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ICC issues news roundup

By Tom Chapman
Executive Director
Iowa Catholic Conference

Invoking Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, released Sept. 24, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, is calling upon members of the U.S. House of Representatives to begin consideration of immigration reform legislation.

In a message, released in advance of the Jan. 19, 2014, World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis called for a “change in attitude” toward migrants and refugees around the world, moving away from attitudes of “defensiveness and fear, indifference and fear,” typical of a “throwaway culture.”

“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity,” the Holy Father wrote.
Archbishop Gomez echoed the Holy Father’s remarks, stating that the current situation in the United States undermines the human rights and dignity of migrants. Calling on the House of Representatives to correct this situation, Archbishop Gomez added, “I urge our leaders in the House of Representatives to debate and pass a bill that gives these undocumented men and women a path to citizenship and full membership in our society.”

The U.S. Senate passed S. 744, immigration reform legislation, on June 27.  The U.S. House of Representatives has yet to act on the Senate bill or its own version of immigration reform.
 
Food stamp news
 
The U.S. House voted Sept. 19 to make $40 billion cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps) over the next 10 years. According to analysis offered by USCCB staff, this would remove four to six million vulnerable people from the program, violating our commitment to the common good.
We’re not sure what’s going to happen next. We’ll keep you posted. The Senate made smaller cuts to SNAP as a part of its Farm Bill. The House’s version of the Farm Bill didn’t include SNAP but instead it passed the stand-alone measure mentioned above.
 
Syria update
 

Thanks in part to your advocacy and that of thousands of other voices for peace, the U.S. is now considering a diplomatic solution to end the violence in Syria, and Congress has postponed its vote on a resolution for the use of military force. The Church continues to urge the U.S. to work with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial humanitarian assistance, and encourage efforts to build an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities. 
 
Newman lecture
 
Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana will present the annual Newman Lecture sponsored by St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Des Moines. Cardinal Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, will be speaking on the “Vocation of a Business Professional.” The event will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. in Sheslow Auditorium at Drake University in Des Moines. This event is free but you must register before the event because there are a limited number of seats.

I’m looking forward to the cardinal’s reflections on this topic. The preface to the Pontifical Council’s document “Vocation of a Business Leader” said, "Business leaders are called to engage the contemporary economic and financial world in light of the principles of human dignity and the common good. This reflection offers business leaders, members of their institutions, and various stakeholders a set of practical principles that can guide them in their service of the common good."

In addition, “An Interfaith Prayer to Alleviate World Hunger” will be led by Cardinal Turkson and other religious leaders in conjunction with the World Food Prize.  This service will begin at 8 p.m. Oct. 16 at St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines. No registration is required to attend this event.


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