Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Vatican Offers Moral Perspective on Global Financial Crisis

Please click here for the full text (unofficial translation) of the recently-released Note on Financial Reform from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

School Choice in PA

Hello, Pennsylvanians! We are being asked to contact our legislators to encourage them to pass school choice in PA. Click here to go to the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference website. Follow the directions to contact your legislator. Don't live in PA? Send this to someone who does! (Note: This is time sensitive, as a vote is expected this week.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hershey: Raise the Bar!

From the site:

It has been ten years since major chocolate companies, including Hershey, committed to ending child labor, forced labor and trafficking in their cocoa supply chains, these egregious labor rights abuses continue. A decade later, hundreds of thousands of children continue to labor in hazardous conditions in West Africa, particularly in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, and the US Department of Labor has noted five West African nations whose cocoa may be tainted by forced and/or child labor.

While many chocolate companies have taken steps to trace their cocoa supply chains and implement labor rights standards among their suppliers, Hershey lags behind its competitors in responsibly sourcing its cocoa. Unlike other companies, Hershey has not committed to sourcing cocoa for its main product lines that has been independently certified to comply with international labor rights standards. Tell Hershey to raise the bar and be a leader in sustainable chocolate and shift toward Fairtrade Certified cocoa!

For more information and action ideas, please visit the Raise the Bar Hershey campaign.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Global Partnership for Education

From LCWR:

In just three weeks, the United States and the world will have a major opportunity to invest in the future of millions of children. On November 7-8, world leaders will meet to pledge new funds to education and to the Global Partnership for Education. In advance of this important education summit, join us in calling on President Obama to support this bold education initiative.

Please consider sending President Obama a message urging him to support the Global Partnership for Education. We know that education has the potential to end poverty, ensure human rights and promote sustainable development.

Sign the petition by clicking here. Then ask your friends and family to sign it, too.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Take the Food Stamp Challenge!

A message from Fighting Poverty with Faith:
Join us for the 4th annual Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization, "Working Together to End Hunger" from Thursday, October 27 to Sunday November 6, 2011. Click here for more information and to find out how you can take the Food Stamp Challenge, contact members of congress, and much more! What's the Food Stamp Challenge? It is an attempt to live for one week on the average food stamp allotment of $31.50 (approximately $1.50 per meal).

Monday, October 10, 2011

SCC in the Philippines

Here's an excerpt from a message from Sister Maria Dolores in the Philippines:
"As of today, all our 16 blind girls are doing well. They are busy with their classes at the Mother Pauline Learning Center for the Blind, at Batino Sped Elementary School, at Quirino High School and at Isabela State University. In the afternoon, our special blind girls - and the other blind residents after they come home from school - are busy doing the Christmas cards at the Helping and Healing Hands Workshop for the Blind. We are going to sell them in a school in Marikina. This school is very much supporting us."

Click here to learn more about our mission in the Philippines.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Jubilee Sunday: October 16

October 16 is Jubilee Sunday -- a day of prayer and action for the poor, oppressed, hungry and vulnerable. Join Jubilee Congregations around the United States in dedicating part or all of your time together to pray for global economic justice, deepen communities' understanding of the debt issue and take concrete action for debt cancellation for all impoverished countries. Click here for more information.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Global Debt Justice

Jubilee groups from all around the world are coming together for a week (October 8-16) of action against illegitimate debt and reforming international financial institutions. They are demanding global debt justice by breaking the chains of debt slavery. Click here for more information from Jubilee USA Network.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship

Excerpts from a USCCB Press Release:

In advance of the 2012 elections, the U.S. bishops reaffirmed their 2007 document, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," in this coming election cycle and beyond, as the “continuing teaching of our Bishops’ Conference and our guidance for Catholics in the exercise of their rights and duties as participants in our democracy.”

The bishops have added an Introductory Note to the document, which "does not modify or interpret the document itself and emphasizes the importance of religious freedom. It raises six 'current and fundamental problems, some involving opposition to intrinsic evils and others raising serious moral questions.' These are: abortion and threats to the lives and dignity of the vulnerable, sick or unwanted; threats to Catholic ministries, including health care, education and social services, to violate their consciences or stop serving those in need; intensifying efforts to redefine marriage; unemployment, poverty and debt; immigration; and wars, terror and violence, particularly in the Middle East."

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Women, War and Peace" on PBS Starting October 11

"Women, War & Peace" is a new five-part PBS Television Series starting Oct. 11, that challenges the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men's domain. Featuring narrators Matt Damon, Tilda Swinton, Geena Davis and Alfre Woodard, "Women, War & Peace" is the most comprehensive global media initiative ever mounted on the roles of women in war and peace. With depth and complexity, the series spotlights the stories of women in conflict zones from Bosnia to Afghanistan and Colombia to Liberia, placing women at the center of an urgent dialogue about conflict and security, and reframing our understanding of modern warfare. Click here for more information.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Kristof on Poverty in Kenya

Clich here to read Nicholas Kristof's, "Sewing Her Way out of Poverty" about poverty, microcredit, and hope in Kenya. Here's the last paragraph of the editorial: "There’s a tendency these days to give up on poverty, to dismiss it as a sad but inevitable feature of humanity, particularly at a time when we have deep economic problems of our own. But if a former prostitute in a Nairobi slum can build a dressmaking business, buy a home in the suburbs and produce over-achievers like Caroline, Anthony and Cynthia, then it’s worth remembering that sheer grit, and a helping hand, can sometimes blaze trails where none seem possible."

Information about donating used bridesmaids' dresses to assist Cynthia in Kenya is available on Kristof's blog here.

"The Spirit of Assisi" -- 25 Years Later

(Note: This explanatory post is rather long. Should you like to "cut to the chase," visit the "Spirit of Assisi" website to explore the materials available there.)

On October 27, 1986, John Paul II realized a great dream: he invited representatives of world religions to Assisi so that a single song of peace might be sent to the one God from many hearts and in many languages. This invitation was accepted by 70 representatives of major religions. They offered hope for a different world: renewed, profoundly fraternal and truly human. The event itself carried an important message: that the desire for peace is shared by all people of good will; but taking into account the situation of the world and the relationship between peoples, real peace can only be achieved through an intervention by God.

The meeting was one of prayer. The prayer arose in the spiritual context of each of the religions that was present. It invited the participants to touch their own interiority in freedom, carrying the prayer of all humanity and raising it up to God. They recognized that human beings on their own are not able to achieve the peace that they are seeking.

It seems that the climate of universal fraternity found in the city of St. Francis filled people from the most diverse of origins. This experience came to be called the Spirit of Assisi, and in the 1987 message for the World Day of Peace it was also called the "Logic of Assisi". During the first meeting, in front of the chapel of the Portiuncula, John Paul II said that he chose the "city of Assisi as location for this day of prayer due to the special significance of the saint venerated here, St. Francis, who is known by many all over the planet to be a symbol of peace, reconciliation and brotherhood." So the Pope decided to promote this initiative in the name of St. Francis, the man who breaks down barriers, who knows how to open doors and who is brother to all.

The community of SantʼEgidio, involved in the initiative from its beginning, has organized similar meetings every year since in European and Mediterranean cities. In January 1993 the event came back to Assisi during the time of the Balkan war. John Paul II, facing extreme violence and the incapacity of the countries of ex-Yugoslavia to make peace, affirmed that "only in mutual acceptance of the other and in the consequent mutual respect, deepened by love, lies the secret to a finally reconciled humanity."

As plans for the celebration of 2002 got underway, the Pope once again invited religious leaders to come to Assisi. The invitations went out as the twin towers were still burning and bombs were going off in Kabul. The situation highlighted for the world the destructive forces of hate and terrorism which can explode in any corner of the world. The Pope asked world religions to turn themselves into instruments of peace because hate and violence generate nothing except more hate and violence.

On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Spirit of Assisi in 2006, Benedict XVI underlined the timeliness of the initiative saying that though the world has changed there is still a great need to search for ways to build peace, noting that “...the third millennium opened with scenes of terrorism and violence that show no sign of abating.” Though it sometimes seems that religions fuel conflicts rather than work to resolve them, the Pope affirms: "When the religious sense reaches maturity it gives rise to a perception in the believer that faith in God, Creator of the universe and Father of all, must encourage relations of universal brotherhood among human beings. In fact, attestations of the close bond that exists between the relationship with God and the ethics of love are recorded in all great religious traditions."

In 2011 we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first gathering of the Spirit of Assisi. It will be held at the original sites in the city of Assisi. A message of peace is needed as much today as it was 25 years ago, along with a concrete commitment to build peace in our world. As Benedict XVI stated five years ago, the world has changed since the first celebration. Religions are not only asked to dialogue among themselves, but to reach out to all people whether they are believers or not. Even more, they are now being challenged to reach out beyond humanity, because violence is being visited on Godʼs creation as well. There is an ever-growing consciousness in all religious traditions that respect and peaceful relations must be fostered between people and between people and all creatures as well.

It was only because of his strong relationship with the Father that St. Francis was able to see all people and creatures as his sisters and brothers. The very spirit of the expression Spirit of Assisi will help us to become actively involved in promoting peace among human beings and beyond.

If we come together in the Spirit of Assisi and pray as believers in the way our respective religious traditions have taught us, we will be strengthened to commit ourselves to concrete actions that will allow us to work together to confront the threats to peace and to the environment that we face in our world today.