Category Archives: War

STATEMENT: Pax Christi USA signs onto faith leaders’ statement on Iran Framework Agreement

missile_2353892bPax Christi USA has signed onto a new statement initiated by Sojourners regarding the April 2nd Framework Agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Leaders of the faith community are playing significant roles in helping to give this diplomatic process a chance to succeed. The statement is titled, “Hope but Verify: Christian Leaders Support the Iran Framework Agreement”, and was run as a full-page ad in Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper catering to Members of Congress.

The statement begins:

As Christian leaders in the United States, we welcome and support the Framework Agreement, announced by seven nations on April 2, to dramatically restrain the capacity of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. We believe this diplomatic path and process should be ardently pursued and given a chance to succeed. We do so not as politicians but as those whose deep faith commitments compel us to speak clearly, with moral and practical wisdom, about any possibility that restrains the threat of war and opens pathways toward peace. Indeed, the One whose words and life we follow said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” (Mathew 5:9).

As followers of Christ, we begin with the things that Jesus instructed us to do. Whenever Christians are responding to situations of conflict, to issues of war and peace, Jesus must always be our starting point. On matters of both personal relationships and public policy, we must start with the question, “What can we best do to make peace?”…

Click here to see the ad and read the entire statement.

REFLECTION: Do military recruiters belong in Catholic schools?

by Pat Elder for US Catholic

mil_recruiting_flickr_rdecomDuring the 2nd Battle of Fallujah in November of 2004, 1st Lieutenant Jesse A. Grapes saved the lives of three wounded Marines in his platoon by entering a burning house, where he encountered the enemy soldier who had been firing at his troops. Six years later, when Grapes was named headmaster of Benedictine College Preparatory, a Catholic military school in Richmond, Virginia, the school’s newspaper, The New Chevron, called him a “patriotic war hero” in their June 2010 issue.

In describing the new headmaster’s Iraq War exploits, Benedictine’s student newspaper dismissed the fact that Grapes was accused of ordering marines under his command to shoot four captured prisoners. Grapes was discharged from the Marines after refusing to talk to government investigators, citing his Fifth Amendment rights, and declined to take a polygraph test to disprove allegations made against him. “If my word isn’t good enough,” The New Chevron quoted him as saying, “nothing would be.”

It’s quite a lesson for students at Benedictine, which is kind of a poster child for the modern militarized Catholic school. Every year Benedictine requires all juniors take the military entrance exam. The school operates an Army JROTC program and has a student organization that teaches small arms. Of course, these are expected activities in a military school. The question is whether these activities are appropriate in a Catholic school…

Click here to read the entire story and take the survey that accompanies it.

STATEMENT: Pax Christi International on the violent conflict in Syria – ending the war and saving lives must be top priority

pcilogonewfrom Pax Christi International

Syria’s popular uprising started in the city of Dara in March 2011. The merciless actions of the Syrian Government – whose campaign of violent repression against what were originally peaceful protesters began four long years ago – have now morphed into wave upon wave of pitiless assaults by all sides. The Syrian conflict has killed well in excess of 200.000 people, and continues to kill more every day. It has involved the torture and ill-treatment of countless others; forced millions to flee; and deprived even more of the basic conditions for a decent life, including the rights to education, food, healthcare and housing.

iraq-syria-buttonThe conduct of an ever-increasing number of actors is characterised by a complete lack of adherence to the norms of international law. Human rights are being violated to a shocking degree. The State, which is responsible for the security of its citizens, has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity against its citizens; radical non-State armed groups are doing the same.

Humanitarian aid has been instrumentalised for military gain. In many cases, aid to civilians living in areas under the control of non-State armed groups is not delivered. The conditions imposed by the State and by some armed groups on the delivery of humanitarian assistance use civilian suffering as a retaliatory measure, which is immoral…

Read the entire statement by clicking here.

NEWS: Pax Christi USA endorses Spring Rising actions

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Pax Christi USA has endorsed Spring Rising: An Antiwar Intervention in D.C. March 18-21. Spring Rising is four days of creative resistance; theater, teach-ins; rallies and marches marking the anniversary of the United States’ “shock and awe” attack on Iraq and its invasion and occupation in a completely illegitimate, immoral war.  Together we will use this time to oppose the plans and calls for growing military intervention.

Click here for more information.

REFLECTION: Beating swords into plowshares

Tony Maglianoby Tony Magliano

“In the days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills,” writes the prophet Isaiah. “Many peoples shall come and say: Come, let us go up to the Lord’s mountain … that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths. … They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.”

Swords-into-plowsharesThis prophesy will certainly be fulfilled when Christ comes again and his kingdom is totally established. There’s no stopping it. But it could happen even before then. If only we would go up to the Lord’s mountain and allow him to instruct us in his ways, and wholeheartedly walk in his paths.

But instead it seems like so much of the world, and so many people in power, are committed to going down into the dark valley of violence and war, ignoring the Prince of Peace’s way.

As I write, the U.S. Congress is poised to grant President Obama’s request to use expanded military force – including boots-on-the-ground – to fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

In his request known as the “Authorization for Use of Military Force,” Obama is asking Congress to approve the deployment of U.S. troops to Iraq for “enduring offensive ground combat operations” for at least three years.
Didn’t the nearly nine years of war in Iraq teach us anything?

Military action against the Islamic State is playing into their hands. They want to draw the U.S. into a ground war, so they can trumpet the message that “Christian crusaders” have launched an invasion upon Islam. Such a scenario would flood their ranks with radical Islamists from around the world.

After the start of the first Gulf War in 1991, St. John Paul wrote, “No, never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked the war.”

It can be strongly argued that the devastation caused by the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq largely set the stage for the birth of the Islamic State and several other Jihadist groups.

Instead of fueling more war and terrorism, we need to pressure our government to provide far more humanitarian assistance to our fellow Christians, and all others, who are suffering from the barbarism of the Islamic State.
Also, we need to kindly consider making a generous donation to Catholic Relief Service’s emergency fund for the Middle East (http://bit.ly/17YCZ8g).

In his famous 1967 “Beyond Vietnam” speech, Rev. Martin Luther King said, “Our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.”

And the same is true with terrorism today. If we will muster up the faith and courage to redirect the vast resources dedicated to war, and instead put them at the service of removing “those conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are fertile soil” in which the seed of terrorism grows and develops, we will have then finally beat our swords into plowshares.

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.

PAX CHRISTI INTERNATIONAL: PCI calls for continued diplomatic efforts in the Ukrainian conflict

pcilogonewfrom Pax Christi International

Pax Christi International is following attentively the situation of crisis in the eastern regions of Ukraine. Given the recent escalation of conflict that claimed many victims, Pax Christi International renewed its appeal for peace and for a negotiated solution.

The movement supports the agreement reached through diplomatic efforts on 11 and 12 February 2015 in Minsk, Belarus. The ceasefire agreement should be implemented by Sunday 15 February 2015 at the latest and monitored directly. While significant work is yet to be done, this at least begins a process toward increased security, law and order.

Security risks in Ukraine remain high. The violence must end as soon as possible and de-escalation of the conflict should be a priority. No military aid should be delivered to the parties in conflict, since that could further escalate the crisis, but, given the great need, additional international humanitarian aid should be delivered promptly…

Click here to read the entire release.

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.