National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Peace & Justice

Witnessing Against Torture: 'Why We Must Act'



Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
-- U.S. Constitution Amendment I

An old cliché says that anyone who has herself for a lawyer has a fool for a client. Nevertheless, going to trial in Washington, D.C., this past June 14, I and twenty-three other defendants prepared a pro se defense. Acting as our own lawyers in court, we aimed to defend a population that finds little voice in our society at all, and to bring a sort of prosecution against their persecutors.

Protesters question U.S. weapons development


Kansas City, MO.
The rhythmic clash of a gong set the pace. Scatterings of wooden crosses were planted in the ground, marking a trail. Fingers thrust into the air in desperate peace signs and the words "We Shall Overcome" were sung by peace-seekers of all ages. The somber march was held June 18 at the Kansas City, Mo. Bannister Complex to protest its' manufacturing of non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons, and the building of a new complex that will take place next year.

The Kansas City Bannister Complex, home to nine federal agencies, manufactures 85 percent of the non-nuclear components of the U.S. Nuclear bomb arsenal, over 100,000 parts annually, and is the National Nuclear Security Administration's highest-rated production facility.

Through the collaboration of three sponsors: Peace Works, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and East meets West of Troost, “Juneteenth” in Kansas City was celebrated in a unique way. Normally commemorating slave emancipation in the U.S., this holiday was thought by sponsors to parallel the bondage endured under a government, they say, condones the production of nuclear weapons.

A brake on the ongoing destruction


FRANKLIN, LA. -- In coastal Louisiana, a fierce love of place cuts across lines of class, race and religion.

Steve Landry — Catholic, Cajun, fisherman — lives in Franklin, a town that straddles the Bayou Teche near Vermilion Bay on the Gulf. He shares both his fishing grounds and neighborhood with a gumbo of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, African-American, Native American, Caribbean and Hispanic fishers and boat and dock workers.

Integrating faith, ethics in business decision-making


The conflicts of interest between Wall Street investment banks and their clients, the unscrupulous mortgage lenders giving large sums of money to borrowers unable to repay the loans, a car company not immediately disclosing serious problems with its vehicles, a coal mine operating under dangerous conditions, and a state attorney general repeatedly misrepresenting the nature of his Vietnam service -- all represent a quick sampling of ethically challenged and sometimes illegal behavior occurring every day in the marketplace.

Catholics want women religious to speak out on policy issues


Most Catholics in the United States view women religious as strongly contributing to building the church and maintaining its mission and as having a right to speak out publicly on important cultural and religious issues, according to a recent survey.

The survey, conducted in May by Knowledge Networks, showed that American Catholics have a “very positive image” of religious sisters, said William D’Antonio, fellow at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at Catholic University in Washington. The poll also showed Catholics had little concern about the ongoing Vatican investigation of women’s religious orders.

D’Antonio said the idea for the survey – three questions with a range of possible answers – emerged after a non-scientific in-house poll in the magazine U.S. Catholic showed readers responding with a highly positive view of women religious.
The survey was done in light of critical comments made by some in the Catholic hierarchy about nuns, particularly U.S. sisters who supported health care reform, and as a controversial Vatican investigation of nuns is taking place.

JustFaith partners with Pax Christi, Bread for World


WASHINGTON -- JustFaith Ministries, the Louisville, Ky.-based social ministry program, has entered into partnerships with Pax Christi USA and Bread for the World. The partnerships were announced in late May.

Details of the partnership with Pax Christi, the U.S. arm of the international Catholic peace movement, will be announced July 16 in Chicago at the National Catholic Conference on Peacemaking.

Contrasting approaches in Boston and Denver


The contrast, even to the casual observer of ecclesial politics, is startling.

In Boulder, Colo., last March, two girls, ages 5 and 3, were refused admittance to a Catholic elementary school after the pastor, Fr. William Breslin, and the elementary school principal found out that the children’s parents are a lesbian couple. Breslin contended, using some rather bizarre biblical proof-texting, that Jesus, too, turned people away.

Shades of grey in a world of apparent absolutes



Excommunication is the most severe penalty a Catholic can incur. It is so severe that it is not easily presumed or imposed. In the case of the sister from Phoenix who was declared excommunicated by Thomas Olmsted, the bishop of the Phoenix diocese, the issue is far from clear as it has been presented by the diocese in their Question and Answer statement issued on May 18, 2010. This tragic case involves the convergence of canon law, moral theology, medical ethics, and medical science, all of which should have been carefully considered before any prudential decisions were made by anyone directly involved.

Rancher convicted for nun's murder released


SAO PAULO -- The Brazilian bishops' Pastoral Land Commission condemned the release of rancher Regivaldo Galvao pending an appeal of his 30-year sentence for his involvement in the 2005 assassination of U.S.-born Sister Dorothy Stang.

The commission, known by its Portuguese acronym as the CPT, said Galvao's May 19 release on his own recognizance "strengthens impunity, which in turn generates increasing violence."

"Those who have financial resources are always able to benefit from the law, while the poor remain years in jail awaiting trial," the CPT statement said.

A commission report said that, in the past 25 years, more than 1,540 peasants and their allies have been assassinated. In all of these cases, only 88 people went to trial, including 20 accused of ordering the killings. Of these 20, only 2 have been found guilty and sent to jail: Galvao, who was released, and Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura, the other rancher accused of plotting Sister Dorothy's assassination.

Sister Dorothy, 73, was a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and a naturalized Brazilian citizen. She was known for her fight against large landowners in the Amazon region.



NCR Email Alerts