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Peace & Justice

A Moral Case for Health Care Reform


If you watch enough cable news you would think the fight over health care reform has been reduced to protestors screaming about socialism, "death panels" and the evils of government. A new campaign, organized by Christian, Jewish and Muslim organizations united behind health care reform as a moral imperative, offers a stark contrast to the anger and misinformation distorting this critical debate.

Our coalition, 40 Days for Health Reform, hosted a national conference call with President Obama last week that featured religious leaders and engaged citizens sharing painful stories from the front lines of a broken health care system. One hundred and forty thousand citizens participated. Instead of shouting and demagoguery, there was thoughtful reflection, civil dialogue and factual analysis. Ministers and rabbis spoke about values that transcend partisan politics or narrow ideologies.

An alternative to payday loans for the working poor


Mission Managment

Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank, was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering the use of microcredit lending -- the making of very small loans with low interest rates -- to help the poor step out of poverty. With a 98 percent repayment rate, Yunus figured out that small Bangladeshi villages possess rules in which all borrowers are expected to repay their microloans for their own benefit and for the benefit of the community.

But can such organic, ground-up “banking for the poor” work in the United States? In Belleville, Ill., a Society of St. Vincent de Paul council thinks it can.

Babysitting 'Pale Pinto'


Foxtrot Seven brooded in its concrete silence near a grove of cedar trees perched on a glade overlooking a tiny stream. On a bright October day, the glade was colorfully spotted with wildflowers -- goldenrod, morning glory and mullein. I lay in the breeze-nudged grass and watched a flock of chickadees move through the cedars, then walked back to the Minuteman missile silo.

From biblical narrative to economic policy


The following is an abridged version of a talk given July 30 in Cincinnati at the Celebration Conference on Effective Liturgy.

In the Bible Israel always has the hard work of transposing its treasured narrative memory into contemporary practice. It keeps treasured narrative memory and contemporary practice together by sustained acts of liturgical imagination. That liturgical imagination, regularly performed, is designed to raise the question from mesmerized children, “What is this about?”

Church stakes are high in health care reform


WASHINGTON -- For decades the U.S. Catholic church has pressed for major reform of the nation’s health care system. Now that such reform appears near reality, the church has high stakes in what shape it takes.

Universal health coverage, protection of the sacredness of all human life and conscience protection for health care workers and institutions are among the church’s top concerns.

Encyclical calls for solidarity in promoting education


Catholic educators and nonprofit groups said Pope Benedict XVI in his latest encyclical continues to inspire them to build awareness of global poverty and to address issues of access to education in vulnerable communities.

In his encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth"), the pope only mentions education by name in one paragraph, but there are implications for education throughout the document.

"The whole document is related to education just because of the link between charity and truth," said Jesuit Father Charles Currie, president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

The pope wrote that global solidarity can be seen in the promotion of greater access to education.

This is evident in the Jesuit Commons, an international collaboration bringing online courses to Burmese refugees in Thailand. It also is evident in Magis Americas raising $50,000 to build a wing for a school in Peru and in Catholic Relief Services partnering with H2O for Life to provide access to water and education on good hygiene to communities in developing countries.

Pope deplores latest killings of Christians in Pakistan


Pope Benedict XVI deplored the killing of eight Christians in Pakistan by a Muslim mob and urged the minority Christian community not to be deterred by the attack.

The Christians, including four women and a child, were either shot or burned alive Aug. 1 when a crowd attacked the eastern Pakistani town of Gojra, setting fire to dozens of Christian homes. Authorities said tensions were running high in the area, fueled by a false rumor that a Quran, the sacred book of Islam, had been desecrated.

A telegram sent in the pope's name said the pontiff was "deeply grieved to learn of the senseless attack" on the Christian community. Noting the "tragic deaths" and the immense destruction in the neighborhood, he sent condolences to the families of the victims and expressed solidarity with the survivors.

"In the name of God he appeals to everyone to renounce the way of violence, which causes so much suffering, and to embrace the way of peace," it said.

The Hiroshima challenge


By David Krieger
Hiroshima, as the first city attacked by an atomic weapon, was transformed to a city of ashes and death. From this devastation, it would be reborn to challenge humanity to a higher destiny.

Hiroshima became more than a place; it became a symbol of the terrifying threat of a new age of virtually unlimited destructive power. One bomb could destroy one city. By implication, a few bombs could destroy countries and a few dozen bombs could reduce civilization to ruins. As the nuclear arms race gained momentum, the future of life on the planet was placed at risk. Eventually tens of thousands of nuclear weapons would be created and deployed. We humans, by our own scientific and technological cleverness, had created the tools of our own annihilation. Hiroshima was the opening chapter of the Nuclear Age.

Hope for a world at peace



In the pantheon of Christian virtues -- faith, hope and charity -- it is hope that moves us forward. It is forward-looking. In the July issue of Celebration, the National Catholic Reporter’s liturgical magazine, Fr. James Smith writes: “Faith tells us what to believe and charity tells us how to love. But without hope, faith and charity just keep sputtering away in the present time. Faith only sees what is, and charity only loves what is -- while hope sees what will be.” Hope, so essential for the Christian soul, envisions a future wrapped in the love of God.”



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