Thursday, April 27, 2006

Death Penalty/Consistent Ethic of Life Panel Discussion in Summit, NJ

This panel discussion is being co-sponsored by Pax Christi Summit and New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty . The event will be held on May 23rd from 7:30 to 9:30 at the Knights of Columbus 201 Shunpike Road, Summit, NJ.

The goal that we have for this event is to join together the social justice groups with the pro-life groups and begin to talk in terms of a consistent ethic of life. If we are successful we believe we will lend power to all of our causes.

The program will be called "The Death Penalty and a Consistent Ethic of Respect for Life". NJADP will be bringing two speakers, Kirk Bloodsworth, who is the first person to be exonerated of a captial crime using DNA evidence and Lorry Post, founder of NJADP and father of a murder victim. They will speak first followed by a speaker on Catholic social justice doctrine as it relates to the Culture of Life, the death penalty and abortion. Each speaker will have 20-30 minutes to speak followed by Q&A.

The question which creates a large hurdle for pro-life groups is "How can we convince those who do not share our religious belief that life begins at conception of the moral imperative of ending the practice of abortion?" We believe we can start by looking at other life issues and create a tenderness of consciousness built on peace and justice which supports all life "from conception to natural death". To quote Eleanor Roosevelt "When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?"

As a Catholic organization, we understand that abortion and the death penalty are not regarded on the same level according to the catechism. Abortion is an absolute evil with the only justification being an ectopic pregnancy. The Church's position on the death penalty is not so immutable, although Pope John Paul seemed to move it quite a bit farther toward an absolute exclusion by saying that justification for the death penalty was nearly obsolete in the modern world. This along with Pope Benedict's continued support of eliminating the death penalty prompted the US Bishops to begin its "Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty".

However, I recently stumbled across an explanation of Cardinal Bernadin's "Seamless Garment" metaphor. This suggests to me that we cannot take life and social justice issues as if each were in a vacuum. Nor can we take any of the other teachings of the respect for life or the dignity of the human person and treat them individually. If we strive for all we argue from a position of moral strength and we may achieve some. If we strive for some and leave the others behind we are arguing from a weakened position and may accomplish less or nothing at all.

Living in New Jersey, we actually are in a position to end the use of the death penalty in our state. This panel discussion will give participants both the background to understand the issue AND the tools to take the steps necessary for us as to prevail on a social justice issue that is also an important matter of public policy. It is also intended to give pro-life and social justice groups the tools to speak in terms of a consistent ethic of life so that we can all prevail in our pursuit of creating a blessed society.

Please join us in this discussion.

Knight of Columbus Hall
99 Shunpike Rd
summit, NJ
United States
See map: Yahoo! Maps

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

April 29th Peace Train to NY to Protest the War in Iraq

From Madelyn Hoffman, Director of NJ Peace Action (973)744-3263 (office) On Saturday, April 29th, the New Jersey Coalition Against War on Iraq is organizing a Peace Train into New York City, to participate in United for Peace and Justice’s “March for Peace, Justice and Democracy!”

Peace groups in at least 16 New Jersey communities, stretching from Northwest Jersey to New Brunswick to the Jersey shore and south to Camden and Atlantic City will be sending people to board trains into New York City.

The New York City march to which the Peace Trains are carrying supporters will kick off at noon in Manhattan, just north of Union Square and proceed south along Broadway to Foley Square, where a Grassroots Action Peace Festival is scheduled from 1- 6 PM. The New Jersey contingent is scheduled to meet at 33rd and 7th at 11:45 AM to march together to the staging area at 22nd and Broadway.

Organizations initiating the call for this demonstration include United for Peace and Justice, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, National Organization for Women, Friends of the Earth, U.S. Labor Against the War, Climate Crisis Coalition, People's Hurricane Relief Fund, National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, and Veterans for Peace. This march comes at a critical time, with support for the war in Iraq dwindling daily.

A little over 3 years after the U.S. led invasion, it is clear that Iraq is either on the brink of or already embroiled in a civil war. To date, almost 2400 U.S. soldiers have died and tens of thousands of Iraqis have died. The war has also taken a tremendous toll on the U.S. economy, leaving us unable to take care of our own here in the U.S. and has left Iraq devastated and torn by violence.

The April 29th march brings together an unprecedented coalition of organizations to call to an end to this madness and a return to sensible priorities in this country. Rallies will take place in the following locations (in alphabetical order). Local contact names and numbers are provided.

The Central New Jersey Coalition Against Endless War, together with a broad coalition of groups including Campus Antiwar Network, Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War, Graduate Students for World Peace and Social Justice, International Socialist Club, NJ Citizen Action, NJ Civil Rights Defense Committee, NJ Peace Council, RU Graduate Student Association, People’s Organization for Progress Central Jersey, Radigals, Rutgers Against the War, Tent State University, Middlesex County Democracy for America, and the Rutgers Student and Education Workers' Union. will have a pre-boarding rally at New Brunswick at 9:45 am at the New Brunswick Train Station and board that same train at 10:36 AM. For more information please contact or or call Ellen Whitt at 732-846-3544.

The Bergen Peace & Justice Network will rent buses. At least four buses will be leaving from Teaneck, Englewood, and Ridgewood. For more information contact Zoe Baldwin at

The Morristown Peace Vigil will hold a press conference at 10:00 AM and board the 10:24 train. They will take it all the way into Penn station in New York. For more information contact Susan Berkowitz at (973) 334-3826.

The Northwest NJ Peace Fellowship (a chapter of NJ Peace Action) will gather at the New Jersey Transit Dover station at 9:30 a.m. to catch the same train, at 10:05 AM. For more information contact Litsa Binder at (973) 726-3245 or Tom Bias at (973) 729-4043.

Somerset Voices for Peace and Justice (a chapter of NJ Peace Action will hold a rally at 9:00 AM and catch a train at 9:21 AM. For more information contact Susan Johanesen at (908) 258-3041. South Mountain Peace Action (a chapter of NJ Peace Action) will meet that train at 10:52 AM in Maplewood or 10:56 in South Orange. For more information contact Paul Surovell at (973) 763- 9493.

The Union County Peace Council will sponsor a pre-boarding PEACE RALLY at the Westfield Train Station (on the south side) by South Avenue, starting at 9:30 AM sharp, prior to boarding the 9:50 AM "Peace Train" to New York City on the Raritan Valley Line. We will transfer to PATH trains in Newark's Penn Station to arrive in NYC for the big march which begins at NOON north of Union Square along Broadway (18th to 22nd Streets. For more info: e-mail: or call Diane at (908) 233-7344

Bloomfield Peace Action (contact Susan Mullins at 973-338-5850), Jersey Shore Against the War of Monmouth County (contact Carol Gay at 732-785- 1503) and Voices United of Passaic/Essex, the newest chapter of NJ Peace Action (contact Ron deStefano at 973-925-8565) will also participate.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Meet the Press Panel Discusses Faith in America

April 16, 2006: Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Jon Meacham, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Richard Neuhaus, Joel Osteen discuss religion, politics and society.

Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, Author, "Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir", Executive Director, Benetvision: Research and Resource Center for Contemporary Spirituality | Bio | Book | Homepage

Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun magazine, Author, "The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right" | Bio | Book | Homepage

Jon Meacham, Managing Editor, Newsweek Magazine, Author, "American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation" | Bio | Book | Homepage

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, University Professor of Islamic Studies, George Washington University, Author, "The Heart of Islam" | Bio | Book | Homepage

Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, Editor, First Things, Author, "Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, And the Splendor of Truth" | Bio | Book | Homepage

Joel Osteen, Senior Pastor, Lakewood Church, Author, "Your Best Life Now" | Bio | Book | Homepage

To watch the program Click Here

To read the transcript Click Here

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Pilgrimage to the Gravesite of Dorothy Day

On Saturday, May 13th, Pax Christi New Jersey, Pax Christi of Metro NY, and Pax Christi Staten Island are sponsoring a Pilgrimage to the Gravesite of Dorothy Day in Resurrection Cemetery in Staten Island. People are invited to arrive at the cemetery chapel at 10:45 for 11:00 AM Eucharistic Liturgy to be concelebrated by Rev. Ronald Cioffi and Rev. George Anderson, SJ. After Mass, there will be a prayerful procession to the gravesite. Along the way people will recite a Litany of the Saints. At the gravesite there will be selected writings of Dorothy Day and remarks. The service will end with a closing hymn, Salve Regina, at around 1:00 PM.

For further information and directions, contact Kate and George Wynne, 732-974-5525 or

For directions from St. Teresa of Avila in Summit to the Cemetery of the Resurrection Driving Directions from 306 Morris Ave, Summit, NJ to 361 Sharrott Ave, Staten Island, NY

For more information on Dorothy Day follow this link

The Chapel at Resurrection Cemetery in Staten Island
361 Sharrott Ave
Staten Island, NY, 10309

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Pax Christi Summit 1st Peace Vigil Well Attended

The entire Pax Christi Summit Chapter would like thank you everyone who came this past Tuesday. We would also like to thank all of you who helped spread the word about our vigil and our purpose as an organization.

We had about 30 people join us at the Rosary Shrine to offer our prayers for peace and we raised $120 for the Domincan Nuns of Summit who so graciously allowed us to hold our service at the shrine. We were also joined by a photographer from the Star Ledger and an article about the vigil and Pax Christi was featured on the front page of the Union County section of the paper today under the headline "A Prayer to Give Peace a Chance; Vigil Stretches to Summit; 250 Chapters of Pax Christi Dennounce War."

We are just getting started there are many more prayers to be offered and Congressmen, Senators, and voters to reach before we can bring an end to this war and to all armed conflict. God’s blessings to every one of you who offered a prayer for peace, whether you were able to join us in person this past Tuesday or not.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Over 2Million Expected to Protest Monday

Migra Matters: The National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice: April 10

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Archdiocese Workshop on Immigration Reform

On Saturday, April 22nd the Office of Human Concerns of the Archdiocese of Newark will be running a workshop on immigration remform The workshop will cover the need for comprehensive and just immigration reform that protects the human dignity and rights of immigrants, legislation before Congress and how to make a difference. The conference will be held at the Archdiocesan Center at 171 Clifton Avenue in Newark. The donation for the workshop is $10.00 for advance registration you can visit the website of the Archdiocese or contact the Office of Human Concerns at 973-497-4341.

Monday, April 03, 2006

NJADP Director Speaks at St. Teresa’s About Effective Lobbying

Faith based and political grassroots group all across the country seem to be more active than ever as individual take responsibility for the state of their communities and attempt to make a meaningful difference. The question for all these newly minted activists must ask themselves is "where do I begin" and "how can I leverage relationships and resources to make the greatest impact".

These were exactly the concerns of the Pax Christi Summit Chapter and St. Teresa’s Beyond Just Faith Committee as they sat down recently with Celeste Fitzgerald of New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. In seeking the advice of Fitzgerald Pax Christi and Beyond Just Faith were drawing on an invaluable resource. In 1990 Fitzgerald and four other dedicated individuals state New Jerseyans for alternatives to the Death Penalty. Today NJADP has 5 full-time staff over 10,000 members along with the support of numerous secular and religious groups. NJADP can also be credited with helping to author and successfully lobbying to pass the current moratorium on the death penalty in New Jersey (the first legislative moratorium in the United States).

Fitzgerald encouraged members to think strategically in order to educate, and generate publicity and support from voters and legislators. “There are two kinds of lobbying,” Fitzgerald told the group, “ grass roots lobbying and direct lobbying”. Grassroots lobbying is where you encourage others to act on a particular issue including contact elected officials.. Direct lobbying on the other hand is when an advocacy group contacts elected officials through face to face meetings, phone calls, letters, etc.

Fitzgerald broke effective lobbying into its essential elements and provided the group with some basic steps to take as they begin to advocate for specific issues.

1) Expand your membership – there is power in numbers. Once you grow this number to a respectable size make note of your membership in all communications including articles, press releases and correspondence.

2) Do your homework. Know both your issue and your legislators. Research any pending legislation on your issue and find out what bills your legislators are sponsoring and what is of importance to them.

3) Do not make your issue partisan. You will need bi-partisan support to get your legislation passed no matter how great the majority of either party.

4) Use hand written letters whenever possible. These take the longest to produce, but provide the most impact.

5) Say thank you. Send notes and make phone calls to legislators who support your cause. Make them feel good about what they are doing.

6) Tie into national groups. Ask larger groups to provide you with research, speakers, publicity, and member lists.

7) Establish credibility with the media and legislators by knowing your issue and supporting your position with facts while avoiding exhageration.

8) Reach out to other local civic and religious groups to endorse your cause.

9) Keep your communications brief. Whether you are contacting supporters or legislators. Provide simple one page summaries with references to more detailed materials.

10) Keep your message positive. You will gain more support by being in favor of something positive than against something negative.