Peace & Justice Blog

Stay up to date on peace and justice issues, both locally and internationally, and learn how you can take action.


 

Is this really the best that we can do?

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

We’ve encouraged you to call your representatives to vote NO on two bills: The Securing America’s Future Act (also called the Goodlatte bill) and the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 (the Paul Ryan Compromise bill).  Here’s why:

  • Neither bills were crafted by or have bipartisan support.
  • Both make cuts to legal immigration by eliminating the diversity visa lottery and some forms of family-based immigration.
    • The Compromise Bill would end immigration of adult children and siblings of US citizens and would eliminate the diversity visa for immigrants from countries that don’t typically send many people to the US.
    • The Goodlatte bill would ultimately cut overall legal immigration by 25%, eliminating the diversity visa lottery and most family-based immigration. It would expand employer-based green cards by fewer than 50,000 a year.
  • Both significantly tighten asylum standards, making it easier for the government to detain and deport asylum seekers. (Attorney General Sessions recently decided that domestic and gang violence were not adequate reasons to seek asylum.) It allows ICE to detain parents and their children indefinitely.
  • Neither bill offers a satisfactory solution for Dreamers.
    • The Border Security Act creates a new form of legal status, called conditional nonimmigrant status, for DACA recipients and immigrants eligible for DACA. It is a six-year renewable option that can be renewed. This bill would allow DACA recipients to apply for green cards, making them eligible for citizenship after three to five years. The trouble is, they won’t be guaranteed to actually get green cards but will be given points based on English-language proficiency, military service, and employment.
    • The Securing American’s Future Act has no provisions for addressing current DACA recipients.
  • The Compromise bill has the promise of $25 billion for the wall that is tied to the issuance of merit-based visas. It’s a kind of immigrant blackmail.
  • Neither bills address the current situation of the separation of children from their parents, a policy being implemented by the administration.

So, if you haven’t called your representatives yet, please do.  The vote may come as early as Thursday.

Sr. Shawn Fitzpatrick, Staff Member Gaye Reissland, and Sr. Barb Kane stand for immigrants in Columbus.
Dominican Sisters of Peace Barbara Catalano (right), Marilyn Mihalic, (lower right) Daniel Weakland, and Alicia Alvarado join the “Families belong Together” rally in Akron.

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Prayers for Peace

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

My congratulation to Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim who met and signed an agreement today to establish new U.S./North Korean relations intended to build peace and prosperity. North Korea “commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”   Given Mr. Kim’s demonstrations of nuclear power in the past year, finding a way to bring peace would benefit not just the Korean Peninsula but the entire world.  Mr. Kim is a third generation dictator who has built a nuclear program and a modern city for three million chosen few while the remaining 22 million citizens struggle to find food.  He, his father, and grandfather before him have a history of not fulfilling their promises regarding peace making and reducing their nuclear weapons. Let us pray that this will prove wrong in this situation.

I don’t really want to be skeptical but Mr. Trump has a record of pulling the United States out of all recent treaties including the Paris Accord, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership, and the Iran Nuclear Agreement. At other times, he has agreed to participate in actions and then immediately pulls out of them. This doesn’t seem to be a platform from which trust can evolve. Let us pray that this will prove wrong in this situation.

Both leaders have called each other names and brandished the sticks that they bring to the table.  North Korea says it has nuclear weapons capable of reaching mainland United States.  The U.S. uses trade sanctions and a threat of cutting off all trade with North Korea.  These sticks are huge and impact millions of people. Let us pray that these sticks will not be used in the future.

There have been multiple attempts by the U.S. and the international community to negotiate an end to North Korea’s nuclear development.  Each time, the efforts have collapsed. The latest attempt was in 2003 when the U.S. and North Korea joined with China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea when North Korea pledged to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs” and rejoin the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty).  In the end, North Korea pulled out of the treaty. Let us pray that this will be wrong in this situation.

For the families of military lost in the Korean War, the agreement did commit to recovering POW/MIA remains and repatriation those already identified.  This is wonderful news.  Let us pray in gratitude that this will happen swiftly.

Let us pray that these efforts will also lead to an official end to the Korean War which ended in 1953 with an armistice agreement but not a peace settlement and the reunification of the country.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

World Environment Day

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Today is World Environment Day and it got me thinking about what’s happening on the environmental scene. The big news is the impact of plastics on our world especially our oceans.  I’m heartsick when I see the pictures of it covered in plastic.  It seems overwhelming but there is good news also.  This morning I heard something great – Bon Appétit announced that it will ban plastic straws and stirrers in it’s 1,000 cafes and restaurants in 33 states.  The phase out will be completed by September 2019.  Isn’t that great news?

More and more restaurants are joining the trend of asking customers if they want a straw and many are saying NO.  Some cities are banning plastic straws altogether such as Seattle, WA and Miami, FL.  McDonald’s will stop using plastic straws in their restaurants in England.  Sadly, the shareholders at McDonald’s annual meeting rejected a proposal to study a ban on plastic straws, a proposal that environmental activists had argued could help save marine life. Perhaps it’s time to send a message to McDonald’s that we want this change.  When you stop at any fast food restaurant, remember “Just say NO to a straw.”

In the United States, 2,906 million pounds of plastic bottles were recycled in 2016.  This might seem a lot but it was only 29.7% of the total plastic bottles on the shelves.  We might be putting bottles and other items in our recycling bins but much of it is being thrown in the trash rather than recycled.

But there are some good news stories around plastic recycling.  Green Tree Plastics in Evansville, IN has a program called ABC Promise Partnership. It is a cap and lid program where children collect plastic lids and caps that are recycled into benches that are then used by the schools. Students learn about caring for the earth and for green living.  Several of our sisters saw these benches on a visit to University of Kentucky.  Check out their pictures.  This is good news.

Even though Mr. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, over 2,700 leaders from states, cities, and businesses – representing 159 million Americans, have continued to act on climate issues, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renuewables, and creating jobs and economic growth.  Deployment of clean enery technologies continues to grow. Although Mr. Trump keeps pushing coal, municipalities and utilities are seeing that clean energy is more effective and efficient than coal burning plants.  In fact, 84 cities and counties have committed to sourcing 100% of their electricity from renewable energy.  That’s great news.  Boston, New Haven, New Orleans, and Schenectady are included in these cities.  Perhaps it’s time to encourage our local governments to move toward renewable energy to power our cities.

It’s easy to be discouraged about what our government is doing to the strides made on the environmental front.  But many, many individuals, cities, and businesses are determined to move forward on the path to a cleaner world.  Each of us can make a difference too.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Come to me all you who are hungry (John 6:35)

Blog by Sr. Luisa Derouen, OP

Who are you afraid of?  So often we don’t accept people because we are afraid of them… we don’t know or understand them.  Throughout the Easter season, Jesus encouraged his followers “Do not be afraid.”  Perhaps, if we take Jesus’ advice and get to know someone we don’t understand, we will be blessed.

Sr. Luisa Derouen shares her experience of getting to know a transgender woman named Dawn and it’s made a profound impact on her life. (Sr. Barbara Kane, O.P.)

One of the first transgender persons I got to know well was Dawn.  She knew of me from a transgender friend, but was afraid to speak with me.  Twice, as a child of five and again when she was eleven, she was warned that God had made her a boy and it was very sinful for her to think otherwise. She was terrified of speaking with another religious professional.  Finally, one day she mustered the courage to call and said she wanted to talk.  She got to my house about 11:00 am.  She was visibly very nervous, but as we talked she gradually relaxed and opened her life to me bit by bit.  We, mostly she, chatted till almost noon.  I invited her to the table while I got our lunch together and put everything out.  We prayed in thanksgiving to God for the food and for all the ways that God sustains and nourishes us.

Then she began again telling her story right where she left off.  I eventually started eating but was aware that she had not yet even picked up her fork.  After about fifteen minutes, I said “Dawn, you haven’t taken a single bite yet. Please, help yourself!”  Her response touched me deeply and I remember it precisely.  “I’m not hungry for food.  I’m just hungry to talk and have someone listen to me who is really listening and not judging me.”  I assured her that she could take as much time as she wanted and she could tell me as much as she wanted, and I would listen.

How ironic that in our media savvy world, it’s so hard to find someone who will listen with the heart and ears of God.  She wants nothing more than to be faithful to God and faithful to who she knows herself to be.  She thought those two couldn’t go together.  But truth always leads us to God, never away from God.

Is there someone you to listen to and not judge?    

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Respect

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Well, it’s happened again. We are sending prayers to more families impacted by gun violence.  We’ve now mourned for victims of 220 school shootings – 16 in 2018 alone – 1 shooting each week.  While some progress has been made locally; largely, our national representatives have been deadlocked – background checks still have loopholes; assault rifles are still for sale; mental health measures to help troubled students unfunded. Corporations like Dick’s Sporting Goods that depend on sales are more willing to forego sales than sell assault type weapons. Where are our representatives who are elected to serve and protect their citizens?

When did it become OK to shoot someone who refused a date, played sports, or, even as despicable as it is, bullied another student?  When did our tool of choice for settling disagreements become a gun?  School shootings are a consequence of a deeper blight – the lack of respect for every human being.  When immigrants are called animals; members of a religion labeled terrorists; women treated as objects, or dying people made fun of, we have a problem.  We’ve lost respect for each other and using violence becomes OK because no one is important anyway.

The reading from St. Paul to the Galatians from the Mass on Pentecost warns us about hatreds, factions, fury, selfishness – traits of disrespect seemingly glorified today.  He lifts up the gifts of the Spirit such as love, joy, kindness, generosity, self-control and especially peace. Yet are inundated with the speech of disrespect. It’s in the news, in social media, in the pulpit, the White House, the Congress.

We desperately need the Spirit’s guidance to change today’s rhetoric into words of respect for all people.  Let us pray, “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit and we will be recreated and you will renew the face of the earth.”  Only a renewal of our respect for each other, for our neighbors, our immigrants, our strangers will stop the violence in our world.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog