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Peace & Justice

Atomic bomb survivors, activists gathering in New York


Thousands of peaceful demonstrators marched from Times Square to the United Nations May 2, singing to the beat of drums and waving anti-nuclear banners as they wrapped up a weekend of events leading up to the nonproliferation review conference that opens today. The crowds moved slowly down 42nd Street, past the kebab and pretzel vendors and clusters of tourists, waving at passersby and handing out origami birds.

Hibakusha, survivors of the nuclear attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, now in their 70s and 80s, walked alongside younger generations and carried photographs of the disasters. "No nukes, no war," was printed on a large yellow sheet carried by a delegation from Kyoto, Japan. Behind them, a Korean delegation banner read "End Korean War, sign peace treaty."

Pro-life 'freedom rides' this summer in Birmingham


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Calling for an end to the nation's "enslavement to legal abortion," Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life announced April 27 that a series of "freedom rides" for the unborn would begin this summer.

The rides will be nonpartisan, interdenominational and nonviolent and will involve a diverse cross-section of people, Pavone said at a news conference in Birmingham's Kelly Ingram Park.

"Like the freedom rides of five decades ago, these freedom rides symbolize the principle ... that justice and equal protection of human rights belong to each and every human being, regardless of size or age or any other condition," he said.

Among those joining Pavone in the announcement was Alveda King, director of African-American outreach at Priests for Life and niece of the late civil rights leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Her father, the Rev. A.D. King, is depicted in a statue of praying ministers at Kelly Ingram Park.

Ariz. governor signs immigration bill into law


PHOENIX -- Thousands of protesters gathered outside the state capitol and hundreds more at a state office building in Tucson April 23 awaiting Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's announcement that she had signed into law an immigration bill that has been harshly criticized by civil rights groups, religious leaders and even President Barack Obama, who called it "misguided."

Religious leaders denounce Arizona immigration bill

WASHINGTON -- Arizona's three bishops and Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony have joined those urging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto legislation that the cardinal called "the country's most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigrant law."

The Arizona Legislature on April 19 sent Brewer a bill that would require police to ask people they encounter in routine activities for immigration documents. It also would, in Arizona at least, make it a crime to be in the country illegally. Federal law considers that a violation of civil codes, not a crime.

The betrayal that is unjust war



Former chaplain Fr. William Mahedy served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army. In his 1997 book, Out of the Night: The Spiritual Journey of Vietnam Veterans, Mahedy relates an incident wherein a young soldier approached him one day after Mass.

“Hey, Chaplain,” he said quietly, “how come it’s a sin to hop in bed with a mama-san, but it’s okay to blow away gooks in the bush?”

Supreme Court losing strongest death penalty critic

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The retirement this spring of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens leaves the court without its strongest critic of the death penalty.

Just 10 days before his 90th birthday, Stevens announced April 9 that he would step down at the end of the term this summer. His departure will provide President Barack Obama with his second opportunity to name a Supreme Court justice. Justice Sonia Sotomayor replaced Justice David Souter when he retired last June.

Our Matthew 25 duty on the US-Mexico border


It was Holy Week, and we walked for miles through the desert. We hiked along ribbons of dirt paths, over parched rocky hills near the U.S.-Mexico border. The closest U.S. city was Tucson, Ariz., some 30 miles to the north.

Ours was an uncomplicated mission -- to place some 40 gallons of water where some of the thousands of sisters and brothers who cross the border at this "sector" can find them. It is a great risk for them to make this trek. Especially in the desert heat.

The attempt has killed 86 people since the first of October in the "Tucson sector" alone. In 2005, 216 died. Some froze to death, some died from injuries, others by thirst. And the death rate, according to authorities, has been dramatically rising. Even those who make it endure a harrowing, violent journey -- and face uncertainty thereafter wherever they land.

After years of struggle, churches cheer anti-nuke pact

When President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed in Prague today a new agreement on nuclear weapons, it marks one more step in the religious community's long campaign to reduce, if not end, the threat of nuclear war.

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, aims to reduce each country's deployed strategic warheads to about 1,550 each, and cut the number of launchers from the currently permitted 1,600 to 800. It would also cap nuclear-armed missiles and bombers.

For Christian denominations both at home and abroad, it will represent a major victory in a campaign that has waxed and waned since the first atomic bombs were dropped at the end of World War II.

On August 20, 1945, just days after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Protestant leaders issued a statement expressing their "unmitigated condemnation" of the attacks.

Less than a year later, a commission that included theologians Reinhold Niebuhr and John C. Bennett issued a full-bodied report that declared, "We have sinned grievously against the laws of God" in using nuclear weapons.

Homless center loses CCHD funds over gay marriage

WASHINGTON -- A Maine social service center that runs an advocacy program for homeless people has been asked to return $17,400 in Catholic Campaign for Human Development funding because of its support for same-sex marriage.

Preble Street Resource Center in Portland, Maine, violated the funding contract for its Homeless Voice for Justice advocacy program by joining a 2009 campaign that urged voters to defeat a ballot measure calling for the repeal of the state's same-sex marriage law, Ralph McCloud, CCHD executive director, told Catholic News Service.



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