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Life on the edge: One in three Americans lives at or below the poverty line, and almost 70% are women and children. That's 42 million women inching along poverty's tightrope. A new report just released, "The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Pushes Back from the Brink", illuminates this economic plight that is affecting millions of American women but is frequently overlooked in our national discussions about poverty and inequality. Women represent nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers, concentrated in jobs that tend to be labor-intensive. Moreover, women across the spectrum continue to earn less than men no matter the education level, profession or position -- a wage gap that is more like a gulf for women of color who earn 55 to 65 cents on the dollar compared with white men. Add to this picture that 40% of our nation's households with children rely on women as a primary or sole source of income, and it becomes easier to understand why it is so hard for many families to get ahead.

Climate alert: High elevation environments around the world may be warming much faster than previously thought. The Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst calls for more aggressive monitoring of temperature changes in mountain regions and more attention to the potential consequences of warming. High mountains are the major water source for large numbers of people living at lower elevations, so the social and economic consequences of enhanced warming in mountain regions could be large, the researchers add. "This alone requires that close attention be paid to the issue. In addition, mountains provide habitat for many of the world's rare and endangered species, and the presence of many different ecosystems in close proximity enhances the ecological sensitivity of mountains to environmental change," according to the members of the Mountain Research Initiative Working Group in the current issue of Nature Climate Change.
Congress is addressing climate change in four ways: 1) Making buildings more energy efficient by updating building codes and creating incentives to build more efficiently. These changes could remove 650 million metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere; create more than 190,000 jobs; and save families, governments and businesses nearly $100 billion, according to a study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy; 2) Getting rid of environmental “super pollutants” which are responsible for around 40 percent of global warming; 3) Mitigating the damage of climate change by working with local, state and federal government to adopt resiliency, preparedness and risk management plans, with no cost to taxpayers; 4) Acknowledging human-caused climate change and committing to legislative solutions. Interfaith lobbying efforts that were part of FCNL’s Call to Conscience on Climate Disruption played a significant role in Rep. Gibson’s decision to lead on this issue.
                                 Adapted from FCNL Washington Newsletter No. 768 February, 2015

Catholic media unite in call for ending the death penalty: Four leading U.S. Catholic publications cast aside sectarian differences Thursday, publishing a joint editorial that calls for ending the death penalty. "We, the editors of four Catholic journals -- America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor -- urge the readers of our diverse publications and the whole U.S. Catholic community and all people of faith to stand with us and say, 'Capital punishment must end,'" the editorial reads. Read more at
     According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, 55 percent of all U.S. adults said they favor the death penalty for convicted murderers. That figure was 59 percent for white Catholics and 37 percent for Hispanic Catholics. The editorial comes as the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments in an Oklahoma killer's appeal. “The court will likely issue a ruling by June,” the publications write. “Our hope is that it will hasten the end of the death penalty in the United States.”
                                                                                              Posted: 03/05/2015

Congo genocide must end:  Members of religious congregations working in the Congo are calling for an end to the brutal kidnappings and killings. Hundreds of children and adults have been kidnapped and "butchered" in nighttime raids by armed men in the northeastern area of Beni, according to a written statement by members of the general councils of 10 religious orders and congregations that are present in the diocese of Butembo-Beni.

                                                                           Catholic News Service  |  Apr. 10, 2015

Are modified foods safe? Genetically modified foods are made up of organisms (known as GMOs for “genetically modified organisms”) which have been genetically altered for “improvement”. The touted reasons for genetically modifying foods vary from making a fruit larger and seedless to resisting pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. But are GMO foods really the solution to humanity’s problems, or are they negatively affecting virtually all life on planet earth? Genetically modified foods have been proven not only to be unhealthy, but also deadly. One review of 19 studies showed that with the consumption of genetically modified foods comes significant organ disruptions, especially in the liver and kidneys. That is why nations like Peru, France, and Hungary are taking action over legitimate health concerns.

                                                          Natural Society, Genetically Modified Foods, 2014 

“Union” or marriage?  As some in the United States consider whether religious and civil marriages should be separated, they might look to practices in Europe, where most countries have long distinguished between the two.
     "Whereas the Catholic Church has a clear vision of the special meaning of marriage, it's viewed in the civil context as a contract between two people -- and it's a fact of modern society that such contracts vary," Thierry Bonaventura, spokesman for the 34-country Council of European Bishops' Conferences, told Catholic News Service on Monday.
     "In general, however, the system works well here. The church accepts civil unions, and the state is happy to see religious marriages take place if they're registered with the civil authorities." Today, the 47 member-countries of the Council of Europe, with their combined population of 820 million, generally concur on marriage criteria concerning age, consent and kinship. However, rules and procedures vary on associated property and inheritance rights, as well as on parenting, marital names and mutual duties, while attitudes to civil and religious marriages reflect historical experiences, cultural standards and social expectations.

                            Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic News Service April 15, 2015 printed in NCR

Investigation ends: The Vatican approved new statutes and bylaws for the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious, ending a seven-year process of investigating the group and engaging in dialogue with its officers to ensure greater harmony with church teaching. Conference officers met April 16 with Pope Francis, the same day the Vatican announced the conclusion of the process, which included oversight for three years by a committee of three bishops. LCWR has more than 1,500 members, who represent more than 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States.
     Four LCWR officers spent 50 minutes with Pope Francis, discussing his apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” which, they said, “has so deeply impacted our lives as women religious and our mission in the world. Our conversation allowed us to personally thank Pope Francis for providing leadership and a vision that has captivated our hearts and emboldened us as in our own mission and service to the church.”

                                                                                   Catholic News Service, April 16, 2015

SJB Friars Commit to Eco-Friendly Practices: At their Chapter in May 2014, the Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province passed the following proposal:

“We commit to increasing our personal and communal efforts regarding environmentally-friendly practices so as to promote, in concrete ways, more sustainable lifestyles. Each friary will choose and commit to at least two practices, either from the provided list or another source, and share these with the JPIC Office by October 2014. The JPIC Office will monitor this initiative and annually report its findings to the Province at large.”

SJB Friars Commit to Refugees, Migrants and Victims of Human Trafficking: The Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province based in Cincinnati, Ohio, held their 2008 Chapter at St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana May 19-23. Of the many proposals passed, the Chapter delegates affirmed a resolution to learn more about the issues of migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking in order to better be able to respond to their needs. The resolution says:
 “We, the Franciscans of St. John the Baptist Province, commit ourselves to increase our awareness of issues surrounding refugees, migrants and victims of human trafficking in order to develop more proactive Franciscan responses on the provincial, friary and personal level.”
SJB Friars Commit to Non-violence: The Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province based in Cincinnati, Ohio, held their 2005 Chapter at the University of Dayton, May 23-27. Among the many proposals that were passed, the Chapter delegates affirmed a resolution introduced by their JPIC Office in which they committed themselves to “continued conversion to a life of Franciscan non-violence in support of a consistent ethic of life.” The complete resolution follows.
“As Franciscans, we affirm the sacredness of all human life and the inherent value of all creation. In a world where violence is rampant, we wish to be a sign of hope, actively promoting the preservation of life, peace among people and nations, justice for all and reconciliation. We commit ourselves to continued conversion to a life of Franciscan non-violence in support of a consistent ethic of life.”