Human Guns

by Rachel Schmidt, Communications Coordinator

human guns

When will it end?
The fiery bullets penetrate skin
expose the blood so common and red
Ft. Myers, Orlando, Istanbul, Alton Sterling, Philando Castille,
Don’t forget Sandy Hook, Columbine, Syria, Paris, Trayvon Martin

Everyday there are more guns and more blood
I can’t get away from it
The walls start to drip dark crimson
The taste in my mouth is metal and salt
Tears no longer come
There is a spring in my stomach that tightens with every shot

No one ever learns
“People kill people, not guns”
Guns don’t have legs and brains
But when the cold metal hits the hand
And the finger hits the trigger
The gun grows a brain, a heart, and a life
It meets its purpose to destroy

The bodies pile
The rivers run red
Children and parents cry
No one listens
The guns continue to live

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: An Apology Petition

by Scott Wright & Art Laffin

hiroshima nagasaki

The anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a time of remembering the horror, repenting the sin and reclaiming a future without nuclear weapons. It is a time to recommit ourselves to the work of disarming and dismantling the machinery of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons are sinful and idolatrous. Their research, production, possession, deployment and use are a crime against God and humanity. We decry the fact that the U.S. government plans to commit a trillion dollars to modernize its existing nuclear arsenal over the next thirty years.

On this August 6 and 9, we gather with people of faith and conscience across the globe to mark the anniversary with a daily presence of prayer and action. As citizens of the United States, we invite people to publicly ask God for forgiveness for the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which caused the immediate death of more than 200,000 people, and hundreds of thousands more who died in the aftermath as a result of radiation poisoning. Pope Paul VI, in his 1976 World Day of Peace Message, described the bombings as “a butchery of untold magnitude.”

Read more and sign the petition

Highlights of the 2015 Pax Christi USA Survey Results

by the Pax Christi USA National Council

Below is a summary of the results from Pax Christi USA’s (PCUSA) survey undertaken at the end of 2015. A little over 60% of respondents were dues paying members. It is good that so many people identify as Pax Christi, whether or not they officially join as members of local groups or PCUSA’s national office, but it would be even better if everyone would join! There is strength in numbers. We need to believe in our strength as a powerful, prophetic, Catholic movement working for peace with justice. If you are not yet a member of PCUSA, join now. Given the spiraling violence and massive suffering of this world, Pax Christi USA needs YOU.

It is also clear from this survey that we have to build the Pax Christi movement: BIGGER, BROADER, AND YOUNGER!  We need your help do this. It’s good to be an activist and even better to be an organizer. If you are a member, can you bring in five more members this year? This month?  Some suggestions follow.

Thank you for all you are and do as a witness to nonviolence.  Let us go forward together!

 TOTAL RESPONSES: 690

The survey was sent out to approximately 12,000 possible respondents, including PCUSA members, partners, and other stakeholders. Approximately 6% of those contacted responded.

ETHNIC ORIGIN: 95% Caucasian, 1.7% Hispanic, 1.4% African-American

Pax Christi USA needs to become more diverse. In order to do that, we need to branch out even more in solidarity with others’ justice struggles, both at the national level and for PCUSA members locally. Many of you are already working with immigrant led groups, partners on gun violence, the death penalty, and other criminal justice reform issues where people of color are disproportionately affected. We also can be present at major annual events, such as: The Institute of Black Catholic Studies, the Archbishop LYKE Liturgical Conference, the Knights and Ladies of St.Peter Claver Conference for the African-American community, the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry 2016 Annual Meeting, The 9th Annual Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL) Conference, and locally, for the diocesan gatherings of these communities exhibit tables with PCUSA membership information is another suggestion.

AGE: 66.8% (65+), 23.0% (46-64), 3.1% (31-45), 1.8% (18-30)

PCUSA needs to increase the involvement of young adults (18-30). 83% of survey respondents support asking college peace & justice groups to join and 71% of respondents support scheduling campus visits to discuss PCUSA and non-violence. Locally, this might mean finding faculty to serve as anchors for student Pax Christi groups. Giving “gift memberships” to younger relatives graduating, or as birthday gifts is another way of inviting our young adults.

 GENDER: 59.8% Female, 36.2% Male  

These percentages reflect the fact the women are playing a critical role in Catholic peacemaking and social justice both in the U.S. and worldwide. It is important for PCUSA not only to continue promoting strategies that include the voices of women but also to work to elevate the profile of women’s participation in the Church and in peacemaking throughout the world. At the same time, PCUSA should move towards greater male participation through outreach efforts that would include improved communications and relationships with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and its members as well as with local clergy, including deacons. At your local level, consider organizing a meeting with your bishops and priests councils and invite  local members who are community leaders, teachers, religious congregational members to go in with you. Give your bishop a one year “gift membership” to PCUSA.

POSITION PAPER ON JUST PEACE CHURCH:

A strong suggestion was that PCUSA should draft a position paper to the USCCB to move our Church to being a Just Peace Church: 78% strongly agree, 10% somewhat agree, and 2% strongly disagree. We actually have taken steps in this direction, particularly through our membership in Pax Christi International (PCI). See the statement which came out of a recent conference co-sponsored by PCI and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

OTHER KEY MEMBER INFORMATION:

60.1% are dues-paying members, 33.7% are interested in re-activating membership, 39.1% are active in a local PCUSA group. The top three ways members keep up to date on PCUSA are email, The Peace Current, and the PCUSA website; only 17.6% use social media. 61% ask parishes to endorse PCUSA as a Catholic peace organization and 59% ask dioceses to endorse PCUSA as a Catholic peace organization. The PCUSA resource tools members use to stay up to date on PCUSA:  57% receive/read the Peace Current; 82% receive action alerts via email and 43% get information from the PCUSA website.

A political platform for all people

Tony Maglianoby Tony Magliano

During this month of political conventions, when America’s two major parties adopt platforms designed to further their particular goals, it is clear that neither party’s goals reflect a genuine, total commitment to God, all of God’s people and all of God’s creation.

While the rich receive huge tax breaks and corporate welfare continues, the poor, the vulnerable and the earth are given little attention and receive token assistance.

What is desperately needed is a people’s platform.

But where do we go for guidance in formulating a solidly moral platform that honors God and thus respects all people and all creation?

First, we break open the Gospel to prayerfully absorb what Jesus taught by word and action. He, and his word, must be our rock-solid foundation. Otherwise we build our house on sand.

From Jesus we learn to totally trust in God — not my will be done, but thy will be done!

So what is God’s will? Jesus summed it up perfectly: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”

Jesus is the ideal model for us; the perfect example of how to truly love.

His loving life taught us to protect the life and promote the dignity of every single human being. This means no one, absolutely no one, is expendable.

From the first moment of conception to natural death, we must value and protect all life. For in the words of St. John Paul II, “We are all really responsible for all.”

Read more at ncronline.org

Veronica’s Veil

by Jean Stokan, Pax Christi USA National Council
White T-shirt, bleeding red through the heart
  A slight groaned movement, then none
    End of a pistol perched through the car window
       and a four-year-old girl in the back seat

          trying to comfort her mama.

There’s a place for such modern-day Veronica’s veils to be seared into the public consciousness.

Philando Castile,
beloved by 400 kids in the school where he worked each day, He knew their names. A gentle man from what’s been said. One precious life gone.

Alton Sterling, another.
I keep watching replays of his 15-year-old son weeping uncontrollably in the press conference at his mother’s side* but I’ve only been able to look at Alton’s close-range killing twice, pinned down and brutal.
There’s definitely a place for modern-day Veronica’s veils, now seared into the public consciousness.
While the killing of Black men by excessive, unnecessary police force
     is sadly nothing new.

Watching it live-streamed mattered this time.

Instead of naming “excessive force,” can “white privilege” become a household word?      and wrestled with?

Can the blinders of institutionalized racism be taken off? its effects dismantled?
Can we prevent yet another precious life from being lost?
It’s in our hands…
     In our words, when we break the silence
     In our feet, when we go marching
     It’s with our ears, when we stop to listen to the oceans of pain and anger
                     For many, Alton and Philando’s killings are
                          a whipping                        over open wounds
                                              generations old.
We who believe, know something transforms in a chalice
   Water and wine into the body and blood of Christ, when intermingled.
Something too happens when we draw so close to a people’s pain—and listen.
   Our tears and theirs fall into the same chalice. Intermingle
             and transform.
We cannot just watch Facebook images.
We have dozens of daily chances to draw close, wipe the brow and take Christ down from the cross:
          to listen to the agony
          to kiss the wound, then act on it
          to work for justice
          to offer a gesture of solidarity, and another, and another.
We can become one: “the Beloved Community.
Draw close now
              Hunger to be transformed.

Sr. Patty is a #NunOnTheBus!

2016nunsonthebus.png

Sr. Patty leaves for Cleveland to bring peace to and mend the gaps at the Republican National Convention with NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus on Sunday.

In looking forward to the trip she said, “I desire to join with others collaboratively to explore the issues of violence, mass incarceration, unemployment, lack of housing, and lack of affordable health care. I wish to speak to the connections between these issues and institutional racism in the U.S.”

Follow Sr. Patty’s travels on  Facebook, Twitter, and www.nunsonthebus.org

The Good Samaritan Teaches Us Black Lives Matter

by Scott Wright, Pax Christi Metro DC – Baltimore

Last week, in churches across our nation, people gathered to mourn the senseless killing of two African American men by white police officers in Louisiana and in Minnesota, and the killing of five white police officers by a black sniper in Dallas. Once again our country has been rocked by racial violence as religious and civic leaders and entire communities call for racial justice and reconciliation.

It is an opportune moment to acknowledge how deeply embedded white racism is in our culture and the institutions of our society, and how blind white privilege can make those of us who benefit from it. That privilege is not a badge of honor, or anything of which to be proud. It is consequence of a brutal system that institutionalizes racism and denies some people their human dignity, their physical integrity and their hope for the future based on the color of their skin rather than the content of their character. Nor does it guarantee a dignified life to those who are poor and white. It divides us according to race and class, rather than unites us based on our common humanity and our heritage as children of God.

Today, there are still too many black children living in poverty. There are still too many schools and neighborhoods that are predominantly black, segregated and poor. There are still too many guns in the wrong hands and too many black people killed by gun violence and by police. There are still too many black men and women incarcerated in our prisons and jails for non-violent offenses. There are still too many black families who are unemployed and living without hope. Black lives matter.

Those statistics cut across all racial lines. There are white children living in poverty and working class white families who are unemployed and living without hope. Yet African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately affected. A black man is more than twice as likely as a white man to be killed by police, and a black or Hispanic child is more than twice as likely to be poor as a white child.

“When we are afraid, we turn our neighbors into enemies, particularly when they are of another race or practice another religion, and violence is the unspoken or spoken threat to those who do not keep quiet or remain in their place.”

The giant triplets of poverty, racism and war that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about are all entwined, and they are perpetuated by fear. Thomas Merton famously said that the root of war is fear, but he might also have said the root of war is racism, fear of the other. When we are afraid, we turn our neighbors into enemies, particularly when they are of another race or practice another religion, and violence is the unspoken or spoken threat to those who do not keep quiet or remain in their place. We must reverse this process, particularly when demagogues encourage us to regard others who are different as “enemies.” Rather, we must claim them as sisters and brothers, neighbors and friends. Is that not what the Gospel requires, what our common humanity demands?

Continue reading