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.


 

Justice Update – October 29, 2019

How do we act in solidarity with forcibly displaced people while still supporting the needs of hurting citizens?  Read David Hollenbach’s essay in America Magazine.

“Nonviolence is not a political weapon or a technique for social change so much as it is an essential art—perhaps the essential art—of civilization. Nonviolence is a way of thinking, a way of life, not a tactic, but a way of putting love to work in resolving problems, healing relationships, and generally raising the quality of our lives. Nonviolence is a skill. Love is a skill. The transformation of anger is a skill. All these can be learned. We cannot say we aren’t capable of nonviolence; all we can say is we are not willing to do what is necessary to learn.” Eknath Easwaran

Thanks to all who attended Blessed Are the Peacemakers webinar either at the Martin de Porres Center or remotely in Great Bend, Akron, New Orleans, Kentucky, New York, Colorado, Columbus, and other locations.  For those who were not able to attend, the webinar was recorded and will be posted next week.  Here are the materials used or recommended.  Martin Luther King Six Principles of Nonviolence, CLARA, Walter Wink’s Facing the Myth of Redemptive Violence, Walter Wink’s Jesus and Alinsky, and Nancy Shreck OSF’s The Faithful Nonviolence of Jesus.  All are recommended for your reading and reflection.

In spite of pain and sorrow, children will always have fun. Take a look at this see saw connecting children on both sides of the border in El Paso.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Call your Senator and demand that the Violence Against Women Act be reauthorized.  Six months ago, the House passed H.R. 1585 to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  H.R. 1585 is a step towards ending domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. It will increase protections for more victims of domestic violence, especially Native American victims, who are victims of domestic violence at three times the national rate.  It would also close the ‘boyfriend loophole,’ which currently allows physically abusive dating partners, convicted stalkers, and former partners access to guns.  Call your senators and tell them to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. You can call 1-888-885-1748 to be connected or use their direct line.

Environment activists working to protect the Guapinol River in Honduras from mining interests who pollute the drinking water have been killed, beaten and criminalized by the government. Email the US Embassy in Honduras and them  to speak out to ensure justice in the case of the Guapinol water defenders.  Here is their email address.  Tell them that you support the release of the 7 Guapinol River Defenders from maximum security prisons in Honduras and an end to illegal mining threatening their water supply.

On November 12th the Supreme Court will hear arguments about the legality of DACA. Please keep the DACA recipients in your prayers during this time.  Here is a special prayer you can use.  Here are petitions that you can use at Mass.

Prayer of Hope in defense of DACA

We pray for DACA recipients, for their protection, their dignity, their hope. And for ourselves, as allies, that we may boldly lift our voices again and again as advocates. That we may remember our own times of uncertainty and fear, and authentically stand in solidarity with those for whom DACA has brought light and hope. And, as those directly affected by migration and inhumane policies, we pray for our community— people of undocumented, DACA, migrant, refugee, mixed-status; for our families, our homes, and our dreams. Sustain our vision, strength, and ongoing action for justice, oh God, that we may maintain hope and find light, as we live our days with the constant backdrop of uncertainty. And we pray for the policy makers— all those in positions of power in our government and courts. May the United States Supreme Court, the President of the United States, and all elected and appointed officials have the wisdom to see and uphold the dignity of all people, regardless of immigration status. Amen.

Communities continue to prosecute victims of trafficking saying its consensual sex.  They fail to see the power imbalance between the person purchased in sex and the purchaser. The person with the money, the buyer, is the one with power.  Paid sex is coerced sex.  The District of Columbia is about to open the floodgate of sexual exploitation and trafficking with new laws.

A common argument for capital punishment is that families of the slain victim will get closure.  Some people don’t believe that’s true.  NPR talked to some of the survivors of the Tree of Life Shooting about punishment for the killer.

The Amazon Synod has ended.  It proposed a definition of “ecological sin,” as “an action or omission against God, against others, the community and the environment” saying “it is a sin against future generations and manifests itself in acts and habits of pollution and destruction of the environmental harmony, transgressions against the principles of interdependence and the breaking of solidarity networks among creatures and against the virtue of justice.” “The human being is created in the image and likeness of God the Creator, and its dignity is inviolable,” say the bishops. “Therefore the defense and promotion of human rights is not merely a political duty or a social task, but also and above all a requirement of faith.” For more on the synod, click here.

 

 

 

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – October 22, 2019

When we were in EL Paso last January, we had the opportunity to meet Bishop Mark Seitz.  His connection with the asylum seekers staying in the Pastoral Center where we worked was obvious. In an October 13th Pastoral Letter, he connects the actions against immigrants with racism, writing, “The mystery of evil … includes the base belief that some of us are more important, deserving, and worthy than others.  It includes the ugly conviction that this country and its history and opportunities and resources as well as our economic and political life belong more properly to ‘white’ people than to people of color.  This is a perverse way of thinking that divides people based on heritage and tone of skin into ‘us’ and ‘them’. ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’, paving the way to dehumanization.”  You can read the entire letter here.

Peniel Ibe of the American Friends Service Committee explains the administrations attacks on legal immigration.  There are actions that we can take to resist the anti-immigrant agenda.

What can we do to resist Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda? These attacks on immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and others serve an aggressive white nationalist agenda. Trump is targeting everyone: naturalized, legal, native-born, and undocumented alike. And none of us are safe while any of us are under threat. Here are some steps suggested by the American Friends Service Committee that you can take to resist Trump’s immigration agenda.

  1. Defund hate: Tell Congress that we are a better nation when we accept with open arms those fleeing violence and poverty. Congress has the power to significantly cut the budgets of ICE and the Border Patrol – tell them to defund hate.
  2. Tell Congress to protect vital programs like TPS, DED, and DACA: Terminating TPS, DED, and DACA is a cruel attack on our immigrant communities. Urge elected officials to create a permanent solution to keep their families and communities together.
  3. Create sanctuary:Create safe, inclusive spaces for all people by creating sanctuary everywhere.Here are resources to help you and your community create safety in congregations, schools, and cities.
  4. Use good messaging:Talk about immigration in positive productive ways. How we talk about social justice issues matters. Here are some tipsto help you talk about immigration to build support for more humane policies. And check out this AFSC resource for more research-based tips on how to talk about issues to create social change.
  5. Display love:Make your community more welcoming by printing and displaying AFSC posters – and use them at the next rally or protest you attend. Here are posters to show solidarity for immigrant rights and justice.

 

Since some of our sisters and associates spent time in El Paso, TX, I have focused most of the information in our Justice Updates on asylum seekers at the Southern Border.  But we can’t forget to pray and be grateful for those working in the rest of the world where families are fleeing violence and climate destruction.    Please read this article about how good people are helping others.    

If you didn’t get a change to read the essays and poems in the New York Time’s 1619 Project, here is another chance to do so.

The Board of the US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking is meeting in Washington D.C. to plan for the year ahead. Please keep them in your prayers including our own Sr. Carol Davis.  On Tuesday, October 22nd, they will be visiting legislators and are asking us to call our legislators about these bills.

  • S. 1781 and H.R. 2836 would authorize funding for the Department of State to provide assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to increase protections of women and children in their homes and communities and reduce female homicides, domestic violence, and sexual assault.
  • S. 661 and H.R. 3729 expands protections to vulnerable migrant children while they are in custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) including developing guidelines for treatment of children in custody. This is particularly important because the administration is attempting to privatize these detention facilities and bypass state laws that protect children.

Even if you can’t call on October 22, please call in.  Here is a sample script you can use:

Hello.  My name is ______, and I am calling as a member of US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.  Today our Board of Directors is on the Hill, visiting with legislators to share about our work to end human trafficking.  One important way to help prevent human trafficking is by addressing root causes and doing everything we can to protect vulnerable populations.  One very vulnerable group to traffickers are migrants and refugees.  (feel free to add in here any story or personal connection you might have to the issue). 

(for the Senate)

There are two pieces of legislation that I am asking the Senator to support in connection to these issues: S. 1781 The Central American Women and Children Protection Act and S. 661 The Child Trafficking Victims Protection and Welfare Act of 2019.  S. 1781 helps to support women and children in the northern triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador so they are not forced to flee and therefore at greater risk for being taken advantage of by traffickers.  S. 661 would expand protections for vulnerable migrant children while in the custody of Customs and Border Patrol, prevent family separation, and assist with family reunification.  Migrant children who are separated from their families and who have been traumatized are particularly vulnerable to traffickers.

(for the House) 

There is one particular bill that I am asking the Representative to support in connection to these issues: H.R. 3729 The Child Trafficking Victims Protection and Welfare Act of 2019.  H.R. 3729 would expand protections for vulnerable migrant children while in the custody of Customs and Border Patrol, prevent family separation, and assist with family reunification. Migrant children who are separated from their families and who have been traumatized are particularly vulnerable to traffickers.

Several weeks ago, the Justice Blog described the impact of methane leaks on the environment. The administration wants to reduce regulations against methane pollution. This can result in an increase in health complications including respiratory damage, cancer, birth defects, and nervous system damage. Please use this link from Interfaith Power and Light to express your concern about rolling back methane pollution standards. Click here to let the Trump EPA hear from you.

The House of Representatives has proposed a bipartisan bill to ban assault weapons like AR 15’s. When the original ban was in effect from 1994 – 2004, America saw a 37% decline in gun massacres and a 70% decline in assault weapons tied to crime.  Please call or write your representatives and urge them to support H.R. 1296.  If you want to write to them, you can connect via the Brady and sign on to their letter.  Try to include some thoughts of your own to make  your letter unique.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates 10-15-19

The US Department of Agriculture just proposed another rule that would cut SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan).It just another in a long string of efforts to hurt hungry households.  This time, $4.5 Billion over five years would be cut based on how states take household utility costs into account to determine SNAP benefits.  19% of SNAP households would get lower monthly benefits disproportionality impacting elderly people and people with disabilities. The administration continues to defy Congress who did not include these changes in the 2018 Farm Bill.  Tell the USDA that you think this change is wrong by commenting here. Comments must be made by December 2, 2019

The administration is planning to privatize housing for unaccompanied or separated migrant children. Here’s the latest action by the administration to get around rules associated with treatment of children.

For decades, the oceans have served as a crucial buffer against global warming, soaking up roughly a quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans emit from power plants, factories and cars, and absorbing more than 90 percent of the excess heat trapped on Earth by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Without that protection, the land would be heating much more rapidly. Read more about a UN Report explaining how the oceans are in danger.

World Food Day is October 24th. Check out this webinar, “How Our Food Choices Can Save the Planet” presented by Catholic Climate Covenant.  Our food system is responsible for over a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. We can make food choices that are sustainable, less wasteful, and just.  The webinar is Thursday, October 24 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm (eastern time).   To register click here.

Back in January and February and later in July, our sisters and associate traveled to El Paso, TX to work with asylum seekers at Annunciation House.  The difference between the first visits and later visits were dramatic largely due to the MPP – Migrant Protection Protocol – or Remain in Mexico program.  CBS News did a three-part series on the policy and its impact on thousands of asylum seekers.

Part 1. “Leave me in a cell”: The desperate pleas of asylum seekers inside El Paso’s immigration court.

Part 2. “I fear for our lives”: Asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico face danger and desperation

Part 3. Advocates say “Remain in Mexico” policy turns migrants into a “marketable commodity”

The administration continues to make it hard for immigrants – both legal and undocumented by using executive orders and rule changes.  Here are two examples:

Restrictions have been placed on the Diversity Visa Lottery making it harder for low-income immigrants to apply.

Another rule change may result in immigrants who have work visas will have trouble getting green cards if they need assistance.

 

Robert Ellsberg speaks on whistleblowing, truth-telling and the Pentagon Papers

Farming is critical for providing the food we eat but it is also a huge cause of climate change.  Here are two films showing farmers trying to change their practices to mitigate the impact on climate.

Farmers Footprint (20 minutes) seeks to expose the science behind glyphosate’s (i.e. RoundUp Herbicide) impact on human and environment health through the lens of human stories that illuminate the impacts on farmers and their communities.

The Need To GROW (90 minutes) highlights the hearts and innovations of three very different leaders – an 8-year-old girl challenging the ethics of a beloved organization – a renegade farmer struggling to keep his land as he revolutionizes resource-efficient agriculture – and an accomplished visionary inventor facing catastrophe in the midst of developing a game-changing technology.

If you didn’t see this yesterday in OP Peace… The Catholic Action for Immigrant Children Campaign will hold its third protest to lift up concerns about the immigration system, access to asylum, and growing racism. They have protested in Washington, DC, Newark, NY and now in El Paso, TX. To support them, they have asked us to join the National Call-In Day, A Journey for Justice, on Tuesday, October 15.  Call the Department of Homeland Security to demand justice for immigrants.  The Operator Number is 202-282-8000.  The comment line is 202-282-8495.  Here’s a suggested script but try to use your own words:

Hello, my name is (insert name) from (Location: City, State, Zip Code). As a person of faith (and a Catholic sister/lay person), I am calling DHS to demand humane changes on immigration policies. As Catholic leaders we are asking the Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to honor the dignity and rights of all immigrants and to:

Recognize the sacred covenant, internationally recognized, legal right to seek a asylum, stop the Remain in Mexico Program, stop the use of the “metering list”, make Due Process the standard NOT the exception, collaborate with NGOs and local communities to support and expand humane services for Asylum Seekers, provide additional funding for immigration courts and asylum officers.

Thank you for your time and God bless you.

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

10-8-19 Justice Updates

Keep in your prayers the attendees at the Amazon Synod. There are some significant issues being discussed.  At the Amazon synod, the church must stand with indigenous people to protect creation.

The Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region was controversial long before it began this fall. Self-described orthodox Catholics have worried over its potential impact far from the Amazon. One of the issues to be discussed at the synod is the acute shortage of priests in the nine countries that make up Amazonia.

A proposal that has been kicked down the road for years is the ordination of what are known as viri probati, a Latin expression best translated as “family men of virtue.” Some view it as an opening for the wider church to begin accepting married men for the priesthood. (News flash, it already does in a number of traditions united to Rome.) Worse, they suspect the crashing of the male celibate priesthood by male not-so-celibates could be a vanguard move to women’s ordination.

These anxieties are confounding to the bishops and laypeople who actually live in the Amazon, who are acutely aware of the spiritual devastation the priest shortage is causing. Many Amazon communities may not see a priest more than two or three times a year.

But the synod’s working document, building on the agenda set out in the pope’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home), actually devotes most of its ink to different crises of the Amazon—the unique fragility of its ecology and a related threat to the self-determination of its indigenous people. And the Amazon bishops’ intervention on these matters could not be more timely.

For more information and some excellent articles about it, click here.  I recommend Amy Woolam Echeverria’s From Cry to Song: Protecting our Climate and Biodiversity.

Take action.  

Senate Bill 102:  A bipartisan bill called Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 has been introduced into the Senate.  It sets a rebate for all prescription drug price hikes above inflation, prohibiting pharmaceutical companies from arbitrarily raising their prices to increase profits.  For more information, see this backgrounder from Network.  Call you senators and urge them to support S. 2534.

Senate Bill 2137: The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2019. Increasing energy efficiency could meet more than 30% of our expected electricity generation needs by 2030.  This bipartisan legislation would improve energy efficiency in homes, businesses, and major industry including federal buildings and facilities.

House Representatives 2143: The administration just reduced the number of refugees who could be resettled to 18,000. Call your representative and ask him/her to support HR 2146, the GRACE (Congress has the power to uphold America’s legacy by passing the Guaranteed Refugee Admission Ceiling Enhancement (GRACE) Act, a bill that would ensure the U.S. welcomes no fewer than 95,000 refugees a year, in line with the historic norms.

Dayton, Ohio’s Mayor Nan Whaley has been a vocal advocate for gun safety legislation. Here is a sign-on letter to get the Senate moving on a Background Check Bill.

From Mayor Whaley:

I have been fighting for our leaders in Ohio and D.C. to take action on gun reform. Too many lives have been lost while our elected leaders have failed to act.

It’s time to do something. 

This February, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to take action on the bill, despite 90% of Americans supporting the universal background checks for gun sales in H.R. 8.

SIGN NOW: Add your name to demand Mitch McConnell to take a vote on H.R. 8!

Together, we can enact commonsense gun reform legislation.

Thank you,

Nan Whaley

Mayor of Dayton, OH

Can Meatless Monday make a difference? Check out this article from NCR.

Phil St. Romaine of the Heartland Spirituality Center penned this “Impeachment Survival Guide: How to Retain Your Sanity and Get Along with Others During a Time of Political Crisis.”  Read it here or you can purchase a Kindle version on Amazon for $1.00.

What happens when an asylee gets sent back to Mexico to wait for an asylum hearing?  Advocates argue “that the program violates U.S. law because it forces migrants to wait in places where they’re not safe and can’t get lawyers…. The human toll is enormous, with vulnerable migrants targeted in dangerous Mexican border towns.”  Read more in this NPR story.

The International Dominican Commission for Justice and Peace released this statement in conjunction with the UN summit on climate change. They invite us to commit to all levels with an ecological conversions and spirituality, consistent with the lines of guidance and action of Laudato Si’ with children and youth as protagonists. Read the entire statement.

The 10th Anniversary Talitha Kum General Assembly took place on September 21-27 in Rome.  During the assembly delegates reflected on the reality of human trafficking around the world and the priorities for the work of Talitha Kum International for the next five years.  Read the Final Declaration from the Assembly.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – October 1, 2019

The recent Climate Strike demonstrated that young people are serious about making change in our climate crisis.  The earlier March for our Lives showed their desire to build a safer world by changing gun violence legislation.  Young people are our hope for the future. Read why David Gergen and James Piltch believe that we need them to take charge in Young People Offer Urgent Moral Clarity to Do-nothing Adults.

You can make a difference.

  • 1 reusable water bottle = 167 plastic water bottles
  • 1 reusable bag = 170 plastic bags
  • 1 reusable cup = 500 coffee cups
  • 1 metal straw = 540 plastic straws
  • 1 cloth towel = 7,300 paper towels  (Unwaste the Planet)

Some sobering facts about pollution:

  • Americans produce more trash than any other country on earth — 6pounds per person, per day, which amounts to 251 million tons a year. 50% of this trash is sent to landfills, where is slowly decomposes and produces greenhouse gases. Plastic that is not recycled often ends up in the ocean and is especially harmful to wildlife. (Discovery)
  • 85% of registered voters support requiring electric utilities to use 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050. (Yale Program on Climate Change Communication)

Want to know why it’s so important to implement gun safety legislation?  Each day 8 children die from gun violence in America and another 32 are shot and injured.  Check out this Public Service Announcement  and this fact sheet from Sandy Hook Promise.

The good news is that the poverty rate in 2018 dropped since 2017 by .5% from 12.3% to 11.8%.  The bad news is that this still represents 38.1 million people. Poverty rates for children under age 18 decreased 1.2% from 2017 to 16.2%.  Programs that could help this trend continue are being cut. For more information about the 2018 census, click here.

Curious about what it means and takes to impeach a president? This four-minute video from NPR gives you an overview.

According to the New York Times asylum seekers are growing desperate at the border in this article :Desperate Migrants on the Border: ‘I Should Just Swim Across.

The Criminal Justice System has been called the new Jim Crow in an excellent book by Michelle Alexander. Here are some statistics about the system.

  • 50% of all adults in America has had a family member in jail or prison. (Fwd.us)
  • 66% of prisoners at the federal level and about 50% at the state level are in for drug related offenses. (Calvin College Prison Initiative)
  • 27 states allow for people to be charged with “felony murder” even when the defendants did not set out to kill anyone or even play a direct role in the death itself. (American Civil Liberties Union)
  • In a given year, over 160,000 people are incarcerated for a “technical violation” of probation or parole, such as a failed drug test. (The Prison Policy Initiative)
  • In 2018, the US incarcerated 655 out of every 100,000 its citizens. For comparison, Russia imprisoned 415, England & Wales 142, France 102 and Germany 77. (Calvin College Initiative)
  • Most American states spend more on their prisons than they do on education. 15 states spend at least $27,000 more per prisoner than they do per student. The leader is California which invests $64,642 per prisoner compared to $11,495 per student – a $53,146 difference in spending priorities. New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island round out the top states spending more on prisons. (The Daily Mail)
  • 76% of people in local jails are not convicted of a crime, and many are there simply because they can’t afford money bail. (The Prison Policy Initiative)
  • On average, a phone call from a local jail costs over 3 times more than a phone call from a state prison. Nationally, the average cost of a 15-minute call from jail is $5.61. The states with the highest rates are: Arkansas $14.49, Michigan $12.03, Montana $9.24, Kansas $8.49 & North Dakota $8.20. (Prison Policy Initiative)
  • The Rand Corp. recently completed a study of the effects of education in prison and found the following:
    • Education in prison lowers recidivism rate by at least 43%
    • Increases chances of employment by 28%
    • For every $1 spent on education, reduces incarceration rate by $4-5
Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates