National Catholic Reporter

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Peace & Justice

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.

'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.


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May 22-June 4, 2015


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