December 2011 (en Español)
Bishop Blaire Cites Importance of Good Environmental Stewardship, Clean Air in Address to Interfaith Gathering
WASHINGTON -- Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development said that people praise, honor and serve God "when we care for all living beings by protecting the air, which is God's gift to us," in a November 7 address to interfaith leaders. Bishop Blaire spoke at the Festival of Faiths conference in Louisville, Kentucky, the theme of which was "Sacred Air: Breath of Life."
"As stewards of God's creation we can live more simply, using the earth's resources wisely, reducing our consumption, working to eliminate air pollution and reducing our carbon footprint," said Bishop Blaire. "In the end it just makes good sense to want to have clean air for our children and families to breathe and for future generations."
In his address, Bishop Blaire highlighted the specific threat of mercury and other toxic air pollution to children's health.
"Children, inside and outside the womb, are uniquely vulnerable to environmental hazards and exposure to toxic pollutants in the environment," he said. For this reason, he noted, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is working to "raise awareness about the need for a national standard that would significantly reduce mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants and would protect our unborn and young children."
Full text of Bishop Blaire’s address is available at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/upload/Good-Sense-Good-Air-November-7-2011_FINAL.pdf
[Fred Kammer, SJ, is director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute. He is a former provincial of the New Orleans Province of the Jesuits and former president of Catholic Charities, USA. You can find his entire article (with graphics) on the JSRI web site.]
One of the current political canards is to cry “class warfare” against those who point out our current economic realities, as if telling the truth about income and wealth in the U.S. has caused the ever-widening chasm between the very, very wealthy and all the rest of the population, especially the poor. Woe even more to those who connect the dots between race and poverty, race and income disparity, and race and wealth disparity. Does not mentioning it allow a form of “stealth class warfare” to continue unabated? The more-than-compelling economic data makes it very difficult not to point out the obvious—that American inequality continues to grow apace and that post-recession recovery seems only for the very rich. The inequality is found in looking at both income and wealth of Americans.
The inequities that concerned the bishops more than twenty-five years ago have worsened dramatically. They result from, yes, that “stealth class warfare” which we dare not speak of, but which continues all around us today.
For twenty years ECPAT has been at the forefront of raising awareness and advocating for actions to protect the estimated 200,000 to 300,000 children in the United States at risk of being sexually exploited.
Since its founding in 1991, ECPAT-USA has led national efforts to protect children from sex trafficking, including sponsoring national preparation for the World Congresses against Sexual Exploitation of Children and coordinating NGO responses to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
ECPAT-USA has worked to pass legislation that decriminalizes child prostitution and provides social services for victims. In the past two years New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Illinois, Minnesota and Washington have passed such legislation.
ECPAT-USA trains law enforcement agents, tourism company workers, and service providers to increase their capacity to recognize and report incidents of the sexual exploitation of children.
ECPAT-USA has enlisted the support of the Carlson Companies, Delta Air Lines, Hilton Worldwide and Wyndham Worldwide Corporation as signatories of the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism.
A missionary from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) was killed the morning of October 17 on the island of Mindanao (Philippines).
Fr. Fausto Tentorio, 59, who had spent more than 32 years in the Philippines, was killed by a stranger, as he prepared to leave the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Arakan, North Cotabato. Like every Monday, had a meeting with the priests of the diocese in the bishop's house. The murderer approached him and killed him with two shots to the head. The author and motive for the killing are still unknown. According to witnesses, he was wearing a helmet and his face could not be seen. After the murder, the killer escaped to safety on a motorcycle.
Fr. Tentorio had worked for some time among the tribal groups of the diocese, living with them. His evangelization also included his commitment to ensure the survival and rights of these populations, often marginalized and robbed of the land.
Leonardo Revoca, a former parishioner of Fr. Tentorio and town councilor in Arakan stressed the missionary efforts to stop the spread of the mining industry, which is destroying the lives of indigenous peoples.
Fr. Tentorio, born in St. Mary Rovagnate (Lecco), Italy, had entered the PIME seminary of the diocese of Milan. His fellow students remember him as a simple and friendly person.
The parishioners and the tribals for whom Fr. Fausto Tentorio gave his life, spent the night in the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, praying and even sleeping next to the coffin containing the remains of the murdered missionary.
After a stop in Columbio and Tulunan, where Fr Fausto worked in the early years of his mission, on Tuesday, October 25, the murdered missionary’s body was taken to the cathedral of Kidapawan. His funeral was celebrated by Msgr. Romulo de la Cruz, bishop of Kidapawan. Also present at his funeral Fr. Gian Battista Zanchi, PIME Superior General, and the Italian ambassador in Manila Luca Fornari. During the Mass a message from Benedict XVI was read, who emphasized the "witness of the priest among the least, asking for the "renunciation of violence and the building of a just and peaceful society where all live together in harmony."
Fr. Giuluio Mariani, PIME missionary in Zamboanga said: "Young and old travelled miles on foot at night to attend the wake and funeral. No less than 30 coaches have come from the province of Davao. The 4 km connecting the cathedral to the cemetery was full of people who quietly and with tears in their eyes, prayed for the soul of the missionary. The tribal attended the funeral with their traditional costumes. "
"Despite the pain and drama of the moment -- says the priest -- the funeral of Fr Tentorio was a triumph and a sign of hope for all the people of Mindanao. " The missionary emphasizes the warmth and solidarity of the population, drawn from throughout the region, which "encourages all to continue their missionary work among the poor and the marginalized, doing the will of God."
In his homily, Msgr. de la Cruz said that Fr. Tentorio was not an "environmentalist priest " or "defender of human rights", like many newspapers have described him, but simply a good and faithful priest, who loved his people, and tried to serve them to the best of his abilities, even in the face of danger."
Fr. Fausto was buried in the cemetery beside the grave of Fr Tullio Favali, another PIME missionary, killed in 1985.
It is not yet clear the motive of the killing. Bishop De la Cruz said yesterday that in recent times Fr. Tentorio had not spoken of any threats, but it is also true that he "often laughed when we talked about threats to his life."
Fr. Fausto Tentorio is the third PIME missionary to be killed in the Philippines and the island of Mindanao. In 1985, Fr. Tullio Favali was killed in Tulunan, in the Diocese of Kidapawan, by a group of private armed guards, in 1992, Fr Salvatore. Carzedda, engaged in dialogue with Muslims, was killed in Zamboanga. In 2007, Fr. Giancarlo Bossi was kidnapped by a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, but was released after two months of captivity. In 1998 Fr. Luciano Benedetti was also kidnapped. His abductors, a Muslim group, released him after about 2 months.
November 14, 2011 - Calgary, Alberta, Canada, was the site of a consultation on poverty, wealth and ecology that has issued a series of calls to action and reflection in a time of global financial crisis, environmental threat, and resistance to the ways of Wall Street and its allied economic structures. Representatives of North American churches urged their ecumenical and interfaith partners “to undertake a decade of action on eco-justice encompassing both ecological and economic justice.”
The consultation, sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC) took place from 6 to 11 November, and released a document titled “There’s a new world in the making” that analyzes the current state of global affairs. The communiqué culminates in a series of “calls” to the WCC itself, and to “its member churches and partner organizations who share the ideals and goals” of the participants.
Among other issues being discussed, churches in North America are called “to take action in making a transition from carbon-based to renewable energy” and “to narrow the gap between those of us who are rich and those who are poor.” Businesses and industry are called “to commit to principles of integrity” in defined areas.
Participants of the consultation also urged the governments to design and implement transformative legislation and changes to the international financial architecture, exemplified by bodies, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.
December 6, 2011: A majority of Americans professing a belief in God, favor cooperative international efforts to combat climate change, environmental degradation, and the spread of nuclear weapons -- branding them a moral obligation -- says a new public opinion poll conducted jointly by the University of Maryland's Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) and its Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA).
The nearly 1,500 Americans surveyed include large numbers of Catholics and Evangelicals.
"This research challenges common political stereotypes that pigeonhole religious Americans as liberal or conservative on environmental and nuclear proliferation issues," says University of Maryland Public Policy Professor and study co-author John Steinbruner, who directs CISSM.
"These findings demonstrate the public's strong moral impulse to address global policy challenges -- an impulse that if applied properly could break the current impasse on these issues," Steinbruner adds.
Though most believers in the study do not consider addressing environmental and nuclear risks to be spiritual obligations, they do understand these issues as a part of "good stewardship," the study finds.
"While for many believers there is a tenuous connection between their spiritual values and issues related to the environment and the risk of nuclear war, they are nonetheless very responsive to the idea that there is an obligation to protect God's creation, or to be good stewards of the earth," explains study co-author Steven Kull, director of PIPA.
[Read the Full Report (PDF).]
The leadership of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in the USA-Toronto Region signed a statement on November 19, 2011, advocating for the promotion and protection of the rights of children and committing themselves to helping children achieve their full human dignity.
The Regional leadership team includes Bro. Robert Schieler, General Councilor; Bro. Dennis Malloy, District of Eastern North America (DENA); Bro. Larry Schatz, Midwest District; Bro. Timothy Coldwell, New Orleans-Santa Fe District (NO-SF); and Bro. Donald Johanson, San Francisco District
This public expression of support and solidarity for the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child which was adopted in 1989 and ratified by all countries, except the U.S. and Somalia, calls upon political and religious leaders, as well as civil society organizations in this country and throughout the world, to move towards achieving real progress in the protection of children's rights. Today 14.1 million children in the U.S. are economically poor and much work remains to be done.
WASHINGTON -- National Migration Week will be observed in dioceses around the country January 8-14. This year's theme, "Welcoming Christ in the Migrant," and the artistic renderings in the week's materials depict the disciples welcoming a stranger on the road to Emmaus.
"Just as on the road to Emmaus, Christ's disciples met him in the guise of a stranger, this year's theme helps remind us that Christ makes himself present to each of us in the lonesome traveler, the newcomer, and the migrant," said Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles. "We are called to open our hearts and provide hospitality to those in need, especially for migrants who find themselves far away from home and in vulnerable situations." Archbishop Gomez is the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration.
Additionally, the U.S. bishops continue to encourage advocacy efforts by the Catholic community on comprehensive immigration reform. Visit the Justice for Immigrants Campaign website for more information.
Earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI also unveiled the theme for the 98th World Day of Migrants and Refugees to be celebrated January 15, 2012: “Migration and the New Evangelization.” In his message the pope says that the present time calls upon the Church to intensify its missionary activity both in the regions where the Gospel is proclaimed for the first time and in countries with a Christian tradition.
“Proclaiming Jesus Christ the one Savior of the world ‘constitutes the essential mission of the Church’... Today we feel the urgent need to give a fresh impetus and new approaches to the work of evangelization in a world in which the breaking down of frontiers and the new processes of globalization are bringing individuals and peoples even closer,” said Pope Benedict.
Internal or international migration, in search of better living conditions or to flee from the threat of persecution, war and violence, has led to an unprecedented mingling of individuals and peoples, with new problems not only from the human standpoint but also from ethical, religious and spiritual ones, the pope said. And, he added, “Christian communities are to pay special attention to migrant workers and their families by accompanying them with prayer, solidarity and Christian charity, as well as by fostering new political, economic and social planning that promotes respect for the dignity of every human person.” World Day of Migrants and Refugees was instituted by Pope Pius X in 1914.
[Pope Benedict’s message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2012 can be found at www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/migration/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20110921_world-migrants-day_en.html.]
Religious Leaders from the Faithful Budget Campaign Take Center Stage at Capitol Hill Jobs Rally
WASHINGTON – On Thursday, leaders of the Faithful Budget Campaign joined Faith Advocates for Jobs and Interfaith Worker Justice in lead thousands of unemployed workers, faith, labor and community activists in prayer outside of the United States Capitol before unemployed workers marched on Congressional leadership.
As part of a week-long series of events calling on Congress to extend unemployment insurance benefits for jobless workers beyond the December 31 cutoff, the jobs rally and prayer vigil asked members of the Faithful Budget Campaign to describe their work lifting up faithful voices on behalf of the nation's most vulnerable.
“There is a fundamental moral incompatibility between celebrating the joys of this holiday season and leaving this congressional session without passing legislation to extend unemployment benefits for people struggling to support their families,” said Rev. Michael Livingston, Past President, National Council of the Churches of Christ (USA). “Our Congress needs to act now to serve the American people, especially those who are unemployed.”
The Faithful Budget Campaign is an effort by the religious community to encourage the administration and Congress to maintain a robust commitment to domestic and international poverty assistance programs.
Inspired by a common spiritual conviction that God has called on all Americans to protect the vulnerable and promote the dignity of all individuals, the religious community has worked beside the U.S. government for decades to protect those struggling to overcome poverty. Without a sustained federal commitment to these programs, the religious community fears that houses of worship will be unable to solely support the country’s most vulnerable in their time of need.
On the eve of the Congressional Super Committee’s failure to reach a compromise, Americans of all faiths united in prayer at public rallies in Washington, D.C., and across the country calling on members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction not to reduce the deficit by placing an undue burden on the poor while shielding the wealthiest from additional sacrifice.
Additional details about the Faithful Budget Campaign can be found at www.FaithfulBudget.DomesticHumanNeeds.org
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