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Getting Off Easy:  According to Clayton Sinvai, “Business magazines seldom decry the mistreatment of workers, but even Fortune Magazine was agog when a Workers’ Memorial Day report from the AFL-CIO showed that employers responsible for a fatal accident paid a median penalty of only $5,050.” 
    More than 4,500 workers are killed every year in traumatic workplace accidents but the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries doesn’t even try to count the tens of thousands of workers who die before their time of cancers and lung conditions from chronic occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals, airborne silica dust or other disease-causing substances.

--“Employers Getting Off Too Easy When Workers Are Hurt or Killed,” America, May 7, 2015

News on the pipeline front: Canada’s rockbound political landscape has undergone a seismic shift with the election of a leftwing government in oil-rich Alberta, the country’s wealthiest and – until now – most conservative province.
During the campaign, Notley promised to withdraw provincial support for the Keystone XL pipeline, raise corporate taxes and also potentially to raise royalties on a regional oil industry already reeling from the collapse in world prices.

The Guardian
May 8, 2015

Safeguarding refugees: On the eve of an emergency summit in Brussels, Amnesty International is calling on European governments to take immediate and effective steps to safeguard refugees and migrants attempting to cross into Europe by sea.
    As many as 1,700 people will have perished this year, 100 times more than in the same period in 2014. Indeed 2015 has already seen record numbers of, with over 24,000 arriving in Italy.
     On March 31, 2015, the representatives of the main European and global shipping industry associations and seafarers’ unions described the current situation as “untenable” and called on states to increase resources and support for search and rescue operations. 

Amnesty International
April 22, 2015

Catholic media unite in call for ending the death penalty: Four leading U.S. Catholic publications cast aside sectarian differences Thursday, publishing a joint editorial that calls for ending the death penalty. "We, the editors of four Catholic journals -- America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor -- urge the readers of our diverse publications and the whole U.S. Catholic community and all people of faith to stand with us and say, 'Capital punishment must end,'" the editorial reads. Read more at
     According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, 55 percent of all U.S. adults said they favor the death penalty for convicted murderers. That figure was 59 percent for white Catholics and 37 percent for Hispanic Catholics. The editorial comes as the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments in an Oklahoma killer's appeal. “The court will likely issue a ruling by June,” the publications write. “Our hope is that it will hasten the end of the death penalty in the United States.”
                                                                                              Posted: 03/05/2015

The fight against trafficking:  S.O.A.P. National partners with local organizations to distribute millions of bars of soap wrapped with a red band that gives the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (888-3737-888) and resources to high-risk motels. There is a SOAP team preparing for the MLB All Star Game in Cincinnati, July 2015.
Whether there’s a specific link with sports or not doesn’t much matter to Kelly Colwell, co-ordinator of the Faith Alliance Against Human Trafficking.
     A year ago, the Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Hotline was receiving 10 to 15 calls a month. Last month, there were 40 calls. The Justice Department says most victims of human trafficking are women, and many are children. The average "age of entry" for the sex industry is 13.
     The Church is increasingly focused on the issue. “Human trafficking is a wound in the body of contemporary humanity,” said Pope Francis. “It is a wound in the flesh of Christ. It is a crime against humanity.”

Working and hungry:  In 2006 the USDA traded the term "hunger" for "food insecurity," shifting the focus from whether people were literally starving to whether staying fed was a problem, cites Tracie McMillan in her book The American Way of Eating.
     Today the hungry are almost always employed. In 2012, 60 percent of all food-insecure Americans lived in households with a full-time worker; another 15 percent lived in households with a part-time worker. At its base, modern hunger is a problem of income, says Christian Gregory, an economist with the USDA's Economic Research Service, and its three biggest predictors are unemployment, inflation and rising food prices.

Tracie McMillan is the author of The American Way of Eating and a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University.

Ruling on marriage: On Tuesday, April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that will decide whether the U.S. constitution requires states to license marriages between two people of the same sex and/or requires states to recognize same-sex marriages performed out-of-state. To answer these questions, the court must first come to a consensus on the legal definition of marriage.
The court is expected to issue a decision in the case in by the end of June 2015.

Ellen K. Boegel, “Scotus Considers Same-Sex Marriage: A Legal Analysis,” America, May 4, 2015

Forgiveness for abortions: As part of the year of Mercy, Pope Francis will send "missionaries of mercy" to absolve women for having abortions.
     Abortion will still be considered a sin by the Catholic Church that can result in excommunication, but Francis' decision is apparently the first time a pope will ask priests worldwide to forgive women for having abortions. 

United Press International, May 7

Theology of climate change: Vincent J. Miller believes the discussion around climate change will ultimately hinge on a theological and not a political argument. “While the problem of climate change has a scientific dimension, it is ultimately a manifestation of the disharmony caused by human sin,” according to Cardinal [Peter] Turkson who turns to the Doctrine of creation in the Image of God, the foundation of human dignity and the need to work for sustainable development, to understand this.
     It is also the foundation for respect and care for the rest of creation in terms of the continuity between humans and other creatures, rather than a fundamental discontinuity. We are all creatures of God and shine forth the goodness of our Creator.
      Vincent J. Miller, “Clues to the Encyclical: It Will be a Theological, Not a Political Argument,” 

May 7, 2015

SJB Friars Commit to Eco-Friendly Practices: At their Chapter in May 2014, the Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province passed the following proposal:

“We commit to increasing our personal and communal efforts regarding environmentally-friendly practices so as to promote, in concrete ways, more sustainable lifestyles. Each friary will choose and commit to at least two practices, either from the provided list or another source, and share these with the JPIC Office by October 2014. The JPIC Office will monitor this initiative and annually report its findings to the Province at large.”

SJB Friars Commit to Refugees, Migrants and Victims of Human Trafficking: The Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province based in Cincinnati, Ohio, held their 2008 Chapter at St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana May 19-23. Of the many proposals passed, the Chapter delegates affirmed a resolution to learn more about the issues of migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking in order to better be able to respond to their needs. The resolution says:
 “We, the Franciscans of St. John the Baptist Province, commit ourselves to increase our awareness of issues surrounding refugees, migrants and victims of human trafficking in order to develop more proactive Franciscan responses on the provincial, friary and personal level.”
SJB Friars Commit to Non-violence: The Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province based in Cincinnati, Ohio, held their 2005 Chapter at the University of Dayton, May 23-27. Among the many proposals that were passed, the Chapter delegates affirmed a resolution introduced by their JPIC Office in which they committed themselves to “continued conversion to a life of Franciscan non-violence in support of a consistent ethic of life.” The complete resolution follows.
“As Franciscans, we affirm the sacredness of all human life and the inherent value of all creation. In a world where violence is rampant, we wish to be a sign of hope, actively promoting the preservation of life, peace among people and nations, justice for all and reconciliation. We commit ourselves to continued conversion to a life of Franciscan non-violence in support of a consistent ethic of life.”