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Peace & Justice

Bin Laden killing poses moral questions

WASHINGTON -- As word got out that Osama bin Laden had been killed by a Navy SEAL strike team in Pakistan, television and the Internet quickly began to feature images of spontaneous celebrations outside the White House and at ground zero in New York.

Just as quickly, blogs and social media pages such as Facebook began to rage with debates: about the morality of bin Laden's killing and how it was accomplished and about the appropriateness of the celebratory atmosphere. Others questioned the meaning of the "justice" described by President Barack Obama in announcing bin Laden's death.

"We must be clear what we understand when President Obama says 'justice has been done,'" said Gerard Powers, director of Catholic Peacebuilding Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, in an exchange of emails with Catholic News Service.

CUA conference focuses on workers' dignity

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WASHINGTON – "Workers in our country haven't had a raise in 30 years," AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney said in a keynote speech May 2 at a conference on "Rerum Novarum" at the Catholic University of America.

The two-day conference, organized by the university's Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, marked the 120th anniversary of "Rerum Novarum," Pope Leo XIII's landmark encyclical on the condition of labor, regarded as the starting point of modern Catholic social teaching.

52 arrested protesting nuclear weapons plant

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Fifty-two peace activists, most connected to Catholic Worker houses throughout the nation, were arrested here May 2 after blocking the gate to the construction site of what will be the nation’s first nuclear weapons production facility to be built in 33 years.

The acts of civil disobedience came 78 years and one day from the founding of the first Catholic Worker community by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, and were the culmination of a three-day “faith and resistance” retreat hosted by two Catholic Worker communities, which drew some 150 to this city.

The new facility, expected to cost $1.2 billion over the next two decades, is to replace an existing plant here. Health concerns at the current complex were stoked last month when the administrator of the General Services Administration confirmed that detectable levels of an unidentified carcinogen were found at that site.

WikiLeaks suspect now 'medium custody' prisoner

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FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- Suspected WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, whose treatment in custody has spurred protests from supporters and human rights groups, is now considered a “medium custody” prisoner and is allowed three hours of recreation a day, the U.S. Army announced this afternoon.

The announcement came at the end of a morning press tour of the facility here where Manning is being held.

Headed to prison, activist explains nonviolent witness

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A young sailor walks through his nuclear submarine, headed for the engine room. As he winds through the tight, crowded corridors he suddenly finds himself standing next to a nuclear missile launch hatch.

He reaches out an outstretched hand. Tentatively, he places it on one of the warheads.

Click. Something changes. The destructive power of a thermonuclear detonation is no longer an abstraction. It’s real. His hand is touching it.

Over the next few days, the sailor heads to his chaplain. He asks the same questions, over and over: What are we doing? How can we justify this?

Fast-forward thirty years. That ex-sailor, Mark Kenney, reports today to Duluth Federal Prison Camp for a six-month stint for an act of civil disobedience at Offutt Air Force Base. He walked about ten steps onto the property of the complex with three others after a vigil there Aug. 6.

The prison stint is the third Kenney’s served for protests at the base, which is the home of U.S. Strategic Command and responsible for the planning and targeting of the nation’s nuclear weapons.

Afghan youth yearn for peace, justice

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VIEWPOINT

Ten years ago, shortly after the U.S. war began in Afghanistan, my wife, Claire, traveled to Kabul with the human rights organization Global Exchange. She filed several stories on the impact of the Ameri­can campaign on a nation already weary from years of Soviet occupation, civil war and Taliban rule.

In order to minimize U.S. casualties, the American war was conducted largely from the air, with the ground offensive given over to a collection of warlords lumped together under the more respectable title of “the Northern Alliance.”

Refugees suffer in postwar Iraq

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Remember Iraq?

Given the rate at which we are invading or otherwise engaged in military operations in volatile countries today -- “secret” drone attacks in Pakistan, full-fledged war in Afghanistan, a fictional “handoff” to NATO forces in Libya, not-so-covert operations in a politically deteriorating Syria, and so on and so on -- you’d be forgiven for forgetting that country of 30 million we invaded eight years ago.

More than 36,000 join fasting protest against budget cuts

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WASHINGTON -- In the last days of Lent more than 36,000 Americans joined a liquid-only fast to protest congressional budget cuts that fall most heavily on the backs of the poor, according to organizers.

Leading the protest were the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners and a noted evangelical figure in social justice, and former Ambassador Tony Hall, executive director of the Alliance to End Hunger.

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July 18-31, 2014

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