National Catholic Reporter

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Peace & Justice

Apple avoids 'Nike moment' despite Asian sweatshops

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Viewpoint

Every decade, it seems that a new social issue captures the attention of Catholic progressives, inspiring efforts to work for a more just society. In the late 1950s and early 1960s it was civil rights. In the ’80s it was nuclear arms.

In the 1990s, that issue was sweatshops. As new technologies increased international communication, people began hearing firsthand accounts of labor rights abuses that never made it into the mainstream news space. Many companies were shown to use sweatshops. But one company rose to the forefront of the debate: Nike. As a brand, it evoked the best in American culture: commitment, achievement, competitiveness, cool and a sense of fair play. But as tales of its rights abuses spread, Nike became a cultural symbol of everything that was wrong with capitalism and globalization.

Milwaukee judge keeps depositions sealed, says release won't advance bankruptcy

MILWAUKEE -- A U.S. bankruptcy judge ruled April 5 that the depositions of Milwaukee's retired archbishop, a Milwaukee auxiliary bishop and a former priest will remain sealed and may not be made public.

The ruling by Judge Susan V. Kelley was in response to a motion filed by Jeff Anderson and Associates, the law firm representing claimants in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin where Kelley is presiding over the Chapter 11 reorganization of the Milwaukee Archdiocese.

At issue are the depositions of retired Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba and a former priest, Daniel Budzynski.

In denying the motion to unseal them, Kelley noted she had previously authorized "rule 2004 examinations," or depositions, which were taken last October and November, for three reasons:

-- The potential loss of evidence because of the age or infirmity of the witnesses; Weakland is 85; Sklba is 76; and Budzynski is 84.

-- The testimony would be used to value claims and determine whether they were objectionable.

San Francisco police arrest Occupiers who took over archdiocesan building

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Less than 24 hours after a group of Occupy San Francisco demonstrators took over a vacant building belonging to the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the city's police department entered and arrested about 75 people.

The Monday arrests came after an archdiocesan representative signed a citizen's arrest form for trespassing. The Occupiers had said they planned to use the building as their headquarters and to provide social services from the site.

The Occupiers entered the building Sunday after a peaceful march from San Francisco's Union Square in the heart of the city's downtown shopping district. They hung a large banner outside the building that read, "Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses."

When police entered the building to make the arrests, they found "extensive damage," said George Wesolek, archdiocesan spokesperson. "Graffiti was prominent. One example, 'F-- the police pigs!' "

Police said the group had a stockpile of bricks and cans of paint on the building's roof and there was fear the Occupiers might resort to violence.

Catholics and racism: from examination of conscience to examination of culture

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OPINION

While public outcry about the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin gathers momentum on social networks and in various public demonstrations around the country, it does not seem to be weighing too heavily on Catholic consciences. A cursory Web search does not yield much by way of statements by Catholic leaders or empathetic rituals by Catholic parishes.

But for people of color in this country and the growing number of Catholics among them, the situation in Sanford, Fla., is the justice issue of the day. So why the apathetic silence? Sadly, we need only look to our own religious teachings to find the answer.

U.S. Supreme Court should give juveniles the chance to prove they've changed

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Opinion

I suppose it was difficult to imagine Louis Perez changing course. He was only 14 years old when I met him in a probation camp, and yet, he seemed entrenched in the deepest, lethal absence of hope. Unable at that young age to transform his pain of abuse, abandonment and torture, he seemed set on a path doomed to transmit his pain forever.

SOA Watch activists arrested after protest against border militarization

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School of the Americas Watch founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois and SOA Watch associate Nico Udu-gama were held for three hours and released after a protest along the Mexico-New Mexico border Sunday.

The protest involved 10 people who part of Project Puente's weeklong "border immersion experience." ("Puente" is Spanish for "bridge.")

Officers with the Santa Teresa Border Patrol took Bourgeois and Udu-gama into custody after they crossed into Mexico during a prayer service at the border, Project Puente spokesperson West Cosgrove told NCR. The two were released after three hours and no charges were filed.

Salvadoran colonel implicated in Jesuit killings pleads not guilty to fraud, perjury

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A notorious graduate of the U.S. Army's School of the Americas -- a Salvadoran colonel implicated in the 1989 assassinations of six Jesuit priests -- is fighting criminal charges for allegedly lying on immigration papers that have allowed him to live quietly in the United States for the last 10 years.

Former Col. Inocente Orlando Montano Morales pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of fraud and perjury in U.S. District Court in Boston.

Ruling on 'ministerial exception' has limits

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ANALYSIS

The Supreme Court of the United States, in its Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC opinion, upheld the “ministerial exception” that the U.S. circuit courts had long recognized. Basically, this exception states that churches cannot be sued over employment decisions regarding those whom the church hires to “preach their beliefs, teach their faith and carry out their mission.”

The Supreme Court’s Jan. 11 decision is rooted in both the free exercise and the establishment clauses of the First Amendment, and is very fact-specific to the Hosanna-Tabor case. The decision gives no clear rule as to who is or is not covered by the ministerial exception. But clearly, from the language of the court, two things are required: The employer must be a church, and the employee must be an agent of the church, hired by the church to preach the church’s beliefs, teach its faith and carry out its mission.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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