Friday, September 19, 2014

Five Things To Remember On Sept. 19

1. This weekend brings Catechetical Sunday, which will focus on the theme "Teaching About God's Gift of Forgiveness."

2. Catholic News Service says bishops are returning to the U.S. "after a nine-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a stronger resolve to advocate for peace and to urge the U.S. government to take a leadership role in ushering Israelis and Palestinians toward peace."

3. Pope Francis said the economy and social order must serve the human person.

4. Are you following Marriage: Unique for a Reason and For Your Marriage on Facebook?

5. God loves you.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Protect the Internet for what it is: essential to the common good

By Bishop John C. Wester 

Increasingly, Americans now use the Internet for almost every aspect of their lives, and that means more than only downloading videos to entertain. We use the Internet to find employment; get, share and create news; take care of our health; take part in formal education and sate our curiosity about many things outside of formal education; engage in political activity and interact with our governments; organize ourselves and band together for support and fellowship, and even seek spiritual insights and support of our faith.

It is almost impossible for anyone who is trying to improve her life or to contribute to her community, to do so without access to the Internet. Knowledge is power, and for the marginalized, denial of Internet service often means being made even more powerless.

The Pew Research Internet Project reports that 87 percent of Americans use the Internet, with near saturation usage among those living in households earning $75,000 or more, young adults ages 18-29, and the college-educated. While our workplace usage hasn’t changed significantly in the past 15 years (44 to 41 percent), digital activity outside of the workplace has become almost universal.

With that in mind, it seems clear that access to the Internet is as essential and necessary for Americans as is access to education, news and other services that allow us to flourish and make positive contributions to society.

The Federal Communication Commission’s recent interest in creating a “two-tiered” Internet will impair for many Americans this basic need – fast, reliable access to all Internet content. Instead of adopting rules that permit the wealthiest companies to purchase the best service, the FCC should insist on fair treatment for everyone no matter our income.

Community-serving organizations – such as the church – should not be treated as secondary “customers” in this digital environment. The content and connections we provide to people are more important than entertainment content -- such as movies and television shows -- even though we don’t have the resources to compete with entertainment companies to pay more to the Internet providers.
 Nonprofits rely on the Internet to strengthen their human networks. They use digital platforms to raise money, to mobilize advocacy work, to alert people of dangerous situations, to connect loved ones, to educate children and adults and to provide charitable and humanitarian aid.

Allowing some Internet content to be favored because of its greater ability to pay could result in an even greater divide between the powerful and the rest of a community. Under that scenario, decisions regarding access to public information, the ability to organize, and other first amendment rights, would be determined based only on the bottom line of corporations, not to promote the common good.

The World Wide Web is an international treasure of information, creativity and human potential. It should be preserved and protected by regulation as a place that fosters the best in humankind. The FCC needs a better vision of what the Internet is and what it can do.


Bishop John Wester is chair of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Communications and bishop of the Salt Lake City Diocese.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Five Things To Remember On Sept. 17

1. Updates from the Holy Land during the Peace Pilgrimage show how the bishops are meeting with leaders of Israel and Palestine, as well as visiting Gaza.

2. The sixth meeting of Pope Francis' council of cardinals is currently taking place.

3. Speaking of Pope Francis, he says to never leave home without your pocket Gospel.

4. October is Respect Life Month and the Catholic Church believes each life is a masterpiece of God's creation.

5. God loves you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Five Things To Remember On Sept. 16

1. Bishop Barres of Allentown, Pennsylvania is spending the night in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher as part of the bishops' peace pilgrimage. Join him in prayer between 1 p.m. and midnight (Eastern) on Tuesday, September 16. Bishop Barres will share reflections on the experience once it's completed. Also, he welcomes your special intentions as he prays at the sites of the crucifixion and resurrection. Follow on social media at #PeacePilgrimage

2. Catholic News Service reports: "The World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015 will serve as a forum for debating issues on the agenda for the world Synod of Bishops at the Vatican the following month, said the two archbishops responsible for planning the Philadelphia event."

3. Next month, Catholic bishops from across the globe will gather at the Vatican for the first of two synods on the family and evangelization. Learn more about these synods and the topics they will explore.

4. This year, the Church will celebrate Catechetical Sunday on September 21, 2014, and will focus on the theme "Teaching About God's Gift of Forgiveness."

5. God loves you.

Working for an economy that values dignity

By Bethany J. Welch

The sun rises in South Philadelphia with vans and bikes. Young men in twos and threes cycle north toward the skyscrapers for jobs in restaurants. Others pedal to construction sites and factories. Older women climb aboard fifteen passenger vans with lunch pails, ready for a long day cleaning offices, while young women pin up their hair to keep it clear of the machines at the industrial dry cleaners. Teen girls and old men are left behind to get the young children washed, fed, and out the door to school.

These days end well after the sun has set, sometimes in pain, sometimes in humiliation. Mario became so sick from the air quality at his job in a garment factory that he eventually had to quit. Meanwhile, his wife, also suffering from the effects, took on additional hours at the factory so they would not lose the apartment that houses them and their three young children. Hoa cleaned hotel rooms for four days and was summarily let go on the fifth before wages were paid out. Romo was injured at a construction site and the employer denied knowing who he was when the ambulance came. Eduardo bought three thousand dollars worth of materials for a renovation job only to be told by the homeowner that they wouldn't be having him complete the work.

As a society, our quest for the benefits of robust competition outstrips basic human dignity. Frequently, the path to riches (for the producer) or the possibility to consume with few limits (for the one buying) involves disregarding working conditions, fair wages or the larger impact on communities. There is a high cost for those low prices. In the neighborhood where I work and live, that cost is often shouldered by immigrant families.

Part of my vocation, running the Aquinas Center in Philadelphia, is to accompany these men and women who came to the United States seeking safety, education, religious freedom and economic opportunity. It also involves giving voice to the struggle when their voices are muted. I have turned lately to the wisdom of farmer and author Wendell Berry, finding many applications for life in the city.

In The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, he describes the danger of overvaluing competition:

The great fault of this approach to things is that it is so drastically reductive; it does not permit us to live and work as human beings, as the best of our inheritance defines us. Rats and roaches live by competition under the law of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the law of justice and mercy.

Justice requires us to hold each other accountable for fair wages, wages that permit the head of a household to rent a decent apartment and feed their family. Justice demands that hours, while long, do not subject a person to unreasonable hardship. Mercy calls for paid sick leave and access to health care. Our faith compels us to strive for an economy that values dignity over discounted t-shirts and respect over a cheap meal.

Bethany J. Welch, Ph.D, is Director of the Aquinas Center, and is the 2014 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award winner.

Read Archbishop Wenski's 2014 Labor Day Statement.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Five Things To Remember On Sept. 15

1. U.S. Bishops continue their Peace Pilgrimage, which you can track on social media, thanks to our storify and Facebook page.

2. "This is what marriage is all about: man and woman walking together, wherein the husband helps his wife to become ever more a woman, and wherein the woman has the task of helping her husband to become ever more a man," Pope Francis said Sunday. "Here we see the reciprocity of differences."

3. New resources are now available for marking the annual observance of October as Respect Life Month with the theme "Each of us is a masterpiece of God's creation. "

4. The Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is convening in October to discuss pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization. See a video we did on Pope Francis' letter to families on the synod.

5. God loves you.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Five Things To Remember On Sept. 8

1. Do you have plans the week of September 11-18? How about following 18 U.S. bishops on a pilgrimage to pray for peace in the Holy Land?

2. Father John Crossin said recent popes have been clear in their desire for continued dialogue with Muslims.

3. Today is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Pope Francis wants people to wish her a "Happy Birthday" and to say a "Hail Mary from the heart."

4. Pope Francis also said war is senseless slaughter and can always be avoided.

5. God loves you.