dennis Skillicorn story. A 30-day stay of execution was granted for Skillicorn, who had been scheduled to die on August 27, 2008.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Clemency Hearing for Troy Davis Today

At 9 am today, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles is scheduled to hear evidence in support of Troy Davis's petition for clemency. Currently, his execution date is set for September 23, 2008. Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail in Georgia. All but two of the state's nine non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis. Take action by going to the Amnesty International USA website. To learn more about this case, see or the Free Troy Davis website.

Fighting Poverty with Faith

In addition to activities noted previously, Catholic Charities USA offers additional activities for the September 10-16 Week of Action, including an on-line letter to elected officials and candidates for office. Go to Catholic Charities USA, click "Interfaith Week of Action," click "Catholic Charities Activities." To get the letter, click "Tools and Resources."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We Remember 9/11/01

See this YouTube video (Sorry, it cannot be embedded!) which uses Michael Crawford's version of Kim Boyce's "Not Too Far from Here" to remind us that "somebody's hurting not too far from here."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fighting Poverty with Faith

The week of September 10-16 has beenhighlighted by NETWORK, Catholic Charities and other organizations as atime to e-mail candidates up for election in the House and Senate with a challenge to speak about their plans for cutting poverty in half in 10years. You may use poverty data for 2007 from the Census Bureau (click on "Poverty"). To review and send a letter, also visit NETWORK (see "Action" on the right side of the page).

Poverty on the Rise

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans living in poverty increased in 2007. Go to the Catholic Charities USA web site for an analysis of the new poverty numbers.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Novena for Faithful Citizenship - Week 2

Remember to pray the Novena for Faithful Citizenship. The text of the Novena can be found here. However, a podcast of the prayers is also available on the web site.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Persistent Peace

The blog "book of the month" selection for September comes from John Dear, SJ: A Persistent Peace: One Man's Struggle for a Nonviolent World. What a book it is! From the Loyola Press website:

"A Persistent Peace, John Dear’s autobiography, invites readers to follow the decades-long journey and spiritual growth of this nationally known peace activist, and to witness his bold, decisive, often unpopular actions before government officials, military higher-ups, and even hostile representatives of the Church. With heroes such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela, it should come as no surprise that John’s activism has taken him to many places—including war zones—all over the world.

Dear’s incredible story will touch anyone who believes in the power of peace. Perhaps most important of all, readers will come to understand through John that the most important disarmament of all is the one that happens inside each heart—when we finally let go of our own self-righteousness, resentment, and anger."

Thanks to Lisa for pointing out Father John Dear's speaking and book tour schedule. (Click on "Schedule" on his site.)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Novena for Faithful Citizenship

The USCCB has posted a "Novena for Faithful Citizenship" and has asked all Catholics to join together beginning September 2 (nine weeks before the Presidential election) to pray for justice, peace, and life. Click here to access multiple resources, including the novena.