"Guided by the teachings of the Church on social justice, we advocate through education, promote opportunities for social action, and strive for partnerships that enhance human dignity for all God's creation."
Immigration Reform--how are we called as Catholics to respond?
The reasons why people leave their homelands vary. For some it's due to internal causes such as civil wars while for others, it is a result of dominant nations influencing the internal affairs of less affluent countries. An example of the later would be how NAFTA twenty years later has cost Mexico two million jobs and increased poverty to more than half the nation. In any event, the number of people trying to immigrate to the U.S. continues to rise. The debate on this issue has now shifted to the House. As Catholics, our faith perspective calls us to honor the dignity of those seeking a better life in America. There are a number of issues involved that people should be aware of as this debate goes forward.
Refugee camps are a humanitarian response to people fleeing unjust and violent confrontations. They are only a temporary solution and are not necessarily safe. Predators within camps prey on the vulnerable. Host country citizens' resent aid given to refugees that are greater than what they themselves possess. Food and water shortages occur, employment and agricultural opportunities are minimal, and a life of waiting is all too common. Permanent solutions to this problem include voluntary repatriation, integration into the host country, and resettlement to a new country.
The U.S. Farm Bill--what's really involved and what's at stake?
The U.S.'s current Farm Bill will expire on September 30th. Our faith perspective considers food to be essential for life, and that all life is sacred. The USCCB, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, St. Vincent de Paul Society, and National Catholic Rural Life Conference all supported feeding the millions of people in poverty at home and abroad. In particular they supported continued funding for the following programs:
SNAP - the old food stamp program
National School Lunch Program - provides free to reduced cost lunches for children in impoverished households.
TEFAP - emergency food assistance programs that provide food for pantries kitchens, and shelters.
WIC - government grants to states to aid women and children up to 5 additional food assistance.
Food for Peace - cut direct payments to corporate farm entities, increase financial aid to farm programs to meet local needs in impoverished countries, and curtailing monetization programs (dumping U.S. farm surplus at below local costs undercuts indigenous economies).
The latest USDA statistics for hunger in America cover 2011. 14.9% of U.S. households have difficulty providing enough food for their families due to a lack of resources. The demographic breakdown includes 38.6 % single women households, 25.1% African American, 24.6% single men households, 20.6% households with children. Assistance programs that help these people survive include all the above listed in the Farm Bill except the Food for Peace program. The average monthly income of families seeking pantry, kitchen, or shelter assistance is $940. 70% of these families live below the poverty line.
As Congress grows closer to making decisions about immigration and the farm bill, they need to be made aware that real people will be affected by their decisions. Contacting your representative, and senators is the first step in that process. Utilize the SFX web page to find their phone numbers and email addresses.
Health Insurance Coverage
In 2011, over 48 million Americans, or 15% of the US population, did not have health insurance. Considered by age, 9.6% of children 18 years of age and younger and nearly 30% of people 19-34 years lacked health insurance in 2011. Examined by race, 30% of all Hispanics/Latinos and nearly 20% of all African Americans in the United States lacked any health insurance coverage. Nearly 8% of families with an annual income of $75,000 or greater did not have health insurance coverage.
Learn more about health insurance coverage in the United Stated by clicking here
We engage in advocacy as an avenue to identify issues of concern to the parish community, educate the parish community about issues of social justice, and provide constructive responses to issues of concern.
Our Advocacy Committee functions to provide education, opportunities for social action, and build partnerships in the community. As a parish, we recognize that unless there is systemic change, there will continue to be a community of those disenfranchised. It is our responsibility to become agents of change of unjust and inhumane systems and structures we observe or uncover. We want to become public advocates for those who bear the brunt of these injustices.