TAKE ACTION: Tell President Obama and Congress not to deport innocent children

from Presente.org

Screen_Shot_2014-07-17_at_3.22.32_PMThe situation is dire. The Obama Administration has started to deport the refugee children back to Central America. And the House and Senate are ramming through a bill, deceptively named the ‘HUMANE Act’, that would speed up their deportations. If it passes, President Obama is likely to sign it — despite a pledge not to send kids back home to their deaths.

The media needs to hear the voices of folks like you: people who will stand up to any effort to throw families and innocent children back to extreme gang violence and poverty.

Tell President Obama and Congress: Do not deport innocent refugee children. Do not pass the HUMANE Act!

Click here to sign the letter.

IRAQ: Engage the UN to counter the ISIL terrorist threat

by David Cortwright

The violent extremists of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have seized major cities and swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq and are seeking to create a caliphate over the entire Muslim world. The group poses a threat not only to the region but to global security. The battle-hardened forces of ISIL include hundreds of fighters from Europe and Chechnya and even some from the United States. Some of these fighters will likely take their warped ideology and violent skills with them when they return home.

ISIL has fought across two countries in its quest for an Islamic state.

ISIL has fought across two countries in its quest for an Islamic state.

Why then, in the face of this clear and present danger to global security, has the United States not joined with other countries in bringing this matter to the UN Security Council? Isn’t that why the UN was created, to mobilize cooperative action in response to international security threats? The failure to work through the UN diminishes the prospects for building an effective international coalition against ISIL. It reduces the repertroire of potential responses to the crisis and contributes to the atrophy of the UN and of multilateralism in general.

Thirteen years ago, in response to the 9/11 attacks, the response was very different. The Security Council met immediately and adopted a wide range of measures to harness international action against al-Qaeda. Most significant was Security Council Resolution 1373, which required every country to freeze the financial assets of al-Qaeda terrorists and their supporters, deny them travel or safe haven, prevent terrorist recruitment and weapons supply, and cooperate with other countries in information sharing and criminal prosecution. In its response to 9/11, the Council also expanded existing sanctions on al-Qaeda and the Taliban, created new bodies to monitor and assist compliance with counterterrorism measures, and established a wide range of counterterrorism programs that have helped, along with U.S. military pressures, to diminish the global threat from al-Qaeda…

Click here to read this entire article.

STATEMENT: Pax Christi USA official statement on the violence in the Middle East

“Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict: yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity. All of this takes courage, it takes strength and tenacity.”

~Pope Francis, June 8, 2014

As the number of dead and wounded continues to rise in Gaza, Pax Christi USA calls for an immediate cease-fire by all parties in order to open the possibility for negotiations to end the senseless violence and address the underlying causes which fuel the decades-long tragedy in the Middle East.

Pax Christi USA mourns the loss of life on both sides of the conflict. We stand with all those who have been victimized by violence. Our hearts are broken over the death and destruction which only serves to terrorize hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza, those who call this relatively small piece of land home. We join with Pax Christi International members around the world in offering “our sincere condolences to all those in mourning and pray that those who have been killed will be the last to die violent deaths in this escalation of hatred and vengeance.”

As the violence escalates and broadens, we are witnessing, in some cases, the perishing of entire families, and the dismantling of what little infrastructure was still intact in the service of the basic human needs of the people who live in Gaza. The attack on Gaza has created a humanitarian disaster which is marked all the more tragic by the inability to provide the assistance needed because of the ongoing violence.

Pax Christi USA has been unequivocal in insisting that for peace to be possible, there must be an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, a dismantling of the barrier wall built on Palestinian land, and an end to the Gaza blockade. We have asserted that the policies of our own government have functioned to provide the support that enables the occupation and that we must continue to pressure our political leaders for a change in those policies. U.S. policy and aid must be tied to respect for human rights and the safeguards provided by international law for the human dignity of all. Even as the violence rages in Gaza, as U.S. citizens we have a responsibility to hold our own government accountable for its complicity in this conflict, as well as U.S. corporations which benefit from protecting the status quo.

We believe that even in tragedy lies hope. Our hope for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples is for a future built in recognition of their shared humanity, where the security of all is rooted in the practice of justice for all. Let this be the last of the bloodshed in this region which has suffered for so long. Let this tragedy awaken the consciences and loose the voices of the great majority of Israelis and Palestinians who yearn for peace. Let these be the last throes of the old hatreds and prejudices, and let the evil of this violence give way to the birth of a new day and a just peace for the Middle East.

PRAYER: A prayer for peace and an end to violence

by Jim Hug, S.J.

Kids with peace signs

O Loving God,
We so often and for so long hear about the guns and rockets, drones and bombs
We see the pictures of death in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Congo, Nigeria, Sudan and South Sudan, Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, Central African Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala,…

Wrap all and each of these your people in your love.
Let them hear: “Come to me you who suffer
and are burdened and I will give you rest.”

In these few months of 2014, we have heard the weapons and seen the blood of mass shootings and gang violence
In Los Angeles and Detroit, Minneapolis and Miami, in Denver and in 138 other cities, towns and villages across our nation.

Wrap all and each of these your people in your love.
Let them hear: “Come to me you who suffer
and are burdened and I will give you rest.”

The bombs are exploding again in Gaza and Israel.

Wrap all and each of these your people in your love.
Let them hear: “Come to me you who suffer
and are burdened and I will give you rest.”

Violence continues hidden in so many homes and families around the world – and the abuse of innocent children….

Wrap all and each of these your people in your love.
Let them hear: “Come to me you who suffer
and are burdened and I will give you rest.”

In so many parts of the world today, the air is tense
 with
Waiting, uncertainty, 
insecurity.

From ravaged lands, destroyed by war,
 Your peoples lift their hands to you.
We pray for stillness, for justice, and for peace to come and to last.
 We fear that they will not.

Wrap all and each of these your people in your love.
Let them hear: “Come to me you who suffer
and are burdened and I will give you rest.”

O God, our maker,
 God of Abraham and Sarah, from whom three great religions stemmed.
 We pray for peace.
We pray for peaceful existence between Israelis and Palestinians, Sunnis and Shiites, Muslims, Jews and Christians.
We pray for negotiations which can reach the roots of historical conflicts.
We pray for a commitment to human rights by all sides and the protection of all lives.
We pray for effective international intervention to ensure justice for all sides.
We pray for humanitarian aid and rebuilding where destruction has occurred.
We pray for peace and for justice in our homes and city streets.

Wrap all and each of these your people in your love.
Let them hear: “Come to me you who suffer
and are burdened and I will give you rest.”

We pray for an end to violence, war and senseless death.

Grant us this, peaceful God.
 Grant us a peaceful world. Amen.

HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI DAY: Pax Christi New Mexico’s annual action at Los Alamos

Bud Ryanby Bud Ryan
Pax Christi New Mexico

Please join Pax Christi New Mexico for our annual Hiroshima Day event & our Sack Cloth & Ashes Demonstration on Saturday, August 2nd at 2pm at Ashley Pond in Los Alamos.

If you can’t join us this year because you’re to far away, we hope you will plan to join us in 2015 for the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. And if you can’t join us this year, please read below & write to your elected officials in your home state.

PC New Mexico's Hiroshima Day Action

John Dear leads members of PC New Mexico at their annual Sackcloth and Ashes Vigil outside Los Alamos National Laboratories.

Also please contact your Member of Congress  and 2 Senators and tell them that you want to see Los Alamos cleaned up from all the nuclear work that has taken place since 1943 and has devastated the area. This project would create plenty of jobs (which politicians love to hear) for at least 20 years. Handwritten notes are the most effective but you also should think about calling their offices as well – its better to write to the local offices rather than D.C. because of the delay of mail to Congress, but I’ve listed the D.C. phone numbers because that’s the best place to call.

You might also ask them for the U.S. to live up to our obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) which was entered into force on March 5, 1970 & requires us to get rid of ALL of our nuclear weapons, so you might want to ask them what’s the hold up after 44 years! And for those of you in other states who may have Republican Senators and/or Congress members, you can tell them that Richard Nixon was President when the NPT went into effect, so if it was good enough for Nixon, it should be good enough for them.

Article VI of the NPT:

Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

http://www.un.org/en/conf/npt/2005/npttreaty.html

New Mexico Congressional Reps:

*Senator Tom Udall   202-224-6621
120 South Federal Place
Suite 302
Santa Fe, NM 87501

110 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

*Senator Martin Heinrich   202-224-5521
123 East Marcy St.
Suite 103
Santa Fe, NM 87501

702 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

*Congressman Ben Ray Lujan   202-225-6190
1611 Calle Lorca, Suite A
Santa Fe, NM 87505

2446 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515

*Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham   202-225-6316
505 Marquette Ave NW
Suite 1605
Albuquerque, NM 87102

214 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515

*Congressman Steve Pearce   202-225-2365
570 N. Telshor Blvd.
Las Cruces, NM 88011

2432 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Click here to see the flyer for the August 2nd event at Los Alamos.

Bud Ryan is a filmmaker. His film, “The Forgotten Bomb,” is an excellent resource to mark this anniversary.

TORTURE: Pax Christi Metro New York observes Torture Awareness Month

Rosemarie Paceby Rosemarie Pace
Pax Christi Metro New York Coordinator

June was Torture Awareness Month. During June, many Pax Christi groups around the country engaged in a variety of activities to honor this somber time. Pax Christi Metro New York (PCMNY) was one of those groups.

As a proud member of the Metro New York Religious Campaign against Torture (MNYRCAT), we hosted one of two MNYRCAT events to address this inhumane issue. On June 11th, four professional actors, including the PCMNY Board President, Margaret Flanagan, presented the play, If the SHU Fits, at St. Joseph’s Greenwich Village Church. SHU refers to Special (also Security) Housing Units where prison inmates are kept in solitary confinement. If the SHU Fits gives voice to several incarcerated men and women being held in isolation. They poignantly share the horrific impact of solitary confinement on their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Isolated confinement is being recognized more and more as torture by both civil and religious society, including the Catholic Church. It is also being recognized more and more as misused, ineffective, and actually harmful in many, if not most, cases. After the performance, Five Mualimm-ak, a former inmate who spent five years in isolation, spoke eloquently about the experience and the work being done by groups like the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement. He encouraged us to visit www.nycaic.org for more information and action suggestions.

no-tortureThe other event hosted by MNYRCAT during Torture Awareness Month was “Broken on All Sides,” a film presentation that examined mass incarceration, “justice,” and the “New Jim Crow.”

In addition to these two informative, heart-wrenching, and motivating events, there was one more that was at least as important. While not hosted by MNYRCAT, three of us who are members of the Steering Committee were privileged to attend an interfaith breakfast sponsored by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and the National Religious Campaign against Torture (NRCAT). At this breakfast, the newly appointed Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction (DOC), Joseph Ponte, spoke. He came to NYC from the Maine Department of Correction where, as Commissioner, he significantly reduced the use of solitary confinement. Commissioner Ponte talked about his experience in Maine, his intimate knowledge and understanding of the prison system, and his hopes for the NYC DOC. He answered questions openly and honestly. Some of his key points follow.

Commissioner Ponte raised three fundamental questions for himself and all those involved in Correction: Why do we incarcerate? What do we do with the incarcerated? How do we keep them safe? He referred to safety as the main concern, along with care of juveniles.

He acknowledged that there was resistance to his reduction in the use of solitary confinement in Maine, but said that ultimately, due to its positive impact, resistance declined and support increased.

Commissioner Ponte went on to say that locking people up solves nothing. Blaming people is not constructive. Rehabilitation is critical. It is important to normalize life as much as possible. It is also important for outside support, like chaplains, to “show up.” And there must be sensitivity to diverse cultures and religions. Inmates need more programming to occupy their time and more positive reinforcement and incentives, rather than punishments for every little infraction.

Of course, there are some serious challenges. A primary one is the mentally ill. Some mentally ill inmates are dangerous, but not all. And, not all inmates are mentally ill. Distinguishing which is which and providing for their disparate needs is critical. A second major challenge is gangs. A third is women. Women are a challenge because they have different needs, but are generally treated the same as men. And most imprisoned women are not only criminals, but also victims. They are more likely to have mental illness, but less likely to be violent. Addressing all these variables requires tremendous skill and compassion.

Some of the attendees at this breakfast do prison ministry. To them, Commissioner Ponte advised: Communicate with the Correction Officers. Avoid being seen as an opponent or enemy.

Ultimately, Commissioner Ponte admitted that his approach to Correction in not cheap, easy, or quick. What it does seem to be is invaluable if incarcerated people are to be treated with dignity and hope for a better life outside the confines of jail or prison.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Pax Christi USA signs onto letter regarding climate change

Pax Christi USA has signed onto the following letter on climate change.

To President Obama and Members of Congress:

climate-changeAs people of faith, we are called to protect and serve God’s Creation and seek justice for all people and future generations. The gravity of climate change requires us to act with urgency.

From rising sea levels and severe weather events to shifting growing seasons and increased exposure to disease, the world is already feeling the impacts of climate change. Its worst consequences fall on vulnerable communities who have contributed the least to climate change but will suffer the most.

Yet, even as we faithfully commit to doing our part, we recognize that these actions alone are not sufficient—this crisis requires a global response.

To create a future with clean air, a healthy environment, good jobs, and resilience in the face of a changing climate for our children and God’s Earth, countries around the world must commit to an ambitious, equitable and binding global framework to address climate change.

As we approach the UN negotiations for 2015, we prayerfully ask that the US government lead, with a commitment to:

  • Legally binding solutions that reduce national greenhouse gas emissions to levels consistent with scientific recommendations that prevent the worst impacts of human induced climate change.
  • Provide poor and vulnerable communities here and abroad meaningful support to build low carbon and climate-resilient societies.

We pray for your leadership in securing a just and sustainable future for God’s creation.

Click here to add your name to the letter.