A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Ferguson-Michael-Brown-690

As a nation we have watched Ferguson and as nation we have waited to hear if Darren Wilson would be held accountable for shooting an unarmed civilian. In the time of waiting we learned of Tamir Brown, a 12-year-old boy shot dead in Cleveland, and Akai Gurley, a 22-year-old father shot dead in the stairwell of his housing unit. We have seen communities across the nation rise up and demand justice. The murder of Michael was not justified because a police officer fired the gun. The fact that a sworn officer of the state fired the gun amplifies the murder to a state-sanctioned killing. If the state will not protect you–will not recognize your right to life–where do you go?

And is that who we are? A nation that kills 12-year-old boys who have toy guns in parks? A nation that kills unarmed civilians? The lack of indictments would say yes.

Melissa Harris-Perry holds open a space to remember the people left to pick up the pieces of lost life. In her open letter to Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, she invites us to remember for how long black mothers have faced state-sanctioned destruction of black families. She invites us to step outside the media blitz on this issue and be present to a grieving mother. May this presence–this grief–help all of us to join those in the streets demanding justice.

Click her to watch: Letter to Mother of Michael Brown

68,000

Photo courtesy of NBC news.

Photo courtesy of NBC news .

As we move toward November 4th and head to the polls I wanted to share a perspective that is often left out of the mainstream media. Jerry Large, columnist for the Seattle Times, drawing on the work of Professor Dana Frank, offers another look at the more than 68,000 children that fled to our border just this year. Professor Frank and Jerry Large offer us a glimpse into the worlds edited from our nightly news. As we get ready to select a new group of leaders who will make decision on issues like immigration, it can be helpful to hear the voices typically left out of the conversation.

“U.S. Has Hand in Honduran Mess” (Reprinted from the Seattle Times)

Things have gotten much worse since Dana Frank had an opinion piece published in The New York Times with this headline: “In Honduras, a Mess Made in the U.S.

This year, more than 68,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended after crossing the southwestern border of the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The vast majority are from three Central American countries, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Frank, a history professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, says the U.S. is partly to blame for the flood of youngsters.

I spoke with Frank last week before she spoke about the situation at the University of Washington. She lived in Seattle in the 1980s when the headlines about Central America were about wars that raged between U.S.-supported right-wing forces and leftists backed by the Soviets and Cubans.

She thought we’d learned some things from our involvement there in the 1980s, but we are back. Last time the Cold War was the justification and this time it’s the War on Drugs, and it seems, she said, that the more we support a government, the worse conditions get. Not surprising because we always seem to be in bed with the worst sort.

Her research focus has been on Honduras, which she said has been most tied to U.S. influence. The U.S. is particularly intent on preserving that relationship, she said, because in recent years some countries in Central America have elected left-center governments that are exercising more independence from U.S. influence.

Frank was researching a book on Honduras in 2009 when the elected government was overthrown in a military coup. The current president is Juan Orlando Hernandez, whom she calls “a dangerous Machiavellian thug.”

Frank said the coup changed her life and the direction of her work. People she knew were being arrested and mistreated. “I asked myself, what can I do? What powers do I have? What is my moral responsibility?”

Before the coup, Frank had researched labor issues. Her first book was “Purchasing Power: Consumer Organizing, Gender, and the Seattle Labor Movement.” She’d first gone to Central America at the invitation of women in banana-worker unions.

But after the coup she started paying attention to U.S. policy in the region, studying it in detail and building expertise. She knew how to gather and analyze facts, and how to present them in academic papers, books, newspaper articles and public testimony. She put all of her skills to use.

In recent years she has testified before Congress, the Canadian Parliament and the California Assembly about human rights and U.S. policy in Honduras.

She told me those children at the border aren’t coming in search of economic gain or in pursuit of the American dream. They are fleeing the brutality of their homelands. The numbers of children and adults fleeing grew rapidly as Honduras became the murder capital of the world, she said.

Their well-being is threatened by drug gangs, by the police and the military. The U.S. sends at least $25 million a year in aid to the government and yet, she said, drug dealers are present at every level of government.

Most of the people fleeing are coming from Honduras, and the Obama administration’s response has been to offer the government there more help and to try harder to seal our own borders.

Frank says we shouldn’t see the children as a threat to us, but ask instead whether we have helped disrupt their lives.

She believes Congress can be persuaded to push for change in our Central America policies if people here become aware of the situation there, and the role the U.S. plays in it, and then press their representatives to act.

Hondurans wouldn’t leave in droves if their country were economically stable and more humane. U.S. trade policies and financial support for the police and military are part of the problem.

And, she said, we could more effectively deal with drugs though legalization and treatment here.

Jerry Large’s column appears Monday and Thursday. Reach him at 206-464-3346 or jlarge@seattletimes.com

 

 

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Pax Christi has created a great toolkit to prepare us for International Day of Peace, Sept. 21, 2014:

Greetings of peace!

Beginning on the International Day of Peace, September 21st, and continuing through September 27, Pax Christi USA members and groups will be hosting and/or participating in a week of actions as supporters of Campaign Nonviolence. Pax Christi USA was an earlier endorser of Campaign Nonviolence, and if your local group or region has something planned, we want to know! Send your information to jzokovitch@paxchristiusa.org and we’ll help promote your event and connect others to your action.

Peace education and the practice of nonviolence are needed now as much as ever. Dr. King told us that “the choice is not between violence and nonviolence, but between nonviolence and nonexistence.” Events like the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, to the U.S. bombing campaign in the Middle East, and issues from climate change to nuclear weapons are the evidence for just how prescient Dr. King’s words were. But we can turn the tide. We can “mainstream nonviolence” and create a world which is more peaceful, just and sustainable. Join us between September 21-27 for this week of action. It is not too late to plan an event or make plans to participate. Let’s take our action to the street and show that nonviolence is “the love that does justice.”

In peace,
Johnny Zokovitch
Director of Communications, Pax Christi USA

Pray

by Eileen Egan and John Dear

Recognizing the violence in my own heart, yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God, I vow for one year to practice the nonviolence of Jesus who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God…You have learned how it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy’; but I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way, you will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven.”

Before God the Creator and the Sanctifying Spirit, I vow to carry out in my life the love and example of Jesus…

Click here to see the rest of the Vow of Nonviolence.

Click here to order copies of the Vow in brochure format for your church, family, school, or others, with additional actions and resources for practicing nonviolence.

 

Study

Drawing from articles sent in to the Bread for the Journey blog on the Pax Christi USA website, we periodically reformat several articles into a free, downloadable process booklet of 4-6 sessions designed for small group discussion and reflection. We think that these two resources may be of particular interest for your group or even individual study as part of Campaign Nonviolence. To see more of these process booklets, click here.
“The Gospel, Nonviolence and Civil Discourse: Reflections on civil discourse, respectful dialogue across difference, and nonviolence” by Pax Christi International Co-President Marie Dennis
“For Now We See in a Mirror, Dimly: An Anti-Racist Critique of Pax Christi USA’s Theology and Practice of Nonviolence” by PCUSA Ambassador of Peace Tom Cordaro

Act

1. Join or plan an action in your local community. Click here for more information.

2. Take the Campaign Nonviolence pledge.

3. Join the Fast for Peace.

Iraqi Children

A perspective from religious leaders to consider before President Obama’s address:

Dear President Obama:

As religious communities, leaders, and academics, we write to express our deep concern over the recent escalation of U.S. military action in Iraq. While the dire plight of Iraqi civilians should compel the international community to respond in some way, U.S. military action is not the answer. Lethal weapons and airstrikes will not remove the threat to a just peace in Iraq. As difficult as it might be, in the face of this great challenge, we believe that the way to address the crisis is through long-term investments in supporting inclusive governance and diplomacy, nonviolent resistance, sustainable development, and community-level peace and reconciliation processes.

Pope Francis has affirmed that “peacemaking is more courageous than warfare,” and more recently said that “it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underscore the verb ‘stop;’ I don’t say bomb, make war — stop him.” But how, we ask?

In addition to the complex factors spilling over from the civil war in Syria and pressure from other neighbors, decades of U.S. political and military intervention, coupled with inadequate social reconciliation programs, have significantly contributed to the current crisis in Iraq. More bombing will ultimately mean more division, bloodshed, recruitment for extremist organizations, and a continual cycle of violent intervention.

The current state of crisis and the breakdown of state institutions in Libya provide another stark example of the failure of a militarized strategy. Like Libya, the air strikes in Iraq will ultimately fail to build and maintain sustainable peace in the long-term.

We understand and deeply share the desire to protect people, especially civilians. However, even when tactics of violent force yield a short-term displacement of the adversary’s violence, such violence toward armed actors is often self-perpetuating, as the retributive violence that flares up in response will only propitiate more armed intervention in a tit-for-tat escalation without addressing the root causes of the conflict. We see this over and over again. It is not “necessary” to continue down this road of self-destruction, as Pope Francis called the hostilities of war the “suicide of humanity.”

There are better, more effective, more healthy and more humanizing ways to protect civilians and to engage this conflict. Using an alternative frame, here are some “just peace” ways the United States and others can not only help save lives in Iraq and the region, but also begin to transform the conflict and break the cycle of violent intervention. To begin, the United States should take the following steps:

  • Stop U.S. bombing in Iraq to prevent bloodshed, instability and the accumulation of grievances that contribute to the global justification for the Islamic State’s existence among its supporters.
  • Provide robust humanitarian assistance to those who are fleeing the violence. Provide food and much-needed supplies in coordination with the United Nations.
  • Engage with the UN, all Iraqi political and religious leaders, and others in the international community on diplomatic efforts for a lasting political solution for Iraq. Ensure a significantly more inclusive Iraqi government along with substantive programs of social reconciliation to interrupt the flow and perhaps peel-back some of the persons joining the Islamic State. In the diplomatic strategy, particularly include those with influence on key actors in the Islamic State.
  • Work for a political settlement to the crisis in Syria. The conflicts in Iraq and Syria are intricately connected and should be addressed holistically. Return to the Geneva peace process for a negotiated settlement to the civil war in Syria and expand the agenda to include regional peace and stability. Ensure Iran’s full participation in the process.
  • Support community-based nonviolent resistance strategies to transform the conflict and meet the deeper need and grievances of all parties. For example, experts have suggested strategies such as parallel institutions, dispersed disruptions, and economic non-cooperation.
  • Strengthen financial sanctions against armed actors in the region by working through the UN Security Council. For example, disrupting the Islamic State’s $3 million/day oil revenue from the underground market would go a long way toward blunting violence.
  • Bring in and significantly invest in professionally trained unarmed civilian protection organizations to assist and offer some buffer for displaced persons and refugees, both for this conflict in collaboration with Iraqi’s and for future conflicts.
  • Call for and uphold an arms embargo on all parties to the conflict. U.S. arms and military assistance to the government forces and ethnic militias in Iraq, in addition to arming Syrian rebel groups, have only fueled the carnage, in part due to weapons intended for one group being taken and used by others. All armed parties have been accused of committing gross violations of human rights. Along with Russia, work with key regional players such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait to take independent initiatives and meaningful steps towards an arms embargo on all parties in the conflict.
  • Support Iraqi civil society efforts to build peace, reconciliation, and accountability at the community level. Deep sectarian and ethnic divisions have long been exacerbated by various factors, including the U.S. military intervention in 2003. Sustainable peace will require peace-building and reconciliation efforts from the ground up.

With hope, deep-felt prayers, and a splash of courage, we ask you to move us beyond the ways of war and into the frontier of just peace responses to violent conflict.

Sincerely,

Susan T. Henry-Crowe, MDiv.DD
General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society
The United Methodist Church

Rev. Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (USA)

Janet Mock, CSJ
Executive Director
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Diane Randall
Executive Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Shan Cretin
General Secretary
American Friends Service Committee

Rev. Julia Brown Karimu
Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Rev. Dr. James Moos
Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Sandy Sorensen
Director, DC office
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

Eli McCarthy, PhD
Director of Justice and Peace
Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Patrick Carolan
Executive Director
Franciscan Action Network

Stanley J. Noffsinger, General Secretary
Church of the Brethren

Sr. Patricia Chappell
Executive Director
Pax Christi USA

Marie Dennis
Co-President
Pax Christi International

Gerry G. Lee
Director
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Scott Wright
Director
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Rev. Michael Neuroth
Policy Advocate for International Issues
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

Very Rev. Michael Duggan, MM
U.S. Regional Superior of Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers

Very Rev. Carl Chudy, SX
Provincial Superior of Xaverian Missionaries in U.S.

Very Rev. Domenico Di Raimondo, M.Sp.S.
Provincial Superior of Missionaries of the Holy Spirit
Christ the Priest Province

Provincial Council of the Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians)

María Teresa Dávila, PhD
Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics
Andover Newton Theological School

Bill Barbieri, PhD
Professor of Religion and Culture and Moral Theology/Ethics
Catholic University

Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite
Professor of Theology
Chicago Theological Seminary

Sr. Marianne Farina, CSC
Ethics Professor
Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Laurie Johnston, PhD
Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies
Emmanuel College

Rev. Priscilla Eppinger, PhD
Associate Professor of Religion
Graceland University/Community of Christ Seminary

Peter Phan, PhD
Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought
Georgetown University

Fr. Ray Kemp, S.T.L.
Theology Professor
Georgetown University

Francis X. Clooney, SJ
Parkman Professor of Divinity
Director, The Center for the Study of World Religions
Harvard University

Betty Reardon, PhD
Founding Director Emeritus
International Institute on Peace Education

Maureen O’Connell, PhD
Associate Professor of Theology and Chair of Department of Religion
LaSalle University

Amir Hussain, PhD
Professor of Theological Studies
Loyola Marymount University

Kathleen Maas Weigert, PhD
Carolyn Farrell, BVM Professor of Women and Leadership
Loyola University Chicago

David Cortright, PhD
Director of Policy Studies
Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies
Notre Dame University

Margaret Pfeil, PhD
Assistant Professor of Theology/Ethics
Notre Dame University

John Berkman, PhD
Professor of Moral Theology
Regis College, University of Toronto

Gerald W. Schlabach
Professor of Theology
University of St. Thomas

John Sniegocki, PhD
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Director, Peace Studies Minor
Xavier University

Kathryn Getek Soltis, PhD
Director, Center for Peace and Justice Education
Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics
Villanova University

Suzanne C. Toton, EdD
Theology and Religious Studies Department
Villanova University

Rev. Louis Arceneaux, CM
Promoter of Peace and Justice
Western Province, Congregation of the Mission, USA

Fr. Robert Bossie, SCJ
Priests of the Sacred Heart
Chicago, IL

Fr. John A. Coleman, SJ
Saint Ignatius Parish
San Francisco, CA

Fr. John Converset, MCCJ
Director, Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
North American Province of Comboni Missionaries

Doreen Glynn, CSJ
Justice Coordinator
Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Albany Province

Bro. Michael Gosch, CSV
Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation Director
Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians)

Jude A. Huntz, Director
Office for Peace and Justice
Archdiocese of Chicago

Bro. Brian McLauchlin, SVD
Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation Promoter

Bro. Frank O’Donnell, SM
Marianist

Brian Reavey
Lay-Marianist

Bro. Jerry Sullivan, SM
Marianist

Rev. Dr. Peter A. Wells
Justice LED Organizer
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

Bro. Stan Zubek, SM
Marianist

cc:

  • Secretary of State John Kerry
  • U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power
  • Department of State, Undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall
  • USAID, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg
  • Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Shaun Casey
  • Special Assistant to the President for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Melissa Rogers

mikebrown

In light of what is unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri, I wanted to provide a resource for people looking for education and action around the issues of race, police brutality and creating truly safe communities.

Here is a link to the Showing Up for Racial Justice Police Brutality Action Kit:

http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/archives/2016

It includes everything from actions that take one minute up to lifelong actions for racial justice. I invite you to engage this as a personal resource and to share it with others. This is not just a problem for Ferguson, or for the black community or for chiefs of police. It is a fundamental reflection of each of us that black men and women are seen as dangerous criminals undeserving of the basic right to live. Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner and Mike Brown stand at the end of a long line of people of color who have been killed extra-judicially in the United States. The time to act is now.

“Public opinion remains deeply divided over whether the U.S. government has a moral obligation to offer asylum to Central American children escaping political persecution or violence in their home countries,” reports Fusion.net in its recent feature “The untold history of unaccompanied minors.”

The news and digital network posted a confluence of commentary by scholars and activists “who think the United States, a self-professed nation of immigrants, does have a moral obligation to provide asylum to Central American minors, many of whom — experts argue — are fleeing violence that resulted from U.S. foreign policy.”

Mónica Novoa, Families for Freedom communications strategist, says the message to children is that “as Central Americans you’re unwanted, violent, embarrassing.”

 

Says Felix Kury, psychotherapist at San Francisco’s Clínica de Martin-Baró: “I think sending these children back without really understanding why they left is a crime against humanity.”

 

“Instead of reducing the inequalities they thought would happen,” says Leisy Abrego, University of California sociologist, of the U.S. and Central America Free Trade Agreement, “they’ve …  made it impossible for people to remain there and actually survive.”

 

Seven-year-old Anthony Domes and his mother Sarahi fled their Honduran home after a neighbor, killed by gang members, was mistaken for her brother.

The Franciscan Action Network (FAN) has shared a simple action that will help children in crisis at the border. The senate is considering rolling back protections provided to these children under the Trafficking Victims Protections Re-authorization Act (TVPRA). FAN is asking for people to call and speak to their senators and ask them to vote no on rolling back protections.

In Wisconsin:

Senator Ron Johnson has said he will vote in favor of rolling back protections

Senator Tammy Baldwin is undecided.

If you wish to call – FAN is asking for folks to tell senator staffers that as a constituent you  urge your representative to vote NO on rolling back protections under TVPRA. If your senators are not in Wisconsin, feel free to ask their staffers how they are planning to vote: you want to hear them say the senator will vote NO on rolling back protections. Click here to learn more about TVPRA.

We will not solve our immigration crisis by criminalizing children and their families. St.Francis’ life call us to stand with these families in crisis and accompany them – not deport and detain them.

From FAN

The position of USCCB/JFI, Interfaith Immigration Coalition, and FAN is NO to rolling back legislation that provides protection for refugee children.  PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATOR with thanks for their NO, or encourage NO for those undecided or not declared, or urge change from YES to NO.  Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121.

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