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October 2017 NewsNotes

 

Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace

NewsNotes
October 2017

 

Greetings Friend!

 

Today is the International Day of Nonviolence, the Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, yet we wake to the news of another mass shooting in the United States. Violence continues to be present in endless wars, in the suffering caused by recent hurricanes, in the rejection of refugees, in the TV shows and films, even in our sports, like American football. In both the U.K. and the U.S. we are conditioned from youth to the myth of redemptive violence.

The good news is that this issue of NewsNotes is full of witnesses against violence to each other and to Earth. There are so many ways we can counter our cultural bias towards violence.

Two days from now, we celebrate the Feast of St, Francis, another nonviolent activist. I have been thinking a lot of how he contradicted the norms of his day, norms of church and society by traveling to the Holy Land to meet with the Sultan to try and end the Crusades. How unpatriotic of him! I have been thinking how free he was to do that because of his voluntary poverty. He had nothing to lose, nothing to protect but his heart-felt, honest response to the Gospel.

Our parish in Teaneck, NJ is expecting the arrival of a refugee family from Afghanistan on the Feast of St. Francis: a mom, a dad and a one year old baby girl. I pray that the God who protected the Holy Family as they fled from Herod, and who protected Francis as he reached out to the Sultan, will protect this family as they travel. May their presence with us and our welcome to them be a source of healing for us all, and be another example of how nonviolence is the only possible path to true peace.

 

Peace and all good,

Frank

Frank McCann
Peace through Justice Facilitator

 


 

Contents:

 

  1. Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons signed at the UN
  2. Resisting Arms Sales
  3. Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament - Upcoming Events
  4. The Rohingya Dispersion
  5. DACA Unites Bishops in Opposition to Trump’s Policy
  6. Pope Francis Calls Us to Share the Journey
  7. UK Reports Wind Power Now Cheaper than Nuclear
  8. Earth Justice Campaign Issues
  9. Gandhi's Practice of Nonviolence

 


abc

Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons signed at the UN

 

 

Three more than the required fifty nations have thus far signed the Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons during the signing period that began September 19 at the UN in New York. The treaty seeks to prevent nations from “undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use or threat of use of these weapons”.

None of the nine nuclear nations took part in the negotiations. Many European allies also boycotted. The Netherlands was the only European nation to be part of the three-week negotiation session that ended July 7, and it cast the only “No” vote. Germany boycotted despite polls showing that 71% of the German people wanted to participate and supported the removal of U.S. nuclear weapons from the base at Büchel. The hope of those who negotiated the treaty is that popular pressure to end the threat of nuclear war will eventually prevail and force nuclear armed nations to reconsider their present positions.

Nuclear armed nations maintain the weapons are still required for deterrence. They point to the “success” of the Non-Proliferation Treaty signed in 1968. However, those nations have not lived up to the part of the agreement that requires on-going reductions in nuclear weapons among the states that possess them. The claim is also made that nuclear weapons prevent non-nuclear wars, as claim that seems patently false on its face.

For more reading: https://www.ncronline.org/news/world/treaty-prohibition-nuclear-weapons-opens-signature

http://www.icanw.org/campaign-news/71-of-germans-wants-to-sign-the-nuclear-ban-treaty/

 


abc

Resisting Arms Sales

 

 

The Defense Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition opened in London on September 12. The show involves over 1,500 companies selling their war materials to the 30,000 people who attend this largest arms fair in the world. Many of those nations sending buyers to the show have dismal human rights records. A more recent Guardian article alleges that a British registered company purchased arms for South Sudan that could be used against British peacekeepers in South Sudan.

The Arms fair gathered many of the most creative and committed nonviolent resisters, including Sr. Katrina Alton, CSJP. Thousands of protesters participated in disrupting the set-up of the show and resisting during the exhibition of the death dealing products. Groups took responsibility for different themed protests each day, among them Palestinian Solidarity, No Faith in War and No to Nuclear Arms.

Protesters attempt to bring the sales of deadly arms for what Pope Francis Calls “blood money” to the awareness of ordinary people in order to deny them the social license to sell their products.

Pat Gaffney, general secretary of Pax Christi quoted the words of Pope Francis during prayers for peace:

"It is an absurd contradiction to speak of peace, to negotiate peace, and at the same time, promote or permit the arms trade. Is this war or that war really a war to solve problems or is it a commercial war for selling weapons in illegal trade and so that the merchants of death get rich? Let us put an end to this situation.

For more information on the nonviolent resistance to the arms fair, you may want to view the following including many:

Waging Nonviolence
Campaign Against the Arms Trade
No Faith in War
War Resistors International

 


abc

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament-Upcoming Events

 

At a time when we should all be alert to the dangers of having nuclear weapons, the UK based Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) I sponsoring two events in October.

Confrontation or cooperation? Nuclear abolition in dangerous times: International Conference
Saturday, October 14th

Open to everyone, we’ll be discussing all the top defence and foreign policy topics of the moment: nuclear weapons, Trump, Korea, China, NATO, missile defence, war and intervention. Plenty to think about!

Join the facebook event

Scrapping Trident: A New Generation of Anti-Nuclear Activists
Saturday, October 21st

Aimed at Youth and Student CND supporters, this is a day of workshops and talks by anti-Trident groups, including Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Food not Bombs London and SNP Youth. As well as planning the concrete next steps for the campaign against nuclear weapons, refreshments will be provided.

Join the facebook event

 


abc

The Rohingya Dispersion

 

 

 

400,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Mynamar to Bangladesh. The refugees fled after Myanmar’s army launched a crackdown in the Rakhine State following an alleged attack by Rohingya militants. The U.N. Human High Commissioner for Refugees has received reports that security forces and militia are burning Rohingya towns and shooting fleeing civilians. The United Nations’ human rights chief told the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday that the situation seemed “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Cardinal Bo Archbishop of Yangon’s report denies ethnic cleansing, a denial that is robustly challenged, especially as the land formerly occupied by the Rohingya is being confiscated. What follows is based on Cardinal Bo’s report.

The Rohingya are Muslims who have lived in the northern coastal regions of Myanmar. According to the government of Myanmar, they are “Bengali terrorists” brought to Myanmar by the British years ago. The name Rohingya is rejected by the official government. Instead they are called “the Muslim community in Rakhine state.” These Muslims in Rakhine State have been denied citizenship. They are rejected because a few have emigrated to Saudi Arabia and aligned themselves with terrorist cells there. They have perpetrated some attacks on Burmese people. They are also feared because their reproductive rates are so high, that the local neighbors fear that they will become minorities in their own nation. The Rohingya requested to be annexed to Muslim Bangladesh but their request was rejected by Bangladesh. Now as they flee to Bangladesh they find a mixed welcome. Many come on boats, are fed and put back out to sea. The Rohingya are stateless people now.

Cardinal Bo notes that the Rohingya people live in a resource rich region which is currently being “divided up” by multinational corporations from China, the U.S., Canada, Japan, etc. The Cardinal asks, ”So, what happens when corporations and countries build oil wells, offshore rigs, sea ports, railways, highways and fancy hotels for the foreign workers? Well, the native poor people have to be evacuated.” The Rohingya are being sacrificed as the scapegoats.

Cardinal Bo both calls for investigation by the government of reports of “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya and at the same time voices support for the much criticized president of Myanmar, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi. He urges support for her because democracy in Burma (the name preferred by the current government) is still so fragile.

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the country soon and the government fears he will speak to the plight of the Rohingya people. Doing so, according to officials, will inflame hatred against them within the country making resolution of any solution more difficult. However, Francis is used to speaking his mind. Bo urges the Pope to speak of the “Muslim people of Rakhine State”, not the Rohingya’s.

The Cardinal leads about 700,000 Catholics in the majority Buddhist nation.

 


abc

DACA Unites Bishops in Opposition to Trump’s Policy

 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced shortly after 11 a.m. on Sept. 5 that the Trump administration was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. DACA, initiated by executive order of President Obama, allowed youth who had been brought to this country as minors could remain here free of deportation fears as long as they remained crime free and were in school or working to contribute to society. The Obama program was not passed by a legislature and therefore could be eliminated by Trump’s executive order.

The following is an excerpt from the U.S. Bishops Conference Executive Committee statement:

"The Executive Committee of the USCCB, meeting this week, makes its own the Statement of the USCCB President and others on September 5th , which expressed extreme disappointment with the administration's decision to end DACA with a six-month wind-down period, and committed the USCCB to redouble its efforts to help find a permanent legislative solution in Congress.”

"In light of many years of failure by Congress, whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats, to address the situation, the Committee urges the Catholic faithful and all people of good will to contact their representatives in Congress to urge the passage of the DREAM Act or similar legislation as a prompt, humane, and durable solution to this problem of greatest urgency. The Executive Committee also notes the tremendous contributions of the DACA youth to date as extraordinary, including the fact that many serve in our military.”

The statement goes on to express dismay at the desire of the President to reduce the number of refugees admitted to the country by half. President Trump has since limited the number of refugees to be admitted to the U.S. in fiscal year 2018 to 45,000, the lowest number since the 1980’s and in sharp contrast to the 110,000 limit proposed by President Obama.

Click here to read the entire statement on DACA by the U.S. Bishops Executive Committee.

Click here to read Cardinal Tobin's statement.

 


abc

Pope Francis Calls Us to Share the Journey

 

 

 

Speaking during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square on September 27, the Pope also had special words of welcome for Caritas representatives gathered to officially launch the two-year campaign aimed at activism and awareness-raising about the plight of migrants.

The campaign encourages people to actually meet with migrants and listen to their stories, rather than treat them as mere numbers and statistics imbued with negative stereotypes. There are activities for individuals, families, parishes and schools.

Opening his arms wide in a powerfully symbolic gesture, Francis said “Christ urges us to welcome our brothers and sisters with our arms truly open, ready for a sincere embrace, a loving and enveloping embrace”.

The American and European Bishops conferences have joined in support of the program.

In the U.S., the Bishops call for a week of actions October 7-14. Educational and pastoral resources can be found at https://www.sharejourney.org/

The CAFOD website has a webpage full of resources for the Share the Journey Campaign including liturgies, resources for migrants and youth, petitions and prayers.

 


abc

UK Reports Wind Power Now Cheaper than Nuclear
from Greenpeace-UK

 

New auction results out today show that the price of new offshore wind has fallen by more than 50% since 2015, and it’s now significantly cheaper than nuclear. It’s very likely that offshore wind power will keep getting cheaper too.

Around the world, renewables have become cheaper and scaled up faster than anyone predicted. In the UK, offshore wind beat its own cost reduction target four years early – thanks to huge innovation and increases in turbine efficiency. UK offshore turbines are already generating enough electricity to match the needs of four million homes, and the industry currently provides full time employment for around 10,000 people.

At moments like these, when clean energy is headline news, the government should be feeling the pressure to change course on its energy policy. So can you help turn up the pressure? Almost 100,000 people have called on the Prime Minister to back clean power in the UK.

Sign the petition asking the UK government to support Clean, renewable power.

 


abc

Earth Justice Campaign Issues

 

 

Putting our Land Ethic into action!

Bristol Bay
Alaska’s Bristol Bay is home to some of the most abundant salmon populations found anywhere in the world, a $1 billion fishing industry, and Native communities that have thrived on this resource for millennia. However, all this could be destroyed.

The Trump administration has just cut a deal with the corporation that would build the massive Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay watershed, and we need your help to fight back.

Click here to learn more and to take action on Bristol Bay.

Congress trying to Gut the Clean Air Rules
The U.S. Senate has introduced legislation that would worsen the quality of the air we all breathe. In what should be called the “Smoggy Skies Act,” the bill would permanently weaken the Clean Air Act and delay important anti-smog protections that took more than a decade to achieve. This legislation recently passed the House, and now it is up to the Senate to stop this attack on clean air.

Click here to read more and to take action on clean air.

Say “No” to Coal Port in Longview Washington
Northwesterners could face higher cancer rates, increased risk of rail accidents and air heavy with coal dust—all due to coal trains barreling through neighborhoods and along the shore of the Columbia River, carrying coal that will produce 2 million tons of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Click here to learn more and to take action on the coal port.

Ban this Dangerous Chemical from our Food
In March, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt refused to ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used agricultural pesticide that has been linked to reduced IQ and attention deficit disorder in children.

But now, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) along with other seven senators introduced S.1624, the “Protect Children, Farmers & Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act,” a bill that would ban chlorpyrifos.

Tell your elected officials to support S.1624 and ban this nerve agent pesticide once and for all.

Click here to learn more and to take action against chlorpyrifos.

 


abc

Gandhi's Practice of Nonviolence

 

"The prophet does not compel, but asks people to see themselves, the world, and God in a new way."

Dorothy Vidulich, CSJP