National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Peace & Justice

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.”

Bishop to Congress: 'Immigration is humanitarian issue'


Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the problem of immigration should not be dissected as an economic issue, but as a humanitarian one.

Bishop Kicanas made the remarks July 14 before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law.

"The current immigration law we have today fails to meet the moral test of dignity to the human person," said Bishop Kicanas, whose diocese runs along the whole of the Arizona-Mexico border.Referring to a tough new law passed April 23 in Arizona but not expected to take effect until July 29, he said it was "only providing a Band-Aid unless new federal laws are made."

He made a clear distinction between those coming to the United States to work and those coming to do the nation harm.

"From a moral perspective, we cannot accept the toil of immigrants without providing them protection," Bishop Kicanas said.

The testimony the bishop delivered made several points about what comprehensive immigration reform should include.

Presbyterians take half step on gays


In a whirlwind of activity, the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to lift a ban on partnered gay clergy, but turned down a bid to expand its definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

The more than 700 Presbyterians gathered for their General Assembly in Minneapolis also adopted a 170-page report on the Middle East and denounced Caterpillar Inc. for allowing its machinery to be used for “non-peaceful purposes” in the region.

With just more than 2 million members, the PCUSA is the nation's largest Presbyterian denomination, though like most mainline Protestant churches it has been bleeding members for years. Nearly all of mainline churches have been roiled in recent years by internal debates over gay marriage and gay clergy.

The PCUSA clergy resolution, which passed on Thursday (July 8) by a vote of 373-323, strips any mention of sexuality from ordination requirements.

For the fourth time in nearly a dozen years, the denomination's 173 regional governing bodies, called presbyteries, must now decide whether to ratify the General Assembly's vote to allow partnered gays to serve as elders, deacons, and pastors.

Finding food now in Haiti is not shopping


The last time my son-in-law, Corey, went to Haiti, I requested a souvenir from the gift shop at the Port-au-Prince airport. I wanted him to bring me a poster of “Les Chefs d’État d’Haiti, 1804-2011.” This display of the pictures of Haiti’s presidents -- individuals, as well as committees that have ruled throughout Haiti’s last 200 years -- tells the length of each person or cadre’s tenure.

Attacks serve a separate agenda


Let’s speak plainly: The effort by right-wing Catholic groups to defund and disband the Catholic Campaign for Human Development has little to do with the small number of grants the program has provided to antipoverty groups that don’t meet funding criteria (See story). In a large program -- the campaign has distributed more than 8,000 grants in the past 40 years -- such small aberrations, while not welcome, are hardly shocking.



NCR Email Alerts