Peace & Justice

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vatican to Introduce New Web Feature Tomorrow

The Associated Press is reporting that tomorrow the Vatican will introduce a news information portal that Pope Benedict XVI himself may put online with a click.

According to the AP, the portal will, for the first time, aggregate information from the Vatican’s various print, online, radio and television media in a one-stop shop for news about the Holy See.

The portal,, is to be introduced on the 60th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s ordination as a priest and a feast day in the church.

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 19, 2011

U.S. Effort Urged to Defuse Sudan 'Time Bomb'

America magazine reports on the Situation in Sudan:
The bishop of Tombura-Yambio, Southern Sudan, urged the United States to use whatever diplomatic means it can to pressure the government of President Omar al-Bashir to end its attacks on civilians in South Kordofan state. Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala said the danger of war is great if troops from the North continue their attacks in an attempt to control key areas along the unresolved border between Sudan and Southern Sudan, due to become independent July 9.

"There are many terrible scenarios that are pointing to war," Bishop Kussala said June 16 prior to testifying about the situation in Southern Sudan to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights. "We are scared. . . ."
. . .
Sudan and Southern Sudan must resolve several key issues in order to carry out all of the provisions of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and prevent full-scale war, the bishop explained.

He pointed to several unresolved concerns:
-- Defining the border between the two countries.
-- Citizenship for residents in the disputed regions.

-- The split of revenues from oil reserves, which are largely located in Southern Sudan.
The issues "are like a time bomb. If we don't fulfill these things, we are likely to go back into more conflict. South Sudan, even getting independence, could be immediately thrown into war," Bishop Kussala said.

The Catholic Church in the region has called for al-Bashir to open key roadways to allow humanitarian aid to reach the tens of thousands of internally displaced people who have fled the violence. The United Nations estimates that 60,000 people have fled Kadugli alone.

"The humanitarian situation is deplorable," Bishop Kussala said. "A lot of people have been displaced. A lot are running for their lives in the villages in the forest. So we have a huge, huge need for humanitarian assistance.

"The church's role, of course, in this is to bring into light the situation of these people and ask for support from whoever can come to the aid of these people. More than this is also fear of the continuation of violence in the Nuba Mountains and in Southern Kordofan. If it continues it's going to become uncontrolled and it could throw the whole country into violence," he said. "So I've come to appeal to the Congress, and say 'Look, there's no time to waste. It's the moment to seize and be able to stop what's going on because the more it continues, it could easily draw the other warring parties in Sudan into violence.'"
The rest of the article is here.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI and Human Ecology

Catholic Online reports that earlier this month, Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech when he received the credential letters of six new ambassadors to the Holy See. The Pope spoke of a "Human Ecology," recalling the "innumerable tragedies that have affected nature, technology, and the peoples" this year. He suggested that "the States should reflect together on the short term future of the planet, on our responsibilities regarding our life and technology".
He said "Human ecology. is an imperative. Adopting a lifestyle that respects our environment and supports the research and use of clean energies that preserve the patrimony of creation and that are safe for human beings should be given political and economic priority".

He called for a "change in mentality" in order to "quickly arrive at a global lifestyle that respects the covenant between humanity and nature, without which the human family risks disappearing." He said that "every government must commit themselves to protecting nature and assisting it to carry out its essential role in the survival of humanity."

Then, he addressed technology saying, "It is also helpful to ask ourselves about the appropriate role of technology" because "believing it is the exclusive agent of progress or happiness carries a reification of humanity that leads to blindness and misery. ... Technology that dominates human beings deprives them of their humanity. The pride that it generates has created an impossible economism in our societies as well as a hedonism that subjectively and selfishly regulates behavior. The debilitation of the primacy of the human person provokes a loss of the meaning of life".
The rest of the article is here.

Labels: ,

Friday, June 03, 2011

Military matters

Author and syndicated columnist Richard Reeves recently wrote a Memorial Day column about the American military, which raises some interesting issues:
The volunteer military is the new American segregation. They know it and we know it. We also know that sooner or later a detached military will undermine democracy itself. Interestingly, Adm. Mike Mullen, the retiring chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has spent a good deal of his time and energy trying to get this point across to the nation.

Adm. Mullen's latest effort was his commencement speech last week at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. "I fear that they do not know us," said the admiral. "I fear they do not comprehend the full weight of the burden we carry or the price we pay when we return from battle. ... A people uninformed about what we are asking the military to endure is a people inevitably unable to fully grasp the scope of the responsibilities our Constitution levies upon them."

"It is not enough today that we deploy," he said. "It is not enough that we fight. It is not enough today that we serve, unless we also serve the greater cause of American self-government and everything that underpins it."

A month earlier, Mullen had said in a commencement speech at Florida State University:

"With less than 1 percent of our population serving, I do worry that one day, the American people and our troops may no longer know each other the way we should. When I consider how much that 1 percent has repeatedly sacrificed, especially our wounded, their families and the families of the fallen, I think it's worth asking ourselves as Americans whether we're doing enough to help them and, more broadly, our nation and our community."

"Warfare has become something for other people to do," added Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who is also leaving his post this year. "With each passing decade fewer and fewer Americans know someone with military experience in their family or social circle."

The all-volunteer military is, to me, Richard Nixon's last dirty trick. He pushed for it in 1969 because he understood the root cause of demonstrations against the war in Vietnam was the anguish and anxiety of young people concerned about being drafted — and killed. End the draft and you end the demonstrations — and that is what happened. As Gates said, we became a nation with a paid army, young men and women drawn from the poorer parts of the country, volunteering in the hope of breaking out of ghettos of despair, poverty, ignorance and boredom.

They fight well, very well, our volunteers. Our role, in addition to paying them, is to watch. War has become like the National Football League. Yeah, a few guys get hurt, but it's all pretty exciting entertainment — and it's free for most of us. So we send the same people, our volunteers, again and again into unending wars because, though we watch the action, we actually have no personal interest in what the game is about.

I personally believe we should reinstate Selective Service or universal national service, but I know that's not going to happen. The volunteer military is just too easy, Congress doesn't have to do anything unpopular and the rest of us can get by saying, "Thank you for your service, whoever you are."
The rest of this column is here.


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Food and faith

Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, as Chairman of Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, together with Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, who is Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, recently sent a letter to the Chairman and the ranking member of the House Appropriates Committee about the moral and human dimensions of the current FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill. They wrote, in part:
On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we write to address the moral and human dimensions of the current FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill. We express our deep concerns that the current proposal calls for significant cuts to both domestic and international food aid, conservation and rural development programs. These proposed cuts will greatly affect programs that serve hungry, poor and vulnerable people in our nation and around the world.

In For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food: Catholic Reflections on Food, Farmers and Farmworkers, the U.S. Catholic bishops wrote, “The primary goals of agricultural policies should be providing food for all people and reducing poverty among farmers and farm workers in this country and abroad.” Adequate nutrition is a fundamental human right. It is in this context that we urge you to support just and adequate funding levels for agriculture policies that serve the hungry, poor and vulnerable while being good stewards of our land and natural resources.

We wish to clearly acknowledge the difficult challenges that Congress, the Administration and government at all levels face to get our financial house in order. In light of growing deficits, Congress faces difficult choices about how to balance needs and resources and allocate burdens and sacrifices. However, a just spending bill cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons.

As pastors and teachers, we offer several moral criteria to help guide difficult budgetary decisions:

1. Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity.

2. A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.

3. Government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times.

The rest of the letter, with the recommendations of the bishops, is here.

Labels: ,