Thursday, December 13, 2012

How to "Fair Trade" your Holidays

Go to the Global Exchange Fair Trade blog to learn how to "Fair Trade your holiday season."  Two  suggestions are buy less "stuff" and buy fair trade.  What are the others?  Click on the link above and see!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Following" the Pope

Did you know you can now follow Pope Benedict XVI on Twitter?  The Holy Father is @Pontifex to answer questions about faith.  Click here to read an article in USA Today, "Twitter faithful await Pope Benedict's words."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

R. I. P. Bishop Walter Sullivan

Bishop Walter Sullivan, who served as bishop-president of Pax Christi USA from 1992 to 2002 has died.  He was 84 years old.  Click here to read the obituary on the Pax Christi website.

Reminder: International Migrants Day Next Week

On December 18, 1990, the UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Ten years later the assembly declared that December 18 be set aside for member states and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to observe International Migrants Day through the dissemination of information on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, through the sharing of the experiences of migrants, and through the design of actions to ensure the protection of people on 
the move. 

The Commission for Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation of the USG/UISG has prepared a prayer to be used on International Migrants Day.  Click here to access the prayer.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Are you familiar with Homeboy Industries?

Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles provides training and support to formerly gang-involved and recently incarcerated men and women, allowing them to re-direct their lives and become contributing members of the community.  Click here to read a recent article from The Atlantic on Homeboy Industries and here to visit the Homeboy Industries website.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Are you prepared for National Migration Week 2013?

From the USCCB website:  National Migration Week 2013 will be held from January 6 -12 with a primary theme of "We are Strangers No Longer:  Our Journey of Hope Continues."  This year's National Migration Week observance and theme commemorate the 10th anniversary of the historic joint pastoral letter of the United States and Mexico bishops conferences, "Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope."  This theme reminds us of our responsibility as Catholics to help newcomers integrate in ways that are respectful, culturally sensitive and responsive to social needs, and of the ongoing need for comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform.  

Visit the Justice for Immigrants website, where you can find a wide range of educational resources on immigration and Catholic Social Teaching.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Reflection for Immaculate Conception

Happy Feast Day.  Click here to read a brief Pax Christi USA reflection on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Are you familiar with the Bakhita Initiative?

The Bakhita Initiative: U.S. Catholic Sisters United Against Human Trafficking is a project that provides women religious with resources, ministry opportunities and ideas for strengthening anti-trafficking efforts.  Visit the website here.  It is a work in progress, so be sure to check back frequently.

(The site is named for St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave turned nun who was kidnapped and sold into slavery at age 7.  Click here to read more about her and why the Bakhita Initiative is named for her.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Archbishop Gomez on Immigration Reform

From the USCCB:  Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of USCCB's Committee on Migration, urged President Barack Obama and the newly elected Congress to work together to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Archbishop Gomez issued the statement during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Fall General Assembly, November 13 in Baltimore.  Click here to read the statement.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What do you know about Medicaid Expansion?

Although the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, it also upheld that expanding Medicaid is not mandatory.  So, states can choose to opt into or out of the expansion of Medicaid.  What do you know about the expansion of Medicaid in your state?  Network has prepared a state-level advocacy toolkit about Medicaid expansion.  Whether or not you plan to advocate, the toolkit -- available here -- provides valuable educational materials.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Forty-five women religious are in El Salvador as part a delegation sponsored by the SHARE
Foundation and LCWR. They are participating in events to mark the 32nd anniversary of the martyrdom of four US missionaries who were assassinated by the Salvadoran military for their advocacy on behalf of refugees and the poor (mentioned in yesterday's blog post).

Ceremonies include a service to honor LCWR for its dedication to advocacy for justice in El Salvador. Pat Farrell, OSF is receiving the award on behalf of all women religious.

The SHARE Foundation will also launch a scholarship program for girls and young women named for the four missionaries. The delegation will be in El Salvador until December 5 and will visit the site of the assassination of the four missionaries to remember them and celebrate their lives. They will also petition Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes and the Salvadoran government to declare the site a national monument.

For more information, go to the SHARE El Salvador website or click here to access the LCWR newsletter article explaining the trip.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December 2: We Remember

Today, we remember the lives of Jean Donovan and Sisters Maura Clarke, Ita Ford and Dorothy Kazel who were tortured, raped and murdered in El Salvador on December 2, 1980.  Let's continue to remember them (see the video above) and to pray for all those in the world who suffer persecution at the hands of their governments.

(E-mail subscribers: Click here if you would like to see the video and do not see it embedded in your e-mail.)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Getting to Zero: World AIDS Day

Today, let's remember to pray for those whose lives are touched by HIV/AIDS, especially those in developing nations where treatment is difficult to obtain and sustain.
From the World Health Organization website:  World AIDS Day on 1 December brings together people from around the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic. The day is an opportunity for public and private partners to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in high prevalence countries and around the world.
Between 2011-2015, World AIDS Days will have the theme of "Getting to zero: zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths". The World AIDS Campaign focus on "Zero AIDS related deaths" signifies a push towards greater access to treatment for all; a call for governments to act now. It is a call to honor promises like the Abuja declaration and for African governments to at least hit targets for domestic spending on health and HIV.
Click here for more information.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Prayers To Fort Benning this Weekend

From November 16-18, 2012, thousands of human rights activists, torture survivors, anti-war veterans, students, families, union workers, nuns, artists, and others are converging at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, to call on the Obama administration to end the U.S. militarization of the Americas, and to close the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC)!  Why do folks continue to mobilize year after year?  Click here to read some of their stories on the SOA Watch site.  Then, continue to pray for their safety this weekend and for an end to the training of soldiers who will oppress, torture and assassinate their own citizens. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

On November 16, We Remember!

On November 16, 1989, six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter were murdered.  Today, on November 16, 2012, we remember Ignacio Ellacuria, SJ; Ignacio Martin-Baro, SJ; Segundo Montes, SJ; Amando Lopez, SJ; Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, SJ; Juan Ramon Moreno, SJ; Julia Elba Ramos; and Cecilia Ramos. Creighton University has a page on its site with a wealth of information not only from 1989, but also from the years since then.  Click here to access the material and pray for an end to the government-sponsored violence and oppression that continue in many countries around the world.

We pray, also, for those converging on Fort Benning, Georgia this weekend.  Check tomorrow's blog post for more information.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Honoring Our Veterans

In case you missed it, you should know the information given in yesterday's Parade about four ways to say "thank you" to veterans on this observance of Veterans' Day.  Click here for the link to the story.  The action items are fairly simple to do and can go a long way for a man or woman serving our country and for their families.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

More Information About Hurricane Relief

The Diocese of Paterson, NJ is offering several ways to donate to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts:
  • You can go to the Paterson Diocese Catholic Charities website and click the DONATE button. All donations received in this manner in the next two weeks will be set aside for hurricane relief.
  • You can send donations directly to Catholic Charities at 777 Valley Road, Clifton, NJ 07013 – marked “hurricane.”
  • All parishes in the Diocese of Paterson will be taking a collection on the weekend of November 10-11. You can make a contribution there.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What Can We Do To Help?

So much devastation, so many tragedies . . . what can we do?
  • Donate money and/or blood:  Go to
  • Donate to Catholic Charities or to your diocese's Catholic Charities
  • Let's remember that there were folks affected in Cuba, Jamaica and Haiti.  Catholic Relief Services is on site there.
  • Most of all, let's continue to pray, pray, pray . . .
Any other ideas?  Let me know by clicking on the "Comments."  (E-mail subscribers, go to the blog first, then click on "Comments" under this post.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Blessed John Paul II

The dioceses of Poland and the diocese of Rome celebrate the feast day of Blessed John Paul II today. This is a good day to remember what he -- who had experienced war first hand -- said about war: "War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity...War is never just another means that one can choose to employ for settling differences between nations" (2003).

Sunday, October 14, 2012


We continue our fall film suggestions with I AM,  a truly remarkable film from Tom Shadyac, the director of Bruce Almighty, The Nutty Professor, and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.  Caution:  Do not judge this film by your like or dislike of those comedies.  I AM is quite different from anything Mr. Shadyac has done before.   The following is a lengthy discussion of why you should see the film.  Since the film is only 78 minutes long, perhaps you would like to just view it and forget the lengthy discussion!

From the film's website:  I AM is an utterly engaging and entertaining non-fiction film that poses two practical and provocative questions: what’s wrong with our world, and what can we do to make it better? The filmmaker behind the inquiry is Tom Shadyac, one of Hollywood’s leading comedy practitioners and the creative force behind such blockbusters as “Ace Ventura,” “Liar Liar,” “The Nutty Professor,” and “Bruce Almighty.” However, in I AM, Shadyac steps in front of the camera to recount what happened to him after a cycling accident left him incapacitated, possibly for good. Though he ultimately recovered, he emerged with a new sense of purpose, determined to share his own awakening to his prior life of excess and greed, and to investigate how he as an individual, and we as a race, could improve the way we live and walk in the world.

Armed with nothing but his innate curiosity and a small crew to film his adventures, Shadyac set out on a twenty-first century quest for enlightenment. Meeting with a variety of thinkers and doers–remarkable men and women from the worlds of science, philosophy, academia, and faith–including such luminaries as David Suzuki, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Lynne McTaggart, Ray Anderson, John Francis, Coleman Barks, and Marc Ian Barasch – Shadyac appears on-screen as character, commentator, guide, and even, at times, guinea pig. An irrepressible “Everyman” who asks tough questions, but offers no easy answers, he takes the audience to places it has never been before, and presents even familiar phenomena in completely new and different ways. The result is a fresh, energetic, and life-affirming film that challenges our preconceptions about human behavior while simultaneously celebrating the indomitable human spirit.

The pursuit of truth has been a lifelong passion for Shadyac. “As early as I can remember I simply wanted to know what was true,” he recalls, “and somehow I perceived at a very early age that what I was being taught was not the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” He humorously describes himself as “questioning and searching and stumbling and fumbling toward the light.” The “truth” may have been elusive, but success wasn’t. Shadyac’s films grossed nearly two billion dollars and afforded him the glamorous and extravagent A-List lifestyle of the Hollywood blockbuster filmmaker. Yet Shadyac found that more – in his case, a 17,000-square foot art-filled mansion, exotic antiques, and private jets — was definitely less. “What I discovered, when I began to look deeply, was that the world I was living in was a lie,” he explains. “Much to my surprise, the accumulation of material wealth was a neutral phenomenon, neither good or bad, and certainly did not buy happiness.” Gradually, with much consideration and contemplation, he changed his lifestyle. He sold his house, moved to a mobile home community, and started life—a simpler and more responsible life – anew.

But, at this critical juncture, Shadyac suffered an injury that changed everything. “In 2007, I got into a bike accident which left me with Post Concussion Syndrome, a condition where the symptoms of the original concussion don’t go away.” These symptoms include intense and painful reactions to light and sound, severe mood swings, and a constant ringing sound in the head. Shadyac tried every manner of treatment, traditional and alternative, but nothing worked. He suffered months of isolation and pain, and finally reached a point where he welcomed death as a release. “I simply didn’t think I was going to make it,” he admits.

But, as Shadyac wisely points out, “Death can be a very powerful motivator.” Confronting his own mortality, he asked himself, “If this is it for me – if I really am going to die – what do I want to say before I go? What will be my last testament?” It was Shadyac’s modern day dark night of soul and out of it, I AM was born. Thankfully, almost miraculously, his PCS symptoms began to recede, allowing him to travel and use his movie-making skills to explore the philosophical questions that inhabited him, and to communicate his findings in a lively, humorous, intellectually-challenging, and emotionally-charged film.

But this would not be a high-octane Hollywood production. The director whose last film had a crew of 400, assembled a streamlined crew of four, and set out to find, and film, the thinkers who had helped to change his life, and to seek a better understanding of the world, its inhabitants, their past, and their future. Thus, Shadyac interviews scientists, psychologists, artists, environmentalists, authors, activists, philosophers, entrepreneurs, and others in his quest for truth. Bishop Desmond Tutu, Dr. Noam Chomsky, historian Dr. Howard Zinn, physicist Lynne McTaggart, and poet Coleman Banks are some of the subjects who engage in fascinating dialogue with Shadyac.

Shadyac was very specific about what he was after, wanting I AM to identify the underlying cause of the world’s ills – “I didn’t want to hear the usual answers, like war, hunger, poverty, the environmental crisis, or even greed,” he explains. “These are not the problems, they are the symptoms of a larger endemic problem. In I AM, I wanted to talk about the root cause of the ills of the world, because if there is a common cause, and we can talk about it, air it out in a public forum, then we have a chance to solve it.”

Ironically, in the process of trying to figure out what’s wrong with the world, Shadyac discovered there’s more right than he ever imagined. He learned that the heart, not the brain, may be man’s primary organ of intelligence, and that human consciousness and emotions can actually affect the physical world, a point Shadyac makes with great humor by demonstrating the impact of his feelings on a bowl of yogurt. And, as Shadyac’s own story illustrates, money is not a pathway to happiness. In fact, he even learns that in some native cultures, gross materialism is equated with insanity.

Shadyac also discovers that, contrary to conventional thinking, cooperation and not competition, may be nature’s most fundamental operating principle. Thus, I AM shows consensus decision-making is the norm amongst many species, from insects and birds to deer and primates. The film further discovers that humans actually function better and remain healthier when expressing positive emotions, such as love, care, compassion, and gratitude, versus their negative counterparts, anxiety, frustration, anger and fear. Charles Darwin may be best known for popularizing the notion that nature is red in tooth and claw, but, as Shadyac points out, he used the word love 95 times in The Descent of Man, while his most famous phrase,survival of the fittest, appears only twice.

“It was a revelation to me that for tens of thousands of years, indigenous cultures taught a very different story about our inherent goodness,” Shadyac marvels. “Now, following this ancient wisdom, science is discovering a plethora of evidence about our hardwiring for connection and compassion, from the Vagus Nerve which releases oxytocin at simply witnessing a compassionate act, to the Mirror Neuron which causes us to literally feel another person’s pain. Darwin himself, who was misunderstood to believe exclusively in our competitiveness, actually noted that humankind’s real power comes in their ability to perform complex tasks together, to sympathize and cooperate.”

Shadyac’s enthusiastic depiction of the brighter side of human nature and reality, itself, is what distinguishes I AM from so many well-intentioned, yet ultimately pessimistic, non-fiction films. And while he does explore what’s wrong with the world, the film’s overwhelming emphasis is focused on what we can do to make it better. Watching I AM is ultimately, for many, a transformative experience, yet Shadyac is reluctant to give specific steps for viewers who have been energized by the film. “What can I do?” “I get asked that a lot,” he says. “But the solution begins with a deeper transformation that must occur in each of us. I AM isn’t as much about what you can do, as who you can be. And from that transformation of being, action will naturally follow.”

Shadyac’s transformation remains in process. He still lives simply, is back on his bicycle, riding to work, and teaching at a local college, another venue for sharing his life-affirming discoveries. Reflecting Shadyac’s philosophy is the economic structure of the film’s release; all proceeds from I AM will go to The Foundation for I AM, a non-profit established by Shadyac to fund various worthy causes and to educate the next generation about the issues and challenges explored in the film. When he directs another Hollywood movie, the bulk of his usual eight-figure fee will be deposited into a charitable account, as well. “St. Augustine said, ‘Determine what God has given you, and take from it what you need; the remainder is needed by others.’ That’s my philosophy in a nutshell,” Shadyac says, “Or as Gandhi put it, ‘Live simply, so others may simply live.’”
Shadyac’s enthusiasm and optimism are contagious. Whether conducting an interview with an intellectual giant, or offering himself as a flawed character in the narrative of the film, Shadyac is an engaging and persuasive guide as we experience the remarkable journey that is I AM. With great wit, warmth, curiosity, and masterful storytelling skills, he reveals what science now tells us is one of the principal truths of the universe, a message that is as simple as it is significant: We are all connected – connected to each other and to everything around us. “My hope is that I AM is a window into Truth, a glimpse into the miracle, the mystery and magic of who we really are, and of the basic nature of the connection and unity of all things. In a way,” says Shadyac, a seasoned Hollywood professional who has retained his unerring eye for a great story, “I think of I AM as the ultimate reality show.”

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A "Chocolate-Coated" Celebration!

Almost a year ago, we signed petitions asking Hershey to "raise the bar."  This week, we celebrate the Hershey company's commitment to sourcing certified cocoa for 100% of its chocolate bars by 2020!  Please find the time to thank the Hershey company for this commitment.  While we celebrate this commitment, we notice that Hershey has not yet agreed to the most rigorous certification standards issued by Fair Trade.  So, we celebrate with the knowledge that our work is not yet done.  Thank you for all you have done to move forward with this important initiative.  By the way, when you shop for chocolate for Halloween (or other occasions) you may wish to take this scorecard with you to make your purchase matter to the children -- especially those in West Africa --  who labor for the key ingredient in your chocolate bar.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cardinal Dolan's Statement on the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul

In case you haven't read it yet, click here to read Cardinal Timothy Dolan's statement (issued jointly with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio) on the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, reminding us of the devastating effect of poverty on families throughout the country. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Sabbath Prayer

We cannot merely pray to you, O God,
to end war;
For we know that You have made the world
in a way
That man must find his own path to peace.
Within himself and with his neighbor.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God,
to end starvation;
For You have already given us the
With which to feed the entire world,
If we would only use them wisely.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God,
to root out prejudice;
For You have already given us eyes
With which to see the good in all men,
If we would only use them rightly.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God,
to end despair,
For You have already given us the power
To clear away slums and to give hope,
If we would only use our power justly.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God,
to end disease;
For You have already given us great minds
With which to search out cures and healing,
If we would only use them constructively.

Therefore we pray to You instead, O God,
For strength, determination and will power,
To do instead of just pray,
To become instead of merely to wish.

- Jack Riemer, Likrat Shabbat

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

President Obama Announces Efforts to Fight Human Trafficking

At the Clinton Global Initiative summit in New York on Tuesday, President Obama committed to increasing the commitment of the U.S. to fight human trafficking.  Click here to read the White House Fact Sheet regarding this commitment and here to read the Polaris Project's press release about it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The First Grader

The summer had book recommendations, so perhaps the autumn will have film recommendations.  Film #1:  The First Grader.  Recommendation:  Watch this film and you will never look at education in quite the same way again!  Based on the true story of Kimani Maruge, who holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest person (at age 84) to start primary school, the film will make you laugh and cry.  (There is a bit of violence, which is responsible for the PG-13 rating.) 

Here's a synopsis of The First Grader, from the movie's website:  In a small, remote mountain top primary school in the Kenyan bush, hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education newly promised by the Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school. He is Maruge (Oliver Litondo), an old Mau Mau veteran in his eighties, who is desperate to learn to read at this late stage of his life. He fought for the liberation of his country and now feels he must have the chance of an education so long denied - even if it means sitting in a classroom alongside six-year-olds.

Moved by his passionate plea, head teacher Jane Obinchu (Naomie Harris), supports his struggle to gain admission and together they face fierce opposition from parents and officials who don’t want to waste a precious school place on such an old man.

Full of vitality and humour, the film explores the remarkable relationships Maruge builds with his classmates some eighty years his junior. Through Maruge’s journey, we are taken back to the shocking untold story of British colonial rule 50 years earlier where Maruge fought for the freedom of his country, eventually ending up in the extreme and harsh conditions of the British detention camps.

Directed by Justin Chadwick (THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL/BLEAK HOUSE) from a script by Emmy-winner Ann Peacock (THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, NIGHTS IN RODANTHE, KIT KITTRIDGE), THE FIRST GRADER is a heart warming and inspiring true story of one man’s fight for what he believes is his right in order to overcome the burdens of his past. It is a triumphant testimony to the transforming force of education.

The filming process itself was quite extraordinary, as the children in the film – who are in many ways the stars – had never even seen a film or television set before let alone been involved in the filming process. Their involvement in the shoot was a totally novel experience for them and their enthusiasm and energy is captured beautifully on screen.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


According to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, between January and June 2012 only 0.2% of Presidential campaign stories substantively addressed poverty.  Yet, in the United States, more than 1 in 5 children live in poverty and more than 1 in 5 households with children struggle with hunger. Network Lobby invites us to change the debate and put poverty back on the agenda.  How?  Begin by watching the video below (e-mail subscribers click here if you do not see a video).  Then visit to see what you can do.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Let There Be Peace On Earth

. . . And let it begin with me!  (E-mail subscribers, click here if you do not see a video below.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What are you doing for the International Day of Peace?

The International Day of Peace is commemorated on Friday, September 21.  What will you do to observe this day?

  • Be inspired!  Watch this video from the International Day of Peace website. 
  • Join in the Global Minute of Silence for Peace at noon.  If you need help with this, watch this video on YouTube.  It is a video that is silent as the second hand of a clock counts one minute.  Really -- it's a one-minute, silent video!
  • Pray the Vespers sent to you via email or the prayer available at
  • Join in a Peace Day celebration, such as this one at Assumption College for Sisters in Mendham, NJ.
  • Read a book about inner peace.  (Suggestion: Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute)
  • Go to for great ideas, including peace events and peace-building tools.
Feel free to add your suggestions by adding your comments to this message!  (E-mail subscribers, click here to go to the blog to comment.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Terry Williams Loses Bid for Clemency

Click here to read the story from regarding Monday's hearing for Terry Williams.  The news is not good; his bid for clemency was denied.  He is still set to be executed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on October 3.  If your voice has not yet been heard or you just want more information on the case, click here to go to "Terry Williams Clemency" website.  Continue to pray for Terry, for those who plan to execute him and for Governor Tom Corbett, who signed this death warrant for the state's first execution since 1999 and its first contested execution since 1962.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pennsylvanians: Take Action to Stop an Execution

A message from Celeste Fitzgerald:

Terrance "Terry" Williams, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, is scheduled to be executed in Pennsylvania on October 3, 2012.  Mr. Williams' horrific history of sexual abuse by older males began when he was just six years old and continued throughout adolescence.  After years of suffering, when he was 17 and 18 years old, Mr. Williams killed two of his abusers. The jury that sentenced him to death never heard about the abuse he endured, or that the men he killed were in fact his abusers. Five of the jurors now say they support clemency and would not have sentenced Mr. Williams to death if they had known this information.
There has been an unprecedented outpouring of support for clemency from prominent groups and individuals across Pennsylvania , including dozens of child advocates, former prosecutors and judges, faith leaders, mental health professionals, law professors and significantly, the victim's widow.  Will you add your voice to theirs? A clemency hearing is scheduled for September 17 so time is of the essence. 
Here is how you can help this clemency effort:
  • Please sign the petition for clemency at this web site:
  • If you can, please also promote the petition web site.  Notify your friends in Pennsylvania.  Let them know that now is the time to speak up for clemency for Mr. Williams
  • A website with extensive information about the case is available at

Sunday, September 9, 2012

9/11 Remembrance

Let us pray for the victims of 9/11 and their families and for those who perpetrated these horrendous acts of terrorism. 

As we remember 9/11 this year, perhaps Thomas Merton's prayer will assist us:

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and
The fact that I think I am following your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
Does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road
Though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always
Though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
And you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

USCCB Labor Day Statement

In anticipation of Labor Day 2012, the USCCB has released its annual Labor Day Statement.  Click here to read the statement.  Let's remember to pray for the employed, the unemployed and the underemployed during these tough economic times.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Message from Polaris Project

From Polaris Project:  Tell Congress to Support Anti-Human Trafficking Bills

From the clothes we wear to the food we eat, slavery’s footprint touches many aspects of our lives. A new bill in Congress is looking to change this. The Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act (H.R. 2759) requires companies with a minimum of $100 million in income to publicize the measures they are taking to combat slavery. On July 19, the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) hosted two briefings on Capitol Hill to discuss how informed consumers and investors can take steps to help eliminate human trafficking from corporate supply chains.

You can help! Take action here to urge Congress to support H.R. 2759. Also show your support for victims of human trafficking by taking action on three other vital bills: the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act, and End Trafficking in Government Contracting. Tell your elected officials to reduce trafficking by passing these laws.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Running for his life

During the Olympic season, we hear many inspiration stories.  Here's one involving Lopez Lomong, who was the flagbearer for Team USA at the 2008 Opening Ceremony in Beijing.  Lopez Lomong was one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan, who came to the US at age 16.  In his recently-released book, Running for my Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games, he tells the story of "his inspiring ascent from a barefoot lost boy of the Sudanese Civil War to a Nike sponsored athlete on the US Olympic Team" (from the book description).  The opening pages of the book tell the story of his separation from his family at the hands of a truck full of armed soldiers.  Lomong ends his description of this horrific incident in this way:  "I didn't know it at the time, but my childhood had just ended.  I was six years old."  Click here to visit his website where you can learn about him, his book and his foundation, "4 South Sudan," which exists to "bring hope to families who face the realities of poverty and the lingering impact of daily violence."  Additionally, watch the video below (sponsored by Tide) to hear Lopez tell his story (e-mail subscribers, click here if you do not see a video link below).

Friday, July 27, 2012

Health Care: Telling the Stories, Day 5

As we finish these days of paying attention to the relationships of health care as told in the documentary, The Waiting Room, let's look at the film's trailer and a video, "What is the Waiting Room," about the concept behind the film.  As we noted on Monday, we continue to remind ourselves that everyone has a story.  Hopefully, the stories you've heard this week, and the thousands of other stories that we didn't hear, will move us to compassion for the uninsured and underinsured.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Health Care: Telling the Stories, Day 4

In today's story from the Storytelling Project, volunteer Lucy Ogbu tells of her desire to become a doctor so that she can help others. Lucy, a native of Nigeria, shares:  "I believe that medicine is a way for me to impact people's lives. . . . As long as I'm standing, I'm going to fight for the chance. . . . I know how much there's a need for health care in impoverished communities. . . . The cause is bigger than me."  Click here for Lucy's story.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Health Care: Telling the Stories, Day 3

Today's video from the Storytelling Project of The Waiting Room tells the story of William Morgan, a father of three young boys, who waits for his wife to get the insulin she needs.  Click here to view the video.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Health Care: Telling the Stories, Day 2

As our video storytelling continues, we hear the story of a 7-year-old girl, Nia Walker, who is being treated for asthma at Highland Hospital in Oakland, CA.  Click here for Nia's story. A statistic from the video:  Did you know that African Americans visit the ER for asthma-related symptoms at a rate nearly five times higher than Caucasians?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Health Care: Telling the Stories

The Waiting Room is a documentary by Pete Nicks that tells the story of caregivers and patients at Highland Hospital in Oakland, CA -- a hospital that serves a large population of uninsured patients. The Waiting Room attempts to tell stories of "common humanity instead of politics."  As the debates on health care reform become increasingly divisive, we are reminded that health care is first of all about people and relationships among them.  This week, we will focus on some of the videos from the film's Storytelling Project.  After hearing these stories, let's pledge to remember that everything we say about "health care" is about human beings who are in need of health care.

Today's video, "The Caregiver," comes from the Storytelling Project of The Waiting Room.  Click here to view the video.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Political Activity Guidelines

The USCCB Office of General Counsel reminds organizations that are tax exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) of what is permitted and what is prohibited on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate, as a condition of maintaining federal tax exemption.  Click here for more information.  Although it cannot anticipate every possible situation, this advice is very comprehensive, including such things as the prohibition against bumper stickers for particular candidates on cars owned by tax exempt organizations.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

ATEST Webinar on Supply Chains

The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) held a 30-minute webinar on Tuesday, July 17 entitled, "Slavery in Supply Chains: The Role Businesses and Consumers can Play in Ending Human Trafficking.  Click here to view a replay of the webinar and to get more information about the work of ATEST.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"Opting Out" of Medicaid Expansion

Thanks to Sister Mary Joan for bringing this article -- "Lines are Drawn Over Opting out of Medicaid Plan" --  from the NY Times to our attention.  However we feel about the Accountable Care Act and whatever its moral drawbacks, we must continue to remind ourselves that there are human beings in the United States who are unable, for many reasons, to obtain the health care they need.  As you know, the ethical standards of behavior that guide Catholic health care are driven by the dignity of the human person.  As we engage in dialogue over this Act, let us rememberboth the dignity of the humans who need health care and the dignity of the persons with whom we debate.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Read Any Good Books Lately? (Part 3)

Since the first two books of our summer reading were war stories, perhaps it's now appropriate to share some peace.  The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict by the Arbinger Institute is our current recommendation.  From the back cover:  "What if conflicts at home, conflicts at work, and conflicts in the world stem from the same root cause?  What if we systematically misunderstand that cause?  And what if, as a result, we systematically perpetuate the very problems we think we are trying to solve?  Every day." 

The book description from reads: "Through an intriguing story of parents struggling with their troubled children and with their own personal problems, "The Anatomy of Peace" shows how to get past the preconceived ideas and self-justifying reactions that keep us from seeing the world clearly and dealing with it effectively. Yusuf al-Falah, an Arab, and Avi Rozen, a Jew, each lost his father at the hands of the other's ethnic cousins. As the story unfolds, we discover how they came together, how they help warring parents and children to come together, and how we too can find our way out of the struggles that weigh us down. The choice between peace and war lies within us. As one of the characters says, 'A solution to the inner war solves the outer war as well.'  This book offers more than hope -- it shows how we can prevent the conflicts that cause so much pain in our lives and in the world."

We cannot make peaceful choices from a heart at war (when we see others as objects); we can only make peaceful choices from a heart at peace (when we see others as persons).  It's a quick read and well worth the time.  Your heart will thank you!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Thank you, Sisters!

75 members of Congress say "Thank you" to Catholic Sisters in the United States.  (E-mail subscribers, click here if you do not see an embedded video below.)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Recycling Pantyhose?

In our quest to make our landfills a bit less full, did you ever consider recycling your pantyhose?  The No nonsense company has a program that allows us to recycle our used pantyhose (any brand, size, style).  Click here for more information and to print out a shipping label.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Reactions to Supreme Court's Ruling on ACA

On June 28, the Supreme Court upheld as a tax the provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires individuals to purchase a health plan.  Several statements regarding this passage are noteworthy:  Click here to read the statement of the USCCB, here to read the statement of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and here to read the statement of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA).  As you read the statement by CHA, note that it is still reviewing and evaluating the decision and that it may have addtional comments after the review is complete.  Perhaps we could take the time to do the same -- review and evaluate what the Act states.  Most importantly, continue to pray for our country, for those who make its laws, for those who are disproportionately affected by these laws and for those for whom appropriate health care is still out of reach.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Countdown to International Day of Peace

The 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace (September 21) began on June 13.  Here's a message from Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Secretary General:

Today [June 13], we start the 100-day countdown to the observance of the International Day of Peace, when we call on combatants around the world to put down their weapons and try to find peaceful solutions to their conflicts.

The International Day of Peace, marked every year on 21 September, gives us all a chance to reflect on the unconscionable toll – moral, physical, material – wrought by war. Those costs are borne not only by us today, but by future generations as well.

That is why this year’s theme is “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future.” It highlights the fact that we cannot possibly think about building a sustainable future if there is no sustainable peace. Armed conflicts attack the very pillars of sustainable development, robbing people of the opportunity to develop, to create jobs, to safeguard the environment, to fight poverty, to reduce the risk from disasters, to advance social equity and to ensure that everyone has enough to eat.

We want a future where natural resources are protected and valued rather than used to finance wars, where children can be educated at school and not recruited into armies, where economic and social inequalities are resolved through dialogue instead of violence.

If we are to build such a future, we must all play our individual part. I urge everyone, between now and 21 September, to think about how they can contribute. Let us work together to ensure that the Road from Rio leads us to sustainable development, sustainable peace… and a secure future for all.

Click here to find out what happened at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development  (also known as "Rio+20) on June 20-22.

Let's continue to ask ourselves:  "What future do we want?"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why are these nuns on the bus?

Interestingly, there seems to be some confusion about the purpose of the "Nuns on the Bus" tour.  Perhaps we can clear that up and continue to serve as advocates for the poor and marginalized in our country.  The "Nuns on the Bus" campaign is, quite simply, a campaign for budget fairness in the United States.  Why should we care about the budget?  Click here to see how the poor will be disproportionately affected and here to see a schedule of the stops.

When this tour is grossly misinterpreted to be a bunch of Sisters railing against church officials, we miss the point that these Sisters agree with the USCCB's assessment of the Federal Budget's impact on the poor and vulnerable.  Click here to read more of the Bishops' thoughts on the moral measure of our nation's budget policy.

Let us continue to pray that those in public office will act morally toward the most vulnerable members of our society.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

At its annual assembly in Philadelphia earlier this month, the Catholic Health Assocation of the United States (CHA) introduced the video,  "Health Reform: We Cannot Go Back," highlighting benefits of the Affordable Care Act.  (E-mail subscribers:  Please click here if you do not see a video embedded below.)   What do you think? 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Louie's Forgiveness

Yesterday, we were introduced to Unbroken, the 2010 biography of Louis Zamperini.  Today, we are invited to watch this segment from "CBS This Morning," May 27, 2012 (Memorial Day weekend), in which 95-year-old Louie tells us:  "Hate is self-destructive.  If you hate a person, you're not hurting the person you hate; you're hurting yourself.  Forgiveness is a real healing."  (E-mail subscribers:  If you do not see the video embedded in this e-mail, click here to watch it.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Read any good books lately? (Part 2)

We didn't set out to have the first two books of our summer recommendations be war stories, but after our first recommendation of a work of fiction about World War II (see post from Friday, June 8 about Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet), we are offering a biography centering on this time period.  Today's recommendation is Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit).  Written in 2010, this book chronicles the life of Louis Zamperini, U.S. Olympian (in track) turned second lieutenant turned prisoner of war.  While the book's subtitle accurately reflects that this is a story of survival, resilience and redemption, this is also a story of dignity and forgiveness. 

This biography has much to tell us about the loss of human dignity: "Men subjected to dehumanizing treatment experience profound wretchedness and loneliness and find that hope is almost impossible to retain.  Without dignity, identity is erased.  In its absence, men are defined not by themselves but by their captors and the circumstances in which they are forced to live.  One American airman, shot down and relentlessly debased by his captors, described the state of mind that his captivity created: 'I was literally becoming a lesser human being.'  . . . Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food and oxygen.  The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man's soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it.  The loss of it can carry a man off as surely as thirst, hunger, exposure and asphyxiation, and with greater cruelty.  In places like Kwajalein, degradation could be as lethal as a bullet" (p. 182-3).

During his years as a prisoner of war, Zamperini endured unspeakable, daily torture at the hand of his captors.  When physically freed from his captors, Louie had a long road until he freed his spirit of them. Thus, the description of the forgiveness he extended to his captors years later provides extraordinary Christian witness. 

This 496-page biography is impossible to condense, but worth every minute it takes to read it.  Hopefully, we will find a little something in Louie's story that makes us better human beings.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What are you doing for the Fortnight?

As we reminded you two weeks ago, the Fortnight for Freedom  -- a national campaign designated by the U.S. Catholic bishops for teaching and witness in support of religious liberty extends from June 21 to July 4.  Daily reflections for this can be found on the USCCB website.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom

Are you familiar with the USCCB's "Fortnight for Freedom" from June 21 to July 4?  Click here to see what your diocese is doing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ties That Matter

Ties That Matter is a non-profit organization that teaches low income women to make and sell products created from recycled and donated neckties. Although the organization began in Atlanta, its primary focus is in Haiti where it helps women form craft co-ops that provide reliable income for themselves and their villages. 

From the Ties That Matter website:  Ties That Matter is made up of a community of people tied together by a common dream of a whole and healthy earth and a shared belief that we are responsible for one another.Ties That Matter has determined to fulfill this mission by using donated and recycled materials to help low income women find self reliance, sustainability and self respect by creating and selling crafts made from free or recycled materials. We primarily use recycled neckties donated by churches in the United States.

What a great way for churches and school groups to make a difference.  Click here to go to the site to find out how your group can assist in this creative endeavor. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Read Any Good Books Lately?

As we did a few summers ago, let's recommend some books for summer reading.  While these books are fiction (since it's summer, after all), they have a way of awakening us to some themes of justice with which we are unfamiliar or which we have forgotten.  Those of you who are Villanova grads might be familiar with "One Book Villanova," in which one book is chosen for the academic year and several events (including visits from the author) are scheduled.  This year's "One Book" was Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.  Told from the perspective of Henry Lee, a Chinese gentleman who grew up in Seattle, this book tells the story of Japanese internment during World War II.  Because of the rampant anti-Japanese sentiment in the 1940's, Henry's father compels him to wear a button that says, "I am Chinese."  Henry's friendship with the only other Asian student in his elementary school -- who happens to be a Japanese girl -- forms the structure of this novel, as Henry (now living in the 1980's and mourning the loss of his wife) looks back on this turbulent time in history.

Remembering this period of American history seems to be increasingly important today, as we react in fear to those around us -- many of them American citizens -- who might be of the same ethnic ancestry as those our country considers enemies. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beware the "Bogus" Prayer Request

Here's another reminder that things are not always what they seem to be.  Many, many people have perpetuated this prayer request from India.  Before reading, know that IT IS NOT TRUE.  As always, you can check these things out at  Here's a form of the request:  Urgent prayer request!  Please pray for all the churches in India.  Buddhist extremists burned down 20 churches last night.  Tonight they plan to destroy 200 churches and they plan to kill 200 missionaries . . .

The request goes on, asking for prayers to our "Almighty and Victorious Lord." 

When we receive such requests, it is our responsibility to determine their validity before forwarding them.  Further, we need to ask ourselves why we believe such a claim without first verifying it.  Finally, we pray for Buddhists in India (there aren't many of them) who have been defamed and disrespected by our actions when we forward such requests. 

Let's try to use the Internet responsibly.

Monday, May 28, 2012

JPIC Distance Learning Program

It's been almost a year since Duquesne University launched its JPIC Distance Learning Program.  Have you checked it out?  Click here for more information.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Center of Concern

Click here to read the Spring 2012 edition of Center Focus, the quarterly publication of the Center of Concern.  The newsletter contains information about the social safety net and regional economic cooperation and development. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Financial Transaction Tax

The following is an excerpt from the letter written to President Obama by the JPIC Commission of the USG/UISG in Rome.  It references the potential to consider a  Financial Transaction Tax at the G-20 Summit in Mexico on June 18-19, 2012. Click here for more information from the JPIC Commission and here to sign a petition regarding this.

Here's the excerpt of the letter:

We are writing at this time concerning a matter which we believe relates to sustainable growth, economic stability and the world’s “financial architecture:” the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). We urge you and other government leaders to assure that this topic is on the agenda of the G-20. We share the hope that a financial transaction tax could be a means to aid development in poor countries. Please give your support to a FTT that could generate funds for human development in the poorest areas of the world. At the same time, we are concerned that the concept of raising funds for development could be undermined by the pressure to raise funds for the struggling domestic economies of “developed” nations. We ask that you please insist that the revenues from any FTT be used to meet global human development objectives such at the Millennium Development Goals. We believe that the administration and implementation of such a large-scale revenue generating and distribution effort requires a new international financial structure. We urge you to promote the creation of such an international structure, free from corruption and committed to authentic human development in poor nations.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Interfaith Worker Justice

Are you familiar with the work of Interfaith Worker Justice?  Its mission and values are:

Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) advances the rights of workers by engaging diverse faith communities into action, from grassroots organizing to shaping policy at the local, state and national levels. We envision a nation where all workers enjoy the rights to:
  • Wages, health care, and pensions that allow workers to raise families and retire with dignity
  • Safe working conditions
  • Organize and bargain collectively to improve wages, benefits, and conditions without harassment, intimidation, or retaliation
  • Equal protection under labor law - regardless of immigration status - and an end to the practice of pitting immigrant and U.S.-born workers against one another
  • Fair and just participation in a global economy that promotes the welfare of both domestic and foreign workers.
Click here to learn more.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

DREAM Day of Action

Do you have 5-10 minutes today to use to contact President Obama and Speaker Boehner about immigration?  As we told you last week, the "United We Dream" network is calling for a day of action today, May 17, 2012, to secure rights for all immigrants. 

President Barack Obama can be reached at (202) 456-1111 and Speaker Boehner can be reached at (202) 225-0600.

Send letters or postcards to:

President Barack Obama, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500

Speaker John Boehner, Office of the Speaker, H-232 The Capital, Washington, DC 20515

To send e-mails, go to their respective websites: or and click on "Contact."

Possible comments to consider when you contact them:
Support the DREAM Act

Our Immigrant youth have the right to live without fear.
Our Immigrant youth have the right to live with their families.
Our Immigrant youth have the right to move freely.
Our Immigrant youth have the right to be educated.
Our Immigrant youth have the right to give back to the community.
Our Immigrant youth have the right to build a strong sustainable economy.
Our Immigrant youth have the right to build their dreams.

For more information, click here to go to the "United We Dream" site.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Partnership for Global Justice Annual Meeting

Thanks to Sister Mary Irene for this report:

On May 6, Sister Anna Theresa Tran, SCC and Sister Mary Irene Sorber, SCC participated in the Partnership for Global Justice Annual Meeting held at St. Bartholomew Church in New York City.  This meeting was held in conjunction with the United Nations Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues which is occurring May 7th through May 18 at UN Headquarters in New York. The theme of the meeting was:  First Nation Peoples: A Movement Toward Reconciliation and Hope.  The center of the meeting was the presentation of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers which was represented by Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim and her daughter from Southern Oregon, Grandmother Beatrice Long-Visitor Holy Dance and her daughter from South Dakota, and Grandmother Mona Polacca from Arizona.  The day began with a sacred prayer time presented by the Grandmothers.  It was followed by a delicious dinner where we were in conversation with people who are highly involved with the cause of the thirteen grandmothers who are trying to help their young people maintain the language and culture of the various indigenous tribes in the USA and around the world.  After the dinner, everyone went into the church where the grandmothers were awarded the 9th Annual Justice Award.  Finally, a trio of college students presented a play called, "I Am Not A Savage."  This very moving play is based on the facts the students learned about the horrendout way the indigenous peoples were treated after Columbus landed in the "New World."  For more information, please go to

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Big Question

If you've heard of this before, it bears repeating.  The Big Question: A Film About Forgiveness (2007) invites us to consider forgiveness through several stories of tragic events, including the 2006 Amish schoolhouse murders, the Japanese internment camps and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. The film is available on DVD, so check it out when you get the chance.  Click here to visit the film's website.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Declaration of DREAMS

On May 17, immigrant youth and their allies across the country will issue a "Declaration of DREAMS," which outlines several rights for undocumented youth, including the right to live with dignity in the country they call home, the right to live with their families and the right to education.  Should you choose to be involved, here are several suggestions:
  • Organize an event
  • Attend an event
  • Write an op-ed for your local newspaper
  • Sign on to the Declaration of DREAMS.
Click here for more information about these actions.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Haiti: One Table, Many Partners

A national solidarity conference, "Haiti: One Table, Many Partners," will be held from June 1-3 at Catholic University, Washington, DC.  Sponsored by Catholic Relief Services and the USCCB, this conference will bring together more than 300 participants, representing dioceses, parishes, and religious congregations throughout the United States and partnership organizations, Catholic institutions, and representatives from Haitian dioceses and parishes. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Connecticut Abolishes the Death Penalty

Today, Connecticut became the 17th state to abolish the death penalty.  Click here to read the CNN article and here to read the Amnesty International blog.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Earth Day

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22.  Click here to find resources on the Earth Day 2012 website and here to access the Evening Prayer commemorating Earth Day (which includes the Eastern Province's Statement on Ecology).

Friday, April 20, 2012

Recent Human Trafficking Legislative Successes

The Polaris Project keeps us informed about legislative issues surrounding human trafficking.  Click here to go to the "CQ State Track" to find out which states have passed recent legislation regarding human trafficking.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

USCCB Statement on Religious Liberty

Click here to read the latest USCCB statement on religious liberty, "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty" and here to find prayer resources in solidarity with the bishops' call to penance and prayer to restore religious freedom and conscience protection.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Observing the 11th of the Month

The SCC North American Western Province has created a reflection to help us remember our observance of the 11th of each month as a day of prayer and fasting for social justice. Click here for this month's reflection on employment-based immigration.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Why do you look for the living among the dead?

Cardinal Timothy Dolan's question during his Easter morning homily is one for us to ponder: Why do you look for the living among the dead? Click here to watch/listen to the homily on the "Whispers" blog. Listening to the end finds Dolan quoting Pope Benedict XVI's pivotal question not only for our Easter season, but for our lives -- whether we say Jesus was or Jesus is.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Who was Father Felix Varela and why was he mentioned at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Easter Sunday?

At the celebration of Mass on Easter Sunday morning at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Cardinal Timothy Dolan called on Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros to explain to the congregation that the sainthood cause for Cuban-born Padre Felix Varela (1788-1853) has advanced. Have you heard of Father Varela? Click here to read the Wikipedia article about him and to learn more about his work for the poor and the immigrants in New York. Click here to read the Archdiocese of Miami press release about Padre Varela.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pax Christi's 30th Annual Good Friday Way of the Cross

From Pax Christi of Metro New York:
Join with over 500 people in the largest public Christian peace witness in New York City. The Way of the Cross is a modern-day Stations of the Cross, witnessing for peace and justice in the streets of our city. This year our focus is on how I do for others what Jesus is doing for me – how I am called to live in this world. At each Station we reflect on our participation in a world still characterized by crucifixion. The walk begins at 8:30 AM on April 6th at 47th Street between First and Second Avenues, proceeds along 42nd Street and ends on 42nd Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues around noon. For more information, click here to read the flyer at the Catholic Charities of New York site.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Faithful Budget Campaign

Are you familiar with the Faithful Budget Campaign? Click here to learn more -- and click here to read the document, "Priorities for a Faithful Budget: Acting with Mercy and Justice as One Nation Under God," released on March 22.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Remember Fair Trade

Global Exchange has published a list of frequently asked questions regarding Fair Trade. Click here to view these questions and answers. Click here to go to the Equal Exchange Interfaith Store to purchase Fair Trade products online. As you purchase candy for Easter, keep in mind the impact that your purchase has on those who have been involved in the production of chocolate around the world.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Urge President Obama to Change Outdated Nuclear Policy

The USCCB is participating in a petition to President Obama that asks him to reduce (and eventually eliminate) U.S. nuclear weapons and to take them off "high alert". Please consider signing the petition by March 31. Other groups are also circulating an identically worded petition and the USCCB will submit the names it collects along with theirs but this USCCB page is designed to give the Catholic rationale for the petition.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Two Feet of Love Webinar

A Webinar on "The Two Feet of Love in Action: A 21st Century Model Based on Pope Benedict XVI's Teachings" (open to everyone) is on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. EDT. This "Catholics Confront Global Poverty" webinar (sponsored by USCCB and CRS) will introduce the Two Feet of Love in Action, the newly revised model to teach about two distinct, but complementary, ways that we can put love in action: Social Justice and Charitable Works. Click here to RSVP.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bread for the World 2012 Offering of Letters Campaign

This year's theme for the Bread for the World Offering of Letters is "Expanding the Circle of Protection." Organize an Offering of Letters campaign in parishes and schools to advocate for (1) domestic nutrition assistance programs, (2) poverty-focused foreign assistance, (3) tax credits for low-income families, and (4) international food aid programs. For more information or to request an Offering of Letters resource packet contact Bread for the World.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"United for Religious Freedom"

The Administrative Committee of the USCCB has issued "United for Religious Freedom" about the recent HHS mandate. Click here to view a copy of the statement.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Not My Life: Human Trafficking Documentary

"Not My Life" is the first documentary film to depict the horrifying and dangerous practices of human trafficking and modern slavery on a global scale. See the trailer below or click here to view it on YouTube if it does not appear below. To learn more about the film, go to

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Bishops and Religious Liberty

From the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference:

The original religious liberty-violating rule of the Department of Health and Human Services has been published without change. Promises were made that more regulations might be developed, but the “accommodations,” if made, will still force religious employers to pay for abortion-causing drugs, sterilization and contraception – either directly or through money paid to an insurance company.

The bishops continue to work to correct this First Amendment violation through communications with the White House, advocating for legislative remedies or pursuing litigation that could reverse this decision.
Additionally, Pennsylvania’s bishops have turned to the most important tools in our toolbox: prayer and sacrifice. They have called for a day of prayer, fasting and abstinence from meat for the intention of religious liberty on Friday, March 30. Read more about it here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Anti-Trafficking Legislation

During the Polaris Project's conference call on Friday, four pieces of legislation were mentioned that require attention: The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, the Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act, Strenthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act, and the Human Trafficking Reporting Act. Click here to tell Congress to act on these four critical bills.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Polaris Project Conference Call

An invitation from Polaris Project:

Dear Human Trafficking Advocates and Policymakers,

The 2012 State Legislative sessions have begun! Please join us for a conference call to learn more about the types of anti-trafficking legislation being introduced and passed in the states in 2012. On this call we will also provide an update on the pending federal Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act, which is currently up for reauthorization, and related federal bills.

2012 State Legislative Trends and Outlook & Federal Legislative Update
Friday, March 9th
2 PM EDT – 3:30 PM EDT
Call-in #: (209) 647-1000
Passcode: 336587#
To RSVP, please email your name, email address, organization and state to Nikki Marquez at We hope you can attend!
Best Regards,
Polaris Project Policy Team

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

HHS Mandate: Updated Action Alert

The USCCB has issued another action alert based on Friday's tweaking of the HHS Mandate. Please click here to be directed to the USCCB website, where you will have the opportunity to gather information and take action.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

HHS Mandate: What's next?

As you may know, President Obama announced changes to the "contraceptive mandate" on Friday. What does this mean? According to the USCCB (whose statement is available here), it's too soon to tell. Let's continue to remember civility in dialogue and let's try to stick to the facts when discussing this. Making it liberal vs. conservative or Democrat vs. Republican is divisive and tends not to serve the cause of peace in our hearts.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Scholarship Program for Girls in Rwanda

Partners in Health is involved in a Women and Girls Initiative Scholarship Program to send 41 young women and girls back to school in rural Rwanda. Click here for more information.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Help for Battered Immigrant Women

On February 8, the Washington Post published an article by Pamela Constable, "For battered immigrant women, fear of deportation becomes abusers' weapon, but 2 laws can overcome that." This is an important and informative article about legal protection for immigrant women -- even undocumented immigrant women -- who suffer the trauma of abuse. Click here to read the article.

February Edition of "On the Line"

Pax Christi USA had issued the February edition of its newsletter, "On the Line." Click here to read it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

USCCB: Six Things Everyone Should Know About the HHS Mandate

Click here to visit the USCCB blog and to read the post, "Six Things Everyone Should Know About the HHS Mandate."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Civility in Discourse

The LCWR Global Concerns Committee's Winter 2012 "Resolutions to Action" focuses on "Civility in Discourse: A Franciscan Approach." It includes the Franciscan Action Network's F.R.A.N.C.I.S Commitment to Civility in Discourse -- Facilitate, Respect, Audit, Neutralize, Collaborate, Identify, Support. Click here to read the complete resolution and for personal reflection and action suggestions.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Women Religious: SOA Watch Needs You!

The School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) is looking for someone to represent women religious on their Council.

The Council makes major policy decisions for the SOA Watch organization, with input from the organization's regional groups, working groups, and staff. In addition, the Council provides administrative leadership to the SOA Watch organization, trying to include the voices of all those who have committed themselves to the goals of SOA Watch in its decisions and activities. The council functions somewhat like a board of directors, making policy and financial decisions, and the power to hire and fire.

Each council rep is expected to work on at least one sub-committee (such as finance, agenda, or personnel). The council and the staff make decisions using the Consensus Model.

The Council meets face to face twice a year (usually April and September), and via telephone conference call several times in-between, and also electronically via the council list-serve. Recently it has meant approximately one phone call a month, usually 60 to 90 minutes. Council does not meet formally at the November vigil.

There are regional reps, elected by members of their region and representatives representing special constituency group that have been important to the movement to close the SOA, such as Veterans for Peace, Torture Survivors, Immokalee Workers, and Women Religious. These representatives have full voting and participation rights. There is no specific term of office, but many reps have aimed for a 2 year term minimum. There are currently 14 filled seats, and 5 empty seats.

If you are interested in serving or learning more about the SOAW Council please contact Ken Crowley at

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Indiana Passes Human Trafficking Law in Time for the Super Bowl

Click here to read the Fox News report on the new Indiana law which makes it against the law for anyone to arrange for a person to participate in any forced sexual act. Before, Indiana law only prohibited forced marriage and prostitution. Also, the new law makes it easier to prosecute those who sell children into sexual slavery. It reduces the burden on a prosecutor to prove coercion. Before, prosecutors had to prove a victim was threatened or physically forced into sexual slavery. Traffickers could escape prosecution by claiming the victim wasn't being held against his or her will. Congratulations to the eleven congregations of women religious who continue to work in Indiana and elsewhere to raise awareness of the potential for human trafficking at major sporting events.

Also, click here to read an Op-Ed in Friday's Chicago Tribune by Sister Pat Bergen, a member of the leadership team of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in LaGrange Park, IL.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Military Spending

A message from Pax Christi USA:

ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress they must cut military spending!

Senator John McCain wants to keep us from bringing military spending under control.

Don't let him do it.

Under last year's deficit deal, military and domestic programs are supposed to be cut equally over the next ten years. The Pentagon has barely been nicked. Its budget will shrink for one year, then start growing again. But domestic programs have suffered massive cuts.

Now McCain wants to stop the clock, suspend next year's cuts, and establish the principle that military spending cannot be touched.

It's up to us to say: NO!

McCain is just one loud voice in a huge pro-war choir. The whole military-industrial-Congressional complex is rejecting limits on military spending. They've churned out a distortion-packed video, filed "stop the cuts" legislation in the House, and released a study on the economic impact of Pentagon cuts.

If they succeed, we're cooked. The Pentagon will keep growing and eating up more of the federal budget. There is no way we can recover from the recession if we don't cut military spending and shift hundreds of billions of dollars to the jobs and services we need in our communities.

The hawks are drawing a clear line. It's the Pentagon or us. Let's help Congress make the right choice.

1. Write your Senators and Representative. Click here for a sample email to your Senators and Representative. Tell them to speak out for real Pentagon cuts and real domestic spending increases.

2. Write a letter to the editor. Click here for a sample letter, talking points, a fact sheet, and tips for writing letters to the editor. Click here for a link to your local newspaper.

And please forward this to everyone you can. Together we can win this. Almost half of Americans say we can cut military spending safely. Let's get that message to Congress and into the media.