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Peace & Justice

Monks sue for the right to build, sell caskets

NEW ORLEANS -- When St. Joseph Abbey decided to open a woodshop on All Saints Day 2007 to sell handcrafted caskets to the public, the hope was that the sales would pay for the medical and educational needs of the abbey's 36 Benedictine monks.

The board regulating Louisiana's embalmers and funeral directors, however, would have none of it.

Humanitarian concerns in Iraq must be addressed


WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The ancient Christian communities that once thrived in Iraq "now face potential extinction," said U.S. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, urging the United States to develop a postwar plan to help Iraq resolve the humanitarian consequences of the seven-year war.

The fact that U.S. combat forces are expected to leave by Sept. 1 "is good news for our American servicemen, their families and the nation," the cardinal said. "But this departure should not be accompanied by a withdrawal of our support for the Iraqi people, particularly for the millions of displaced Iraqis."

Hiroshima Day marked by Kansas City activist sentencing


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Offering the U.S. magistrate judge hearing her case a tiny box from Japan carrying a tightly folded peace crane, a Catholic activist here was sentenced to eight hours of community service for having blocked the entrance to a local nuclear weapons manufacturing facility.

The civil disobedience sentence in federal court came on the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Jane Stoever, a local peace activist, had pleaded no contest to the disorderly conduct charges stemming from an action with three others June 18. The others agreed to pay fines and were not called before the judge.

Stoever, who was represented by her husband, attorney Henry Stoever, had asked for community service in lieu of a fine.

In her statement to Judge John T. Maughmer, Stoever called attention to a speech given by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kan. May 8.

In that speech Gates noted that the last decade has seen an explosion of defense spending almost like a ‘gusher’ and promised that “the gusher has been turned off, and will stay off for a good period of time.”

The weight of violence



No act is more violent than taking another’s life. Four years of my life were defined by training to commit, attempting to commit or committing these very acts of violence. During this period I was one of the unfortunate Marines put into situations where murder seemed to be my only option. For me, this taking of lives was only half of the sad and violent story that was my life from ages 18 to 22.

Secret wars and the Gospel of nonviolence



On June 4 a front page story in The Washington Post appeared titled: "U.S. 'Secret War' Expands Globally." The article reported that special operations forces are now deployed in 75 countries in a secret war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups. Plans exist for preemptive and retaliatory strikes to either avert or respond to a specific attack. Unacknowledged CIA drone attacks in Pakistan, along with unilateral raids in Somalia and joint operations in Yemen, are all an integral part of this secret war. The proposed administration budget for special operations is $6.3 billion for fiscal year 2011, plus an additional $3.5 billion in 2010 contingency funding.

Military spending


It is a rare day when Pentagon leaders and peace activists are reading from the same page, but the crush of two ongoing wars and the deep recession have forged a broad and unlikely alliance arguing for significant cuts in U.S. military spending.

The most recent demonstration of the growing consensus for military cuts was the much publicized statement issued July 6 by U.S. Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas), who not only come from different sides of the aisle but from differing perspectives on most issues. On this issue, however, the two agree, calling for “substantial reductions in the projected level of American military spending as part of future deficit reduction efforts.”



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