Wednesday, January 30, 2013

UPDATED - Archbishop Gregory to lawmakers: Don't give up hope, even if 40 days of lawmaking seems like 40 years lost in the desert

Catholics who attended the annual Catholic Day at the Capital on Tuesday, Jan. 29, buttonholed their representatives about public policy issues important to the church. 

First up for the day was a briefing on legislative bills from leaders of the Georgia Catholic Conference and the Atlanta Archdiocese. The group then watched the opening of the House of Representatives . Later, the participants shared their viewpoints with lawmakers. 

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory was the chaplain of the day. His remarks to open the day's session are below. (The early sounds are the Georgia House of Representatives coming to order, starting with a chiming bell and then attendance to ensure there was a quorum of members.)

Catholic Day at the Capital: Archb. Wilton D. Gregory's opening reflection at the Georgia Statehouse by Andrew.Nelson

A slideshow of participants is in the works.

Some thoughts from the participants.

We'll be talking with the Georgia Catholic Conference leaders for our  Feb. 14 edition to learn about their legislative priorities.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Update on Immigration Issues

An immigration conference here in November attracted hundreds of Catholic activists from across the country looking to share information.

One of the key issues for the conference was spurring political leaders to resolve the status of  11 million immigrants who are in the country without proper documents.

There is the beginning of movement on that issue.
Millions of illegal immigrants would be given a path to citizenship under provisions of an immigration overhaul fashioned by a bipartisan group of senators, an opening shot in what promises to be a fight in Congress this year.
The legislative framework, released Monday, also would add federal agents and equipment to strengthen the borders and tighten work rules to ensure employers hire legally.
The unveiling comes before President Barack Obama plans to set out his own, similar principles in a speech Tuesday in Las Vegas. Mr. Obama repeatedly has said revamping the immigration system is one of his top priorities, while Republicans—smarting from the overwhelming Hispanic support of Mr. Obama in November's election—also have identified the issue as of major importance.

Another hot issue was states issuing driver’s licenses to young undocumented workers who receive two-years of deferred action by the federal government.

It appears Iowa is reversing its former stance. And more of the five states that banned licenses to the group are reconsidering the policy, reports "The Huffington Post."
"The new information announced late last Friday from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services changes the definition of persons granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status," Iowa Department of Transportations officials said in a statement on Wednesday. 
Deferred action recipients are not in "lawful status" while they're staying in the U.S. -- they're still undocumented, and they could still be deported based on Department of Homeland Security discretion. Arizona, Michigan, Iowa and Nebraska announced last year that those immigrants therefore could not legally be granted driver's licenses because the law requires them to be legally present. North Carolina canceled already-issued driver's licenses for deferred action recipients earlier this month, citing the same reason. Civil rights groups have sued Arizona and Michigan for blocking driver's licenses.

And the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is watching the issue and engaging with lawmakers.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, welcomed principles set forth by a group of eight U.S. Senators as a blueprint for reform of our nation's immigration system.
"I welcome the introduction of a bipartisan framework to help guide Congress on immigration reform," Archbishop Gomez said January 28."It is an important first step in the process and sets a bipartisan tone."
The framework released by the "Group of Eight" working group would include a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented in the nation. It also would reduce family backlogs in the immigration system, which requires family members to wait years to reunite with their loved ones.
"It is vital that the framework includes a path to citizenship, so that undocumented immigrants can come out of the shadows and into the light and have a chance to become Americans," Archbishop Gomez said. "It gives hope to millions of our fellow human beings."
Read more at the USCCB.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Faith and the Pursuit of Images

In this Year of FAITH I’m trying to pay particular attention to the word faith in scripture.
How will faith impact my ability to capture some interesting images this year? Do I have faith that I will make some interesting images in 2013? Do I have faith that God will put me in the position to get the attention-grabbing photographs?
Yesterday’s scripture reading in 1John 5: 3-4 offers some motivation for all of us in whatever we’re seeking to achieve or pursue this year in our lives.

And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by
God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

If I can harness that kind of faith, then I should able to capture some interesting images this year. Like the students above, I’m praying that it happens.

Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Review of 2012

There's a special Pinterest board of key local stories of 2012 that ran in the Georgia Bulletin.

Feel free to wander over there to see what we pinned. Tell us, what stories did we miss?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Here's a poem to mark the end of the holidays.

I am fairly certain I first became aware of W.H. Auden from the movie "Four Weddings and Funeral" when his poem "Funeral Blues" was read aloud.

A few years ago, I came across another of his poems "Christmas Oratorio."

This weekend I took down my Christmas decorations. (The Christmas season for the church doesn't end until Sunday, Jan. 13.) And this poem came to mind. It sums up for me the end of the season with its imagery of putting away the decorations and what can be my ho-hum reaction to the birth of the Christ Child. At the same time, I love the "begging" line.

Christmas Oratorio
Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes --
Some have got broken -- and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week --
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted -- quite unsuccessfully --
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant


Photo credit: Creative Commons license/Romana Klee.