Category Archives: War

REFLECTION: Reflecting on Pope Francis’ 2015 World Day of Peace message

Tony Maglianoby Tony Magliano

“Tragically, the growing scourge of man’s exploitation by man gravely damages the life of communion and our calling to forge interpersonal relations marked by respect, justice and love,” writes Pope Francis in his Jan. 1 World Day of Peace Message.

But as the message’s title – “No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters” – indicates, the pope is reminding us of the Good News that Jesus has freed us from the slavery of personal sin and the structures of societal sin, and invites us to accept this divine freedom, to live it out in our lives, and to share it with all people.

However, instead of offering freedom and fraternity, the exploitation of countless human beings by many who hold power, “leads to contempt for the fundamental rights of others and to the suppression of their freedom and dignity,” laments the pope.

WorldDayofPeaceHe writes that millions of people today – children, women and men of all ages – are forced to live in slave-like conditions.

“I think of the many men and women laborers, including minors, subjugated in different sectors, whether formally or informally, in domestic or agricultural workplaces, or in the manufacturing or mining industry.”

The 2010 West Virginia Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion, which killed 29 Massey Energy miners, is a clear example of what Pope Francis is talking about here.

According to National Public Radio, the Governor’s Independent Investigation Panel charged that “Massey exhibited a corporate mentality that placed the drive to produce coal above worker safety.”

Expressing his deep sympathy for the hardships faced by migrants Francis writes, “In a particular way, I think of those among them who, upon arriving at their destination after a grueling journey marked by fear and insecurity, are detained in at times inhumane conditions.”

Consider how the pope’s words accurately apply to the thousands of unaccompanied children who have taken the dangerous journey to the U.S. to escape drug and gang violence in parts of Central America. Many of these children are detained for weeks in large cage-like conditions, while they face the threat of being deported back to the dangerous conditions they fled.

Pope Francis adds, “States must ensure that their own legislation truly respects the dignity of the human person in the areas of migration, employment, adoption, the movement of businesses offshore and the sale of items produced by slave labor.”

Many corporations like Wal-Mart reap huge financial benefits from merchandise made for them by desperately poor people laboring long hours, in unhealthy work conditions, for pennies an hour.

There is an excellent remedy for this use of what the pope calls “slave labor.”

Please email and call (Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121) your two U.S. senators and House representative urging them to reintroduce and actively support the “Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act,” which according to the highly reputable “Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights” (http://www.globallabourrights.org/), would provide transparent corporate disclosure – enabling labor rights organizations to inspect factories producing products for wealthy retailers.

If reintroduced and passed by Congress, this bill would also prohibit the import, export or sale of products that violate the International Labor Organization’s standards – which prohibit child labor, and guarantee workers’ rights to safe working conditions, to collective bargaining and protection against forced labor.

Pope Francis pulls much of his message together in this one powerful sentence: “Every person ought to have the awareness that purchasing is always a moral – and not simply an economic – act.”

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.

INTERVIEW: For Pax Christi leader, peacemaking and Catholic social justice are inseparable

Interview with Rosemarie Pace, coordinator of Pax Christi Metro New York

by Sr. Camille D’Arienzo

Rosemarie Pace of Pax Christi Metro New York

Rosemarie Pace of Pax Christi Metro New York

SR. CAMILLE: You have been the face and energy of Pax Christi Metro for 14 years. What brought you into this arena?

ROSEMARIE PACE: I don’t remember when I read in The Tablet of a group of Catholics who were engaged in some kind of peace activism. Intrigued, I was curious to know more, but it was years before I inquired about them at St. John’s University, where I worshipped on Sundays. The sister in charge of the choir directed me to a Fr. Jim Reese, who taught at SJU. He was a member of Pax Christi Queens. He directed me to Elaine L’Etoile, another member of the group, who invited me to a meeting one Sunday evening in September 1987. I dragged along a friend so I wouldn’t be a lone stranger in the group. I was immediately drawn in and have been a member ever since, even though at that time, I knew nothing of Pax Christi beyond that little local group. That’s when and where my education began.

SR. CAMILLE: What do you see as Pax Christi’s challenges?

PACE: I’d put our challenges in two categories: those related to mission and those related to administration.

First, mission: Being the Catholic peace movement (so dubbed by Pope Pius XII in Pax Christi’s early history), we come up against two problems. Because we’re Catholic, there are those who have a preconceived notion about us. They may expect us to be focused on issues that are too conservative, or, ironically, others may think we’re too liberal and therefore not orthodox enough to call ourselves Catholic. Then there are those who won’t support religious organizations of any faith. Some even consider us self-righteous and elitist.

Administratively, our biggest challenge is that we are so small. We don’t have nearly enough monetary or nonmonetary resources to be on sound footing at any time. Only a couple hundred on our mailing list support us financially. Most are religious and clergy or people in modest-income service jobs. We just don’t have enough money to get us beyond a one-person staff (me) to do everything that any organization needs to survive. Our volunteers are much valued but are part-time and often temporary help. The struggle just to survive steals time from the mission of educating and advocating for peace in parishes, schools and the community…

To read the entire interview, click here.

HONDURAS: Impunity in Honduras

from America Magazine

DSC09058In a small Central American country, campesinos agitating for land rights, journalists challenging the status quo and attorneys and advocates working for social justice face continual threats or acts of violence and intimidation. Scores have been murdered, driven into exile or “disappeared” in the night. Catholic priests and deacons speaking out in defense of the vulnerable are rewarded with death threats; a Jesuit-sponsored radio station has been threatened with destruction; and a civilian government has proven itself unable—or unwilling—to rein in public and private security forces acting in the shadows for the powerful.

This description is not, sadly, an exercise in historical memory, 25 years after the savagery of the Jesuit murders at the University of Central America in 1989, nor a recollection of the dreary prelude to the full-blown civil war in El Salvador in the late 1970s. This is a brief précis on contemporary Honduras.

The high-profile murders of María José Alvarado, Miss Honduras 2014, and her sister, Sofía, at the hands of the former’s jealous boyfriend in November briefly trained the U.S. media spotlight on the senseless violence that afflicts the country. But even astute news consumers probably did not read of another murder in Honduras that same week. On Nov. 11, Juan Ángel López Miralda, a Colón-based agrarian leader, was gunned down in the street by two men, who escaped on a motorcycle. Mr. López was a leader of the Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán, a fighter for the land rights of campesinos in that troubled region…

Click here to read the entire article.

REFLECTION: A Christmas gift for suffering South Sudan

Tony Maglianoby Tony Magliano

The world’s newest nation is in big trouble.

After more than 20 years of civil war between the southern and northern areas of Sudan, the southern part of that country on July 9, 2011, became the independent nation of the Republic of South Sudan.

But the situation on the ground soon looked like South Sudan had not been born, but instead was still suffering intense labor pains.

The many years of war brought not only much death, but also drained South Sudan of valuable resources leaving it an extremely poor nation.

According to South Sudan’s National Bureau of Statistics 51 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, 73 percent are illiterate and 45 percent do not have access to improved sources of drinking water.

But if conditions weren’t bad enough, last year – 10 days before Christmas – civil war broke out in South Sudan amid a struggle for power between President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar who was dismissed months earlier by Kiir.

According to the International Crisis Group the civil war has claimed over 10,000 lives, and more than 1 million have been displaced. And it warns that the current humanitarian crisis threatens many more.

According to “The Sudd Institute: Research for a peaceful, just and prosperous South Sudan,” 4 million people are facing a serious risk of famine and starvation.  And that approximately 100,000 people are already experiencing desperate, humiliating circumstances in U.N. camps.

The United Nations Children’s Fund warns that without greatly increased emergency international assistance, over 50,000 children under the age of five will soon die of starvation.

But long-term development aid is also indispensable.

from un.org

from un.org

John Ashworth, who serves as an advisor to the Catholic bishops of South Sudan, wrote in an emailed to me that many international donors are reducing their development aid to South Sudan due to a lack of progress in the peace talks among the warring parties.

Ashworth said that seven of the ten states in South Sudan are not directly affected by the conflict, and it is both unfair and counter-productive to deny development aid to those people.

The heroic Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban often says that development is peace, and there is thus a fear that reducing development aid will create the conditions for insecurity to spread.

A U.S. State Department official, who wanted to remain anonymous, told me how important it is for us to contact our congressional delegation urging them to increase funding for both emergency and development assistance – that would support critical programs aimed at justice and reconciliation, education, infrastructure and food security.

Ashworth said, “I would highly recommend making a donation to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) which is very active in South Sudan. I work closely with them.”

To send a Christmas donation to suffering South Sudan please go to Give to CRS South Sudan or call 877-435-7277.

During this Advent season, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our savior, Christ the Lord, let us also remember the birth and infancy of the world’s youngest nation.

As the wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus, let us bring Christmas gifts of prayer, money and advocacy to suffering South Sudan.

And let’s not forget, that by giving gifts to the South Sudanese, we are ultimately giving Christmas gifts to Jesus who said, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

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.

HUMAN RIGHTS: Global Days of Listening honors International Human Rights Day

Malala Yousafzai“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pencil can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education First.”   (Malala Yousafzai)

Lifting up the work & words of  Malala Yousafzai, of Pakistan.

To be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on this day, December 10, with Kailash Satyarthi, of India.

Join students and teachers from Afghanistan, Egypt, Palestine, Sweden, the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, by LIVESTREAM or SKYPE. We’ll share hope, and rededicate ourselves to truly building a BORDERFREE world for ALL people.

Join us at http://globaldaysoflistening.org/pages/livestream

Partners: Afghan Peace Volunteers of the Borderfree Community Centre of Nonviolence in Afghanistan, Fellowship of Reconciliation, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, Veterans For Peace, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, and Global Days of Listening.  These organizations, long supporters, are on the web, per above.

REFLECTION: Climate change challenges – support the environment or the U.S. military?

Kathy Kellyby Kathy Kelly
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Having lived through the 1991 Desert Storm bombing and the 2003 Shock and Awe bombing in Iraq, I tread carefully when speaking about any danger greater than war that children in our world might face. I won’t forget children in Baghdadi hospitals whose bodies I have seen, wounded and maimed, after bombing campaigns ordered by U.S. leaders. I think also of children in Lebanon and Gaza and Afghanistan, children I’ve sat with in cities under heavy bombardments while their frightened parents tried to distract and calm them.

Even so, it seems the greatest danger – the greatest violence – that any of us face is contained in our attacks on our environment. Today’s children and generations to follow them face nightmares of scarcity, disease, mass displacement, social chaos, and war, due to our patterns of consumption and pollution.

Ironically, one of the institutions in U.S. society which comprehends the disasters that loom is the U.S. military.

The-DoD-Energy-Consumption-2012

In the past few years, the Pentagon has issued several reports which concur that the greatest threat to U.S. national security is posed by climate change and potential environmental disasters. The reports show concern about how droughts, famines and natural disasters could cause conflicts leading to “food and water shortages, diseases, disputes over refugees and resources and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe.”…

Click here to read the entire article.