STATEMENT: Pax Christi International in favor of recognition of the state of Palestine and a ban on settlements

pcilogonewfrom Pax Christi International

World Assembly in Bethlehem affirms its stand in favour of nonviolent struggle against occupation

The World Assembly of Pax Christi urges all UN-member states to recognize the state of Palestine and to ban Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine. The 160 participants in the Assembly of the international Catholic peace movement in Bethlehem/West Bank from 13th to 17th of May are deeply concerned about Israeli policies that deny the rights of the Palestinian people and preclude the possibility of a two state solution. Pax Christi International supports Palestinians in their nonviolent struggle to end occupation and Israelis who stand for human rights and international law, including as applied to Palestinians.

The Separation Wall in the West Bank

The Separation Wall in the West Bank

Pax Christi International welcomes the Vatican’s recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state and believes that bilateral recognition is an important acknowledgement of the right of Palestinians to self-determination. With the new Israeli government’s refusal to turn 22% of the land of the former Palestine Mandate into the new state of Palestine, the UN must implement UNSC Resolution 242, by which Israel is required to withdraw from the territories occupied since 1967.

Since the Israeli government continues to allow the building of new settlements and the enlargement of existing settlements, both of which are violations of international humanitarian law, all collaboration with occupation must end. Third parties, including the US, the Russian Federation and EU member states are responsible for ensuring respect for international law. In order to prevent settlements from becoming profitable, settlement products should be banned. With Palestine a member of the International Criminal Court, war crimes can be sentenced now…

Click here to read the entire statement.

NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT: Sr. Megan Rice, freed from prison, looks ahead to more anti-nuclear activism

by William J. Broad, NY Times

Transform Now PlowsharesFor more than a year, Sister Megan Rice, 85, a Roman Catholic nun of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, had caught occasional glimpses of the glittering World Trade Center from her living quarters: the Metropolitan Detention Center, a federal prison on the Brooklyn waterfront.

So when the Volvo she was riding in one morning last week crested the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the skyscraper came into full view, it made a strong impression.

“Oh, my gosh,” Sister Rice exclaimed. Drinking in the scenery and the panorama of New York Harbor, she added, “We’re well on our way.”

It was her fifth day of freedom after two years behind bars for a crime for which she is boldly unapologetic. In 2012, she joined two other peace activists in splattering blood and antiwar slogans on a nuclear plant in Tennessee that holds enough highly enriched uranium to make thousands of nuclear warheads. All three were convicted and sent to prison. But on May 8, an appellate court ruled that the government had overreached in charging them with sabotage, and ordered them set free.

Since her release on May 16, Sister Rice, a Manhattan native, had been reconnecting with family and friends, as well as seeing doctors, lawyers and reporters. She took time to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and she made her first purchase: peanut butter frozen yogurt topped with hot fudge…

Click here to read the entire article.

REFLECTION: A Baltimorean reflects on the Baltimore riots

Tony Maglianoby Tony Magliano

“The God of peace is never glorified by human violence,” wrote the famous Trappist monk Thomas Merton.

Whether it’s on an individual, city, national, or international level, violence always dishonors God, and makes bad situations worse. The recent Baltimore City riots were no exception: people were injured, neighborhood stores were burned, and violence was further engrained into a city and world already steeped in violence.

But, and this is a big but: What are the reasons that led to violence? What motivated some African-Americans in Baltimore to riot? To ask and to try to answer these questions – in dialogue with the rioters – is certainly not meant to justify the violence; rather it is a necessary step on the road to ending it.

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

photoI grew up in Baltimore. And in the 1950’s and 1960’s when I was a kid there, Baltimore – while it certainly had significant problems like racial segregation – overall was a kinder and gentler place to live.

In those days crime was much lower, there were no gangs to speak of, drugs were far less a problem, schools were good, neighbors watched out for each other’s children, and blue-collar Baltimore had lots of good manufacturing jobs – like those provided by Bethlehem Steel – that offered hard-working people of all colors a living wage.

Sadly, those days are mostly gone.

I spoke with Brendan Walsh, who with his wife Willa, co-founded Viva House – the Catholic Worker House serving homeless, poor people located in southwest Baltimore where some of the rioting occurred.

Walsh who has lived at Viva House since 1968 shared with me his reflections regarding root-causes of the rioting that occurred after the death of Freddie Gray – who died from a fatal injury that happened while in transport by Baltimore police, according to an initial investigation.

Walsh noted that many U.S. corporations have moved their operations from cities like Baltimore, to very poor countries where they can get away with the injustice of slave labor (see www.iglhr.org), and in the process have left many Americans without decent paying manufacturing jobs.

Walsh asked, “What are people to do when there are so few blue-collar jobs available that pay a living wage”?

Walsh believes that every city police officer should be required to live in the city. He said this would help police to better under the difficulties faced by many city residents, and in the process better relationships would be established.

Walsh noted there are not nearly enough drug treatment facilities. He said people need to be medically treated for drug addiction, not thrown into prison.

Many years ago I remember police districts in Baltimore ran recreational centers where kids could go to play sports, games, and do homework with police officers who offered guidance and friendship.

Back in those days numerous companies offered students summer jobs. For a couple of summers I worked for the Baltimore Gas and Electric company in their machine shop.

We need to bring back the recreational centers and summer jobs.

Federal, state and city governments, in partnership with corporations, need to create a comprehensive, well-funded plan to rebuild our cities.

Baltimore’s Catholic Archbishop William E. Lori, perhaps said it best here: “For without love, respect and personal relationships, our lives make no sense. We shouldn’t expect a person whose life makes no sense to pull himself up by his bootstraps into a productive and prosperous life.”

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 San Clemente, CA to Baltimore. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

REFLECTION: The way of Jesus, our brother and our God

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

This is one of those times when if we listen carefully to the readings, we discover that the Gospel, especially what I’m talking about, is not a historical document really. It’s not a biography of Jesus. It’s the recollections of the disciples over a few decades that were passed on by word of mouth, then only gradually written down. But the main point of what was collected and written down was not historical, not biographical, but theological. It’s about God and God revealed to us in Jesus.

jesus-appears-to-the-disciplesI mention this because if you take time to compare the different accounts of the resurrection, and now today of what we call the Feast of the Ascension, Jesus returning to heaven, we discover there are many discrepancies and contradictions and just a whole variety of descriptions of what supposedly happened. But we’re not intended to look at these in that strict historical or biographical sense.

Just for example, even Luke in the first lesson today, whose account of the Ascension is that elaborate story that we’re told about how Jesus had spent the 40 days over the period of time with the disciples instructing them and eating with them, rejoicing with them, and then gathers them together and is carried up above the clouds. In Luke’s Gospel, and the same author, it happened at Easter Sunday night. He simply mentions that Jesus, after speaking with the disciples, ascends to heaven. That’s all there is to it, but it’s on Easter Sunday night….

To read this entire article, click here.

NEWS: Transform Now Plowshares released!

from Transform Now Plowshares website

Transform Now Plowshares

Transform Now Plowshares

In an amazing turn of events, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals this evening ordered the immediate release of Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, the Transform Now Plowshares activists who were serving time in federal prison for their action at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, TN to protest plans for a new multibillion dollar nuclear bomb plant there.

Things unfolded rapidly this afternoon.

At 4:00pm word came from Bill Quigley, attorney for MGM, that the government had filed a notice that it would not oppose the release of Greg, Michael and Megan pending resentencing. The government’s notice was interesting—it included notice to the court that, when resentencing did happen, the government would not be seeking terms of imprisonment greater than the time already served. But, the prosecutor said, the court could not release the defendants unless it determined their were “extraordinary circumstances.” The government’s brief went on to note the issues cited by the defendants did not constitute ordinary circumstances. There was a way, though, the government pointed out, under a different statute, and then noted that another court had ruled keeping a defendant unjustly incarcerated beyond the time they would be expected to serve would be an extraordinary circumstance. “We defer to the Sixth Circuit” said the government.

Then, just after 7:00pm this evening, the Sixth Circuit ordered the immediate release of Megan, Greg and Michael on their own recognizance. The order is not available at this time, but the word from Quigley is reliable. In a delightful serendipity, Monday is Greg Boertje-Obed’s birthday—with any luck, he will be home to celebrate it with his family!

REFLECTION: Are things looking up for women in the church?

schenkby Christine Schenk, NCR

A plethora of conferences about women have popped up all over Rome in the last three months. The Vatican’s former hard-line freeze on discussing women’s roles may at last be thawing out.

The Pontifical Council for Culture’s controversial February event, “Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference,” was the first to break the ice. A month later, Voices of Faith hosted a searingly honestdiscussion by female theologians and activists from inside Vatican walls.

SAINTS REPRESENTED IN CHURCH WINDOWThen, on April 14, the U.S. embassy to the Holy See sponsored an interreligious conference on “Women’s Leadership in Conflict Resolution: Faith Perspectives.” Cardinal Peter Turkson shared a private conversation he had with Pope Francis, who told him he saw no obstacles to a woman or married couples being appointed as the new secretary of justice and peace or as heads of the pontifical councils for the laity and for the family. (Turkson, however, was careful to remind attendees of the need to “de-couple” the question of women’s roles from priestly ordination.)

Most recently, Rome’s Pontifical University Antonianum and four embassies to the Holy See sponsored an April 28 conference on women in the church. Significantly, Catholic Health Association president Sr. Carol Keehan was an invited speaker.

Any time a staunch Affordable Care Act advocate like Keehan is invited to speak at a pontifical university in Rome, it’s a good bet that U.S. nuns aren’t the bad girls of the Bible anymore…

To read this entire article, click here.

STATEMENT: Pax Christi International celebrates with gratitude the memory of Bishop Martyr Oscar Romero from El Salvador

from Pax Christi International

mural_oscar_romero_ues

Pax Christi International rejoices with the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero and celebrates in solidarity with the people of El Salvador and the peoples of the world who recognize in Msgr. Romero a witness of a peace which is the fruit of justice. Msgr. Romero’s legacy is the persistent search for truth, justice and reconciliation; his journey was marked by a unique coherence between his values and faith and his practice.

While Msgr. Romero was leading the Archdiocese of San Salvador, the political repression of the popular demands for justice and human rights reached brutal levels of violence. In facing that reality, he became a true prophet. His word and his pastoral practice – based in the Gospel – denounced the structural injustice at the roots of the repression and proclaimed the centrality of justice and the unconditional respect for human rights as the only way to leave behind the spiral of violence in which El Salvador was immersed. He tirelessly defended those whose rights were persistently violated and built bridges among those who looked for a just transformation of the conflict. But his voice was not heard by those who clung to their own power and interests, and they ordered his assassination while he was celebrating the Eucharist.

The beginning of Pax Christi’s commitment to peace in Latin America and the Caribbean is closely linked to Msgr. Romero who asked the leadership of our movement early in 1980 to show special solidarity with the people of the region. After his assassination – and especially inspired by his evangelical coherence – Pax Christi International sent a mission to four countries of Central America as a sign of its solidarity with Christian communities and with civil society organizations working for justice and human rights in those countries. The mission also made an inquiry into the human rights situation and the position of the churches in Central America. Its findings were published in 1981 and 1982 in four reports dealing with the situation in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua and with the position of the Salvadoran refugees in Honduras…

Click here to read more of this statement.