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Peace & Justice

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.

Budget foes, unsatisfied, to fast through Easter

WASHINGTON -- The congressional budget compromise reached last week did not go far enough for some progressive Christian leaders who have vowed to continue their liquid-only fast in hopes of a “better budget.”

Sojourners founder Jim Wallis and Ambassador Tony Hall, executive director of the Alliance to End Hunger, say the poor stand to lose the most in the $38.5 billion in budget cuts, and plan to continue protesting by fasting through Easter.

“This compromise represents the interests of all those who make big campaign contributions but betrays the poor and vulnerable,” Wallis said, referring to the 11th-hour compromise brokered Friday night April 8.

Community organizing celebrated as Catholic action

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WASHINGTON -- In a 40th anniversary seminar at The Catholic University of America April 6, speakers celebrated the focus of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development on community organizing as a major contribution of the U.S. church to Catholic teaching on social justice.

The CCHD – under intensive attack in recent years by the American Life League and other ultraconservative Catholic social, political and ecclesiastical groups – is fulfilling the Gospel mandate of bringing justice to the poor and freedom to the oppressed through its funding of community organizing groups, speaker after speaker said.

Omaha octogenarian priest gets probation for protest

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Fr. Jack McCaslin, an Omaha, Neb., diocesan priest known for his opposition to nuclear weapons, was sentenced to three years probation April 12 for an act of civil disobedience at Offutt Air Force Base, the home of the command center responsible for the planning and targeting of the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

The sentence, which was decided in U.S District Court by Judge Thomas D. Thalken, also imposes a $300 fine. McCaslin plead guilty before sentencing to charges of trespassing for the Aug. 6, 2010, action, at which he walked about 10 steps onto the property of the base with three others.

Ill.pharmacists don't have to give morning-after pill

Pharmacists with religious objections to “morning-after” emergency contraceptives cannot be compelled to sell the product, an Illinois Circuit Judge ruled Tuesday.

The Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act was passed in 1998 to shield health care workers from going against their own beliefs. In 2005, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued a ruling to force “pharmacies to fill prescriptions without making moral judgments.”

Two pharmacists, Luke VanderBleek and Glenn Kosirog, sued for the right to not dispense the pills.

Circuit Judge John Belz wrote that the 1998 law “was designed to forbid the government from doing what it aims to do here: coercing individuals or entities to provide healthcare services that violate their belief.”

Attorney Mark Rienzi, who represented the pharmacists with the help of the American Center for Law and Justice, called the ruling “a very good thing.”

“The judge’s decision makes clear that religious people don’t have to give up their religion, don’t have to check their conscience at the door, to enter the health care profession,” Rienzi said.

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