Catholics to Focus on Civic Responsibility on July 4th
In addition to picnics and barbecues, Catholics are being asked to focus on their civic responsibilities as they celebrate the Fourth of July this year. In a statement titled Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium, the U.S. bishops point out that, "In the Catholic tradition responsible citizenship is a virtue; participation in the political process is a moral obligation." While the bishops' statement does not endorse candidates or tell people how to vote, it does urge people to vote and highlights the moral dimensions of a wide range of public policy issues. "There's a lot of talk these days about Catholics and the 2000 elections," observes John Carr, director of the U.S. Catholic Conference Department of Social Development and World Peace. "The bishops have outlined an important set of questions that can shape our approach to the presidential campaign."
John Carr can be reached at 202-541-3381.
Prisons, Criminal Justice System the Focus of July Jubilee Day
In this Jubilee year, the U.S. bishops are developing a statement on criminal justice urging reforms in our system of justice which reflect Catholic social teaching, including a focus on the harm created by crime and a greater concern for victims and communities affected by crime. The statement will call on offenders to take responsibility for their actions and for the State to temper justice with mercy. The statement reminds us that while we abhor crime, we must never give up on criminals. Sunday, July 9 marks the Jubilee Day for Those in Prisons, when bishops and other chaplains will focus on the spiritual needs of the incarcerated and the spiritual dimension of rehabilitation and healing."Given that the country has incarcerated two million people, pastoral visits are more important than ever," says Dan Misleh, U.S. Catholic Conference Policy Advisor for Non-Violence Issues. "If the prison population reflects the general population, then roughly twenty percent or 400,000 of our prisoners are Catholic and in need of the sacramental presence in their lives."
Dan Misleh can be reached at 202-541-3190.
Feast Day Celebrates Unique Role of Grandparents
In May and June we take time to honor mothers and fathers, but the Feast Day of Saints Joachim and Anne (Jesus' grandparents) July 26 offers an opportunity to reflect on the special role of grandparents in family life. "Grandparents can be a point of stability in a changing world. They often give young people the gift of time and attention and encourage them to develop new skills and talents," says Sheila Garcia, Assistant Director of the NCCB Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth. "Their example of steadfast faith can encourage younger family members to make appropriate life decisions." In their pastoral message on older persons, Blessings of Age, the U.S. bishops speak of the special joys of grandparenting, and Pope John Paul II has pointed out that grandparents can even "bridge generation gaps before they are made."
Sheila Garcia can be reached at 202-541-3041.