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Social Justice Ministry E-News May 2024

God's Justice is not Our Justice

Catholic Teaching Forbids the Death Penalty

To follow Jesus is not always easy or in fashion. In fact, the Bible tells us that we are more likely to be despised and mocked (as He was) than to be welcomed and embraced for meeting war with peace, judgment with mercy and hatred with love. To be a Christian is and always has been counterculture and often put us at odds with the structures and politics of the day.


The Church's stance against the death penalty is no exception. Many Catholics struggle with this one, and speaking out against it raises more than a few eyebrows.


But God's justice is not our justice. Time and again, Jesus teaches compassion and understanding rather than judgment and retribution. When the men wanted to stone to death (as was the custom) the woman caught in adultery, Jesus intervened with mercy. When Peter drew his sword against the soldier to defend Jesus in the garden, our Lord healed the man and told Peter to put down his arms. In a clear example of redemption, Jesus made the Apostle Paul, who murdered countless Christians, one of his most trusted teachers. We embrace him today as one of ours.


As Catholics, we are called to a culture of life and to respect and value every person, no matter their sinfulness/crime. We believe in forgiveness, reconciliation and love. For decades, the Church has been speaking out against the death penalty and advocating for alternatives that respect the inherent dignity of every human person.


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Here are some key points from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' webpage "The Church's Anti-Death Penalty Position."


  1. Pope John Paul II’s Appeal: Pope John Paul II called for a consensus to end the death penalty, describing it as both cruel and unnecessary. He emphasized that even in the case of someone who has committed great evil, their dignity must not be taken away.
  2. Bishops’ Call for Abolition: The USCCB first called for an end to the death penalty over 25 years ago. They continue to renew this call, urging the Catholics to work towards abolishing capital punishment in the United States.
  3. Consistent Respect for Life: The USCCB’s position is that no matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so. The death penalty ought to be abandoned not only for what it does to those executed but also for what it does to all of society.
  4. Medicinal Purpose of Punishment: The purpose of punishment, according to Catholic teaching, is not vengeance but correction. Even when people deny the dignity of others, their dignity remains a gift from God. Punishment should be consistent with justice and respect for human life and dignity.
  5. Inadmissibility of the Death Penalty: In 2018, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith officially forbade support for the death penalty by faithful Catholics, stating that it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person. The Catechism of the Catholic Church now teaches that the death penalty is inadmissible.
  6. Breaking the Cycle of Violence: The USCCB recognizes that the death penalty contributes to a cycle of violence in society and calls for its abolition.


Learn more and get involved:

Letter from U.S. Catholics on Israel-Palestine

The Catholic Advisory Council of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), Pax Christi USA, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, and the Franciscan Action Network invite all Catholic individuals and organizations in the United States to sign on to an open letter expressing our grief and dismay over the horrors that have occurred in Israel-Palestine over the last six months.


We also bear witness to and speak out against the decades of injustice that have plagued the Holy Land. As Pope Francis has said, “without justice, there is no peace.” The inherent dignity of all persons and their right to life is the basis of our concern for all Palestinian and Israeli lives, and our hope for a solution in which systemic injustices are addressed and the rights of both peoples granted and upheld.

-- Reprinted from CMEP


"Please. Countries at war, all of them, stop the war. Look to negotiate.

Look for peace."


-- Pope Francis, interview with CBS Evening News, 26 April 2024

Find the Letter Here
Civilize It: Unifying A Divided Church

Update on The Farm Bill

from the Food Security Priority Group


"Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality.

-- Pope Francis Evangelii Gaudium #53   

 

On May 17, the House Agriculture Committee released a draft of The Farm, Food, and National Security Act 2024 (House Farm Bill), that according to analysis from the Food Research and Action Center, “poses a serious threat to the health and wellbeing of the more than 41.4 million people who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to put food on the table.” https://frac.org/news/thompsonfarmbillmay2024

 

This proposal “slashes future Thrifty Food Plan benefit adjustments — which SNAP benefits are based on — by nearly $30 billion over a decade. This will drastically reduce support for the tens of millions of people in this country who are struggling against hunger during a time of increasing food insecurity. In addition to SNAP, Summer EBT (Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer), Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program, and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) — programs whose benefits are tied to the Thrifty Food Plan — would also experience cuts.” https://frac.org/news/thompsonfarmbillmay2024

 

“House lawmakers will battle in committee next week over the massive farm bill, with a particular focus on food assistance programs, which account for about 80% of the overall spending level.”

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/house-releases-1-5-trillion-225525352.html

 

The clock is ticking. Congress has until Sept. 30 to come to a compromise and pass the bill or pass another extension. Lawmakers will spar over key provisions, such as Inflation Reduction Act funding for fighting climate change, federal nutrition programs (i.e. SNAP), food aid and forest management. https://thehill.com/business/agriculture/4670170-house-gop-releases-farm-bill-proposal-as-clock-ticks/

 

Food is a basic need and a human right. We need to contact our NC senators and let them know that in this year’s Farm Bill, “we encourage them to prioritize sufficient funding of programs that feed hungry families, both here and abroad, while opposing efforts to weaken the efficacy of or access to these programs.” -https://www.usccb.org/resources/letter-congress-regarding-2023-farm-bill-april-24-2023

 

Please contact your NC senators at:

Senator Thom Tillis

https://www.tillis.senate.gov/email-me

Phone: (202) 224-6342


Senator Ted Budd

https://www.budd.senate.gov/contact/

Phone: (202) 224-3154

 

Our Lady of Consolation Food Pantry

Help feed the hungry in our community by donating to the St. Martin de Porres Food Pantry at Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church. Please drop off donations at 1235 Badger Court, Charlotte, NC 28206.


Delivery details are as follows:

Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon; contact Denise Shopshire or Mary Carter.

Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; contact Mary Carter or Deborah Wadsworth.


Contact Deborah Wadsworth at 704-231-7956 for more information.


The Social Justice Ministry meets the third Monday every other month. Our next meeting will be a summer social in July or August. To learn more, contact stpetercatholicsocialjustice@gmail.com.


"This is what Yahweh asks of you: only this, to act justly,

to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God." - Micah 6:8

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In the spirit and tradition of St. Ignatius, we live out our faith through justice and reconciliation. Members of St. Peter serve our sisters and brothers of greater Charlotte who live on the margins, are forgotten or under served. God encourages us with discerning hearts to find how we can use our talents to share justice and His love with others.


Social Justice Ministry Mission Statement:


As men and women for and with others, we promote peace, stand with the poor and marginalized, and educate and advocate for social change wherever injustice exists.