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Peace & Justice

Maryland considers death penalty repeal

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FREDERICK, Md. -- Chris Wilson's father, 83, was murdered in 1994 by an acquaintance who broke into his home, likely to steal money. A week later, the man claimed another victim.

"At the time of the murder, I felt like I could've killed the perpetrator myself," Wilson said. But even as he and his wife, Mary, saw their family divide on the issue of capital punishment, they considered the grief and pain it would inflict on the murderer's parents.

"There's a slippery slope between justice and revenge -- vengeance," Mary Wilson said. It wouldn't have brought Chris' father back. "In the end, it really deepened our faith," she added. "We realized that the death penalty would have never freed us."

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Breaking News: O'Malley's death penalty efforts fail in state senate

Despite needs, recession strains social ministries

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WASHINGTON -- The effect of the global economic recession on the nation's poor stood out as a major challenge as U.S. Catholic leaders in social ministries gathered in Washington in late February.

Diocesan Catholic Charities and other faith-based social service groups are facing staff and budget cuts and pressures to reduce or eliminate some services -- even as the recession-driven demand for those services is mounting rapidly.

Arlene A. McNamee, executive director of Catholic Social Services of the Fall River, Mass., diocese, said the diocese's food pantry served 4,900 families in the previous fiscal year. "This year in two and a half months -- October, November and the first two weeks of December -- we served nearly as many. We were 700 families shy of our total the whole previous year," she said.

2010 budget cuts key nuke program

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Anti-nuclear weapons advocates warmly welcomed President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget as it has eliminated funding for research and development of a new-generation nuclear warhead called the Reliable Replacement Warhead.

"Development work on the Reliable Replacement Warhead will cease, while continued work to improve the nuclear stockpile's safety, security, and reliability is enhanced with more expansive life extension programs," the budget document said.

"It’s dead and this is a very important development,” said John Isaacs, Executive Director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation where his work focuses on national security issues. "This is a very positive sign."

Jane Stoever, a long-time Kansas City peace activist, in an email, called the move "an honest-to-God victory for those of us who've fought the nuclear weapons machine for so many years."

Peace activist Peter DeMott dead after fall

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Ithaca, N.Y., peace activist Peter DeMott, 62, died Feb. 19 after a fall while working in a tree. His wife, Ellen Grady, was able to see her husband before he went into surgery at a Pennsylvania hospital where he was airlifted following the accident. DeMott, a father of four daughters, died during the surgery.

DeMott was a veteran Catholic peace activist who spent time in prison for numerous anti-war protests. A Vietnam veteran, DeMott lived and worked with the late Philip Berrigan and Elizabeth McAlister at Baltimore's Jonah House as part of the Atlantic Life Communities before settling in Ithaca with his family.

DeMott was born in Washington, DC, but grew up mostly in Minnesota and Nebraska. After graduating from high school DeMott joined the Marine Corps. He spent most of 1969 in Vietnam as a communications specialist.

In a 2005 personal biography, DeMott wrote: " Upon completing my enlistment in the Marines I joined the Army where I received training as a linguist and an assignment to a NATO post in Ankara, Turkey. My experience in the military convinced me of the futility of war and of the sad misallocation of resources which war making requires.

Christians left, right, center promote poverty reduction

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WASHINGTON -- Christian leaders and policy experts from across the political and religious spectrum released a set of proposals Feb. 17 that they say will, if adopted, ease the strain on the poor and those facing poverty.

Members of The Poverty Forum, an 18-member committee headed by the Rev. Jim Wallis, president of the progressive Christian network Sojourners, and Michael Gerson, a syndicated columnist and former chief speechwriter to President George W. Bush, outlined a plan

Many hope change comes to immigration

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By 8 a.m. it is standing room only at the CASA de Maryland workers’ center in Rockville, Md., where nearly 80 people have gathered since the early morning in search of manual labor jobs in carpentry, construction, moving and painting. A labor organizer is speaking to the group in Spanish, going over rules and offering information on the economy and current events.

Essay: Peace is Every Step

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“Peace is every step,” Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us. And Daniel Berrigan adds: “You only get enough light for a step at a time.”

If peace is a journey, there are steps to be taken, a path to keep to. For years, I’ve pondered this path and my own missteps. I tend to take two steps forward and many more backward. To get back on track, I’ve reflected on the path as it was trod by Jesus, by the saints, and today by peacemaking friends. I’m guided too by our ancestors, the first Christians, who called themselves “People of the Way.” Too bad that phrase after about the third century fell out of favor. It nicely sums up the essence of the matter. Christians are people of the way of peace. And no matter where on the journey we are, each of us must peer ahead for milestones. By now, having plodded the path for some 25 years, I know of a few such milestones, places to gain assurance that we’re still on the path.

The prayer of peace

Catholic Charities USA Calls New Poverty Rate Unacceptable

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Alexandria, VA
American’s new poverty rate is “unacceptable,” Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, said August 27.

“It is unacceptable that in a nation that is as prosperous as ours that 37.3 million people, including 13.3 million children, continue to live in poverty. At 12.5 percent, the poverty rate indicates that reducing poverty is not a priority for this nation,” he said in a press released issued by the nonprofit organization.

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July 18-31, 2014

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