REFLECTION: God is always waiting to be gracious to us

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Now, my guess is that some of us in the church are feeling like those workers and are ready to grumble a bit. It’s not really fair, is it, that the ones who work one hour get the same as those who work the whole day, and in the terrible heat of the day. Well, I hope by the time you leave, you’ll be ready to give up grumbling and really hear what God is trying to tell us today, because it’s all about God’s love.

 

The three lessons today instruct us in various ways as to what the love of God really is, and so we have to listen carefully to understand this. … But it does seem natural that we would grumble a bit, just as those workers did. But again, if we listen deeply to the Scripture lessons, all three of them today, we’ll understand better how God’s love is behind all of this.

First of all, if we turn to the lesson from Isaiah: Here is a passage where the prophet is urging the people to return from their exile, even though they’ve been unfaithful. They have fallen away from their Jewish practices. They’ve turned to pagan idols. They’ve taken up with foreign peoples against God’s rule, so they’re hesitant to come back because they’re afraid….

To read this entire article, click here.

IRAQ-SYRIA: Sisters of Mercy call for nonviolent alternatives to address ISIS

The following statement was issued by the Sisters of Mercy on September 15.

iraq-syria-buttonThe Sisters of Mercy are committed to nonviolence and peace-making and therefore want to elevate concerns regarding the strategy that President Obama outlined in his national address on September 10, 2014 to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Despite much criticism, we appreciate that the President took time to cautiously and carefully craft an approach to the unique and very serious threat that ISIS poses to the region and to the world. However we believe that extensive reliance on a U.S. military strategy could worsen the situation. Our commitment to nonviolence does not mean we believe in passivity in the face of barbaric aggression. Instead, we support giving serious attention and engagement with proven and effective non-military approaches to interrupt the spiral of violence in the region and to protect communities from harm.

Like President Obama, we recognize the importance of bringing this threat to world security to the United Nations General Assembly. Women religious in the region who have witnessed and experienced many atrocities committed by ISIS have called for, among other things, the international community’s involvement led by the United Nations. But the President’s engagement at the U.N. should not become a platform for a further justification of U.S. military escalation in the Middle East, and instead call for a true multilateral partnership to develop humane, nonviolent and effective responses to this serious threat. Relying solely on a U.S.-led coalition for military action could lead to longer-term U.S. military engagement and an ongoing war in the region, as well as fuel greater anti-U.S. sentiment….

Click here to read the entire statement.

VIDEO: How military “experts” that hawk for war are on payroll of defense contractors

from Brave New Films

Talking heads like former General Jack Keane are all over the news media fanning fears of IS. Shouldn’t the public know about their links to Pentagon contractors?

PAX CHRISTI INTERNATIONAL: PCI’s vibrant presence at the UN

by Beth Begley
Pax Christi UN delegate

Pax Christi International (PCI) has had special consultative status at the United Nations since 1979. Day by day there seems to be little change here at the UN – but looking back over the past 10 years I see amazing changes:
communication, outreach to youth, sustained insistence on gender equity, an emerging sense of power among the non-nuclear states, a growing sense among NGO’s that all issues are interconnected. As the Millennium Development Goals mature and meetings continue to articulate ‘The World We Want Post 2015’ in April 2015, it is clear that a more inclusive and integrated world view is being expressed. It is acknowledged that where there is conflict there is no
development, although disarmament is not on this radar (www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/Post_2015_UNTTreport.pdf).

L-R, front row: Cheryl Morrissey, Madeline Labriola, Mary McDonald, Abigail Abyshai Metzger, Marie Dennis; Back row: Rev. Paul Lansu, Patrick Ryan, Beth Begley, Jose Henriquez, Matthew Marquardt.

L-R, front row: Cheryl Morrissey, Madeline Labriola, Mary McDonald, Abigail Abyshai Metzger, Marie Dennis; Back row: Rev. Paul Lansu, Patrick Ryan, Beth Begley, Jose Henriquez, Matthew Marquardt.

The Work

PCI is now a member of the Working Group on the Security Council (http://ngowgsc.org), literally a ‘seat at the table’ at frequent briefings with individual members of the Security Council and their staffs. This provides off the record insights and networking opportunities. Marie Dennis represents Pax Christi International with Alex Hiniker as backup. Beth Begley and Alex Hiniker, with other NGO’s in the disarmament community, attend briefings with Angela Kane, High Rep. of the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs (ODA). These are primarily opportunities to bring to the table our issues and efforts, to discuss logistics for upcoming ODA events, and to network. Alex has assumed a pivotal role in communication. Beth is vice- president of the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security. PCI has Special Consultative Status with Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations in New York, Geneva and Vienna.

Mobilisation is beginning for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review. In 2014, Paul Lansu, Jose Henriquez and Marie Dennis from PCI were present, as was Susi Snyder from PAX (Pax Christi Netherlands). Globally, all are invited to participate in the Net Zero campaign that will kick off on Sept 26 (www.unfoldzero.org) – the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

The Arms Trade Treaty has 41 of the 50 ratifications necessary to enter into force (www.controlarms.org). Wim Zwijnenburg of PAX has been the leader of the European regional delegates at treaty negotiations. In addition to nuclear issues, Alex also works on Syria and South Sudan where PAX has local staff. Cheryl Morrissey is on the executive committee of the NGO Committee on Financing for Development and has co-authored 3 interventions. Abigail Metzger is active with the NGO Committee on Israel and Palestine and networks both in NY and in Washington D.C. Pat Ryan and Mary McDonald follow Indigenous issues. Madeline Labriola is our Treasurer.

Beth is also Secretary of the interfaith Committee of Religious NGOs, which works on Interfaith Harmony Day, monthly programming and the potential role of religious traditions in peacemaking and the prevention of violence. Beth is also working with the organisers of the People’s Climate March on Sept 21 (http://peoplesclimate.org/global). This is an effort to mobilise an overwhelming expression of public support here in NY and worldwide for an effective climate change treaty. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has convened a Climate Change Summit here for Sept 23 (www.un.org/climatechange/climate-summit-2014). This is a chance to make our values visible.

Now that so many aspects of the UN are on the web there are many ways to connect. You can view UN proceedings live on UN web TV (www.un.org/webcast/contact.html). All of the issues addressed by NGO committees have email lists and many have web sites. We all know that decisions are made at the home capital. Work here is important – work on the
national level is just as important. We have the tools to work so much more closely together. How can we best do that?

Beth Begley is a Pax Christi International team member at the UN in New York. If you would like to connect with the work, Beth is happy to be contacted at b.begley@paxchristi.net. This article originally appeared in JustPeace, the newsletter of Pax Christi UK. Visit their website at http://paxchristi.org.uk.

NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT: Urgent and possible

Marie Dennisby Marie Dennis
Pax Christi International Co-President

September 26 was the first International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The aim of the day is to enhance “public awareness and education about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their total elimination, in order to mobilize international efforts towards achieving the common goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.”

A New Moment for Nuclear DisarmamentFor decades, faith-based and civil society organizations have sustained attention to the need for nuclear disarmament through serious research, creative organizing and effective advocacy. After a long hiatus, broken only by the slow step-by-step approach of U.S.-Russia bilateral negotiations, increased attention to the urgent need for nuclear disarmament is beginning to balance what, since the end of the Cold War, has been a singular focus on nonproliferation.

Multiple important events have taken place in the past year to reignite momentum toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Among them were several meetings of and a report from the Open Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament; two successful international conferences in Norway and Mexico on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war, with another planned for Vienna in December 2014; movement, if very slow, toward a conference to establish a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East; and the Republic of the Marshall Islands lawsuits filed in The Hague and in California against all nine nuclear-armed nations (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea) for their failure to honor their disarmament obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). These efforts will continue.

The United Nations Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) was established by the UN General Assembly in November 2012 following widespread frustration at the lack of progress in other forums, including the Conference on Disarmament, which has not been able to negotiate any disarmament agreements since the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1996…

Read more by clicking here.

OBITUARY: Carol Ann Breyer, former state coordinator of Pax Christi Florida – PRESENTE!

Carol Ann Breyer, former state coordinator of Pax Christi Florida (left) with Sr. Simone Campbell. Carol Ann passed away  earlier this month.

Carol Ann Breyer, former state coordinator of Pax Christi Florida (left) with Sr. Simone Campbell in Washington in June 2014. Carol Ann passed away earlier this month.

Earlier this month, Pax Christi USA learned that we had lost one of our most effective and trusted regional leaders, Carol Ann Breyer of Pax Christi Florida. Carol Ann served as the state coordinator for Pax Christi Florida for a number of years and was a constant presence at national events and actions, including offering her leadership during Pax Christi USA’s project bringing election observers to Florida in 2004 and most recently, at Pax Christi USA’s leadership meeting in June in Washington, D.C.

“I know that Carol Ann will be missed but I’m sure that her spirit will continue to carry on within the work of PC-Florida,” stated Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA upon learning of Carol Ann’s passing. “She indeed has joined the cloud of witnesses that will continue to bring about peace through non-violent transformation.”

Carol Ann and Lee Breyer at the National Conference in June 2013.

Carol Ann & Lee at the 2013 National Conference.

All of us at Pax Christi USA are mourning Carol Ann’s passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to her husband Lee and all the members of Pax Christi Florida who were like family to her. Most of all, we give thanks for her life and for her witness, and we take strength from all she shared with us, continuing to work for the nonviolent reign of God which she deeply believed in. Carol Ann Breyer – PRESENTE!

We invite you to leave notes in the comments section below of your stories and memories of Carol Ann, or to post on our Facebook page. 

Here is the complete obituary which appeared in the September 28th issue of The Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

On September 12, Carol Ann died in her sleep in Savannah, GA, at a motel stopover en route to a retreat in West Virginia. She was born in Rochester, NY, to Caroline Gleichauf and Charles Strobel. She had two older sisters, Jean Kinzel (deceased) and Marilyn Murray. She is survived by Lee Breyer, her husband of 45 years, her sister Marilyn, three nephews and two nieces.

After the family moved to Baltimore, MD, she attended Mount St. Agnes High School and, on graduation, she went to the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. During her college years, she joined the Sisters of Mercy in Baltimore and continued her undergraduate education at Mount St. Agnes College. She earned her graduate degree at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. She continued post-grad studies at the University of Maryland and received her doctorate from Walden University in Educational Administration. Her religious assignments took her to Savannah, GA, Mobile, AL, and Washington, DC as well as Baltimore.

In 1969, Carol Ann and Lee settled in the Washington, DC area. There she was very active in the civil rights movement, working in the national office of the US Catholic Bishops in its Peace and Justice office, learning much from the then newly established Public Broadcasting Service, and was employed by Prince George’s Community College to help establish its continuing education program for adults. The couple were heavily involved in developing a number of small intentional communities dedicated to a renewal in the Catholic Church.

In 1979, she and Lee moved to Tallahassee, FL, where she worked at the Florida Department of Education, focusing on the establishment of the state’s community college system and also with Florida State University as a program evaluator. It was there that she became very familiar with the problems of people ‘living on the streets’ (through the local homeless coalition) and with those behind bars (at the local state prison).

Carol Ann took her compassion for justice and her commitment to nonviolence with her to Ellenton, FL in 2000. There she and Lee built Mercy-on-the- Manatee, a house that won awards for energy conservation (the FPL BuildSmart Gold Award) and environmental sensitivity (the Florida Native Plant Society’s Landscaping Award). Her passion for care of the environment caused her to be a very active volunteer in the Florida Master Gardener Program and the Sierra Club in Manatee County. Carol Ann was heavily involved in peace and justice issues her entire life and so she became the Florida State Coordinator of Pax Christi, the national Catholic Peace Movement, and was also instrumental in the creation and establishment of the Diocese of Venice Environmental Justice Commission. Shortly afterwards, she was active in the Earth Charter; South West Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice; Pace e Bene, the movement for a nonviolent culture of peace; as well as a member of Call to Action, a progressive organization in the Catholic tradition. Her interest in such groups involved both church and social reform issues and brought her to the Mary, Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community.

Among her proudest achievements was her role on The President’s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities and the subsequent federal legislation extending justice to a previously neglected population. In all her activities, her signature quality was her advocacy for social justice for those living on the edges of church and society…with no exceptions.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 4, 4:00 pm, at St. Andrew United Church of Christ, 6908 Beneva Road, Sarasota, FL, 34238. This will be followed by refreshments and storytelling in Stewart Hall.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to:

  • Mary, Mother of Jesus Catholic Community, 6908 Beneva Road, Sarasota, FL 34238
  • Pax Christi-USA, 415 Michigan Avenue NE – Suite 240, Washington, DC 20017-4503 (or click here to make a gift in Carol Ann’s name securely online with your credit card)
  • Mercy Sisters of the Americas (South Central Community), 101 Mercy Drive, Belmont, NC 28012
Carol Ann and Lee Breyer in 2013.

Carol Ann and Lee Breyer in 2013.

ECONOMIC JUSTICE: Pax Christi USA signs onto letter against corporate inversions

from Americans for Tax Fairness

Pax Christi USA has signed onto the following letter to the U.S. Senate.

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Chairman Wyden:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Fairness’ 425 national and state organization members, we are writing to ask that the Senate quickly pass legislation that would stop U.S. corporations from shifting their address offshore, typically to a tax haven, in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

This is an urgent matter. More than 75 companies have deserted America through a corporate inversion since 1983, according to the Congressional Research Service, and at least another dozen are in the works. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that such defections could cost $20 billion over the next ten years. But the damage could be far in excess of that given the recent stampede to invert, and the annual tax avoidance estimates for various companies that invert, which have been reported in the financial press.

Companies that invert do not actually leave America; they are simply changing their corporate address. The companies reincorporate abroad by buying a smaller foreign firm and then becoming a subsidiary of that firm. The new foreign parent is usually located in a tax haven country with a low tax rate, or it has a territorial tax system that facilitates even more tax avoidance than occurs under the U.S. tax system. The point of an inversion is primarily to increase profits by dodging U.S. taxes.

When corporations don’t pay their fair share of taxes the U.S. government takes on more debt; American taxpayers, including small businesses and domestic firms, end up paying more; and American families and communities get fewer services and benefits. That’s why Congress must act to stop inversions now.

Companies that desert America continue to take advantage of the things that make the United States the best place in the world to do business – an educated workforce; a legal system to protect their investments and patents; protection by the strongest military in the world; use of public transportation systems to get products to market; access to millions of consumers; and for many firms, subsidies through federal research and government purchases of its products.

Some argue that legislation to clamp down on this tax loophole can wait until Congress considers a broader tax reform package. But a corporate tax overhaul may not stop inversions and, given the differences about tax reform between both parties, both chambers and within the business community itself, it is unlikely to take place anytime soon.

In the meantime, legislation is urgently needed to stop the hemorrhaging of precious tax dollars through this tax dodge. Our top priority is for Congress to enact the Stop Corporate Inversions Act (S. 2360), sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin and 22 other senators. This measure would end the current practice of treating inverted corporations as foreign companies even when they have not left the United States in any real sense.

We also urge action to stem “earnings stripping” for inverted firms, whereby a U.S. company borrows money from its new foreign parent in order to reduce its taxable income here at home and shift its profits offshore. Senators Schumer and Durbin have proposed legislation that would partially address this tax dodge.

We should no longer provide generous taxpayer-funded contracts and subsidies to  corporations that abandon America. Sen. Levin’s No Federal Contracts for Corporate Deserters Act (S. 2704) would ban firms that change their corporate address to a tax haven from receiving government contracts. Congress should also require that firms leaving here pay unpaid taxes on past profits held offshore. U.S. companies enjoy the privilege of deferring payment of their taxes on offshore earnings, which in effect grants them a no-interest loan from taxpayers that should be repaid if corporations re-incorporate elsewhere.

Demanding that corporations that desert America pay their unpaid taxes when they leave would be similar to the taxes that wealthy individuals pay on their unrealized capital gains when they renounce their U.S. citizenship. Corporations should be held to the same standard when they too renounce America and reincorporate in another country by requiring them to pay the taxes that they owe.

Thank you for considering our position.