Climate Change a High Priority for World Bank: “Since taking the helm at the World Bank in July 2012, Jim Yong Kim has made it clear that avoiding the worst of climate change and helping communities to prepare for its effects will be a high priority for the agency. While the Bank’s goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030, announced in April 2013, has received more press coverage, Kim’s commitment to addressing climate change will mark a larger shift for the organization. Civil society organizations are encouraged by these announcements though they know that the Bank, with its long history of support for fossil fuels and entrenched bureaucracy, is difficult to change. …In a January 2013 Washington Post op-ed, Kim lamented the fact that, ‘[a]s economic leaders gathered in Davos for the World Economic Forum, much of the conversation was about finances. But climate change should also be at the top of our agendas, because global warming imperils all of the development gains we have made. If there is no action soon, the future will become bleak. …
“ ‘Just as the Bretton Woods institutions were created to prevent a third world war, the world needs a bold global approach to help avoid the climate catastrophe it faces today.’ Kim laid our three absolute climate priorities: 1) increase the flows of financial assistance and find a way to define ‘a predictable price on carbon that accurately reflects real environmental costs’; 2) end all fossil fuel subsidies globally; and 3) focus on the largest 100 cities that contribute 67 percent of energy-related emissions and are the most vulnerable to climate change. …The World Bank has long financed megaprojects to extract fossil fuels. While there has been a shift in the balance of energy lending during the last five years, the majority of its loans still go to fossil fuel projects, predominantly coal. In 2012, the World Bank Group approved a total of $3.6 billion in financing for renewable energy projects. This is a record 44 percent share of its annual energy lending of $8.2 billion. Though activists point out that some renewable sources are cleaner than others.”
(From NewsNotes, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Jan.-Feb. 2014)
A Minimum of Justice: “On Nov. 5, 2013, the people of SeaTac, Wash., enacted the highest minimum wage in the country, $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. On Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, Wal-Mart workers at more than 1,500 store locations conducted protests and informational pickets. Fast-food workers in more than 100 cities protested in front of McDonald’s, KFC, and Taco Bell stores, calling for wage increases. Across the U.S., a grassroots movement is blossoming to address the extreme inequality of wealth and wages. Led by low-wage workers and bolstered by faith community leaders, this movement is shining a spotlight on the glaring disparity of wages, wealth, and opportunity.
“The wealthiest 1 percent of households, those with annual incomes over $555,000, now receive more than 21 percent of all income. Meanwhile, millions of low-wage workers subsist on the federal minimum wage, which is $15,080 a year for a full-time worker. As a result, many low-wage workers depend on charity and public subsidies such as food stamps and Medicaid to survive. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since 1968, it would now be $10.74, enough to boost a family of three over the federal poverty line, according to the Economic Policy Institute. If the minimum wage had increased at the pace of worker productivity, if would be $18.72 an hour today. Federal legislation has been introduced to raise the minimum wage over three years to $10.10. …But this proposal faces bleak prospects in our grid-locked Congress.”
(From Sojourners, March 2014)
U.S. Can Become Clean Energy Nation: “Can you guess what our largest single source of energy has been over the past 40 years? Here are some hints: It’s not coal, not oil, not natural gas, not nuclear power. Give up? The answer: efficiency. Americans have found so many innovative ways to save energy that we have more than doubled the economic productivity we get out of the fuels we do use. Indeed, efficiency has done more to meet our energy needs than oil, gas, and nuclear combined. …This quiet energy revolution has vast potential. We have enormous reserves of efficiency still waiting to be tapped – not to mention huge stores of wind, geothermal, and solar energy. Indeed, the United States has enough resources to rely on 100 percent clean energy…But we can’t build this sustainable future if we insist on using the fossil fuels of the past. Fracking for gas in people’s backyards, dynamiting mountains in Appalachia for coal, strip-mining Alberta’s boreal wilderness to dig up tar sands – all scar the landscape and leave toxic remnants. All culminate in burning fossil fuels that wreak havoc on the planet, releasing the global-warming emissions that lead to extreme storms, drought, and heat waves, as well as the pollution that contributes to respiratory illness, heart disease, and cancer.
“We don’t have to continue down this road, creating a grim legacy for our children. Instead, we can become a clean energy nation. How? First, demand that your elected officials say no to the dirtiest fossil fuels threatening communities – no to power plants that fail to control their carbon pollution; no to destructive fracking operations and coal mining; no to the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry dirty tar sands oil through the American heartland to the Gulf of Mexico for export to other countries. And second, demand that your elected officials say yes to measures that encourage clean energy – like the policies that have enabled Iowa, South Dakota, and Kansas to get roughly 20 percent of their electricity from wind…. Or the fuel economy standards that will require new cars to get 54.5 miles per gallon on average by 2025 – and save consumers $1.7 trillion at the gas pump.” You can take action at DemandCleanPower.org .
(From Onearth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Winter 2013/2014)
Fracking Unleashed: “It’s a shocking figure: Some 15.3 million Americans – more than the population of Ohio, Pennsylvania or Illinois – now live within a single mile of a fracking well. That’s according to a recent analysis by The Wall Street Journal, which charted the explosive growth of this dangerous form of energy extraction over the past decade. This surprisingly large number reflects the enormous extent of the fracking boom unleashed on Americans by the oil and gas industry – but it tells only part of the story. From coast to coast, fracking is taking a devastating toll on local residents, with once-idyllic communities tuned into industrial zones where 10-story drill rigs operate day and night and seemingly endless convoys of diesel trucks thunder down local roads. Yet even amid mounting reports of contaminated water supplies and rising air pollution, the Obama Administration has failed to curb the environmental and health threats posed by fracking, in which massive amounts of water and sand mixed with hazardous chemicals are pumped into the earth to break apart rock and release oil and gas deposits.
“A flagrant example of the administration’s laissez-faire approach: the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently proposed new rules to regulate fracking on our public lands and millions of acres of private property for which the federal government controls the drilling rights. Those rules not only allow fracking next to national parks and inside national forests, but also permit it alongside drinking water supplies for tens of millions of Americans. ‘With each successive round of revisions, the BLM rules have gotten weaker and weaker,’ says Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst at NRDC. ‘You can see the fingerprints of the oil and gas industry all over this process.’ Indeed, the latest rules fail to address even some of the most dangerous industry practices. They do not, for example, set a minimum distance between fracking operations and homes or schools, nor do they bar oil and gas companies from storing millions of gallons of contaminated wastewater in open-air pits prone to overflow or rupture.”
(From Nature’s Voice, Natural Resources Defense Council, Winter 2014)
Tar Sands Waste Dumped on Chicago: “A new front in the battle against tar sands oil has opened up in southeast Chicago. Oil giant BP has been dumping mountains of petroleum coke, or petcoke – a coal-like waste product from oil and tar sands refining – at a storage terminal owned by the Koch brothers on the banks of the Calumet River. With BP planning to ramp up the processing of tar sands at its nearby refinery in Whiting, Indiana, a staggering 6,000 tons of petcoke will soon be headed toward Chicago’s Southeast Side every single day. Already, nearby neighborhoods are being coated by airborne coke dust from the uncovered terminal. Families only a few hundred yards away are being forced to shut their windows and stay indoors to protect their homes and lungs from the powdery black dust, which is laden with heavy metals.
“NRDC has been mobilizing our Members and online activists in Illinois, calling on Governor Pat Quinn to intervene by enforcing the state’s pollution laws and putting a moratorium on bringing still more petcoke into Chicago. ‘We must not allow Big Oil and the Koch brothers to treat Chicago’s Southeast Side as their private dumping ground,’ says Henry Henderson, NRDC’s Midwest director. ‘And unless we want to see more cites in America blighted like this, we also need to stop tar sands projects like the Keystone XL pipeline.
These toxic mounds are just another reminder that we have to get America off of oil. This is what happens when you scrape the bottom of the barrel.’”
(From Nature’s Voice, Natural Resources Defense Council, Winter 2014)
African Christians Seek Protection: “More than 35,000 people are living on the 40-acre diocesan compound in Bossangoa, Central African Republic, seeking protection from rebels who are targeting Christians, said the local bishop. ‘The priests have been sharing their rooms in their private apartments,’ said Bishop Nestor-Desire Nongo Aziagbia of Bossangoa, who visited Washington in mid-November. ‘The only place that has not been used is my private apartment.’ Nongo told the Catholic News Service he closed the minor seminary, which is now used as a shelter, and the pastoral center has been destroyed. He said the Catholic aid agency Caritas has an office in the compound, but people also live in the office. The people began coming Sept. 8 to escape attacks by rebels of the Seleka alliance, most of whom are foreign mercenaries and do not speak the local language. The rebels are predominantly Muslim; Central African Republic is about 85 percent Christian and 12 percent Muslim. Nongo said the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services sent emergency help in mid-September, and the World Food Program sent help in late September, ‘but it is not really enough.’”
(From National Catholic Reporter, Dec. 6-19, 2013)
Churches Attacked in South Sudan: “African church leaders are urging parties in the South Sudanese conflict to respect places of worship, after rebels attacked and looted church compounds in the town of Malakal. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Malakal was looted at gunpoint, forcing priests and civilians to flee. Catholic and Presbyterian churches, a hospital and an orphanage have become safe havens for refugees escaping the fighting in the city. The conflict began Dec. 15 after President Salva Kiir alleged that his former deputy Riek Machar was planning a coup and arrested several senior politicians. Since the conflict started, soldiers loyal to Kiir and rebels aligned with Machar have been engaged in bloody battles across the country. Churches have been providing aid to victims of the conflict with support from international relief organizations. As of Jan. 18, the Catholic cathedral in the town was harboring 6,500 refugees.”
(From National Catholic Reporter, Feb. 14-27, 2014)
Saving Syria: “Every civil war is a tragedy, a unique sadness, for it turns brothers and sisters against each other. The human cost of the civil war in Syria – at least 100,000 dead, 6.5 million internally displaced and 2.5 million refugees who have fled to another country – is stunning. A third of the nation’s houses have been destroyed, 40 percent of the hospitals ruined; and two million children have been forced out of school. The government lays siege to rebel cities and suburbs, rebel forces fight for one another, snipers shoot women and target doctors, people burn their clothes to keep warm. Only a unified adherence to international humanitarian law can save Syria. All permanent members of the U.N. Security Council supported the council’s statement calling for all parties to allow the flow of aid and medical help. But some on the council, including Russia and China, have hindered its enforcement. … The requirements include the participation of all parties to the conflict, an immediate cease-fire, an end to the funding and supplying of weapons by foreign countries and an immediate start of humanitarian assistance and reconstruction. …The international community must fully invest in stabilizing the divided city of 2.2 million.”
(From America, Feb. 10, 2014)
Rehabilitation vs. Retribution: “The United States has been reluctant to take lessons in social policy from our allies in Europe, but on one issue it may be time to pay closer attention. The criminal justice system in the United States is severely overburdened, and for financial if not moral reasons, policymakers have much to learn from societies where incarceration rates are far lower. Germany jails an average of 79 per 100,000 residents. In the United States the overall rate is 716 per 100,000 residents. There are many reasons for this disparity. Prison sentences are far shorter in Germany, for example, and rehabilitation programs are more widely available. The chief reason, however, is one of principle: Germany and other European countries view imprisonment as a way to help lawbreakers reform themselves and re-enter society. In the United States, retribution takes precedence over rehabilitation. Prison officials from the United States saw the European approach firsthand on a fact-finding trip sponsored by the Vera Institute of Justice. …The most encouraging insight came from an American observer who, while visiting a German prison, remarked on the practice of permitting inmates to wear their own clothes and prepare their own meals: ‘If you treat inmates like humans, they will act like humans.’”
(From America, Dec. 9-16, 2013)
Guatemalans Resist Mines: La Puya, Guatemala, is now a “well-ordered encampment of neighbors from the twin municipalities of San Pedro Ayampuc and San Jose del Golfo, 10 miles northwest of Guatemala City. These women and men are here in a startling act of markedly Christian peaceable resistance. They have been at the gates around the clock and around the calendar since March 2, 2012, when a lone woman pulled her car across the access road to the mine, blocking some incoming machinery. Then a bus bumping down the main road stopped, and the passengers piled off when they saw what was happening. Then more people came, and dozens stayed. They settled in for a long night that became a long season of resistance. Local communities had had enough of the obfuscation, lies, and manipulation from Radius Gold, a mining company based in Vancouver, Canada. This particular conflict, and others like it in Guatemala, are rooted in actions by mining companies that started about 15 years ago, after the official conclusion of Guatemala’s vicious 36-year-long civil war – and after the national mining laws were completely rewritten to entice a rush of foreign investment.
“Ever since, the Guatemalan countryside has been open for business. …More than 100 licenses to explore and exploit have been issued (mostly to Canadian mining companies), while the country itself has no functioning environmental or social protection structures in place. The rewritten mining legislation of 1997 gives foreign companies every advantage, including full reign to use the country’s fragile water (without cost), and to leave behind a pitiful 1 percent in royalties of the riches they dig out of the earth. These companies have been met with local resistance on every occasion…The costs are huge in environmental damage and detriments to human, animal and plant health. The people of La Puya know the value of the land, which produces corn, the very foundation of life, and water, which sustains all beings. They are no fools, though the companies seem to think so. The land, say the miners, was fairly bought. But no one asked the people here if they were in favor of the mine. They know nothing about it, they say, until the big machinery started to move in.”
(From Sojourners, March 2014)
Persecution of Christians Widespread in Middle East: “The Vatican’s apostolic nuncio to the United Nations told a congressional hearing Feb. 11 that ‘flagrant and widespread persecution of Christians rages in the Middle East even as we meet.’ Chaired by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., the House subcommittee on global human rights listened to international experts testify about the rise in Christian persecution throughout the world. The archbishop has witnessed the violence firsthand. Before taking the post as the permanent observer of the Holy See to the U.N., Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt served as apostolic nuncio to Iraq and Jordan and lived in Baghdad from 2006 to 2010. ‘This tragedy is all the more egregious when one pauses to consider that these men and women of faith … have been living at peace with their neighbors for untold generations,’ the archbishop said. The persecution in Iraq has increased in the wake of the country’s democratic transition.
“There and elsewhere religious minorities had enjoyed some amount of protection under the strict law and order enforced by previous rulers. Archbishop Chullikatt said that today, ‘because of the conflict, Christians are caught in the cross fire.’ …When Smith asked Archbishop Chullikatt about the effect of persecution on children, the archbishop indicated that the damage is immense. ‘They live in fear …they go to schools, not even sure they will come back safe and alive.’ The archbishop also expressed concern for the future. ‘This is the kind of formation we are giving to the young generations who will become leaders,’ he said. ‘It is a painful thing.’ The persecution of Christians is not limited to those living in the Middle East. The Pew Forum found that Christians suffered some form of harassment in 139 countries between 2006 and 2010, the largest of any other group.”
(From Catholic News Service, Feb. 12, 2014)
Structural Causes of Poverty Need Resolution: “In November, 2013, Pope Francis stirred up the world again with his call to have Joy in the Gospel by living justly in our modern world. He boldly stated that trickle-down economics has not worked and will not work. The market needs to be regulated to ensure that the 100% benefit from our economy. But he also challenges all of us to think beyond Band-aids to actual structural change. … Pope Francis notes that the ‘welfare projects’ we have been working so hard to protect (like unemployment benefits, SNAP/food stamps, WIC and others) should only be considered temporary responses. We have to spend so much energy protecting the day-to-day safety net for struggling families that it sometimes appears we are content with having families predictably in the net. Pope Francis challenges us to imagine a world where the structures work to the benefit of the 100%, not just the 1%. He urges us to dismantle the system that shifts money to the top and exploits workers who create the wealth. He says that we should be working to not need the big programs that have provided the lifeline for so many in our nation. …
“So far, here at NETWORK, we have been especially mindful of tax policy as a key component of undoing structural causes of poverty. It is interesting to note that between 1949 and 1979 most of the time the top tax rate was 80%. Having a tax rate of 80% discouraged high salaries because the individual did not realize that much of a return. It was during this period that all sectors of the economy saw approximately a 100% increase in salaries. However, beginning in the Reagan Administration’s trickle-down economics, the top tax bracket was decreased until it reached 33%. This created a much greater incentive for the top to seek more in salaries since they could keep 66% of their income and shelter other income in various investment schemes. This change in tax structure lit the fire of rapid acceleration of income for the 1% and stagnation of wages for workers who create the wealth. This is not just and we need to re-imagine how we compensate for hard work. Trickle-down economics has failed, and it is time to change.”
(From NETWORK Connection, First Quarter 2014)
Cardinal Attacks UK’s Austerity Cuts: “The leader of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales says he has been inundated with messages of support after branding the government’s austerity programme a disgrace for leaving so many people in destitution. In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to mark his imminent appointment as a cardinal by Pope Francis, Archbishop Vincent Nichols expanded upon his comments to the Telegraph when he criticised the government’s welfare reforms as ‘punitive’. ‘the voices that I hear express anger and despair … Something is seriously wrong when, in a country as affluent as ours, people are left in that destitute situation and depend solely on the handouts of the charity of food banks,’ Nichols said.
“In his Telegraph interview, published on Saturday, Nichols accused ministers of tearing apart the safety net that protects people from hunger and destitution. He said since he made those comments he had been ‘inundated with accounts from people … saying there are indeed many cases where people are left without benefits, without any support, for sometimes weeks on end’. …Nichols also defended church food banks. He said one beneficiary started to cry when presented with food after not eating for three days. ‘It is stories like that that are part of the reality of this country today,’ Nichols said. …He concluded: ‘The moral challenge roots back to the principle that we have to regard and treat every single person with respect.’”
(From The Guardian, Feb. 18, 2014)
Tide Turning on Death Penalty: “The number of prisoners condemned to die steadily increased during the 20 years following the death penalty’s reinstatement in 1976. From the peak in 1996, when 315 prisoners were sentenced to death, the decline has been precipitous – only 77 and 80 new death sentences in the last two years. The number of executions per year is also on a downward trend: from a high of 98 in 1999 to 43 in 2012 to 39 last year. Maryland abolished the death penalty last year, the sixth state in six years to do so. Delaware and Colorado, both of which came close last year, may pass similar legislation soon. Thirty-two states now allow the death penalty, but last year death sentences were handed down in just 15 states. Only nine states carried out executions last year; nearly 60 percent of those where in Texas (16) or Florida (7). Public support for capital punishment is also diminishing. In its annual survey at the end of last year, the Gallup organization found 60 percent of Americans say they favor the death penalty for convicted murderers, the lowest level of support Gallup has measured since November 1972, when 57 percent were in favor.
“Given a choice between execution and life in prison, less that 50 percent of respondents favor the death penalty, Gallup found. A similar survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found most Catholics opposed (57 percent to 37 percent favoring life without parole). A survey conducted last summer by Barna Group found that only 32 percent of Christian millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) agree that ‘the government should have the option to execute the worst criminals.’ Support drops to 23 percent among ‘practicing Christian millennials.’ The bishops of Louisiana explain the moral foundation for Christian opposition to state-sanctioned death: ‘This position is based on consistent Church teaching which is rooted in affirming life. … [Capital punishment] will neither enact justice … nor will it provide true healing, reconciliation, or peace to those involved.’”
(From National Catholic Reporter, Feb. 12, 2014)
Cruel Means and Ends: “It is a cruel irony that people debate about the ‘most humane’ way to kill a person, yet this conversation persists in some of the 32 states that still allow the death penalty. Is lethal injection morally preferable to the electric chair? Does a firing squad provide a more efficient execution than a gas chamber? In recent years, European pharmaceutical companies have helped reignite this debate by refusing to sell drugs to American states for use in executions, making it more difficult for them to employ lethal injections. As a result, officials in Ohio relied on a new and untested concoction of drugs in the execution of Dennis B. McGuire, a convicted rapist and murderer, on Jan. 16. It took 25 agonizing minutes for Mr. McGuire to die. Witnesses heard gasping, snorting and choking sounds. Amber McGuire, his daughter, later said she heard ‘horrible noises’ and covered her eyes and ears. …Arguments about the relative humaneness of different methods of execution miss the essential point: When the state applies the death penalty, it deliberately ends the life of a human being. Whatever method it uses, the state perpetuates the cycle of violence.”
(From America, Feb. 10, 2014)
Bishops, Water and the Common Good: “Much of the East Coast groaned under the weight of yet another winter storm in early February that disrupted transportation and commerce and wore down even the hardiest snowbound souls. But in the meteorological West, the opposite dilemma continued to grind down California residents. A third winter of drought has produced the driest conditions in California since before the appearance of the first Spanish missions. In fact, California is well on its way to breaking 500-year precipitation trend lines. The severity of California’s statewide drought is compounded by drought conditions throughout much of the West and Southwest. A winter snowpack reduced by 80 percent suggests that in the spring, snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains will fail to provide adequate recharge for the diminished Colorado River, the region’s essential water source. Conditions are so bad that California’s Catholic bishops have called for divine intervention, praying for rain and for the well-being of those most at risk from a water shortage. …California’s good earth produces much of the vegetables and fruits sold in supermarkets all over the United States. As growers abandon crops to the drying conditions, food prices are sure to rise.
“The impact will not be limited to U.S. consumers, but will be felt around the world as scarcity pushes up prices on food staples. If the drought persists into the summer, tinderbox conditions may lead to wildfires, and dust and heat themselves will become hazards to public health. …The current drought offers the opportunity, albeit an unforgiving one, to reconsider the limits of human interference with natural forces. …Instead of accelerating cycles of human intervention, the more challenging call to stewardship and sustainability demands a more patient and measured consideration of how to best build up local, sustainable water capacity. A more ecologically attuned approach would require changing habits of conservation and rain reclamation …a reallocation of resources that are now diverted to water-reliant industries, reconsidering the mix of agricultural production in the region and setting limits on population and economic growth. …The Catholic bishops of California …prayerfully implored that political leaders seek the common good ‘as we learn to care and share God’s gift of water for the good of all.’”
(From America, Feb. 24, 2014)
Catholic Bishops Back State DREAM Act: “Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the state’s Catholic bishops have come out strongly in favor of creating a state DREAM Act allowing state financial aid to go to the college kids of undocumented immigrants. ‘It’s one of our top priorities this year,’ state Catholic Conference spokesman Dennis Poust said. The Catholic Conference, a strong advocate for national immigration reform, views the DREAM Act legislation sponsored by Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Queens) and Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Queens) as something the state can do in the interim. ‘New York State, with its history of welcoming immigrants, should be at the forefront of these efforts to support immigrant populations who have contributed so much to the vitality of our state,’ the conference said in a memo supporting the bill. The state Assembly passed the measure last year and is expected to do so again soon. The Republicans who help control the Senate oppose the measure. And there are questions whether there is enough support in an election year for passage, even if the measure did make it to the Senate floor.”
(From New York Daily News, Feb. 10, 2014)
Japan Revisiting Renunciation of War: “With the geo-political shifts in Asia and last year’s return to power of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, a real possibility exists of changing Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution which had been written during the Occupation Period after World War II. … Article 9 is found in the second chapter of the constitution, ‘Renunciation of war’; its English translation states: Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized. Recently with the escalating tension with China (Senkaku Islands), South Korea (Takeshima), and Russia (the northern territories; four islands) over territorial claims, the Japanese government seeks to be able to assert itself and defend its territories.
“A dispute continues between nationalists and pacifists in Japan over this issue. Nationalists see maintaining a military as a matter of pride and independence. Pacifists do not agree with the concept of the Self Defense Forces, saying that they are really military, and even hold joint exercises with the U.S. military. At present, Japanese personnel can join UN peacekeeping missions in the role of non-combatant personnel. Recently, in the case of South Sudan, the Japanese forces supplied the Korean forces with ammunition. The pacifist element would like to remove Japan from all international wars. The Security Treaty between Japan and the U.S., which went into effect in 1952, is questioned by some as a violation of Article 9; the presence of U.S. bases in Japan has been protested for many years.”
(From NewsNotes, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Jan.-Feb. 2014)
U.S. Guns Blamed for Mexico Violence: “American guns and Mexican violence has been a recurring theme in U.S. – Mexico relations. During visits to the United States, Mexican officials have urged American lawmakers to resume the ban on assault weapons and support policies that inhibit cross-border arms trafficking, arguing that failure to do so has helped fuel violence in their homeland. Those appeals have predictably evoked sharp criticism from the National Rifle Association, which accuses Mexico of displacing blame for a crisis that is homegrown and interfering with Americans’ constitutionally protected right to own a gun. Speaking at a Washington, D.C., forum on Mexican gun violence in the spring of 2012, former Mexican Ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan called such criticism ‘gobbledygook. I am sure the founding fathers [of the United States] did not intend for international organized crime to source weapons in the U.S.’
“The ambassador told his audience that after the U.S. ban on assault weapons was lifted, ‘long weapons’ became the weapon of choice for Mexican drug cartels. ‘Common shared responsibilities’ is the oft-repeated phrase of Mexican and U.S. officials, but there has not been clear action backing up that rhetoric, said Pilar Tavera, director of Propuesta Civica (Civic Proposal) a Mexican human rights organization. ‘Because it is almost impossible to legally buy a gun in Mexico, illicit firearms are responsible for all the gun deaths,’ she said. ‘And it is the U.S. that is making this gun trafficking possible.’”
(From National Catholic Reporter, Feb. 15, 2014)
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.