September 2011 (en Español)
National Religious Campaign against Torture
Soon our country will mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Many denominations, faith groups and religious organizations have prepared materials for use in community gatherings and worship services in congregations – for links to those resources, go to www.nrcat.org/remembering911. You will also find pastoral care materials and age appropriate resources for children.
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture has prepared a litany appropriate for interfaith gatherings or community prayer services. It can also be incorporated into regularly scheduled worship in congregations. To view the litany, go to: www.nrcat.org/remembering911litany.
We remember the pain and tragedy of September 11, 2001, and pray for God’s peace and healing in the years ahead.
Pax Christi USA
In anticipation of the tenth anniversary of 9-11, Pax Christi USA has released a statement reflecting on where we have been these past ten years and opening a discussion on what path to the future our nation might take. Pax Christi USA immediately and steadfastly called the events of 9-11 what they in fact were, ‘crimes against humanity,’ rather than an act of war. We have been consistent in our criticism regarding foreign policy decisions which treated the events of that day as an act of war. We have also been insistent that the best way we can honor the memory of those who lost their lives that day and the grief of their families and friends is to recognize and cultivate "the things that make for peace."
We hope that the statement is helpful to you in your own reflection as the anniversary approaches. We encourage you to use it to educate members of your communities and churches--posting sections of the statement in your church bulletins, using it as template for letters to the editor, reading it aloud as part of public prayer services, etc.
We have also posted a page on our website dedicated to resources to help you and your group observe the anniversary. You can check out those resources by clicking here.
Washington, D.C.--Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement, has recognized the life and witness of Colleen Kelly, naming her the 2011 recipient of the Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award. Pax Christi USA first gave the award to Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, in 1978 and has since recognized some of the most significant U.S. Catholic activists for peace and justice of the past 3 decades, including actor Martin Sheen; poet and priest Daniel Berrigan, SJ; and Dead Man Walking author Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ. Kelly is one of the founding members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.
Kelly’s brother Bill was at a breakfast conference at Windows on the World and was killed during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Inspired by decades of non-violent response to deadly conflict, Kelly met several other like-minded family members in December 2001. This group of people who experienced first-hand the tragedy and loss of 9-11 eventually formed September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, which took its name from the Martin Luther King quote, “Wars make poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.” The group has over 200 family members and has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace prize.
“At a time when our nation needed models for how to deal with our grief and anger, Colleen and the members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows showed us how to do so—seeking our own healing by committing ourselves to the work of making a more peaceful and just world for all,” stated Ronaldo Cruz, Acting Executive Director of Pax Christi USA.
In January 2003, Kelly joined a person-to-person Peaceful Tomorrows delegation to Iraq to learn about the conditions facing civilians in the aftermath of two wars, sanctions, and the threat of new military action there. For the fifth anniversary of 9-11, Peaceful Tomorrows hosted more than thirty family members of victims of political violence from around the world who had consciously chosen to respond nonviolently. Participants included atomic bomb survivors; families affected by violence in Bali; Beslan, Russia; Madrid; Chile; Algeria; Rwanda; South Africa; Uganda; and Israel/Palestine. This new international group committed to support families recently affected by the loss of a loved one, and to channel grief to break cycles of violence.
“As the tenth anniversary of 9-11 approaches, we cannot think of more apt way to remember that day than by honoring the work of Kelly as one of the founding members of Peaceful Tomorrows,” stated Sr. Josie Chrosniak, HM, Chair of Pax Christi USA’s National Council. “Her response to the loss of her brother on 9-11 stood in stark contrast to the response of our elected leaders. She showed all of us, how, faced with the biblical question of choosing life or choosing death, even in the shadow of the terrible evil of that day, we can respond by choosing life and peace.”
Kelly will be honored at the Pax Christi USA-sponsored event, “Peace and Reconciliation: Spiritual Reflections a Decade After 9-11,” featuring best-selling author Jim Wallis, on September 8 at the Catholic University of America.
The USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants Campaign is pleased to announce our Pray for the DREAM weekend and we encourage all interested parties to participate. Between September 18th and October 9th scores of dioceses, parishes and other faith groups will be planning events and/or incorporating petitions, homilies, and prayers into the Sunday Masses in support of our DREAM Act eligible students and youth.
We plan to lift up the human face of suffering from an otherwise political issue through personal stories and testimonies, while also sharing many of the ways that Catholic Social Teaching calls us to support our innocent immigrant youth who want nothing more than a chance to succeed in this world and reach their God-given potential.
The JFI Campaign is looking to coordinate events and Masses in support of immigrant youth with a special focus on Sunday, September 25th, although other Sundays may be chosen as well. We hope that your Congregation will assist us in this endeavor. The goal is to continue the call for the DREAM Act while also urging President Obama to protect vulnerable populations including DREAM Act eligible youth and parents of citizen children from unwarranted detention and deportation.
Please go to www.justiceforimmigrants.org/parishes.shtml to find sample “Pray for the DREAM” resources that can be used to support your events. If you plan to participate in Pray for the DREAM, please complete the form at:
WASHINGTON--“This Labor Day, the economic facts are stark and the human costs are real: millions of our sisters and brothers are without work, raising children in poverty and haunted by fears about their economic security,” said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, in “Human Costs and Moral Challenges of a Broken Economy,” the annual Labor Day statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). He added, “These are not just economic problems, but also human tragedies, moral challenges, and tests of our faith.”
Bishop Blaire, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said this Labor Day comes at a time when nine percent of Americans are looking for work and cannot find it, while others live in fear of losing their jobs. He cited Pope Leo XIII's groundbreaking encyclical Rerum Novarum as the inspiration for this year's statement, and added, "We need to look beyond the economic indicators, stock market gyrations, and political conflicts and focus on the often invisible burdens of ordinary workers and their families, many of whom are hurting, discouraged, and left behind by this economy." He further stated, "An economy that cannot provide employment, decent wages and benefits, and a sense of participation and ownership for its workers is broken in fundamental ways."
Bishop Blaire also emphasized the Church’s tradition of supporting the rights of workers to organize to protect their dignity and the dignity of work. “The Church’s relationship with the labor movement is both supportive and challenging. Our Church continues to teach that unions remain an effective instrument to protect the dignity of work and the rights of workers…Workers and their unions, as well as employers and their businesses, all have responsibility to seek the common good, not just their own economic, political, or institutional interests.”
Bishop Blaire concluded by outlining a Catholic response to the economy and joblessness, stating, “We are called to renew our commitment to the God-given task of defending human life and dignity, celebrating work, and defending workers with both hope and conviction. This is a time for prayer, reflection, and action.”
The annual statement offers Catholics an opportunity to reflect on the state of unemployment and the American economy, and how Catholic teaching can guide a response. The full text of the Labor Day statement can be found online in English at www.usccb.org/about/domestic-social-development/upload/Labor-Day-2011.pdf and in Spanish at www.usccb.org/about/domestic-social-development/upload/Labor-Day-2011-espanol.pdf.
Catholics have a long history of support for unions, but the recent protests in Wisconsin show how strained the relationship has become.
Veteran Catholic lawmaker Timothy Cullen was the last Wisconsin Democratic state senator to leave Madison on a chilly winter morning this past February. The other 13 had already fled the capital and across the Illinois state line, immune from any attempt to force them back to vote on the usually mundane budgetary fix to adjust the state budget.
This year the fix was anything but mundane. Newly inaugurated Gov. Scott Walker’s plan included a provision that shocked even Republican leaders. It would strip most public employees of the right to collective bargaining regarding their working conditions and benefits. This came on the heels of tax cuts that Walker had pushed through the new Republican majorities in both legislative houses -- including tax cuts on capital gains, for corporations, and for the wealthy. It was the attack on collective bargaining (where workers agree to be represented by a union for negotiations over work conditions, wages, and benefits), however, that sparked weeks of protests and apparently divided even Wisconsin’s Catholic bishops between support for the unions and the governor.
Cullen says the governor’s collective bargaining bill divided Wisconsin as he’s never seen the state divided before. That division extends to the state’s more than 1.6 million Catholics--29 percent of the population.
Cullen made it to Illinois, denying the 19 Senate Republicans a 20th member necessary for the quorum needed to vote on budgetary bills. He didn’t stay there, though, even after the Republicans voted to order the forcible detention of their Democratic counterparts. He returned home every weekend, attending Sunday Mass at the picturesque, steepled St. Patrick Church in Janesville, the parish he grew up in and where his uncle was ordained a priest 70 years ago.
Walker became nationally known as network news carried stories week after week on the protests in Madison and on the fugitive senators. Suddenly Americans needed to learn--or relearn--just what collective bargaining was all about.
Catholics had an additional task: To square how they felt about the Wisconsin brouhaha with Catholic social teaching. “It’s not always easy to sort out social teachings from political stands,” warns Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California. “Catholic social teaching should inform a person’s politics, not the other way around.”
Considering the church’s tremendous potential to frame and clarify the debate, what happened in Wisconsin this year suggests this might be a good time for American Catholics to renew their acquaintance with the church’s social encyclicals and to remember Catholics’ history as the backbone of the U.S. labor movement. This is, after all, the 120th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, the church’s founding document on social justice teaching and its support for working people and unions.
[Read the entire article in the August 2011 issue of U.S. Catholic.]
The job crisis in the U.S. and globally is not only an economic crisis, it is a moral crisis. Work is a critical dimension of human wellbeing. From the perspective of Catholic Social Teaching, work is the way that women and men participate in God’s creative activity, develop themselves and give shape to their world. Work corresponds with human dignity and is the condition for providing personal and/or family support as well as the basis of cultural and social life. Being without work is a human and societal crisis, a crisis we find ourselves in today. There is no more important agenda than to move people back into work that is ecologically sustainable and supportive of human well-being.
For the majority of economists and policy makers there has been an implicit assumption that the stabilization of Wall Street would lead the way to recovery, but four years into the recession belies that optimism. These multiple crises point to the reality that our current economic thinking and policy prescriptions are neither sustainable nor securing human and ecological well-being. There is a movement amongst more and more Americans that seeks an economy that is increasingly green, socially responsible and one that is based on rethinking the growth paradigm of many conventional policies. This new thinking opens ways to address the current job crisis and begins the complicated process of reframing and redirecting the economy.
The oft quoted epigram of economist Paul Romer is apt: “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” Today the U.S. and countries across the world are in the grip of interrelated crises: climate change, financial/economic, jobs, food and care. Together they form a systemic crisis which the current economic and political structures are unable to address. The evidence that changes in the economic paradigm driving these crises are needed to ensure a life of human dignity for all.
In the midst of recent events that capture media and political attention, we see the growing desire toward reframing the economy with a different set of goals and values. Instead of focusing economy policy and activity on growth, production and consumerism, an economy that focuses on ecological sustainability and human well-being is desired. Investing in the green economy and the care economy will be steps in the right direction. The recent crises, and the sufferings they have caused so many people, can contribute to a renewed vision of the common good.
June 17, 2011 (Jesuit Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat)
With a new study on the status of the world’s mountain glaciers, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences strengthens its efforts to further integrate environmental questions into the social and ethical discourse of the Church. The 15-page report Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene (pdf), elaborated by an interdisciplinary team of 24 researchers on behalf of the Academy, urgently warns of the consequences of climate change and pleads for determined measures to reduce global warming.
“Aggressive exploitation of fossil fuel and other natural resources has damaged the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we inhabit,” the paper says. In the European Alps, glaciers have shrunk by more than 50% since the “Little Ice Age” of the early 19th century, with rapidly increasing rates since the 1980s. According to the study, the factors for this development are complex, but principally it is the growth of greenhouse gases, together with large scale emissions of dark soot particles and dust, that provokes warming at higher altitudes.
The scientists --among them Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen, the former head of the European Meteorological Service, and Veerabhadran Ramanathan of the Scripps Research Institute at San Diego -- make ambitious recommendations: firstly, to reduce worldwide CO2 emissions in order to ensure the long-term stability of the climate system; secondly, to cut air pollution such as dark soot, methane, and lower atmosphere ozone by as much as 50%; thirdly, to take adequate adaptation measures for those climate-induced changes which society will be unable to mitigate.
Indeed, the determinative human role within nature’s development is already indicated in the study’s title that refers to a term introduced by Crutzen himself: he calls “Anthropocene” a new era, which began when the influence of humans on the planet became a crucial factor for environmental change.
With some caution, the authors also point to the link between climate issues and social justice: a combination of air pollution and climate change policies could be a promising way to “restore the climate system to a safe level, and to reduce climate injustice,” they say -- without explaining however, in which way a just climate regime should be designed and what exactly “climate justice” could be. What does “justice” mean in an era of worldwide environment conflicts? How should we envisage “justice” to the Creation in its entirety? Such questions are yet to be fully articulated in the Church’s official statements.
A document of the Pontifical Academy does not as such constitute a position of the Magisterium, or form an official part of “Catholic Social Teaching.” Nevertheless, it is an indication of the Holy See’s concern to dialogue with the sciences, in order to encounter the most challenging conflicts of our days with an adequate social and ethical orientation. Through such a paper, the Church acknowledges that it is a learning as well as a teaching community, responding to scientific findings which are raised within broader civil society.
This is not the first time that the Pontifical Academy has dealt with ecological questions, and such attempts may easily generate their own controversies. The Academy’s report on biotechnology (pdf), for example, published in November 2010, appeared to many competent persons to favor unduly those scientists -- and even their sponsoring commercial corporations -- who argued for the endorsement of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in order to ensure the stability of the worldwide agricultural markets. The laudable intention of “listening to science” entails “listening to scientists,” but the questions inescapably arise, “Which scientists” and “Who is competent to choose them?” In the case of “glacier melt,” no corporate interests are immediately threatened. But the example of the GMO report shows that neutrality of science is itself not a mere fact but a commitment that requires ethical discernment.
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