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Peace & Justice

Arms negotiator: Time to ratify START

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate has already held extensive hearings this year on the country’s New START – Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty – with Russia and the time is ripe to ratify it, the treaty’s lead U.S. negotiator told a nationwide group of Catholic social action leaders Nov. 30.

Rose Gottemoeller, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, who led the U.S. negotiating team in reaching the new agreement, spoke with about 70 Catholic leaders in a teleconference organized by Network, a national Catholic social justice lobby.

She warned that if the treaty is not ratified before the end of the current Congress, an entire new set of hearings will have to take place next year, possibly delaying a ratification vote by as much as a full year.

Illinois passes civil unions bill

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The Illinois House of Representatives and Senate passed landmark civil unions legislation Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 respectively. Gov. Pat Quinn has pledged to sign the bill. If he does, Illinois would become the 11th state to recognize civil unions or marriages between gay and lesbian couples.

The legislation was harshly criticized by the Illinois bishops and their public policy arm, the Illinois Catholic Conference. “The public understanding of marriage will be negatively affected by the passage of a bill that ignores the natural fact that sexual complementarity is at the core of marriage,” said Chicago Cardinal Francis George.

The bill passed the Senate 32-24 and the House 61-52.

Quinn, who is Catholic, said his faith led him to support the legislation.

Reflections on an immigration journey

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Thanksgiving, despite its overwhelming identification as a day for feasting and football, remains for most of us a family day of commemoration and gratitude. Many families will count their blessings by helping serve at a community meal or by expanding their family table to include the less fortunate. Those who gather around the eucharistic table will find the holy day in the holiday and be reminded that God is the source of all our blessings.

Undercover police among arrested at SOA vigil

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At least one of the 29 persons taken into custody outside Fort Benning during a rally at the annual School of Americas Watch vigil Nov. 20 in Columbus, Ga. was an undercover police officer.

The revelation came as Lauren Stinson, an undercover narcotics agent with the Muscogee, Ga., county sheriff’s office, testified in court Nov. 21 that she participated in two meetings with SOA Watch protesters and allowed herself to be rounded up with activists during the rally.

SOA Watch organizers, meanwhile, said Nov. 22 they believed that at least four more of those arrested near the alley leading to the gates of the military institution were also undercover agents.

Backing their allegation, they said, is video taken at the scene of the arrests. SOA Watch organizers said that from the video they can see that five of those taken into custody at the rally were never put in jail and never ended up in court.

Several of those tried for Saturday’s action also said they could recognize the missing arrestees on the video as people who attended discussions with organizers before the arrests.

Editorial pulled from Catholic student newspaper Web site

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The administration of a St. Louis Park, Minn., Catholic prep school removed from the school’s online newspaper an editorial about the Minnesota Catholic bishops’ DVD education campaign on same-sex marriage and an opinion piece by a gay student because online comments about the articles created a “disrespectful environment” and “confusion about the teachings of the Catholic church,” the school’s president, Bob Tift, said in a statement.

Religious leaders urge Senators to ratify START treaty.

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WASHINGTON
Catholic and other religious leaders have urged the U.S. Senate to ratify the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty by the end of the year, saying the pact is important for the future of the world and critical to making it safer.

On Nov. 16, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the treaty in a 14-4 vote and urged prompt consideration of the treaty by the full Senate.

The Catholic Church worldwide "has long been concerned about the threat of nuclear weapons and our support for their elimination is based on our deep commitment to preserving human life and dignity," the Massachusetts bishops said in a Nov. 15 letter to Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry and Republican Sen. Scott Brown, both of Massachusetts.

Kerry is chairman of the foreign relations committee.

Pope calls for guaranteed health care for all people

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI and other church leaders said it was the moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay.

Access to adequate medical attention, the pope said in a written message Nov. 18, was one of the "inalienable rights" of man.

The pope's message was read by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, to participants at the 25th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry at the Vatican Nov. 18-19.

The theme of this year's meeting was "Caritas in Veritate - toward an equitable and human health care."

The pope lamented the great inequalities in health care around the globe. While people in many parts of the world aren't able to receive essential medications or even the most basic care, in industrialized countries there is a risk of "pharmacological, medical and surgical consumerism" that leads to "a cult of the body," the pope said.

"The care of man, his transcendent dignity and his inalienable rights" are issues that should concern Christians, the pope said.

1,200 Jesuit students converge on nation's capital

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WASHINGTON -- "If we do not demand the best of our church, universities and our government, we've already abandoned a sincere search for justice," Ursuline Sr. Dianna Ortiz told attendees of this year's Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, an annual reunion of Jesuit social justice activists from universities, colleges, high schools, parishes and ministries across the nation.

After years of holding the Teach-In at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga., the event's organizers, the Ignatian Solidarity Network took advantage of this year's location at Georgetown University to have participants engage in direct advocacy with Congress and other policymakers.

About 1,200 people joined the Nov. 13-15 event. Two days of speeches and breakout groups on key issues culminated in a Monday morning send-off rally and public witness on Capitol Hill. In meetings with their local congressional representatives, students focused particularly on passage of the Dream Act and immigration reform, climate change legislation, and the closure of the School of Americas.

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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