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.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Senate Holds Hearing on Immigration Reform

From Catholic Charities USA:

On April 30, the senate held the first in a series of hearings on immigration reform. During the hearing, lawmakers discussed several issues of contention for immigration overhaul, including legalization of undocumented immigrants already present in the U.S., border security, an employer verification system, and terms of a guest worker program.

Catholic Charities USA continues to work with the USCCB and other Catholic advocates for comprehensive immigration reform. The USCCB submitted a statement to the hearing commending the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Subcommittee Chairman on Immigration, Refugees, and the Border, for convening the hearing on immigration.

Click here to read the statement.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pope's Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Keep track of the Pope's pilgrimage (May 8-15) on the Vatican web site. You can also check out this article from Reuters for more information on the sites to be visited. As always, read Rocco Palmo's blog, Whispers in the Loggia, for up-to-date information not only on the Pope's "comings and goings," but also on just about everything going on (mainly -- but not exclusively -- in the stateside Church). "Whispers" is a blog not to be missed!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bead for Life

Recently, the Today Show aired a segment on "Bead for Life," an organization (and member of the Fair Trade Federation) that seeks to eradicate extreme poverty by creating bridges of understanding between impoverished Africans and concerned world citizens. Ugandan women turn colorful recycled paper into beautiful bead jewelry. By selling the jewelry, the women provide income, food, medicine, school fees, and hope. Click here for the Today Show video and here for the Bead for Life website. Thanks to Sister Allan for pointing this out to us.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Message from the Partnership for Global Justice

This month we have an opportunity to act on the national level to promote economic justice for all. From June 1-3, 2009, the United Nations will be holding a High Level Conference on the Global Financial and Economic Crisis. In order for this conference to be effective in making our economic and financial systems more equitable, heads of state must be present. By choosing to attend this conference they can demonstrate their appreciation of the gravity of this economic crisis and their willingness to seek a just global solution – one that serves the needs of all of the world, not just those of the powerful economic interests who will be lobbying for a return to business as usual.
Please email or fax your head of state NOW (United States:President Barack Obama (Email: or fax: 202-456-2461) to urge his/her attendance at this important meeting.

Sample text:
Dear _______________________________,
I urge you to attend the UN High Level Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis that will take place in New York from June1 to 3. Your presence there would signal a real commitment to changing our global economic system from the current model that has proven to be unsustainable to one that values people over profit and protects our planet. We need to focus on the common good rather than excessive profits for a very few. Our country should take a leadership role in restructuring our global financial and economic system for the benefit of all.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

President Obama Signs Community Service Bill

On April 21, President Obama signed into law (P.L. 111-13) the "Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act," legislation that reauthorizes and expands national volunteer service programs.

The "Serve America Act" will:
Grow the number of AmeriCorps volunteers from 75,000 to 250,000
Increase education rewards to $5350
Provide incentives for middle and high school students to engage in service
Recognize and support universities engaged in service
Create green and other new service corps to meet key needs in low-income communities
Expand service opportunities for older Americans and public-private partnerships
Build a nationwide service infrastructure through community-building investments and social entrepreneurship
The final version of the bill contains restrictions on the types of activities for which national service funded positions can be used; however, nonprofit organizations will be able to use their own funds to advocate for causes in which they believe.

The bill also includes an amendment for nonprofit capacity building. It sets up a grant program in the Corporation for National and Community Service to expand organizational development assistance to small and midsize nonprofit organizations.

To read more, go here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Marketing Arm of Human Trafficking

Check out the Polaris Project website for a human trafficking blog. The April 28 entry is about the marketing arm of human trafficking, but there are other important issues covered, as well.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Four Lessons for Teaching Justice

Don't miss the May 11 issue of America, focusing on education and social justice. Click here to read one of the articles, "Four Lessons for Teaching Justice," by Drew Christiansen, SJ.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Global Health Crisis: From Pax Christi USA

May 1, 2009
With Crisis Comes Opportunity: A Statement on the Global Health Crisis
Pax Christi USA, a national Catholic peace movement, offers our deepest condolences to the families of all those who have died from the recent outbreak of swine flu in Mexico, the United States and around the world. We also hold in prayer all those who are suffering from this virus and those who may be vulnerable to infection. This outbreak reminds us that we are all connected to each other on this planet, that no person or nation is an island unto themselves and that the fate of each person touches every other person. We can no longer think of ourselves as only citizens of the United States. We are members of one human family, made in the image of God. Unfortunately this global health crisis is also being used by those who reject this vision of the unity of the human family. Right-wing demagogues and opportunistic politicians are using the concerns over the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico as an excuse to continue spreading the racist fear and hatred of immigrants (particularly undocumented immigrants) that was engaged during national debates about immigration reform.To read the rest of this statement, click here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

May 19 - Global Day of Action for Troy Davis

We haven't had a Troy Davis update in a while. Unfortunately, it doesn't look good for him. His stay of execution is set to expire on May 15, which could lead to a late May execution date. Amnesty International is calling for a Global Day of Action for Troy Davis on May 19. Click here for more information.