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

Posts tagged ‘Violence’

All life is sacred

The Orlando shooting has the ignominy of being the largest mass shooting in the United States. Sadly, this is a field with steep competition. More horrifically, mass shootings account for only a tiny portion of annual gun deaths in the U.S. The Guardian provides a thorough analysis here.

Conversations surrounding the shooting are riddled with toxicity. Whether it is politicians and gun rights advocates once again claiming that if everyone was armed no one would be hurt or the religious extremists who name violence against the LGBTQ+ community as God’s “will,” there is little left to help the average person understand or act.

It is overwhelming to be drenched in the horror of the mass execution Omar Mateen enacted; to watch the same actors take the same positions on the same stage and, once again, nothing happens.

Yet in the last week, two congressman changed that trajectory on the Senate and House floor: Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who led a 15-hour filibuster, and Representative John Lewis, who staged a sit-in after gun control measures failed to pass. A brief video of Rep. Lewis (below) as well another of Sen. Murphy by Rolling Stone offer different view points of what might be possible if people decide to no longer accept that change is impossible.

It is a testament of hope and a clear moral call to not give up on creating change. In these times when the deaths of literally thousands of people have failed to move the political dial it is easy to feel powerless and hopeless; as if our voices and our actions do not matter.

And yet every grieving family member has no choice—they cannot turn away because for them there is no where left to turn. It is vital that we find a way forward, and the courage of both Rep. Lewis and Sen. Murphy can be contagious if we let it.

In closing a prayer from Bishop John Noonan of the Diocese of Orlando:

All life is sacred as each one of us is made in the image and likeness of God. We cherish each person as a child of God.

We pray for victims of violence and acts of terror … for their families and friends … and all those affected by such acts against God’s love.

We pray for the people of the city of Orlando that God’s mercy and love will be upon us as we seek healing and consolation.

Every time we look at the Cross, we see how God has forgiven us in Christ—with a love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; love never fails.

We dry the tears of those who weep and mourn as gently as Veronica wiped the Lord’s bleeding face on the Via Dolorosa.

May the Peace of Christ dwell within our heart.

A year on the sidelines

This week marks one year until we will elect our next president. Campaigning has already been in high gear for months — months of campaigning and yet, if we had cast our votes this past Tuesday, what knowledge of the country and the candidates would we have actually had?

Media coverage rarely connects the policy statements of candidates (even if they are making them) with the lived reality of the people. Often media’s only focus is a “bump” in the polls. We are not engaged in a popularity contest; we are engaged in choosing a leader who will impact not only North Americans, but the world.

It seems important then that we take the time to know what poverty, the environment, education, immigration, militarism, racial inequities, gender inequities, children, the elderly, health care, etc., look like in America today. We deserve to know what is needed, not just what will play as a sound bite.

Let’s travel to the margins, past the flashing signs of Donald Trump’s hair and Hillary Clinton’s granddaughter Charlotte, to see the world and the election through the eyes of the people and the earth who will bear the burden of our decision next November. I propose a “year from the sidelines” — a year in which we ponder what is needed in a leader, in a party, in ourselves, and in our communities from the perspective of those left behind or blamed by power.

To begin, I would like to share The Rag Blog’s Halloween at Hutto by Elaine J. Cohen that looks at the connection between immigration and militarism. It is easy to talk about stopping people from coming; it’s harder to understand why they come and how the United States is intimately connected to the forces driving people to the border here and the borders in Europe. This blog looks at migrants from Latin America in connection with our own militarism in their region.

Barred window inside of Hutto Detention Facility. Photo courtesy of thewire.com

Barred window inside the T. Don Hutto Residential Center Detention Facility. Photo courtesy of www.thewire.com

As we sat in the waiting area of the Hutto “Residential” Center, an unexpected spectacle unfolded before the three of us who had come to visit. It was Halloween in Hutto.

Originally Peggy Morton and I had planned to take Maria Luisa, field organizer for the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW), to Karnes, another family detention center in Texas, that morning. It was October 30, when thunder and torrents of rain poured down on the hill country.

Still, I left my apartment on St. John’s at eight. In the time it took to walk from my building’s entrance to my car, I was soaked to the bone. Driving south on Lamar was an exercise in focus and I’m sure I cashed in a few of my good karma points as I drove with limited vision and somehow got to Wheatsville South at nine to meet them.

Peggy’s husband, Fred, had told her that a tornado had touched down in San Marcos — near our usual route to Karnes. We went to Peggy’s house where my wet clothes were put in the dryer. We decided that if the rain slowed down we would go north, rather than south — and visit with women at Hutto. Their hunger strike had just begun and we agreed that visiting there would be an excellent first visit to a Detention Center for Maria Luisa.

Over cups of hot tea and vegan pozole, the three of us shared stories about immigration, violence shaped and honed by this country’s military might and the extraordinary connectedness of decades of violence in Central America and the number of refugees coming across the border.

Maria Luisa Rosals had come to Austin on a southern/border states journey to learn about conditions here and share knowledge about the complicity of USian interests as manifest in the instruction of violence at the School of the Americas.

Protests began in 1990 at the School of the America’s base at Fort Benning outside of Columbus, Georgia, and have continued despite the change of name to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). In a few weeks, the vigil will have its 25th anniversary. Many readers of The Rag Blog are familiar with the organization and its work. For those of you who aren’t, I refer you to the SOA Watch website — because the story today is really about the 27-plus immigrant women on hunger strike in Taylor, Texas.

Though as Peggy, Maria Luisa, and I spoke, it became obvious to us that, in fact, the hunger strike of immigrant women incarcerated under U.S. policy is very much related to the work of the SOAW. Peggy, an active member of the Hutto Visitation Program, has been visiting a woman who has been incarcerated there for over a year. As is my custom, I will not refer to her by her real name. Let’s call her Juana. All three of us signed up to visit Juana, who greeted us with delight.

The Corrections Corporation of America continues to assert ‘there is no hunger strike.’

Although the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the private business that runs Hutto, continues to assert “there is no hunger strike,” we were assured that the strike was real. Moreover, the women are highly motivated and optimistic. I asked Juana if I had her permission to mention her in my writing and she said that the women wanted “everyone” to know that, Yes, they are on hunger strike and that No, it’s not because the food is so bad (even though it is terrible) and it is an insult for whoever is telling those lies (hmmm, the CCA comes to mind) to pretend it is not about the absolute injustice that they are incarcerated for their attempt to escape from domestic, cartel, and state violence.

We laughed and exchanged stories about our families and talked a lot about tamales. Peggy was worried that talking about food wasn’t a good idea — but it seemed to cheer Juana — talking about something from her culture. When Maria Luisa and Juana discovered they were from the same area in Guatemala, there were broad smiles and, I believe, some comfort to Juana. In front of her was someone who knew where she came from — and had also come to the U.S. as an immigrant.

It seems that our visit to Hutto took place on the day that the CCA had encouraged its employees to costume up for Halloween. I’m serious. As we sat in the waiting room we watched as an angel in black tulle and a black halo left. A Thor-like Viking came on shift. The costumes were elaborate and at one point Maria Luisa and I caught each other’s glance and I whispered, “This is surreal.” Her eyes widened in agreement.

In the visiting area, the guard was straight out of the Flintstones. When Juana began to cry, I went up to the guard to ask for some tissue. I remarked on her costume, casually asking, “So, what are you?” She broke into a large smile (the first I’d seen) and said, “I’m a cave woman.” Fortunately, she didn’t appear to have a club. I wouldn’t swear, however, that she didn’t have one, hidden under the desk.

While immigrant women languish in this for-profit prison, the jailers play out their domination fantasies as Dark Angels, Vikings, and Neanderthals. Juana shook her head at the strangeness of the display. I suggested that Halloween was kind of like carnival and she managed a crooked smile. As we left, and we had our final hug (one is permitted at the beginning and another at the end of a visit), she again asked me to make sure to tell as many people as possible about their strike and how unjust is their detention.

In the days that have passed since I started this piece, participation in the hunger strike has grown enormously. This coming Saturday, November 7, 2015, there is a call to come to Taylor and show your support for the hunger strikers.

Sofia Casini of Grassroots Leadership reports of “the continuing escalation in numbers of women inside, far beyond the initial 27. We’ve seen retaliation in the form of solitary confinement, two of the strikers transferred to Pearsall Detention Center, threats of deportation, and citations for not leaving their quarters to eat. ICE continues to deny the strike is happening. Loco!”

The rally will be held across from the baseball field to the side of the detention center (1001 Welch St, Taylor, Texas 76574) this Saturday at 2 p.m. Sofia explains that “this time was chosen because it’s when the women are let outside — the hunger strikers asked us to come then so they can see us and gain strength from our presence. Even if they’re brought inside quickly, we’ve been told from women that in past rallies they can still hear the loud, amplified music — let’s raise our voice so high they can hear us, too!”

I was recently reminded that there may be readers who are unfamiliar with the complex mix of politics, racism, and greed that has brought us immigrant detention. Yet I worry that I have written so much about various aspects of the issue in the past year that some of the material may appear redundant. Am I laboring to explain that which I’ve already laid out? Finally I realized that I can’t assume that the earlier pieces have been read.

The School of the Americas Watch, with its insistence that we recognize and expose the complicity of the American Military in the training of the perpetrators of so much violence in the Northern Triangle, absolutely connects to the women on hunger strike in Hutto. It is precisely that violence which has driven them here.

But what of the violence that is the experience of the thousands of immigrants locked up in immigrant detention? Could it be that the monster personas I saw at Hutto were more than Halloween fun? Were these employees of one of the worst private prison corporations really showing us something about what it means to be a guard in a prison incarcerating the victims of violence?

It is the image of the Dark Angel walking around the Hutto detention prison that I can’t shake.

Read more articles by Elaine J. Cohen on The Rag Blog.

Rag metro writer Elaine Cohen moved to Austin in 1997 after she found Accion Zapatista’s website. She became involved with immigrants when she started work as a bilingual substitute for the Austin Independent School District (AISD). After another stay teaching in Mexico (2005-2010) she returned to Austin and discovered the Hutto Visitation Program and became involved in visiting women and children in Texas’ family immigration detention centers.

“Nonviolence is the love that does justice…”

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.

Children At Our Door Continued…

“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.

End the Violence in Gaza

With anyone concerned about the violence in Gaza, I wanted to share this great resource from Pax Christi. Please see below for a Pray, Study and Act email from Pax Christi USA.

Greetings of peace! (reposted from Pax Christi)

Over the past few days, we have received many emails expressing the concern, grief, outrage, and heartbreak people are feeling over the violence in Gaza. The death toll rises dramatically each day. The infrastructure which people rely on to live crumbles under the bombing. As one PCUSA member wrote, “When will we ever learn?”

The cycle of violence must be unmasked and named and transformed. As people of faith, we engage through prayer, study and action. Below and in the sidebar on the left, you will find some resources for engaging this tragedy. Below is also a link to the new statement we released this morning regarding the violence in Gaza. Additionally, we have set up a special webpage on our site, “End the Violence in Gaza,” where you can find a catalog of additional resources for prayer, study and action. Let us–through whatever effort we can make–bring the “peace of Christ” into a situation which is desperately crying out for answers rooted in justice, mercy, understanding and nonviolence.

In peace,

Johnny Zokovitch

Director of Communications, Pax Christi USA


 

PRAY: A prayer for peace and an end to the violence

By Jim Hug, S.J

O Loving God,

We so often and for so long hear about the guns and rockets, drones and bombs
We see the pictures of death in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Congo, Nigeria, Sudan and South Sudan, Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, Central African Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala…

Wrap all and each of these your people in your love.

Let them hear: “Come to me you who suffer
and are burdened and I will give you rest.”

In these few months of 2014, we have heard the weapons and seen the blood of mass shootings and gang violence
In Los Angeles and Detroit, Minneapolis and Miami, in Denver and in 138 other cities, towns and villages across our nation.

Wrap all and each of these your people in your love.

Let them hear: “Come to me you who suffer
and are burdened and I will give you rest.”

The bombs are exploding again in Gaza and Israel.

Wrap all and each of these your people in your love.

Let them hear: “Come to me you who suffer
and are burdened and I will give you rest.”…

Click here to read the entire prayer.

STUDY: Pax Christi USA’s official statement on the violence in the Middle East

“Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict: yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity. All of this takes courage, it takes strength and tenacity.”

~Pope Francis, June 8, 2014

As the number of dead and wounded continues to rise in Gaza, Pax Christi USA calls for an immediate cease-fire by all parties in order to open the possibility for negotiations to end the senseless violence and address the underlying causes which fuel the decades-long tragedy in the Middle East.

Pax Christi USA mourns the loss of life on both sides of the conflict. We stand with all those who have been victimized by violence. Our hearts are broken over the death and destruction which only serves to terrorize hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza, those who call this relatively small piece of land home. We join with Pax Christi International members around the world in offering “our sincere condolences to all those in mourning and pray that those who have been killed will be the last to die violent deaths in this escalation of hatred and vengeance.”…

Click here to read the complete statement.

ACT: Stop U.S. complicity in suffering, support a just peace in Israel & Palestine from the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy

NOTE: Pax Christi USA is a member of the Faith Forum. This is the “Third Thursday for Israel-Palestine” action for July.

July 9th marked the 10-year anniversary of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion on the legality of Israel’s construction of the separation barrier. In its opinion, the ICJ declared that the barrier being built by Israel in occupied Palestinian territory is illegal, that it should be torn down, and that those who have suffered as a consequence of its construction should be compensated. Yet 10 years later, the barrier remains, cutting into Palestinian territory and separating Palestinians from schools, work and neighbors. Given its projected route, it is estimated that, if completed, around 85% of the barrier will run inside the West Bank, de facto annexing West Bank land and water resources to Israel.

As violence escalates throughout Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, it is abundantly clear that the underlying causes of this human tragedy must be addressed. All aspects of Israel’s illegal military occupation–including the barrier in the West Bank and the blockade on Gaza–will need to end, in order for a just and secure future to result.
Contact your Members of Congress today and ask them to stop U.S. complicity in the suffering happening in the Middle East, and to support efforts which will result in a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

Click here to see this full action alert with a script for contacting your Members of Congress.

Global call to prayer for the end of violence

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious calls for protection of the
persecuted in Iraq.

In the face of imminent danger for the people there, the leader of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Sienna in Mosul, Iraq has called her sisters throughout the country to a time of intense prayer and retreat to beg God for the protection of the Iraqi people.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in the United States also calls upon people of all denominations in the world community to join the Iraqi Sisters in a moment of prayer on Thursday, June 19 at 6 PM (in your time zone) to pray for an end to the violence and the protection of those victimized.

The Dominican Sisters are all Iraqi nationals and minister in health care, social services, and education. In fact, they started the first Montessori school in the country. They serve all people in their ministry.

As the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine continue their days of intense
prayer, they ask that people throughout the world join them on June 19,
believing that this intensification of global prayer can make a difference.

“We believe that prayer has the power to change the course of events in
Iraq,” says Sister Carol Zinn, SSJ, LCWR president. “We stand with our sisters and brothers who courageously remain with the people they serve and will join with them in prayer for as long and as often as it takes until the violence ceases.”

About LCWR:

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is an association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. The conference has more than 1,400 members (including the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration), who represent more than 80 percent of the approximately 51,600 women religious in the United States.

Founded in 1956, the conference assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today’s world.

Breathe out hope

 

Image

Below is a guest post from 8th Day Center for Justice

In the wake of the violent deaths in Newtown, Conn., 8th Day Center for Justice joins with the nation in grief and despair. We grieve the loss of these lives; we despair over the violent culture that allows such atrocities. Such expressions of violence do not exist in isolation; they exist in the context of a long, shameful history of perpetuating violence through our lifestyles, mentalities, actions, and wars.

We remember the children lost in Newtown. We remember all children who die through violence. We remember children who die from gunshot wounds in impoverished cities across the nation. We remember.

Afghan and Iraqi children who have died at the hands of the United States’ war machine. We remember children who have died because of poverty and hunger. We honor and mourn their lives.

We breathe in the memory of all who lose their lives to violence, and we breathe out hope for a new world. We envision a world that creates itself anew by changing this culture of violence. We envision a world where the tragedies of war and school shootings truly are unimaginable, a world where nonviolence surrounds us and is within us, a world where our lives are guided not by the works of war, but by the works of mercy.

In the darkness of tragedy and violence, 8th Day Center for Justice works and hopes for a spirit of peace to be born anew into our hearts and our world.

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