Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Join Dominican Sisters of Peace as we strive to bring PEACE and justice to our world in this post-truth era. Each week, our Justice Promoter will share important information (including action alerts, prayer opportunities and much more) that will help you to spread peace in your own local community and our world at large.


8-6-19 Justice Updates

One of our Chapter Commitments calls us to transform oppressive systems. There are numerous ways to do this including putting pressure on banks, financial organizations, and organizations with investment portfolios to stop supporting companies who are involved in these oppressive systems.  In the past few months, eight major banks have decided to end their relationship with the private prison sector which are involved in housing asylum seekers and children separated from their parents. This decision is due to the work of the immigrant community, activists, and ICCR (Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility) members (we are members) who have put these banks on notice for financially supporting facilities with documented human rights abuses, including medical neglect, sexual and physical assault against detainees, understaffing, and overcrowding. Action is being directed to regional banks that remain invested in private prisons and immigrant detention centers.  This article provides more information.

The number of asylum seekers being admitted to El Paso was reduced dramatically with the MPP (Migrant Protection Protocols) or Return to Mexico Program implemented by the administration.  Immigrants are being forced to wait weeks before their credible fear hearings in very dangerous conditions. Please read this article about what’s happening.

What does trafficking look like?  Human Rights Watch describes this story. Take the story of Seng Moon. Her family fled fighting between the Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Army in 2011. They took refuge in one of northern Myanmar’s many displaced persons camps. After three years, when Seng Moon was 16, her sister-in-law said she had found Seng Moon work as a cook across the border in China. Seng Moon didn’t want to go, but her family desperately needed the money she would earn. During the car ride to China, her sister-in-law gave her what she said was anti-nausea medicine; Seng Moon fell deeply asleep and woke up terrified and alone with her hands tied.

What ensued was a horrifying narrative, one that is sadly not uncommon. Seng Moon’s sister-in-law sold her to a Chinese family as a “bride.” Gender discrimination in China, exacerbated by the government’s “one child policy” in place from 1979 to 2015, has resulted in there being about 30 to 40 million more men than women in China, and this has created a market for trafficked brides. Seng Moon was locked in a room for months, suffered repeated rape and mistreatment, and was forced to bear a child. It took two years, the kindness of strangers and 1,000 yuan ($160) before Seng Moon was finally able to escape her nightmare and make it back to Myanmar with her baby son. And Seng Moon is one of the lucky ones – most victims who escape are able to do so only by leaving any children behind.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the loved ones of those killed by these senseless killings. But what about those shot?  They will live a life of pain and deep wounds. Read this story from Boston Public Radio about one survivor.

Another attack on the poor by this administration means that 500,000 kids could lose eligibility for free school lunch under the current proposed rule changes to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Here’s more information.

The administration is still separating migrant families despite a court order to stop.  When we were in El Paso in January and February and recently, we saw intact families from Russia, Cuba, Brazil, and Venezuela. Families from Central American were being separated. In addition, children are still being separated from their parents. See this investigation from the ACLU and information from the NY Times.

Continue to pray for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country for the Dominican Month of Peace last December. The Ebola Epidemic shows no signs of ending.

Attorney General William Barr has just directed the Justice Department to bring back the death penalty — and to immediately schedule the first five federal executions in 16 years.

Pope Francis, the National Council of Churches, and countless other Christian leaders have long spoken out against capital punishment. As Jesus said, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” Catholic leaders have expressed their concern about the reinstatement. Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty released a statement criticizing the federal reinstatement of capital punishment, arguing the practice goes against the fundamental principles of conservatism.

Yet some religious leaders are loudly cheering on the death penalty. Appearing on Fox News earlier this year, Robert Jeffress — one of Donald Trump’s favorite pastors — dismissed objections to executing the wrongfully accused, outrageously arguing that “the greatest example of an innocent person being executed was Jesus Christ himself.”

Please consider signing on to this petition to end the federal death penalty.

The Homestead Migrant Child Detention Facility has been closed!! There is a possibility it will re-open after the Hurricane Season. It is not clear when all the children have gone or where the next big facility might be.  Watch this documentary about witnessing at Homestead.  The Homestead facility is only one of many for-profit prisons. We need to shut them all down.



Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

July 31, 2019 Justice Updates

Today is the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. Human trafficking generates over $150 billion in revenue for traffickers. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres asks us to reaffirm our commitment to stop criminals from ruthlessly exploiting people for profit and to help victims rebuild their lives.  Many trafficked individuals face even more difficult existences after being freed from trafficking because they are not accepted back into society. The UN Special Rapporteur, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, urges governments to be more aware of this problem. See her statement here.  Let us pray for an end of human slavery and for those who are ensnared by this great evil.

It doesn’t seem possible that there are individuals who don’t believe there is a climate crisis in our world today.  But it’s true.  Even those who believe something is the matter, can’t engage with the urgency of it all. National Catholic Register’s Bill Mitchell shares some insights on how to talk about it in this article.

Dr. Scott Warren, a member of the group No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes, was tried once for offering food, water, clean clothes and beds to two men from Central America. The jury was dead locked and the trial thrown out. Now the government wants to try him again for his humanitarian aid.  Since his arrest in January 2018, at least 88 bodies have been recovered from the Ajo corridor of the Arizona desert.”  Here is more information.

Now, No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes is hosting a short-term volunteer program in support of their legal defense campaign. From September to November 2019, they welcome volunteers from around the world for two weeks or longer to come support their community outreach efforts in southern Arizona.  Volunteers will commit on average 30-35 hours per week:

  • 12 to 15 hrs – doorknocking in Tucson & other towns
  • 2 hrs – weekly campaign meetings
  • 2 hrs – weekly team meeting
  • 4 to 6 hrs – event-based outreach
  • 2 to 3 hrs – research
  • 5 to 8 hrs – logistical & other support with weekend events

Shared housing, food and in-state transportation provided. Want more information?  Click here.

There are now 7,000 service members being deployed at the southern border even though legally these troops should be kept separate from the domestic law enforcement. Win Without War is asking its member organizations to spread the word and get their members to tell the Department of Defense Inspector General to investigate the misuse of the U.S. military at the southern border. Please click here to add your name to this effort. Each anti-immigrant attack such as caging kids in detention camps, separating families, banning Muslims, destroying the U.S. refugee resettlement program, mass raids and deportations, deploying service members to the border and authorizing these troops to use deadly force empower an anti-immigrant and white supremacist agenda. This must be investigated so we have transparency.

Attorney General William Barr recently announced that executions for Federal Crimes will be reinstated.  He has ordered that the executions of 5 men on death row be scheduled. Sixteen years have passed since the last federal execution in June, 2013 and the U.S. has been trending away from capital punishment.  In fact, July was the first month in recent memory in which there were no executions.  Rep. Ayanna Pressley has introduced legislation to abolish the federal death penalty. When a bill number is assigned, I will ask you to contact your representatives.  Here is more information, from the Boston Globe and The Hill.

Quick…. Call your representatives – senators and representative – to defund Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and invest in programs that strengthen – not tear apart – our communities. Dozens of people in the U.S., including citizens, were arrested in immigration raids last week. Desperate individuals and families are being turned back to Mexico despite their request for asylum. Let your legislators know that you do not want cruelty against immigrants to continue.

SAVE THE DATE.  Blessed are the Peacemakers Workshop and Webinar  will be held the afternoon of Sunday, October 27.  The workshop will be held at the Martin de Porres Center in Columbus and webcast to others who want to participate.  A Pace e Bene facilitator will help us learn tools that we can use to share our message of justice while interacting with people, including our own relatives, who disagree with us.  We want to bring civility back to the political process. More information will follow.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

July 23, 2019 Justice Updates

And then there were none.  The current administration seems to be winning the battle to keep anyone seeking asylum especially Central Americans from coming into the United States. National and International Law allows individuals and families to claim asylum.   There are significantly fewer individuals being admitted into the U.S. since the implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols.  MPP or ‘Return to Mexico’ was implemented several months ago.  According to the Department of Homeland Security, Migrant Protection Protocols are a U.S. Government action whereby certain foreign individuals entering or seeking admission to the U.S. from Mexico – illegally or without proper documentation – may be returned to Mexico and wait outside of the U.S. for the duration of their immigration proceedings, where Mexico will provide them with all appropriate humanitarian protections for the duration of their stay.”  The key statement here “all appropriate humanitarian protections” is not happening.  During our recent stay in El Paso, Sr. Manuela and I talked to several who had experienced a return to Mexico. They told us about how little humanitarian aid or protection was given by the Mexican Government.  Religious and other humanitarian organizations are overwhelmed while groups in the U.S. such as Annunciation House are sitting virtually empty.   One Cuban father who with his family spent nine weeks in Ciudad Juarez told us that seven Cuban men had gone missing. Others told us about families sleeping outside and waiting in line for days to talk to a Customs and Border Patrol official. (The daily temperature in El Paso while we were there was between 80 and 100 degrees and sunny.) This is not the answer to what is happening on the border. Please call your senators and representatives and tell them that the MPP or Migrant Protection Protocols are inhumane and not what American values are about.   For more information, please check this information from the Department of Homeland Security and this article from Refugees International, “Remain in Mexico is a Travesty of Asylum Policy.”

Current administration wants to take from the poor and give to the rich.  In order to pay for the budget deficit caused by the massive tax breaks given to the wealthy and to corporations, the administration announced plans to make changes to the food stamp program that will cut 3 million individuals from food assistance.  Here’s more information.

Plastic straws are for sale to support Trump reelection campaign.  Everyone knows that plastic straws are bad for the environment but the current president’s reelection campaign doesn’t care.  Thanks to all the folks who have given up using plastic straws.



Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

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