PAX CHRISTI INTERNATIONAL: May 2016 newsletter now online

pcilogoThe May Pax Christi International Newsletter is now out and available! Included in the newsletter is information from Pax Christi International sections and member organizations around the world. The newsletter highlights inspiring projects for peace undertaken by our colleagues on six continents. This month’s issue also features Pax Christi USA signing onto a letter regarding Operation Border Guardian as well as links to articles featured on the Pax Christi USA website.

Click here for more from the Pax Christi International newsletter.

STATEMENT: Daniel Berrigan, Uncle, Brother, Friend, PRESENTE!

The following is a statement from the Family of Father Dan Berrigan, S.J.

berrigan 5This afternoon around 2:30, a great soul left this earth. Close family missed the “time of death” by half an hour, but Dan was not alone, held and prayed out of this plane of existence by his friends. We – Liz McAlister, Kate, Jerry and Frida Berrigan, Carla and Marc Berrigan-Pittarelli—were blessed to be among friends—Patrick Walsh, Joe Cosgrove, Father Joe Towle and Maureen McCafferty—able to surround Daniel Berrigan’s body for the afternoon into the evening.

We were able to be with our memories of our Uncle, Friend and Brother in Law—birthdays and baptisms, weddings and wakes, funerals and Christmas dinners, long meals and longer walks, arrests and marches and court appearances.

It was a sacrament to be with Dan and feel his spirit move out of his body and into each of us and into the world. We see our fathers in him—Jerry Berrigan who died in July 2015 and Phil Berrigan who died in December 2002. We see our children in him—we think that little Madeline Vida Berrigan Sheehan-Gaumer (born February 2014) is his pre-incarnation with her dark skin, bright eyes and big ears.

We see the future in him – his commitment to making the world a little more human, a little more truthful.

berrigan 6We are bereft. We are so sad. We are aching and wrung out. Our bodies are tired as Dan’s was—after a hip fracture, repeated infections, prolonged frailty.  And we are so grateful: for the excellent and conscientious care Dan received at Murray Weigel, for his long life and considerable gifts, for his grace in each of our lives, for his courage and witness and prodigious vocabulary. Dan taught us that every person is a miracle, every person has a story, every person is worthy of respect.

And we are so aware of all he did and all he was and all he created in almost 95 years of life lived with enthusiasm, commitment, seriousness, and almost holy humor.

We talked this afternoon of Dan Berrigan’s uncanny sense of ceremony and ritual, his deep appreciation of the feminine, and his ability to be in the right place at the right time. He was not strategic, he was not opportunistic, but he understood solidarity—the power of showing up for people and struggles and communities. We reflect back on his long life and we are in awe of the depth and breadth of his commitment to peace and justice—from the Palestinians’ struggle for land and recognition and justice; to the gay community’s fight for health care,
equal rights and humanity; to the fractured and polluted earth that is crying out for nuclear disarmament; to a deep commitment to the imprisoned, the poor, the homeless, the ill and infirm.

berrigan 2We are aware that no one person can pick up this heavy burden, but that there is enough work for each and every one of us. We can all move forward Dan Berrigan’s work for humanity. Dan told an interviewer: “Peacemaking is tough, unfinished, blood-ridden. Everything is worse now than when I started, but I’m at peace. We walk our hope and that’s the only way of keeping it going. We’ve got faith, we’ve got one another, we’ve got religious discipline…” We do have it, all of it, thanks to Dan.

Dan was at peace. He was ready to relinquish his body. His spirit is free, it is alive in the world and it is waiting for you.

OBITUARY: Fr. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace, passes away at age 94

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Pax Christi USA learned today that Fr. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., a Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace and one of the most revered figures within the Catholic peace movement, has passed away at age 94. 

Cathy Woodson, National Chair of Pax Christ USA, upon hearing of Berrigan’s passing, said, “I had the privilege of hearing Fr. Berrigan speak at our inner city parish in the early 1980s. His message tied together the call for justice that connected many issues facing those of us sitting in the pews.  His passion for justice and peace, his message about war came across with a sense of power that led me to look closer at how faith leaders in the Catholic peace movement carried out what they preached. He lived his commitment that pushed beyond our expectations and comfort zone, standing strong for peace in our world. He now joins others who have taught us how to be peacemakers; well done thy good and faithful servant as you are welcomed into the kingdom, and thank you.”

From Pax Christi USA Executive Director Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN: “Daniel Berrigan was a man faithful to the transformative values of living out the Gospel. Until his very death, he modeled for all a spirituality of non-violence and peace-making. Pax Christi USA mourns the passing of Dan Berrigan, one of the most widely admired peacemakers of our time. His life and witness have inspired thousands to learn and embody the nonviolence at the heart of Jesus teachings. We give thanks and celebrate the life of Dan, a Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace.” 

Below is an article posted in NCR by Tom Roberts, with links to more stories about Dan. Thanks to Frank Cordaro and the Catholic Worker email list for sharing so many of the links below.

Dan Berrigan – PRESENTE!

by Tom Roberts, NCR

Fr. Dan Berrigan, S.J.

Fr. Dan Berrigan, S.J.

Jesuit Fr. Daniel Berrigan, poet and peacemaker who was one of the most influential voices in shaping Catholic thinking about war and peace during the past century, died today. He was 94.

His death was reported by a number of sources, including Jesuit Fr. James Martin, an editor of America Magazine.

Berrigan gained national attention for his work against the Vietnam War, including his participation in a striking act of civil disobedience with his brother, Philip, also a priest at the time, and seven others who became known as the Catonsville Nine. In 1968, the group burned draft records in the parking lot of a Maryland selective service office from which they had taken files.

It was one of the most spectacular and high-profile actions of a lifetime of civil disobedience and protest against militarism, nuclear weaponry and U.S. war-making.

He was a prolific writer who achieved a remarkable lyricism and poetic force when writing about subjects that normally were explored in academic and military circles. He also plumbed the scriptures and the spiritual depths of the Christian tradition in conducting retreats that challenged the status quo and often upended participants’ presumptions about life in America.

REFLECTION: All of us are called to be witnesses

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

Before we proceed with the confirmation, it’s important, of course, to reflect on the Scriptures of today’s liturgy. And even though we didn’t choose these Scriptures specifically for this confirmation ceremony, as we listen to them, I know for myself and I think all of us probably got a sense that these Scriptures fit very well for what we’re celebrating today in the sacrament of confirmation. What’s one of the most important things about being confirmed?

What do you accept when you’re confirmed? It’s a responsibility. A responsibility for what? As we said in the opening prayer, we asked God, “Send your Holy Spirit upon us to make us witnesses before the world to the good news proclaimed by Jesus.” “Make us witnesses before the world to the good news proclaimed by Jesus.” That’s what we are called to do when we become confirmed disciples of Jesus Christ. We’re to be like Paul and Barnabas who went out into those other lands and other areas of the world and proclaimed that good news.

actsphotoThey spoke about Jesus. They witnessed to Jesus, to what he had taught, what he meant, how he lived, what he asked people to do to bring about the reign of God, the fullness of God’s life and love and kingdom. Paul and Barnabas were among the first witnesses to Jesus, but all down through the centuries now, people have been witnesses to Jesus. Every part of the world now has heard the Gospel of Jesus. Today you’re being asked to be witnesses also.

How do you witness? Paul and Barnabas went around and they preached. Neither one of them had known Jesus during their life, but they knew Jesus from the other disciples who told them about Jesus. They had witnessed Jesus through the resurrection, especially Paul. He had that extraordinary conversion experience where Jesus appeared to him and said, “Why are you persecuting me?” Paul said, “Who?” Jesus, because Paul had been persecuting the church, God’s people, and Paul was converted...

To read the entire article, click here.

REGIONAL NEWS: Pax Christi Michigan holds 35th annual state conference

from Pax Christi Michigan

Ana Garcia-Ashley, National Director of the Gamaliel Network, with Aida Cuadrado, recipient of the Young Adult Peacemaker Award.

Ana Garcia-Ashley, National Director of the Gamaliel Network, with Aida Cuadrado, recipient of the Young Adult Peacemaker Award.

Pax Christi Michigan’s 35th Annual State Conference,  “Breaking the Silence: Confronting Race, Power & Privilege,” was a wonderful event, featuring Pax Christi USA’s National Director, Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN, Program Director, Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN, and special guest Ana Garcia-Ashley, National Director of the Gamaliel Network. Held at Cristo Rey Church in Lansing on Saturday April 23, 2016 , the day was full of introspection and a renewed conviction to eradicating racism.

Pax Christi USA has been at the forefront of confronting structural racism, and these powerful women are leading the way in that movement. Also honored were Mary Hennig as our Purple Ribbon for Peace award winner, and Aida Cuadrado as our Young Adult Peacemaker.

To see a slideshow of photos from the event, click here.

TAKE ACTION: Call-in Day for Puerto Rico today!

from the Jubilee USA Network

jubileelogoOur National #PuertoRico Call-In Day starts now.

Please join thousands of people and call Congress NOW to support Puerto Rico legislation that restructures all the island’s debt, reduces child poverty and respects local democracy.

Powerful special interests are trying to stop Republicans and Democrats in Congress from coming together to act for Puerto Rico. Today is our opportunity to stand united for solutions to economic crisis that benefit the most vulnerable.

When you click on this link you can look up your House Representative and their direct office number. You can also find what to say to your Member of Congress.

Please share this action alert with your friends and family. On social media use the hashtag #PuertoRico.

TAKE ACTION: Attack on the International “Berta Cáceres Lives” gathering

by Brigitte Gynther, SOA Watch

Photo by Scott Wright

Photo by Scott Wright

Last Friday, I stood near the Lenca people’s sacred Gualcarque River with Tomas Gomez, who has assumed the coordination of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), following last month’s assassination of Berta Cáceres. We tried to figure out how to get everybody in the Gualcarque River to safety amidst a violent attack occurring just up the hill above us.  Armed men affiliated with DESA, the company building the Agua Zarca Project, were swinging machetes, throwing rocks, and punching COPINH leaders and attendees of the International Encuentro “Berta Cáceres Lives” as they peacefully walked back to their buses following an Indigenous ceremony on the edge of the Gualcarque River remembering Berta and her struggle.

The violent men were searching for Tomas, yelling “we must attack him, he’s the one who’s left.” They also made references to having murdered Berta Caceres and that the people there were all that were left.  COPINH leaders Sotero Chaverria, Jose Asencion Martinez, and Marleny Reyes Castillo were all attacked and injured.  A TeleSur journalist was hit and threatened and Vitalino Alvarez, long-time leader of the Bajo Aguan campesino movement, was punched in the face so badly he could barely open his mouth.  An international accompanier was punched and knocked down.  Several other Encuentro attendees were also injured.

Notably, the US-funded and supported Honduran National Police in the area did not disarm the men nor stop the violence. In fact, earlier in the day, they refused to disarm the men as they threatened the Encuentro participants who arrived to walk down to the river.  After intense pressure from COPINH leaders, the police assisted those still down at the Gualcarque River to get past the group of armed men, but released them not far from the armed men, who started coming after them.  The police refused to disarm those swinging machetes and punching the Encuentro attendees. The Honduran military was also in the region, but they were deployed at entrances to DESA’s installations, showing once again their role is to protect corporate interests.

Among the DESA-affiliated men identified by local residents was a known hitman with a murder in his police record who had previously threatened to kill 10 COPINH members, including Berta. Just two weeks before her death, Berta had denounced that this man was working for DESA and had been released from police custody despite having a murder in his file after DESA’s head of security moved money around. Other men are reported to be paid by DESA or the local government to intimidate COPINH and provoke violence.

This attack is just the latest in a long line of violence against COPINH members who defend the Gualcarque River.  They have been attacked with machetes, murdered, hospitalized, criminalized, threatened with death, and shot at since they started blocking construction of the dam in April 2013.   The Honduran military murdered Tomas Garcia, shooting him multiple times at close range at a protest against the dam.  With the second attempt to build the dam in 2015-2016, the threats and violence have increased.  On March 2, 2016, Berta Cáceres was assassinated after years of threats.  24 hours after Berta’s death, 4 men with high-caliber weapons appeared just before midnight near the home of Berta’s close colleague, Tomas Gomez.  Francisco Javier Sanchez, President of the Indigenous Council of Rio Blanco, the Lenca community opposing the dam, has been followed, and the National Police took away the bus the Rio Blanco residents were traveling as they tried to go to the protest demanding justice for Berta.  Mysterious people have appeared taking pictures near COPINH’s installations.

The US has a direct responsibility for the repression occurring in Honduras.  When Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, she legitimized the 2009 SOA-graduate led military coup.  Clinton refused to call it a military coup, meaning US aid could continue, and instead of demanding the coup regime allow the return of the democratically elected President, she sought to bring about elections carried out by those who had just seized power and which of course simply gave them a hold on power.  The coup and subsequent regimes unleashed intense repression against social movements, human rights organizations, lawyers, journalists, LGBTQ persons, and anyone who speaks out.  The $750 million approved by the US Congress for the “Alliance for Prosperity,” known as the Plan Colombia for Central America, will only make things worse, providing a huge influx of funding to the repressive Honduran regime with a lethal combination of support for the security forces and  exactly the type of privatization and corporate projects that social movements are being murdered for opposing.

A year before her assassination, Berta Cáceres met with US Congresspeople and asked them not to fund the Alliance for Prosperity and to cut off all military and security aid to Honduras.  Unfortunately, that did not happen.  The powers at be tried to silence Berta’s voice by assassinating her but her call has been taken up by people across Honduras and the world.  Before more amazing leaders are killed, we must take action and demand the US cease its devastating role in the repression occurring in Honduras and cut the Alliance for Prosperity and all security funding to Honduras.

Click here to send a message to your Member of Congress.