Peace & Social Justice Ministry
    Diocese of Joliet

    Issues For Our Times

    John Bagley
    St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Naperville

    Contents

    Introduction

    This list was created in order to put, in a single place, an "environmental scan" containing statements of the issues which exist in today's world.  The intent is not to make good people feel bad or overwhelmed, but to give an overview of the "signs of the times" so that individuals and groups can make rational choices of the issues on which they will focus their efforts.  That means that they will consciously choose to ignore some issues while expending their time, talent, and treasure on others.  My experience is that the alternative leads to trying to do too much and fragmenting resources as the "issue of the month" comes to our attention.  That leads to feelings of frustration and powerlessness.

    Note that these are issues.  They become moral or ethical issues when judged according to some standard (e.g. Catholic Social Teachings or the Gospels).  I have tried to avoid both judgments and solutions.

    The categories used for this list originated with the list of issues in the version of the USCC document: "Faithful Citizenship" issued for the 2000 election. They have been altered and others added where that seemed reasonable.  The original intent was to express each issue as one or a few simple declarative sentences but, when I began copying text from the references, some of the items have grown longer.

    A good general reference is Professor Joseph M. Incandela's resource notes for his course on Catholic Social Thought although it, understandably, focuses more on ethics than on the issues themselves.  The National Center for Policy Analysis has good summaries of issues, especially those that are the subject of federal legislation.  It tends to be on the conservative side.  The Electronic Policy Network, a project of The American Prospect magazine is similar but with more of a liberal slant.  Finally, for the truly dedicated, may I suggest Volume I of the Encyclopedia of World Problems which states: "The number of world problems described is now 9,832, with a further 2,380 referenced by index only."

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    Protecting Human Life

      Abortion

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      Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia


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      War and Preparation for War


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      Peace and Sustainable Development


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      Global Trade in Arms


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      Death Penalty

      General references on capital punishment and the death penalty can be found on The Death Penalty Page from Florida State, Death Penalty Information from NIU, and from The Illinois Death Penalty Education Project.


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    Promoting Family Life

      Marriage


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      Just Wages


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      Education


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      Communications

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    Pursuing Social Issues


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    Prisoners and Prisons

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    Civil Rights


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    Practicing Global Solidarity

      Debt Relief


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      Global Poverty

      Human Rights

      United Nations

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      Refugees

       

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      Immigration

      Regional Conflicts


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    Afterword

    I must say that when I started this compilation, I had no idea that it would grow to its present length.  As I remarked in the introduction, please do not let this discourage you.  Actually it was difficult to find sites that gave concise descriptions of the issues, because most of them devoted far more space to judgments and solutions.  The encouraging news is that, for each of the issues listed here, there groups of people (often very many groups) working on its resolution.

    That means that, if there are issues in the preceding list that you or your group feel called to work on because they touch your heart, address a need that is close to you, or resonate with your talent or charism, you are not alone.  You may be just mouse-clicks away from an organization that is already working on each issue.  Join them and devote yourself to working on its resolution.  The Diocesan Voices For Justice page is an especially good place to find local allies.

    Concerning the problem of overload, you can take comfort in the fact that there are plenty of other people and groups working to resolve the issues that you cannot tackle.

    Finally, this is still a work-in-progress.  It is my intent to add and update items as they come to my attention and to expand the links.  I would appreciate any updates, corrections or feedback.  You can send them to me at: bagley@computer.org.
     


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