REFLECTION: Newly beatified pope championed peace and justice

Tony Maglianoby Tony Magliano

With numerous armed conflicts raging in various parts of the world, and the Vietnam War worsening, Pope Paul VI on Oct. 4, 1965 proclaimed before the U.N. General Assembly: “No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and of all mankind.”

Unfortunately, in 1965 the world did not heed Blessed Paul VI’s prophetic words. And sadly, it has not heeded them since.

Pope Paul VI

Pope Paul VI

From Mexico to South Sudan, from Syria to Ukraine, from Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons threatening each other to the endless “war on terrorism,” today more than ever the world needs to heed Blessed Paul’s plea: “No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and of all mankind.”

Since Pope Paul had tremendous respect for all human life – starting at conception – it is providential that the miracle granted by God through his prayerful intercession involved the healing of an unborn child.

According to Vatican Insider, in California an unborn child in 2001 was diagnosed with ascites (liquid in the abdomen) and anhydramnios (absence of fluid in the amniotic sac). When every corrective attempt failed, the doctors said the baby would die before birth or be born with dangerous renal impairment.

When abortion was offered as an option, the mother refused. Instead, she prayed for a miracle asking Pope Paul’s intercession to God. Ten weeks later tests results revealed that the unborn child had significantly improved, and was born by Caesarean section.

The boy is now a healthy adolescent considered completely healed. The Vatican’s medical consultation team headed by Professor Patrizio Polisca, confirmed that it was impossible to explain the healing scientifically.

Over 40 years ago Blessed Paul VI foresaw the impending environmental disaster facing humanity today. In his apostolic letter Octogesima Adveniens  (“A Call to Action”) he warned: “Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation.”

In his day, and even more so today, in a world where great economic inequality exists – where the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer – Blessed Paul VI in his prophetic encyclical letter Populorum Progressio (“On the Development of Peoples”) clearly challenged this grave injustice.

He wrote, “God intended the earth and everything in it for the use of all human beings and peoples. Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity, created goods should flow fairly to all. …

“Extreme disparity between nations in economic, social and educational levels provokes jealousy and discord, often putting peace in jeopardy.”

Instead of largely ignoring the reasonable and just demands of countless oppressed people, and then going to war against them when they rise up, we should tirelessly work for social justice for all people.

For as Blessed Paul VI continued to teach in his encyclical Populorum Progressio, “When we fight poverty and oppose the unfair conditions of the present, we are not just promoting human well-being; we are also furthering man’s spiritual and moral development, and hence we are benefiting the whole human race. For peace is not simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day toward the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect form of justice among men.”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. Please contact your diocesan newspaper and request that they carry Tony’s column. Tony is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century,” has been well received by diocesan gatherings from Salt Lake City to Baltimore. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT: PCUSA signs onto NGO statement on nukes and security

Pax Christi USA has signed onto the NGO statement “Nuclear Weapons and the International Security Context.” This statement will be presented to the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. The First Committee deals with Disarmament and International Security. The statement was coordinated by Western States Legal Foundation.

Click here to read the statement.

PETITION: After Ferguson, we need positive change

from Roots Action

Pax Christi USA has signed onto this petition. We encourage all of our members, local groups and regions to add their names.

#2

An enormous coalition is bringing a massive petition to Washington with demands for serious reform coming out of Ferguson.

In the wake of Ferguson, we must secure a positive transformation in nationwide policing. We’re calling on the executive branch of the federal government to take definitive steps to protect civil and human rights in every community by setting a higher standard of policing, strengthening accountability mechanisms, and securing critical reforms to end abusive, militarized, and biased policing targeting black and brown communities.

Click here to read and sign the petition today.

IRAQ-SYRIA: “Khorasan”, the lie that thinly concealed another military atrocity

by Julio R. Sharp-Wasserman

iraq-syria-button

Unambiguous evidence came to light after the initiation of the recent offensive against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, demonstrating that the Obama administration knowingly lied about the existence and threat level of an imaginary terrorist group they called “Khorasan,” in the lead up to the attack. This is a good time to reflect upon what religion has to offer in explaining and evaluating this type of state behavior. The Bible tells us that we are all flawed morally. This means, on the one hand, that, as with all moral criticism, denunciations of violence are most honestly and effectively directed at ourselves before they are directed at others, since each of us has the most control over her own morally imperfect behavior. On the other hand, we must also remember, as we often do not, that when state violence becomes so heinous that righteous indignation is appropriate, the same moral standards apply to agents of the state that apply to all of us, as we are all mere humans.

The public justification of this act of war crucially invoked the existence of and immediate danger posed by the imaginary “Khorasan,” both to prevent popular opposition in the U.S. and to elude the international legal requirement that military actions taken without U.N. authorization be in response to an imminent threat. The executive branch, in a strategically adroit and appallingly unethical maneuver, released this story to the press soon enough before the attack to preclude public scrutiny of the lies presented and then had other agents of the executive publically correct the fabricated account after the attack was irreversibly underway, apparently in order to evade accusations that they misinformed the public. This was well covered by Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain at the left-wing publication The Intercept as well as by Andrew McCarthy at the conservative National Review. Needless to say, these state actions violate widely accepted moral principles condemning dishonesty and violence for reasons other than self-defense.

It is of the utmost importance that we realize non-violence in our own personal relationships and teach the next generation to do the same. In doing so we construct a less violent world by embodying peace. However, because of the urgency of opposing egregious ongoing U.S. government crimes in the Middle East, we should also be emphatic in holding the agents of the state personally morally responsible for these transgressions in a publically recognizable way.

There are two obstacles in popular political thinking to this advancement in popular consciousness. One is the common belief, originating in modern social contract theory, that government in a democratic society is the embodiment of a collective will, and thus immune from judgment by those citizens who are automatic participants in whatever actions the government commits. We betray this superstition when we say that “we” bombed Iraq, or that “the United States” has taken unilateral military action. But popular opinion is, even in the best functioning democracies, just one more check in a larger system of checks and balances, and functions only in certain circumstances and to a limited extent.  The agents of the state are, at the end of the day, independent individuals who make their own choices. Moreover, although we express our opinions by voting between major candidates, the more powerful forms of expression are those that involve withdrawing support from mainstream politics and pressuring political institutions from without. Vote for independent candidates or publically denounce the choice to vote when we are presented with identically warlike candidates. Attend protests and put your opposition into political writing or into art.

The second erroneous common philosophical assumption, which is less explicit, is that agents of the state ought to be held to different and more lenient moral standards simply by virtue of the fact that they are agents of the state. To think this way is to treat the state as a false idol—an object of worship too mysterious and great to be susceptible to judgment. However, murder or dishonesty committed by an agent of the state are morally identical to murder or dishonesty by anyone else. When the small group of individuals in charge of military policy kills hundreds of thousands in Iraq, this action is actually a violation of the most fundamental and obvious of moral principles, hundreds of thousands of times over. The way we think and talk about and otherwise react to this should reflect the obvious seriousness of this moral offense.

REFLECTION: What is peace? Questions from a Ferguson resident

by John Powell
Pax Christi St. Louis

#21

An unarmed African American teen is shot by a white police officer in controversial circumstances.

Civil authorities release information in controversial ways.

People react by going to the streets, marching and chanting in protest.

Authorities use tear gas and other weapons to quell protest.

People burn or loot businesses in reaction to police tactics or for reasons only they know.

People yell “F_____ the police!” in front of police officers at a protest.

People stereotype and discuss the “opposing” side on social media and spread mistruths or half-truths.

Residents just want things to get back to “normal.”

Which of these do you consider “violence?”  Which do you consider “peaceful?”  Which are moral?  Which are legal?  Which of these can lead to justice?  Which can really bring “peace?”  What is “civil disobedience” to you?

As a Ferguson resident and Pax Christi St. Louis member, I have been struggling to reflect and act on my understanding of these questions.  So many people have different definitions of “peace.”  I have been in discussions with people on all sides, and many different interpretations are out there.

Is it not peaceful if you make people feel uncomfortable?  If you show up at events and protest?  If you interrupt the “normal” course of peoples’ routines?  Can one chant?  Can one shout?  What can one shout?  At what time in a neighborhood of sleeping residents?

Should the protesters be blamed for “disturbing the peace” if police helicopters are flying overhead? Should they be resented for stopping traffic?  What if they surround a car that is trying to get through their occupation of a street?

What would Gandhi, MLK, Dorothy Day, and Abraham Heschel counsel?  How can we be the “change we wish to see in the world” if we are invisible to the general public?  What are the pros and cons of a particular protest tactic?  Even if we sincerely believe a tactic is “peaceful,” should we change course if most people don “get it” and actually turn against us based on a tactic?

How can we blame protesters for cursing when a young man is dead and left to bleed for four hours in a street?  Can citizens proud of a nation that was forged in revolution and often lauds its founding fathers and mothers for standing up to unjust systems really equate cursing with physical violence done to minority group members?

What would Jesus do?  What would Jesus think?  What would Jesus counsel?  Pray, Study, Act…in humility.

REGIONAL EVENT: Pax Christi Illinois hosts event on “The Pope Francis Effect” on Nov. 1

pope-francis-and-dovePax Christi Illinois will be holding a presentation entitled, “The Pope Francis Effect: Changing Political Discourse & Challenging the Church of the Global North. The presentation will be Saturday, November 1, from 1:00-4:00pm at  St Francis Xavier Church, Joyce Hall, 145 N. Waiola Ave., La Grange, IL.

The presenter will be Tom Cordaro. Cordaro is a peace activist, writer, organizer and a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace. Tom currently serves on the board of NETWORK and is the Justice & Outreach Minister at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Naperville. He received the 2008 Pax Joliet Peace Award from the Joliet Diocese and authored the award-winning book, Be Not Afraid: An Alternative to the War on Terror.

This Pax Christi Illinois annual event also includes an opening prayer service and a reception following the presentation. Come join us for prayer, reflection and fellowship.

REFLECTION: My father was killed by a computer, says a 7 year-old child

Dr_Hakimby Dr. Hakim

Imal, a 7 year old Afghan student in the 2nd grade, came to visit us in Kabul.

As Imal grew up, he kept asking his mother where his father was. His mother finally told Imal that his father had been killed by a drone when he was still a baby.

If you could see Imal in this video, you would want to hug Imal immediately.

If Imal were a white American kid, this tragedy would not have befallen his father. Which American would allow any U.S. citizen to be killed by a foreign drone?

Suppose the UK wanted to hunt ‘terrorists’ in the U.S., with their drones, and every Tuesday, David Cameron signed a ‘secret kill list’ like Obama does. Drones operated from Waddington Base in the UK fly over U.S. skies to drop bombs on their targets, and the bombs leave a 7 year old American kid, say, John, fatherless.

John’s father is killed, shattered to charred pieces by a bomb, dropped by a drone, operated by a human, under orders from the Prime Minister /Commander-in-Chief.

“John, we’re sorry that your father happened to be near our ‘terrorist’ target.’ He was collateral damage. It was ‘worth it’ for the sake of UK national security.”

Unfortunately, no U.S. official or military personnel had met with Imal’s widowed mother to apologize.

Raz, Imal’s uncle who brought him to visit us, asked his young nephew, “Will you bring me some marbles to play with?”

Imal was friendly, like any other 7 year old kid. “Yes!” His voice was a trusting one, eager to be a good friend and playmate.

Imal in front of a poster of Badshah Khan.

Imal in front of a poster of Badshah Khan.

“Do you also play with walnuts? Tell us how you play with walnuts,” Raz requests.

“We put them in a line, and flick a walnut to hit other walnuts, like playing with marbles,” Imal explains diligently, like he was telling a story we should all be interested in.

“Besides beans, what other food do you like?”

“I also like….potatoes…and meat……and….rice!” All of us were smiling with the familiar love of Afghan oiled ‘palao’ or ‘Qabuli’ rice.”

Imal knew what my laptop was. He said, “We can look at photos & watch films…”

But, then, it seemed that he took on the understanding of an older person when his voice became serious.

”My father was killed by a computer.”

I wanted to tell Imal that nowadays, it takes children and young people like Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai to tell us adults the plain facts.

When Malala was 16 years old and met with the Obamas at the White House, Malala had told Obama that drones were fuelling terrorism.

Do we get it? Drones are employed in the ‘war against terrorism’, but instead, drones fuel terrorism.

How many drone attacks are there in Afghanistan every month, and how many women, children and young men like Imal’s father are killed?

We don’t know. It’s not a transparent strategy.

We would all want to know everything about the possible effects of a drone strategy on our children, especially if our country was the most drone-bombed country in the world, like Afghanistan is.

A Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s ‘Naming the Dead’ report says that fewer than 4% of the people killed by drone attacks in Pakistan have been identified by available records as named members of Al Qaeda. If this is true for drone attack victims in Afghanistan too, then 96% of drone victims in Afghanistan have been innocent civilians like Imal’s father.

In another Bureau of Investigative Journalism report,  ‘Tracking drone strikes in Afghanistan’, (July, 2014),the Bureau states that “nobody systematically publishes insurgent and civilian deaths from drones on a strike-by-strike basis. Neither the US nor UK authorities publishes data on the casualties of their drone operations.”

So, we are unable to find out for Imal’s mother if it was a U.S./UK drone that killed her husband, and who the drone operator was.

If Imal were John, could he or his mother sue David Cameron? Stop the drone? Stop the human drone operator? Disable the computer?

We gave Imal a Borderfree blue scarf, and thanked him for coming.

His eyes were bright and cheerful, taking in the photos on the wall, including a poster of Gandhi and Badshah Khan. Badshah Khan was a Pashtun like Imal, and has been called the Frontier Gandhi for his lifelong struggle for nonviolence.

I have been thinking hard about Imal, about whether anyone would hear him, when few among the elites who declare wars and order drone strikes seem to have heard the now famous Malala, not even President Obama.

“I wish to tell the world, ‘We don’t want war. Don’t fight!’”

Dr. Hakim, (Dr. Teck Young, Wee) is a medical doctor from Singapore who has done humanitarian and social enterprise work in Afghanistan for the past 9 years, including being a friend and mentor to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building non-violent alternatives to war. He is the 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.