Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Presentation about Nuclear Weapons

Scott Ritter and Dr. Larry Wittner will speak about Nuclear Weapons Dangers Today.

WHEN -- Tuesday, December 1st, 7:00 p.m.

WHERE -- Roger Bacon Hall 202 (Key Auditorium), Siena College

Co-sponsored by:
School of Liberal Arts/Peace Studies
The Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy Bonner Service Leaders Program
Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace

Mr. Ritter and Dr. Wittner also will be signing their most recent books, which will be for sale at the event.

Scott Ritter has had an extensive and distinguished career in government service. He is an intelligence specialist with a 12-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps including assignments in the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. Rising to the rank of Major, Ritter spent several months of the Gulf War serving under General Norman Schwarzkopf with US Central Command headquarters in Saudi Arabia, where he played an instrumental role in formulating and implementing combat operations targeting Iraqi mobile missile launchers which threatened Israel. In 1991, Ritter joined the United Nations weapons inspections team, or UNSCOM. He participated in 34 inspection missions, 14 of them as chief inspector. Ritter resigned from UNSCOM in August 1998, citing US interference in the work of the inspections. He is the author of many books, including Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein and most recently Target Iran: The Truth About the White House’s Plans for Regime Change.

Lawrence S. Wittner is Professor of History at the State University of New York/Albany, and a former president of the Peace History Society. His books include Rebels Against War (1969, rev. ed. 1984), Cold War America (1974, rev. ed. 1978), and American Intervention in Greece (1982). His most extensive project was an award-winning, scholarly trilogy entitled The Struggle Against the Bomb (1993-2003). In June 2009, he came out with an abbreviated version: Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement. He has also edited or co-edited four other books, co-edited the scholarly journal Peace & Change, and written about 200 published articles and book reviews.

For further information, contact Dr. Mo Hannah (


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 7:25)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Advice on Afghanistan

As President Obama reviews his options in Afghanistan, we hope that he listens to the advice provided to his National Security Council by our own Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, who also serves as Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, who wrote, in part:

In a pastoral message, “Living with Faith and Hope after September 11,” we bishops offered criteria for moral discernment and a call to solidarity in response to the terrorist attacks on our nation and the subsequent military action in Afghanistan. In that statement we warned, “Probability of success is particularly difficult to measure in dealing with an amorphous, global terrorist network. Therefore, special attention must be given to developing criteria for when it is appropriate to end military action in Afghanistan.” We noted some principles to help guide U.S. actions:

• Restrain use of military force and ensure that civilians are not targeted: When military force is used, it should be directed against terrorist or insurgent combatants, not at the Afghan people, and its use should be monitored. Military force must be discriminate and proportional, especially if our nation is to be perceived as acting justly and is to win popular support for the struggle against terrorism.

• Address the root causes of terrorism rather than relying solely on military means to solve conflict: Military force alone cannot deal with the terrorist threat. Non-military measures must be pursued to defend the common good, protect the innocent and advance peace. These non-military actions include addressing poverty and injustice, exercising diplomacy, and engaging in dialogue with Muslims.

• Encourage international collaboration to provide humanitarian assistance and rebuild Afghanistan: The United States, working with the UN and other interested parties, must deal with the long-standing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, especially Afghan refugees and displaced persons, and help Afghans rebuild their political, economic and cultural life.

We observe that some military leaders now share the view that the success of U.S. operations in Afghanistan cannot come from military measures alone. In light of the current situation, the moral guidance of our earlier pastoral message still seems applicable. We urge the Administration to consider the following actions:

• Review the use of military force--when force is necessary to protect the innocent and resist terrorism--to insure that it is proportionate and discriminate;

• Develop criteria for when it is appropriate to end military action in Afghanistan;

• Focus more on diplomacy, long-term development (particularly agricultural programs), and humanitarian assistance;

• Strengthen local governance and participation of local groups in planning their own development; and

• Encourage international support to create effective national and local governments and to foster economic development.

We understand that for humanitarian assistance and development projects to be carried out in Afghanistan, security is important. But too much development assistance appears to be directed to short-term security objectives or channeled through the military. These funds, often used for building projects with little community involvement, are less-effective in building stable communities and meeting the legitimate needs of Afghan citizens. Whenever possible, U.S. policy and funding should more clearly delineate and differentiate foreign assistance provided through military channels versus civilian channels. Otherwise, integrating these strategies, capabilities and activities on the ground may undermine recovery and sustainable development in Afghanistan. Military involvement in development should be phased out as local situations stabilize and civilian agencies resume activity.

The entire letter can be read here.


Friday, November 20, 2009

General Intention

The Holy Father’s General Intention for November:
That all the men and women in the world, especially those who have responsibilities in the filed of politics and economics, many never fail in their commitment to safeguard creation.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Kristallnacht Interfaith Commemoration

Kristallnacht Interfaith Commemoration
A Film Premiere
Free and open to the public

Tuesday, November 10, 2009, 7:00 pm
Page Hall, University at Albany downtown campus
135 Western Avenue, Albany
René and I is the story of young twins, Rene and Irene, who spent years in Auschwitz under the notorious Dr. Mengele. Of the 3,000 twins experimented on by Mengele and other Nazi doctors, only 160 survived.

A true tale of miraculous chance encounters, high-risk rescue, a dramatic reunion as the Iron Curtain is shutting closed, and incredible lives forged from Auschwitz to America, René and I is the story of two resilient souls who triumphed over inhumane circumstances with their emotional selves intact.
At the heart, René and I is about second chances and the amazingly arbitrary events and coincidences in life that can change a child’s fate forever. More than any detailed account of the Holocaust, René and I is a story of two children who overcame adversity against all odds. It is a tribute to tolerance, to the endurance of the human spirit, and to the triumph of good over evil.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Garden of Remembrance

In today’s Times Union, Harry Rosenfeld writes about a trip he took to Europe last month:
In Budapest, we visited the Great Synagogue, which is the second largest in the world (exceeded by New York City's Temple Emanuel) and reflects the rich traditions of a once-thriving Hungarian Jewish Community. The Germans used it as a stable.

As the tour was concluding, our guide took us to the Garden of Remembrance behind the temple. There was a Tree of Life sculpture on whose leaves were engraved names of the some of hundreds of thousands of murdered Jews.

Adjacent to the sculpture were two steles with names emblazoned in gold and a stone placed into the ground honoring righteous gentiles who at the risk of their lives acted to save Jews.

Our guide walked over to one of the steles and pointed to the fourth name on it and said, "that is the name of my father, my Catholic father."

This is an interesting column, which you can read here.