Tag Archives: National Catholic Reporter

REFLECTION: Our parishes would thrive if we stand up and be leaders

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

As always, we try to listen to our Scripture lessons at our Sunday liturgy within the context of what is happening in the world around us. Of course this past week, all our news media have been just overwhelmed by the coverage of Pope Francis and his trip to the United States. There have been millions of people flocking to see him. We’ve watched the crowds on television. We’ve listened to what the pope has to say and it’s been an overwhelming experience, I think, for most Catholics probably here in this country and especially for those who’ve had the opportunity to be where the pope has been in Washington and New York and Philadelphia.

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio washes feet of shelter residents during 2008 Mass at church in Buenos AiresAs we listen to our Scripture lesson in the light of what Pope Francis has been doing, I think there’s a couple of things we should especially notice. The first is very obvious — his outreach to the poor. When he spoke before the Congress, one of his main points was calling upon the people of the United States through their elected leaders to reach out to the poor, and in this case, especially the immigrants in our country who are flocking to our shores and whom many people want to push away and get rid of.

Francis is saying, “No, these are the poor. They’re coming here because they need assistance. They’re fleeing violence. They’re fleeing economic oppression. They’re coming out of a desperate need.” In fact, Francis makes it very concrete. One day this week when he was in Washington, he had lunch. Most of the time on a trip like this you would expect people invited to that lunch would be the mayor and the civic leaders, the church leaders and the wealthy — the important people.

Not with Francis — he invites the poor. And what I like about it, too, he doesn’t stand behind a counter and hand out the food and serve them in that way. That would be notable and good, but he sits down with them and engages with them. He shows them he enjoys their company. He wants them to feel welcome with him as the symbol of the church. He’s acting like Jesus who spent most of his time with the poor, drawing them in, having them follow him.

To read this entire article, click here.

REFLECTION: We must reach out in service to the most vulnerable

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

You may recall in last Sunday’s Gospel, we also heard Jesus talking about his coming torture and execution, then Peter telling Jesus, “No, that doesn’t have to happen.” And Jesus telling Peter, “Get behind me you Satan because you’re speaking in human terms not according to God’s way.” Now Jesus tells him again about his passion and death, although in the meantime other things had been happening.

He had gone up to the Mount of Tabor and was transfigured before three of the disciples, experienced God’s amazing love in a very profound way. Then he had gone on and they were traveling along and curing people, teaching and so on. Then in today’s Gospel, once more he tells them what’s going to happen to him. I can imagine Jesus must have been getting a little bit frustrated because, again, even though he made it very plain what was going to happen to him, they did not want to hear it.

They did not want to really know who Jesus was and what was going to happen to him, how he was going to make the reign of God happen, not through power, might and military force, but through suffering and responding to hatred and violence with love — an amazing way to overcome evil, only by responding with love. In today’s passage, Jesus makes that love not just something that happened to him at the end of his life when he poured forth his love on those killing him on the cross, but by his constant service to others, always reaching out to the poor and the most vulnerable, healing, teaching and exhorting and praising and comforting.

The disciples are thinking (as Peter had as we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel) that Jesus, because he was this wonderworker, he had such a huge following. They could overthrow the Roman Empire. They could set the Jewish people free, rebuild their temple and make it the source of worship without any hindrance from the Romans again. But that wasn’t the way. Jesus calls them to a life of service, “If you want to be my disciple, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me in serving others.”

To read this entire article, click here.

REFLECTION: Do not inflict suffering, but instead accept suffering

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

In the Gospel lesson this morning, it seems to me that we come to a point where Mark is revealing to us that Jesus had come to a very decisive moment in his life. This is maybe two thirds of the way through his public life where he had gathered disciples around him, where he had begun to preach and teach, do wonderful works of mercy and love. But all the time he was evidently trying to determine exactly what God was asking of him.

Michael O’Brien: Christ’s Temptations in the Desert

Michael O’Brien: Christ’s Temptations in the Desert

Remember, Jesus is fully human so he is learning as he goes along. I have a sense that when Jesus challenges the disciples (as he does today and challenges all of us about following him), he has come to this point after much reflection. We’re all familiar with the beginning of the public life of Jesus where he goes off into the desert and fasts for 40 days and 40 nights, and then afterwards he’s tempted. Do you remember the temptation?

First, it’s to accumulate all the wealth you can get, turn stones into bread, and then to become a wonderworker and draw attention to yourself, drop yourself on the pinnacle of the temple and let God’s angels hold you up. But then finally, Satan says, “Worship me and I will give you all the kingdoms of the earth.” It’s a temptation to power, domination, and violence. Jesus says, “Be gone, Satan.” But then in the Gospel where that account is recorded we’re told, “Satan left for a time.”

So Jesus, evidently, was tempted again and again to those very things — to wealth, greed, power, violence, and domination. I have a sense that he must have done much reflecting on the Word of God, which we’re all called to do. For example, in chapter 55 of the Book of Isaiah, “Seek God while God may be found. Call to God while God is near; turn to God for God will have mercy. For our God is generous and forgiving. ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts; my ways are not your ways. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts above your thoughts.’ ”

To read this entire article, click here.

ON THE LINE: September 2015 edition features work on Iran deal, Campaign Nonviolence, and more

Compiled by Johnny Zokovitch

Each month, “On The Line” features news items and announcements from around the nation featuring Pax Christi members, local groups, regions and partners. 

ED. NOTE: I was out of the office for a variety of reasons in July and August and didn’t get to post editions of On The Line during those months. This month is a particularly full edition to make up for the backlog of incredible things on which PCUSA groups and members are busy working. Thanks for your understanding!

PC Sioux Falls (SD) members and others at Sen. Rounds office.

PC Sioux Falls (SD) members & others at Sen. Rounds office.

PAX CHRISTI LOCAL AND REGIONAL GROUPS INSTRUMENTAL IN SUPPORT FOR IRAN DEAL: All across the United States, Pax Christi local groups and regions mobilized to encourage their senators, representatives and bishops to support the nuclear deal brokered by Secretary John Kerry and representatives from other nations. To this date, the Iran deal has been upheld because of these efforts and many efforts, but it is not a done deal yet, so stay vigilant! A sampling of the efforts of PCUSA local groups and regions: PC Dallas members met with aides to Senator Cornyn at his Dallas office; PC Sioux Falls (SD) held a vigil in support of the agreement and met with their representative; PC Long Island (NY) and PC Metro NY members joined rallies outside Sen. Schumer’s offices; PC NJ members Fr. Gene Squeo and Carol Fay met with aides of Sen. Booker at his D.C. office and PC NJ released a statement after Sen. Menendez voiced his opposition to the deal; PC Beverly (MA) wrote letters to their bishop and letters-to-the-editors in support of the agreement…

Visiting Texas Senator Cornyn’s office in Dallas on the Iran deal are Joyce Hall, Pax Christi Dallas; Mavis Belisle, Nuclear Free World Committee; Bill Maxwell, Dallas Peace and Justice Center; Leslie Harris, CodePink, and Hadi Jawad, Middle East Peace Committee.

Visiting Senator Cornyn’s office in Dallas on the Iran deal are Joyce Hall, Pax Christi Dallas; Mavis Belisle, Nuclear Free World Committee; Bill Maxwell, Dallas Peace & Justice Center; Leslie Harris, CodePink, & Hadi Jawad, Middle East Peace Committee.

PC Long Island (NY) members rally outside Sen. Schumer's office.

PC Long Island (NY) members rally outside Sen. Schumer’s office.

PAX CHRISTI LOCAL GROUPS PARTICIPATE IN CAMPAIGN NONVIOLENCE: Pax Christi regions and local groups are participating in the Campaign Nonviolence week of actions, Sept. 20-27, all across the nation. A sampling of PCUSA activities includes: Pax Christi Memphis’ Interfaith Vigil at the Civil Rights Museum; Pax Christi San Diego will be hosting a Peace Prayer Vigil on Sept. 21, the International Day for Peace, and an Autumn Equinox Interfaith Peace Ritual on Sept. 23; PC Florida will hold an action against drones at MacDill Air Force base and a nonviolence training with Kit Evans-Ford of Pace e Bene; and PC Beverly (MA) has planned an Interfaith Candlelight Vigil on Sept. 22 at the Peace Pole on Beverly Common…

PAX CHRISTI ILLINOIS TO FOCUS ON OVERCOMING WHITE SUPREMACY: Pax Christi Illinois will host their 2015 annual gathering, “Set the Captives Free: Is there a way beyond White Supremacy?” on Saturday, October 3rd, from 1-4pm at Ascension Catholic Church, 808 S. East Ave, Oak Park, IL. The presenter is  Alex Mikulich, Ph.D., a Roman Catholic anti-racist theologian and social ethicist at the Jesuit Social Research Institute of Loyola University in New Orleans. He will be discussing the possibility of white Catholic activists and other people of faith working through white supremacy. He begins with an understanding of the depth of the wound that is racism in America, including how it is killing all of us and holds us captive. Mikulich draws upon his recent book, The Scandal of White Complicity in US Hyper-Incarceration, to demonstrate how the U.S. system is designed to control black and brown bodies as it maintains white innocence and superiority. He also draws upon the wisdom of Thomas Merton to propose a spirituality open to the possibility of overcoming white supremacy.

PEACE ACTIVISTS CONVERGE ON LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (from The NY Times) Ellie Voutselas, 78 (Pax Christi New Mexico member) pulled from a cardboard box the sacks she had fashioned into ponchos, slicing holes in the burlap for the head and arms. Cayla Turain, 22, grabbed hers, smudged ashes on her face, and joined a silent march for peace. On Aug. 6, 1945, a B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan, incinerating tens of thousands on the ground. Seventy years later, Ms. Voutselas, Ms. Turain and about 80 others marched toward the secured entrance to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the bombs that ravaged Hiroshima and, three days later, Nagasaki, had been conceived. “My generation might be the one that’s going to have to grapple with the question, to nuke or not to nuke?” Ms. Turain, a graduate student from Fort Collins, Colo., said Thursday. “I came here looking for answers.” From a stage at the Ashley Pond Park, the Rev. John Dear (PCUSA Ambassador of Peace), the Catholic priest who organized the protest and a self-described “nonviolent troublemaker” — he says he has been arrested 75 times in acts of civil disobedience against war and was once convicted of striking an F-15E fighter-bomber with a hammer inside a military base — offered his answers… Read more by clicking here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/08/us/peace-activists-descend-on-los-alamos-but-residents-remain-indifferent.html?emc=edit_th_20150808&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=805989&_r=0

PAX CHRISTI USA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR QUOTED IN STORY ON RACISM, CHARLESTON MASSACRE: Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA, was quoted in a Catholic News Service story following the massacre in Charleston. The story read, in part, “Pax Christi is practicing what it preaches. It has conducted a series of dialogues over the past year in five major U.S. cities, and will add a sixth in September in the Washington-Baltimore area. A similar lack of recognition of minorities cropped up even within U.S. Catholic peace activist circles, according to Sister Patricia Chappell, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur who is Pax Christi USA’s president, and herself an African-American…” Read the entire article at http://paxchristiusa.org/2015/06/30/racism-americas-original-sin-manifests-itself-again-in-charleston-shootings/

Shatha, our guide in Aida refugee camp, next to a mural listing the names of all the villages represented in the camp.

Shatha, the guide in Aida refugee camp, next to a mural listing the names of all the villages represented in the camp.

THE WITNESS OF LIVING STONES IN THE HOLY LAND: (by Rosemarie Pace, Pax Christi Metro New York coordinator) “Seventy years ago, at the end of World War II, a French woman, Madame Dortel-Claudot, and a French Bishop, Pierre-Marie Theas, began a movement to pray for peace and reconciliation between their country and Germany. It disturbed them terribly that two supposedly Catholic Christian countries could have been at war with each other, killing each other’s people. Seventy years later, Pax Christi, the international Catholic peace movement, the outgrowth of that simple beginning, spreads across six continents and continues the work of prayer, study, and action for peace, justice, and reconciliation.”… Read more at this link: http://paxchristiusa.org/2015/07/01/reflection-the-witness-of-living-stones-in-the-holy-land/

NEW MEMBERS ELECTED, APPOINTED TO THE PCUSA NATIONAL COUNCIL: Three new council members have been elected and one current member has been appointed to the Pax Christi USA National Council. From the at-large slate of candidates, Pax Christi Anti-Racism Team member Isaac Chandler and Sr. Regina Ann Brummell, CSJ have been elected to three-year terms. From the regional slate, Nancy Oetter, Pax Christi Illinois state coordinator, was elected. Additionally, Olga Sarabia of Pax Christi Southern California has been appointed to continue for another year on the council. See more by clicking here: http://paxchristiusa.org/2015/08/05/national-council-new-members-elected-appointed-to-the-pax-christi-usa-national-council/

Pax Christi USA National Council 2015-16

Pax Christi USA National Council 2015-16

Upcoming or Ongoing Events:

Sept. 19-20: Pax Christi Florida Assembly and Action

Sept. 20-26: World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel

Sept. 20-27: Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions

Sept. 21: International Day of Peace

Sept. 21: Global Days of Listening teleconference

Sept. 21-25: Week of Moral Action for Climate Justice

Sept. 22-26: Pope Francis in USA

Sept. 22-27: World Meeting of Families, Philadelphia

Sept. 26: International day for Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Oct. 3: Pax Christi New York Fall Assembly, “Jihad and Just War”, Bronx, NY

Oct. 3: “Set the Captives Free: Is there a way beyond White Supremacy?” the 2015 Pax Christi Illinois Annual Gathering at Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park, IL; contact cordarotom@gmail.com for more info

Oct. 3-10: Keep Space for Peace Week

Oct. 4: St. Francis Day

Oct. 4-10: Ohio Walk to Stop Executions

Oct. 5: Witness Against Torture vigil in NYC

Oct. 8-11: National Black Catholic Men’s Conference, Lafayette, LA

Oct. 16-18: Pax Christi Michigan Annual Retreat with Gail Presbey, Ph.D., Roscommon, MI

Oct. 16-20: Peace Alliance conference in Washington, D.C.

Oct. 17: PC Northern California assembly, “Creative Nonviolence: Peacemaking in the 21st Century,” with Sr. Megan Rice, Rivera Sun and Elizabeth Murray, among others in Oakland. Contact oaklandcatholicworker@yahoo.com for more info

Oct. 24: NCR Conference in Illinois

Nov. 5-7: Fellowship of Reconciliation Centennial events in NY

Nov. 6-7: “Black Lives Matter: Race, Poverty and Violence Symposium” at Xavier University in New Orleans

Nov. 20-22: SOA vigil and action, Columbus, GA


Transform Now Plowshares receive “unsupervised” supervised probation at re-sentencing hearing … Pax Christi Burlington (VT) co-hosted a symposium on Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment at St. Michael’s College … NCR mentioned the efforts of Pax Christi USA in their editorial on “Churches can lead the fight against racism”PC Pittsburgh member Mimi Darragh had a letter-to-the-editor on Israel-Palestine published in America Magazine … PC Southern California co-hosted a vigil commemorating the Hiroshima-Nagasaki anniversariesPC Maine member Bill Slavick published this op-ed on the Pope’s encyclical in the Portland Press Herald … PC Viroqua (WI) hosted a screening of “The Forgotten Bomb” to commemorate the anniversaries of Hiroshima-Nagasaki … PC Long Island member Sr. Mary Beth Moore was interviewed in NCR about her life and work … PC Palm Beach (FL) member Barbara Richardson was recently awarded the Humana Good Neighbor Award at the Area Agency on Aging Prime Time Breakfast which was attended by several hundred area seniors and guests … PC Metro DC-Baltimore co-coordinator Bob Cooke was quoted in this article on Politico regarding the Iran nuclear deal … On Oct. 11, Pax Christi El Paso will be hosting the film “Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence” … PCUSA Ambassador of Peace Megan McKenna wrote this impassioned plea for the synod on families taking place later this month … PC New Jersey was a co-initiator of this report on solitary confinementMarie Dennis, PCI Co-President, had this opinion piece on the Iran nuclear deal published on the Catholic Philly site … PC Rhode Island educates on the Hiroshima-Nagasaki anniversariesPC NJ member Tom Mahedy was quoted in this piece in the Asbury Park Press at Bishop O’Connell’s celebration of the Mass for Creation … Pax Christi International’s September 2015 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Summer 2015 edition of The Peace Current

REFLECTION: Helping “the most vulnerable people in our society”

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

In our first lesson today, the prophet Isaiah was proclaiming really great news to people who had been suffering for seven decades. They had been defeated in war and their city had been destroyed, the temple put into ruins, and they had been driven out. But now Isaiah wants them to realize God is going to change all of that. If you think about it, how would you describe something as glorious, as marvelous as being returned from an exile in a time of suffering and deprivation?

refugeesIt would be something like right now — those people from Syria that are being driven out by the violence and struggle that’s going on — revolution, religious conflict. If they were suddenly to hear, “It’s all over! We’re coming back!” how would you describe their joy? Isaiah, in the first lesson today, gives an idea of how he thinks this extraordinary accomplishment would be felt by the people, “Let the wilderness and the arid land rejoice; the desert itself be glad and blossom; see everything come to life, covered with flowers it sings and shouts with joy.”

And then Isaiah says, “Say to those who are afraid, those who are feeling weak, ‘Have courage; do not fear any longer!'” And it’s marvelous that he says, “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed. Then will the lame leap as a hart; the tongues of those who are mute sing and shout. There will be a highway, which will be called The Way of Holiness.” Finally, “For the ransom of Yahweh will return with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will come to Zion singing gladness and joy marching with them.”

If only that could be true for all of those refugees and migrants from around the world right now; I’m sure many of us have seen the pictures of those two little children — five and three years old that were drowned trying to escape in a rubber raft hitting a rough sea, capsizing, their bodies washed up on the shore. If you turn to the gospel lesson, you discover Mark is speaking about Jesus. He’s clearly implying that the God who made that happen for the chosen people so many hundreds of years ago is right in our midst, right now — Jesus…

To read this entire article, click here.

RACISM: Churches can lead the fight against racism

from NCR

People of faith who want to move beyond the horror and outrage caused by the June 17 slaying of nine people in the basement of the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., must learn two hard lessons.

Black Lives MatterTo dismiss this tragedy as a solo event, without context and the work of a “nutcase,” feeds into a lie that perpetuates the racism that is engrained in American culture. The Wall Street Journal tried to make this claim in an editorial the day after the shooting, taking President Barack Obama to task for drawing parallels between Emmanuel today and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963, as “a dark part of our history.” The Journal said, “Today the system and philosophy of institutionalized racism identified by Dr. [Martin Luther] King [in 1963] no longer exists.” And that’s the lie we tell ourselves: that in the United States, race doesn’t matter.

On anniversaries this year marking great events like the march on Selma or the passage of the Voting Rights Act, it is easy to congratulate ourselves for the progress we’ve made and shut our eyes to the facts about promises broken and dreams deferred. We lie to ourselves when we refuse to act on dismal education rates for minority students, on the hyperincarceration of black men, and on the barriers to adequate housing that minorities still face.

TV commentator Jon Stewart spoke eloquently of this June 19, saying our country has “a gaping racial wound that will not heal, yet we pretend doesn’t exist.”

Removing Confederate flags from state properties and license plates is one symbolic way of beginning to correct the lie we tell ourselves, but we also need bold public policy initiatives to continue the march toward equality that was at its zenith in the civil rights era but has stalled…

Click here to read the entire editorial.