Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Catholic social teaching tells us that access to adequate health care is a basic human right, necessary for the development and maintenance of life and for the ability of human beings to realize the fullness of their dignity. Catholic Charities USA has long worked for affordable and accessible health care for all, especially the most vulnerable members of our society, our children. With our long history of serving children and families, we realize now more than ever that strengthening and expanding health care coverage for children must be a top priority. The current economic crisis makes this an especially critical time to increase the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) funding as more and more children lose health care coverage when their parents become unemployed or simply can not afford to pay for coverage.
Click here to take important action on SCHIP. You'll be asked to enter your ZIP Code to send messages to your elected officials.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
A proposal has been developed to work toward having the United Nations declare 2010-2020 a "UN Decade for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace." The USG and UISG formally support this initiative and have joined the coalition. Individual religious institutes are encouraged to support and join this coalition. An updated short version of the draft proposal developed in Geneva in January 2008 plus information on this initiative -- including supportive religious leaders and organizations -- can be found at http://www.faithdecadeforpeace.net
Monday, January 26, 2009
Over the past year, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) has provided crucial services to victims, helped to pass federal anti-trafficking legislation, and responded to almost 6,000 calls into the NHTRC Hotline. From 2007 to 2008 the number of calls into the NHTRC Hotline increased by more than 240%.
We are asked to remember the NHTRC Hotline number for reporting possible trafficking activity or just to find answers to questions we may have: 1-888-373-7888.
Click here for more information on the Polaris Project or to donate to the cause.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Earlier this week Judge Eloy Velasco of the Spanish National Court officially admitted the complaint CJA and APDHE filed last November on the Jesuits Massacre in El Salvador . In a fourteen page order, the court has now formally charged 14 former Salvadoran military officials, including General Ponce and General Rafael Humberto Larios, for their role in the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests and two women. The judge also approved our discovery requests which means that we will start making arrangements soon to bring witnesses to testify in Madrid .
The judge decided not to charge former President Alfredo Cristiani "at this time" for his role in covering up the crime explaining that he will make the decision after he has gathered additional evidence. We are confident that Cristiani will be added to the complaint once the judge has had an opportunity to review the evidence. This development is a very important step towards accountability for the families of those killed and the people of El Salvador and was widely covered in the international press. Click here to read the International Herald Tribune's coverage. Click here to view the Spanish National Television report.
The victims' families and the Salvadoran people have gone without justice for the massacre for nearly two decades. Two Salvadoran officers were found guilty of murder and "instigation and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism" in 1991, only to be freed after the passage of the 1993 Amnesty Law. The law prevented prosecution of any crime committed during the 12 year Salvadoran Civil War in which 75,000 unarmed civilians were killed. The defendants continue to live freely in El Salvador , exerting political influence and lobbying to ensure that the 1993 Amnesty Law stays in place. Currently, this case is the sole avenue available to achieve justice for the victims.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
January 15, 2009
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
The crisis in Gaza is currently being discussed in the U.N. General Assembly. Our concern is to consider not just a cease fire , but long lasting solutions requiring Human Security. We feel that it is urgent to contact our UN representatives offering a two sets of strategies that should be included in their negotiations.
We urge you to write to your UN Representative as soon as possible urging him/her to consider these issues. We would like to have a volume of letters faxed or emailed as soon as possible.
Kathie Uhler, OSF
Lucianne Siers, OP
Partnership for Global Justice
Ambassador Elect Susan Rice
H.E. Mr. Zalamy Khalilzad, Ambassador
Permanent Mission of the United States
140 E. 45th St.
New York, NY 10017
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
United Nations Headquarters
United Nations Secretariat
New York, NY 10017
We, the undersigned, urge you through your good offices to strive for an end to the Arab/Israeli conflict. We urge Your Excellency, moreover, to press beyond ceasefires to a permanent peace.
As persons of faith, we care deeply about the welfare of both Israelis and Palestinians and deplore the violent deaths of those caught in this conflict. We reject all rationales for the unconscionable Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza into Israel. We similarly reject the Israeli response as disproportionate and likely to strengthen extremists and undermine moderates in the region.
We are aghast at the carnage on both sides, but in particular with the hundreds of Palestinian dead. We condemn the Israeli violations of international law and the 4th Geneva Conventions. The president of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, emphasized these points in his statement of 27 December 2008. The egregious violations include: the collective punishment resulting from the present military offensive into Gaza, which has been preceded by a two-year blockade, affecting 1.5 million people; the targeting of civilian neighborhoods; and the disproportionate military response to the actions of a few militants.
We believe that to build a lasting peace any response to the violent attacks on both sides must move BEYOND CEASE FIRE. It is clear to us that poverty and deprivation lead to violent conflict; that development and human security are key to long lasting solutions. Therefore, we believe that the range of injustices and insecurities experienced by the Palestinian peoples must be addressed.
Deprivation from basic human needs (including food, water,housing, healthcare and all forms of education); social protection and economic collapse must be addressed. In order to achieve peace and stability in our interdependent world, preventing and mitigating the impact of violent conflicts are not sufficient. It is absolutely necessary to uphold human rights, to pursue inclusive and equitable development, and to respect human dignity and diversity. It is imperative to develop the capability of individuals and communities to make informed choices and to act on their own behalf.
Therefore, we urge you to develop two sets of strategies: protection strategies and empowerment strategies.
STRATEGY I: The peoples of Palestine and Israel need to be protected from violent attacks. Basic rights of the peoples of both regions need to be upheld.
STRATEGY II: The peoples of both sides of the conflict should be empowered to act on their own behalf. This empowerment will provide the opportunity for them to demand respect for their dignity when it is violated. This will also create incentive for work and for education as well as public space for freedom of the press, freedom of information, freedom of conscience and belief.
We wish to assure Your Excellency of our willingness as NGOs to support the peace process, and not only from within our own fields of action. There are those among us who stand ready to serve you and others informally wherever needed as emissaries or messengers of goodwill.
I. Statement of the president of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann:
The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war. Those violations include: Collective punishment - the entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants. Targeting civilians - the airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East. Disproportionate military response - the airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza's elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.
I remind all member states of the United Nations that the UN continues to be bound to an independent obligation to protect any civilian population facing massive violations of international humanitarian law - regardless of what country may be responsible for those violations. I call on all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move expeditiously not only to condemn Israel's serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.
II. The 1993 Vienna Declaration of Human Rights stresses the universality and interdependence of human rights of all people, including civil, political, economic and social rights which are included in the conventions and protocols derived from the Declaration on the 1948 Declaration on Human Rights.
III. The Commission on Human Security has provided quality solutions for protection and empowerment of peoples involved in conflict. See Human Security Now: Protecting and Empowering People. Commission on Human Security, New York, 2003. ISBN 0-9741108-0-9.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
SCHIP: The US House of Representatives voted yesterday to reauthorize and expand SCHIP, expanding coverage for an additional 4 million children through fiscal year 2013. Be aware of alerts in the future to urge the signing of this bill early in the Obama administration.
Gaza: Last Friday, the House voted 390 yes, 5 no and 22 present to pass H.Res 34,"recognizing Israel's right to defend itself" and reaffirming the United States strong support for Israel." The Senate passed a similar resolution by unanimous consent. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation opposed these reolutions because they failed to call for an immediate ceasefire and unimpeded humanitarian aid to the occupied Gaza Strip as required under the terms of the UN Security Council Resolution 1860. The resolution is very one-sided, placing blame fully on Palestinians. BUT, Rep. Dennis Kucinich plans to introduce a resolution calling for "an immediate and unconditional ceasefire" and "unrestricted humanitarian access" to the occupied Gaza Strip. The US Campaign andPax Christi support this resolution. WE ARE URGED TO CALL REPRESENTATIVES NOW: Thank the Rep if he/she voted "no" or "present" on H.Res. 43 and ask him/her to co-sponsor Rep. Kucinich's resolution. Express disagreement with a "yes" vote and ask the Rep to cosponsor. AND CALL SENATORS NOW: express disagreement with the vote on S. Res. 10 and ask them to introduce a resolution in the Senate similar to Rep. Kucinich's resolution. LET PAX CHRISTI KNOW how members of Congress are responding by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. (More details about Gaza on the P.C. website, www.paxchristiusa.org .)
Monday, January 12, 2009
- All hospitals, including Catholic hospitals would be required to perform abortions upon request. If this were to happen, some U.S. Bishops have indicated they would consider closing down Catholic hospitals rather than perform abortions. More than 30% of all hospitals in the United States are Catholic.
- Partial birth abortions would be legal and have no limitations.
- All U.S. tax payers would be funding abortions.
- Parental notification will no longer be required.
- The number of abortions could increase by as much as 100,000 annually.
- Perhaps most importantly the government would then have control in the issue of abortion.
If you have not yet signed the petition, go to www.fightfoca.com. Also, we're asked to pray a novena (actually starting yesterday, but beginning today is OK, too) to move the hearts and minds of the new administration to re-consider its stance toward FOCA.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
Thursday, January 8, 2009
“Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice” is the theme of the New Year’s National Migration Week celebrated Jan. 4-10. The Church in the United States for more than a quarter-century has associated this special observance that calls attention to the dramatic realities of human mobility with the liturgical observance of the Solemnity of the Epiphany. The Magi’s visit to the Christ Child underscores the fact that Jesus came as Savior to all the nations: The Church he was to found to continue his mission of salvation is necessarily “Catholic,” i.e., universal – embracing men and women of all nations and all cultures.
And, we can imagine that perhaps the gifts the Wise Men brought Jesus stood the Holy Family in good stead as they hurriedly fled into Egypt. Today modern day Herods still force people to flee from their homelands and seek safe refuge elsewhere. Half the Christian population of Iraq has taken refuge in neighboring countries – more than 600,000 people. Of course, here in Orlando the plight of refugees is not unknown to us. Our San Pedro facilities hosted unaccompanied Cuban minors in the early 60’s and last year our own Catholic Charities of Central Florida has assisted. 323 refugees – from places as near as Cuban and Haiti and as far away as Burma and Iraq - to resettled here in Central Florida helping them towards self sufficiency with housing, orientation, employment assistance. Some of these refugees are represented here today at Mass – as well as others who immigrated here from other lands to make America their home.
The United States whose national motto is “e pluribus Unum” (“out of many, one”), is proudly a nation of immigrants. In America, our Catholic Church, from its small beginnings with the establishment of the first diocese in Baltimore a little more than two centuries ago, has grown tremendously because of the influx of successive waves of immigrants. This diversity – far from dividing us – has enriched us tremendously – both as a nation as well as a community of believers. Despite a constant, if today somewhat muted, Anti-Catholic prejudice that has always been part of the American experience, the Catholic Church in America – through its vast network of social services and schools – has helped immigrants integrate successfully into American society. Our schools not only taught the catechism, they also taught patriotism. Our forefathers came here from countries torn apart by war and or poverty – they came seeking “hope” and “justice”; and, for the most part, the “American dream” did not defraud them.
Of course, in the last 40 years, the numbers of new immigrants to America has equaled, if not surpassed, those of the “Great Wave” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Human mobility continues to increase in this new era of globalization – and while war and poverty continue to displace people, work or the promise of work is a major factor that leads people to migrate from one country to another. In the United States and other countries, where the governments were slow to respond to the market’s need for more labor, “illegal” migration grew to fill the need.
As we enter 2009, “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice” – the theme of this year’s Migration Week observances - reminds us of the unfinished business of the last two congresses and the last administration: comprehensive immigration reform. A Zogby poll of Catholics (conducted in October) found wide support for the main elements of comprehensive immigration reform, such as a system for legalizing the status of people in the United States illegally if they learn English and “register” with the government. Between 60 percent and 64 percent of the polled Catholics also oppose building a wall along the border.
Pope Benedict XVI in his annual message for World Migration Day (observed in Rome Jan. 18) evokes the memory of St. Paul whose 2,000 birthday is being observed this year. St. Paul, the Pope writes, was a “migrant” by vocation and understood the hardships of migrants and the importance of taking the Gospel to the most diverse populations. Pope Benedict urges us to give priority to the variegated universe of migrants. “How can we fail to meet the needs of those who are de facto the weakest and most defenseless, marked by precariousness and insecurity, marginalized and often excluded by society?”
Today’s feast of the Three Kings reminds us that Jesus came not for just one nation, one race, one people. He came as savior for all. Today Jesus is revealed to the nations in those Magi who came to offer him gifts and adore him. As a Catholic Church – a universal Church in which no man or women is a stranger but rather a brother or sister in Christ, may we welcome the newcomer in our midst – recognizing that they too bring gifts. Our Church – and our society – is enriched by the diversity of these gifts. If God is the Father of all, then all peoples should be welcomed into God’s house which is the Church.
St. Paul, Pope Benedict reminds us, became “all things to all men so that he might by all means save some” (1 Cor 9: 22). That same apostolic zeal should lead us to show solidarity with the migrant. The Church’s celebration of National Migration Week should help us all to “live brotherly love to the full without making any kind of distinction and without discrimination in the conviction that anyone who needs us and whom we can help is our neighbor.” Whether we are native-born or immigrant, this is the path we must walk in – “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice.”