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“Between now and 2050, we need to double the food supply,” said Dr. Robert Fraley, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Monsanto, during an interview with National Public Radio’s Takeaway host John Hockenberry. But according to ActionAid’s report, “Rising to the Challenge: Changing Course to Feed the World in 2050,” the solutions lie not in increasing industrial food production.
     The hungry are not hungry because the world lacks food. We grow enough food right now to feed about 10 billion people, yet according to the UN nearly one billion of today’s seven billion people are chronically undernourished and well over that number suffer from significant malnutrition in a world of plenty. They are hungry because they are poor, and they are poor because they are either small-scale farmers without enough land, credit, extension services, or investment, or they are underemployed workers with incomes too low to support their families.
      We can feed the world in 2050 if we stop focusing only on producing more agricultural commodities. Instead, let’s increase the availability of land and food by reducing biofuel production, get more of the food we grow to the dinner table by reducing food waste, and invest in the most important food producers in the world: small-scale and family farmers.

Excerpted from The Christian Science Monitor

Building energy resiliency: Creating and strengthening local energy systems that are locally controlled is a key priority for communities preparing for a post-peak oil reality and … a variety of community and state initiatives in local energy systems and other areas are localizing their economies.

Interfaith Power & Light is a “religious response to global warming” that helps congregations of faith to reduce their energy usage and convert to renewable energy systems. Since the year 2000 they have assisted thousands of faith communities to understand their role as stewards of God’s creation. Their website has an excellent compilation of resources on ecology from a faith-based perspective. The organization Go 100% has identified “eight countries, 46 cities, 52 regions, eight utilities, 21 non-profit/educational/public institutions, totaling more than 48.1 million people (and counting …) who have shifted or are committed to shifting within the next few decades to 100 percent renewable energy in at least one sector (e.g. electricity, transportation, heating/cooling.)” Their website provides a wealth of concrete examples of communities uniting to remove fossil fuels from their economies, as well as detailed studies of how different communities could become 100 percent renewable.

The international NGO Focus on the Global South explains that, “[d]eglobalization is not a synonym for withdrawing from the world economy. It means a process of restructuring the world economic and political system so that the latter builds the capacity of local and national economies instead of degrading it. Deglobalization means the transformation of a global economy from one integrated around the needs of transnational corporations to one integrated around the needs of peoples, nations, and communities.”

Excerpted from “A Faithful Response to Corporate Power”
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

On a hot December morning Jehad Alhafi serves up tropic fruit juices and esfiha (an Arab meat pastry) to streams of eager shoppers in Säo Paulo. Part of a rapidly growing Syrian community in Brazil, Alhafi and his family immigrated in a surge of refugees from a civil war. Brazil stands out for welcoming more than 1.500 Syrian refugees since 2011. That compares to roughly 300 in the United States, and 2,000 between Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Poland combined. Perhaps what’s most remarkable about Brazil’s policy is its acceptance rate: 100 percent for Syrian refugees.

Mauricio Santoro, a political scientist and human rights advisor to Amnesty International says Brazil’s increasing receptiveness to foreign refugees is not based on any foreign policy strategy but on its growing engagement with human rights issues.

On a rare day off from his juice stand, Alhafi takes his family of six to the Ibirapuera Park in Säo Paulo and rents bicycles for the kids. His wife, an observant Muslim who wears a hijab headscarf, says she doesn’t feel prejudice in Brazil, despite being a religious minority in this largely Catholic and evangelical Christian country. Mr. Alhafi says Brazil is now the family’s home. He is already middle aged and the idea of starting a new business in Syria once the civil war ends doesn’t seem realistic. “My babies will stay here,” and adds that Brazil is “more democratic” than Syria.

Taylor Barnes, “For Syrians seeking sanctuary, a door opens in Brazil,” Dec. 15, 2014
Christian Science Monitor

“No Longer Slaves....”

Pope Francis’s message for the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2015, is the latest in a series aimed at raising publish awareness to “the many faces of slavery” in today’s world – from human trafficking and prostitution, to sale of organs and cross-border adoption – arousing consciences to work for its eradication.

Opening with a biblical reflection that the human family created by God are all brothers and sisters, Pope Francis cites estrangement from God and the disruption of sin which constantly disfigure this human fraternity. While different societies have known the phenomenon of man’s subjugation by man, today slavery is considered a crime against humanity. Despite numerous international agreements aimed at ending it, “children, women and men of all ages are deprived of freedom and are forced to live in conditions akin to slavery.” Poverty, underdevelopment and exclusion are among the deeper causes of slavery. Also, “corruption on the part of people willing to do anything for financial gain” is another cause of slavery.

Pope Francis concluded his message with an appeal “to all men and women of good will … including the highest levels of civil institutions … not to become accomplices to this evil…. Instead, may we have the courage to touch the suffering flesh of Christ, revealed in the faces of those countless persons whom he calls ‘the least of these my brethren’ (Matt 25:40, 45).”

Excerpted from “Pope’s New Year Call for Global Mobilization”

People who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally or otherwise marginalized are especially vulnerable to climate change and experience great inequalities in socioeconomic status and income, the result of discrimination based on gender, class, ethnicity, age and disability.  That conclusion came not from Pope Francis or an environmentally focused religious community, but from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  A 4-degree increase in average temperature risks substantial species extinction, global and regional food insecurity, consequential constraints on common human activities, and limited potential for adaptation in some cases. Along with it increased poverty and displacement of people, coastal flooding, exacerbated health problems and an indirect amplification of violent conflicts may result. While these impacts will disproportionately affect the welfare of the poor in rural areas, such as female-headed households and those with limited access to land, modern agricultural inputs, infrastructure, and education, they are also projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing poverty traps and create new ones, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger.

Summarized from UN report: “As climate warms, poverty will grow” by Brian Roewe
Nov 4, 2014 Eco Catholic   NCR

Catholic teaching has long recognized that the most profound harms of economic inequality lie not merely in the material realm but in the social, psychological and political effects that flow from great economic inequalities. Those who are marginalized economically are also marginalized educationally, residentially, and in their opportunities for meaningful work. Pope Francis diagnoses three cultural assumptions that are the basis of the scandal of economic inequality: that current levels of domestic and international economic inequality are a natural part of healthy economic life; that freedom of markets is a categorical imperative rather than an instrumental freedom; and that there is a fundamental divide in American society between those who contribute to society economically and those who do not.
     Pope Francis has repeatedly said: “We cannot resign ourselves to losing a whole generation of young people who don’t have the strong dignity of work…. Not having work does not just mean not having what one needs to live … the problem is not being able to bring bread to the table and this takes away one’s dignity.” Pope Francis has given us the challenge and vision to create an inclusive society, both as followers of Jesus Christ and as citizens who love our country.

Summarized from “Market Assumptions Pope Francis’ challenge to income inequality”
by Robert W. McElroy, pp. 14-18
America, The National Catholic Review   November 3, 2014

For more than 30 years and two papacies, Catholics have been conditioned to accept that discussion of certain topics, certain pastoral approaches, certain questions related to contemporary life … would surely never occur among church leaders. And then along came Pope Francis. He said those rules and presumptions no longer apply, that discussion was not to be censored, that no topics or questions were to be off the table. We wait with hope to hear from the US bishops how they plan to continue the conversation of the synod, and how widely they intend to consult and incorporate lay thinking on matters of marriage and family before the 2015 session.
     Perhaps by the end of this synod’s process, Catholics will recognize how much the church and its teachings have changed over centuries. One of the parallel realities to change in the church is that no mechanism exists for implementing it. The French geologist Xavier Le Pichon writes that systems that become too rigid evolve through “a commotion”; the earth’s plates collide and shatter and new formations occur. So it is with human systems, he writes. Using the analogy of earthquakes in trying to explain what is happening in this synod and, by extension, in the papacy of Francis, the messy commotion now occurring is a small price to pay to realize a church with a strong connection with the faithful.

Excerpted from “The Church needs this commotion,” p. 32
NCR Editorial   November 7-20, 2014

Russia’s recent international behavior has reached new heights of aggressiveness, prompting talk of the return of the Cold War. How to match the Russian threat is the big question. Managing relationships with Russia during this period will be complex. The challenge for the West is to behave in a manner that is consistent with its liberal principles and those of international law (avoiding intervention and power grabs) while holding off challenges and watching patiently as Russia’s transformation unfolds from the demands of internal sources.

Excerpted from “Don’t Feed the Bear Crafting an effective response to a newly assertive Russia”
by Lisa A. Baglione pp. 23-26
America, The National Catholic Review   Nov. 17, 2014

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.”