Topic: Justice & Peace Alerts

CMSM Statement on U.S. Bombing in Syria

Syria and Iraq

U.S. Bombing in Syria: We Must Break Free from Retaliation

President Trump recently launched 59 cruise missiles at an air base in Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack within Syria. We, who are called to be Catholic religious leaders, mourn for all those that died in both of these incidents, and we denounce this use of violence which only exacerbates the habits and structures of violence. In fact, these habits and structures are part of the core root causes of this conflict, which has already killed over 300,000 people and led to almost 5 million refugees and 7 million internally displaced persons.

The President has continuously emphasized the “rule of law” and yet in this case it appears that he obtained no congressional approval, nor did he allow for formal due process investigating the facts of the incident. We strongly support the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ investigation into this incident and call on all parties to provide access.

As Christians, we go deeper and turn to the example of Jesus who courageously resisted injustice, even with his very life, and offered compassionate and merciful justice humanity could not imagine. This week we enter into the Paschal Mystery of Jesus facing the violent structures of Jerusalem, risking his life, and providing a way to overcome through his nonviolent cross.

Pope Francis has clearly said that, “countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all” (Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace, Jan. 1, 2017). Thus, he called on all persons, especially government officials to use the Sermon on the Mount as the manual for peacemaking and to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their responsibilities.

CMSM Executive Director Fr. John Pavlik, OFM Cap., says, “Our hearts were broken as we learned of the suffering inflicted upon Syrian families and children with chemical weapons. And our hearts were wounded a second time in a violent response with cruise missiles bombing, destroying, and killing yet more. The US response manifested strong military power but showed nothing of a united will to lift, rescue, and save suffering people from the ravages of war. The US can be so much better than this.”

The issue we must face is not simply chemical weapons, but war itself along with the habits and structures of violence that enable it. The U.S. has too often been involved in killing thousands in recent wars, especially civilians and children, as we have seen most recently in Mosul, Iraq and our direct support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen. As we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam” on April 4th, we are reminded of his words that “war is not a just way of settling differences,” and it cannot be “reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love.” Hence, we recommit to Vatican II’s call that “it is our clear duty to strain every muscle to outlaw war” (Pastoral Constitution, 81). Further, we commit to Pope Francis’ call to make “every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence” (Nonviolence: Style of Politics for Peace) as we create a “culture of nonviolence…that has produced decisive results” (Letter to Bishop Cupich, Apr. 4, 2017).

Download this statement as a PDF.

Previous CMSM statement on use of chemical weapons and alternative responses – Sept. 6, 2013.

An Unexpected Challenge and Urgent Request: Update from South Sudan

Sudan - Feeding the Hungry

The following information comes to us by way of Sr. Joan Mumaw of Friends in Solidarity, the U.S. partner to solidarity with South Sudan. Their offices are part of the shared building with CMSM.

On New Year’s Day, the village of Riimenze in Western Equatoria was the scene of intense fighting between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (national army) and rebels, made up primarily of local men and boys “recruited” to defend their area. During the fighting, homes were looted and burned, sometimes with people in them. Over 5000 people from the village fled their homes and are sheltering at the parish in Riimenze, the site of the Solidarity Agricultural Training Project.

Sisters Rosa and Josephine and Brother Christian, members of Solidarity with South Sudan, are assisting these internally displaced people (IDP), helping them to access water, food, shelter and medicines. Fortunately, there was an abundant crop of sweet potatoes harvested from the agricultural project at the end of the year. Solidarity staff from the Teacher Training College bought all the tarps available in the Yambio area, an insufficient number for the 1700 families needing shelter. Generous donors are providing resources for an additional borehole and water tanks.

The needs are greater than our resources. Solidarity with South Sudan is focused on capacity building- training nurses, midwives, teachers and pastoral teams. The urgent needs of the community built up around the agricultural project present Solidarity members with new challenges. Friends in Solidarity is seeking funds to assist the Riimenze team with this great need. JOIN US in supporting Solidarity. Secure tax deductible donations can be made via www.solidarityfriends.org or Facebook. Checks made out to Friends in Solidarity can be sent to the address below.

Facing Famine

The United Nations recently warned of famine in South Sudan. 100,000 people in Unity State are facing famine and over a million are food insecure. Others indicate that 40% of the population will soon be in a similar situation. The tragedy is that this is man-made. Leaders in the country have failed to comply with peace agreements and are unable to control their own military groups who continue to ravage the country, looting and burning and raping the women and young girls. Humanitarian agencies are unable to deliver life-saving food and medicines because of the lack of security. Solidarity with South Sudan is partnering with Catholic Relief Services to deliver humanitarian assistance in Wau, Riimenze and Juba. Where possible, assistance is given to support people who want to return to their homes and rebuild. The Riimenze crisis provides us with the opportunity to assist people to return to their plots of land and rebuild their homes when peace is restored. This is possible because of the work Solidarity has done to build a community around sustainable agricultural practices. Join us, Friends in Solidarity, as we assist Solidarity with South Sudan in this rebuilding effort. www.solidarityfriends.org

Joan Mumaw
8808 Cameron St
Silver Spring, MD 20910

15,000 Catholics ask Trump to honor Paris climate agreement

Flowers

CMSM was one of fifteen Catholic organizations and religious institutes to endorse the petition.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thousands of Catholics have asked President Donald Trump to honor the Paris climate agreement, continue U.S. contributions to the Green Climate Fund, and implement the Clean Power Plan governing power plant emissions.

Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, said 15,000 Catholics signed an online petition that was submitted to the president March 15. It was developed as one response to Trump administration claims that climate change is not caused by human activities.

“They are issues that our organization, the Catholic bishops, Catholic Relief Services, and other organizations have supported for years,” Misleh said of the three areas addressed in the petition. “We think there is a federal role for action on the climate issue.

Read the article on CruxNow.

Media Release: ICE Must Respect Places of Worship and Ministry

ICE Logo

 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials apprehended six men exiting a hypothermia shelter on February 8 at Rising Hope Mission Church in Alexandria, Virginia — violating ICE’s own policy not to conduct enforcement actions at or near “sensitive locations” like houses of worship. We, who are called to be Catholic religious leaders, are deeply troubled by the pattern of deportations of those seeking refuge who do not pose a “significant threat to national security and public safety.” We are outraged when a government agency breaks its commitment to religious respect and invades and violates holy ground. No action of a government should ever bring fear into any person who seeks worship or aid at a religious house of worship or religious sponsored place. Our constitution guarantees our freedom of worship and religion even when it embraces acts of mercy.

As Christians, we turn to the example of Jesus who often had a compassionate and merciful justice humanity could not imagine. The very soul of our country is based on being free from religious oppression. Are we so blind as to not see how many frightening moments in our world’s history began by the erosion of a universal belief in dignity for all and oppression of religion? We choose to remind all people of our long standing Catholic social teaching on the poor and Pope Francis renewed call to all humankind to encounter the other, build bridges with relationships, and resist injustice.

CMSM President Fr. Brian Terry, SA says, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ The very words of Jesus’ parable ring in my ears. I cannot imagine the pain filled eyes of the six vulnerable men who joyfully escaped the death of a cold night because of the care of a loving Church, only to be imprisoned as they exited… by the cold steel of handcuffs, a freezing cold steel of terror and despair which would go right into your soul.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is implementing President Trump’s recent executive orders to increase immigration enforcement by targeting all undocumented immigrants, including a Methodist lay leader in Kansas, a mother in Arizona, and now, men coming out of a church ministry that provides shelter in extremely cold conditions. People are increasingly afraid to go to school, hospitals, and places of worship. We promote the value of law and order, but we also recognize the greater values of merciful justice and compassion.

We invite others to join us in denouncing these deportation efforts that harm the “least of our brothers and sisters.” We especially denounce the irreverence, disrespect and violation of sensitive locations, such as houses of worship and ministry which belong to God and the erosion of our Constitutional right to be free from religious oppression by our government.

For more information about this media release, contact Eli McCarthy or call 301-588-4030.

Download a printable copy of this media release.

15 Christian Organizations Call for Peace, Justice in Israel/Palestine

Jerusalem

The Conference of Major Superiors of Men and Pax Christi International are among 15 major Christian organisations of different denominations that sent a briefing paper to all members of Congress and to the Trump Administration this morning, calling for US policies that promote peace, justice, and equality between Israelis and Palestinians.

The paper states: “2017 marks 50 years since Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza and 24 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords. Over the last 50 years, but particularly since the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993, there have been significant changes on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territories that have a negative impact on efforts to achieve peace with justice.”

View the article. 

Source: ICN News

Joint LCWR and CMSM letter to President-Elect Trump

White House

SILVER SPRING (January 18, 2017). The Presidents of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) representing the elected leaders of more than 55,000 Catholic religious sisters, brothers, and priests sent a letter to President-Elect Donald Trump reminding him of the gift and responsibility of leadership. LCWR President, Mary Pellegrino, CSJ and CMSM President, Brian Terry, SA write out of their concern for the critical needs facing the country and the world today, and the call to respond through the service of leadership. They express deep concerns about the “fractures and divisions” that “threaten the wellbeing and freedom of all Americans and those who have fled in fear to our shores and borders.” They urge all of us to commit to “respectful and dignified civil discourse.”

View the Full Release.

View the Letter.