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Full text of speech by Bishop Gabino Zavala


This is the text of a speech delivered by Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles March 11 at the University of Great Falls in Great Falls, Mont. Zavala is bishop-president of Pax Christi USA, the Catholic peace organization. The University of Great Falls is a Roman Catholic liberal arts university.

I am so pleased and honored to be with you tonight. I would like to express my gratitude to the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings and the Catholic University of Great Falls for sponsoring tonight’s gathering. And I want to give special thanks to Bishop Warfel for this invitation to come, and also for his leadership in our Church on concerns of justice and peace, for he has served on the International Policy Committee of U.S. Bishops Conference, and as a bishop member of Pax Christi USA.

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Pax Christi bishop cites 'new disarmament moment'


New political circumstances are giving rise to “great hope” for “dramatic and fundamental changes in U.S. nuclear weapons policies,” said Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles in an address March 11 that marked the start of a new disarmament campaign by Pax Christi USA, the Catholic peace organization.

Zavala, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and bishop-president of Pax Christi, also called Catholics to see peacemaking as a “mandatory” vocation and argued that “Catholic social teaching and a vision of Gospel nonviolence can contribute to informing the policy debates and offer guidance for new directions for our nation with regard to war and peace.”

Full text of speech by Bishop Gabino Zavala


Charities head sees chance to 'remake' system


Father Larry Snyder is an ambitious man -- not for himself, but for the poor and often voiceless Americans whom he serves as president of Catholic Charities USA.

Facing the worst challenge to the U.S. and world economy since the Great Depression, he said in an interview with NCR, “Maybe with this opportunity to remake our economic system we can correct some of its shortcomings (that existed) before.”

Father Larry Snyder is an ambitious man -- not for himself, but for the poor and often voiceless Americans whom he serves as president of Catholic Charities USA.

Facing the worst challenge to the U.S. and world economy since the Great Depression, he said in an interview with NCR, “Maybe with this opportunity to remake our economic system we can correct some of its shortcomings (that existed) before.”

I mean the fact that we had 12 percent of the people (even before the recession began) living in poverty -- was that acceptable?” he asked. “Well, I don’t think so.”

On nuclear weapons, 'silence is indefensible'


Arundhati Roy, the great Indian writer and activist, has said,
"There's nothing new or original left to be said about nuclear weapons."
Nonetheless, she speaks out because, in her words, "silence would be
indefensible." Silence is the norm. We live our day-to-day lives with
these weapons capable of destroying our cities, our countries, our
civilizations, even our species. How can silence be the norm?

This is what Roy herself says about nuclear weapons, "Whether
they're used or not, they violate everything that is humane. They alter
the meaning of life itself. Why do we tolerate them? Why do we tolerate
the men who use nuclear weapons to blackmail the entire human race?"

Do we really trust our political leaders and those leaders who
might come to power in the future to never unleash the fury of nuclear
war? Do we believe that all leaders under all conditions, no matter how
rushed or stressed, will refrain from using this power of annihilation?
Perhaps we do, and this would explain the widespread complacency and

Perhaps we just feel impotent to change the situation. This resignation

Maryland considers death penalty repeal


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."


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

Despite needs, recession strains social ministries


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


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


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


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



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