Tag Archives: Iran

REFLECTION: Two paths to peace – the secular and the sacred

Joan Chittister, osbby Joan Chittister, osb
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

In late July, while John Kerry sat across a table in Paris from Mohammed Zarif, chief Iranian negotiator for the Iranian-US nuclear treaty, I and six other Americans from the Global Peace Initiative of Women sat across tables from some of the major religious figures in Iran. We were in Qom, the Vatican of Shia Islam.

Iran-Nuclear-Deal-Congress-570x320One thing struck me: We were all working on behalf of peace, Kerry on one level, we on the another. He and his team were trying to control the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Our team — two Hindus, an Evangelical, a mainline Protestant, a Zen master, a Sufi and a Catholic nun — were hoping to find the common ground that makes having weapons of mass destruction unnecessary.

And we both knew, I suspect, that the fires of enmity burn slowly and long. At least if Washington and international affairs of any ilk are any proof of it. The problem is that international enmity is most often stoked by the memory of what “they did to us.” Seldom, if ever, do we hear one of the parties talking about what “we did to them.”

Instead, we plead our innocence, all the while spewing distrust and dismay.

As television stations around the world played an unending series of photos showing John Kerry and the U.S. negotiating team locked in contest with Iranian negotiators over U.S. sanctions and Iranian nuclear plants, the world around them sat helpless. We all knew that if they failed it would be we who would become prey in this latest game of King of the Mountain...

Read the entire article by clicking here.

IRAN: Group of Christian leaders back Iran deal

from Politico

NOTE: Sr. Patty Chappell, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA, and Marie Dennis, Co-President of Pax Christi International, have signed onto the letter referenced in this article.

Iran-Nuclear-Deal-Congress-570x320More than 50 Christian leaders have signed on to a letter urging members of Congress to “remember the wisdom of Jesus” and approve the nuclear deal with Iran, the latest in a growing lobbying push by religious groups favoring the agreement.

The signatories, who represent denominations and organizations ranging from Catholic to Quaker to Pentecostal, praise the deal’s technical provisions while also arguing its merits on moral grounds.

“As faith leaders from the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons in war, we have a particular responsibility to speak boldly when opportunities arise that lead to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation at home and around the world,” the 53 faith leaders write. “This historic accord moves us one small step closer to a world free of nuclear weapons.”

The letter, which was sent to lawmakers Tuesday, goes on: “This is a moment to remember the wisdom of Jesus who proclaimed from the Sermon on the Mount, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God’ (Matthew 5:9). … There is no question we are all better off with this deal than without it.”…

Read the entire article by clicking here.

Read the letter by clicking here.

IRAN: Take action and urge Congress to support Iran nuclear deal

Iran-Nuclear-Deal-Congress-570x320In December 2014, the Holy See issued a ground-breaking paper entitled Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition, which said, “Now is the time to affirm not only the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons, but the immorality of their possession, thereby clearing the road to nuclear abolition.” This year marks the 70th anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons in war – in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A week ago, July 14, 2015, a significant agreement between Iran, the P5+1 (the 5 permanent UN Security Council Members – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States – plus Germany) and the European Union was reached.  This is an important diplomatic accomplishment and is a critical step toward nuclear non-proliferation and, ultimately, nuclear abolition.

It is imperative that the Iran deal enter into force without obstacles created by the U.S. Congress. We must clearly express our support for the agreement as an important diplomatic accomplishment that will make all of us safer. Congress has until mid-September to reject the deal, otherwise it will go into force.

Please take action:  As members of PCUSA we invite you to do the following:

  1. Make an appointment to meet before Labor Day (September 7) with your senators and your Congressional representative to express your opinion about the Iran deal with a group of Pax Christi members, supporters/members of religious orders, JustFaith graduates, etc. It may be possible to meet the senators/representative in person, or with their senior staff, when they are home for the August recess. Use the talking points listed below to shape your message. This is not an appointment to discuss the merits of the agreement, but ask the Congresspersons/staff if they are able to support the deal.

Items to take with you to share with the offices:

  • Pax Christi International’s statement on the Iran deal, available here.
  • The Holy See’s paper on the immorality of possessing nuclear weapons, available here.
  • Letter from Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, NM, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, available here.
  1. Make an appointment with your bishop if you have not already done so. Assume that he has seen the letter from Bishop Cantú on the Iran deal and the Holy See’s statement on nuclear abolition, but in case he has not studied them, bring him a copy and ask him to encourage every parish in his diocese to highlight these important statements from Catholic leadership. Also give him a copy of Pax Christi International’s statement on the Iran deal and a brochure from Pax Christi USA. Urge him to become a member of PCUSA and to contact his Members of Congress himself.
  1. Send a letter to the editor of your local paper urging your senators and representative to support the Iran deal. Use the talking points listed below to shape your message.

We ask that ANY action that you take to meet with your Congressional Representatives and/or your local Bishops be reported with the results to Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, Program Director, at anadeau@paxchristiusa.org by Sept. 7, 2015.

This collaborative effort is sponsored by the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Sisters of Mercy, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach and Pax Christi USA and Pax Christi International.

We thank you for your willingness to participate in this important effort toward nuclear disarmament.

In Peace,

Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN
Pax Christi USA, Executive Director

TAKE ACTION: Urge Congress to support Iran nuclear deal

Iran-Nuclear-Deal-Congress-570x320In December 2014, the Holy See issued a ground-breaking paper entitled Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition, which said, “Now is the time to affirm not only the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons, but the immorality of their possession, thereby clearing the road to nuclear abolition.” This year marks the 70th anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons in war – in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A week ago, July 14, 2015, a significant agreement between Iran, the P5+1 (the 5 permanent UN Security Council Members – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States – plus Germany) and the European Union was reached.  This is an important diplomatic accomplishment and is a critical step toward nuclear non-proliferation and, ultimately, nuclear abolition.

It is imperative that the Iran deal enter into force without obstacles created by the U.S. Congress. We must clearly express our support for the agreement as an important diplomatic accomplishment that will make all of us safer. Congress has until mid-September to reject the deal, otherwise it will go into force.

Please take action:  As members of PCUSA we invite you to do the following:

  1. Make an appointment to meet before Labor Day (September 7) with your senators and your Congressional representative to express your opinion about the Iran deal with a group of Pax Christi members, supporters/members of religious orders, JustFaith graduates, etc. It may be possible to meet the senators/representative in person, or with their senior staff, when they are home for the August recess. Use the talking points listed below to shape your message. This is not an appointment to discuss the merits of the agreement, but ask the Congresspersons/staff if they are able to support the deal.

Items to take with you to share with the offices:

  • Pax Christi International’s statement on the Iran deal, available here.
  • The Holy See’s paper on the immorality of possessing nuclear weapons, available here.
  • Letter from Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, NM, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, available here.
  1. Make an appointment with your bishop if you have not already done so. Assume that he has seen the letter from Bishop Cantú on the Iran deal and the Holy See’s statement on nuclear abolition, but in case he has not studied them, bring him a copy and ask him to encourage every parish in his diocese to highlight these important statements from Catholic leadership. Also give him a copy of Pax Christi International’s statement on the Iran deal and a brochure from Pax Christi USA. Urge him to become a member of PCUSA and to contact his Members of Congress himself.
  1. Send a letter to the editor of your local paper urging your senators and representative to support the Iran deal. Use the talking points listed below to shape your message.

We ask that ANY action that you take to meet with your Congressional Representatives and/or your local Bishops be reported with the results to Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, Program Director, at anadeau@paxchristiusa.org by Sept. 7, 2015.

This collaborative effort is sponsored by the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Sisters of Mercy, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach and Pax Christi USA and Pax Christi International.

We thank you for your willingness to participate in this important effort toward nuclear disarmament.

In Peace,

Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN
Pax Christi USA, Executive Director

IRAN: PCUSA signs onto letter calling Congress to “seal the deal” and vote for peace

Vote4Peace-logo-300x233Pax Christi USA has signed onto a letter inviting Members of Congress to support the strong nuclear deal being negotiated currently between world powers and Iran, to vote in favor of this agreement when it comes before Congress, and commit to vote to uphold a Presidential veto should Congress vote against the agreement. The letter is being circulated by the National Iranian American Council. More information on this campaign can be found by clicking here.

ISRAEL-PALESTINE: Tell your elected officials to support peaceful solutions with Iran, in Syria

from the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy

NOTE: Pax Christi USA is a member of the Faith Forum. This is the “Third Thursday for Israel-Palestine” action for April. 

3rd Thurs graphic

Tell your elected officials to support peaceful solutions with Iran, in Syria: Don’t stand in the way of Iran negotiations, and do support urgent help for Yarmouk refugees

The first week of April brought great cause for celebration among all who support diplomacy as a path to a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue.  On April 2, a framework agreement was announced between Iran, the United States, and the other five countries – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – that have been working diligently to secure an arrangement that would block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon and pave the way for the lifting of sanctions on Iran.   This historic milestone is to be followed by continued talks intended to culminate in a final, comprehensive deal by June 30.

This will be a stronger agreement to the extent that it enjoys the full support of our government — the congress and the administration.   Urge your members of congress to speak out in favor of the framework agreement and of ongoing talks to produce a final deal.    Ask them to refrain from sponsoring or voting for legislation that could jeopardize the talks by threatening new sanctions or otherwise tying the hands of the administration in the negotiations.

While Iran has taken center stage in congressional foreign policy debate, the Israeli-Palestinian situation has languished to the detriment of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Advocates must continue to press for constructive engagement aimed at ending the Israeli occupation and securing a just peace for both peoples.  At the same time, the real need for a livable situation on the ground must be addressed regardless of progress on a political solution.

The tragic plight of the refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria is a reminder of the importance of lasting peace not only for the Palestinians but for all the people of the region.  Palestinians in the Yarmouk camp are part of the roughly five million Palestine refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) who live in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.  In the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian resolution, they remain stateless and unable to return to their original homes.

The situation in the Yarmouk camp is dire, as IS militants battle Syrian government forces, and civilians are trapped in the middle. Describing Yarmouk, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon reportedly said, “a refugee camp is beginning to resemble a death camp,” and he called for an end to the fighting, humanitarian access and safe passage for those wanting to leave.

UNRWA describes the horrific circumstances inside the camp:

Since 1 April, this residential area of Damascus where some 18,000 people have already been trapped for over two years has been engulfed by intense fighting.  The lives of civilians in Yarmouk have never been more profoundly threatened. Men, women and children – Syrians and Palestinians alike – are cowering in their battered homes in profound fear, desperate for security, food and water, deeply concerned by the grave perils that may yet come, as hostilities continue. It is virtually impossible for civilians to leave Yarmouk as any attempt to move in the open brings high risk.

Ask your elected officials to urgently support the UN secretary-general’s call. Ask them to do all they can to demand an end to the fighting, humanitarian access, and safe passage for those trapped in the Yarmouk camp.

Use this link from our partners at the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns to contact your Members of Congress now.

For more information:

Sample Letter/Script:

Dear Senator/Representative,

I am writing to express my concern about two critical issues related to Middle East peace:  The negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program and the dire situation of refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria.  In both cases I urge you to support peaceful solutions – in the former by supporting the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, and the latter by supporting urgent help for the Yarmouk refugees.

First, as a person of faith who hopes for a peaceful world, I am heartened by the reaching of an historic framework agreement by Iran, the United States, and five other countries regarding Iran’s nuclear program.  As you know, this historic milestone is to be followed by continued talks intended to culminate in a final, comprehensive deal by June 30.

This will be a stronger agreement to the extent that it enjoys the full support of our government — the congress and the administration.   I urge you to speak out in favor of the framework agreement and of ongoing talks to produce a final deal.  I ask you to refrain from sponsoring or voting for legislation that could jeopardize the talks by threatening new sanctions or otherwise tying the hands of the administration in the negotiations.

Second, while the Iran issue has taken center stage, the Israeli-Palestinian situation has languished to the detriment of both Israelis and Palestinians.  In that regard, I bring to your attention the tragic plight of the refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria.  Palestinians in the Yarmouk camp are part of the roughly five million Palestine refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) who live in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.  In the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian resolution, they remain stateless and unable to return to their original homes.

The situation in the Yarmouk camp is dire, as IS militants battle Syrian government forces, and civilians are trapped in the middle.   Describing Yarmouk, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon reportedly said, “a refugee camp is beginning to resemble a death camp,” and he called for an end to the fighting, humanitarian access and safe passage for those wanting to leave.  I ask you to do all you can to urgently support the secretary-general’s call.

Thank you for hearing my concerns about these two important issues for Middle East peace.

With gratitude for your service,

Your name

Use this link from our partners at the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns to contact your Members of Congress now.