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 Updates – November 19, 2019

A focal point of our democracy is the right of every adult to vote. Sadly, there are constant challenges and threats to this right.  The League of Women Voters is asking us to contact our representative and ask him/her to support H.R.4,the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA). According to the LWV, “More than 50 years ago, we saw the most sweeping advancement to voting rights with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which made racially discriminatory voting practices illegal.  Since the court’s decision in 2013, voters across the country have faced issues at the ballot box including unlawful purges, shortening of voting hours, and the closing of polling places in communities with large populations of voters of color…. The VRAA will strengthen our democracy by ensuring that race is not a factor in determining who has access to the ballot box.” Catholic Social Justice affirms that it is the right and responsibility of each and every person to participate in the political process. No individual or community should be disenfranchised by federal policy. Tell your Representative that you support H.R. 4 by dialing 888-496-3502.

Almost a million children could lose free lunch because of a SNAP rule change.  The change, first announced over the summer, would eliminate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, or SNAP, as the food stamps program is now known, for more than 3 million people by eliminating something called broad-based categorical eligibility, a policy that gives states the flexibility to waive some asset and income limits for households that receive both SNAP and other welfare benefits. To learn more, click here.

Human Rights Watch reports that loopholes in US labor law make it legal for children as young as 12 to work unlimited hours on farms of any size with parental permission, as long as they don’t miss school. There is no minimum age for children to work on small or family farms. New research published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine reinforces just how dangerous agricultural work is for children in the United States – and how unprepared most are for what they face in the fields. More US child workers die in agriculture than in any other industry. Every day, 33 children are injured while working on US farms. And they receive frighteningly little safety training, making their work in demanding environments even more dangerous.

Count us in. Watch this one-minute video about why the census is important. 

Fossil fuels and extraction industries have caused massive damage to our environment.  The recent Amazon Synod addressed these issues.  Here are key take-aways from the synod:

  • A concept of “ecological sin,” which is based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 340-344, says that the Creator established the world as a web of dependence. When we break that web, all are harmed, and we turn from our Creator’s love.
  • We have compassion for the people who have been victimized by ecological sin, and especially for the indigenous people who suffer invaded, degraded lands and broken families.
  • Divesting from fossil fuels and reducing our overall dependence on fossil fuels, as well as living more simply and sustainably, are concrete ways to recover from this sin.
  • Our God is merciful, and we can recover. Integral ecology, which sees the deep connections between how we relate to God, each other, and our common home, is the way forward.

There hasn’t been a federal execution in 16 years but the administration has stated they will being executions again. As support for the Death Penalty is waning, this moving in the wrong direction. Please call your President Trump and Attorney General Barr that you are opposed to capital punishment.  Read how hundreds of victims’ relatives are asking the administration to stop this.

We hear with more and more frequency people killed in gun violence. More than 34,483 individuals have been killed in 2019.  We don’t often hear of those who were injured but their trauma continues long after the shooting are passed. Read about the survivors of the El Paso Walmart shooting.

Will we have to stop eating hamburgers?  Scientists say we should shift away from carbon-intensive beef toward poultry, fish and plant-based food and toward agricultural practices and food preparation that make the meat we do eat more sustainable.  Here’s what they say.

Need a little fix of joy?  Here’s something beautiful. Bay Area youth activists are creating 15,000 butterflies to stand in solidarity with the migrant children who have been and are currently in U.S. detention centers.  You can act also.  Read about The Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautiful.

 

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – November 12, 2019

The editors of NCR write “The church is changing. The situation in the Amazon region gathers up, as we’ve noted before, the most compelling themes facing humanity and the church today. The Earth is indisputably under assault because of the activity of humans and nowhere is it more demonstrable than in this critically important ecosystem. Can humanity come to some agreement over ways to protect it?” Read Genuine Dialogue Takes Church into Unscripted Territory.

Today, November 12th, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about the legality of DACA. Archbishop Charles Chaput from Philadelphia writes, “In this great country, we should not have young people living under the threat of deportation, their lives dependent on the outcome of a court case.  The issues at stake are legal, but they are also humanitarian, economic, and moral. By now, these young people are grown up and are deeply integrated into our social fabric – studying in universities and colleges, serving in the police and military, working in hi-tech fields and hospitals; some are even preparing for the priesthood and religious life…. Business leaders from every sector of the economy say these young adults are vital to our nation’s economic future; already, they are contributing billions each year in tax revenues and income. This contribution is especially important at a time when 10,000 baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964 are reaching retirement age every day.”  Read more.

The Supreme Court will not issue its decision until the Spring of 2020.  In the meantime, we must urge Congress to act to provide DACA recipients a legislative solution and a path to citizenship.  The House has already passed H.R. 6 which includes a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.  Please call your Senators and ask them to support S. 874, the Dream Act of 2019 which will support legislative protection for these young people.  Here is a suggested text:

 As a person of faith and a Catholic sister, I want express my strong support for the “Dream Act of 2019” (S. 874). The young people protected by this bill are our neighbors and friends. They are mothers and fathers of U.S. citizens. They are important members of our community and leaders in our parishes. As Catholics, we have long supported DREAMERS as we believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, especially that of our children. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program that has benefited over 800,000 young people by ensuring that recipients are able to live their lives free of the anxiety that they could be deported at any time to a country they do not know and separated from their families.I urge the Senator to:

  • Support and co-sponsor S. 874, the Dream Act of 2019; and
  • Continue to work towards larger legislative reform of our immigration laws.

Be assured of my prayers and please know that Catholics stand with you in support of the DREAM Act of 2019, S. 874.

For more information about what you can do, check out this information from the USCCB Justice for Immigrants.

Catholic Sisters Against Trafficking recently highlighted an innovative program used in Columbus, Ohio to help trafficking victims called CATCH (Changing Actions to Change Habits) Court. To read more about this program, click here.

The LCWR released a statement about the recent withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate Agreement. “Catholic teaching is clear – climate change is a grave moral issue that threatens our commitment to: protect human life and dignity, exercise a preferential option for the most vulnerable, promote the common good, and care for God’s creation” Read the entire statement.  Also call your members of Congress and urge them to publicly oppose the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.

 

 

 

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – November 5, 2019

Next Tuesday, November 12th, the Supreme Court of hear oral arguments on the legality of DACA.  They agreed to tackle two questions: whether the government’s decision to end DACA is something that courts can review at all and, if so, whether the decision to end DACA is legal. Read more.

Can we eat our way to a healthier planet?  NPR explores a new analysis from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that looked at the health and environmental impacts of 15 different food groups.  To check out the study, click here.

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego was one of three U.S. bishops at the synod. He believes that to save the Earth we must “forge a collation between the religious communities of the world, the young people of the world and the scientific community to really bring together a program to educate people about the realities of the destruction of the environment, and how they will come to a point of irreversibility.”  Here’s his take on what happened.

The Blessed are the Peacemakers Webinar recording is available for use by associate groups, study groups, or individuals.  The video is 2 1/3 hours. The materials include the agenda, power point, handouts, and suggested reading. You can access those resources here.

Campaign on Behalf of Immigrant Children.  Here is a report on the reports of the campaign.

Last June, members of the DC Catholic Coalition experienced a call to respond to the immediate crisis of children at the US Border separated from their families and detained in unacceptable conditions.  Representing religious congregations and Catholic justice organizations, we recognized a call to mobilize the collective power of our various constituencies for the sake of the children.

We knew from the outset that the complex issues and immense suffering would not be “solved” with our campaign to raise awareness, inspire action and encourage each one to take increasing risk to raise the consciousness of our leaders.  At the same time, we are people of hope and the response to our collective invitation to join three actions of witness surpassed our expectations. We are profoundly grateful.

The DC Catholic Coalition made a three-month commitment to participate and invite others to join three actions to educate, create a community of commitment, and to act on behalf of immigrant children and families. We thank each one of you who participated, sponsored, supported and prayed with us.  More than 1,000 individuals and groups have been part of this collective witness.  We give thanks for each one.

While the work must continue, this season of harvest and bountiful thanks give us occasion to recall what has happened in our three witnesses:

  • July 18:  Capitol Rotunda (70 arrested and/200 hundred participants):  Gathering for prayer and protest on the grounds of the capitol with a procession to the Rotunda of the Russell Senate office building for an action of non-violent civil disobedience on behalf of immigrant families, particularly the children separated and detained.
  • September  4: Newark, New Jersey: Prayer at St. Mary’s Abbey followed by a procession to ICE offices, Cardinal Tobin’s remarks and blessing, speakers from the community, witness in the street of Newark as a testimony of the power of local and national communities on behalf of those separated and detained.
  • October 12:  Hope Border Institute Teach -In. Two hundred people crossed the Paso Del Norte bridge from El Paso to Ciudad Juarez to meet with immigrant families living on the streets while they wait to be allowed to apply for asylum in the U.S. As they crossed back, each blessed the bridge and prayed for those forced to “Remain in Mexico” and they watched as three immigrant families who accompanied them were permitted to enter the U.S.

Each of these three witnesses for immigrant justice required a wide net of community organizers, volunteers, planning teams, powerful prayerful witness powerfully duplicated in local communities and the testimony of transformational experiences from participants from coast to coast.  This has been an experience of the power where “two or three are gathered in my name” and the effervescence of the Spirit.

The work must continue.  Each of us has both a responsibility and a Gospel call to determine how we will continue this great work that has begun.  As we draw the collective action of this “three-witness commitment” to a close, we invite you to join us in prayer and reflection  on November 2nd. We have attached a prayer for your use and suggested some questions to assist each of us to deepen our understanding how this experience calls us to respond in new ways:

Looking back:

  • How have we changed?
  • How have we experienced new challenge?
  • How have we grown in our commitment?

Looking forward:

  • Realizing that we cannot do this alone, how can we continue to join in solidarity locally, regionally and nationally to continue this work.
  • Consider one or more of the following questions:  What is the relationship between the police and the immigrants in your community? Is there a trust relationship or are the police a tool of ICE? Is your church willing to serve as sanctuary? Is there a local immigrant advocacy organization with which you can become involved. What positions have your elected representatives taken vis a vis immigration. Where is the Governor of your State regarding accepting refugees? Is your parish reaching out to immigrants?

We encourage you to use Bishop Mark Seitz’s pastoral letter, Night Will Be No More to enliven your reflection and deepen your commitment to action.  In addition, you will find listed below some resources for your continued action on behalf End the Inhumanity. We invite your prayers and intentions for the Border Mass that will celebrated November 2 in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.

We, the DC Catholic Coalition, know that the power of the three witnesses has been in our collective community response.  It could not have happened without each one of us, with our confidence in the faith that moves mountains and the courage to be “laborers in the field”.

We thank the sponsoring organizations, the generous contributions (human, spiritual and financial) that made the work possible, and our heartfelt gratitude for each one who “kept showing up” in this time that so many choose silence and invisibility.

Let us continue to be the visible Eucharist in the communion of commitment.

With gratitude and hope,

DC Catholic Coalition

Here is a prayer from the campaign:

Welcome! We gather here today in the presence of our loving God to reflect on the lives of our brothers and sisters who have been detained by the U.S. government in their search for a life, and especially to reflect on the children in detention, frightened, alone, hungry and cold. We come also to ask for the strength and courage of our God to act through us as we call for justice for these children and their families, for an end to child detention, and for a moral and humane response to all who come to our country seeking refuge. Finally, we come here to ask for our merciful God to bestow wisdom on our lawmakers so that they do not shy away from their moral duty and show compassion to all, especially the most vulnerable, the children, in their work to create a just, fair and humane immigration policy. Through the power of our faith and in the compassion of Jesus Christ we ask that all human life be respected and that children seeking refuge be no longer detained, left alone and afraid, but rather that they feel the love, warmth and welcome of our great nation.

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

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