Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pope Benedict's World Peace Day Message for 2010

Go to the Vatican website to read Pope Benedict's World Peace Day message, "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation." Also, remember that resources for reflection can be found on the website of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change at

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

Amidst the hustle and bustle of this Christmas season, let's take a moment to remember the Prince of Peace:

E-mail subscribers: If you do not see a video clip above, please click here to view "Let There Be Peace on Earth."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jubilee Act

The Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation (HR 4405) was introduced in the House of Representatives on December 16. Go to the Jubilee USA website to send messages to your representative, asking him or her to sponsor the Jubilee Act.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pax Christi USA Announces Completion of the People's Peace Initiative

You may recall that this initiative was begun in 2003, the 20th anniversary of the US Bishops' Peace Pastoral and the 40th anniversary of Pope John XXIII's "Pacem in Terris." The project is now complete in two languages, English and Spanish, and suitable for use by different
kinds of groups. Go to for more information.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Peace in Afghanistan

Go to to read and sign a petition by FCNL (Friends Committee for National Legislation) toward working for peace in Afghanistan

Monday, December 21, 2009

Advent Reflection from Pax Christi

While reminding you that SCC Advent reflections can still be found on the Director's Message page of let's look at Megan McKenna's Pax Christi reflection for today:

Monday, December 21, 2009
Song of Solomon 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18a ~ Luke 1:39-45

What is the quality of our waiting: Is it intense, passionate, on edge, concentrated? Do we wait for the coming of the Word made flesh into the world and into our own flesh like a lover waits? What are we expecting this Word-of-God-made-flesh to say to us? For Christians in the northern hemisphere, it is now the heart of winter; in the southern climes, it is beginning to turn cooler and the rains are coming. We read in the Song of Solomon that when those who seek each other meet, it is the fullness and harvest of spring and summer and the lushness of blossom. Are we watching and listening for Love to appear in our midst, seize hold of us, and bring the world back to life?

There is an anonymous saying: "That which you are seeking is always seeking you." God is always seeking us. Do we move with haste and the freedom of hope? Or do we just learn to stop stock still and look? God is everywhere. There is no place where God is not. Now, we are being taught to look for the presence of God in every human being. Are we learning to see the shining presence of holiness and love hidden and seeping out in the face of everyone?

We hear the same gospel as yesterday-did we catch the revelation? We are all blessed. We have all heard the Word of God that has been proclaimed to us. We have all believed in it-to one degree or another. God's word will be fulfilled in us, as it was in Elizabeth and Mary. Because of the moment of the Incarnation that continues through time and history, we are always being met by the Spirit of God. Irénée Guilane Dioh, an African writer, says, "Every word and every being come knocking at your door, bringing you their mystery. If you open to them, they will flood you with their riches."

For more resources for prayer, study and action this Advent season, click here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another request from NETWORK

From NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby:

Buying Fair Trade Gifts?

Support a Framework for Fair Trade -- Get your Senator on board with the TRADE Act.

NETWORK activists like you have consistently opposed unfair trade agreements. You've helped your members of Congress understand how our trade policies hurt poor and vulnerable communities in the U.S. and in the developing world. Now we have a key opportunity to help Congress map a fair way forward on trade!

Last week, Sen. Sherrod Brown introduced the Senate version of the 2009 TRADE Act (S. 2821). The TRADE Act is an excellent vehicle for re-evaluating U.S. trade policy and re-shaping it so that it serves the common good in stable jobs, environmental protections, public health, and poverty reduction. It sets standards for what must and must not be included in future trade agreements, and requires a comprehensive review of existing trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA that are failing to serve the most vulnerable in the U.S. and our trading partners.

Please email your Senator and urge him or her to co-sponsor this bill. The more co-sponsors the TRADE Act has, the greater momentum we will gain in Congress for a new trade agenda.

You can send an e-mail via:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent Requests from NETWORK

NETWORK -- a national Catholic social justice lobby -- has posted a Christmas "wish list." Here's the first installment:

Advent is almost over - haven't we waited long enough for healing?

People we know are desperate for better healthcare, yet our senators are scheming and dealing and criticizing and positioning themselves for the next election. You are probably tired of the healthcare debate. We are too. But when we listen to the pleas of people all over the country, and we realize how close we are to getting legislation that will start to fix our healthcare system, we know we need to ask you one more time for your advocacy.

Please, please contact your senators this week and next week - call them, e-mail them, send them a Christmas card, visit them if you can. Tell them about the people you know who can't get the healthcare they need. Tell them about your own fears. If you need any more motivation, read some of the stories that people like you have told us. No matter what you have heard about the healthcare bills, know that they contain many good and necessary things to help people like you and others. Also please know that there is no opportunity to start over. We need to get the legislation passed now, and fix the things we don't like in the bill later.

You can call both your senators via the Capitol switchboard 202-224-3121, and e-mail them via NETWORK's website:

As we await the celebration of the coming of the Messiah, the great healer, we dare not step back now from efforts to change our country's healthcare system.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


From the Partnership for Global Justice:

The United Nations Climate Change Conference - Copenhagen, 2009 - kicked off with a strong sense of confidence that countries can seal a comprehensive, ambitious and effective international climate change deal in Denmark and with an unprecedented sense of urgency to act on climate change. The highly anticipated conference marks an historic turning point on how the world confronts climate change. You can follow the proceedings via web cast at

One of our colleagues, Sr. Ann Marie Braudis, MM, reports from Copenhagen the plea for recognition that the climate change situation is worse than what we thought, causing rapid changes in Small Island States and in poor African countries…. This was supported by one Island State after another. Cape Verde said, “We demand to survive. We demand a commitment to our survival. If we disappear we will not disappear alone; we will simply precede you in disappearing.”

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Vigils for Survival

A message from Pax Christi USA:

As a member of the climate change crisis coalition,, Pax Christi USA is supporting efforts to influence the gathering of leaders at the Copenhagen climate conference next week. In the middle of the conference, has called for days of action, December 11-13, to highlight the urgency of this moment for action on climate change. In particular, candlelight "vigils for survival" are being held around the world as actions of solidarity with nations whose very survival is threatened by the climate crisis. Click here for more information. (For those of you in the NY/NJ area, there are a few vigils in Manhattan and one in Morristown.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pope's Address to World Food Summit

On November 16, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Rome headquarters of the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), during the World Summit on Food Security. If you missed his address, click here to find the text on Zenit.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Witness in Dorothy Stang's Case is Shot

From a story by the BBC (thanks to Sister Joseph for alerting us to this):

A witness in the case of an American nun who was murdered in the Brazilian Amazon has been shot several times and is in a critical condition.

He was reportedly attacked just hours after being summoned to testify in a fraud case against one of the ranchers accused of ordering the nun's murder.

Dorothy Stang, 73, campaigned to preserve the rainforest and protect the rights of rural workers.

Her killing in 2005 caused international outrage.

The attack on witness Roniery Lopes took place in the same area where Stang led her decades-long campaign.

He was due to testify against Regivaldo Galvao, who is accused of trying to use false documents to obtain the plot of land Stang died trying to defend.

Mr Galvao and fellow rancher Vitalmiro Moura have been accused of hiring gunmen to kill the nun, who came from Dayton, Ohio.

Mr Galvao, who denies the charge, was arrested in 2005 but was freed on bail in 2006 and has not faced trial.

Mr Moura was acquitted at a trial in 2008 but a new trial was ordered earlier this year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Half the Sky

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, brings some stunningly poignant issues home. From Publishers Weekly: New York Times columnist Kristof and his wife, WuDunn, a former Times reporter, make a brilliantly argued case for investing in the health and autonomy of women worldwide. More girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century, they write, detailing the rampant gendercide in the developing world, particularly in India and Pakistan. Far from merely making moral appeals, the authors posit that it is impossible for countries to climb out of poverty if only a fraction of women (9% in Pakistan, for example) participate in the labor force. China's meteoric rise was due to women's economic empowerment: 80% of the factory workers in the Guangdong province are female; six of the 10 richest self-made women in the world are Chinese.
From the product description: From two of our most fiercely moral voices, a passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world. With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope. They show how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. That Cambodian girl eventually escaped from her brothel and, with assistance from an aid group, built a thriving retail business that supports her family. The Ethiopian woman had her injuries repaired and in time became a surgeon. A Zimbabwean mother of five, counseled to return to school, earned her doctorate and became an expert on AIDS. Through these stories, Kristof and WuDunn help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population. Countries such as China have prospered precisely because they emancipated women and brought them into the formal economy. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty. Deeply felt, pragmatic, and inspirational, Half the Sky is essential reading for every global citizen.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day 2009

World AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year. It is an international day to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS around the world. The first World AIDS Day was December 1, 1988. The UNAIDS website has useful information and statistics on the current state of HIV/AIDS in the world. Let's remember this intention in our prayers today.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

December 13: Ring Bells for Climate Justice!

A message from the Partnership for Global Justice:

Since time immemorial in cultures across the world musical instruments like bells and drums have been used to warn people of imminent danger – but also to call people to religious service, marking important moments in worship and seeking to connect to God.

Sunday 13 December marks the height of the talks at the United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen.

At 3 p.m. – marking the end of a high profile ecumenical celebration at the Lutheran Cathedral in Copenhagen – all the churches in Denmark will ring their bells, and Christians around the world are invited to echo them by sounding their own bells, shells, drums, gongs or horns 350 times. We envisage a chain of chimes and prayers stretching in a time-line from the Fiji Islands in the South Pacific – where the day first begins and where the effects of climate change are already felt today – to northern Europe and across the globe.

Why 350 times?
1. 350 refers to 350 parts per million: This is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere according to many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments. For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 ppm of CO2, but now the concentration stands at 390 ppm. Unless we are able to rapidly reduce CO2 levels again, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt. By joining hands with Christians around the world we can have a greater impact in order to stop the destruction of God's creation and of human livelihoods.
How can your church or group join in?

2. Invite your parish to join this international celebration by ringing the parish bells at 3:00 PM, your local time.

3. Ring the bells at your Motherhouse and/or other possible sites. Spend some time in prayer at 3:00 PM, alone or with others, in gratitude for the gifts of Creation and in asking for the wisdom and courage to safeguard the environment. Go to
for a prayer service.

For more information go to

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sojourners Sign-on Letter to President Obama on Afghanistan

Sojourners hopes for 15,000 signatures to its sign-on letter. To read and sign go to and click on Faith in Action, Alert, Letter to President Obama.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Health Care Reform

An update on the health care vote from Catholic Charities USA:

As you may know, the U.S. Senate passed a procedural measure on November 21 by a vote of 60 to 39. This mechanism, known as cloture, requires a 60-vote majority and is needed to continue debate on the health care reform legislation so it can be taken up for a final vote.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) released language for "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" (H.R. 3590) on November 18. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that this bill will cost $849 billion over 10 years and will reduce the federal deficit by $127 billion.

After the Thanksgiving recess, the Senate will resume debate on health care reform. Immigration, abortion, affordability, and the public plan option are expected to be highly contentious issues. Unlike the House bill, the Senate language prohibits undocumented immigrants from purchasing health insurance through the exchange, even when using their own money. The Senate bill would expand Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, compared to 150 percent in the House-passed version. The House-passed version goes further in ensuring that no federal funds are used to cover abortion services compared to the current language in the Senate bill. It is expected that the House language on abortion will be offered as an amendment to the Senate bill.

Catholic Charities USA continues to work with the Catholic Health Association and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to ensure that no federal funds are used for abortion and that conscience protections are included in the final health care reform bill.

Catholic Charities USA will keep you updated on health care reform legislation.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Father Roy Bourgeois and SOA Watch Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Father Roy Bourgeois, MM, and School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) have been nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in the world - the Nobel Peace Prize - for their sustained faithful nonviolent witness against the disappearances, torture, and murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians (peasants, community and union organizers, clerics, missionaries, educators, and health workers) by foreign military personnel trained by the U.S. military at U.S. taxpayer expense at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The candidacy of Father Roy and SOA Watch for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize has been officially submitted to the Nobel Committee in Oslo, Norway by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. The official announcement was made by AFSC representative John Meyer on Sunday, November 22 at the gates of Fort Benning (home of the School of the Americas) during the annual November vigil to close the SOA.

"We are deeply honored, and deeply humbled, to be nominated for this prize for peace," commented Bourgeois, a Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart recipient and a Catholic priest, who helped found SOA Watch. "This nomination is a recognition of the work of the thousands struggling against militarism across the Americas."

SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots movement that works through creative protest and resistance, legislative and grassroots media work to stand in solidarity with the people of Latin America, to close the School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) and to change oppressive U.S. foreign policy that institutions like the SOA/ WHINSEC represent.

This weekend, SOA Watch is gathering by the thousands at the gates of Ft. Benning to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the killings of 14-year-old Celia Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos, and the six Jesuit priests she worked with at the Central American University in San Salvador in November 1989. Human rights defenders from Colombia and Bertha Oliva, founder of human rights organization COFADEH, Committee of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras, which has been actively resisting the SOA graduate-led coup as part of the resistance front.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Initiative for a UN Decade of Peace

Worth noting again (thanks to Sister DeSales for the reminder):

The USG/UISG along with 40 other faith based groups are calling for an interreligious and intercultural decade for Peace. The objective is for people of different faith backgrounds, supported by UN structures, to do practical things together for peace. Fr. Daniel Le Blanc and Sr. Eileen Gannon, based in NY are representing the USG/UISG on this initiative. For more information see an article written by Daniel at: Visit the official web site at:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Help those who are ill stay home


The Healthy Families Act (H.R.2460/S.1152) will allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick days per year. These can be used for personal illness, taking care of an ill family member, birth of a child or adoption, and recovery from sexual assault or domestic violence.Higher paid workers often receive a paid sick leave benefit, but lower-wage workers who can't afford to miss a day's pay usually do not. For example, nearly 80% of food service workers have no paid sick leave. This is surely damaging to the common good.Paid sick leave is particularly critical during flu season, when low wage workers are often faced with the choice of going to work when they are sick (or sending a sick child to school), or missing a day and losing wages needed for food and medicine. You can send an e-mail via NETWORK's website -- an appropriate message will come up, based on your Representative and Senators' co-sponsorship status, either urging them to co-sponsor or thanking them for already being a co-sponsor.

Click here to send a message to your Representative:

Click here to send messages to your Senators:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Support SOAW

As you know from last week, four SCCs will be converging on Fort Benning to close the SOA -- Sisters Janice, Juliana, Andrea, and Immaculata. We remember them in prayer in a special way. If you're unable to go, but still want to be involved, here's an opportunity (as presented by the LCWR):
LATIN AMERICA MILITARY TRAINING REVIEW ACT HR 2567: As you know, some of our members will be present at the gates of SOA/WHINSEC in Fort Benning, GA next week. If you agree with calling for suspension of activities at the School but cannot be present, here is one more opportunity to ask your Representative in Congress to cosponsor HR 2567,offered by the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center in Spokane, WA:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Archbishop Dolan on Anti-Catholicism

Worth a read: Click here to read the blog post by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of NY regarding what he calls America's unpleasant pasttime -- anti-Catholicism.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Choosing Compassion

A message sent via the LCWR:

Michael Crosby, OFMCap, whom many of you know, asked us to alert you and your congregations to a new program he has created titled "ChoosingCompassion: The Paradox of Power." Mike says that the program is designed for groups working on quality of life concerns and relationships within congregations. You can read about the program and click into short clips on

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Remembering the Jesuit Martyrs

Thanks to Sister Joan Daniel for bringing this to our attention:

Click here to read John Dear's touching commentary on the 20th anniversary of the brutal deaths of six Jesuits, their cook, and her daughter at the University of Central America in San Salvador.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Counting Down to Fort Benning

We remember Sister Andrea and Sister Immaculata in our prayers as they prepare to converge!

From the SOA Watch:

GET READY FOR THE NOVEMBER VIGIL Nov. 20-22: Converge on Fort Benning, Georgia

Commemorate and Resist: Join thousands at the gates of Fort Benning from November 20-22, 2009. It is more important than ever to take a stand for justice in the Americas and to resist the militarization of our hemisphere. Over the past week, SOA Watch activists protested at the U.S. Southern Command in Florida and at a military base in Colombia, to speak out against the School of the Americas, the continuing SOA graduate led military coup in Honduras and the increasing U.S. military presence in Colombia. In several days, all of us will converge on Fort Benning, Georgia. Other protests in the lead-up to the November vigil are taking place at Fort Huachuca in Arizona on November 14 and 15 and on Friday, November 20 at the Immigrant prison in Lumpkin, Georgia. Human rights activists will also visit the Corporate Headquaters of Chiquita, Drummond & Coca-Cola on their way to the vigil toprotest against their crimes against people of Colombia! For a complete schedule of events for the convergence visit:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Human Trafficking Article in NY Times

The article, Running in the Shadows, appeared recently in the New York Times. Bradley Myles, Polaris Project's Deputy Director, is quoted in the article, highlighting the importance of awareness and understanding in identifying victims of human trafficking.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Movie: The End of Poverty? Think Again

The movie, The End of Poverty? Think Again opens in November in New York and California and other cities in December. It is a sort of “An Inconvenient Truth” for global economics, narrated by Martin Sheen. For more information go to: or

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Event in NY Metro Area

Art Installation: Actress Emma Thompson is telling a story of a young girl, Elena, who was forced into the global sex industry. This art installation is comprised of seven shipping containers each designed by a different artist interpreting one part of Elena’s story. This art installation will be in Washington Square Park, New York City, November 10-16. Thompson will be in the seventh container. For more information go to: “On the Media”, and click on Saturday, October 31.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Abortion and the Health Care Bill

As you may already be aware, the House narrowly passed its version of the health care plan late Saturday night. Abortion is being debated quite often in this attempt to pass health care legislation. Click here for Sunday's NY Times article, "Abortion was at Heart of Wrangling" and here for the letter sent to Congress by the US Bishops on Saturday. Click here to take action, thanking your Representatives and encouraging your Senators to make choices that promote the health and dignity of all human beings from conception to natural death.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tell Key Senators: Protect the Poor in Climate Change Legislation

Especially for those of us in PA, NY, and NJ:

Take Action Now! Contact key Senators (see list below) now and urge that the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733, the climate change bill) now being considered:

Fully protect low-income individuals and families in the U.S. from any potential rise in the price of energy and other consumer goods resulting from the legislation by providing the same level of funding for low-income assistance as in the House bill;
Significantly increase the funding for international adaptation programs. At a minimum allocate $3.5 billion of funding generated by the bill to international adaptation programs starting in 2012 and increase rapidly to $7 billion annually by 2020 so that people living in poverty around the world can be protected from the effects of climate change.

Click here for the full action alert.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sad News from the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

The SBS Leadership Team has sent out the following message:

This is to share the very sad news from the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament that one of their members, Sr. Marguerite Bartz was found dead on Sunday November 1st in the convent at Navajo, New Mexico. When Sister was not present for her Sunday responsibilities in Sawmill, NM and could not be reached by the pastor, he contacted another SBS, who also tried a number of times to contact her by phone and then decided to drive over to Navajo. Sister found the body. Foul play is suspected and the FBI is handling the investigation.

A Sister of Charity from Convent Station NJ is missioned with Marguerite in Navajo but was attending a community meeting in New Jersey and was not there this weekend.

As Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament we are deeply grieved at this time for the loss that Sr. Marguerite is to our congregation and in particular to the people of Navajo, NM whom she loved so much. We pray for her, for her family and the people of St. Berard’s.

Sr. Marguerite was a woman always passionate for justice and for peace.
She would be among the first to remind us that our vocation as Christians calls us to seek within our own hearts a spirit of forgiveness towards whoever is responsible for this deed.

It is our belief in the resurrection of Jesus and our own resurrection that provides comfort and hope for us. Sr. Marguerite along with St. Katharine Drexel, and so many SBS who have ministered for over 118 years throughout our country among Native American and Black peoples now understands completely the words heard so many times at funeral liturgies, “Life has not ended but changed.”

Sr. Pat Suchalski and the Leadership Team of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

African Synod Propositions

The Propositions from the recently-concluded Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops are being released. See for a complete listing. However, Proposition 47, "Women in Africa," bears special mention here:

Proposition 47 - Women in Africa

Women in Africa make a great contribution to the family, society and the Church with their many talents and resources. However, not only are their dignity and contributions not fully recognized and appreciated, but are often deprived of their rights. In spite of the significant advances made in the education and development of women in some countries in Africa, the development of girls and women is often disproportionate to that of boys and men; girls and women are generally unjustly treated. The Synod Fathers condemn all acts of violence against women, e.g. the battering of wives, the disinheritance of daughters, the oppression of widows in the name of tradition, forced marriages, female genital mutilation, trafficking in women and several other abuses such as sex slavery and sex tourism. All other inhumane and unjust acts against women are equally condemned.

The Synod Fathers propose:
  • The integral human formation of girls and women (intellectual, professional, moral, spiritual, theological, etc.);
  • The creation of "shelters" for abused girls and women to find refuge and receive counselling;
  • The close collaboration among episcopal conferences to stop the trafficking of women;
  • The greater integration of women into Church structures and decision-making processes;
  • The setting up of commissions on the Diocesan and national levels to address women’s issues, to help them better carry out their mission in the Church and society;
  • The setting up of a study commission on women in the Church within the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Voice of Quiet Love"

These are the words spoken by Monsignor Kenneth Lasch at the funeral of Father Ed Hinds. Thanks to Monsignor Lasch for saying these words and for posting them on his blog for all of us to read and reflect upon:

Death has a thousand faces and though we know it can happen at any time and may be prepared for it, we are never ready and it is never opportune. It is intrusive and unjust. And no matter the circumstances, it creates a void impossible to fill, a hole in our hearts, an empty place at our table.

But the tragic circumstances that resulted in Father Ed’s death also leave us with conflicted feelings of outrage and mercy—outrage at the unmerciful slaying of this gentle man of God and mercy for the man who became a victim of his deranged thinking. As Ed’s spiritual companion, I can state without equivocation, there was nothing in his life that could have provoked such a violent attack. In the words of one parishioner, “The only aspect of Christ’s life that Fr. Ed did not live out until this tragedy was Christ’s suffering and death.” As I reflected on her comment and Ed’s dying moments, it would not surprise me if I learned that he whispered the words of Christ as he hung on the cross: “Father, forgive him for he knows not what he is doing.” Another parishioner said it this way: “Putting on that white sacramental robe at Baptism 61 years ago was the most important reality for him because he certainly died with Christ on Thursday evening but how many people will know that he died with the sacred compassionate heart of Christ throughout his entire life.”

With Isaiah we believe that life does not end with death. We believe it is a passage to a new kind of life, to eternal life in which we are absorbed fully into the life of God – whole and complete. That is what salvation is about. It is for Father Ed, a solemn promise fulfilled because he lived in a manner worthy of his call – “with all humility, with gentleness, with patience, bearing with others through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” [Ephesians 4:1-4]

And so we will find a way not just to survive but to live fully in the light of the path paved by this humble shepherd who made such a difference in our lives with his ability to bring the Scriptures to life through his well-prepared and carefully delivered homilies and by his reverent celebration of the Eucharist that was the center of his live and ours.
Ed enjoyed a partnership with God in Christ that he took very seriously and though it takes some of us a long time to discover how our own partnership with God will unfold, Ed was quick to pick up the signs early in life. Father Gene Romano tells of Ed’s early desire to embrace the priesthood even as a young boy as he celebrated Mass at his home-made altar. But Father Ed was not a ‘hot house’ priest. Over time as he grew into his vocation, he became a wise mentor with an acute understanding of human nature and of the spiritual needs of those whom he served so well from the youngest to the eldest. He made time for everyone when convenient and inconvenient.

Father Ed tried to do his very best but he like us was not perfect. As many of you know, he found administration difficult at times and of late, he would wake early in the morning with those stomach butterflies we all experience from time to time when faced with a particularly difficult challenge or decision. He would be the first to confess his mistakes but that core spirituality implanted in his unique soul nourished so carefully during his early years with family gave him a resilience that enabled him to bounce back, never giving into defeat.

Ed mixed with the high and low. He made no distinction because in his view all people are God’s children.. He was very intelligent but modest and measured in his speech, never condescending. He shunned honors and accolades – no clerical bashes for Fr.Ed. He preferred instead to recognize the accomplishments of others. We would be hard pressed to find his photo in local newspapers or even in The Beacon. He needed no recognition for what he considered only his duty and responsibility. His dedication to this parish family was steady but his parish circle extended far beyond St. Patrick’s to Mt. Carmel in Boonton and St. Michael’s in Netcong. A loyal friend of the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, he was a faithful visitor and celebrant at St. Catherine’s infirmary.

Sr. Jo Mascera of the pastoral care department at Morristown Memorial Hospital remarked to me on Wednesday how responsive Ed was to her call to cover for hospital emergencies when the parish ‘on call’ was unavailable.

Ed and I used to have monthly talks over tea and cookies. Whenever he came for spiritual direction, I always told him that he replaced my spiritual reading for the day —hot off the press, as it were! It was during these sessions that I realized how transparent Ed was and how pure his soul. He epitomized quiet love. He was blessed with a contemplative spirit and simple spirituality. I truly believed that he knew the God who lived at the core of his being, the God who was paving a path with him one day at a time and would bring all his hopes and dreams to fulfillment. I have no doubt that Ed’s hopes have been fulfilled and he is living his dream somewhere in this awesome universe.

But there is just one more testimony that I would like to share. It comes from a neighboring pastor:

Ed was a colleague, but more importantly, he was my friend, a genuinely nice guy; one of the last of a dying breed of gentle souls.

He fully respected the status of my ordination. He was a mentor, a role model, a confidant, a colleague, a friend.

If the entirety of our lives can be summed up in one story, here’s my story about Ed:
It was not long after the death of my daughter. I thought I was doing okay. The grieving process was progressing on course. “Thank you, I’m fine,” I heard myself saying, over and over again, to kind, caring people who asked how I was doing.

And then, one morning, I woke up and found that I couldn’t move my feet from the bed and put them on the floor. Neither could I take a full breath. My first coherent thought was, “I’ve got to get to Mass.”

The only place I could think of that was close by was St. Pat’s. There was an 8 AM daily mass there.

I got up and got dressed. I knew I wouldn’t be able to receive the sacrament in a RC Church but I was okay with that.

All I really needed at the time was to be in a small community of people who believed in the Resurrection. Who not only believed in but cherished the idea of Life Eternal. Who willingly and gladly entered into the paradox of understanding the Mysterium Tremendum et fascinans of God’s sacramental grace.

I pulled on my favorite old jeans and a hooded sweat shirt, put on my hat, coat and mittens and walked the block up to St. Pat’s and took a seat in the back. There were 8 or 10 people already in the church.

When it came time for communion, I sat in my pew, praying quietly to God, my head bowed, my knees bent, my hands and heart open.

Suddenly, I felt something being pressed into my hand. I opened my eyes and saw Fr. Ed standing before me, pressing the broken wafer into my hand, as I heard him say, “The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven.”

I took the broken wafer into my hand, gobbling it like a hungry beggar who hadn’t eaten in weeks. I hadn’t known how hungry I had been.

Right there in front of God and the people of God, I was fed and nourished.
I had received a foretaste of the heavenly banquet which my daughter now enjoyed. I was one with her and she with me and I experienced a wholeness and a healing that surpassed sublime.

What really broke my heart open was the risk this man took for Incarnate Love. For the Gospel. Right there, in the Roman Catholic Church, in front of God and the assembled faithful, he broke a rule, to feed a hungry, broken woman a broken piece of bread that filled me with wholeness and holiness of Life”.

Ed did not break any rules. He knew the heart of Christ.

As we continue to mourn his passing, we will continue to celebrate his life as we thank God for making him a part of our lives. I reckon this prayer of Thomas Merton was often on the lips of Ed Hinds:

I beg you to keep me in this silence so that I may learn from it the word of your peace and the word of your mercy and the word of your gentleness to the world: and that through me perhaps your word of peace may make itself heard where it has not been possible for anyone to hear it for a long time.

He was the voice of quiet love and we will miss his gentle smile forever.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bishops on Health Care Reform

From the USCCB website:

In an extraordinary call to Catholics to prevent health care reform from being derailed by the abortion lobby, the United Sates Conference of Catholic Bishops has sent bulletin inserts to almost 19,000 parishes across the country.

"Health care reform should be about saving lives, not destroying them," the insert states. It urges readers to contact Senate leaders so they support efforts to "incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights" in health reform legislation.
"If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed," it adds.
The insert highlights the Stupak Amendment from Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) that, it states, "addresses essential pro-life concerns on abortion funding and conscience rights." "Help ensure that the Rule for the bill allows a vote on the amendment," the insert states. "If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed."

A dramatic ad of a pregnant woman notes that the Hyde Amendment, which passed in 1976, has prevented federal funds from paying for elective abortions, yet healthcare reform bills that are advancing violate this policy. The ad message: "Tell Congress: Remove Abortion Funding and Mandates from Needed Health Care Reform."

The insert also directs readers to

Bulletin inserts were distributed to dioceses October 29, the day Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled the House health care reform bill and in expectation that they will show up in parishes in early November. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the USCCB; Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chair of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-life Activities; Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chair of the Committee on Migration; and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville, Centre, New York, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development urged fellow bishops to promote this campaign in their dioceses.

"The bishops want health care reform, but they recoil at any expansion of abortion," said Helen Osman, USCCB Secretary for Communications, who helped organize the campaign. "Most Americans don’t want to pay for other people’s abortions via health care either. This impasse on the road to reform of health care can be broken if Congress writes in language that assures that the Hyde Amendment law continues to guide U.S. federal spending policy."

The Catholic bishops have a long history of support for health care reform based on its teaching that health care is essential for human life and dignity and on its experience providing health care and assisting those without coverage.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Save Darfur

The recently-released U.S. policy on Sudan contains many of the top priorities of the Save Darfur Coalition, but the Coalition reminds us that the success of the plan is dependent on implementing it and on President Obama's leadership to build a strong international coalition to work for peace in Sudan. The Coalition urges calls to President Obama to raise the issue of Sudan when he visits China. Please go to the Save Darfur website for more information and to take appropriate action.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jubilee USA - "Change Not Chains"

Jubilee USA's "Change, Not Chains" campaign, was created to urge the Obama administration to support expanded debt cancellation and to tell Congress to pass the Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation. Click here for more information and some action steps you can take.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

From the Synod

The Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops has as its theme reconciliation, justice, and peace . Click here for the Zenit version of the remarkable reconciliation story of Sister Genevieve Uwamariya, a Rwandan religious who survived the 1994 genocide in her country. Keep in touch with the synod's happenings at Whispers in the Loggia (if you're pressed for time and need a great synopsis) or at the Vatican website (if you wish to dig deeper).

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ending Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Against Women and Children

Also from the Partnership for Global Justice:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chaired a UN Security Council Session which resulted in the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1888 which calls for the end of sexual violence against women and children in areas of conflict. Systematic rape as a weapon of war has been ignored for too long. Now the US is leading this new effort to protect women and children in conflict situations and to end impunity for the perpetrators.

Please send a word of thanks and encouragement to Secretary of State Clinton.
Write to: Hillary Clinton, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520. To email go to:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Nuclear Disarmament

From Partnership for Global Justice:

So many of us have been writing and praying about Nuclear Disarmament and have written to President Barack Obama asking him to provide strong US leadership for a nuclear weapons-free world. Your prayers and actions bear fruit!!!!

At the UN Security Council meeting on September 24th President Obama established the United States as a leader for nuclear disarmament and secured unanimous support for UN Security Council Resolution 1887, which makes a “revitalized commitment to work toward a world without nuclear weapons.”

Please take time to write, thanking President Obama for his leadership in convening and chairing this important UN Security Council meeting.

Write to: President Barack Obama, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20500. To email go to:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Indonesian Earthquake

International / Asia Pacific
At Least 464 Die as Quake Hits Indonesia Island
Published: October 1, 2009
A powerful earthquake that struck western Indonesia trapped thousands of people under collapsed buildings — including two hospitals, officials said.

Click here for to read more of this NY Times article.

Let's continue to pray.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Flooding in the Philippines

Currently, the death toll from typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in the Philippines stands at 240. Click here for a YouTube video (not in English, but the pictures speak for themselves). Let's continue to pray f0r all those affected by this tragedy.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Second Special Assembly for Africa

You may already be aware that that Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops will take place in Rome from October 4 to 25, 2009. The Catholic Task Force on Africa, a Washington, DC-based group of advocates maintains a website, "Yes, Africa Matters," that will fill you in on the synod. Click here to access the Instrumentum Laboris for the synod. Because of our close contact with students from African nations, Africa has more of a personal meaning for us. We can put a face with Africa more than ever before. Let us keep the synod in our prayers. Let us also try to inform as many others as we can.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Catholic Charities USA Releases Annual Survey Results

Last week, Catholic Charities USA released its 2008 Annual Survey--an extensive compilation of front-line data that comes on the heels of the U.S. Census Bureau numbers and painfully though not surprisingly further documents increasing levels of poverty.

The number of clients served by Catholic Charities in 2008 jumped by 10.2 percent, moving from approximately 8 million to 8.5 million, substantially reversing the reduction in poverty trends and levels that the Annual Survey positively revealed in the middle of the decade. Additionally, Catholic Charities' agencies reported providing:

Employment services to 67,597 persons in 2008, an increase of about 35 percent from the 50,080 reported in 2007; Financial Literacy programs to 58,589 clients, an increase of almost 47,000 in just one year; Earned Income Tax Credit assistance to 53,858 clients; and
Disaster Services to 331,727 clients, a 21 percent decrease from 2007 but a 60 percent increase over 2004/2005 levels.

Overall, trend lines for services most in demand in 2008 tracked with the eroding economy. In a webinar on September 15th, Rev. Larry Snyder, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, presented the results of the survey to the Catholic Charities USA network. To view the webinar, please click here. A summary of the 2008 Annual Survey and the full report are available by visiting the following link.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bishop Murphy Addresses Health Care Reform

Bishop William Murphy, chairman of Domestic Justice and Human Development for the U.S. bishops, addresses the urgent need for health care reform that is available to everyone and protects the life and dignity of every person. Click here to go to the USCCB website and view Bishop Murphy's video.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Baucus Proposal

Rocco Palmo ("Whispers in the Loggia") has provided some information about Archbishop Raymond Burke's comments on the Baucus health care plan. He also includes links to comments made by Cardinal Renato Martino. Click here to go to Rocco's blog.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

JFI Convening in Philadelphia

This comes as a reminder that the Justice for Immigrants campaign of the USCCB will hold a regional convening on immigration reform October 7-9, 2009 at the Malvern Retreat House outside Philadelphia. For information, agenda, and registration please see .

International Day of Peace

The United Nations' International Day of Peace is marked every year on September 21. An Evening Prayer was e-mailed to SCCs. Assumption College for Sisters in Mendham is having its traditional prayer service at 11:45 on that day. Leave us comments on the blog to indicate how you will celebrate the International Day of Peace. (That is, if you are an e-mail subscriber and want to comment, you have to go to the blog first -- link at bottom of page.)

Additionally, the Culture of Peace Initiative will host its first-ever 24-hour Global Broadcast on Peace Day!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fighting Poverty with Faith

The Coalition on Human Needs held a very informative webinar on September 14 -- "What the New Census Data Tell Us About Poverty in America and What the Faith Community Can Do About It." The webinar is available here and is full of practical, hands on information regarding the census and suggestions on what the faith community can do to tackle poverty in America.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Healing of America

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, by former Washington Post bureau chief, T.R. Reid, operates from an interesting premise. Reid presents himself and his symptoms (chronic shoulder pain) to physicians in the U.S., England, Japan, Germany, France, and India to see how treatment options would differ. However, Reid uses this experience to study how other industrialized countries are able to provide universal health care at a reasonable cost. From the product description on In his global quest to find a possible prescription, Reid visits wealthy, free market, industrialized democracies like our own-including France, Germany, Japan, the U.K., and Canada-where he finds inspiration in example. Reid shares evidence from doctors, government officials, health care experts, and patients the world over, finding that foreign health care systems give everybody quality care at an affordable cost. And that dreaded monster "socialized medicine" turns out to be a myth. Many developed countries provide universal coverage with private doctors, private hospitals, and private insurance. In addition to long-established systems, Reid also studies countries that have carried out major health care reform. The first question facing these countries-and the United States, for that matter-is an ethical issue: Is health care a human right? Most countries have already answered with a resolute yes, leaving the United States in the murky moral backwater with nations we typically think of as far less just than our own. The Healing of America lays bare the moral question at the heart of our troubled system, dissecting the misleading rhetoric surrounding the health care debate. Reid sees problems elsewhere, too: He finds poorly paid doctors in Japan, endless lines in Canada, mistreated patients in Britain, spartan facilities in France. Still, all the other rich countries operate at a lower cost, produce better health statistics, and cover everybody. In the end, The Healing of America is a good news book: It finds models around the world that Americans can borrow to guarantee health care for everybody who needs it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Health Care Reform: A Note from the LCWR

Now that President Obama has delivered a strong speech to congress and the U.S. American people, it is critical that citizens, particularly people of faith, take action NOW even though many of us have been doing so during the August recess. The LCWR leadership issued a statement following the annual assembly. It is based on principles called for by the USCCB and CHA. The president of the UnitedStates has called for action. As you know, however, there are voices in the Senate which continue to resist meaningful health care reform. NETWORK urges calls to senators this week with the message that quality health care is a basic human right and it is incumbent on the Senate to support a health care reform bill that provides quality health care coverage for everyone at a cost that is affordable for everyone. If you listened to the president's speech last Wednesday, you heard him also affirm that health care for all is a moral imperative. Call senators inWashington via a toll-free number: 1-888-797-8717 (thanks to the UnitedChurch of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries and the General Board ofChurch and Society of the United Methodist Church.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More on Health Care

Also from Catholic Charities:

Last week, Members of Congress resumed debate on health care overhaul after a series of contentious town hall meetings throughout the August recess. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, released a draft outlining his framework for health care reform . This outline does not propose a government funded public option. Instead, it would establish health care cooperatives, a system of nonprofit, member-run health insurance companies. Baucus' framework calls for an expansion of Medicaid to cover all people under 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

President Obama also outlined his vision for health care reform in a joint session of Congress on September 9. Many of the Obama Administration proposals are reflected in the Finance Committee framework. Insurers would be forbidden from refusing coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions or dropping coverage if an individual becomes ill. Both plans would mandate individual coverage and encourage businesses to offer coverage to their employees while providing some protections to small businesses. President Obama also called for a total cost of about $900 billion over 10 years, matching the estimated cost for the Finance Committee version.

To read the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops response to President Obama's speech, click here .

The other four committees of jurisdiction (Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; House Ways and Means, Education and Labor, and Energy and Commerce Committees) completed markups before the August recess. While Senator Baucus has stressed bipartisanship throughout the process, he now says that he will advance his proposal during the week of the 21st with or without Republican support. Legislative language is expected to be released this week.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Poverty on the Rise

From Catholic Charities USA:

On September 10, the U.S. Census Bureau released new data on poverty and insurance coverage in the United States. The new data shows that in 2008, the number of Americans living in poverty increased by nearly 2.6 million to 39.8 million (13.2 percent). The poverty rate increased for children under age 18 to 19 percent in 2008, up from 18 percent in 2007. Real median household income in the United States fell 3.6 percent between 2007 and 2008, from $52,163 to $50,303. This breaks three years of annual income increases and coincides with the recession that started in December 2007.

The number of uninsured individuals rose to 46.3 million, an increase of 600,000 from 2007. The number of people covered by private health insurance decreased from 202 to 201 million, while the number covered by government health insurance climbed from 83 million to 87 million. The number of individuals covered by employment-based health insurance declined from 177 million to 176 million. One positive sign in the new data is that the number of uninsured children declined from 8 million in 2007 to 7 million in 2008.
The 39.8 million individuals living in poverty in 2008 represents the highest number since 1960. While the new poverty statistics released by the Census Bureau reveal the number of people who were living in poverty through 2008, it does not tell the true picture of economic hardship being faced by the millions of workers who have lost their jobs in the eight months of 2009.

October 2 - International Day of Nonviolence

Gandhi's birthday, October 2, has been designated by the United Nations as International Day of Nonviolence. The USG/UISG JPIC Commission in Rome has provided this prayer service (available in 16 languages) to mark this day. Feel free to share it widely! Thanks to Sister DeSales for alerting us to this prayer service.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Site Worth Exploring

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) maintains a very informative website on public policy, covering everything from Catholic education to health care to faith and politics. It's worth reading, even for those beyond the boundaries of PA, especially as the health care reform debate heats up. Click here to go to the PCC website.

The Bishops on Health Care Reform

Go to the USCCB website's health care reform page and read what the Bishops of the US have to say about health care reform. Be sure to scroll down to get all the resources on this page!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We Remember

Let us continue to pray for peace on earth!

Health Care Reform

Let's begin our conversation on health care reform by reading the actual plan outlined by President Obama in his speech on Wednesday evening. Click here to access the White House website's text of the plan. If you scroll down on that page, you can receive the text of his remarks (or excerpts if you are in a hurry). The letter that Senator Kennedy sent to the President is also available on this page.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Book by Tracy Kidder

Strength in What Remains is a new book by Tracy Kidder (author of Mountains Beyond Mountains). According to Tracy Kidder on Strength in What Remains is the story of Deogratias, a young man from the central African nation of Burundi. In 1993, through no fault of his own, he was forced onto a terrifying journey, a journey that split his life in two. First he made a six-months-long escape, on foot, from ethnic violence in Burundi and from genocide in Rwanda. Then, in a strange twist of fate, he was, as it were, transported to New York City, where it sometimes seemed that his travails had only just begun.

I met Deo by chance 6 years ago. When I first heard his story, I had one simple thought: I would not have survived. I hoped in part to reproduce that feeling as I retold his story. I also hoped to humanize what, to most westerners anyway, is a mysterious, little-known part of the world. We hear about mass slaughter in distant countries and we imagine that murder and mayhem define those locales. Deo’s story opens up one of those places into a comprehensible landscape—and also opens up a part of New York that is designed to be invisible, the service entrances of the upper East Side, the camping sites that homeless people use in Central Park. But above all, I think, this is a book about coming to terms with memories. How can a person deal with memories like Deo’s, tormenting memories, memories with a distinctly ungovernable quality?

In the first part of Strength In What Remains, I recount Deo’s story. In the second part, I tell about going back with him to the stations of his life, in New York and Burundi. So the story that I tell isn’t only about the memories that Deo related to me. It’s also about seeing him overtaken by memories—again and again, and sometimes acutely. But Deo didn’t take me to Burundi just to show me around. Giving me a tour of his past was incidental to what he was up to in the present and the future. His story has a denoument that even now amazes me.
Deo is an American citizen. He doesn’t have to go back to Burundi. But he has returned continually and keeps on returning, and, amid the postwar wreckage, with the help of friends and family, he has created a clinic and public health system, free to those who can’t pay, in a rural village—part of a beginning, Deo dreams, of a new Burundi.

This facility was a pile of rocks when I visited the site in the summer of 2006. By the fall of 2008, it had become a medical center with several new buildings, a trained professional staff, and a fully stocked pharmacy. In its first year of operation it treated 21,000 different patients. (The organization that Deo founded and that sponsors and operates this facility is called Village Health Works.)

Deo was very young when he went through his long travail. Several strangers helped to save him from death and despair in Burundi and New York. So did sheer courage and pluck, and also Columbia University, which he attended as an undergraduate. But when it’s come to dealing with the burden of his memories, the public health system and clinic that he founded has been the nearest thing to a solution. In the end, it’s neither forgetting the past nor dwelling on the past that has worked for him. For him the answer has been remembering and acting. I once asked Deo why he had studied philosophy at Columbia. He told me, "I wanted to understand what had happened to me." In the end, he received what most students of philosophy receive—not answers, but more questions. As I was trying to describe his effort to build a clinic, I found myself writing: "Deo had discovered a way to quiet the questions he’d been asking at Columbia. That is, he saw there might be an answer for what troubled him most about the world, an answer that lay in his hands, indeed in his memory. You had to do something."—Tracy Kidder

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saving the World's Women

Don't miss today's NY Times Magazine, dedicated to "saving the world's women." You will find articles on the oppression of women worldwide, philanthropy among women, "the daughter deficit" in India and China, and much more. Click here to go to the online version of the magazine. Click here to see Nicholas Kristoff's audio slideshow, "A Powerful Truth," about how educating girls and empowering women can fight poverty and extremis.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

EFJ Summer Reading List

The new selection on the Education for Justice (EFJ) summer reading list is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. What a title! The Catholic Social Teaching themes and connections in this novel include the sanctity of human life, hope in the midst of war, nonviolent resistance, and full humanity in community.

Book description from EFJ: In London, in 1946, author Juliet Ashton is looking for her next project after the war. Her letters to her publisher and her best friend describe her life, and her search for an idea. When she receives a charming letter from a resident of Guernsey, she's intrigued. This marvelous epistolary novel reveals the horrors of the occupation, but also the kindnesses during the war. The shadow of Elizabeth McKenna hangs over the book, the wise young woman who is missing from the island, and whose story haunts the residents and Juliet. Readers will care deeply about the islanders and their stories, just as Juliet does.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Caritas in Veritate

A 12-page Resource Guide on Caritas in Veritate, written by Jim Hug, SJ and provided by Education for Justice, is available on the Social Justice page of the SCC East web site, available by clicking here and scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

EFJ Summer Reading List

In its continuing quest to provide suggestions for summer reading that contains Catholic Social Teaching (CST) themes, Education for Justice (EFJ) suggests The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The sanctity of human life and nonviolent resistance play a role in this work of literary fiction.

Book Description by EFJ: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a novel of cruelty, poverty, and hope. Liesel Meminger is a young girl who has been placed in foster care by her mother. Liesel's brother dies en route to their new home and this leaves Liesel traumatized, causing her to have terrible nightmares in the middle of the night. Liesel's foster father begins teaching her to read on these nights to distract her from her pain. Liesel learns to turn to books for comfort. When the war begins, comfort becomes a rare state of mind, so Liesel finds ways to seek it out. Liesel begins to steal books in her efforts to deal with the cruelty of the world around her. The Book Thief is a complicated story of survival that will encourage its readers to think.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

EFJ Summer Reading List

The third recommendation from Education for Justice (EFJ) is one that is quite familiar to our blog readers, but one that bears mentioning again and again -- Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea. The themes of solidarity and commitment, peace-building, the rights of the girl, and education are prominent in this work of non-fiction.
Book description from EFJ: The war-torn mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan appear in the news as the breeding grounds of terrorist training camps, Al Qaeda hide-outs, and fierce religious extremism. In Three Cups of Tea, Mortenson and Relin take readers behind the headlines to reveal the true heart and soul of this explosive region and to show how one man's promise might be enough to change the world.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Stoning of Soraya M.

Recommended by Immaculee Ilibagiza; her message to us: The Stoning of Soraya M. is a powerful and riveting true story about a deadly conspiracy . . . and one woman’s refusal to be silent. With disturbing reports of current events in Iran and the film’s focus on human rights abuses under Sharia law, it couldn’t be more timely. The Huffington Post said it best, “Women must see it, and keep in mind that by Iran's constitution the life of a female is worth half that of a male. . . . Indeed, for anyone who claims to care about the most basic of human rights, this film is a must.” The movie opens on Friday, June 26. Those behind this production need your support and the support of your friends to fill theatres on opening weekend, in order to send a message to those regimes that condone this form of punishment.

Vietnamese Workers in the Czech Republic

Those who read the SCC JPIC blog from Rome may have noticed a story about Vietnamese workers in the Czech Republic. As I searched for an English version of the story, here's what I found the June 5 NY Times article, "Crisis Strands Vietnamese Workers in a Czech Limbo," by Dan Bilefsky. Click here to link to the article.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Blessing to One Another

Alvernia University, Reading, PA -- an alma mater of your blog author -- is showing the exhibit, "A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People," through July 30. While I had already seen it at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, I was in Reading and thought it was worth another look. And . . . it was worth another look! Unfortunately, since its opening at Alvernia on April 21, fewer than 2,ooo people have viewed this moving and informative exhibit. So, if you live within driving distance of Alvernia, get there before July 30. You won't regret it. Click here for more information on the Alvernia website. Additionally, here's a video to whet your appetite (e-mail subscribers, click here to view the video).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

EFJ Summer Reading

You'll recall that two weeks ago, this blog recommended a summer reading list from Education for Justice (EFJ). Today, we give you the second book (now a major motion picture) from the EFJ list, The Soloist, by Steve Lopez, covering the themes of dignity of the human person, homelessness, and mental illness.

Description from EFJ: When Steve Lopez saw Nathaniel Ayers playing his heart out on a two-string violin on Los Angeles' skid row, he found it impossible to walk away. More than thirty years earlier, Ayers had been a promising classical bass student at Juilliard -- ambitious, charming, and also one of the few African-Americans -- until he gradually lost his ability to function, overcome by schizophrenia. When Lopez finds him, Ayers is homeless, paranoid, and deeply troubled, but glimmers of that brilliance are still there.

In the process of trying to save Ayers, Lopez finds that his own life is changing, and his sense of what one man can accomplish in the lives of others begins to expand him in new ways.

Monday, June 15, 2009

National Call-In Day on Afghanistan

From Pax Christi USA:
Even as momentum is building for an exit strategy for Afghanistan, we need to keep the pressure on. On Tuesday, June 16, a number of groups are participating in a national call-in day for an Afghanistan exit strategy, in support of Rep. McGovern's bill, HR 2404. Pax Christi USA has been a strong supporter of this legislation and we're being asked to help mobilize Catholic Members of Congress as co-sponsors. Click here to access three actions Pax Christi is asking us to take.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Women and girls bear most of the burden of lack of access to clean water and adequate sanitation. Women are more than twice as likely as men to be responsible for water collection, and on average, women in the developing world walk three and a half miles each day to collect water. Right now, there's a bill -- the Durbin-Corker Water Act of 2009 -- that will enable 100 million people to gain access to clean water and sanitation by 2015. The bill needs about 15 more cosponsors to move forward. To help make this happen, please ask your senators to cosponsor the Water for the World Act. Clicking this link will take you to the website, where you can sign a petition asking your senators to co-sponsor the bill. While you are visiting this site, be sure to view the charity: water video (only 1 minute in length), which brings the message home quite uniquely and creatively. I'll embed the video here, but e-mail subscribers may have to go to the site to view it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Congress 2009: Women Religious in Network Against Trafficking in Persons

The UISG and the International Organization for Migration are conducting Congress 2009: Women Religious in Network Against Trafficking in Persons from June 15-18, 2009 in Rome. This second Congress aims to reinforce the network of women religious in their commitment in the field of trafficking. Click here to read the brochure that contains the objectives of Congress 2009 and a list of speakers. Let's keep this important meeting in our prayers as we renew our commitment to combat trafficking. Additionally, click here to read the declaration of the women religious who participated in last year's inaugural conference.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stop Trafficking Newsletter

So many times, we ask what audiovisual resources or books are available to spread the anti-trafficking message. This month's Stop Trafficking newsletter highlights these resources and is well worth reading. Additionally, page 7 of the newsletter contains an article (written by Sister Clare Nolan) about the SCC Spring 2009 assembly, "Living with a Heart of Justice." Click here to access the newsletter.

Friday, June 5, 2009

June is Torture Awareness Month

During this month the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) provides a number of resources for parishes, congregations, etc. and a Religious Witness at the White House on June 11, at noon, calling for a Commission of Inquiry into U.S. practice of torture. Please visit<> . TASSC (Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International) also has a series of events in DC and resources on their web site: <> .

Thursday, June 4, 2009

EFJ Summer Reading List

Education for Justice (EFJ) has suggested several different books for your reading pleasure this summer. Each book deals with the theme of Global Solidarity in some way. This blog will be featuring these books throughout the summer months. First is the novel, Right of Thirst, by Frank Huyler. According to EFJ, this book presents the sub-themes of wealth and poverty, the ethics of intervention, and human bonds and responsibilities.

Book description: Shattered by his wife's death, and by his own role in it,
successful cardiologist Charles Anderson volunteers to assist with earthquake relief in an impoverished Islamic country in a constant state of conflict with its neighbor. But when the refugees he's come to help do not appear and artillery begins to fall in the distance along the border, the story takes an unexpected turn.
This haunting, resonant tour de force about one man's desire to live a moral life offers a moving exploration of the tensions between poverty and wealth, the ethics of intervention, the deep cultural differences that divide the world, and the essential human similarities that unite it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Be a Voice Against Child Sex Tourism

End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) ECPAT-USA now has a new project called The TassaTag Project, a high profile luggage tag project. This Project has three goals:
• To enhance a financial enterprise for high-risk women
in Thailand who make the luggage tags by hand.
• To raise awareness about how we can protect children from sexual exploitation;
• To raise funds to continue our fight against child prostitution and trafficking that feeds child sex tourism.

A TassaTag is a 4”x6”, bright hand-woven cotton luggage tag that helps you spot your luggage more easily while reclaiming children’s lives . It is practical, environmentally sensitive and fair trade.

With a TassaTag you, the traveler, will be part of the ECPAT-USA Project by increasing the recognition of the TassaTag logo as a symbol against the sexual slavery and trafficking of children, raising awareness of this major illegal trade around the world, and supporting the Tourism Industry’s efforts to protect children.

With a TassaTag you support The Regina Center in Nongkhai, Thailand, which provides education and income generating skills and opportunities for women. The project enables women to stay in their villages and keep their children in school, which are two major strategies in reducing sex trafficking. The Regina Center is one of the producing partners of Handcrafting Justice, a member of the Fair Trade Federation.

To purchase the color of your choice, go to:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Have You Taken The Pledge?

Go to to view the video, "Who's Under Your Carbon Footprint?" and to sign the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor (if you have not done so already). The site has changed since the last time it was referenced in these blog pages, so it is worth another look.

Additionally, click here to access the May 18 joint letter (USCCB/CRS) addressed to the House of Representatives urging that the “fundamental moral measure of climate change legislation is how it affects the poor in our own country and around the world” and saying, “we are deeply disappointed that the funding resources committed to international adaptation fall fundamentally short of what is needed and the increase in available resources is pushed too far off into the future.”

Thursday, May 28, 2009

R.I.P. Father Larry Rosebaugh

Click here to read the story of Father Larry Rosebaugh, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, who was killed last week in Guatemala.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pax Christi USA Announces 2009 Teacher of Peace

From the Pax Christi press release:

Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement, has recognized the life and witness of Bishop Leroy Matthiesen by naming him the 2009 recipient of the Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award. Pax Christi USA first gave the award to Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, in 1978 and has since recognized some of the most significant U.S. Catholic activists for peace and justice of the past 30 years, including actor Martin Sheen; poet and priest Daniel Berrigan, S.J.; and Dead Man Walking author Sr. Helen Prejean, C.S.J. Bishop Matthiesen's life has been defined by his long and consistent advocacy for peace and justice, from his activism as a young priest on issues of racism to his prophetic call for the abolition of nuclear weapons as a bishop with a nuclear weapons assembly facility in his diocese.

"We believe Bishop Matthiesen fulfills the criteria for the Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award and exemplifies the theme 'to reach peace, teach peace,'" reads his nomination, submitted under the names of 20 individuals, including seven former Teacher of Peace Award recipients. "It is now time-long overdue-to honor a courageous bishop, who suffered for his conscientious stands for justice and peace."

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

World Environment Day - June 5

June 5 is World Environment Day, a vehicle through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. Click here for a prayer (from the USG/UISG JPIC Commission in Rome) that can be adapted for your use to commemorate this day. Click here for the site of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Monday, May 25, 2009

This I Believe

Dr. Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners in Health, has recorded an "audio essay" for the National Public Radio "This I Believe" series. Click here to access the audio slide show (about 3 minutes long). The essay begins, "I believe health care is a human right," which summarizes the reason for the existence of Partners in Health.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Integrity of Creation

From the JPIC promoters in Rome:

At the recently held SEDOS/JPIC joint Seminar in Assisi for “Creation at the Heart of Mission” two draft letters were prepared for religious communities. One was a summary of the Seminar and an invitation to Religious Congregations to become more involved in Integrity of Creation issues. The second letter is to Religious Congregations as an invitation to lobby governments in their region on Climate Change. The first letter can be found in four languages on the wikispaces (click here for English). The second letter will be up on that website soon.

Additionally, you can find the presentations by the guest speakers as Adobe files and the news press releases.

Just a reminder that a prayer for World Environment Day (June 5) will be posted on this blog soon. Also, remember that you can access the booklet on creation entitled, "Earth Community, in Christ through the Integrity of Creation towards Justice and Peace for ALL" on the Social Justice page of the SCC Eastern Province website,

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Another Health Care Related Petition

The Coalition for Human Needs is circulating a sign-on letterthat responds to the Senate Finance Committee's recently released paper on health care coverage options. The letter advocates for options that best serve low-income and other vulnerable populations, options also advocated by CHA. Organizations can sign on by going to

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Health Care Bill

From the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC): A letter to Congress in support of the Community Choice Act (S.683/H.R.1670) as introduced by Senators Tom Harkin (IA) and ArlenSpecter (PA) and Representative Danny Davis (IL). This legislation promotes independence with dignity and allows individuals who receive long-term services through Medicaid to have a choice in where, how and from whom they receive personal assistance. Organizations can sign by sending an e-mail to Ginny Thornburgh, (American Association of Persons with Disabilities). The letter can be sent by individuals or communities.

A sample letter follows, so if you wish to cut and paste this into your e-mail, feel free.

Dear Member of Congress:
As members of eligious and religiously-affiliated organizations, we write in strong support of the Community Choice Act (S. 683/H.R. 1670), as introduced by Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Representative Danny Davis (D-IL). As efforts to reform health care move forward, we urge you to support this legislation which promotes independence with dignity and allows individuals who receive long-term services through Medicaid to have a choice in where, how and from whom they receive personal assistance.

The Community Choice Act would reform the Medicaid program to provide equal access to community-based attendant services, allowing individuals greater choice in the care they receive. Most people with disabilities prefer to live in their communities, with their families, in their homes, among their friends. However, because of Medicaid’s institutional bias, many individuals who need attendant services are often forced into nursing facilities in order to receive the supports they require. Institutionalization severs individuals from society, greatly limiting their ability to engage and contribute politically, socially, economically, and spiritually.

Bias toward institutional placements is in conflict with the shared values of our faiths. By allowing older adults and people with disabilities to receive care in their homes and communities, this legislation ensures that they can remain active participants in their families, neighborhoods, and congregations.

The Community Choice Act both respects the dignity of individuals and benefits our society as a whole. It is a crucial step in fulfilling the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act to “assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency” for people with disabilities. We applaud Senators Harkin and Specter and Representative Davis for their leadership on this crucial legislation and strongly encourage you to work toward its passage.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Petition to Secure Release of Aung San Suu Kyi

As reported in the news, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested and jailed by the Burmese military on May 14, charged in connection with a U.S. man who allegedly sneaked uninvited into the compound where she is being held under house arrest. This charge is seen by human rights groups around the world as a pretext to keep her detained until after elections set for 2010. Over 160 Burma exile and solidarity groups in 24 countries are calling on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to demand therelease of Suu Kyi and all political prisoners. A global petition will be presented to the media on May 26. To sign the petition, go to

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Craigslist and Human Trafficking

As you may have heard, Craigslist has decided to drop its "erotic services" section and replace it with an "adult services" section. Polaris Project has directly witnessed a dehumanizing misuse of the "Erotic Services" section by sex traffickers, and has engaged with Jim Buckmaster, the CEO of Craigslist, to assist in taking much needed steps to stop sex trafficking pimps from using Craigslist to fuel commercial sexual exploitation. Click here to read an Associated Press article about this issue and here to read a letter z(dated April 6, 2009) to Mr. Buckmaster from Ambassador Mark Lagon, Executive Director of Polaris Project.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

One Year Later: Remembering Postville

From the LCWR:

A year ago, on May 12th, 2008, over 389 undocumented workers were arrested in the raid of the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa. The events that occurred before, during and after the raid all indicate how broken our immigration system is. Despite the raid calling national attention to this broken system, comprehensive immigration reform has not been introduced or even drafted. Now, Postville and communities around the nation commemorate the raid’s anniversary through prayer vigils, sounds of justice, and the wearing of red ribbons.

It is crucial that action on comprehensive immigration reform does not wait. Just as workers in Postville suffered abuses due to lack of protection and detainees were herded through unjust judicial processes, many immigrants and American communities suffer today. Let's stand in solidarity with the Postville community in calling for the beginning of a comprehensive immigration reform movement.

We are asked to write to our Representatives in Washington, asking them to fix the immigration system so that the pain of Postville is not felt again. This would involve a comprehensive immigration package that:
  • Upholds family unity as a priority of all immigration policies
  • Creates a process for undocumented immigrants to earn their legal status and eventual citizenship.
  • Protects workers and provides efficient channels of entry for new migrant workers
  • Facilitates immigrant integration
  • Restores due process protections and reforms detention policies
  • Aligns the enforcement of immigration laws with humanitarian values.