Thursday, November 30, 2006

Courage to Resist

Courage to Resist is a group of concerned community members, veterans and military families “that supports military objectors to illegal war and occupation and the policies of empire.” The group is calling for public action on December 8-10 to support “GI Resistance and GI Rights.”
It's time for us to escalate public pressure and action in support of the growing movement of thousands of courageous men and women GI’s who have in many different ways followed the their conscience, upholding international law, taking a principled stand against unjust, illegal war and occupation and stood up for their rights. Widespread public support and pressure will help create true support for courageous troops facing isolation and repression, and help protect their civil liberties and human rights. We call for the following:1) Support for War Objectors 2) Protect the Right to Conscientious Objection 3) Protect the Liberties & Human Rights of GI's 4) Sanctuary for War Objectors. We urge you to join us December 8-10th for a weekend of action in supportof GI Resistance and GI Rights!

You can learn more here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

World Aids Day

Catholic News Service reports on World Aids Day:
The annual observance of World AIDS Day Dec. 1 gives everyone -- from national and international AIDS organizations to community groups, parishes and individuals -- an opportunity to recommit themselves to the fight against AIDS, said Dan Lunney, executive director of the Chicago-based National Catholic AIDS Network.

An estimated 38.6 million people are thought to be living with AIDS or HIV, the virus that causes it. According to UNAIDS, 4.1 million people were newly infected in 2006.

"This is an opportunity for us to focus on the important opportunities we have to improve our ministry to our brothers and sisters living with, and affected by, HIV/AIDS," said Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George in a recent conference call aimed at raising awareness about the disease and sharing resources for Catholic parishes to use to observe World AIDS Day.

CNS also reports that more information on HIV/AIDS resources is available on the Web here and here.

Empire Zones

The Syracuse Post-Standard follows up a report on Empire Zones with this editorial:
Beware of the consequences of good intentions. That could be the watchword for New York's Empire Zone program, which staff writers Mike McAndrew and Michelle Breidenbach have been examining for five months.

Empire Zones were created a half-dozen years ago to bring jobs and economic development to hard-pressed areas. Things haven't always worked out that way. Alert lawyers and accountants found and exploited loopholes. Some companies discovered they could simply change their names and qualify for tax breaks. Others failed to keep their job-creation promises.
. . .
Gov.-elect Eliot Spitzer says he's long been skeptical of Empire Zones but wants to hear more. Spitzer doubts much can be done about past deals, since the rules didn't include money-back guarantees.

The Post-Standard's ongoing investigation should help bring the incoming governor up to speed on Empire Zones as he charts his course.

As the Governor-elect prepares his budget, Albany Catholic suggests our readers contact their state legislators to insist that the Empire Zone program either be fixed or eliminated. You can read more here.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

At the news conference for the presentation of the "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church," Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino stated:
I am particularly pleased to make public today the long-awaited document "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church". This document has been prepared - at the request of the Holy Father, to whom it is dedicated - by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which is fully responsible for its content. It is now made available to all - Catholics, other Christians, people of good will - who seek sure signs of truth in order to better promote the social good of persons and societies. This work began five years ago under the presidency of my venerated predecessor Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. An unavoidable delay in the work was caused by the sickness and death of Cardinal Van Thuan and by the subsequent change in presidency of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

The drafting of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church was not a simple undertaking. The most complex problems that had to be dealt with were essentially those determined by: a) the fact that this amounted to compiling a text that had no precedent in the Church's history; b) the attempt to bring into focus certain complex epistemological questions inherent in the nature of the Church’s social doctrine; c) the need to give a unified and universal dimension to the document notwithstanding the countless facets and unlimited variety of social realities in the world and of the world; and d) the desire to offer a teaching that loses nothing of its lustre over time, in an historical period marked by very rapid and radical social, economic and political changes.

The rest of the Cardinal’s comments can be read here.

The on-line version of the Compendium is available here. Of course, this Christmas, you can always give the book, or ask someone to give it to you. If you want to order a copy for yourself or someone else, you can find more information here.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Stop the Hate

Stop the Hate Interfaith Prayer Vigil

When: Monday, November 27, 7 p.m.

Where: Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary

Contact: Ed Bloch, 783-6821,

Sixth annual prayer vigil against hate. Speakers include Ed Solomon, deacon, Church of St. Vincent de Paul, Albany; Djafer Sebkhaoui, imam, Troy Area Mosque; Rabbi Robert Kasman, president, Capital District Board of Rabbis; Jai Misir, Schenectady Hindu Temple; Rev. Robert Lamar, First Presbyterian Church, Albany; and Dr. Ed Tick, author of "War and the Soul."

You can contact the Interfaith Alliance of New York State here.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Pork update

The Times Union has reported that the Senate majority (the Republicans) has posted its Community Projects Fund Grants, (aka Pork), on the Web. The Democratic majority in the Assembly (the Democrats) has yet to do so.

The projects for 2003-2004 are available here. The projects for 2004-2005 are available here.

The story from the TU blog is here.

We at Albany Catholic were especially interested in the comments, such as:
the Senate could not have developed a more impossible to navigate and difficult to digest document dump if they desired.

I’m not sure which is more disgusting: the maximally unusable form the data was presented in, or that there’s no data newer than 2005. Just another way the legislature says “@*$0 you” to the voters.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Muslim Defense Liason Committee

The Muslim Defense Liason Committee of the Capital District invites you to a potluck dinner, to be preceeded by a committee-wide meeting at The Islamic Center of the Capital District, 21 Lansing Road in North Colonie.

Sunday, December 3
4 p.m. to 5 p.m. - Committee meeting
5 p.m. -7 p.m. - potluck dinner & discussion

We hope to continue the mission of our committee to get to know our Muslim neighbors, and have them get to know us, for support, for friendship, for community...

Please RSVP to mary_alice_smith@ no later than Tuesday, November 28th. Please bring a dish to share with at least 8 people.
For further information call 439-0314.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving greetings

It’s not too late to send Thanksgiving greetings to those special people in your life. The good folks at offer a variety of e-cards, including one with this prayer:
Loving God,
let the gratitude we know today
seep like a gentle rain into the lives and hearts
of all people we meet in your world
and at your table.

Albany Catholic wishes a Happy Thanksgiving to you and all our faithful readers.

Timothy's Law (update)

Previously we told you about Timothy's Law. Recently the Elmira Star Gazette took up the cause:
So it is with the compromise version of Timothy's Law that passed through a special session of the New York State Senate early this year. The Assembly has not yet considered the measure, but there's time -- and no good reason not to act.

For those who have lost track of the many legislative initiatives named after victims, this law is named after 12-year-old Timothy O'Clair, a Schenectady boy who committed suicide after his parents fought for years to get him adequate mental health care. The family's insurance coverage was limited, and the last-minute desperate attempt to get Timothy care by relinquishing custody to the state proved too late.

No family -- no one -- should find themselves in such a position or have to make such a choice.

You can learn more here. Albany Catholic urges you to contact your Assemblyperson today. You can do so by going to the website of the New York State Catholic Conference and clicking on the Take Action icon at the bottom right side of the page.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Was it worth it?

The London Review of Books has an article titled The Least Accountable Regime in the Middle East. It is about our efforts in Iraq, and Albany Catholic recommends it to all our readers.
. . . Iraq has run out of reconstruction money. The funds in the so-called Development Fund for Iraq – some $20 billion of Iraqi money – were spent by Paul Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority in the first year of the occupation. The US Embassy in Baghdad has spent virtually all of the $18.4 billion that Congress appropriated for ‘rebuilding’ the country; $5.6 billion of it was used to run the embassy, promote American ‘values’ and set up the new armed forces and police. Most of the American money never even gets to Iraq. The bulk of it has gone to American consultants, or into American contractors’ international bank accounts.

‘Most of the projects planned in sewerage, irrigation, drainage and dams have been cancelled,’ the auditors of the US Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction (SIGIR) report. Others have been ‘descoped’. A 238 km canal brings fresh water to Basra from the Gharraf river, a tributary of the Tigris. The long neglected banks of the canal are crumbling. There was a plan to line its entire length with concrete; the idea now is merely to repair one badly damaged 20 km stretch. This is what ‘descoped’ means. In July, SIGIR could find no evidence of emergency repairs or even routine maintenance. According to the increasingly implausible State Department, Iraq’s basic utilities – its electricity, oil production and water supply – have reached standards close to or above those under Saddam. The US General Accountability Office (GAO), however, says these claims are meaningless, since they are based on numbers of completed projects, without indicating how much has been done of what was originally planned.

One thing is certain: the Coalition has created and fostered the least accountable and least transparent regime in the Middle East. It’s impossible to say whether it’s also the most corrupt, because so little is known about how Iraq’s ministers spend their government’s revenue. The US Embassy says it’s trying to find out, but it hasn’t had much success. Paul Bremer handed over $8.8 billion in cash to the interim government in the first year of occupation; it has never been accounted for. American auditors are also still in the dark about Iraq’s reconstruction budget for the two years that followed: another $14 billion. ‘SIGIR has no further information about how much of these funds has been expended.’ Iraqis don’t know either, since there are no meaningful public accounts.

The rest of the article is available here.

Emmaus House

Today's Times Union has a nice story about our friends at Emmaus House:
Like many families, Fred Boehrer and Diana Conroy live below the poverty level and are struggling to raise three children. But what sets them apart is that they're poor by choice.

They run Emmaus House of Hospitality at 45 Trinity Place. They're still unpacking at the long-vacant 19th-century home in the Albany's South End, where they just moved after 10 years on North Main Avenue.

"By choosing to live a simple lifestyle below the poverty line, there's a sense of solidarity with the families we are helping," said Boehrer, who works part time as a teacher. "Living together with women and children who are temporarily homeless and need a place to stay helps not only them, but strengthens our faith in God and family as well."

Boehrer and Conroy are members of the Catholic Worker Movement, which was founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in 1933 during the Depression. Day and Maurin tried "to become better, not better off." They opened houses of hospitality to welcome people who were homeless. Their farming communes became places of respite for city dwellers who were poor.

You can read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Over at Whispers in the Loggia, Rocco Palmo yesterday noted the 10th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Bernadin on November 14, 1996.
"Our brother Joseph is at peace."

Ten years ago this morning, that was the word from Chicago, where its eighth archbishop had succumbed to pancreatic cancer, aged 66.

Those who loved him wish he were still here to lead them; those who didn't wish he were still here to serve as their bogeyman, but both schools of thought speak to the same reality: Joseph Louis Bernardin was a titanic figure of the post-conciliar church in the United States.

Born in the South, the first Italian-American prince of the church came to national prominence in the Midwest, first in Cincinatti, and then in Chicago where, on the eve of his installation, he uttered simple words of great meaning, which have stood the test of a quarter-century:

"I hope that long before my name falls from the eucharistic prayer in the silence of death you will know well who I am. You will know because we will work and play together, fast and pray together, mourn and rejoice together, despair and hope together, dispute and be reconciled together. You will know me as a friend, fellow priest, and bishop. You will know also that I love you.

"For I am Joseph, your brother."

If any presbyterate heard words like that these days, they would need to be assured that they weren't having delusions. Then again, the first American cardinal created by John Paul II had a curious knack for being ahead of his time. What is more, far beyond the confines of the archdiocese he loved, many found in his example a template of how to live and how to die, how to believe and to serve, and the importance of being mindful both of the scourge of war and the challenge of peace.

Arguably, however, Cardinal Bernardin's greatest institutional legacy was in the episcopal conference, which he served as its first general secretary, as vice-president and, from 1974-77, its president. His advocacy for issues of human life and the Catholic mission in all its concerns is reflected still in its approach. It's another one of those great ironies, however, that on this anniversary, faced with exigencies unimaginable but a decade ago, the same conference -- led through its darkest days by one of his episcopal sons -- faces a vote to significantly curtail the structures whose building he championed.

Toward the end of his life, the man whose mother told him at his episcopal ordination to "Stand up straight and don't look so pleased" sought to take on one final ad intra concern. The term "common ground" may now be viewed by some as overly evocative of an ideological pole, but the importance of unity in the church that the term represents has become even more of an imperative in ecclesial life in the years since, particularly as the consequences of a divided secular polity in the United States have seeped into the life of the Body of Christ.

Yet again, the man was ahead of his time, but the work of unity -- which Benedict XVI termed the "will" of the Holy Spirit on the vigil of Pentecost -- belongs not to one prelate, diocese or faction, but is the mission of the whole church.

Structures rise and fall, but communion remains -- or, at least, is supposed to. And that's not something ten years can change.

We at Albany Catholic recommend this interesting blog here.

Less pork for us?

Liz Benjamin of the Times Union, who happens to be one of our favorite bloggers, notes that State Assemblyman Tom Kirwin plans to introduce legislation to prohibit lawmakers from providing member items (ie: pork) to organizations that either pay or employ the legislators themselves or their ‘blood-related family.”
“The justification for this legislation is that in the past we have seen member item money go to organizations of which members of the legislature are employees,” Kirwin said in a press release.

“We have seen money go to organizations where the member’s spouse was employed. We have seen member item money given to organizations that donate huge amounts of money to a member’s campaign.”

Liz notes: The likelihood of Kirwin himself getting a bill of this nature through is next to zero, given his minority member status. Albany Catholic recommends that our readers contact their elected representatives in Albany to support this important piece of legislation. You can learn more here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Values voters

Tom Krattenmaker, who lives in Portland, Ore., specializes in religion in public life and is a member of USA TODAY's board of contributors. He recently wrote an op-ed in which he said:
I am a values voter.

Given my progressive political and religious beliefs, some might find this a dubious claim — especially members of the Christian right, who with their rhetoric about “values voters” suggest that only those who share their positions on abortion and same-sex couples possess something deserving of the term “values.”

Social conservatives' skewed deployment of the “v-word” floods the public square these days. (Though it didn't help Republicans this time as it did in 2004.) President Bush, on the campaign trail, called on voters to support candidates who defend “traditional values.”

Consider two events organized this past year by leading religious right figures — the “Values Voters Summit,” held earlier this fall with a lineup of speakers that included the flame-throwing Ann Coulter, and the high-profile “War on Christians and the Values Voter” conference in March. Consider the website operated by the conservative American Family Association, and the declaration by leading social conservative Gary Bauer that 2004 was the “year of the values voter.”

Apparently, those of us who hold different positions on the hot-button issues as framed by social conservatives — those of us who turn our attention and hearts to other imperatives such as peace-making, poverty relief, environmental preservation and tolerance — have no values. According to the rhetoric of social conservatives, progressives are the “anything goes” lot. Secularists, liberal Christians and followers of other faiths — we're the ones tearing America down with our moral weakness and hostility to the conservative Christian worldview.

Let's move past this hubris and damn-the-opponents rhetoric. We all have values. Let the majority of us who are not members of the “values voters” club continue to take back the v-word and proclaim the values that we've always acted — and voted — upon.

You can read the rest here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Water, water everywhere . . .

A United Nations Development Program report on the lack of clean water in many area of the world led to these two news stories. The first, from the Los Angeles Times, notes:
While people in wealthy suburbs of Africa use water to maintain lush lawns and fill swimming pools, many slum dwellers struggle to obtain the crucial resource and pay much more per gallon for what little of it they can get, according to a United Nations Development Program report calling for an end to "water apartheid."

At the same time, dirty water is the second-leading cause of death among children globally, after respiratory infections. It kills 1.8 million children younger than 5 each year, more than do HIV/AIDS, malaria, war or traffic accidents, says the U.N. report released Thursday in Cape Town.

The second article, from the New York Times, begins:
The toilet and the latrine, which helped revolutionize public health in New York, London and Paris more than a century ago, are among the most underused tools to combat poverty and disease in the developing world, says a United Nations report released yesterday.

“Issues dealing with human excrement tend not to figure prominently in the programs of political parties contesting elections or the agendas of governments,” said Kevin Watkins, the main author of the report. “They’re the unwanted guests at the table.”

The human cost of that taboo, however, is more unspeakable than the topic itself, he said. Every year, more than two million children die of diarrhea and other sicknesses caused by dirty water and a lack of “access to sanitation.”

That is the common euphemism for the reality that more than a third of the world’s people — 2.6 billion — have no decent place to go to the bathroom, while more than a billion get water for drinking, washing and cooking from sources polluted by human and animal feces.

Albany Catholic believes the situation requires all of us to learn more about this important issue. Toward that end, look for future postings here about issues involving access to clean water.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

School of the Americas

This November 17-19, thousands will gather at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia for the Vigil to Close the School of the Americas.
Following on the heels of our first vote in Congress in seven years, this year's Vigil is shaping up to be a powerful time for movement building and an effective tool in the campaign to close the SOA/ WHINSEC.

Learn more here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Discern and vote

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and vote.

The bishops remind us:
In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue; participation in the political process is a moral obligation.

Learn more here, here and here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The rich get richer

Kevin G. Hall, a reporter for McClatchy Newspapers, writes that the rich are getting much richer, much faster than everyone else.
Over the past quarter-century, and especially in the last 10 years, America's very rich have grown much richer. No one else fared as well.

In 2004, the richest 1 percent of households - 719,910 of them, with an average annual income of $326,720 - had 19.8 percent of the entire nation's pretax income. That's up from 17.8 percent a year earlier, according to a study by University of California-Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez.

You can read more here. Albany Catholic urges you to keep this in mind as you go to the polls to vote for people who either will continue to support tax cuts for the rich or will favor a more equitable tax program.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

One-two punch

Mark McGuire of the Times Union has an interesting column with the headline: The art of debate reduced to one-two punch.
In today's society, we have lost our ability to respectfully disagree. And if you don't believe me, you're a freakin' idiot.

That's how the game works. Actually, it's worse than that: If you're not on my side, you're not just wrong. You're evil.

"Debate" has lost its meaning. We're more apt to pick a winner based on style points awarded for belligerence. Instead of discourse, we get decibels. And if you think any of this will change after Tuesday, you haven't been paying attention for, oh, a generation.

The column features a show on Nickelodeon that just ended, about the same time we sat down to read McGuire’s column, so it’s too late to see it. [Note to self: Try to read the Sunday paper in the morning, when it might be more useful.] Still, the column itself is worth a read, even if the show is over. You can read the column here.

Regular readers of this blog know where we stand on the issue of civility in discourse. New readers can rest assured that we promote it, even if we occasionally fail to live up to our own expectations.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Voting God's Politics

The folks at Sojourners remind you that it’s not too late to download your free Voting God's Politics resources in PDF format by completing the form here. You might find something like this:
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isaiah 2:4). Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:9).

We face a major challenge of how to resolve conflicts, reduce violence, and defeat terrorism without endless war. War has become a first resort instead of the last resort. In a world full of terrorists, terrorist states, unilateralist superpowers, and weapons of mass destruction, we need practical alternatives to an endless cycle of violence.

Is the candidate committed to a serious plan for ending the war in Iraq, to joining a real national debate on how to remove American forces while seeking both security and peace for Iraq, to the elimination of nuclear weapons, to supporting security and freedom in the Middle East, and to strengthening international law to fight terrorism?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Catholic Workers and Iraq

We received the followig via e-mail and present it to you for your consideration.

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Subject: Press release for Catholic Worker Statement to Catholic Bishops


Contact: Frank Cordaro,
(515) 282-4781,

Art Laffin,
(202) 360-2131


At the conclusion of National Catholic Worker Gathering, held from October 19-22 in Panora, Iowa, Catholic Workers from across the U.S. issued a statement appealing to the U.S. Catholic Bishops to break their silence and to call for an immediate end to the U.S. War in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also called on the Bishops to call for the eradication of the recently passed Military Commissions Act which allows for the indefinite detention for "enemy combatants", the ending of habeas corpus right for these prisoners, and the use of abusive interrogation methods which clearly constitute torture.

Over 300 Catholic Workers from sixty one communities, including from Germany and Holland , attended the Catholic Worker Gathering. The Catholic Worker was founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in 1933, and the late John Cardinal O'Connor initiated a process in the catholic Church for her sainthood.

Declaring that torture and war are sins, the group called on the U.S. Catholic Bishops to do the following:

• call for an end to the U.S. practice of torture.
• call for an immediate end to the U.S. war in Iraq and Afghanistan .
• offer counsel to and support for conscientious objectors.
• call for the closing of Guantanamo and all secret military prisons and torture centers.
• call on all Catholics and people of faith to engage in prayer, fasting and acts of nonviolent resistance to stop torture and to end the war.

The group also called on Catholics and other people of goodwill to join them for a nonviolent action in Washington , DC on January 11, 2007 , the 5th anniversary of the first prisoners arriving at Guantanamo , to call for its closing.

Below is the entire text of two statements the group released-- one is a short statement and the other a longer version of that statement.


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Catholic Worker Statement issued to the U.S. Catholic Bishop's on the Military Commissions Act and the War in Iraq and Afghanistan

We Catholic Workers are outraged at the recent passage of the Military Commissions Act which subjects non-citizens, including legal residents of the US and foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The Act allows abusive interrogation methods which clearly violates the Geneva Conventions, strips prisoners of habeas corpus rights, and provides immunity to the torturers.

We believe that torture is a sin.

We believe that war is a sin.

We call on the church leadership to break its silence and demand the eradication of the Military Commission's Act. We appeal to the Bishops to:

• call for an end to the US practice of torture.

• call for an immediate end to the US war in Iraq and Afghanistan .

• offer counsel to and support for conscientious objectors.

• call for the closing of Guantanamo and all secret military prisons and torture centers.

• call on all Catholics and people of faith to engage in prayer, fasting and acts of nonviolent resistance to stop torture and to end the war.

We invite all people of faith and goodwill to join with many of us for a nonviolent action in Washington , DC on January 11, 2007 , the 5th anniversary of the first prisoners arriving at Guantanamo, to call for its closing.

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(Longer Version)

We are Catholic Workers from across the US and Europe who have come to Iowa to celebrate special anniversaries of a number of our houses, to pray and reflect about what God calls us to at this critical moment in history, and to recommit ourselves to the Catholic Worker vision of creating a new society in the shell of the old.

In our various communities we have daily contact with the victims of our society. Thus, we strive to do the works of mercy and to follow Jesus’ command to be nonviolent witnesses for peace and justice. As we confront the unrelenting violence and assaults on human life and our endangered earth, we repent for our own complicity in our culture of violence, and call on our church and all people of faith and goodwill to do the same. Taking the Sermon on the Mount as our Christian manifesto, we commit ourselves to upholding the sacredness of all life wherever it is threatened.

As a world community, we find ourselves in a complex and dangerous moral crisis. Longstanding cultural compulsions have obscured the basic teachings of Christ. We have become the wealthiest nation on earth in the history of humankind and the price we have paid is the collective loss of our souls. The ongoing efforts of militarization and exploitation of global resources have pushed us to a level of accepting the unacceptable. Pre-emptive war and the slaughter of innocents is being carried out in our names and for profit. A creeping apathy has allowed room for extreme abuses such as torture and the destruction of whole social fabrics. We are violating our own spiritual principles and civil laws to attain excessive creature comforts while others suffer from unimaginable deprivation and violence. We are a living a lifestyle that demands war and distracts from our true calling of loving and caring for one another. Our path to redemption lies in the repudiation of domination and embracing the daily need of service to the vulnerable.

The teaching of Saint Paul tells us that when the health of one member of our community is suffering, the health of the whole body is lowered. We must make this time of crisis into an opportunity to move forward and carry on Christ’s message without compromise. In the face of nuclear capabilities we have no other choice. God, the victims, and timeless prophetic voices call on us, the Church, the body of Christ, to repent from the sins of war, torture, and killing, from the making of widows and orphans, and from the fruitless works of darkness resulting in this last century being the bloodiest on record.

We as Christians recognize that the Christ, whom we worship, was himself a victim of torture. We are called to end his ongoing crucifixion which has been made manifest in our nations policies. This is particularly relevant in the latest Military Commissions Act of 2006. It is with burning sorrow that we look around at the world in which we live at the suffering, war, torture, and killing of our brothers and sisters, and realize that the response of both ourselves and our Church has been wholly inadequate. We cry out to be part of a Church that prays and works for peace, loves our enemies, and embraces the redemptive power of forgiveness. We cry out for a church that speaks without fear of consequences, including loss of revenues.

We understand that we live in a time of great fear and peril. We need to remind ourselves that we are not to fear those that can kill the body, but instead to fear those that can kill the soul. Our domestic and foreign policies have left us a nation without a soul.

We call on our Church to be a prophetic voice, a sanctuary, and a source of encouragement to those who want to work together in community towards peace and justice. To this we recommend:

•Prayer, fasting, vigiling and nonviolent civil resistance to end the military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan .

•That all soldiers refuse to participate in these wars

•That the Church actively support and encourage all conscientious objectors

•That all U.S. military and private contractors to refuse to engage in torture

•The closing of Guantanamo and other secret U.S. military prisons

•The eradication of the Military Commissions Act 2006

•Redirect our resources from war making and exploitation to meeting human needs and saving our planet

•An equitable redistribution of resources by simplifying our materialistic lifestyle

•All people of faith and goodwill join us for a nonviolent action in Washington , DC on January 11, 2007 , the 5th anniversary of the first prisoners arriving at Guantanamo , to call for its closing.

As we approach this season of Advent and Christmas, let us be people of Light. " "The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not
overcome it" (John 1:5).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Saints and dissent

James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of My Life With the Saints, wrote an interesting op-ed article in today’s New York Times regarding saints and dissent in the church.
Last month, Pope Benedict XVI declared Mother Théodore Guérin, who lived and worked in rural Indiana in the mid-1800’s, a saint. She is therefore worthy of “public veneration” by Catholics worldwide. Mother Guérin founded the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods and started several schools and a college in the region.

You would think that this would have won her favor from the local bishop. You would be wrong.

At the time, the idea of an independent woman deciding where and when to open schools offended Célestine de la Hailandière, the Catholic bishop of Vincennes, Ind. In 1844, when Mother Guérin was away from her convent raising money, the bishop ordered her congregation to elect a new superior, in a bid to eject her from the very order of nuns that she had founded.

The independent-minded sisters simply re-elected Mother Guérin. Infuriated, Bishop Hailandière told the future saint that she was forbidden from setting foot in her own convent, since he, the bishop, considered himself its sole proprietor.
. . .
Many people think of the saints as docile, but Mother Guérin is not the only saint to have found herself at odds with local bishops, church officials or even the Vatican. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake at the behest of church officials. The writings of the great theologian Thomas Aquinas came under suspicion during his lifetime in the 13th century. And Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, was jailed during the Spanish Inquisition over complaints about his ideas on prayer.
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All Saints’ Day is a good time to remember that while most saints led lives of quiet service, some led the life of the noisy prophet, speaking the truth to power — even when that power was within the church.

Today the Catholic Church rightly honors all of its saints, even those it once mistreated, silenced or excommunicated. That includes Mother Théodore Guérin. It makes you wonder what Bishop Hailandière thinks from his post in heaven — or wherever he is today.

During this election year, we at Albany Catholic believe it is especially important for all of us to tolerate the ideas of people who might disagree with us. After all, we are all God's children and worthy of respect.

You can read the rest of the Father Martin's article here.