Saturday, January 31, 2009

More on The Kino Border Initiative -- videos & a news story


CLICK HERE to watch four videos from the Jan 18th press conference in Nogales that annouced the official start of the Kino Border Initaitive.

Following is a link to a moving news story about the work of the KBI, and those whose lives are touched by it. The article was recently published in The Catholic Sun - Phoenix Diocese:

Jesuits seek deeper understanding of immigration in bi-national border project by J.D. Long-Garcia


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pima County’s Annual Street Count of Homeless Persons

The Annual Street Count of Homeless Persons

Early this morning a group of volunteers was out counting those who had spent the night out -- without shelter -- in Tucson. This annual count is sponsored by the Tucson Planning Council for the Homeless (TPCH) and is part of a national homeless counting event. (The volunteers who were out this morning first went through a training program to prepare for the count.)

The goal of the count is to help us better understand our homeless neighbors -- and better meet their needs.

Here's an earlier report on Homelessness in Pima County 2006-2008 (PDF)

Looking for more ways to get involved in helping the homeless?
See the TPCH website


Monday, January 26, 2009

School of the Americas (SOA) Watch: Human Rights Activists Sentenced

From the SOA Watch website:

"Today, on January 26, six human rights advocates appeared in a federal courthouse in Georgia. The "SOA 6," ranging in age from 21 to 68, were found "guilty" of carrying the protest against the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) onto the Fort Benning military base. The six were among the thousands who gathered on November 22 and 23, 2008 outside the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia to demand a change in U.S. policy towards Latin America and the closure of the SOA/WHINSEC."

To learn more, see:

Bringing it all to prayer:

(Designed by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth of Bardstown)


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama and abortion -- any hope?

As was widely expected by those on both sides of the abortion debate, on January 23rd President Obama rescinded The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (known as the "Mexico City Policy") which prohibits nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that receive Federal funds from using those funds "to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning, or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions."

In response, the USCCB issued a statement by Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities:
President Obama's Reversal of Mexico City Policy 'Very Disappointing,' Says Pro-Life Committee Chair

For those of us longing for a widespread awakening to a Consistent Ethic of Life approach that cherishes life "from womb to tomb" -- is there any hope?

To probe deeper, read what President Obama stated after he signed the order:

Here is a Catholic New Service story about the issue, expressing some varying perspectives:
Obama signs order reversing Mexico City policy

And two New York Times articles with additional views:
Obama Reverses Rules on U.S. Abortion Aid
Family Planning and the Path to Progress

And on his blog, Jim Wallis, of Sojournors (a long-time social justice advocate from a faith-based perspective) offers some thoughts with a glimmer of hope:

I am encouraged that President Obama’s first action on abortion was to release a statement supporting a common ground approach to reducing abortion, even as he also reiterated his policy of supporting legal choice. Even more significant was his decision not to issue an executive order rescinding the “Mexico City policy” on the day of the anniversary of the Roe decision and the annual March for Life. For the past two decades, this particular rule has become a back-and-forth of instituting and repealing as administrations have changed—almost as a partisan tit-for-tat.

In breaking the symbolic cycle, President Obama showed respect for both sides in the historically polarized abortion debate, and called for both a new conversation and a new common ground. I hope that this important gesture signals the beginning of a new approach and a new path toward finding some real solutions to decrease the number of abortions in this country and around the world.

Read Jim Wallis full blog post here:
President Obama’s Call for Common Ground on Abortion Reduction

As always . . . let us bring this issue to prayer:


"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life..."
-Deuteronomy 30:19

We believe in you, Holy Spirit, Giver of Life.

We lay before you the prayers of those who are deprived of life;
the unborn, who never saw the love in a mother's eyes;
the aged and infirmed, who became another's "burden";
the suicides, who lost all hope;
the criminals, who invited scorn and revenge;
the victims of war, poverty, and other crimes of violence, who were unprepared for death.

We worship and glorify you, Holy Spirit, Divine Wisdom.

We lay before you the prayers of those who struggle with questions of life and death:
women unprepared for motherhood;
healthcare professionals;
child and adult caregivers;
the chemically and emotionally dependent;
justice, legal, and military personnel;
all abused or underprivileged seekers of acceptance.

Holy Spirit, Speaker of Truth, we lay before you our hearts of flesh that we may both heed and be your prophets of holy and revered life:

to defend with your passion and zeal those who have never tasted life and those whose lives seem to drag on interminably;
to uplift the lives of the hopeless and of the despised with your
compassion and love;
to bless the good in every person and curse the bad in every evil.

Living Spirit of God, all of life comes from you and has meaning and purpose. May all the peoples of the world unite in solidarity and unconditionally choose life.



Friday, January 23, 2009

ACTION ALERT: Children's Health Bill (SCHIP)

Urge Support and Improvements to Children’s Health Bill (SCHIP)

TAKE ACTION NOW! (Bill may be considered on Monday Jan 26)

Call your senators about the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and urge them to support:

· increased funding to reduce the number of uninsured children by nearly half, maintaining and expanding coverage, reducing enrollment barriers, and expanding outreach, and respecting the roles of families;

· provisions in the legislation allowing states to interpret the word “child” to include the period from conception to birth;

· coverage for legal immigrant children and legal immigrant pregnant women.
NOTE: Urge your senator to support improvement and expansion of SCHIP, provisions covering children from conception to birth, and coverage for legal immigrant children and legal immigrant pregnant women.

Several Senators will be particularly important on the provisions covering legal immigrants, including Sen John McCain.

An amendment is expected that would eliminate current provisions that limit access to SCHIP for legal pregnant immigrant women and legal immigrant children during their first five years in this country even if they meet all the other requirements for the program and have no other source for health care coverage. Please urge the Senators to support this amendment eliminating the 5-year rule for legal immigrant children and pregnant women.



More than 9 million children in our country are uninsured. Through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), states receive federal funds to provide health insurance for millions of low-income children throughout the United States. Today the U.S. House of Representatives is voting on an expansion of SCHIP. The Senate vote will take place in the next few days. This is an important opportunity to promote several key improvements to the program—coverage of currently uninsured children, coverage of children before birth, and coverage of legal immigrant children and legal immigrant pregnant women.


Catholic teaching tells us that everyone has “the right to live” as well as “the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services” (Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, #11).

Catholic teaching affirms the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death and the inherent dignity of every human being. We insist that access to adequate health care is a basic human right, necessary for the development and maintenance of life and for the ability of human beings to realize the fullness of their dignity. A just society protects and promotes fundamental human rights and dignity, with special attention to the basic needs of children and the vulnerable, including the need for safe and affordable health care for all.


Contact your Senators now to urge support and improvements to SCHIP. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202)224-3121 or find your Senators’ contact information at

Kathy Saile, Director, Domestic Social Development, USCCB,, (202) 541-3134


Day of Repentence and Prayer for Life

"Pray that every child in the womb will be loved and cherished"

January 22nd was the thirty-sixth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion:

"Today, we perform acts of penance both in reparation for crimes against human dignity caused by abortion and in intercession to God to grant wisdom to our nation and civil leaders, that they might know and protect life from conception to natural death."

Given the events of this week, it is an important time to pray and act in support of the first principle of Catholic Social Teaching:

The Life and Dignity of the Human Person

Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia. The value of human life is being threatened by cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death penalty. Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. We believe that every person is precious, that People are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person. SOURCE

Visit the USCCB's People of Life site to learn, reflect, pray, and act in support of a Consistent Ethic of Life.

Some additional links for reflection:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day: A Prayer

A prayer written by Jane Deren
from the Education for Justice site:

"The swearing in of a new president is a momentous occasion in a nation's history and an appropriate time for prayer. Use this prayer to pray for the newly elected president, Barack Obama, for the needs of the country and for all those who hold public office and serve the common good. "

Prayer for the Inauguration

The common good calls us together on this day.
As winter’s dark hours reveal a new horizon of hope,
We gather to renew a shared purpose
And embark on a new beginning.

We are challenged to move beyond the differences and divisions
Of the past year, the past decades, even the past centuries.

It is time for a new beginning, a time to move into a new future.
Help us all, Lord, to glimpse the grace that marks this day.
Help us to touch the hope that springs from a deep source.

We ask Your blessings on our new president
and the new administration.
May they work with integrity, discernment and a united purpose.

You call us today to renew our vision of a hopeful future.
We ask Your blessings on us all, that we may summon the will
To live as a nation united, with consideration for every citizen,
Concern for the global community and care for God’s Creation.

Guide us as we move forward grounded in care
for the common good
Like a river moving from its source
to green a parched and brittle land.
We ask this of You, Source of All Being,
Eternal Word and Holy Spirit.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Words of wisdom from
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
that are timeless,
yet fresh with new meaning
on the eve of this Inauguration Day:

Now let me suggest first that
if we are to have peace on earth,
our loyalties must become ecumenical
rather than sectional.

Our loyalties must transcend
our race,
our tribe,
our class,
and our nation;
and this means
we must develop a world perspective.

No individual can live alone;
no nation can live alone,
and as long as we try,
the more we are going to have war in this world.

Now the judgment of God is upon us,
and we must either learn
to live together as brothers and sisters
or we are all going to perish together as fools.

-from Dr. King's Christmas Sermon on Peace 1967


Friday, January 16, 2009

Support an End to Torture

An ACTION ALERT [pdf] from the USCCB:


The inauguration is around the corner. Send emails to the Transition Team” encouraging President-elect Obama to issue an executive order ending torture soon after taking office.


On January 14, John Carr, USCCB’s Executive Director for Justice, Peace and Human Development, participated in a press conference urging the incoming administration to set a new tone and act to end torture. That same afternoon, USCCB joined with other faith groups in a meeting with members of President-elect Obama’s Transition Team. They presented a letter signed by 34 religious leaders, including Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Chairman of USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, and discussed the need for quick action by the president-elect to issue an executive order ending torture as a way to restore America’s moral credibility in the world.

The Transition Team was very receptive and cited President-elect Obama’s statement last week that “under my administration, the United States does not torture, we will abide by the Geneva Conventions.” Action now would affirm this position, reinforce the message sent at the January 14 press conference and meeting, and encourage Mr. Obama to act quickly.


The Church teaches that torture is morally wrong and can never be justified. Pope Benedict XVI said that “the prohibition against torture ‘cannot be contravened under any circumstance.’” The U.S. bishops in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship [pdf] labeled torture as “intrinsically evil.” The attached remarks by John Carr [pdf] lay out the arguments against torture in further detail.


Write emails calling for President-elect Obama to issue an executive order banning torture as soon as possible. Go the, fill out your contact information, and write “torture” in the “another issue” box. When the “Your ideas” box comes up, write something like “As a Catholic, I call on the President to act quickly to end torture by issuing an executive order based on the Declaration of Principles endorsed by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.” You may also contact your members of Congress through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or to have them endorse this Declaration of Principles [pdf].


Virginia Farris, Foreign Policy Advisor, International Justice and Peace, USCCB,, (202) 541-3182.


Take action: Save Darfur Campaign & the USCCB

The USCCB is collaborating with the Save Darfur Campaign to urge President-elect Barack Obama give priority to ending the violence in Darfur when he takes office. As you may know about 300,000 people have died, 2 million are displaced from their homes, and hundreds of thousands go hungry every day. As Catholics we must work to protect human life and promote human dignity whenever they are threatened.

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged "unstinting resolve" to promote peace and security for Darfur and all of Sudan. Catholics around the U.S. can urge the President to end the tragedy in Darfur by completing electronic messages, which will be delivered on inauguration day, January 20, 2009.

USCCB is working with Save Darfur and other organizations to collect one million electronic postcards urging the president to follow through on this promise. Sign the electronic postcard now to ensure that Darfur is a day one priority for the president.

Background about the situation in Darfur can be accessed at:

SOURCE: Steve Hilbert, Policy Advisor, Africa and Global Development, Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Praying with Refugees at KBI website

More from the Kino Border Initiative (KBI):

To watch a very moving video about the Kino Border Initiative produced by the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, visit: (Scroll down to the middle of the page to find it.)

There are also excellent prayer resources at the KBI website.


More on the Kino Border initiative

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA press release
Washington, D.C., January 12, 2009

Kino Border Initiative to launch bi-national ministry in Nogales on the Arizona-Sonora border

NOGALES, Ariz.--The Kino Border Initiative (KBI) will be inaugurated on the U.S.-Mexico border on Jan. 18 to serve the communities of Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, and the people who pass through this historic corridor of trade and culture. The new ministry is being launched as a bi-national partnership of Jesuit and Catholic organizations and laypersons on both sides of the border.

Three years in development, the KBI is “the culmination of a process of listening, dialog, and discernment regarding how the resources of our Province might best be put to use to serve and foster solidarity with those most directly affected by immigration and enforcement policies along the border,” said John P. McGarry, S.J., Provincial of the California Province of the Society of Jesus.

“We are blessed in this endeavor by our collaborative partnerships with the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA (JRS/USA) and the Jesuit Migration Service of the Mexican Province,” said Fr. McGarry. “Together with our partners in the Diocese of Tucson and in the Archdiocese of Hermosillo, and the religious women of the Missionaries of the Eucharist, the KBI will provide education, social assistance, research, and advocacy where they are sorely needed,” he added.

“What we’ll be trying to do is to help people find a safe place to talk about the issues of migration,” said Fr. Ken Gavin, S.J., Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “We’ll be going into parishes, talking at masses and after masses, talking with groups of adults and groups of students, trying to see how our own faith, our own sense of being brothers and sisters in the Lord, can somehow influence who we are as men and women who live on one side of the border or the other,” Gavin said.

Two Jesuits of the California Province have been assigned to this ministry. Sean Carroll, S.J., will serve as Executive Director, and Peter Neeley, S.J., will be Associate for Education and Formation. They are joined by Martin McIntosh, S.J., of the Mexican Province, who will be Associate for Socio-Pastoral Outreach, and Donald Bahlinger, S.J., of the New Orleans Province, who will serve as Chaplain.

Working closely with priests of the Dioceses of Tucson and Hermosillo, as well as the Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist, this team will offer basic outreach to migrants who are deported from the U.S. on a daily basis. The KBI will also collaborate with local priests on both sides of the border to make parish-based presentations and offer workshops on migration policy and the Catholic social tradition. The KBI will welcome delegations of students and visiting scholars from high schools, universities, and parishes seeking opportunities to engage the complex realities of the U.S.-Mexico border and immigration policies.

In Nogales, Sonora, the KBI will be responsible for staffing the Aid Center for Deported Migrants (CAMDEP), a diocesan-sponsored care center where migrants deported from the U.S. can receive a meal and counsel, and the Nazareth House for Deported Women, a short-term shelter for unaccompanied women who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. The Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist will administer these facilities located near the Mariposa port of deportation.

The initiative is named for Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J., a Jesuit missionary known as the “Padre on Horseback,” who rode across southern Arizona and northern Sonora from 1687 until his death in 1711, serving native tribes and founding more than 20 missions. This year, nearly three centuries after Padre Kino’s passing, the California Province is celebrating its Centennial (1909-2009), marking a century since it became a separate province of the Society of Jesus with a mission geared toward the needs of people living in western America.

To view a new video and a slide show about the KBI produced by the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, visit:

On Jan. 18, a Mass of Inauguration for the KBI will be offered at Sacred Heart Church in Nogales, Ariz.

Mass of Inauguration on January 18, 2009:
Mass at Noon, Press Conference at 1:30 p.m.
Reception to follow at Sacred Heart Church
272 N. Rodriguez St., Nogales, Ariz., 85621

For more information on the Kino Border Initiative, contact Fr. Sean Carroll, S.J., at 520-287-2370 or e-mail

For background information and current details on KBI inauguration activities, contact Mark Potter, Provincial Assistant for Social Ministries of the California Province of the Society of Jesus at 323-780-9503.

For more information on the California Province of the Society of Jesus, visit:

Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic non-governmental organization whose mission is to serve, accompany, and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.JRS works in 57 countries worldwide. It employs more than 1,400 staff including lay, Jesuits, and other religious to meet the educational, health, social and other needs of more than 500,000 refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. JRS services are made available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

2009 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering - Feb 22-25 in DC

From the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering Web site:

On behalf of the eighteen Catholic national co-sponsoring organizations, we invite you to join us in Washington, DC as we host what promises to be an exciting four-day conference.

Our theme, Christ Our Hope: Healing a Broken World, echoes the message of Pope Benedict’s pastoral visit to our nation. This annual gathering brings together over 700 leaders of Catholic social ministry from across the United States.

The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering brings together diverse individuals to discuss common issues and concerns. We will discuss global and domestic issues of life, justice and peace that challenge our world, including the food crisis, healthcare and economic stability.

The annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering is one of the most important gatherings for Catholics who are engaged in the social mission work of the Church.

To learn more about this year's program, speakers, and activities, visit THIS LINK.


Friday, January 9, 2009

A Prayer for Peace in the Middle East

Broken-hearted wall

Two peoples, one land,
Three faiths, one root,
One earth, one mother,
One sky, one beginning, one future, one destiny,
One broken heart,
One God.
We pray to You:
Grant us a vision of unity.
May we see the many in the one and the one in the many.
May you, Life of All the Worlds, Source of All Amazing Differences
Help us to see clearly.
Guide us gently and firmly toward each other,
Toward peace.


Prayer by Rabbi Sheila Weinberg
Jewish Community of Amherst, Amherst, MA

The above is one of several Prayers and Petitions for Peace in the Middle East and Holy Land that can be found at Catholic Relief Services' Prayer and Discussion Resources webpage.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Action Alert for Peace in the Middle East: Support a Cease Fire

An Action Alert from Catholic Relief Services & the USCCB :

Call Congress:
Urge Statements in Support of Cease-Fire


Call your Members of Congress today to urge their support for U.S. efforts to achieve an immediate, comprehensive cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.


Members of Congress are being urged to issue one-sided statements with no mention of the urgent need for a comprehensive cease-fire that will end the human suffering on both sides. Legislation making a similar point is expected in both the House and the Senate.

It is important that your Representative and Senators hear from you now on the need for U.S. diplomatic leadership to help achieve an immediate cease-fire that ends the violence, addresses the humanitarian situation and leads to concrete steps toward a two-state peace agreement.

Several Members have made constructive statements, but many more have not. They need to hear from Catholics that expressing sympathy for only one side of the conflict is not compassionate or smart policy. What is needed now is strong U.S. leadership that pulls Israelis and Palestinians back from the brink and puts them on a path toward an agreement that creates a viable Palestinian state and enhance Israel's security.


As an American Catholic, I deplore the tragic loss of life of civilians caught in the escalating violence in Gaza and southern Israel and care deeply about the welfare of both Israelis and Palestinians who are suffering and living in fear.

I ask that if and when the Senator/Representative makes a statement about the current crisis, he/she expresses support for strong U.S. diplomatic leadership, together with international partners, to achieve an immediate, comprehensive cease-fire that:

-- ends the escalating violence between Israel and Hamas;
-- addresses the humanitarian situation - including an opening of the border crossings that provides relief for the people of Gaza and meets Israel's security needs; and
-- leads to concrete steps toward a two-state peace agreement - the best hope for long-term stability and security for Israel and the Palestinians.


The U.S. Bishops wrote in their 1983 pastoral letter, The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response, “Peacemaking is not an optional commitment. It is a requirement of our faith. We are called to be peacemakers, not by some movement of the moment, but by our Lord Jesus.”
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has called on the international community to help Israelis and Palestinians discard the “dead end” of violence and pursue instead “the path of dialogue and negotiations.” Immediate, visible and decisive U.S. leadership is urgently needed.

In a December 30 letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, USCCB, wrote: “At a time when the attention of Christians is drawn naturally to the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, it is tragic that innocent civilians are once again the victims of armed conflict and a humanitarian crisis. A ceasefire and humanitarian relief are indispensable initial steps on the road to a two-state solution—a secure Israel living in peace with a viable Palestinian state―with justice and peace for both peoples.”


The continued insecurity of the environment makes the coordination of aid distribution incredibly difficult. CRS is working with local partners in Gaza including the Missionaries of Charity to prioritize needs and areas of intervention. On Saturday, January 3, before the airstrikes intensified, CRS coordinated delivery of a limited supply of bottled water, cooking gas, diapers and food to partners in Gaza.

To learn more visit:

For more information contact:

Dr. Stephen Colecchi, Director
International Justice and Peace, USCCB, (202) 541-3196

Tina Rodousakis,
Grassroots Advocacy Manager, CRS; (410) 951-7462


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

This is National Migration Week: Jan 4-10

"Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice"

is the theme of this year's
going on now from January 4-10.

According to the USCCB's Migration & Refugee Services website: "the observance began over 25 years ago by the bishops to be a moment for Catholics to take stock of the wide diversity of the Church and the ministries serving them. "

This week would also be a good time to visit Justice for Immigrants , which is the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform. The website is rich with resources -- check it out if you haven't been there in awhile:


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Kino Border Initiative to be Inaugurated on January 18th


The Kino Border Initiative:
A New Ministry of
“Solidarity With the Least
and With All”
at the U.S./Mexico Border
in Ambos Nogales

A Mass of Inauguration for the Initiative
will be celebrated
at Sacred Heart Church
in Nogales, AZ
on Sunday January 18th

The Kino Border Initiative is a collaboration between:

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hermosillo
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson
The Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist
The California Province of the Society of Jesus
The Mexico Province of the Society of Jesus
Jesuit Migration Service, Mexico
Jesuit Refugee Service, USA

Learn more about The Kino Border Initiative at the following links:


Monday, January 5, 2009

Action Alert on Peace in the Middle East

An Action Alert from the USCCB's Office of International Justice and Peace & Cahtolic Relief Services:


TAKE ACTION NOW! Thanks to the incredible efforts of Catholics around the country, our Church has provided more than 2,300 signatures to date to an ecumenical letter signed by Most Reverend Howard Hubbard, Bishop of Albany and Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Ken Hackett, President of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) that urges President-elect Barack Obama “to make achievement of Israeli-Palestinian peace an immediate priority” during his first year in office. But there’s still time to act in support of peace.

Visit now to add your signature before January 16.

WHY IS THIS ACTION IMPORTANT NOW? As we start the New Year, we renew our hopes for the day when our sisters and brothers can live in peace in the Holy Land. As the conflict in Gaza reminds us, violence cannot bring peace; what is needed are negotiations. With the incoming Obama Administration, there is a renewed opportunity for the United States to help achieve a just and lasting peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

During his campaign, President-elect Obama promised to work for peace between Israel and the Palestinians from the beginning of his Administration. Given the global financial crisis and the many challenges facing Americans today, the President-elect will be balancing many competing priorities when he is sworn in on January 20, 2009. It is therefore critical that he hear from us now in large numbers that Holy Land peace cannot be delayed and that we fully urge his leadership in resolving this long-standing conflict.

WHAT DOES THE LETTER ASK PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA TO DO? The letter we are asking you to sign was circulated by the Churches for Middle East Peace, an ecumenical coalition of churches and faith-based organizations. The letter urges President-elect Obama to provide immediate diplomatic leadership toward the clear goal of a final status agreement establishing a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel. The opportunity for achieving a two-state solution is supported by majorities of Israelis and Palestinians as the best way to end this tragic conflict. However, the prospects for this solution are narrowing and must be seized soon.

The deadline for signatures is January 16, 2009. A version of this letter signed by national Christian leaders was sent to the Obama transition team on December 1, 2008. The final letter signed by leaders and individual church members, such as us, will be delivered to President Obama upon his inauguration. Sign the letter now.

WHAT DOES PEACE IN THE HOLY LAND HAVE TO DO WITH MY FAITH? Our Catholic faith teaches us to be peacemakers. The U.S. Bishops wrote in their 1983 pastoral letter, The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response, “Peacemaking is not an optional commitment. It is a requirement of our faith. We are called to be peacemakers, not by some movement of the moment, but by our Lord Jesus.”

Pope Benedict XVI reiterated the Catholic Church’s commitment to peace in the Holy Land when he stated that “it is necessary to explore every possible diplomatic avenue and to remain attentive to even the faintest sign of dialogue or desire for reconciliation if long-standing conflicts are to be resolved. When all the people of the Holy Land live in peace and harmony, in two independent sovereign states side by side, the benefit for world peace will be inestimable […]” (May 12, 2008)

WHAT IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH DOING TO PROMOTE PEACE IN THE HOLY LAND? In 2005, the USCCB launched the Catholic Campaign for Peace in the Holy Land to promote understanding and support for a just resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. CRS has worked in the Holy Land for nearly 50 years, supporting peace with justice for all people, while responding to the humanitarian and sustainable development needs of Palestinians. To learn more visit: and

For more information contact:

Dr. Stephen Colecchi, Director
International Justice and Peace
USCCB, (202) 541-3196

Tina Rodousakis, Grassroots Advocacy Manager
CRS; (410) 951-7462

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI's 2009 World Day of Peace Message


An excerpt:

One of the most important ways of building peace is through a form of globalization directed towards the interests of the whole human family. In order to govern globalization, however, there needs to be a strong sense of global solidarity between rich and poor countries, as well as within individual countries, including affluent ones.

Read Pope Benedict's entire message HERE and see the following link's call to action by our U.S. Bishops:

Bishops Urge Catholics to Act on Pope's World Day of Peace Message