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Peace & Justice

Reflections on an immigration journey


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


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


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.


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


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


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.

Bishops play defense on anti-poverty initiative


As the nation's 200 or so Roman Catholic bishops prepare for their annual meeting in Baltimore next week (Nov. 15-18), the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has become yet another battlefield in what some Catholics lament is an increasingly polarized church.

For four decades, the U.S. Catholic bishops have maintained a nationwide program designed to help the poor lift themselves out of poverty. And for just as long, fierce critics have tried to kill it.

Bishops' campaign sets path for reform, renewal


WASHINGTON -- A renewed Catholic Campaign for Human Development -- never again linked to funding of any organizations that advocate positions contradicting basic Catholic social and moral teachings -- is the goal of a report released Oct. 26.

The campaign has come under repeated attack by critics, some of whom oppose its work and have sought to kill it. In many cases, the accusations from conservative quarters were about organizations that received no direct funding but had become allied over time, often loosely, with campaign-funded organizations.

Death penalty abolitionists gathering in Atlanta


For the first time in more than decade, faith-based anti-death penalty activists will gather for a national conference in the heart of the South. The conference is sponsored by the North Carolina-based abolition group, People of Faith Against the Death Penalty.

"The Kairos Conference: Discerning Justice & Taking Action on America’s Death Penalty" runs Nov. 16-17 at Atlanta's Emory University, in the region of the country where the death penalty has always garnered the most popular support.

The southern states, if you include Texas, account for more than 90 percent of the 1,233 US executions carried out since 1977. In May, Georgia carried out the state's 998 execution since records have been maintained.



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