Justice Updates – Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Making Peace with the Earth Lenten Activites:

This week, take time to drink a glass of water and appreciate the gift, eat a slice of bread and be thankful for those who made it possible, breathe the air and pray for all life that share this air with us.

Have you considered giving up plastic for Lent?  Kristen Hartke from NPR provides some suggestions in her Commentary: 4 Ways to Reduce Plastics and Other Single-Use Disposables in your Kitchen.

Fast and Pray.  The immigration Committee invites you to pray and fast for those with Temporary Protected Status especially those whose status is in jeopardy.  Many of these men and women have lived in the United States for many years and have children who are American citizens.  May our government find a way to give them justice.

The Dreamers are still Dreaming.  H.R. 6 –  American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 was introduced on March 12, 2019 with 202 original cosponsors. The bill would provide Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and individuals with Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) with protection from deportation and an opportunity to obtain permanent legal status in the U.S. if they meet certain requirements. There are currently nearly 700,000 DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients, 1.6 million eligible Dreamers, 300,000 TPS holders and 3,600 individuals with DED.  For more information about the details of this bill, read moreCall your representative and ask him/her to support H.R.6.

Garden City, Kansas featured.  STRANGERS IN TOWN tells the story of how global migration unexpectedly transformed and enriched Garden City, Kansas. It brought great challenges to the community, including demands for housing, social services, education, and infrastructure. For the current students at Garden City High School, the town’s remarkable diversity is all they’ve ever known. STRANGERS IN TOWN gives new meaning to the city’s motto: “the world grows here,” and provides an inspiring view of human possibility in the face of change. Our own Sr. Janice is featured.  Click here for the link to the 31 minute film.

Support Red Flag Laws. On March 26th, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Red Flag laws. These laws empower family members and law enforcement officers to petition a court to temporarily restrict a person’s access to guns when they pose a risk of using them to harm themselves or others. Whether it is gun suicide, a mass shooting, or any other act of gun violence, shooters often demonstrate warning signs before carryout tragic acts of violence. States like Connecticut, Maryland, and New York Red Flag laws have stopped potential gun crimes after warning signs indicated that the would-be shooter was a threat to themselves and to others.  After it was learned that the shooter of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting displayed prior warnings, Florida lawmakers quickly enacted a bipartisan Red Flag law.

Why are its citizens leaving El Salvador?  The National Geographic Magazine researched the root cause of why citizens from El Salvador are taking the difficult and dangerous journey to the U.S. Click here to read this compelling article.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – March 12, 2019

LENTEN ACTIONS:

Do you want to DO something during Lent?  Help us collect children’s and adolescent’s underwear and socks for the children coming with their parents to the United States through El Paso. The asylum seekers come with so little and often just the clothes on their backs. For more information, click here.

Making Peace with the Earth.  Watch your water intake. Do you turn off the water when you brush your teeth? Take time to slowly drink a glass of water and appreciate the gift.

Pray and Fast.  This week, the Immigration Reform Committee asks you to pray and fast for those persons whose asylum cases are denied by the inconsistent application of the guidelines by immigration court judges.  May God bless them with a sense of peace in the midst of the turmoil this causes them.

FYI.   In my blog on February 26th, I mentioned that Caliburn International, the parent company for Comprehensive Health Services, the company running the Homestead Detention Center, was planning in IPO (Initial Public Offering). In their filing, they said “border enforcement and immigration policy…is driving significant growth.”  Because of the public outcry over the company’s profiting from locking up children, Caliburn International canceled its planned stock offering.

Studying Racism.   During Lent, Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice will examine how society in the U.S. has been deliberately organized to advantage white people over people of color.  Their goal is to examine how racism is not just a matter of individual actions and attitudes, but a pervasive predominant social order.  This systemic injustice harms all of us by preventing us from fully living out Jesus’s commandment to “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)  This week, they are looking at a “Common Understanding of Racism and White Supremacy.” The resource is attached here.

Call your Senators.

  1. The House of Representative passed H.R. 1, the  “For the People Act” that will protect and strengthen voting rights, transparency in campaign financing and government ethics laws. Unfortunately, Senator Mitch McConnell has said that he will not even introduce it in the Senate. Call your Senators and ask them to put pressure on Senator McConnell to bring this to the Senate.
  2. The Senate has still not voted on Mr. Trump’s Emergency Declaration. Our taxpayer dollars should be spent on critical programs that make our communities stronger such as education, health care, and housing …. not walls.  The President has proposed to take $2.5 billion from a Pentagon program for countering drug activities to pay for the wall. Isn’t this the reason he wants to build a wall in the first place?  Ask your Senator to OPPOSE the Emergency Declaration.

 

More Killing?   In 2019 alone, there have been over 51 mass shootings, nearly 100 people killed and more than 150 more injured.  The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 8, requiring background checks for all gun sales.  Call your senator and ask him/her to vote for S. 42, Expanded Background Check Bill. Right now it is in the Judiciary Committee.  Senator Lindsay Graham, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee is also planning a hearing on March 26 to discuss Red Flag Laws that are designed to remove guns from dangerous individuals.

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates

Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM)

The proposed rule, or Notice of Proposed Rule making (NPRM) is the official document that announces and explains the agency’s plan to address a problem or accomplish a goal.  All proposed rules must be published in the Federal Register to notify the public and to give them an opportunity to submit comments.  The proposed rule and the public comments received on it form the basis of the final rule.  Usually the public has 30-60 days to comment although an agency can petition for an extension.  There are two ways to make a comment: by mail or on-line.  Most agencies prefer to receive comments electronically so the comments are more easily available to the public. Electronic comments are submitted to the Federal Register that manages the process. Written comments to the agency.

The notice-and-comment
process enables anyone to submit a comment on any part of a proposed rule. It
is not a vote on the legislation and an agency cannot make its final rule based
on how many supported or opposed the rule. At the end of the process, the
agency must base its reasoning and conclusions on the rulemaking record,
consisting of the comments, scientific data, expert opinions and facts
accumulated during the pre-rule and proposed rule stages.  To move forward with a final rule, the agency
must conclude that its proposed solution with help accomplish the goals or
solve the problems identified. 

If the rule making record contains persuasive new data or policy arguments, or poses difficult questions or criticisms, the agency may decide to terminate the rule making. Or the agency may decide to continue the rule making but change aspects of the rule to reflect these new issues.  (Information from A Guide to the Rule making Process prepared by the Office of the Federal Register)

A comment can express
simple support or dissent for a regulatory action. However, a constructive,
information-rich comment that clearly communicates and supports its claims is
more likely to have an impact on regulatory decision making. Some tips for good
comments:

  • Be concise but support your claims
  • Base your justification on sound reasoning, scientific evidence, and/or how you will be impacted
  • Address trade-offs and opposing views in your comment
  • If a rule raises many issues, do not feel obligated to comment on every one – select those issues that concern and affect you the most and/or you understand the best.
  • If you disagree with a proposed action, suggest an alternative (including not regulating at all) and include an explanation and/or analysis of how the alternative might meet the same objective or be more effective.
  • Consider including examples of how the proposed rule would impact you negatively or positively.
  • Click here for more tips.

Proposed Undoing of the Flores Settlement Agreement 

The Trump administration has proposed changes in regulations that would allow the U.S. government to detain immigrant children and families indefinitely. The administration’s proposal would curtail minimum standards for how to care for children held in federal custody – standards set by a court agreement that has guided U.S. policy on the treatment of such children for more than two decades.  On September 6, 2018, the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services said in a joint notice of proposed rule making that the new policy would “satisfy the basic purpose” of the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement by ensuring that migrant children “are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.”  But the proposed changes eliminate the 20-day limit on the detention of children, a limit the Trump administration has repeatedly mischaracterized as a “legal loophole” rather than a basic standard to ensure that children are treated with careTo learn more about the current regulations, read this Flores Settlement Agreement flyer produced by the Justice for Immigrants Campaign.  The proposed rule changes would allow the government to detain parents and children, or children who enter the country without adults, for the duration of their immigration court cases which, on average, take years to complete.  (From Maryknoll)

Please
take action to protect immigrant children:
 

SUBMIT
A COMMENT

Click here to register your
opposition to the administration’s proposal and stand up for immigrant children’s
safety. On the right-hand side, please adapt the template language in your
comment. Identical comments will be counted as one comment.

CALL
CONGRESS
Call (866) 940-2439  three times to be
connected to your 2 Senators and 1 Representative. Here is a sample
script:  “I am your constituent from [CITY/TOWN], and [as a person of
faith] I urge my Senator/Representative to reject family detention for
immigrants. Incarcerating children with their parents is not a solution to
family separation. Rather than detention, Congress and the administration
should use and invest in community-based alternatives to detention such as the
Family Case Management Program. Such an alternative is cost-effective and
humane. My community welcomes and values immigrants, and we urge you to do the
same.”

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Dominican Sisters of Peace Address Reduced Refugee Numbers

Almost everyone is familiar with the quote from Luke 12:48 “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required.”  The United States has been blessed with freedom and riches.  These blessings demand that we care for our brothers and sisters fleeing violence and famine and welcome them to our country.

Our Congregation has been blessed with the opportunity to share our resources with a family that escaped the violence and poverty in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A young mother and her two sons are living with our Sisters at the St. Catharine Motherhouse in Kentucky.

Christ calls us to a benevolent, generous view.  Sadly, our administration has taken a scarcity view in its latest decision to limit refugees to only 30,000 in the coming year. Sadder still is the reality that this year, when there is a tremendous need for refuge for those fleeing violence and famine, fewer than half of the number of refugees allowed have been resettled in the US. Our country is diminished by the lack of those new citizens who would have brought their talents to join with our own.

Let us pray for an administration with such a narrow vision that cannot see the value and benefit of protecting those in need, and for leadership that heeds the call of Christ.

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

A Prayer for Uplifting Human Dignity

“When we build a culture of understanding and uphold human dignity, we build a better world.”

(Ban Ki Moon, former UN Secretary)


Song: 
All are Welcome, Marty Haugen

Opening Prayer:
Dear God, in our efforts to dismantle racism, we understand that we struggle not merely against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities – those institutions and systems that keep racism alive by perpetuating the lie that some members of the family are inferior and others superior.
Create in us a new mind and heart that will enable us to see brothers and sisters in the faces of those divided by racial categories.
Give us the grace and strength to rid ourselves of racial stereotypes that oppress some of us while providing entitlements to others.
Help us to create a Church and nation that embraces the hopes and fears of oppressed People of Color where we live, as well as those around the world.
Heal your family God, and make us one with you, in union with our brother Jesus, and empowered by your Holy Spirit. Amen. (Written by the Pax Christi Anti-Racism Team)

Reading:
Bishop Michael Bruce Curry preached on the “redemptive power of love at the royal wedding.  His message is universal and timely.  Curry, the first African-American presiding bishop of the American Episcopal Church encouraged all receiving his message to discover the power of love to make of “this old world a new world.”   Select passages of his sermon will serve as a reading. If you cannot read the entire sermon, read the part between the brackets.

“The Power of Love” sermon:
[And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
From the Song of Solomon in the Bible: Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. The late Dr Martin Luther King Jr once said, and I quote: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.” There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalize it. There’s power, power in love.]

Oh, there’s power, power in love. Not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love. There’s a certain sense in which when you are loved, and you know it when someone cares for you, and you know it, when you love and you show it – it actually feels right. There is something right about it. And there’s a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love, and our lives were meant – and are meant – to be lived in that love. That’s why we are here. Ultimately, the source of love is God: the source of all of our lives. There’s an old medieval poem that says: ‘Where true love is found, God is there.

The New Testament says it this way: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God, and those who love are born of God and know God. Those who do not love do not know God. Why? For God is love.”

There’s power in love. There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live. Set me as a seal on your heart… a seal on your arm, for love is as strong as death.

Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer, to sum up the essence of the teachings of Moses, and he went back and he reached back into the Hebrew scriptures, to Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and Jesus said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” And then in Matthew’s version, he added, he said: “On these two, love of God and love of neighbor, hang all the law, all the prophets, everything that Moses wrote, everything in the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world … love God, love your neighbors, and while you’re at it, love yourself.”

Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in human history.

A movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world – and a movement mandating people to live that love, and in so doing to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself.

I’m talking about power. Real power. Power to change the world. If you don’t believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America’s Antebellum South who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power to transform. “They explained it this way. They sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity. It’s one that says ‘There is a balm in Gilead…’ a healing balm, something that can make things right.

“‘There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole, there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.’ “And one of the stanzas actually explains why. They said: ‘If you cannot preach like Peter, and you cannot pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus, how he died to save us all.”‘ Oh, that’s the balm in Gilead! This way of love, it is the way of life. They got it. He died to save us all. He didn’t die for anything he could get out of it. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He didn’t… he wasn’t getting anything out of it. He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life, for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the wellbeing of the world… for us.

[That’s what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centered. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives, and it can change this world. If you don’t believe me, just stop and imagine. Think and imagine a world where love is the way.”

Imagine our homes and families where love is the way. Imagine neighborhoods and communities where love is the way. Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce where this love is the way. Imagine this tired old world where love is the way. When love is the way – unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive.

When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again.

When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook. When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more. When love is the way, there’s plenty good room – plenty good room – for all of God’s children. Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well… like we are actually family. When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all, and we are brothers and sisters, children of God.

My brothers and sisters, that’s a new heaven, a new earth, a new world, a new human family.

Dr. King was right: we must discover love – the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world, a new world. My brother, my sister, God love you, God bless you, and may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.]

Quiet Meditation: Please take a few moments to reflect on the scripture passages and words of Bishop Curry.

Prayers of Intercession for the Nation:
Gracious God, we thank you for the human family filled with all the peoples of the earth. We are thankful that you have created such an amazing and wonderful diversity of people and cultures. We pray that you will enrich our lives with ever-widening circles of fellowship, so that we may discover your presence in those who differ from us. Deliver us from the bondage of racism that denies the humanity of some people, and deprives all people of the blessings of the diversity you have created; deliver us from assumptions that we make without thinking, and presumptions that we take without asking. Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Bless and strengthen each effort we make as individuals when we seek to understand ourselves and others as well as the ways we benefit from personal privilege and power, so that we may be allies who challenge bias and prejudice within ourselves and others. Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Bless and strengthen each effort we make to change the systems and structures of our schools and educational institutions; our politics and civic policies; and our economic institutions’ methods and models; so that the roots of racism may be recognized and purged from among us. Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

O God of unconditional love, look with compassion on our nation. Break down the walls that separate us from one another. Cast out the spirit of violence that afflicts so many. Cleanse us of malicious ideas and ideologies. Unite us in bonds of love like unto your own. And through all our struggle for justice, work within us to accomplish your purpose and establish your kingdom vision. Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

O Lord, open our hearts to respect and uplift the dignity of every person. Open our eyes to see the injustices within church and society. Open our ears to listen and learn from the experiences of people of color. Open our mouths to speak out against prejudice and injustice. We commit ourselves to work for justice and peace, and to pursue a deeper relationship to you, Lord, so that we truly may be the body of Christ on earth, your church for the sake of the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord who has taught us to say when we pray:

Our Father…
(“Worship Resources for Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015 of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.”)

Prayer of Commitment
Left Side:
Lord, you are the Light of the world. You came into this world to bring true peace and a right relationship between all people and God,
between individuals, between nations and between all peoples and the whole creation.
Amidst the confusion of today’s world, empower us to stand firmly on the side of goodness, justice and lasting truth according to your will.

Right Side:
Help us to identify, expose and confront the root causes and the structures of injustices at all levels which exploit and destroy your children and creation. Help us to commit our lives to a new value system where life is nurtured and abundant.

All:
Help us develop a new understanding of sharing in which those who have been marginalized by reasons of gender, age, economic and political condition, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic origin and disability take their place at the center of all decisions and actions as equal partners. Help us to be open to one another, as friends on the basis of common commitment, mutual trust, confession an, forgiveness. This is our prayer, for the glory of your name and the good of all people and creation. AMEN.  (Archdiocese of Chicago, Office for Racial Justice)

Closing Prayer
O God, true source of wholeness and peace, in a world bearing fresh wounds of suffering and grief, you call us to be a people of healing. Help us to reach out to neighbors in need, to bear one another’s burdens, to weep with those who weep. Give us the grace to share the comfort of Christ with all those who long for his healing touch. Help us to hold in our hearts and show in our lives what we proclaim with our lips: Goodness is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; hope is stronger than despair. (Pax Christie)

To view and print a PDF copy of this service for your own use, click here.

(Prepared by Sister Joanne Caniglia, OP)

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates