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‘Politics for peace’ prompts question of what it would look like

February 10th, 2018 Posted in National News Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — When Pope Francis said, in the title of his 2017 World Day of Peace message, that he wanted to see nonviolence as “a style of politics for peace,” it made peace teachers happy, but it also prompted them to consider what such a world would look like in practical terms.

“There’s no one country that has put it all together and become a model for these others,” acknowledged William Barbieri, who is director of the peace and justice studies program in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America, Washington. He noted, though, there are many encouraging signs of international cooperation that dovetail with peacebuilding.

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Church inadequate in role against racism, Bishop Murry says

February 5th, 2018 Posted in National News Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The bishop who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism gave a sobering assessment of U.S. Catholics’ treatment of blacks, from the laity to the hierarchy.

“The American Catholic Church has continued to be virtually silent,” said Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, “which leads us to the question: Why?”

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Cardinal Dolan says March for Life is akin to MLK’s fight for civil rights

January 19th, 2018 Posted in National News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was invoked by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York in the cardinal’s homily during the Jan. 18 Mass that opened the National Prayer Vigil for Life.

Like “Pastor King,” as Cardinal Dolan referred to him throughout his homily, “our belief in the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of all human life propels us to concern for human life wherever, whenever, and however it is threatened, from racial antagonism to justice for immigrants, from the war-torn to the hungry,” the prelate said.

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Laypeople integral to ‘the pre-eminent rights issue of our day’

January 14th, 2018 Posted in Featured, National News Tags:

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WASHINGTON (CNS) — Building a culture of life is not solely the work of bishops and ordained clergy. Laypeople take the lead in diocesan and parish settings, and in independent organizations, to make the case for life.

Johanna Coughlin is one such example, but far from the only example. In her eighth year of working for the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Respect Life Office, she took over as director last year when her predecessor retired.

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Net neutrality matters in freedom of speech, other rights

January 5th, 2018 Posted in National News

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — After new Federal Communications Committee chair Ajit Pai announced his intentions in April to redo federal policy on net neutrality, the Dec. 14 vote to rewrite the rules should have seemed anticlimactic.

That was far from the case, though, both before, during and after the 3-2 FCC vote along party lines to change the rules. Hundreds of protesters turned out in front of the Washington office building that houses the FCC the day of the meeting to condemn the impending vote.

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Creche crush: D.C. couple has collection of 500 Nativity scenes

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON  — For Roger and Marguerite Sullivan of Washington, Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Thanks to their travels throughout the world over the past 40 years — he for the World Bank, she for the State Department — the Catholic couple has collected at least 500 Nativity scenes. Read more »

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Abortion, assisted suicide are pro-life focus, says cardinal

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Catholic News Service

 

BALTIMORE — Assisted suicide and abortion remain the focus of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, according to Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, the committee chairman.

One of those issues was being taken up by the American Medical Association House of Delegates as the U.S. bishops held their fall general assembly in Baltimore Nov. 13-14. Read more »

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Catholic cemeteries often provide for the poor and forgotten

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Catholic News Service

 

It is not as if anyone has organized a parade or a public relations campaign to say so, but Catholic cemeteries around the country have, do and will bury the indigent and those whose bodies have gone unclaimed.

“It’s a way to help those in need. A program to help the poor,” said Stephen Bittner of the Cincinnati Catholic Cemetery Society and president of the Catholic Cemetery Conference, the Illinois-based nationwide association for diocesan Catholic cemetery organizations. Read more »

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Rev. King’s nonviolent philosophy needs to be lived today, speakers say

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s support of nonviolence to bring about social change applies as much to today’s society as it did when Rev. King put his philosophy to paper 60 years ago, said speakers at an Oct. 2 news conference at the memorial dedicated to the civil rights figure in Washington.

Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, is seen near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington Oct. 2. He and other faith leaders gathered near the monument to commemorate Rev. King’s 1957 essay about “Nonviolence and Racial Justice.” (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

That the news conference was scheduled in advance of, and held the day after, the Las Vegas shooting spree that killed 58 people and injured more than 500 only underscored the importance of Rev. King’s message, according to the speakers.

“It’s hard to find something in times like these that doesn’t sound like clichés,” said Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. “As a society, we need to stop making excuses and commit to nonviolence.”

He added, “Pope Francis speaks of the earth as our common home. So it is. And so it is with our society. … It is so easy to speak of human dignity,” said, “but do we believe it selectively — applying it to some people but not to others?”

Bishop Murry, who is African-American, acknowledged he has been the target of racism and segregation. One of the more frustrating episodes for him, he told Catholic News Service, was when a white airline passenger called for a flight attendant because he did not want to sit next to Bishop Murry.

Rev. King’s essay, “Nonviolence and Racial Justice,” appeared in the Feb. 6, 1957, issue of the Christian Century, a theological journal. It laid out his principles for acting nonviolently to seek change.

In his essay, Rev. King wrote: “How is the struggle against the forces of injustice to be waged? There are two possible answers. One is resort to the all too prevalent method of physical violence and corroding hatred. The danger of this method is its futility. Violence solves no social problems; it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Through the vistas of time a voice still cries to every potential Peter, ‘Put up your sword!’ The shores of history are white with the bleached bones of nations and communities that failed to follow this command.”

One of the points Rev. King made about nonviolent resistance as an alternative is that it “does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding.”

“The nonviolent resister,” he said, “must often express his protest through noncooperation or boycotts, but he realizes that noncooperation and boycotts are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent. The end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness.”

“Things looked bleak, and the violence was real, but Rev. King held that high ground. And people rallied to him,” said Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, which sponsored the news conference. “He understood that there were two non-negotiable principles in our democracy: first, that all are created equal and are entitled to the equal protection of our nation’s laws; second, that in our democracy, there can be no place for political violence.”

The United States has many challenges, including renewed racism by groups like the Ku Klux Klan, he said, noting that from its founding in 1882, the Knights as an organization “has long assisted the cause of racial equality.”

Anderson added, “Today, as then, we stand united in the principle that all are created equal, and we reiterate the words of Pope Francis last month calling for ‘the rejection of all violence in political life.’ We believe the way of nonviolence is as relevant today as ever.”

“Dr. King is still the beacon of the way forward,” said Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ, in remarks delivered by Bishop Edwin C. Bass, president of the denomination’s Urban Initiatives. Bishop Blake added that 2018, the 50th anniversary of Rev. King’s assassination, should be seen as “the year of Martin Luther King Jr.,” with programs and conferences to renew the commitment to nonviolence.

The Rev. Eugene Rivers, founder and director of the Boston-based W.J. Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies, called this moment “a biblical opportunity to be salt and light in the midst of this political darkness. … We have to learn how to disagree without being disagreeable.”

Rev. Rivers cautioned the change would not be instantaneous: “I’m not optimistic, yes, but I’m full of faith.”

     

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Bishops’ Labor Day statement sees threat of ‘excessive inequality’

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Catholic News Service

“Excessive inequality” threatens cooperation among all people in society “and the social pact it supports,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, in the U.S. bishops’ annual Labor Day statement.

Tires leave the curing presses in Union City, Tenn., in this file photo. (CNS photo/Goodyear via EPA)

In the message, Bishop Dewane cited the words of Pope Francis, who told factory workers in Genoa, Italy, “The entire social pact is built around work. This is the core of the problem. Because when you do not work, or you work badly, you work little or you work too much, it is democracy that enters into crisis, and the entire social pact.”

Dated Sept. 4, the federal Labor Day holiday, the statement was released Aug. 30.

Bishop Dewane, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, pointed to a “twisted understanding of labor and laborers” that fosters deepening inequality.

In Genoa, the pope “acknowledges that ‘merit’ is a beautiful word,” Bishop Dewane said, “but the modern world can often use it ideologically, which makes it ‘distorted and perverted’ when it is used for ethically legitimizing inequality.”

“Wages remain stagnant or are decreasing for the vast majority of people, while a smaller percentage collect the new wealth being generated. Economic stresses contribute to a decline in marriage rates, increases in births outside of two-parent households and child poverty,” Bishop Dewane added. “Economic instability also hurts the faith community, as Americans who have recently experienced unemployment are less likely to go to church, even though such communities can be a source of great support in difficult times.”

He said, “When a parent working full time, or even working multiple jobs beyond standard working hours, cannot bring his or her family out of poverty, something is terribly wrong with how we value the work of a person.”

“Pope Francis has said it is ‘inhuman’ that parents must spend so much time working that they cannot play with their children. Surely many wish for more time, but their working conditions do not allow it.”

He quoted St. John Paul II’s encyclical “Centesimus Annus”: “Profit is a regulator of the life of a business, but it is not the only one; other human and moral factors must also be considered which, in the long term, are at least equally important for the life of a business.”

“A culture that obsesses less over endless activity and consumption may, over time, become a culture that values rest for the sake of God and family,” Bishop Dewane said.

He added, “Our Lord’s ‘gaze of love’ embraces men and women who work long hours without rest to provide for their loved ones; families who move across towns, states, and nations, facing the highest risks and often suffering great tragedy in order to find better opportunities; workers who endure unsafe working conditions; low pay and health crises; women who suffer wage disparities and exploitation; and those who suffer the effects of racism in any setting, including the workplace.”

Bishop Dewane suggested several approaches to right the imbalance brought by inequality.

“Worker-owned businesses can be a force for strengthening solidarity, as the Second Vatican Council encouraged businesses to consider the active sharing of all in the administration and profits of these enterprises in ways to be properly determined,” he said. “The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has helped in the formation of many employee-owned companies which provide jobs in communities where work opportunities may be scarce.”

Workers’ legal rights to “a just wage in exchange for work, to protection against wage theft, to workplace safety and just compensation for workplace injuries, to health care and other benefits, and to organize and engage in negotiations, should be promoted,” he added.

“Workers must be aided to come to know and exercise their legal rights. As an example, CCHD has supported the Don Bosco Workers in Westchester, N.Y., which has launched a successful campaign to combat wage theft. Persons returning from prison also need support to understand their legal rights as they seek new employment. CCHD has helped the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Cincinnati and elsewhere as they work with returning citizens to find stable and meaningful jobs.”

Labor unions play an important role in this effort, according to Bishop Dewane, as he quoted from Pope Francis’ remarks in June in an audience with delegates from the Confederation of Trade Unions: “There is no good society without a good union, and there is no good union that is not reborn every day in the peripheries, that does not transform the discarded stones of the economy into its cornerstones.”

“Unions must retain and recover their prophetic voice, which ‘regards the very nature itself of the union, its truest vocation. The union is an expression of the prophetic profile of society,’” he said, quoting further from Pope Francis, who added, “The union movement has its great seasons when it is prophecy.” Bishop Dewane added that unions should “resist the temptation of becoming too similar to the institutions and powers that it should instead criticize.”

Bishop Dewane said, “Unions are especially valuable when they speak on behalf of the poor, the immigrant, and the person returning from prison.”

     

Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison.

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