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Peace & Justice

'I want to live with my family'



Islamabad, Pakistan --Abir Mohammed, a refugee from Bajaur, says that the battles that raged in his home province since 2008 have dramatically changed his life. We met him in a crowded Islamabad café where he politely approached customers, offering to shine their shoes. He isn't accustomed to shoeshine work. But he needs to earn as much money as possible before reuniting with family members who await him, near Peshawar, in a tent encampment for displaced people.

Formerly, he lived with his wife, his five children, his mother and four brothers in a home near the Afghanistan border. "We were very satisfied with our life," says Abir Mohammed. "My brothers and I cultivated wheat crops and maintained orchards." His land is full of rich soil. "But, in these days," says Abir, "due to disasters and lack of water and electricity, there is no chance of cultivating crops."

Some flee Arizona law; others plan for arrests

MESA, Ariz. -- Thirty-five years after he first began trying to make a life in the United States, Manuel Gutierrez, a legal resident from Mexico, is taking his family out of Arizona.

Although Gutierrez first came to the United States illegally in 1975 and was soon deported, he returned several times, pursuing legal residency that finally became permanent in 2007. He now runs a successful business and all but his eldest child are U.S. citizens.

But after Gov. Jan Brewer signed a tough immigration bill that would make being in the state illegally a crime, Gutierrez is worried enough about repercussions, especially for his eldest son, that he has found a job in another state.

The hope of Easter and Pentecost in a nuclear age



During this Holy Season when we celebrate the Easter triumph of Jesus over the forces of death, and the Holy Spirit being given to the first believing community at Pentecost, a litany of life-threatening problems, caused by our arrogance, greed and disrespect for life, engulf our society and world.

This litany includes the U.S. wars and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan; the illegal U.S.-backed Israeli occupation of the West Bank; an unjust global and domestic economic order that has resulted in countless poor people to sink deeper into dehumanizing poverty and die early deaths; global warming and environmental destruction; and racism and all forms of discrimination.

Violence has not stopped in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico


CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- Father Oscar Enriquez minces few words when describing the impact of sending up to 7,500 soldiers to quell the drug and gang violence in this border city of 1.3 million residents.

The same goes for his assessment of the impact of sending 5,000 Federal Police officers.

"The statistics don't lie. The number of homicides has increased. Kidnapping has increased. Extortion has increased throughout the city," said Father Enriquez, pastor of the Holy Spirit Parish, which serves a congregation of low-wage factory workers on the southern outskirts of town. "The city continues being a city kidnapped by organized crime in spite of the presence of the military and the Federal Police."

Father Enriquez's unfavorable assessment of the military and police presence has become more common of late in Ciudad Juarez. Violence attributed to warring cartels, crimes committed by gangs affiliated with the cartels and a federal crackdown have claimed an estimated 800 lives in Ciudad Juarez this year -- and more than 4,000 lives since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006.

Nun excommunicated for allowing abortion


PHOENIX -- A Catholic nun, who was a member of a Phoenix Catholic hospital's ethics committee, was excommunicated and reassigned last week for her role in allowing an abortion to take place at the hospital, according to the Phoenix diocese. The surgery was considered necessary to save the life of a critically ill patient.

The surgery took place at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. The decision, involving Sister of Mercy Margaret McBride, physicians and the patient, drew a sharp rebuke from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, head of the Phoenix diocese. He said abortion is not permissible under any circumstances.

Christians and the Law: The Case of Unauthorized Immigration


For many, the mere fact that migrants have crossed the border illegally is the decisive issue that trumps all other considerations. No amnesty for lawbreakers!

Is that a responsible position? If not, how should one respond to it? What is the responsible Christian attitude toward the law, and toward law-breaking like this?

Migrants: illegals or God's ambassadors?


The Obama Administration continues to re-affirm its commitment to enact comprehensive immigration reform, even though passage this year is unlikely. Last December Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Tex) introduced H.R. 4321 for that purpose, and this past March Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) unveiled their version of a Senate bill. Then in April, Graham pulled back, and the governor of Arizona signed a draconian law against illegal immigration that showed, by counter-example, how urgent comprehensive reform is. We should expect plenty more political drama over immigration reform during this election year.

At this stage, what can we add to the familiar debates? I think we can add some new perspective. Here I want to review the issue from the standpoint of the sending countries themselves, in particular from Central America, and do so in the light of Christian faith and Catholic social teaching.

Marquette U rescinds offer to hire dean, who is gay


MILWAUKEE -- Jesuit-run Marquette University in Milwaukee closed its search for a dean to head the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences May 6 after rescinding its offer to a Seattle professor who is openly gay.

The candidate, Jodi O'Brien, is the chairwoman and professor of the department of anthropology, sociology and social work at Seattle University, which also is a Jesuit institution.

Evangelicals find new unity on immigration

WASHINGTON -- In the shadow of Arizona's strict immigration law, a broad range of evangelical leaders are speaking in support of comprehensive immigration reform, with more specifics than some were able to embrace before.

At the same time, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, New York's Charles Schumer, is hoping evangelicals will nudge their allies in the GOP to push an on-again, off-again immigration bill through Congress.

The renewed push came in the form of a full-page ad in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, paid for by the National Association of Evangelicals, and a three-page policy proposal from Liberty Counsel, a conservative Christian legal firm.

The NAE statement calls for keeping families intact, securing national borders, and establishing a path to legal citizenship for qualified people who want to become permanent residents.

"Initiatives to remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling in which opponents have misrepresented each others' positions as open borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions," the ad reads. "This false choice has led to an unacceptable political stalemate."

Faith-based investors push bankers for transparency

WASHINGTON -- As Congress debates legislation to restrict the activities of financial traders, a group of faith-based institutional investors is pressuring four of the nation's largest banks to become more transparent in the way they transact investment deals.

The investors, under the banner of the New York-based Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, have introduced shareholder resolutions that call upon the banks to act more openly and with clarity in the trading of financial products known as derivatives.

If votes at two recent shareholder meetings mean anything, the campaign seems to be catching on.



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