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July 2018 NewsNotes

 

Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace

NewsNotes
July 2018

 

Greetings Friend!

 

The outdoor temperature is not the only thing hot around here these days. The separation of families at the border, hearing the cries of children kept in cages, and the prospect of long term detention even of asylum seekers makes people hot, as was shown the the hundreds of demonstrations launched in the last few weeks with over six hundred on Saturday alone. Hundreds of women were arrested in the Senate Hart office building last week for protesting the current refugee policies. They understand there are some laws better broken than honored.

Then there is the Supreme Court ruling to weaken labor unions, to uphold the administration's travel (Muslim) ban, followed by the resignation of another justice whose replacement, many fear will move the court further to the right, perhaps upholding the unconscionable immigrant detentions, or further weakening Obamacare or perhaps even allowing a president to pardon himself of any crimes.

The anger can be dangerous, especially in the heat. My attempts to overcome the anger are twofold. First, I am reading some uplifting books. Robert F. Kennedy: Ripples of Hope is a compilation of voices who claim to have been inspired by RFK, especially by his ability to draw people together as opposed to patterns we currently see. The second book I'm reading is Choosing Peace, edited by Marie Dennis of Pax Christi International. The book goes into depth about the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative; how it started, its theological and biblical roots and it includes stories of how nonviolence is working around the globe.

My second approach will be to spend time at the shore with family and eight grandchildren. They quickly renew any flagging energies to work for justice.

 

Peace and all good,

Frank

Frank McCann
Peace through Justice Facilitator

 


 

Contents:

  1. Americans Take to the Streets over Family Separations at the Border
  2. Immigrant Father Finds Sanctuary in Lutheran Church
  3. Europeans Reach "Agreement" on Accepting Refugees
  4. UN News
  5. Pax Cristi UK Focuses on Drones
  6. Glasgow Arms Fair
  7. Cardinal Nichols Receives Peace Prize for Work on Trafficking
  8. Pax Christ International Statement on the Muslim Travel Ban in the USA
  9. Annual Justice and Peace Conference in London
  10. Tell Chase Bank to Stop Funding Fossil Fuel Pipelines
  11. Ireland Bans Fracking
  12. UN Report on U.S. Human Rights and Extreme Poverty Draws Fire
  13. Next Issue

 


Immigrants and Refugees


abc

Americans Take to the Streets over Family Separations at the Border

 

Photo of protest at Sea-Tac Detention Center near Seattle. 10,000 people gathered for this protest.

 

There is growing outrage in the United States about the administration's policy of separating parents and children of migrants and asylum seekers at the U.S. border. Early in May, Attorney General Sessions announced a new "deterrent" policy, warning that those who "smuggle" a child into the U.S. while crossing the border without documentation would be separated from the children. Then he did it.

Americans reacted quickly and strongly to visual images and audio transmissions of children being separated from their parents, then locked in chain link cages, sleeping on concrete floors, or crying through the night weeping for their parents. Almost 2,500 children were separated from their parents, some of whom were then deported, and the children were scattered around the country to shelters. Most of the movement of children was done at night to avoid the lights of TV cameras. The secrecy of the movements was troublesome for many elected officials who were denied entry to the facilities when they appeared to see what their tax dollars were doing.

A subsequent order by a judge to re-unite the families may or may not occur by the deadline imposed.

The most recent outrage is the insistence that children as young as 10 months represent themselves, without attorneys in immigration hearings. How can a ten month old offer a "credible fear" explanation of why he or she needs to stay in the USA? Such actions mock the words justice or fairness. Teams of pro-bono lawyers have headed to the border to represent whomever they can.

Democratic opponents of the Administration's plans can protest and complain but have little power to stop the proceedings unless they can produce public outrage. Republican legislators rarely criticize the administration seemingly out of fear. However, those gathered on the streets represent Americans of the left, right and center. The following are pictures of some of the protests in the past weeks attended by CSJPs.

 

 
 

 

Clockwise: Seattle - June 30; Elizabeth Detention Center, NJ - June 17; Elizabeth Detention Center, NJ - June 20; and, Englewood, NJ - June 30.

 


abc

Immigrant Father Finds Sanctuary in Lutheran Church

 

Jose Robles who has lived in the United States for 18 years and his family have been offered sanctuary at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle. Mr Robles is a crime survivor and a father of three who should qualify for a U-Visa, but neither the Lakewood, WA police nor the city attorney will sign his application for the visa.

Under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act, immigrants who are victims of crimes and willing to cooperate with police in solving the crimes are eligible or a U-Visa. With that visa they can apply for a green card after three years.

Mr Robles was scheduled to be deported on June 28th before he was welcomed into sanctuary on June 27. Two of his daughters are DREAMERS, and a third is a U.S. citizen. He also has a U.S. citizen granddaughter. He is the breadwinner for his family.

Gethsemane Pastor Joanne Engquist shares the churches decision to accept Jose into sanctuary.

“From my faith teachings, we are instructed to care for our neighbors as ourselves and to offer hospitality and kindness to those in need, such as the case for J. and his family. We will stand with Jose and his family until the Lakewood Police Department does the right thing.”

Many other congregations, including the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace are looking to help the Robles family through their collaboration with the Church Council. Lorraine Johnson, CSJP-A, is a member of Gethsemane Lutheran.

 


abc

Europeans Reach "Agreement" on Accepting Refugees

 

After a boatload of refugees rescued by Doctors without Borders were denied entry into an Italian port, Spain stepped in to accept the refugees. Soon after, Jean-Claude Juncker called a mini summit to address the refusal of Italy to allow any more refugees to land on its shores, and to address disagreements within the German government. Merkel had warned on Thursday that the future of the European Union hinged on whether it could find answers to the “vital questions” posed by migration.

An over ten hour summit meeting an agreement was reached, however details were not forthcoming and it was admitted that more work needed to be accomplished to iron out the finer points necessary to address the concerns of all nations. German noted there would be a shared effort, but on a volunteer basis.

There is a proposal within the agreement to offer financial incentives to Turkey and Morocco to help prevent migration to Europe. Another hinted-at solution was the development of a processing center for refugees in North Africa.

All these tensions exist despite the fact that refugee migration is reduced 90% since its height in 2015.

These intense negotiations also preview some of the tensions that will exist ad the UN meets to discuss its two global compacts, one on Migration and a second on Refugees. According to schedules set forth earlier, the Compact on Migration is due to be discussed in New York in September of this year.

 


Nonviolence


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UN NEWS

 

 

The Religious at the UN (RUN) meeting in June featured a guest speaker, Veronique Christory who has worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for 30 years in the area of arms reduction and abolition. She shared good news about banning laser weapons before they were put into production, and also celebrated the banning of nuclear weapons in 2017 after that call was issued by the ICRC in 1945. Ms. Christory also brought to our attention the more frequent use of weapons designed for the battlefield within occupied cities and she raised the ethical problems of new automated weapons systems that depend on artificial intelligence and eliminate humans from the targeting, selection and initiation of the weapons.

The ICRC has a special role given to it to protect the Geneva Conventions. In that role, they work hard to control how wars are fought and limit the types of weapons that can be used in any conflict. Some of the treaties to which they were critical negotiators:

  • Geneva Conventions of 1949
  • Convention on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons, 1972
  • Convention Prohibiting Certain Conventional Weapons, 1980
  • Convention prohibiting Chemical Weapons, 1993
  • Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons, 1995
  • Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, 1997
  • Convention on Cluster Munitions, 2008
  • Arms Trade Treaty, 2013
  • Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, 2017

Many if these Conventions take years to negotiate. The process to ban chemical weapons began as a Hague Declaration in 1899, became a Geneva Protocol in 1925, and was not banned until 1993.

To understand the problems of using explosive weapons designed for a battlefield in urban centers, you can read the analysis here; download a factsheet here: view the video showing consequences for civilians here.

A newer concern—allowing weapons to be controlled by artificial intelligence—is already a reality but a growing risk. What are the ethical boundaries for use and who or what is ethically responsible in case of errors in use? You can read the paper they prepared for further discussion here.

other news…

Retired Trident sub commander Rob Forsyth recently urged the UK to scrap its Trident program to prevent humanity from tipping “over the edge into a nuclear annihilation abyss.” He described the upgrading of the Trident program as wasteful when there are so many other needs including the conventional military and called the continuance of the Trident program as “no more than national hubris.” Instead he prefers to see the UK negotiate an end to the Trident program as part of a international downgrading of nuclear weapons consistent with the goals of the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty agreed upon a the UN last year. https://t.co/tDBDN9KPMZ

 


abc

Pax Cristi UK Focuses on Drones

 

 

By Sr. Bridgetta Rooney, CSJP

Sisters Katrina and Bridgetta attended the Pax Christi Annual General Meeting, which this year took place at St. Patrick’s in the Meadows Nottingham. Pax Christ members from across the country gathered to pray and reflect on the work of the Pax Christi team, and volunteers, over the last year. The theme of the day was “Drone Warfare”.

Maya Evans from Creative Nonviolence UK, who has travelled to Afghanistan many times, told us how children there are now frightened to fly their kites which were so special to them because the drones bring the bombs now from the sky. They target particularly groups of men meeting together so often weddings and funerals are targeted since the men gather separately from the women at such events.

RAF Waddington in England is the starting point for the drones and since the target is so remote the senders are less affected by the consequences.

“Kites Not Drones”, founded by the Creative Nonviolence network has a monthly demonstration at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire from where UK drones start. It is on our doorstep, and in the Nottingham Diocese. Sue Sanderson & Katrina Alton have been at several of the protests there, where kites were flown as a symbol of unity with the Afghan Peace Volunteers.

Max Brookman-Byrne from Lincoln University, spoke of the need to develop a political and ethical challenge to drone warfare in addition to legal challenges. He also spoke of how drones are increasingly being used for border enforcement at the expense of human rights, and increased surveillance of activists and campaigners.

Pax Christi continues to provide useful updates on drone warfare, and educational resources for both children and adults on this issue.

 

CSJPs participated in this protest against drone warfare during the 2012 Community Experience in London.

 


abc

Glasgow Arms Fair

 

 

Demonstrators from the Sink the Arms Fair Campaign joined together in June to protest the sale and use of arms marketed at the event. Protesters shouted "murderers" as dealers and customers approached the entrance to the event.

Groups participating included: the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Scotland Against Militarism, Campaign Against Arms Trade ad the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign; they were joined by faith groups and union members.

One purpose of the lively protest was to dissuade the City Council from holding similar events in the future.

On Monday, Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council said in a statement the council is not responsible for the conference or contracts between the organisers and the venue, adding the contract was organised before SNP took control of the administration from Labour in the 2017 council elections.

She said the council had a responsibility to promote the economic benefit from conferences and events but in light of the opposition had asked the Glasgow Convention Bureau to re-examine policies and procedures for support to take into account human rights support and ethical concerns as well as economic criteria.

Laura Paterson & Andrew Cawley Sunday Post 26 June 2018

 


abc

Cardinal Nichols Receives Peace Prize for Work on Trafficking

 

The Path to Peace Foundation, which supports the work of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, bestowed the 2018 Path to Peace Award upon the Santa Marta Group for its outstanding work in the fight against human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery and for its example of collaboration and innovation in the eradication of these evils.

The Santa Marta Group is an international alliance of religious leaders and police chiefs working together with religious sisters and civil society to eliminate human trafficking and modern day slavery. The Santa Marta Group is named after the Vatican residence where Pope Francis resides and its work has been highly praised and promoted by the Holy Father.

His Eminence Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Santa Marta Group, and Mr. Kevin Hyland, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner for the United Kingdom.accepted the Award for the Santa Marta Group.

Cardinal Nichols said in his keynote address, “Human trafficking and slavery radically strips a person of this fundamental dignity, reducing them to the status of a commodity. It is an evil crying out to heaven. That there are over 20 million people callously held in modern slavery in our world today is a mark of deep shame on the face of our human family that no words alone can remove. The challenge that the eyes of faith see before us today is to work to our utmost to rescue, protect, assist and serve the poorest of the Father’s children who have been sold into slavery even as Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers ‘in the beginning.’”

The work of the Santa Marta Group, he said, is “to foster a symbiotic relationship between law enforcement and the recourses of the Catholic Church in this great fight.”

 


abc

Pax Christ International Statement on the Muslim Travel Ban in the USA

 

 

Pax Christi USA opposes the decision of the Supreme Court to uphold President Trump’s Muslim ban. Trump has spewed caustic remarks against people who are Muslim since the beginning of his campaign for president, and now we see his spoken word becoming policy and law. This unjust law upheld by the Supreme Court disregards the life and dignity of human persons, families and especially at this time our Muslims sisters and brothers. This policy goes against the Gospel and Catholic Social Teachings which are foundational principles of Pax Christi USA.

What Trump touts as a “travel ban” or as a policy that “keeps the US safe” is actually racism, hatred, and a denial to refugees. Because of this ban, refugees from Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, North Korea, and Venezuela can no longer come to the US. Many of these countries are war torn and people are in desperate need of relief. Pax Christi USA does not believe in an America that closes its borders to people in grave need.

Sadly, this is one of many Trump policies created to keep people of color and people in grave need out of the US and is a continued rejection of how this country, a nation of immigrants, was built. We believe in an America that espouses the words of Emma Lazarus, engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Pax Christi USA will work endlessly for our country to embrace and return to these values.

 


abc

Annual Justice and Peace Conference in London

 

The U.K. National Justice & Peace Network will hold it annual conference in London 20-22 July, 2018. The theme is "In the Shelter of Each Other the People Live". Confirmed speakers and booking forms can be found here.

The National Justice and Peace Network is working in partnership with Housing Justice, Church Action on Poverty, Prison Advice and Care Trust.  'It is in the shelter of each other that the people live’: A conference to explore the meaning of ‘home’ in the context of being a church of the poor.

The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire is the site for the cnference. Confirmed speakers include the keynote, Rev. Al Barrett who will speak on ‘nurturing a church community that is committed to “growing loving community with all our neighbours.”

Other speakers will include David McLoughlin, Senior lecturer in Theology, Newman University; Sarah Teather, Director of Jesuit Refugee Service UK, and John Rogan MP.

CONF 2018 Booking Form
Conference 2018 A4 Poster
Conference 2018 A5 flier

 

 


Our Common Home


abc

Tell Chase Bank to Stop Funding Fossil Fuel Pipelines

 

Chase is the top Wall Street funder of tar sands, coal and other extreme fossil fuels, providing nearly $12 billion for the worst fossil fuels in 2017 alone. By funding fossil fuels, banks like Chase are fueling the climate crisis. And the climate crisis is fueling out of control wildfires across the world, rising sea levels, and massive loss of animal habitats. To make matters worse, companies extracting fossil fuels are breaking treaty rights with Indigenous communities and making frontline communities sicker and sicker.

The Rainforest Action Network asks you to copy the following message to Chase Bank's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/chase

Just last year, Chase financed dirty and destructive fossil fuels to the tune of almost $12 billion. I’m joining frontline and Indigenous activists at your shareholder meeting demanding Chase finally stops funding the climate crisis. #DefundTarSands #DefundClimateChange #WaterIslife #ShutDownChase

 


abc

Ireland Bans Fracking

 

 

The Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Bill 2016 passed both the Dail and Seanead and is ready for the President's signature. Ireland joins France, Germany and Bulgaria in banning the practice of fracking onshore.

Independent Senator Alice Mary Higgins paid tribute to those involved in the campaign to end fracking, and said she also gave credit “to the wider movement that is asking the important questions around fossil fuels”. She pointed to the movements for divestment from fossil fuels by agencies such as Trócaire, Trinity College Dublin and National University of Ireland, Galway.

 


Economic Justice


abc

UN Report on U.S. Human Rights and Extreme Poverty Draws Fire

 

 

The UN Special Rapporteur's report on human rights and extreme poverty in the United States drew swift condemnation from Ambassador Haley and a decision by the United States to withdraw from the UN's Council on Human Rights. The special Rapporteur, Philip Alston, visited the U.S. in December, 2017 as part of the fact finding for this report. His on-site inspections included a visit to Puerto Rico, still recovering from Hurricane Maria.

The UN Report noted that 18.5 million American live in extreme poverty. Haley claims that number to be 250,000 persons.The higher figure comes directly from U.S. census figures. There was no source cited for Ms. Haley's number. Of the 18.5 million, 8 million live in absolute poverty.

The politely written, but nevertheless scathing report is an indictment of the political class that uses false stereotypes to describe the poor and define the debates ignore the realities of poverty and discourage voting for change. The rapporteur also notes that racism is not far below the surface in most of these stereotypes.

You can download and read the Special Rapporteur's report here.

You can read Ambassador Haley's response to the report in a letter to Senator Sanders here.

To sign a petition calling on the U.S. to rejoin the Human Rights Commission click here.

 


abc

Next Issue

 

The next issue of Justice and Peace NewsNotes will be published in September. I am on vacation the last week of July and the first of August. As we did last year, we will send special notices of anything important that requires your prayer and attention.

Enjoy your summer days!

"It is most important to inspire the young with a great love of peace."

Mother Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack)