Peace & Justice

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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mexico bishop inspires, infuriates

The Associated Press reports on a bishop in Mexico who faces death threats for his outspoken stands.
The white-haired bishop stepped before some 7,000 faithful gathered in a baseball stadium in this violence-plagued northern border state. He led the gathering through the rituals of his Mass, reciting prayers echoed back by the massive crowd. And then his voice rose.

Politicians are tied to organized crime, Bishop Raul Vera bellowed while inaugurating the church's Year of Faith. Lawmakers' attempts to curb money laundering are intentionally weak. New labor reforms are a way to enslave Mexican workers.

How, Vera asked, can Mexicans follow leaders "who are the ones who have let organized crime grow, who have let criminals do what they do unpunished, because there's no justice in this country!"

In a nation where some clergy have been cowed into silence by drug cartels and official power, Vera is clearly unafraid to speak. That makes him an important voice of dissent in a country where the Roman Catholic Church often works hand-in-hand with the powerful, and where cynicism about politics is widespread and corrosive.
The rest of the article is here.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Majority of Rich Want Themselves Taxed More

CNBC is reporting on a new poll which shows that 67 percent of the top one percent of American earners support higher income taxes.
American Express Publishing and The Harrison Group found that 67 percent of the top one percent of American earners support higher income taxes. Their support has grown since the election. This summer, 62 percent of them supported higher taxes.  
. . .  
"There is an absolute willingness for the vast majority of the One Percent to take a tax increase," said Jim Taylor, Vice Chairman Harrison Group. "What the Republicans think is not necessarily what their constituents think."  
Granted, the one percent is not happy about paying higher taxes. The American Express/Harrison poll shows that 64 percent say they carry an "unfair tax burden in the amount of money I pay in taxes." This number is higher for Republicans and lower for Democrats.
The rest of the article is here.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Gun Control is a Pro-Life Issue

Rev. James Martin, SJ, writes in America magazine, "If you want to defend life, defend it. At all times. And in all places. In the womb and in an elementary school."

Pro-life religious people need to consider how it might be made more difficult for people to procure weapons that are not designed for sport or hunting or self-defense. Why would there be opposition to firmer gun control, or, to put it more plainly, laws that would make it more difficult for mass murders to occur? If one protests against abortions clinics because they facilitate the taking of human life, why not protest against largely unregulated suppliers of firearms because they facilitate the taking of human life as well?

There are some cogent arguments against restricting access to firearms. People enjoy guns for sport and hunting. The Second Amendment permits the private ownership of guns (though I doubt that the need for a "well-regulated militia" envisioned by the framers of the Constitution translates into such easy access to assault weapons or the need for multiple guns in a house with children or adolescents.) But there is nothing to say that more stringent gun control laws that could lessen the frequency of such horrible crimes cannot be judiciously balanced with constitutional rights.

But the Christian outlook on this has less to do with self-defense and more to do with the defense of the other person. Jesus asks us to love our enemies, not to murder them; to pray for them, not to take vengeance; and he commends the peacemakers among us, not those advocating for more and more and more weapons.

You can read more here.

National Migration Week

National Migration Week 2013 will be held from January 6-12. The theme, "We are Strangers No Longer: Our Journey of Hope Continues," commemorates the 10th anniversary of the historic joint pastoral letter of the United States and Mexico bishops conferences, Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope. As the U.S. Bishops state on their website:
This theme reminds us of our responsibility as Catholics to help newcomers integrate in ways that are respectful, culturally sensitive and responsive to social needs, and of the ongoing need for comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform.

You can learn more here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Labor-Religion Coalition and the fiscal cliff

The Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, co-chaired by Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, has issued the following statement on the impending "fiscal cliff": 

As the nation faces an austerity crisis (or so-called fiscal cliff), religious communities are highlighting their concern for the individuals and families living at the economic margins. We call on our political leaders to adopt solutions that support the most vulnerable, promote the common good, and establish a fair system of taxation and distribution.
Such solutions must include:
Allowing the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire on December 31.
Protecting the social safety net, including social security, medicare and medicaid.
Creating good jobs through investment in education, public transportation infrastructure and other community-building initiatives.
Take Action

Please call your Senators and Congressional Representatives.

You can call them using this toll-free number: 888-659-9401

Tell them to eliminate the tax cuts to the wealthiest 2% in our nation and fund social safety-net programs that allow people to live in dignity.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Carmelite Advent 2012

Celebrating Advent with the Carmelites:
For many of us it’s the same story every Christmas. We have every intention of transcending the gaudy consumerism and getting back to the deeper meaning of the season, only to realize later that we’ve spent the weeks leading up to December 25th breathlessly preparing for a stressful holiday instead of anticipating the birth of Jesus.  
Our intentions are good but the problem is that we lack an actual strategy. That’s where can help.  
In “Song of the Soul” Carmelite saint John of the Cross describes his encounter with Christ in terms of being “face to face with love’s own grace.” Advent is a time of preparation when we ready ourselves to meet God incarnate—“love”—in the person of Jesus. This Advent (December 2-December 25), we’re offering our web and Facebook communities the opportunity to reflect on John of the Cross’ insight by spending a few minutes of your day contemplating where you’ve come face to face with love’s grace (God) in your own life.
You can learn more here.

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