Justice Updates – July 16, 2019

Thank you to all of the Sisters and Associates who took part in Friday’s “Lights for Liberty” vigil. Please click here to see photos.

Sisters Barbara Kane and Manuela Crisologo Gonzalez are in El Paso, serving the refugees at Annunciation House and other local shelters. Sr. Barb was delighted to report that the socks and underwear that we sent to the border have been distributed to other refugee shelters as well, including Casa Oscar Romero, a hospitality Center for around 70 people.

Sr. Barb also shared this story about one refugee’s experience from National Public Radio; she says she is fairly sure that she met this family.

Please pray for the men, women, and children held in the concentration camps along our southern border, and for those children and families who have undergone immense physical and psychological trauma on their journey.

The Jeffrey Epstein human trafficking case has sharply illustrated the ways that men in power take advantage of vulnerable persons, in this case, young girls. This article from Refinery 29 looks at the process of “grooming,” behaviors that abusers use to trick and deceive someone into trusting them.

July 18, 2019, is the Catholic Day of Action for Immigrant Children in Washinton, DC. Participants will include immigrant community leaders, Catholic clergy, religious brothers and women religious, Catholic lay leaders and a wide range of supporters. The event will include prayer and singing and will culminate with a number of Catholic leaders participating in nonviolent civil disobedience.

Please pray for the hearts and minds of our government officials to be opened to mercy, and for the safety of those involved in this demonstration.

Sister Nadine Buchanan would appreciate any donations of new, unopened travel-size toiletries for her ministries. Please feel free to call her at 1768 to make a donation.

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – June 18, 2019

Don’t forget to cast your vote for or against the Corporate Stance to Abolish the Death Penalty.  The deadline is June 26 and you can vote for the stance either by paper or on line.  Here is the link for on line voting.  The ballot is attached here.  If you use the paper ballot, please send it to Ms. Crystal Henderson, 2320 Airport Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43219. It must be postmarked by June 26.

This Thursday, June 20th,  is World Refugee Day. There are several things you can do to help them.

  1. Educate yourself. Why do refugees leave their country? Is there a connection between human trafficking and the refugee crisis? Check out this statement from Catholic Sisters Against Trafficking.
  1. Call your representative and Senators and urge them to support two pro-refugee bills, the GRACE Act and the NO BAN Act. (There’s more information on these in my blog.)
  2. Say this prayer each day to remind yourself of their plight.

God our refuge,

You share the journey
with migrants and refugees,
lightening their footsteps with hope.
For you, Lord, are close
to the broken-hearted.

Pour out your Spirit
upon world leaders.
May they see the tragedies
of our human family,
and be moved to respond with
wisdom, compassion and courage.

Open our eyes and hearts
to the God-given dignity
of all your people.
Move us to welcome our neighbors,
and so bear witness to your love.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

The U.S.’s 1500th execution.  This year, the United States is scheduled to mark a troubling and shameful milestone: it is the 1500th prisoner execution since Gary Gilmore was the 1st person executed in 1977. On June 20 at 7:00 pm EDT, the state of Georgia is scheduled to execute Marion Wilson, Jr. for the murder of Donovan Corey Parks.  If carried out, this will be execution #1500.

Microplastics are everywhere including in the food you eat. Read more about this problem in this article from National Public Radio.

Global climate change is impacting people and the environment in many ways. The Sisters of Mercy have laid this out in an excellent chart. How does it impact our chapter commitments?

A new exhibit, Nuns Healing Hearts Photo Exhibit, has opened in the Vatican.  The exhibit is a collection of photographs taken throughout the past year by Lisa Kristine, a photographer who has photographed many who have been affected by human trafficking.  The exhibit will be in New York at the United Nations on Monday, July 29 and Tuesday, July 30. If you can’t get there in person, check out this virtual tour. The Nuns Healing Hearts campaign was launched on May 10, 2019 by Pope Francis. It marks the 10th anniversary of Talitha Kum, the international network of Catholic Sisters dedicated to ending the practice of human trafficking and exploitation around the world.

Why isn’t the church and its members standing up for gun safety?   National Catholic Reporter explores this in the article, “US gun ‘idolatry’ demands more prophetic church stand, some Catholics say.”  The notion of sacrifice has been on the mind of Susan Bigelow Reynolds a lot recently. After the Colorado shooting in May, her social media feeds were full of posts — including from fellow Catholics — with Bible quotes celebrating the student who was killed tackling the gunman. In those posts, she’s starting to see a disturbing, dangerous and distracting narrative around the idea of “sacrificial love.” “That kind of selflessness should move us, obviously, but on a deeper level it should horrify us,” Reynolds said. “Our lawmakers have left our children for dead, right? They’ve left them to fend for themselves. I can think of no more thorough failure of moral leadership really than what we’re witnessing right now.”

Congratulations to Marriott Hotels who are implementing mandatory training for all employees to recognize signs of human trafficking. Over 500,000 employees are being trained.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Voting for the Corporate Stance to Abolish the Death Penalty.  Starting today until June 26, you can cast your vote for the stance either by paper or on line.  Here is the link for online voting.  The ballot is attached here.  If you use the paper ballot, please send it to Ms. Crystal Henderson, 2320 Airport Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43219. It must be postmarked by June 26.

Underwear Update.  We sent 210 pounds of underwear and socks to Annunciation House from Columbus, and 36 pounds from Great Bend. There were also shipments from Watertown, MA and directly from Walmart.  Thank you, sisters, associates and friends, for your generosity and for supporting our efforts on the border.

Ten things in your home linked to climate change.  We all know what it’s like to receive junk mail and how quick we are to just throw it away. But did you know that 100 million trees were destroyed to produce 100 billion pieces of junk mail annually? About 848 pieces of junk mail get delivered to every household. When they get trashed, 51 million metric tons of greenhouse gases are created. That’s more air pollution than every car registered in New York City and Los Angeles combined. (Source: TakePart.com)  Please read this article from Catholic Relief Service about ten things in your home linked to climate change. 

More about the Budget as a moral document. The Institute of Policy Studies recently released a report on how the federal government spent our 2018 tax dollars and here are some of the key findings:

  • The average U.S. taxpayer paid more to private military contractors than funds that directly support the troops
  • The U.S. spent more on proliferating weapons of mass destruction than on foreign aid and diplomacy, the Environmental Protection Agency, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • The government spent as much taxpayer money separating families as it did on Kindergarten-12th grade education
  • Health care is the taxpayer’s biggest tab, with Medicare and Medicaid providing health care for 33% of the people in the U.S.
  • More dollars went to disaster relief than to investments like renewable energy that could have helped prevent the worst disasters
  • The average taxpayer contributed more to private Department of Defense contractors than to labor and unemployment programs

To see the full report, click here.  For more on the U.S. Budget, click here.

Check out “Reach to End Sex Trafficking in Native American Communities”.   Sr. Carol Davis (cdavis@oppeace.org) has purchased a DVD from Teresa Ann Wolf, OSB in South Dakota.   Carol and Teresa serve on the Board of US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.  The DVD:  Reach to End Sex Trafficking in Native American Communities was produced by the Watertown Initiative to Prevent Sex Trafficking. Native women and children comprise 40% of sex trafficking victims.  The 17-minute film addresses avenues into sex trafficking, obstacles in leaving and it raises hope in healing.  To borrow it, contact Crystal Henderson, CHenderson@oppeace.org.

Are migrant children welcomed in Jesus’ Name? Please take a look at this beautiful story about Jose written by Sr. Jeanne Christensen, RSM and sent by Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.

World Refugee Day is June 20. On that day, people all around the world will remember those refugees and immigrants who have been lost as well as those who have survived. According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is one who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his [/her] nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself [/herself] of the protection of that country.” Today, refugees and migrants are fleeing violence, persecution, poverty, natural disasters, and political upheaval.

The U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking have an excellent educational resource, “Intersectionality of Human Trafficking with Migrants, Refugees, and Internally Displaced People.” It is available in both English and Spanish. (Links included at the end of the reflection.)

Mark 10:13-16: People were bringing little children to Jesus, for him to touch them. The disciples scolded them, but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them “Let the little children come to me, do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” Additionally, Jesus said, “Anyone who welcomes such a little child such as this in my name welcomes me…” (Mark 9:37)

Migrant children arriving at the U.S. southern border are not welcome. How would Jesus respond to how these children and their families are treated? What is your response? What does Jose’s story call you, challenge you to do?

This is a typical story of a young migrant boy, a child. “My name is Jose and I am 12 years old. I left Honduras with my mother, two sisters, and Miguel, my uncle. We do not know where my father is. Our goal was to travel in a larger group, eventually arriving at the United States border. We hoped to cross over to a new and better life. We hoped to feel safe, find shelter and have food to eat. We were escaping from violence and poverty, at home we had nothing—barely enough to eat and we never felt safe.

We traveled for many days—too many to count—and struggled to find food, water and a place to stay. My little sisters cried a lot because they were tired, hungry and scared. I tried to be strong and to help my uncle. My mother cried when we weren’t watching. She didn’t know I saw her.

Finally, we arrived at the border but it wasn’t at all like we expected. There were hundreds of people jammed in small spaces, on bridges, under bridges. A few lucky ones got across—but we weren’t lucky. The armed men (like ones we left behind in Honduras) separated us. My little sisters stayed with my mother and the men took my uncle and me to a detention center. At first, it felt safe and we had food and water, but they took our shoelaces away from us. Pretty soon, they made my uncle go with the men and they took me to another part where there were hundreds of boys like me. I was cold and scared. It was fenced in, so we could not go anywhere but where they told us. After a few weeks, they took about 25 of us away in a van. They didn’t tell us anything; I was very frightened and worried about the rest of my family.

They drove to someplace far away. And when we got there it was hot and sunny—like at home in Honduras. We were forced to work long hours in fields without shade picking strawberries. They didn’t even give us hats to shade our heads! Where we slept and what they gave us to eat was awful. We also didn’t get much water while we worked. Nothing was like what they promised us.

When there weren’t any more strawberries to pick, the men loaded us into a van but didn’t tell where we were going. The police stopped the van and began to search it. When they found all of us inside, they arrested the driver and the other man with him. We waited a long time until another van came and got us. This one took us to a better shelter and that is where I am right now. I don’t know what comes next, but I hope I get to be back with my family—wherever they are now.”

Another child left “in limbo.” Unfortunately, this is not an unusual story. Much is written about the plight of the thousands of migrants and refugees seeking asylum in the United States at our southern border. It is imperative that we use our voices to urge our elected legislators and our president to provide compassionate, safe and prompt asylum as well as to work collaboratively to reform our immigration laws and procedures. By doing so, we are working to save migrant children from falling into the hands of opportunistic human traffickers.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – Tuesday, June 4, 2019

WEAR ORANGE Day. This Friday, June 7. Help make people aware of gun safety legislation. Everyday over 100 people in America are killed by guns with 2/3 of them being suicide. Everytown for Gun Safety Research  provides more information on this national disgrace and epidemic.

Tomorrow (June 5) is World Environment Day. It invites us to set aside our differences in pursuit of the health of the natural world.  We must protect nature for it is God’s revelation and for our future generations. Many general practices today threaten the future integrity of animals, plants, and natural systems.  Take time and watch this 3 minute video of a contemporary view of the Beatitudes inspired by Laudato Si’ produced by Catholic Climate Covenant.

Take Action. Call TODAY.   Ask your representatives and ask them to pass H.R.6, the American Dream and Promise Act to protect Dreamers, TPS (Temporary Protected Status) and DED (Deferred Enforced Departure) holders.  Dreamers and TPS recipient were thrown into legal limbo when the current administration canceled their temporary protections.  If passed into law, H.R. 6 would provide a pathway to citizenship for qualifying Dreamers TPS and DED holders living in the U.S.   Here is some selected language that you can use during your call but make sure to use your own words.

Dear Representative:

As a person of faith, I believe in protecting the God-given dignity of every human being. As your constituent, I urge you to vote in favor of passing H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, as currently written, and to reject any amendments which would curtail the bill’s critical protections.

Dreamers, TPS and DED holders are our neighbors and an important part of our community. They have prayed with us in houses of worship, contributed to the U.S. economy, attended schools and colleges, and served in our military.

Thank you for your important work in Congress on my behalf and for promoting the human dignity of immigrants and refugees.

For more information about H.R.6, the National Immigration Law Center explains the bill in more detail.

Great news!  New Hampshire has abolished the death penalty.

Bad news.  Alabama carried out the 1499 execution since 1977, executing Christopher Price. Read about how poverty contributed to his execution.

Why isn’t our Senate doing anything?  The House of Representatives have passed the following legislation but Mitch McConnell won’t introduce it in the Senate. Call your Senators and ask them why nothing is happening.

  • Global Fragility Act
  • Equality Act
  • Paycheck Fairness Act
  • Bipartisan Background Check Act of 2019
  • American Dream and Promise Act of 2019
  • Climate Action Now
  • Voting Rights Advancement Act
  • Keep Families Together
  • No Ban Act

 

“With this in mind, we frame our policy on immigration. Human beings do not leave their villages for pleasure but out of necessity. That’s why, from the beginning of my government, I proposed opting for cooperation in development and aid for the Central American countries with productive investments to create jobs and resolve this painful situation.” This quote from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico to the administration’ threat to impose tariffs on Mexican goods.  Read the entire letter in Spanish here.

Here’s the English Translation:

Mexico City, May 30, 2019

President Donald Trump,

I am aware of your latest position in regard to Mexico. In advance, I express to you that I don’t want confrontation. The peoples and nations that we represent deserve that we resort to dialogue and act with prudence and responsibility, in the face of any conflict in our relations, serious as it may be.

The greatest President of Mexico, Benito Juárez, maintained excellent relations with the Republican hero, Abraham Lincoln. Later, when Mexico nationalized its oil resources and industry, Democratic President Franklin D, Roosevelt understood the profound reasons that led our patriotic President Lázaro Cárdenas to act in favor of our sovereignty. By the way, President Roosevelt was a titan of freedom who proclaimed the four fundamental rights of man: the right to freedom of speech; the right to freedom of religion; the right to live free from fear; and the right to live free from misery.

With this in mind, we frame our policy on immigration. Human beings do not leave their villages for pleasure but out of necessity. That’s why, from the beginning of my government, I proposed opting for cooperation in development and aid for the Central American countries with productive investments to create jobs and resolve this painful situation.

You also know that we are fulfilling our responsibility to prevent, as much as possible and without violating human rights, any passage of the persons concerned through our country. It is worth remembering that – in a short time, Mexicans will not need to go to the United States and that migration will be optional, not forced. This is because we are fighting, like never before, the main problem in Mexico, corruption. And, in this way, our country will attain a powerful social dimension. Our countrymen will be able to work and be happy where they were born, where their families, their customs and their cultures are.

President Trump, social problems are not resolved by tariffs or coercive measures like turning a neighboring country overnight into a ghetto, an enclosed place for the migrants of the world, where they’re stigmatized, abused, persecuted, and excluded and the right to justice is denied to those who seek to work and to live free from want. The Statue of Liberty is not an empty symbol.

With all due respect, although you have the sovereign right to say it, the slogan “United States First” is a fallacy because universal justice and fraternity will prevail until the end of time, even over national borders.

Specifically, citizen President, I propose to deepen our dialogue, and seek alternatives to the immigration problem. And, please remember that I do not lack courage, that I am not cowardly or timorous, but that I act on principles. I believe that politics was invented to avoid confrontation and war, among other things.  I do not believe in the Law of Talon, in a ‘tooth for a tooth’ or an ‘eye for an eye’ because, if we practiced it, we would all be toothless and one-eyed. I believe that as statesmen and even more so as patriots, we are obliged to seek peaceful solutions to controversies and to practice the beautiful ideal of non-violence, forever.

Finally, I suggest that you instruct your officials, if it doesn’t cause any inconvenience. that they attend to representatives of our government, headed by the Secretary of Foreign Relations, who will be in Washington tomorrow to reach an agreement for the benefit of our two nations.

Nothing by force. Everything by reason and human rights.

Your friend,

Andrés Manuel López Obrador

President of México

 

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Death Penalty Resources.  The Peace and Nonviolence Committee invites you to reflect and pray about the Death Penalty Corporate Stance and the rationale for taking this stance.  Please click here for the corporate stance, the rationale, and articles about the Death Penalty.

Pope Francis changed the Catechism saying executions are an attack on human dignity and promising that the church would work “with determination” to abolish capital punishment worldwide.  Read more in this New York Times article and from Crux Now.

An invitation to go to the Border.  Sisters Manuela Crisologo Gonzalez and Barbara Kane are going to El Paso from July 7 – 22. If you are interested, please contact Sr. Barbara at bkane@oppeace.org.

Update on Asylum Seekers.  On April 29, 2019, President Trump issued a memorandum directing the U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security to issue regulations on asylum by July 28th. The USCCB Justice for Immigrants prepared this information to explain more about this memorandum.

Thousands of unaccompanied children are coming to the border. They are sent to ‘influx’ or emergency shelters like the infamous Homestead, Florida facility. Justice for Immigrants has prepared this fact sheet about these facilities and how they can be made better.

Earth Day Network is launching a new program called Foodprints for the Future to address one of the largest contributors to climate change facing us today – our food system.  A foodprint measures the environmental impacts associated with growing, producing, transporting, and storing our food – from the natural resources consumed, to the pollution produced, to the greenhouse gases emitted. The campaign will enhance literacy around our food choices and food waste and create a call to connect plant based food choices with climate solutions. For more information about Foodprints for the Future visit foodprints.earthday.org. 

The Administration has proposed to weaken regulatory oversight of overseas gun sales by transferring export controls from the Department of State to the Department of Commerce. The decision to transfer control will allow semi-automatic pistols, assault-style firearms, sniper rifles, and ammunition from the United States Munitions List to be exported under significantly less stringent criteria, effectively exacerbating gun violence, human rights abuses and armed conflict abroad. Additionally, this transfer eliminates existing congressional oversight of arms transfers by circumventing the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act – laws that provide critical oversight impacting human rights abuses. Congress has introduced two bills to prevent this dangerous transfer: H.R. 1134, sponsored by Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA-35) and S. 459, sponsored by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). Please ask your elected officials to co-sponsor and vote for these bills to ensure adequate oversight of firearms sales abroad.

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates