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Peace & Justice

Las Posadas call to action



In the days leading up to Christmas in Latino communities throughout the hemisphere, re-enactments are held commemorating Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem -- a place for Jesus to be born. The tradition is called Las Posadas, which literally means “the inns” in Spanish. Each night, from Dec. 16 through Dec. 24, a man and woman, playing the roles of Mary and Joseph, go from house to house. At each home, they are turned away. Finally, the couple reaches a place, often a church, where they are allowed to enter. A celebration begins which includes such things as food, piñatas, prayers and songs.

For people of faith who are concerned about the plight of immigrants, this ancient ritual has become a call to action.

During the past week, faith groups around the country, including Albuquerque and Washington DC, have held candlelight vigils commemorating the plight of the Holy Family, who sought room at the inn and were turned away.

Church shuns decorations to help the poor

GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Passers-by have called Redeemer Covenant Church the "church of lights" for its magnificent outdoor and indoor displays during the holidays.

But this year's decorations are all on the inside: canned goods, lining the steps leading to the altar along with large piles of hats, gloves and scarves.

The Rev. Jack Brown said as he and some congregation members planned this year's celebration at the church, spending between $200 and $300 on poinsettias alone just didn't seem right.

"The more we talked about it, the more we realized it wasn't responsible -- given the way the people in the church are hurting and how people in the community are hurting," he said.

One person suggested using gifts to others as the Christmas decorations. The congregation loved the idea, Brown said.

"It's really what the whole church has been doing: focusing on what happens in the community and trying to be helpful," he said.

Bishops back Obama Afghanistan strategy

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's goal of a "responsible transition" in Afghanistan must serve as the "overall ethical framework for U.S. actions" there, the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace told the national security adviser.

In a Dec. 18 letter to retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., called for the development of "specific criteria" for troop withdrawal, as well as efforts to help the Afghanis "secure an adequate basis for future political and economic stability."

He urged that "each course of action taken by the U.S." in Afghanistan be "weighed in light of the traditional moral principle of 'probability of success.'"

Obama's Nobel speech reveals humble, thoughtful president


The following is the text of President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, delivered today in Oslo, Norway, as provided by the White House:

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations — that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

Collection focuses on helping struggling families


WASHINGTON -- “Families are struggling. Faith is calling” is the theme for this year’s national collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which was planned for most U.S. Catholic churches the weekend of Nov. 21-22.

“This year, our call as Catholics to bring glad tidings to the poor ... to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free is more important than ever before,” said Bishop Roger P. Morin of Biloxi, Miss., who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

'Donít just mourn for them; imitate them'


With the fateful date of Nov. 16 approaching, the United States’ 28 Jesuit colleges and universities are preparing to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the killing of six Jesuits and their coworkers in El Salvador. Lectures, films, liturgies and various other forms of commemorative events are scheduled.

Some students, faculty and staff members will be going to El Salvador for the anniversary events there; others will be headed to Fort Benning, Ga., for the 12th Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice. The teach-in has been held in conjunction with the annual gathering of the School of the Americas Watch, which advocates the closing of the U.S. Army school where 19 of the 26 soldiers who participated in the Nov. 16, 1989, killings had received training shortly before the murders.

Clearly, the memory of the murders remains strong on our campuses today. Looking even further back over the past 35 years, three major events have led to this point.

Faith leaders tell Congress to close Gitmo

More than 40 leaders of major faith groups sent a letter to Congress on Thursday (Nov. 12) urging the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

"Guantanamo is the symbol of our country's violation of our deepest values," the letter says. "Our government must close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay now to help us heal spiritually and to put an end to this dark and errant chapter in our history."

$680 billion military budget an affront to God, the poor



President Obama signed into law Oct. 28 the $680 billion 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, the largest military spending bill of its kind. The bill includes $130 billion in funding for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and only modifies the military commissions system at Guantánamo Bay, rather than abolish it.

Afghan war flawed from start, says ethicist


Religion News Service

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University ethicist Stanley Hauerwas, a self-described Christian pacifist, is an expert on just war theory. As Hauerwas sees it, not only did Iraq and Afghanistan fail to meet the criteria of a just war, but neither did World War II. Now, as the Obama administration weighs its options in Afghanistan, Hauerwas, 69, remains decidedly pessimistic not only about American prospects, but also American morality. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.



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August 29-September 11, 2014


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