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Peace & Justice

Wisc. archbishop: Don't suspend workers' rights

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MILWAUKEE -- Quoting Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II, Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki issued a statement Feb. 16 that came down squarely in favor of workers' rights in the face of efforts by Wisconsin's new governor to restrict those rights.

"Hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers," Archbishop Listecki said.

"Every union, like every other economic actor, is called to work for the common good, to make sacrifices when required, and to adjust to new economic realities," he said.

"However, it is equally a mistake to marginalize or dismiss unions as impediments to economic growth."

Archbishop Listecki was responding to efforts by new Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, to push through measures restricting the rights of unions in a special session of the state legislature.

Green Bay Bishop reinstates CCHD collection

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay has reinstated the collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development in his diocese and established a new diocesan commission that will be in charge of teaching about and implementing Catholic social teaching.

In a 2,100-word statement announcing the developments Feb. 16, Bishop Ricken said he was "confident that we have the necessary checks in place" to ensure that CCHD funding would not be used in ways that conflict with Catholic teaching.

He had suspended the CCHD collection in his diocese last year but said it would resume the weekend of April 2 as part of the "collection for the world's poor" in parishes of the Green Bay Diocese.

Bishop Ricken acknowledged in his statement that "for some time in this country there has been significant disagreement among people of good will" about the collection for CCHD, the U.S. bishops' domestic anti-poverty program, which funds self-help projects in low-income communities around the country.

Carr: Cutting social programs has moral costs

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WASHINGTON -- The U.S. bishops' point-man on poverty and justice issues reminded Catholic social ministry leaders that when they met last year, a blizzard enveloped the nation's capital.

There's no snow on the ground this year, John Carr said, but the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering is meeting in the midst of another storm: elected politicians ready to turn their backs on the poor.

Carr, executive director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference, addressed the 2011 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, a four-day annual gathering of more than 300 social ministry workers from around the country.

Catholic college disallows union, federal officials question religious identity

A small Catholic college in Riverdale, N.Y., last month got some news that sent shivers across religious higher education: part-time faculty have a right to form a union on campus.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. The National Labor Relations Board also isn’t convinced that the Catholic school is actually Catholic.

In gun control debate, Catholic position elusive

DETROIT -- Avid outdoorsman and hunter Fr. Joe Classen, associate pastor at Holy Spirit Parish in Maryland Heights, Mo., has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

"I rarely ever conceal and carry, but sometimes if I'm in a very bad area, I do take protection," he said. "I tell people all life is sacred, including mine."

A few states away, Fr. Theodore Parker said he knows he has the constitutional right to own a gun, but can't see any reason why he would. The pastor of two inner-city Detroit parishes said, "The real purpose of a gun in our culture is violence." And there's just too much of that, he contends.

One point on which both priests agree is that personal responsibility is mandatory for those who possess firearms.

The shooting rampage at U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Jan. 8 community meeting in Tucson, Ariz., which left Giffords and 12 others wounded and six dead, has renewed debate on gun control.

Ohioís bishops urge end to death penalty

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Catholic bishops of Ohio are calling on Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers to abolish the state’s death penalty.

The bishops said they concur with recent comments by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer, who charged the state’s capital punishment law is discriminatory and applied unevenly and should be replaced with a penalty of life in prison without parole. Ohio in recent years has executed more death row inmates than any state except Texas.

“Just punishment can occur without resorting to the death penalty. Our church teachings consider the death penalty to be wrong in all cases,” the 10 bishops said in a statement issued Friday (Feb. 4).

“Life imprisonment respects the moral view that all life, even that of the worst offender, has value and dignity.”

Pfeifer, a Republican, helped write the 1981 law that instituted the death penalty, but said the safeguards he and other lawmakers put in place at the time to prevent inequities have not worked. He called the use of capital punishment a “lottery.”

“It has bothered me from the beginning,” Pfeifer told reporters on Jan. 19.

Conference calls for 'comprehensive and just' immigration reform

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The message "to welcome the stranger" reverberated throughout the weekend here at an immigration conference sponsored by the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Panels of immigrants, bishops, church ministries, and immigrant aid groups urged reform during the conference, located at Rockhurst University.

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August 15-28, 2014

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