Tuesday, April 19, 2011
From the President's Remarks at today's White House Prayer Breakfast:
We all live in the hustle and bustle of our work. And everybody in this room has weighty responsibilities, from leading churches and denominations, to helping to administer important government programs, to shaping our culture in various ways. And I admit that my plate has been full as well. (Laughter.) The inbox keeps on accumulating. (Laughter.)
But then comes Holy Week. The triumph of Palm Sunday. The humility of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. His slow march up that hill, and the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross.
And we’re reminded that in that moment, He took on the sins of the world -- past, present and future -- and He extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through His death and resurrection.
In the words of the book Isaiah: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
This magnificent grace, this expansive grace, this “Amazing Grace” calls me to reflect. And it calls me to pray. It calls me to ask God for forgiveness for the times that I’ve not shown grace to others, those times that I’ve fallen short. It calls me to praise God for the gift of His Son and our Savior.
And that’s why we have this breakfast. Because in the middle of critical national debates, in the middle of our busy lives, we must always make sure that we are keeping things in perspective. Children help do that. (Laughter.) A strong spouse helps do that. But nothing beats scripture and the reminder of the eternal.
So I’m honored that all of you have come here this Holy Week to join me in a spirit of prayer, and I pray that our time here this morning will strengthen us, both individually as believers and as Americans.
Monday, April 11, 2011
GEORGETOWN UNIV. & JESUIT DINING WORKERS ORGANIZE
Workers at Georgetown University’s Leo J. O'Donovan dining hall, Jesuit Residence Wolfington Hall, Cosi, Starbucks, and Dr. Mug – all run by Aramark -- have joined UNITE HERE. “We have a voice and we want to be heard,” said Cathy Anderson. “Now, we must stick together to push ahead and achieve everything we are fighting for,” added Rafael Benitez. “Things like better treatment, affordable medical insurance, and fair raises for the hard work that we do.”
After Aramark recognized the union on April 6, students and workers met to discuss the victory and first contract negotiations. The workers’ organizing effort was supported by Georgetown students and student organizations, including the College Democrats, NAACP, Solidarity Committee and MEChA. School faculty members and the administration also backed the workers, including a letter from members of the Georgetown administration to Aramark’s CEO in February, reminding the company of Georgetown's Catholic and Jesuit mission to support both human dignity in work and respect for workers' rights as well as the school’s Just Employment Policy.
More information here at America, a Jesuit publication:
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Catholic Health Association Speaks Out Against Republican Plan.
"The draconian cuts proposed in the [Republican] budget resolution would simply shift the cost burden onto individual beneficiaries, health care providers and state governments," said Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, president of CHA. "While this may temporarily reduce the federal deficit, the long-term effects of this strategy will be to erode the safety net and jeopardize the health and economic security of millions of Americans."
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
This week Congress must act on the current FY 2011 spending bill to avert a government shutdown. Some current proposals include deep cuts to programs that serve the poorest, most vulnerable people at home and abroad. Likewise a shutdown of government services will fall most heavily on those who have the fewest resources. Fiscal responsibility is important, but it demands shared sacrifice and a special concern for poor persons at home and abroad.
Unfortunately, the voices of poor and vulnerable people have not been heard in the debate, and as a result they are being forced to bear the brunt of the proposed cuts. The vast majority of the cuts come from the non-defense, discretionary portion of the budget (only about 12% of the total budget)--which includes the majority of social welfare, education, and other anti-poverty funding. Some of the largest proposed funding cuts include:
$2.3 billion from job training programs
$1.08 billion from Head Start
$100 million from Emergency Food and Shelter
$875 million from International Disaster Assistance
$800 million from International Food Aid
$2.5 billion from affordable housing
$1 billion from Community Health Centers
$904 million from migrants and refugees
Unfortunately, very few advocate the priority claim of poor and vulnerable people, which makes our voices so much more important and prophetic.
Recently Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, as well as Bishop Howard J. Hubbard and Ken Hackett, President of CRS, sent letters to the U.S. Senate expressing their concern with some of the cuts and calling for more attention to the needs of poor and vulnerable people.
What You Can Do
1. Call your Senators and Representative and tell them:
• Many proposals under discussion fail the moral criteria of Catholic social teaching to advance the common good and the Constitutional requirement to promote the general welfare.
• Poor and vulnerable people didn’t cause our budget deficit. Don’t make them pay for it.
• As the final bill is negotiated, shared sacrifice should guide spending cuts, not disproportionate cuts in programs that serve poor persons at home or abroad.
• Responsible leadership for the common good is needed to avert a government shutdown that would most negatively impact those with the least resources.
2. Email your Senators and Representative with the above message, possibly adding specifically how these cuts will prohibit your diocese/parish/community from adequately serving the poor and vulnerable. You can use the bishops’ letters as a template.
3. Help your diocese, parish, community organizations, and families understand the consequences of these deficit-reduction proposals on poor and vulnerable people. See these documents for details.
Take Action NOW.
For more information visit the United States Conference of Catholics Bishops webpage at: http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/
In the Catholic tradition, government has a positive role because of its responsibility to serve the common good, provide a safety net for the vulnerable, and help overcome discrimination and ensure equal opportunity for all. Government has inescapable responsibilities toward those who are poor and vulnerable, to ensure their rights and defend their dignity. Government action is necessary to help overcome structures of injustice and misuse of power and to address problems beyond the reach of individual and community efforts. Government must act when these other institutions fall short in defending the weak and protecting human life and human rights. -U.S. Catholic Bishops, A Place at the Table
Monday, April 4, 2011
As part of the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Catholic University of America will hold a Teach-In on Collective Bargaining today (April 4). The Teach-In will be held at the Catholic University Columbus School of Law (Rm. 305); 620 Michigan Ave NE from 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm The event will include a discussion on the current events in Wisconsin and collective bargaining rights of public employees.