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Peace & Justice

Pending executions face church objections


WASHINGTON -- As Florida's Supreme Court lifted a stay of execution for Manuel Valle, clearing the path for him to be put to death Sept. 6, the state's Catholic bishops urged Gov. Rick Scott to stop it.

The unanimous court lifted the stay Aug. 23, upholding a lower court finding that a new drug to be used for execution meets constitutional standards. Florida, like other states, has had executions put on hold over the last couple of years while new drugs were sought to replace one that has become unavailable for executions.

In their letter to the governor, Florida's bishops urged Scott to stay Valle's execution on the grounds that: "Killing someone because they killed diminishes respect for life and promotes a culture of violence and vengeance."

The letter, which was dated Aug. 3 and released publicly Aug. 23 by the Florida Catholic Conference, conceded the state's right to impose the death penalty "when absolutely necessary, that is when it is otherwise impossible to defend society. However, given the ability of Florida to protect its residents by incarcerating inmates for life without possibility of parole, we pray you will exercise that option."

A safer world: Japan ponders its nuclear future


HIROSHIMA, JAPAN -- The air seemed still as a large iron bell was struck once, then again, then six more times, totaling eight. Each sound was allowed to drift and echo through the crowd, which numbered some 50,000. The clock read 8:15 a.m. -- 66 years to the minute from humankind’s first dropping of an atomic bomb with intent to kill.

Gathering from around the world, people came here Aug. 6 to commemorate the anniversary with a solemn dedication to recalling the names of the more than 200,000 killed in the 1945 bombing.

Religious men address issues of discipleship, service


ORLANDO, Fla. -- Discipleship and service were two key issues addressed during the Aug. 3-6 assembly of the Congregation of Major Superiors of Men in Orlando.

"Jesus' celebration of the Last Supper in the Gospel of John becomes the occasion for Jesus to explain and to present the life of discipleship as participation and identification with the life of Jesus," said Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in his keynote address at the CMSM assembly.

Cardinal Turkson outlined how leaders of men's religious orders, and the priests and brothers under their care, can better exercise discipleship.

After debt ceiling crisis, real work on US social policy lies ahead



WASHINGTON -- Now that the so-called debt ceiling crisis is over for the time being (no one except a few tea party Republicans were actually willing to cast the United States into a political and economic quagmire that could have thrown this country and the entire world into a new Great Depression), the real work on future U.S. social/tax policies begins.

Peace service held amid London riots


LONDON -- The annual peace service at Westminster Cathedral acquired fresh significance on Tuesday evening (Aug. 9) as Londoners gathered to pray for their city and other British communities torn by rioting.

A fourth night of unrest brought total arrests in London to more than 700, according to police, and looting and arson continued to spread to other cities in Britain.

One man has been reported killed and dozens of citizens and police officers have been injured, authorities said.

Appeal for help in stemming East African famine


BALTIMORE -- The ongoing drought and famine afflicting Somalia and other East African nations is "a humanitarian crisis that cries out for help to Christians throughout the world," said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairman of the board of Catholic Relief Services in a joint statement.

"CRS can use all the help we can offer in this current tragic situation," wrote Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, USCCB president, and Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., CRS board chairman. "Through CRS our generosity could literally feed thousands and provide them clean water, shelter and other life-saving goods."

Ex-soldiers indicted for deaths of Jesuits surrender


SAN SALVADOR (CNS) -- Nine former soldiers in El Salvador's army have surrendered to authorities, three months after their indictment in Spain for the 1989 killings of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter during the country's 12-year civil war.

The ex-military members turned themselves in at a military base Aug. 8 and were transported to a Salvadoran court, the government said.

They were among 20 former soldiers indicted by a Spanish court for their role in the deaths on the campus of the University of Central America in the Salvadoran capital, where the priests taught and lived.

Five of the priests were Spanish. Spain's courts have used the principle of international jurisdiction to prosecute the killings.

Nearing Hiroshima Day, Japanese bishop calls for discernment on nuclear energy


HIROSHIMA -- Ten of Japan’s sixteen bishops are to arrive here tomorrow. It is not to be a synod. They are gathering Aug. 6 to commemorate humanity’s first use of an atomic bomb in an act of war.

An annual pilgrimage, the bishops will join thousands of others in marking the 66th year since the blast’s utter devastation -- and the first since the March meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake.

For Bishop Paul Otsuka of the Kyoto diocese that occasion is something for careful consideration.

Speaking in a letter on behalf of his diocese to the entire Japanese church, Otsuka wrote this month that Japan, “which is the only country in the world to have been attacked with atomic weapons,” now “stands in danger of becoming a country fundamentally damaged because of atomic energy generation.”

That possibility, Otsuka wrote, should cause Japan to use the occasion to “discern whether atomic energy, which threatens mankind and the environment, comes within the acceptable limits of our legitimate use of science and technology.”



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November 20-December 3, 2015


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