Saturday, September 30, 2006


Today’s Albany Times Union reports on the upcoming meeting of ARISE.
More than 30 religious and community organizations will meet Tuesday night at Christ the King Church to discuss what ARISE calls its "21st Century Futures Campaign."

ARISE, which stands for A Regional Initiative Supporting Empowerment, is a faith-based community organization that aims to shape new policies, rather than provide services under the status quo.

"We work to change systemic problems of the poor and unemployed and those in need of help," said President Dick Dana, who is a geologist for the state Department of Environmental Conservation and a member of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany.

"We live in a culture that actively discourages the democratic process," said Dana, but ARISE wants to tap the latent power of people in congregations who might be hesitant about getting involved.

You can learn more here. Albany Catholic encourages all religious congregations to get involved in this process.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Daughters of Abraham Book Club

Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, seen locally on WMHT-TV at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday, has a feature this week on the Daughters of Abraham Book Club.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Jewish, Muslim and Christian women gather together once a month to talk about the books they've read -- not the latest bestsellers -- but works that focus on the Abrahamic faiths. Known as the "Daughters of Abraham," this interfaith book club was the brainchild of Edie Howe, a lawyer turned divinity student, who established the reading group in an effort to foster a better understanding of the commonalities and differences found in Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the aftermath of 9-11.

Betty Rollin looks at how the "Daughters of Abraham" helps its members learn more about each of the three religions -- and also establish better insights and relationships among themselves. According to Howe, "I believe it is very important for Jews, Christians and Muslims to learn about each other. If you look in the world today there is profound misunderstanding and there is an enormous amount of prejudice and this book group is my undertaking to try to reduce that to the extent that I am able."

Albany Catholic realizes that not everyone will rise at 6 a.m. to watch the show, or will know how to program their video recorders, so we offer this link to the transcript of the show. No need to thank us now.

Respect Life Sunday, Part 3

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a news release regarding Respect Life Sunday:
In a statement marking Respect Life Sunday, celebrated in Catholic parishes this year on October 1, Cardinal William H. Keeler welcomed “true advances” in respect for human life in our society. He also criticized recent developments that, while “hailed as forms of technical progress” by some, are “regressive and harmful in their effects on human life.”

Cardinal Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore, is Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Among the “signs of progress” welcomed by the Cardinal are the “enthusiastic involvement” of young people in pro-life education and activism, and “the growing number of youth committed to living chastely until marriage,” a trend that has helped reduce abortions. He noted shifts in public opinion against abortion, spurred in part by “the public debate on partial-birth abortion,” and against the use of the death penalty.

Among negative developments the Cardinal cited FDA approval of the abortion drug RU-486 and the Plan B “emergency contraceptive,” which can harm women as well as unborn human lives. “In the field of stem cell research,” he added, “the genuine and growing promise of treatments using adult stem cells is often downplayed or ignored, while exaggerated or even fraudulent claims are made for avenues that require destroying early human lives.” Citing the example of a “Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative” on the November ballot in Missouri, he said the initiative claims to ban human cloning but “would actually elevate the cloning of human embryos for destructive research to the status of a constitutional right.”

The entire release is available here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) committee on international policy is strongly urging the House of Representatives to pass key provisions in H.R. 6142, a bill that would help stimulate economic growth and combat poverty in developing countries such as Haiti.
In a letter sent to House representatives, Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando (FL) calls particular attention to Part III of the resolution, the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act as a critical tool for helping Haiti’s struggling textile manufacturing industry.

“This important legislation is part of our moral imperative to care for the least among us and reflects the deep-rooted humanitarian concerns of the American people,” Bishop Wenski said. “It also offers a meaningful path for many vulnerable people in Haiti to become true partners in their own future.

“As Haiti continues to rebuild essential services, democratic institutions and effective law enforcement, those communities that know only daily violence and fear need meaningful opportunities to build a different future for themselves and their children,” Bishop Wenski added. “The HOPE Act contained in H.R. 6142 will offer important investment incentives for the one remaining sector that can offer employment opportunities for Haiti’s poor. These opportunities are vital in helping Haitians battle instability and build a hopeful future. They merit your full support.”

You can learn more here. Albany Catholic urges you to contact your representatives today.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

You're invited

The Capital District Community Loan Fund invites you to a discussion about Affordable and Effective Marketing on Friday, September 29, 8:30 to 10 am at 255 Orange Street in Albany.

Join Lissa D'Aquanni of the Chocolate Gecko, Christine Urzan of the Olde Judge Mansion B&B and Eric Dahl of the non profit Community Realty for a lively peer conversation on free or low cost outreach ideas.

If you don't have money for a big name advertising campaign or public relations firm, but need to promote your small business or non profit this meeting is for you. Bring an idea to share!

Light breakfast provided. Please call to RSVP at 436-8586.

The Capital District Community Loan Fund's annual celebration to honor investors and borrowers will be held on Monday, October 23 at 5:30 pm at the NYSUT office, 800 Troy Schenectady Road. Call Louise at 436-8586 if you'd like to take an ad in the program journal, have a display table or donate something to the auction.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pope Benedict

We received the following notice from the editors at Commonweal magazine:
Today, Pope Benedict XVI met with representatives from Muslim-majority countries that maintain diplomatic links with the Vatican "in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the Holy See and Muslim communities throughout the world." Benedict said he hoped "to reiterate today all the esteem and the profound respect that I have for Muslim believers."

How did he get to this point? To help make sense of the pope's remarks on Islam and their aftermath, Commonweal presents an interview with Kevin Madigan, SJ, president of the Institute for the Study of Religions and Cultures at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, available only on our Web site.

Madigan tackles several important questions surrounding the controversy:

Can one make sweeping statements about Islam's views on violence and religious tolerance relying solely on the Qur'an?

Would it be correct to say that, as the pope does, God is absolutely transcendent for Muslims? What is the view of the Qur'an when it comes to natural theology and to reason?

Are the pope's comments indicative of a change in the Holy See's policy towards Islam. Do they indicate a more hard-line, reciprocity-based approach?

Will the damage be corrected by the clarifications issued by the Holy See and the personal apology of the pope?

You can read more here

Respect Life Sunday, Part 2

The Respect Life Program begins anew each year on Respect Life Sunday, the first Sunday in October. The program is highlighted in liturgies and marked by special events. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has some resources here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Respect Life Sunday, Part 1

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has sent us the following announcement for Respect Life Sunday:
On October 1, Catholics from around the country will observe "Respect Life Sunday" - a day on which we remember in particular the Catholic call to promote and defend the life and dignity of the human person. It is also an opportunity for us to recommit ourselves to working to end affronts to human life like abortion, war, poverty and torture.

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has created a bulletin insert to help inform parishioners about the Catholic call to protect human life and dignity. You may download the insert by clicking here or here. Please ask your pastor or parish office to place it in the parish bulletin for the weekend of September 30 - October 1st. If this is not possible, then we suggest you print out copies for distribution in the vestibule area of your Church or to hand out after Mass on Labor Day weekend.

We would also appreciate if you would drop a quick note to Eric McFadden at to let us know the parish and diocese in which the insert is being distributed. We would also like to know how it is being distributed.

Thank you so much for your commitment to Catholic Social Teaching and the mission of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

Best Regards,

The Catholics in Alliance Field Team

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Provoke Radio

Provoke Radio, a program about faith and justice, produced by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). It's available for listening on-demand on the Internet or in a pod-cast for hand-held devices as well here.
Provoke believes the desire for social justice has long been a central theme, not only of our own Roman Catholic tradition, but of all the world religions. Provoke starts with that desire and engages you from the vantage of your own faith. As we explore issues of social justice and ethics, we do so within the context of inter-religious dialogue, and in the process, discover a rich treasure of common values.

Provoke believes communications is a mighty tool in the promotion of justice. In a world where many voices are absent from the more powerful media, Provoke tackles issues that affect the poor and marginalized throughout the world. And in so doing, provides a voice for the voiceless.

In the end, Provoke is not interested in being just another talk show where both guests and listeners express their opinions about what the "Other" should do to solve a problem. Provoke speaks eloquently to the individual, calling forth a profound and personal response to issues of the day. Provoke serves first to raise consciousness and inspire thoughtful reflection. Only after that do we hope to motivate action in our listeners. Because when all is said and done, we know that living faith requires loving action.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


We have gotten some e-mail from people who like to kick the ACLU, and for those who might feel the same way, we thought you would be interested in the following from their website. We think you will be surprised.

+ + + + + + + + + +

The ACLU is fully engaged in defending a broad range of constitutional rights, including rights related to freedom of religion and belief. It is sometimes wrongly imagined that the ACLU does not vigorously protect rights of freedom of religion, particularly of Christians. The following recent cases illustrate just how wrong these misconceptions are. Although the cases listed below are under the categories of "Christians" and "non-Christian" (representing the religious beliefs of those who were defended), constitutional rights belong to everyone and not only to people of
particular religious faiths. The ACLU is also proud of its work defending the rights of everyone by ensuring that the Establishment Clause is fully respected.

Rhode Island ACLU (2006) filed an appeal in federal court on behalf of an inmate who was barred from preaching during Christian religious services, something he had done for the past seven years under the supervision and support of prison clergy. The prisoner, Wesley Spratt, believes his preaching is a calling from God. Prison officials cited vague and unsubstantiated security reasons for imposing the preaching ban on Mr. Spratt. The ACLU argued that the ban violates Mr. Spratt's religious freedoms guaranteed to prisoners under federal law.

The ACLU of Nevada (2005) defended the free exercise rights and free speech rights of evangelical Christians to preach on the sidewalks of the Strip in Las Vegas.

The ACLU of New Mexico (2005) joined forces with the American Family Association to succeed in freeing a preacher, Shawn Miller, from the Roosevelt County jail, where he was held for 109 days for street preaching. The ACLU became involved at the request of Miller's wife, Theresa.

The ACLU of New Jersey (2005) filed a a motion to submit a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Olivia Turton, a second-grade student who was forbidden from singing "Awesome God" in a voluntary, after-school talent show. The only restriction on the student's selection for the talent show was that it be "G-rated." The case, filed in federal court, is Turton, et al. v. Frenchtown Elementary School, et al.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Time to act

NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby, has sent out an action alert asking our help with two matters. One is the minimum wage, of which we have written several times. The other is the Oman Free Trade Act:
The Oman trade agreement, an agreement with a small sultanate, whose record of human trafficking and forced labor has been noted by State Department reports, is totally unworthy of a legislative body of a nation supposedly dedicated to freedom and human rights. Oman’s provisions mirror those of CAFTA. Consequently, it has met heavy resistance from labor groups, environmentalists and social justice groups who fault the treaty on labor and human rights grounds.

There is more information about both issues here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Candidate questionnaire

We received the following Action Alert from the New York State Catholic Conference:
On September 13 the New York State Catholic Conference mailed a candidate questionnaire to all of the state candidates for elective office, surveying them on a variety of issues of importance to the Church. (You may view the candidate questionnaire here.)

The purpose of this project is not to endorse one candidate over another or to tell Catholics how to vote, but rather, to inform Catholic citizens as to where each candidate stands on issues of concern. We plan to broadly disseminate and publicize the results of this survey in order to promote voter awareness and understanding.

The success of this project is dependent upon the receipt of responses from the hundreds of candidates running for the State Senate, Assembly Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller. Please contact the candidates who seek to represent you and urge that they complete the survey and send it back to us as soon as possible.

To learn more, go here.

We won. (Sort of?)

Last week we told you about Timothy’s Law, which would establish coverage for mental health and chemical dependence services on par with physical health benefits under insurance plans. The Senate passed the bill on Friday, but apparently Governor George Pataki has not agreed to sign it, and it may differ from a previously passed Asembly version, which would require the two houses of the legislature to work out any differences. Albany Catholic will keep you posted on developments.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Wounds of war

Southern Rensselaer Neighbors for Peace is sponsoring a talk Help Greater Albany Heal from the Wounds of War, Wednesday, September 20th,
7-9pm at the East Greenbush Community Library, 10 Community Way, East Greenbush, NY.

Edward Tick, Ph.D., PTSD expert and author will read from and discuss his book, War and the Soul: Healing our Nation's Veterans from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

For more information contact Hervie Harris of the Southern Rensselaer Neighbors for Peace at 518-732-7141.

Political responsibility

In a news release called Pastors, parishes and political responsibility, the New York State Catholic Conference renews its call to Catholic citizens to inform themselves on the critical issues of the day and to exercise their right to vote.
The role and responsibilities of Catholics in public life have been the subject of much discussion throughout our nation in recent months. Catholics, virtually alone among religious denominations, are often made to feel that we should not allow our deeply held beliefs to help shape our positions on political issues. The notion that Catholics should separate their religious and moral beliefs from their actions as policy makers or voters is incorrect on its face. All people are obligated to vote according their informed conscience, and religious beliefs play a critical role in the formation of the conscience.

In the United States of America, all citizens are blessed to have the opportunity to vote for our political leaders. This is not a responsibility to be taken lightly, and the New York State Catholic Conference renews its call to Catholic citizens to inform themselves on the critical issues of the day and to exercise their right to vote. These issues include, but are not limited to, the respect for the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death, issues of war and peace, the education and formation of children, the needs of the poor, oppressed and vulnerable, and access to health care for all people, particularly the elderly and infirm.

In the document Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Catholic Political Responsibility, the bishops of the United States remind us of the role of the church in the public square. “The Church is called to educate Catholics about our social teaching, highlight the moral dimensions of public policies, participate in debates on matters affecting the common good, and witness to the Gospel through our services and ministries. The Catholic community’s participation in public affairs does not undermine, but enriches the political process and affirms genuine pluralism. Leaders of the Church have the right and duty to share Catholic teaching and to educate Catholics on the moral dimensions of public life, so that they may form their consciences in light of the truth.”

But the document goes further than asserting the rights of Catholics to participate in the political process. It notes that such participation is obligatory. “In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue; participation in the political process is a moral obligation. All believers are called to faithful citizenship, to become informed, active, and responsible participants in the political process.”

The entire release is here. Albany Catholic will be addressing this issue often in the coming weeks as we head to the general election in November.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hunger Monday

The Hunger Action Network has big plans for Monday.
Join Us for Hunger Action Network’s Annual Meeting, Monday, September 18th in Albany

We hope you will join us for our upcoming Annual Meeting and Conference to be held on Monday, September 18th in Albany. This year’s meeting will focus on how to build a stronger hunger movement, starting with raising the welfare grant for the poorest of the poor. We will also discuss other economic security initiatives, such as universal health care, community food security, and job creation.

Our keynote speaker will be Professor William DiFazio who will be speaking on his recent book Ordinary Poverty: A Little Food and Cold Storage. In this trenchant and groundbreaking work, DiFazio presents the results of welfare reform—from ending entitlements to diminished welfare benefits -- through the eyes and voices of those who were most directly affected by it. Ordinary Poverty concludes with a program to guarantee universal rights to a living wage as a crucial way to end poverty. Ultimately, DiFazio articulates the form a true poor people's movement would take -- one that would link the interests of all social movements with the interests of ending poverty.

You are welcome to attend as a Hunger Action member and supporter, a coalition member, a citizen advocate, or simply as an interested individual. We especially encourage low-income individuals to attend and share their insights.

Albany Catholic recommends that your visit the Hunger Action website here for more information.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Darfur Sunday

A global day for Darfur is scheduled worldwide this Sunday, September 17. A large rally is scheduled in New York City.
Multi-platinum, award-winning duo Big & Rich and popular rock group O.A.R. will appear at “Save Darfur Now: Voices to End Genocide” in New York City on September 17 ( The rally will be held in the East Meadow of New York’s Central Park and will be the centerpiece event in a global day for Darfur (, as individuals across the globe will call for the immediate deployment of U.N. peacekeepers to Darfur, Sudan.

“Save Darfur Now: Voices to End Genocide” will be held at the East Meadow in Central Park near the intersection of 5th Avenue and 97th Street. The rally will coincide with the 61st meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, and activists and entertainers will call on the United Nations to deploy a Chapter VII-mandated peacekeeping force to Darfur immediately.

You can learn more here, here and here.

Before he was pope

Almost four years ago, in September 2002, Catholic News Service reported that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said a U.S. attack on Iraq would not be morally justifiable.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- It would not be moral for the United States, acting alone or with only a few allies, to attack Iraq before a new round of inspections of Iraq's arsenal, said Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the United Nations, while not perfect, is the body chosen by the world community to judge the legitimacy of war.

As long as the United Nations and most of its member nations support weapons inspections instead of immediate military action, the United States does not have a right to act unilaterally, the cardinal told reporters after a speech on politics and morality.

The cardinal's comments were reported Sept. 21 in the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire. His office did not confirm his remarks, but distributed the text of his speech in Trieste, Italy.

Asked by reporters if U.S. military action against Iraq could be justified morally, he answered, "Certainly not in this situation."

The entire article is available here. We at Albany Catholic are not aware of those views changing since the cardinal became pope. And for the record, you should not forget that the inspectors he referred to left Iraq because President Bush called them back, not because, as some have claimed, Saddam Hussein kicked them out.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The priests of 9/11

Father Edward J. Burns, Executive Director of the Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has written an article entitled The Priests of September 11, 2001: Men of Word and Sacrament.
Father Kevin Smith, a chaplain with the Nassau County Fire Department, received word from his secretary to turn on the news. In learning of the situation at the World Trade Center, he picked up his brother, Patrick, a firefighter in New York City, and proceeded to the WTC. As he describes in "We Were There . . ." he came upon Father Mychal Judge's body after the collapse of the first tower. Not recognizing the man, he simply verifies his death, blesses the body, and continues on his mission. After the collapse of the tower, he learns that rescue workers had continued to carry the body of Father Judge to an office building. Father Smith looked for them, was taken to the body that he could then identify, and asked that Father Judge be taken to St. Peter's Church. It was there that Father Judge's body was placed near the altar in the sanctuary. Father Smith went to the first pew—and prayed.

Maryknoll missioner, Father Raymond Nobiletti, MM, pastor of Transfiguration Parish in New York, was one of the first priests on the scene after the attacks of the World Trade Center. A photographer captured the priest ministering to a woman who was severely burned. Moments after the photo was taken, the south tower of the WTC fell. Father Nobiletti and the others photographed were stunned and dazed by the force of the collapsed building. The second photograph shows Father Nobiletti, still wearing his stole, covered in soot and ashes.

The entire article is on the website of the USCCB here. These stories and others have been collected into a booklet entitled September 11, 2001, We Were There . . .: Catholic Priests, How They Responded, In Their Own Words, illustrating how some priests fulfilled their role as men of word and sacrament during the events of September 11, 2001. It is available online at

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 follow-up

A reader sent us the following, for September 11.

Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Already you probably have thought how this relates to the political leaders of those with whom you disagree. Now take a few minutes to think about how it might relate to those politicians with whom you do agree.

Remembering 9/11

Catholic New York, the newspaper of the archdiocese of New York, has an article on priests who were in New York on 9/11 and what they recall of that terrible day.
Father James P. Hayes, S.S.S., is pastor of St. Andrew's Church near One Police Plaza. On 9/11 he went to the World Trade Center site, where he saw a group of firefighters from Rescue 5 suiting up to enter the South Tower; he said a prayer with them and went with them into the building, where he searched through stores in the mall looking for victims. He said that he came out minutes after the second plane hit. All of the Rescue 5 firefighters died.

The entire article is here.

In the same issue, Father Bob Pagliari, C.SS.R., Ph.D., writes about the anniversary of 9/11:
So we must look to the spiritual leaders of our time, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc., to preach harmony over hatred. We must trust that they will impart to everyone in the pews this wisdom of the marriage between faith and love. What God has joined together let no one put asunder.

The rest of that article is here.

We were in New York on that fateful day five years ago and will never forget it. Let us honor the sacrifice of all who died by speaking of those events with honesty and self-reflection, and let us not use those events for purposes contrary to our heritage as Catholics and Americans.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The American Conservative

Among the reasons we at Albany Catholic like The American Conservative magazine are its commitment to its principles, regardless of who is in political office. Another is its willingness to listen to other voices, as evidenced by its most recent issue.
What is Left? What is Right? Does it Matter?

Since its inception, The American Conservative has been dealing with questions of what Right and Left mean in the modern context and to what extent the terms even apply anymore.

Commentary memorably took up similar issues in a 1976 symposium, and, 30 years later, in a time of renewed ideological flux, we think a reconsideration is in order. In the interest of hosting a lively discussion, we chose contributors from across the political spectrum and asked for their thoughts on the following questions:

1. Are the designations "liberal" and "conservative" still useful? Why or why not?

2. Does a binary Left/Right political spectrum describe the full range of ideological options? Is it still applicable?

The entire issue can be found here

Timothy’s Law

The New York State Catholic Conference is urging people to contact their State Senators regarding this important piece of legislation.
Please take action today to see that Timothy’s Law is enacted when the Senate returns to session this week. This important legislation would establish that coverage for mental health and chemical dependence services must be on par with physical health benefits under insurance plans. The Assembly has overwhelmingly passed Timothy’s Law (A2912A/Tonko) but to date the Senate has not acted on it. Health insurance plans and health maintenance organizations frequently limit access to behavioral health services by restricting the number of visits and/or requiring higher co-payments than required for access to general health services. The case of Timothy O’Clair, a Schenectady boy who committed suicide in his home after not getting adequate mental health treatment due to lack of coverage, clearly illustrates the ultimate cost that barriers to treatment can exact. Please call or email your Senator today.

Click here, then click on Take Action at the bottom right side of the page. A pop-up box will give you more information and allow you to send an e-mail to your State senator.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

In memoriam

The Times Union reports that thousands of mourners are expected to fill Saratoga Springs this weekend and Monday for the wake and funeral of Trooper Joseph Longobardo of Middle Grove.

Saratoga Springs High School officials were told that 5,000 to 10,000 people are expected to attend the wake from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The wake is being held in the high school auditorium, at 3 Blue Streak Blvd., which holds about 1,300 people, according to district officials.

For the funeral at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Clements Roman Catholic Church, 231 Lake Ave., police departments from across the Capital Region will help city police with traffic. The church holds about 800 people, police said. Burial will follow at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery, Saratoga.

To donate: The New York State Trooper Foundation established two funds to accept donations in response to the shootings of Longobardo and fellow Trooper Donald H. Baker Jr. The Trooper Joseph A. Longobardo Memorial Fund benefits Longobardo's family. The second is named for Baker. Donations pay for enhancements to the State Police Mobile Response Team, to which both troopers were assigned. Make checks payable to NYS Trooper Foundation, and send to 3 Airport Park Blvd., Latham, NY 12110. Designate the name of the fund in the memo section of the check.


Churches for Middle East Peace has Prayer and Study Resources for your church here. It includes a statement by the Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches in Jerusalem on Christian Zionism. The Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran and Syrian Orthodox leaders write critically of the “Christian Zionist” movement, affirm that “Israelis and Palestinians are capable of living together within peace, justice and security,” and “call upon all Churches that remain silent, to break their silence and speak for reconciliation with justice in the Holy Land.”

Albany Catholic recommends that you share it with your parishioners.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The War Prayer

If you never have read Mark Twain’s The War Prayer, read it this weekend before the fifth anniversary of 9/11. If you have read it before, read it again, and share it with your friends.
Twain apparently dictated it around 1904-05; it was rejected by his publisher, and was found after his death among his unpublished manuscripts. It was first published in 1923 in Albert Bigelow Paine's anthology, Europe and Elsewhere.

The story is in response to a particular war, namely the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902, which Twain opposed.

You can read it here.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

This just in . . .

. . . and we hope it is not too late.

Walt Chura will lead Thomas Merton in the Mountains, the 11th Annual Contemplative Retreat at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, New York, September 8-10, 2006. The all inclusive cost is $120 per person.

For information about registration or accommodations, call 518-585-7545, e-mail or visit

The retreat is co-sponsored by the International Thomas Merton Society (ITMS) and the Thomas Merton Society of the Capital Region. Walt is the past Chair of the Retreats Committee of the ITMS and Coordinator of the TMSCR, past Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Francis Chapel in Albany and has taught at Siena College and the College of St. Rose. He also is part of the Emmaus House/Albany Catholic Worker extended community and a Secular Franciscan.

While the weekend will include talks on Merton’s contemplative spirituality and peacemaking and intervals of common prayer, Walt says he will be guided by Merton’s proposal for a good retreat of leaving you extended silent periods without organized activity . . . and more time simply to get oneself back into one’s right mind . . . even for those who find silence and solitude oppressive: there is a certain value in just disciplining oneself to be ˜empty and to spend time doing nothing . . .

By coincidence, we also just learned of a column about Merton by John Dear, a Jesuit priest and peace activist whose book, The Sound of Listening: A Retreat Journal from Thomas Merton's Hermitage was republished this week by Wipf and Stock publishers. The column is available here from National Catholic Reporter.

Merton based his life on prayer, contemplation and mysticism. But here he turned down a counterintuitive avenue. He practiced contemplation not to turn an escapist's eye toward wars and dominations and imperial aggrandizements, but to discover the path toward communing with the living God and loving one another in peace.

Which is to say, Merton invites us to become contemplatives, mystics of nonviolence. Contemplation, meditation, adoration and communion take us into the presence of the God of peace. They teach us of the nonviolence of Jesus. In other words, the spiritual life begins with contemplative nonviolence. God disarms our hearts of inner violence and transforms us into people of Gospel nonviolence. We learn to let go of violence and resentments. Merton took this work very seriously, and wants us to do the same.

Then God sends us on a mission of disarming love. We grant clemency and forgiveness to everyone. We move from anger, revenge and violence to compassion, mercy and nonviolence. We radiate personally the peace we seek politically. "What is important in nonviolence is the contemplative truth that is not seen," Merton writes. "The radical truth of reality is that we are all one." Merton spent his life looking for that radical truth, and invites us to do likewise, despite the world's blindness.

Merton shows us a thing or two more. By his example we learn that we should be students and teachers of nonviolence. Merton was a great teacher. But more, he was the eternal student. He constantly studied, learned, searched in every intellectual byway for the truth of nonviolence.

Just do it

NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, is urging Catholics to take action to raise the federal minimum wage.
Call and email your Representative and Senators, urge them to propose and pass a “clean” minimum wage bill this session.

The Capitol switchboard number is 202-224-3121. You can email via NETWORK’s web site at

Poverty data, released August 27th, verifies that the gap between the ultra-wealthy and almost all working families continued to widen in 2005. Congress gave themselves a pay hike, and further reduced taxes on the wealthiest earlier this session. Yet, they seem unwilling to lift full-time low-wage workers to a level which would still leave a family of four below the poverty level.

We call on Congress to be righteous, as the prophet Ezekiel outlines for us, the righteous one “does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, … gives bread to the hungry, … does not take advance or accrued interest, withholds his hand from iniquity, executes true justice … acting faithfully.” (Ezekiel 18: 5-9)

Click here for more information on the minimum wage.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Follow-up on the news

Last week, we reported on legislation that would have created an easy to navigate database tracking about $2.5 trillion of government spending -- contracts, grants, insurance, loans and financial assistance. It was headed for almost certain passage until someone in the Senate resorted to secrecy to stop an open government bill. Now, you can learn what happened:
Perhaps there's hope for the battle for public disclosure in the U.S. Senate after all. Oh, the bill that would have created an easy to navigate database to keep track of $2.5 trillion in federal spending -- contracts, grants, insurance payments and the like -- still has an obstacle or two in the way of passage. But at least the culprits who resorted to secretly derailing it have been outed.

They're Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. Shame on them both.

The entire story is here. Interesting how such chicanery is bipartisan.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day, 5

NBC News reports on one of the consequences of the crackdown on illegal immigrants:
In the berry fields of Woodland, Wash, farmer Jerry Dobbins had to make a painful decision.

"It's more than I can deal with," he says as he stands in a plowed field. "Yesterday, this was a strawberry field. We couldn't pick it, because we didn't have enough labor. Today, we took it out."

Half the crop won't be harvested, Dobbins says, because about half of the migrant farm workers he expected this year — didn't come.

The report, which you can find here, notes that another consequences will be higher prices at the checkout counter.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Labor Day, 4

An article in America magazine, titled Justice in Executive Compensation, addresses some important issues for American Catholics to think about this Labor Day weekend. It is written by Edward M. Welch, an attorney and a professor in the School of Labor and Industrial Relations at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.
The [former] Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, has spoken about “infectious greed” in American corporate leadership. Business Week has pointed out that while rank-and-file wages increased over the last decade by just 36 percent, pay for chief executive officers climbed 340 percent. The magazine commented, “When C.E.O.’s can clear $1 billion during their tenures, executive pay is clearly too high.” A commission appointed by the business-oriented Conference Board has similarly noted the public’s anger over excessive executive compensation. It argued that limits must be instituted in order to restore the confidence that the American public has lost in corporations.
. . .
Estimates indicate the C.E.O.’s of large American corporations make 400 to 500 times the compensation of average workers. This is up from about 42 times the average compensation in 1980 and 15 to 20 times the average compensation in Japan and Germany today.

The author goes on to suggest solutions to this problem based on principles of Catholic social justice. A good read on a rainy day here in upstate New York.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Labor Day, 3

This Labor Day, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Pax Christi USA are honoring the contributions of workers by promoting the message of Catholic Social Teaching throughout the Catholic community. They are inviting you to join their effort by distributing a special Labor Day bulletin insert in your parish.

For many people, Labor Day provides a much-needed break from the rigors of our busy work weeks. As we gather with friends and family this Labor Day, we also are reminded of our Catholic responsibility to honor and support those who work hard to keep our society and our economy healthy - especially those who work hard but remain in poverty.

You may download the insert by clicking here.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Labor Day, 2

We continue our reflections on Labor Day with this article comparing the salaries of some CEOs with those of army privates.
As soldiers have died in displaying personal patriotism, the pay gap between soldiers and defense CEOs has exploded. Before 9/11, the gap between CEOs of publicly traded companies and army privates was already a galling 190 to 1. Today, it is 308 to 1. The average army private makes $25,000 a year. The average defense CEO makes $7.7 million.

The entire article is worth reading, and we will follow it tomorrow with some comments on executive compensation and Catholic social teaching.