Peace & Justice Blog

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


 

Laudato Si’ Week 2022

Laudato Si’ Week 2022 will be celebrated May 22-29. This will mark the seventh anniversary of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical on creation care. The global celebration will unite Catholics to listen and respond together to the cry of creation, rejoice in the progress we have made in bringing Laudato Si’ to life, and intensify our efforts through the dynamic Laudato Si’ Action Platform, walking the “Synodal” path.

Laudato Si’ Week 2022 General Program

Please join the many global events being held to invite reflection and celebration of the seven Laudato Si’ Goals. Each event will highlight a different goal and region in the world.  All events are listed in Rome time; click here for a time converter.  Local communities are encouraged to organize events and share them on the Laudato Si’ Week events page.

MAY 22 – 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Opening of Laudato Si’ Week by Pope Francis

MAY 22 – 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Prayer Gathering from Uganda

MAY 23 –  10:00 am – 12:00 pm
No More Biodiversity Collapse: Rebalancing Social Systems with Nature

MAY 24 – All day
Empowering ECO-mmunity, Embracing the Poor

MAY 25 – 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Fossil Fuels, Violence, and The Climate Crisis

MAY 26 – 11:30 am – 6:00 pm
Investing in Laudato Si’

MAY 27 – All day
Laudato Si’ Movie presentation

MAY 28 – 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Laudato Si’ Festival from Assisi: Ecological spirituality

MAY 29 – All day
Prayer Gathering. Community resilience and empowerment as part of our Synodal Journey

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Peace and Justice

Our eco-justice team reminds us of just a few of God’s creatures endangered by Climate Change

Akikiki, Hawaii is home to a type of native honeycreeper. Hawaiian honeycreepers are a group of small songbirds. Many have been driven to extinction since the first humans arrived in Hawaii, with extinctions increasing over the last 2 centuries following the European discovery of the islands, with habitat destruction and especially invasive species being the main causes.

 

Elkhorn Coral is one of the most important corals in the Caribbean. It forms dense groups called “thickets” in very shallow water. These provide important habitats for other reef animals, especially fish. The greatest threat to elkhorn coral is ocean warming, which causes the corals to release the algae that live in their tissue and provide them food, usually causing death. Other threats to elkhorn coral are ocean acidification (decrease in water pH caused by increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) that makes it harder for them to build their skeleton, unsustainable fishing practices that deplete the herbivores (animals that feed on plants) that keep the reef clean, and land-based sources of pollution that impacts the clear, low nutrient waters in which they thrive.

The Bog Turtle is North America’s smallest turtle, growing only to 4.5 inches in length. It is classified as federally-threatened on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species List. Habitat loss and fragmentation and forest succession represent the primary reasons for the decline of this species. In the past, bog turtles could move to nearby habitat if conditions changed. However, remaining habitats have become more isolated because of land development.

 


The Bull Trout is listed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act throughout its range in the contiguous United States. Bull trout reproduction requires cold water and very low amounts of silt, both of which are negatively impacted by road building and logging. Additionally, its need to migrate throughout river systems may be hindered by impassible fish barriers, such as dams.

 


In the lower 48 states, Canada Lynx are considered threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Lynx were often trapped for their valuable fur during the last century, and this practice continues in Canada. Today, aggressive logging, road-building and development of lynx habitat have severely fragmented their living space. Snowmobile trails and roads pose problems for lynx because these packed-snow pathways give high-country access to cougar and coyote (which can eat lynx), and bobcat (which compete with lynx).


Pacific Salmon 
are cold-water fish, and die when exposed for very long to freshwater temperatures above about 20º C. (72º F.) Global warming has pushed the average summer temperatures of many west coast river systems above that mortality threshold, killing many fish. Global climate change is also diminishing total river flows throughout the northwest and California, as well as changing the basic hydrology that these fish evolved with. Depleted genetic diversity, as well as accelerated habitat loss due to human development, has reduced their ability to respond to these stresses. Changing ocean conditions, including ocean acidification, are causing additional stresses to these populations from global warming.


Leatherback Sea Turtles face threats on both nesting beaches and in the marine environment. The greatest of these threats worldwide are incidental capture in fishing gear (bycatch), hunting of turtles, and collection of eggs for human consumption. The Pacific leatherback turtle populations are most at-risk of extinction.

 


Grizzly Bears
in the contiguous United States are currently protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, as there are less than 1,500 grizzlies left in the lower 48 states. Human-bear conflict remains the largest threat to the North American grizzlies, as well as the loss of major food sources and suitable habitats due to climate change and development.

 


The main threat to the Flatwoods Salamander is loss of habitat.  Pine flatwoods-wiregrass habitats have suffered rapid loss in the southeast due to agriculture.  Continued loss of habitat could cause extensive population loss. In addition, the lowering of water tables due to climate change is elminating the places where the salamander’s eggs mature.

 

 

Two-thirds of the world’s Polar Bears could be extinct by 2050 if greenhouse gas-fueled global warming keeps melting their Arctic sea-ice habitat.

 


Monarch Butterflies
are threatened by deforestation of wintering forests in Mexico, disruptions to their migration caused by climate change, and the loss of native plants (including milkweed species but also all nectar-producing native plants) along their migratory corridors.

 


American Pikas
 are suffering because climate change has brought higher temperatures to their western mountain homes. Pikas have already disappeared from more than one-third of their previously known habitat in Oregon and Nevada.

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Something to consider during Lent

Blog by Associate Judy Hardy

Some time ago you were sent a listing Steps you could take in support of the Laudato Si’ Acton Platform (LSAP):

  • Strive to become more aware of your connection to creation
  • Endeavor to live in communion with nature and all creatures
  • Take inventory of your consumption and consider making changes
  • Seek reusable options over disposable ones when you are able.
  • Be mindful of your use of water
  • When possible, choose transportation methods that have less of an impact on the climate
  • Recycle and repurpose what you can, and make changes to reduce the waste that you produce
  • Consider the impact of your diet
  • Remember that even the small actions that you take can make a difference and inspire others to act.

Here’s something else you might consider and pray about during Lent… making a formal commitment to join the LSAP.

Joining the LSAP is relatively simple.  Visit the Laudato Si Action Plan website here.  It is possible to enroll as a family and individual, organization and groups, etc. Perhaps you could explore the website, first and then enroll… there are many wonderful resources to discover!

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

A PRAYER FOR PEACE BETWEEN UKRAINE AND RUSSIA

Prayer by Kevin Calahan, OPA
The Peace and Non-violence committee has submitted the following prayer in response to Pope Francis’ call to pray for peace in the Ukraine.

Ever and All Loving God,

As we follow news of the mad progression towards war, we pray and we plead for a logic different from the one based on geopolitical competition. We pray for a change of hearts and minds, for de-escalation, and for dialogue instead of threats.

All peoples are Your children. And Your children find themselves on both sides of the current confrontation. Should this situation descend into war, it will be both Ukrainian and Russian families that will suffer the loss of brothers, fathers, husbands, children, homes, neighborhoods, and ways of life. But You are a God of peace and love, not war and bloodshed. Though the things that make for peace may be hidden from the eyes of those driving the march to war, we pray that those eyes may be opened and that peace may yet prevail.

Let us pray together that everyone recognize that we have a common home and that more, much more, unites us than divides us.

Let us pray also that the world never look away. Pray that we always remember the situation in Ukraine is real. It kills, maims, and destroys even now and that an escalation will generate more deaths and more injured, more tears and pain, more fears and hatred. Pray that we continue to seek and to share the truth which gives authentic freedom and wisdom.

We make this desperate prayer secure in Your love, through Jesus, our Lord,

AMEN

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Human trafficking is just one facet of the social ill that is Modern Slavery.
More than 40 million people around the world are trapped in modern slavery, more than at any time in our history, despite the fact that slavery is illegal in most nations. Women and girls account for nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of all victims of modern slavery.
Modern slavery is an umbrella term and includes:

Human trafficking
Defined by the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol as involving recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion with the intent of exploiting that person for sexual exploitation, forced labor, or slavery, among others forms.

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered “trafficking in persons” even if this does not involve threat, use of force or, coercion.

Debt bondage
Status or condition where one person has pledged their labor or services (or that of someone under their control), in circumstances where the fair value of that labor or service is not reasonably applied to reducing the debt or length of debt, or the length and nature of the service is not limited or defined.

Forced marriage
Any situation where persons, regardless of age, have been forced to marry without their consent.

Slavery and slavery-like practices
Defined in the 1926 Slavery Convention as the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised. In a later treaty, states agreed that there are also certain “slavery-like practices”: debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, sale or exploitation of children (including in armed conflict), and descent-based slavery.

Forced labor
All work or service that is conducted under the menace of penalty and for which the person has not offered themselves voluntarily.

Worst forms of child labor
Drawing on the 1999 Convention on Worst Forms of Child Labour, it includes situations where children are: exploited through slavery or slavery-like practices, including forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict; used, procured, or offered for prostitution; used, procured, or offered for illicit activities including production and trafficking of drugs; engaged in hazardous work which may harm their health, safety or morals.

January 26, 2022

Why does Human Trafficking Happen?

Human trafficking happens in every country in the world, in many different forms; however, the causes behind human trafficking are essentially the same for labor trafficking, sex trafficking, child trafficking, and all other types of modern-day slavery. Here are the 10 causes of human trafficking around the world.

Poverty

Poverty is one of the largest contributors to human trafficking. It can drive people to become traffickers; it can drive parents to sell children or other family members into slavery. People in poverty are targeted by traffickers, who offer them a way to earn money when, in fact, they will actually earn nothing and be treated as a slave. Poverty also plays a large piece in many of the other root causes of trafficking, driving people to migrate, making education and legitimate work difficult to obtain, making recovery and safety from war and disaster impossible, and more.

Lack of education

A lack of education can lead to decreased opportunities for work at a living wage, and it can also lead to a decreased knowledge of one’s rights. Both outcomes can cause people to be at a greater vulnerability for human trafficking. Education can also empower children to make changes in their community as they grow older that will prevent situations and vulnerabilities of which traffickers take advantage.

Demand for cheap labor/demand for sex

Basic economics tells us that for a market to form, supply and demand need to exist. The demands for cheap labor and for commercialized sex lead to opportunities for traffickers to exploit people. Traffickers can make a large profit by producing goods and services through cheap or free labor and selling the products or services at a higher price. Commercialized sex is a lucrative market that allows traffickers and pimps to become the only profiter from their victims through an endless cycle of buyers and high prices.

Lack of human rights for vulnerable groups

In many countries, marginalized persons lack institutionalized human rights, which can make them more vulnerable to trafficking. Traffickers can prey on these marginalized groups because they lack protection from law enforcement, their families, and even the society they live in. When countries lack fundamental laws regarding human rights, traffickers feel as though they can get away with what they are doing more easily. Worse, in some countries, including our own, these laws can also end in punishment for victims.

Lack of legitimate economic opportunities

When people lack legitimate economic opportunities, it can lead to increased vulnerability to human trafficking. Groups that are especially vulnerable in this area are migrants without work permits, those who lack education, those who live in rural areas where there are fewer jobs available, and women and certain ethnic groups who may not be able to get jobs due to discrimination. Traffickers offer seemingly legitimate jobs to people who cannot get them otherwise, only to lure them into forced labor, sex trafficking, bonded labor, and more.

Social factors and cultural practices

In many countries, cultural practices and social factors are a major cause of human trafficking. In some places, bonded labor is seen as an acceptable way to pay off debt. In other places, selling children to traffickers is the norm, especially for poorer families in rural areas. Some countries, such as Mauritania, still practice antiquated slavery, where families are held for generations by slave-masters. There are also instances, like in Uzbekistan, where forced labor is institutionalized. During the cotton harvest, all adults and children are expected to work in the cotton fields until the crops are harvested. Cultural and social factors can also prevent victims from seeking help.

Conflict and natural disaster

Conflict and natural disasters can lead to economic instability and lack of human rights, giving traffickers an advantage and making people more vulnerable to human trafficking situations. In conflict zones and wars, some rebel or military groups will use child soldiers and keep sex slaves. Additionally, both conflict and natural disaster can lead people to migrate out of their hometowns and home countries, making them more vulnerable to traffickers, especially if they are looking for work or paying smugglers to get where they want to go. And with increased economic instability, traffickers have opportunities to offer false job offers to people, leading them into trafficking situations.

Trafficking generates a large profit

One major cause of human trafficking is the large profit that traffickers gain. This is an incentive for them to continue trafficking people in both forced labor and sex trafficking. For traffickers using forced laborers and bonded laborers, they get cheap labor and can sell their product or service at a much higher cost. For those using sex trafficking, they can easily take all of the profit, forcing women to make a certain amount each night, and keeping them in the situation through drugs, violent force, threats, and more.

Lack of safe migration options

People looking to migrate out of their home countries due to safety concerns or economic opportunities are especially vulnerable to traffickers. Traffickers can use illegal smuggling as a way to trick people into forced labor or sex trafficking. For migrants looking for jobs in other countries, traffickers typically offer them job opportunities that seem legitimate, only to force them into a trafficking situation. For instance, when Russia was preparing for the Sochi Olympics, several men from Serbia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and other nearby countries were promised construction jobs, only to be paid very little and be treated poorly. And many women from countries like Nigeria, Ukraine, and other Eastern European and African countries are offered nannying or restaurant jobs in Western Europe, only to be trapped in sex trafficking.

Traffickers

Beyond cultural practices, the profit, vulnerabilities of certain people groups, lack of human rights, economic instability, and more, traffickers are the ones who choose to exploit people for their own gain. While many of these factors may play into the reasons why traffickers get into the business, they still make a willful decision to enslave people against their will — either because of the profit, because they believe that certain people are worth less, because of the abuse that they themselves experienced.

Trafficking ultimately exists because people are willing to exploit others.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

How Can YOU help Combat Trafficking?

You can use your voice to speak up for victims and to work for prevention. Here are some ways you can take action.

ADVOCATE
Trafficking Victim Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2021

Please urge your Representative to co-sponsor the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victim Prevention
and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2021 (TVPRA) HR 5150 bill. Programs that are currently being
funded by the previous TVPA are set to expire soon. It is critical that this legislation is brought to
Congress before survivors lose access to these much-needed services.
The bill will reauthorize vital programs across a wide coalition of U.S. government departments that
address human trafficking at an estimated cost of 1.6 billion dollars. Click here to send
a letter to your Representative.

The Violence Against Women Act 
The Act provided $1.6 billion toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowed civil redress when prosecutors chose to not prosecute cases. The Act also established the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice. This bill was allowed to expire under the previous administration. It passed the House in March, 2021 and has been stalled in the Senate since then. 

CONNECT WITH LEGISLATORS
Reach out to your local and national legislators to let them know you care about ending human
trafficking and supporting survivors! You can use our helpful intro packet that explains the
connections between human trafficking and other justice issues like gender equality, economics,
racism, climate change, and immigration. Click here for resources from US Sisters Against Human Trafficking.

You can also reach out to your legislators to let them know about your support for the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, which was released by the White House as part of the commemoration of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Click here to review the plan.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022


Watch. Listen. Save a life.

You may come in contact with victims of human trafficking in your daily life. The best way to help save a trafficking victim is to pay attention to people you actually know or interact with – your students, your tenants, your children, your patients, your co-workers.

It is all about two magic words: Context and proximity.

Hotels & Motels
Hotels and motels are common venues for both prostitution and sex trafficking, and it can be difficult to distinguish between the two, which is why it is important that concerns about potential trafficking be reported to the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline rather than directly to law enforcement, which could lead to arrests. Labor trafficking also takes place, where contract workers such as housekeepers may be exploited. They are also common venues for traveling sales crews to house trafficked workers. Below are some potential indicators of sex and/or labor trafficking that may also be indicators of prostitution.

  • Presence of a third party (pimp/trafficker) appearing to be monitoring a hallway or door
  • Guest is overly concerned with surveillance cameras or entrance policies
  • Someone is dropped off and visits for 30 minutes – 1 hour only – or someone waits for that person on property or in the parking lot
  • Abandoned or locked out young adults on property
  • Sales flyers left behind that detail suspicious magazine sales tactics
  • Research shows that the majority of human trafficking survivors had some contact with the health care system during the time they were being exploited. That means health care providers are often in the position to recognize that something is wrong and take steps to provide support. Potential red flags specific to a health care setting may include:

Healthcare
Research shows that the majority of human trafficking survivors had some contact with the health care system during the time they were being exploited. Health care providers are often in the position to recognize that something is wrong and take steps to provide support. Potential red flags specific to a health care setting may include:

  • A patient with reproductive or sexual health concerns and or potential signs of sexual violence and reporting an unusually high number of partners
  • A patient with work-related injuries reporting that health and safety gear were not provided or conditions were otherwise unsafe
  • A patient is unwilling or hesitant to answer questions about the injury or illness
  • A patient Is accompanied by an individual who does not let the patient speak for themselves, refuses to let the patient have privacy, or who interprets for them

Nannies, House Cleaners, Home Health Aides
Nannies, house cleaners, and home health aides labor in isolated conditions that put them at risk for trafficking. The vulnerability can be compounded by the fact that many domestic workers are immigrants who may not know their rights in this country. Indicators of potential concern include:

  • A live-in domestic worker who sleeps on a floor, in a garage, closet, laundry room or another place not intended for sleeping
  • An immigrant worker whose employer is holding her or his passport or other legal documentation
  • A worker who is rarely or never allowed to leave the home, or only allowed out/seen in the company of the employer
  • An employer who sets up and controls a domestic workers’ bank account

Familial Trafficking
Educators and social services professionals may be in a good position to learn about trafficking situations and help connect victims to services. At least one international study found that almost half of identified child trafficking cases globally began with the involvement of a family member. Victims are sold for sex or forced to work in family businesses. Familial trafficking often goes undetected. While familial trafficking can and does happen in families that appear entirely “functional” or “normal” to an outsider, there may well also be signs of other kinds of child abuse or neglect – which may, in fact, include trafficking. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers information about recognizing child abuse more generally.

Agriculture, Forestry, and Construction
The majority of labor trafficking cases learned about on the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline involve immigrants, many of whom are in the United States on legal temporary work visas, some of which require that employers provide housing. In general, housing and similar living/working conditions may be the best indications available that something is not right in the workplace. Examples might include:

  • Workers living in too-close quarters such as too many people in a single bedroom apartment who all work in a particular restaurant or store
  • Workers living in/sleeping at construction sites
  • Workers living in unsanitary conditions such as on a school bus with no running water in a farm labor situation

 

Excerpted from the Polaris Project Website 

Wednesday, 1/5/2022

In 2014, Pope Francis stated during his Declaration on the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery:

“Modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labor and prostitution, and organ trafficking, is a crime against humanity. Its victims are from all walks of life but are most frequently among the poorest and most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.”

As we observe this National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Dominican Sisters of Peace will share resources to help educate, advocate, and take action against trafficking wherever we may see it.

  • The Ending Human Trafficking podcast was founded by  The Global Center for Women and Justice podcast in April 2011. The podcast’s mantra is Study the Issues. Be a voice. Make a difference. The National Family and Youth Services Clearinghouse promoted EHT as “a good way to get up to speed on human trafficking.” Click here to listen.
  • The Polaris Project offers a wide-ranging study of the problem on their Human Trafficking Myths and Facts page. Please click here to read.
  • Our own Sister Nadine Buchanan ministers to trafficked women and men here in Columbus. Click here to read her “Everyday Heroes” story in the Columbus Dispatch

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog