Justice Updates – January 7, 2020

Please call your Senators and Representative and urge them to use the power that is rightfully theirs to stop the president’s march to war with Iran. Ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 2354 or S. 1039, that would ensure that President Trump cannot take military action against Iran without congressional authorization – except in response to an attack on America or its armed forces. Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your members of Congress. Tell them that now is the time to exercise real courage and choose diplomacy over violence and peace over war.

What’s happening in Iraq? “Ominous developments, attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq, U.S. retaliation and turmoil at the U.S. embassy, could drag Iraq deeper into the U.S.-Iranian confrontation. Urgent steps are needed to break this predictable but perilous cycle.”  Read Rescuing Iraq from the Iran-U.S. Crossfire.

Call your senator!  The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act has stalled in the Senate because the house version “closed the infamous “boyfriend loophole,” which excludes people convicted of stalking or abusing a non-spouse partner from the scope of laws that limit an abuser’s ability to obtain firearms. (Existing law covers a narrower set of relationships, such as those in which the abuser lived with or had a child with the victim.) Addressing this gap in the law has long been a priority for activists. Why?  Nearly half of women homicide victims in the United States are killed by current or former male partners, according to a 2017 study, and the Giffords Law Center says domestic-violence victims are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if their abuser can obtain a gun.” Here’s more.

What climate changes are happening around the world? Washington Post journalists and photographers traveled around the world to see. Their series  2°C: BEYOND THE LIMIT describes a growing crisis. “Aaliyah Kasaiuli slept in on the last morning in her home, almost everything packed for the move. It was time to finally abandon this house, and later, this Yup’ik village clinging to the edge of North America, near the Bering Sea. It was one of 14 places that a team of Washington Post journalists traveled to in the past year to see the accelerating reality of climate change. What moved them were the people they met, their homes and lives transformed. Their work has led to a continuing series — 2C: Beyond the Limit. Four Post photographers share their stories in this visual atlas of a growing crisis.”

This administration has been climate deniers from the beginning and worked actively to roll back laws that would reduce pollution and improve climate damage. How do we justify destroying our beautiful world?

Some hopeful news about the Death Penalty in Ohio.  Governor Mike DeWine has stopped executions in Ohio stating that he does not believe the death penalty is an effective tool to keep communities safe.  In a recent news conference is said “What keeps us safer is locking up repeat violence offenders and throwing away the key…there are a lot of things we do, and a lot of things that we can do, that are more important as far as safety than the capital punishment debate.”  Take a minute to write to Governor DeWine to thank him and also encourage him to work with the Ohio Legislature to propose legislation to abolish the death penalty.  Speaker of the Ohio House Larry Householder has made statements expressing his decline in support for the practice. Write to him urging legislation to abolish the death penalty.

What would happen if women were running the country?  In an interview on Singapore’s Today, President Barack Obama suggests that if women were put in charge of every country for the next two years, the result would be gains “on just about everything.”

Listening can make a huge difference in building peace. What do your listening skills look like? “Good listening is not a matter of technique but of having the willingness to enter into another person’s life. Many bad listeners can’t be there for someone else because they are too locked into themselves. For them, everything has to be filtered through their own experience and concerns.” Read more.

If you want to use the Blessed are the Peacemakers resources for an associate group or study group, here are the materials and the video.

What’s happening to our family in Iraq?  This article No Christmas Tinsel in Iraq in Solidarity with Protesters features Cardinal Louis Sako and notes that leaders of Iraq’s Christians unanimously cancelled Christmas-related celebrations in solidarity with the protest movement.

In a letter dated December 13, our sisters wrote:

The situation in Baghdad is not good. It is entering the 54th day today of demonstration. The intent was to have a very peaceful demonstration but sadly many of these demonstrators have been killed. The government is not doing anything or changing their polices. Young men and women are determined that they will not end the demonstration until they get what they want— “a county”.  Our school in Baghdad had been closed for a month; now it reopened, but still students are not attending. They prefer to go to demonstrations. The north part of the country (Nineveh plain and Kurdistan) has not been affected by all this. What you read about Cardinal Sako plan is true, the church’s Christmas celebrations will be very limited in all the country this year in solidarity with our young people in the middle and southern part of the country and in solidarity with families who lost their beloved ones in the past months. Please keep this country in your prayers. If you can share the news you see on the web about Iraq with other people will be very helpful. The world is not reacting to what our young people are doing. They left their homes and have been demonstrating because they want a free Iraq— they want a country.

In a recent visit to Thailand, Pope Francis “appealed for greater international commitment to protect women and children “who are violated and exposed to every form of exploitation, enslavement, violence, and abuse.” To read the full story by Nicole Winfield on The Independent: Click Here

Many families in poverty experience food deserts, the lack of affordable grocery stores within reach. Online grocery delivery services might be the answer. See how here.

And now some good news… sort of. An analysis from the Gifford Law Center shows that states have enacted 137 measures to restrict gun access and reduce gun violence since the Parkland, Florida shooting.   There is still a long way to go.






Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – December 17, 2019

Staying engaged in justice work can be challenging and discouraging. Sometimes we need to treat ourselves to self-care. Buddhist teacher, Haemin Sunim, offers five simple steps for this goal.

A new report found that oxygen levels in the world’s oceans declined by 2 percent over 50 years, threatening marine life around the planet. You can read more here.

Methane was originally positioned as a safer, cleaner fuel obtained by fracking.  However, methane escaping into the atmosphere is causing serious climate issues.  A New York Times visual journalist and climate reporter went to West Texas oilfields and filmed methane escaping from oil and gas sites.  To the naked eye, everything seems normal but when filmed with special cameras, the escaping gas is obvious.  You can watch it here.

Call your governor.  We need refugees.  President Trump signed Executive Order 13888 that requires governors and city councils to approve any refugee resettlement. If you live in one of these states – California – Connecticut – Delaware – Hawaii – Illinois – Louisiana – Maine – Minnesota – Nevada – New York – Rhode Island – Wisconsin – please call your governor and ask him/her to provide written consent to allow resettle refugees and share publicly why they are providing consent.  Here’s more information from Catholic Legal Immigration Network.

Catholic Mobilizing Network presented President Trump and Attorney General Barr with a petition signed by more than 3,000 bishops, clergy, women religious, and laypeople condemning the restart of federal executions.  Then the Supreme Court issued a decision upholding the preliminary court injunction that temporarily placed federal executions on hold.  In the coming months, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbus Circuit will decide whether the executions can resume.  They are still collecting signatures to the National Catholic Petition Against Federal Executions.  You can read the petition and add your signature here.

Did you know that the House of Representatives has passed 389 bills, 250 of which are bipartisan?  The Senate has only passed 91.  Who’s working harder?  Find out more?

Religious Institutions are providing the impetus for a solar energy boom. This is a good news story.

Earlier in the year, Sr. Doris told us about the Honduran climate crusader, Berta Cáceres who was murdered. Seven men were sentenced in early November. Several of these men, Douglas Bustillo and Mariano Dias were both trained at the SOA (School of the Americas) in Bennings, GA.  However, none of the seven sentences were the ones who ordered and paid for Cáceres’ murder. None of these perpetrators have faced trial.  Bustillo and Diaz were sentenced to 30 years and six months and 30 years respectively. They communicated with Henry Hernandez who led a group of hitmen to Cáceres’ home on March 2, 2016 to execute the murder. Hernandez and the other three hitmen were sentenced to 50 years for both the murder of Cáceres and the attempted murder of Mexican environmentalist Gustavo Castro who was at Cáceres’ home at the time of the murder. The court’s sentences affirmed that Cáceres was murdered for her leadership in COPINH’s (Council of Popular and Indigenous Organization of Honduras)  opposition to DESA’s (Desarrollos Energeticos, SA) internationally-financed hydroelectric  project on the Gualcarque River.  To read more about this, click here.



Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Dominican Month for Peace – December 17, 2019

Last week we highlighted the friars ministries in India, here is a sampling of what the Sisters are doing. 

The PBS News Hour presented a feature called Fighting to Unravel India’s Widespread Child Labor Abuses. There are laws against child labor in India, yet millions of underage children are still trafficked or forced by poverty to toil away in factories. Here is that report.

What’s happening in India? Reuters explains this in pictures.

The Indian Parliament voted last week to pass a measure that would give special treatment to Hindu and other non-Muslim migrants in India. Critics say that this action by the Hindu nationalist government is in conflict with the country’s founding as a secular republic.  To understand better what is happening, read here.


Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – December 10, 2019

Need a dose of cute? Watch Hafod Hardware’s 2019 Christmas Advertisement, Be a Kid this Christmas.

Do you knit or crochet?  You might want to make a plastic mat for a homeless person.  It’s a great project for Christmas vacation.   Check out the directions.

This December, people around the country will gather to honor and remember those who have lost their lives to gun violence. As of December 1, there have been 35,943 gun deaths including homicides, suicides, and accidents.  There have been 385 mass shootings.  Take a minute and pray for these victims and their families.  Write a note or make a call to your legislators, either state or federal, and tell them to take action to stop these shootings. If you know someone who has lost a loved one to gun violence, contact them and send them your love.

Call your representative!   The world’s annual carbon emissions need to drop by nearly half by 2030 to net zero by 2050 to keep global warming at 1/5 degrees Celsius. However, the 2018 UNIPCC report projects that annual global carbon emissions are on track to stay the same or increase, not decrease, by 2030. Call your representative today about the 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019 (R.R. 5221). This legislation sets a nationwide foal of achieving a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050, defined as net-zero pollution across all sectors of the U.S. economy. The 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019 lays out principles for federal agency action, including, but not limited to:

  • improving public health, resilience, and environmental outcomes, especially for low-income and rural communities, communities of color, Tribal and indigenous communities, deindustrialized communities, and other communities disproportionately impacted by climate change;
  • enhancing quality job creation and ensuring fairness and equity for workers and communities affected by the transition to a 100 percent clean economy;
  • providing benefits for consumers, small businesses, and rural communities; and
  • preparing communities for the impacts and risks of climate change.

The administration has proposed raising fees for those seeing asylum and naturalization.  The proposed fee structure changes would:

  • Drastically increase the cost of naturalization from $640 to $1,170 – this is a historic high and a staggering 83 percent increase.
  • Establish an unprecedented, new $50 fee for affirmative asylum. This would make the U.S. one of just four countries (Australia, Fiji and Iran being the other three) to levy such a fee.
  • Create a new fee for DACA renewals, raising the total cost from $495 to $765.
  • Effectively end a long-standing fee waiver program that has kept naturalization, green card renewals and other benefits accessible.
  • Transfer $207.6 million in funds that should be used for immigration and naturalization processing to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to use for enforcement.
  • Increase Adjustment of Status to Lawful Permanent Residencyfrom $1,225 to $2,195 by requiring separate filing fees for work and travel authorization. The current fee includes applications for both work and travel documents.
  • Charge asylum-seekers for work permit applications. Currently, there is no charge for asylum seekers to seek work authorization for the first time.
  • Limit stakeholder participation by shortening the comment period from the standard sixty days to only thirty days.

You can make a public comment by using the Sisters of Mercy website.  Reminder:  Personalize the message of any sign-ons.  Rule of thumb – ⅓ original content (unique language) to be counted.  Consider putting in Scripture, faith-language, stories,

Archbishops Coakley and Gregory and Bishop Dewane have served in death penalty states. They believe it’s time to stop federal executions. They write “Human dignity can be difficult to understand when we are confronted with the depths of our sins. But we believe, from Scripture and tradition, that each person is created by God in his image and likeness, and the dignity that flows from God’s creative act cannot be removed by the actions of any person, no matter how bad, no matter how hurtful. We reverence God’s gift of life in those at the beginning of life and those at its end, in the weak and in the strong, in the poor and in the rich, in the happy and in the sad, in the honored and in the forgotten. And we reverence God’s gift of life in the guilty and in the innocent.” Read more here.  (Note. The Supreme Court stayed the execution of three federal prisoners who were supposed to be executed this week.)

Immigration is being used as a political weapon and is fueling division and violence in our country. Frontline from PBS  produced at 54 minute video called “Zero Tolerance” that explains how this has happened.  You can view it here.


Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Dominican Month for Peace – December 10, 2019

The situation of children in India can be dire. Children under the age of 18 comprise 37% of India’s population. Many of them experience deprivation such as lack of access to basic education, nutrition or health care. In addition, many are subjected to various forms of abuse, neglect, violence, and maltreatment which dominate their childhood experience

Further violations of child rights, legitimized by cultural practices and customs deeply rooted in the male-dominant patriarchal society, involve child marriage, of which 326 incidences were reported in 2015-16, and gender discrimination, which has created significant gender disparity.

This is reflected in the preference for providing educational opportunities for the male child. The perception of girl children as a burden to the family also leads to sex selective abortion which has resulted in an unequal sex ratio in the country with 933 females per 1000 males (Census, 2011).

Indian Center for Integrated Development provides programming for the children and women in Nagpur India.  There are a number of programs working with youth. You can check them out here.

A prime example of this is an initiative, Project Bloom, of Dominican friars in collaboration with Dominican Sisters of the Presentation and Dominican Laity in the Yuvajyothi Children’s Home of the Indian Centre for Integrated Development (ICID) in Nagpur.

This project strives to rescue children and female youth from exploitative, abusive and other disadvantaged situations such as street and pavement dwelling, work places, children begging, picking waste material and neglected children, and provide a protective environment where a child finds a safe, dignified and child-friendly atmosphere including their rehabilitation with their families.

 This is done through various programs, such as street outreach, formation of children’s groups, counselling, life skill education, educational support and sponsorship, provision of safe shelter for children in need, organizing child right awareness and advocacy programs.

 The Dominican Family of Friars, Sisters and Laity also work in collaboration with a team of social workers and volunteers in Nagpur district to assist with children who are already living on the streets with adequate and necessary support:

  • Providing street-based support, protection, rescue, rehabilitation and integration (with family), maintaining street presence through volunteers, and awareness creation among children about the risks and dangers on the streets.
  • Residential care (counselling, food, accommodation, education, life skill development, livelihood training and opportunity, and preparing them for family life). Children are referred to Yuvajyothi or other homes for children.

 And to work with economically and socially disadvantaged families whose children may turn to the streets:

  • Sensitization visits to the families, life skill education to children in the families, child rights awareness in communities and schools, interventions at the school level in order to retain children in the schools, networking and advocacy.
  • Livelihood training and opportunities for women from disadvantaged families at community-based centers.

In addition, all the Dominican entities in India are developing a training project, Safe Childhood: Breaking the silence and preventing incidences of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), to equip sisters and brothers with skills in dealing with child sexual abuse through activities such as:

  • Children’s groups and training in safety lessons against CSE
  • Increasing the knowledge and life skills of children to understand CSE and appropriately report the same in time
  • Awareness and sensitization on CSE in communities
  • Strengthening families by assisting parents to understand their children’s issues and how to help them be free from sexual exploitation
  • Providing nurturing support by visiting at-risk families at home and ensure family counseling and parenting support
  • Training of teachers, counselors and others on child sexual exploitation and enhance their capacity to effectively protect children from sexual exploitation
  • Dialogue and networking with schools and Government and Civil Society Organizations


If you want more information in the Indian Centre for Integrated Development run by the friars in India, click here.

Indian society is tremendously diverse. According to the Asia Society, “India offers astounding variety in virtually every aspect of social life. Diversities of ethnic, linguistic, regional, economic, religious, class, and caste groups crosscut Indian society, which is also permeated with immense urban-rural differences and gender distinctions. Differences between north India and south India are particularly significant, especially in systems of kinship and marriage. Indian society is multifaceted to an extent perhaps unknown in any other of the world’s great civilizations—it is more like an area as varied as Europe than any other single nation-state. Adding further variety to contemporary Indian culture are rapidly occurring changes affecting various regions and socioeconomic groups in disparate ways. Yet, amid the complexities of Indian life, widely accepted cultural themes enhance social harmony and order.” You can learn more here.

Christians represent only 2.3% of the population of India. Over 75% are Hindu and 15% are Muslim.  Here are Five Facts about Religion in India.



Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates