HUMAN TRAFFICKING: PCUSA signs onto letter in support of The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act

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Pax Christi USA has signed onto a letter in support of The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act, which was introduced in the Senate this past week.

This groundbreaking legislation would authorize $250 million in U.S. funds to leverage a $1.5 billion dollar global fund to combat human trafficking around the world. This would be the most dramatic increase in funding for anti-human trafficking efforts we have ever seen, through leveraging U.S. leadership and foreign aid to attract investments from the private sector and foreign governments.

Click here to read the letter.

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.

LENT 2015: Reflection for the second Sunday of Lent, March 1

LENT2015BANNER

by Joyce Hollyday

Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18 | Romans 8:31-34 | Mark 9:2-10

Transfiguration-icon-englishJesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them… Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three booths:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”. (Mark 9:2, 4-5)

The chapel was quiet, its lights dim. A small wooden altar held a flickering candle and a vial of rose oil. We sat in a circle, close to one another, a the foot of a large crucifix.

Sojourners Community was away on a weekend retreat after a time of brokenness in our life together. That Friday evening last fall, we experienced a time of deep healing. After each of us shared the pain in our hearts, we moved even closer, placing hands on the one who had just spoken, voicing prayers for mercy and comfort, embracing the tears.

A member of the community moved forward after each offering of intercessions, to each of us by turn. Taking our hands into her own, she anointed our palms with oil in the sign of the cross. Voicing our name, she tenderly proclaimed, “We anoint you healer, and healed; one with Christ; together in this community, the body of Christ.”

The sharing went on past midnight, with no signs of fatigue among us. We touched the presence of Christ in that room. And the embrace of the Holy Spirit, the one named Comforter, was palpable.

Unity in community often feels elusive, and that had been particularly true at Sojourners in the month preceding our retreat. The next day some of us expressed only tentative hope that the deep bonds we experienced would hold past the high emotions of the weekend.

Gordon Cosby, pastor of the Church of the Savior and a close friend of the community, listened to us speak to one another. He responded to our fears about our unity lasting: “You have to trust that the same power that produced it will be there for the next moment, and the next moment, and the next.” And he added, “The indwelling of the Spirit is not fragile; human beings are fragile.”

He reminded us of this biblical account of Peter going up to the mountain top with Jesus, where Moses and Elijah appeared. Peter wanted to build three booths, one for each of them, “to hang around for a long time and capture the moment,” according to Gordon. But, of course, Peter’s response missed the point.

We are sometimes just like Peter, wanting to capture the “mountain top experiences,” wanting to cling to the emotional moments, to enshrine and worship Jesus in all his dazzling glory. But Jesus didn’t stay there resplendent on the mountain long.

He went back to the streets, back to the poor and the sick and the lame. And he told us that whatever we do to the ones considered least in the eyes of the world, we do to him. Our very salvation, according to Matthew 25, is at stake in how we respond to the cries of the suffering ones in the world.

In inner-city Washington, D.C., just a mile and a half from the White House, 300 people line up at the Sojourners Neighborhood Center every Saturday morning. And every Saturday morning 66 year-old Mary Glover offers this prayer: “We know, Lord, that you’re coming through this line today, so help us to treat you right.”

Jesus does not ask that we build him a booth to enshrine him. He asks only that we turn our hearts to the poor and treat him right — and love those with whom we share life in the same way that we are loved by him. Then we will indeed dwell in the unity of the Spirit.

For reflection: 

  • What in yourself is broken and needs healing? Imagine yourself sharing that hurt with another person. How can you make this happen?
  • Have you ever been transformed by the poor? When? What effect did it have?
  • Do you fear for the unity in your family, parish, religious community? Write this note to yourself and post it: “The indwelling of the Spirit is not fragile; human beings are fragile.”
  • Imagine three things that would change immediately if your family/community decided on a preferential option for the poor. What would change if the church in the U.S. chose the same option?

* This reflection appeared in Desert Sojourn: Lent 1991, published by Pax Christi USA in 1991.

DEATH PENALTY: PC South Dakota leading the effort on abolition

Pax Christi South Dakota has been supportive of the effort to abolish the death penalty in South Dakota. Recently they lobbied their state officials to that end. The attempt was defeated but PC South Dakota members have helped to raise the issue and move it forward to the day when abolition occurs.

Below is a link to a video that includes an interview with Sister JoAnn Sturzl, a member of Pax Christi Southeastern South Dakota (Sioux Falls, SD).

Click here to access the link.

PETITION: No new authorization for the use of military force

Pax Christi USA has signed onto this petition and encourages our membership to lend their support.

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The U.S. Congress is considering another “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” — a broad approval for more war.

This is the last thing we need. These wars are not making us safer but generating enemies. They are not surgical operations, but mass killings, as well as assaults on the natural environment and the public budget — not to mention excuses for curtailing civil liberties.

Please sign this statement for delivery to the media and Congress!

Click here to sign and for more information.

NEWS: Pax Christi International Peace Award recognizes Colombia’s Women, Peace and Security Collective for Reflection and Action

from Pax Christi International

Women, Peace and Security Collective for Reflection and Action (Colombia)

Women, Peace and Security Collective for Reflection and Action (Colombia)

The 2015 Pax Christi International Peace Award has been granted to the Women, Peace and Security Collective for Reflection and Action (Colectivo de Pensamiento y Acción Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad) in Colombia for making visible and encouraging the essential contribution of women to peacebuilding in their country and for their work to promote an ethical transformation of Colombian society as the path towards sustainable peace. Established in 1988, the Award is funded by the Cardinal Bernardus Alfrink Peace Fund and honours contemporary individuals and organisations who make a stand for peace, justice and non-violence in different parts of the world.

Founded in October 2011, the Collective is a women’s network that currently brings together women from different social and professional backgrounds (religious, ex-combatants, indigenous, afro-descendants, journalists, academics, human rights defenders, union leaders, etc.), as well as organisations committed to a revolution in ethics as the basis for sustainable and lasting peace in Colombia. With a mission to foster conditions for a permanent and re-humanising dialogue among various sectors – including those traditionally opposed to each other – in different regions of the country, the Collective is in itself an example of how diversity can be embraced and used for positive change in a highly polarized society…

Click here to read the entire press release.

OBITUARY: Giving thanks for the life of Fr. Sebastian Muccilli, former associate coordinator of PCUSA

Fr. Sebastian Muccilli, d. February 16, 2015. Presente!

Fr. Sebastian Muccilli, d. February 16, 2015. Presente!

ED. NOTE: Last week, Pax Christi USA heard through former staff member Phyllis Jepson that Fr. Sebastian Muccilli had passed away. Fr. Sebastian was a former associate coordinator of Pax Christi USA. I met Fr. Sebastian on several occasions; he was an active part of my own “home” Pax Christi, PC Florida. Fr. Sebastian was a kind, joyful man, with a beautiful smile and gentle way about him that embodied the peace of Christ in which he believed and from which he lived. All of us at Pax Christi USA mourn his passing and celebrate his life.

Fr. Sebastian L. Muccilli died very peacefully, with his family around him, on February 16th in St. Augustine FL. He had been suffering with Parkinson’s disease for several years.

Ordained a priest in Trenton, New Jersey on May 25, 1957, Fr. Muccilli was as an associate pastor at St. Mary Church in Alpha, NJ from 1957-1961. In 1961 Fr. Muccilli joined the United States Navy, serving in Sasebo, Japan and at the U.S. Naval Support Activity Hospital in DaNang Vietnam until 1970. He was director of Catholic Campus Ministry at Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ) from 1970-1982. From 1983-1986 he was an instructor at the Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corner, Wisconsin. Fr. Muccilli served as associate coordinator of Pax Christi USA from 1986-1988. From 1988-1990 he was the director of St. Damien Clinic and Hospice for Children in Petion-ville, Haiti.

Fr. Muccilli — or “Seb” as most of us knew him — came to West Palm Beach in 1990. He brought his newly adopted son, Jimmi Pierre Muccilli, with him. Fr. Muccilli worked as an organizer of Parish Social Ministry programs at the diocese of Palm Beach (1990-1991), was as associate pastor at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in West Palm Beach (1991-1993), coordinator of the volunteers of the Comprehensive AIDS program (1993-1995) and the first Catholic chaplain at the newly built USVA Medical Center in West Palm Beach until 2000. He was a member of St. Francis of Assisi parish and celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a priest there in 2007…

Read more of Fr. Sebastian’s obituary on the Pax Christi Florida website by clicking here.