Peace & Justice

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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Love the poor

Love the poor and love poverty, for it is by such love that we become truly poor. As the Scripture says, we become like the things we love. If you love the poor you will share their poverty and be poor like them. If you love the poor be often with them. Be glad to see them in your own home and to visit with them in theirs. Be glad to talk to them and be pleased to have them near you in church, on the street, and elsewhere. Be poor in conversing with them and speak to them as their companions do, but be rich in assisting them by sharing some of your more abundant goods with them.

-Francis de Sales

(H/T to Sojourners)


Monday, May 27, 2013

There is widening gap between the American people and their armed forces, and this is not a good thing, according to Karl W. Eikenberry, a retired Army lieutenant general, and David M. Kennedy is an emeritus professor of history at Stanford. Writing in The New York Times, they note:
Less than 0.5 percent of the population serves in the armed forces, compared with more than 12 percent during World War II. Even fewer of the privileged and powerful shoulder arms. In 1975, 70 percent of members of Congress had some military service; today, just 20 percent do, and only a handful of their children are in uniform.
This is just one of the developments that, according to the authors, "present a disturbingly novel spectacle: a maximally powerful force operating with a minimum of citizen engagement and comprehension." You can read more here.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gun Background Checks

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence has prepared a document entitled “Gun Background Checks: Myths and Facts.” Among the eight “myths” listed are:
MYTH #3: The background check system doesn't prevent criminals from obtaining weapons. Criminals won't submit to background checks, so the system will not prevent shootings. 
FACT: Even the current weak federal background check system has prevented the sale of almost 2 million firearms, largely to criminals and the mentally ill. 
• Requiring background checks for private sales at gun shows and sales via the Internet would further curb access to firearms by criminals and those with serious mental illness.
You can read more here.


Monday, May 06, 2013

USCCB shows solidarity with Congolese

American Catholic bishops have sent a letter of support to Congolese Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola announcing their support of a policy that helps prevent armed groups from financing violence and human rights abuses by selling "Conflict Minerals." The policy currently is being challenged in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. From the letter:
Dear Bishop Djomo: 
At this time of continuing suffering and crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), I write to reiterate the solidarity of the U.S. bishops with the Church and people of your country Your tireless efforts, along with those of your brother bishops and the entire Church community have long exemplified courageous leadership in the face of violent conflict. We send our ongoing prayers as innocent people in your country suffer and die at the hands of militias who control illegal mines, divide up your country and eliminate the rule of law. 
Let me assure you that the U.S. bishops have welcomed a rule promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), implementing Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Dodd-Frank Act"). This rule ensures that investors have access to information essential to making socially responsible decisions and would help prevent armed groups from financing violence and human rights abuses by selling "Conflict Minerals The U.S. bishops, through USCCB, submitted official comments to the SEC supporting the rule The rule is consistent with Catholic teaching on protection of human life and dignity. It takes into account the lived experience of the Church in your country and that of our colleagues at Catholic Relief Services and other development and relief agencies in the region. It also meets our concern of providing appropriate coverage of issuers and products, and insuring information submitted to the SEC is accurate, verifiable and easily available to investors and consumers.
You can read more here.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Pope decries unemployment

During his weekly audience marking the May 1 feast of St. Joseph the Worker, Pope Francis called for greater efforts to create dignified work for more people. According to a report from Catholic News Service:
The problem of unemployment is "very often caused by a purely economic view of society, which seeks self-centered profit, outside the bounds of social justice," he said . . ..  
"I wish to extend an invitation to everyone to greater solidarity and to encourage those in public office to spare no effort to give new impetus to employment," he said. "This means caring for the dignity of the person."  
. . .  
In his homily, the pope said unemployment "is a burden on our conscience" because when society is organized in such a way that it cannot offer people an opportunity to work, "there is something wrong with that society: It is not right!"  
"It goes against God himself, who wanted our dignity to begin with (work)."  
"Power, money, culture do not give us dignity," he said. "Work, honest work, gives us dignity."  
However, he said, "today many social, political and economic systems have chosen to exploit the human person" in the workplace, by "not paying a just (wage), not offering work, focusing solely on the balance sheets, the company's balance sheets, only looking at how much I can profit. This goes against God!"  
"People are less important than the things that give profit to those who have political, social, economic power. What point have we come to?" he asked.  
The pope recalled a recent "tragedy" in Bangladesh, where more than 400 garment workers were killed when the building they were working in collapsed. The workers reportedly earned just $38 a month.  
"This is what you call slave labor," the pope said.  
Today, "we can no longer say what St. Paul said, 'Who will not work, should not eat,' but we have to say, 'He who does not work has lost his dignity' because he cannot find any opportunities for work."  
A society that cannot offer a person the possibility of work is a society that "has stripped this person of dignity," he said.
You can read more here.

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