Catholic News Service Press Items
At a time when workers continue to struggle for decent wages and rights, panelists at a conference marking the 120th anniversary of the encyclical "Rerum Novarum" made clear that the letter on labor and the rights of workers holds important contemporary lessons.
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Religious leaders, including two prominent Catholic bishops, challenged lawmakers to avoid cutting federal spending on anti-poverty programs that help the poorest and most vulnerable people during the country's mounting budget crisis.
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As Tucsonans continued to reel from the Jan. 8 shooting spree at a shopping center that left six dead and another 14 wounded, religious leaders around the country looked to help heal the emotional pain through prayer and memorial services.
Wage theft is one of the biggest problems facing low-wage workers as well as American taxpayers, said the leader of Interfaith Worker Justice.
"Our job as people of faith is to announce what is politically unrealistic, and then make it realistic. The prophetic vocation is to proclaim the impossible, and then make it possible," said the Rev. Jim Wallis, author of "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It" and founder of the Sojourners Community, a Christian social justice organization in the United States.
Two participants in a nationwide teleconference organized by religious organizations that are supporting health care reform said they were optimistic that legislation will pass this year and that they don’t believe government funding of abortion will be a part of the bill.
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- With videotaped greetings from President Barack Obama and a panel discussion by senior White House staffers highlighting the first full day of the Mobilization to End Poverty conference April 27, it was clear the political climate had shifted for the faith-motivated campaign. The effort that started with getting churches to organize in fighting poverty has picked up great momentum since the first such gathering in 1996, said the Rev. Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, the network of churches and faith-based organizations that was the prime sponsor of the event. What Rev. Wallis started as an interfaith movement to bring attention to poverty, named Call to Renewal, has grown from that first meeting of dozens of people in a Washington church to the 1,100 who registered for the Mobilization to End Poverty conference, held at the Washington Convention Center. "Sometimes I pinch myself, because poverty is now on the agenda of the churches," Rev. Wallis said in a plenary session opening the event. Fighting malaria, HIV and AIDS, and hunger on a global scale also have become targets of the efforts among a wide range of churches, he said. "And now, we have a president and a Congress who want to make a change," he continued.
"This budget debate, we believe, should be seen in a values context," the Rev. Jim Wallis, executive director and CEO of Sojourners, a progressive evangelical organization that addresses justice issues, told the teleconference. "A budget tells us what's most important and what's most valued .... So it's appropriate for the religious community to do what's called a values audit of a budget or a moral audit of our priorities.
"It says something about his style and the courtesy he extended to those of us participating in the March for Life," Melady told Catholic News Service Jan. 23. "It says he is concerned about the other point of view, which is a good foundation for finding common ground."
That sentiment was echoed by the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners, who said Obama's call for abortion reduction and the delay was a clear message the president wants to find a solution for abortion that will be less divisive.
While much talk regarding the stimulus package’s components has been aimed at the middle class, the poor need its benefits as well, said the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners. “We do care about the middle class,” he said. “But it is our task to make sure the poor, who are close to the heart of God, are not left out during this economic crisis.”
Rev. Wallis said America’s churches may have to gird for a “poverty emergency” if the U.S. economy continues to falter, potentially swelling the ranks of the nation’s poor from the current 37.2 million to 45 million at a time when denominations and individual congregations are themselves feeling the effects of a recession that has already lasted more than a year.