National Catholic Reporter

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Peace & Justice

Babysitting 'Pale Pinto'

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Foxtrot Seven brooded in its concrete silence near a grove of cedar trees perched on a glade overlooking a tiny stream. On a bright October day, the glade was colorfully spotted with wildflowers -- goldenrod, morning glory and mullein. I lay in the breeze-nudged grass and watched a flock of chickadees move through the cedars, then walked back to the Minuteman missile silo.

From biblical narrative to economic policy

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The following is an abridged version of a talk given July 30 in Cincinnati at the Celebration Conference on Effective Liturgy.

In the Bible Israel always has the hard work of transposing its treasured narrative memory into contemporary practice. It keeps treasured narrative memory and contemporary practice together by sustained acts of liturgical imagination. That liturgical imagination, regularly performed, is designed to raise the question from mesmerized children, “What is this about?”

Church stakes are high in health care reform

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WASHINGTON -- For decades the U.S. Catholic church has pressed for major reform of the nation’s health care system. Now that such reform appears near reality, the church has high stakes in what shape it takes.

Universal health coverage, protection of the sacredness of all human life and conscience protection for health care workers and institutions are among the church’s top concerns.

Encyclical calls for solidarity in promoting education

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WASHINGTON
Catholic educators and nonprofit groups said Pope Benedict XVI in his latest encyclical continues to inspire them to build awareness of global poverty and to address issues of access to education in vulnerable communities.

In his encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth"), the pope only mentions education by name in one paragraph, but there are implications for education throughout the document.

"The whole document is related to education just because of the link between charity and truth," said Jesuit Father Charles Currie, president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

The pope wrote that global solidarity can be seen in the promotion of greater access to education.

This is evident in the Jesuit Commons, an international collaboration bringing online courses to Burmese refugees in Thailand. It also is evident in Magis Americas raising $50,000 to build a wing for a school in Peru and in Catholic Relief Services partnering with H2O for Life to provide access to water and education on good hygiene to communities in developing countries.

Pope deplores latest killings of Christians in Pakistan

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VATICAN CITY
Pope Benedict XVI deplored the killing of eight Christians in Pakistan by a Muslim mob and urged the minority Christian community not to be deterred by the attack.

The Christians, including four women and a child, were either shot or burned alive Aug. 1 when a crowd attacked the eastern Pakistani town of Gojra, setting fire to dozens of Christian homes. Authorities said tensions were running high in the area, fueled by a false rumor that a Quran, the sacred book of Islam, had been desecrated.

A telegram sent in the pope's name said the pontiff was "deeply grieved to learn of the senseless attack" on the Christian community. Noting the "tragic deaths" and the immense destruction in the neighborhood, he sent condolences to the families of the victims and expressed solidarity with the survivors.

"In the name of God he appeals to everyone to renounce the way of violence, which causes so much suffering, and to embrace the way of peace," it said.

The Hiroshima challenge

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By David Krieger
Hiroshima, as the first city attacked by an atomic weapon, was transformed to a city of ashes and death. From this devastation, it would be reborn to challenge humanity to a higher destiny.

Hiroshima became more than a place; it became a symbol of the terrifying threat of a new age of virtually unlimited destructive power. One bomb could destroy one city. By implication, a few bombs could destroy countries and a few dozen bombs could reduce civilization to ruins. As the nuclear arms race gained momentum, the future of life on the planet was placed at risk. Eventually tens of thousands of nuclear weapons would be created and deployed. We humans, by our own scientific and technological cleverness, had created the tools of our own annihilation. Hiroshima was the opening chapter of the Nuclear Age.

Hope for a world at peace

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Editorial

In the pantheon of Christian virtues -- faith, hope and charity -- it is hope that moves us forward. It is forward-looking. In the July issue of Celebration, the National Catholic Reporter’s liturgical magazine, Fr. James Smith writes: “Faith tells us what to believe and charity tells us how to love. But without hope, faith and charity just keep sputtering away in the present time. Faith only sees what is, and charity only loves what is -- while hope sees what will be.” Hope, so essential for the Christian soul, envisions a future wrapped in the love of God.”

House panel rejects abortion ban in health reform

WASHINGTON -- Despite the support of a U.S. cardinal and its own initial approval, the House Energy and Commerce Committee July 30 rejected an amendment to a House health care reform bill that would have prohibited any mandated abortion coverage, except in cases of rape, incest or life-threatening danger to the mother.

To see our opponents as neighbors

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As guides along a path to peace, I want Jesus of Nazareth, Mohandas Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to point the way. Each of them taught, through word and action, that we should intentionally cross barriers between ourselves and our adversaries. When we encounter the enemy as a person, like ourselves, then we can believe in and appeal to that person’s capacity for goodness.

How can we apply this belief to the currently escalating U.S. warfare in Afghanistan and Pakistan where, we are told, groups of Taliban fighters pose a threat to U.S. security and abuse people in the villages and towns that they control? Who are these people we’re now being taught to fear and hate?

These questions were on my mind when I and several other activists with Voices for Creative Nonviolence traveled to Pakistan in late May.

Teaching the 'golden thread' of Gospel nonviolence

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Here’s the challenge: When you’re enrolling your child in Catholic school for the coming year, or perhaps for parish religious education classes, take a moment to look through the curriculum to see how many classes are spent on the topic of Gospel nonviolence.

For that matter, spend a moment and think back over your own education if you went to a Catholic high school or college. Was much time given over to exploring the nonviolent Christ or the implications of his preaching on love of enemies?

Peg Burns Kerbawy of Kansas City, Mo., has a hunch that you won’t find much material on those subjects. Of course, it’s more than a hunch. Apart from the occasional teacher who might want to emphasize the matter, nonviolence and peacemaking are subjects easily sidelined as formal areas of study in Catholic education. They move into deep and difficult waters quickly, running up against societal presumptions about power and the use of deadly force.

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