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Viewpoint: A resurrected vision for our suffering world

April 20th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , ,

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Although it is Easter season, for much of the world it still feels like Good Friday.

Countless people throughout the world continue to carry painfully heavy crosses – crosses overwhelming due to man’s inhumanity to man.

Sin, which starts in each individual human heart, if not repented of, joins with the sins of many, forming a collective critical mass of sin which leads to the building of what St. John Paul called the “structures of sin.” Read more »

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Commentary — Marching for Life is not enough

January 26th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , ,

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What a sight! Over 25 times from the top of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., I have seen a sea of people marching to proclaim the dignity of unborn human life, and how death-dealing abortion sends the unholy message that some human beings are disposable.

As I write, I am a just one day away from marching with and viewing that sea of people once again. It’s always a moral and spiritual shot-in-the-arm for me.

But good as they are, the Washington “March for Life” (Jan. 27), the “Walk for Life West Coast” (Jan. 21), the “Midwest March for Life” (Feb. 4) and dozens of similar events at state capitols throughout the U.S., they are not enough. Read more »

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Commentary: A king’s advice to a president

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I believe it is no mere coincidence that the U.S. national holiday celebrating the inspiring life of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (Jan. 16) is within the same week as the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump.   

I believe a king has wise and holy advice for the president. Read more »

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Commentary: Reflecting on the pope’s 2017 World Day of Peace message

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“May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life.” This statement written by Pope Francis in his Jan. 1 World Day of Peace message – the 50th annual papal peace message to the world – extols nonviolence as an essential and nonnegotiable key to true and lasting peace.

In his peace message titled “Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace,” the Holy Father says, “When victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promoters of nonviolent peacemaking. Read more »

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Longing for Christmas peace in the Holy Land

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During this wonderful time of the year, when Christians throughout the world focus minds and hearts on the coming of God upon the earth as one of us, our attention naturally turns to the place where the incarnation occurred.

While all the Earth is a holy creation of the almighty, Bethlehem and the surrounding lands that Jesus walked upon, taught upon, miraculously acted upon, suffered and died upon, and gloriously resurrected upon are uniquely holy and thus deserving of the title Holy Land.

In the Holy Land the Prince of Peace taught humanity the way to true peace.     Read more »

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Voting is over, now the hard work begins

November 17th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , ,

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For those of us using the Gospel and Catholic social teaching as our voting guide, choosing between the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates was an absolute dilemma.     Read more »

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The world needs more saints

November 3rd, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

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Most likely you are reading this shortly before the U.S. presidential election.

America’s next leader will have the means at hand to do tremendous good or tremendous harm.

The new president-elect of the United States will have many opportunities to purposefully move forward policies and legislation that can make not only the U.S., but the world a far better place. Read more »

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Viewpoint: ‘War is never a necessity,’ Pope Francis has said — even now?

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We need to do something. With the barbaric Islamic State now controlling large portions of Iraq and Syria, and inflicting rape, torture and beheading on those who do not conform to their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, it is imperative that they must be stopped.

So yes, we need to do something. But that “something” is not more violence and war. Answering violence and war, with more violence and war, is always part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Caliphate soldiers, members of a group linked to Islamic State militants, published a video on the Internet, Sept. 22, claiming responsibility for the kidnapping of Herve Gourdel of Nice, France. The group said it would kill Gourdel if France does not halt it participation in airstrikes on Iraq. Pax Christi International leaders are urging nation's use nonviolent solutions to stop ISIS. (CNS photo/Reuters via Reuters TV)

Caliphate soldiers, members of a group linked to Islamic State militants, published a video on the Internet, Sept. 22, claiming responsibility for the kidnapping of Herve Gourdel of Nice, France. The group said it would kill Gourdel if France does not halt it participation in airstrikes on Iraq. Pax Christi International leaders are urging nation’s use nonviolent solutions to stop ISIS. (CNS photo/Reuters via Reuters TV)

Shortly after the start of the first Gulf War in 1991, St. John Paul II wrote: “No, never again, war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution to the very problems which provoked the war.”

There is a collective amnesia that continues to block government and society’s memory that we have been there, and done that, many times before. Therefore, the war machine keeps rolling on with the encouragement of hawkish politicians, pundits and the military-industrial-complex.

During a “Democracy Now” interview with Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, Khouri said the major problems that lead to the formation and growth of militant Islamic groups like the Islamic State, are brutal dictators – often backed by the United States – who rule much of the Arab-Islamic world, and a foreign military presence like the U.S. in Muslim majority countries.

Khouri said American led military action in the Islamic world is the best recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

And it stands to reason. Imagine how most people would react – including many Christians – to a foreign power bombing and killing their loved ones.

So, what would be a Gospel-based way of responding to this violent crisis?

The Gospel calls us to mount an active response to suffering based on love and nonviolence.

This means no bombs, no drones, no missiles.

The U.S. and other arms supplying nations need to stop flooding the Middle East and world with weapons. A total multilateral arms embargo is needed.

And the diplomatic tool must be vigorously pursued.

Yes, negotiations with the Islamic State are highly unlikely. But negotiating just settlements to the grievances of hurting populations in Iraq and Syria will dry up support for the Islamic State and other militant groups.

The U.S. and other wealthy nations need to provide adequate resources for the quick evacuation of Christians and other minorities who are in harm’s way.

And funds and supplies need to be massively increased to assist nations – like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey – that are being overwhelmed by Iraqi and Syrian refugees.

Finally, the U.S. and other industrial nations need to do their fair share in offering emergency asylum to these poor, frightened refugees.

It would do us all well to seriously reflect on the words of Pope Francis: “War is never a necessity, nor is it inevitable. Another way can always be found: the way of dialogue, encounter and the sincere search for truth.”

Tony Magliano is a syndicated social justice and peace columnist, who lives in the Diocese of Wilmington.

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Viewpoint: Pope Francis and the ‘economy of exclusion’

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Think about it. According to the United Nations, approximately 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty throughout the world. Clean water and sanitation, adequate nutritious food, a safe job with fair pay, an education, medical care, and a decent place to call home are unfulfilled dreams to these brothers and sisters of ours.

Every day they must somehow find a way to survive on less than $1.25. Even in the poorest countries it is almost impossible to live on this meager amount. In fact, many do not make it.

A girl in Mexico eats a meal provided by the Helping Hands Association and Caritas, the Catholic relief and development organization. Caritas Internationalis launches its campaign against hunger Dec. 10 with a worldwide prayer. Nearly 1 billion people — about one in every eight — experienced chronic hunger or undernourishment during 2010-2012, according to Caritas. (CNS photo/courtesy of Caritas Internationalis)

Everyday, approximately 21,000 fellow human beings die from hunger and hunger related diseases. And according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, some 300 million children go to bed hungry every night.

According to the Christian anti-poverty organization Bread for the World, more than 48 million Americans, including 15.9 million children, do not have enough nutritious food to eat. And more than one in five children live in poverty.

Yet, earlier this year Congress cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for poor Americans by $8 billion over a 10-year period. Reportedly, this will reduce food budgets for affected households by about $90 per month. That’s a big cut for low-income families.

In a recent meeting at the Vatican with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Pope Francis urged world leaders to commit to building a much more level playing field between the wealthy and the poor.

The pope encouraged world leaders to challenge “all forms of injustice” and resist the “economy of exclusion,” the “throwaway culture,” and the “culture of death,” which “sadly risk becoming passively accepted.”

Championing the cause for income equality, the pope called for “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state.”

But most politicians and wealthy people throughout much of the world, are strongly opposed to any “legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state.”

In an article headlined “Inequality is holding back the recovery,” Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz, shared his deep concern regarding the growing divide between the top 1 percent and the rest of us.

He wrote, “Obama bailed out banks but didn’t invest enough in workers and students. … And George W. Bush’s steep tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 and his multitrillion-dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan emptied the piggy bank while exacerbating the great divide.”

Stiglitz wrote that Bush’s party’s “newfound commitment to fiscal discipline, in the form of insisting on low taxes for the rich while slashing services for the poor, is the height of hypocrisy.”

Shortly after his election, Pope Francis said to a gathering of some 5,000 journalists, “How I would like a church that is poor and for the poor.”

Yes, indeed. For if a more humble, more simple-living church, doesn’t stand firmly with the poor, than who will?

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

 

 

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Viewpoint Two newest saints were voices for the voiceless

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Saints Popes John XXIII and John Paul II prophetically raised their voices on behalf of the suffering masses. The two popes, who will be canonized April 27 by Pope Francis, spoke truth to power, and challenged all of us to advance the kingdom of God – a kingdom of love, justice and peace.

St. John XXIII, affectionately known as “Good Pope John,” was expected to be a “caretaker pope,” someone who wouldn’t make any waves.

A woman takes a picture of an illustration depicting Blessed John Paul II, left, Pope Francis and Blessed John XXIII outside a shop in Rome April 23. On April 27, Pope Francis will canonize both former popes. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

But he would have none of that.

In addition to his monumental decision to convene the Catholic Church’s 21st ecumenical council – Vatican II, in 1961 he penned the powerful and controversial encyclical “Mater et Magistra” (“Christianity and Social Progress”).

There St. John XXIII wrote that the economy “has become harsh, cruel, and relentless in frightful measure.” And that “even public authorities were serving the interests of more wealthy men.”

To those who insist governments should leave the economy alone and let the “free market” correct itself, St. John XXIII wrote, “Civil authority should resume its function and not overlook any of the community’s interests.” And “on a world-wide scale, governments should seek the economic good of all peoples.”

Then in 1963, just months after the Cuban missile crisis ended, he authored an even more powerful and controversial encyclical: “Pacem in Terris” (“Peace on Earth”).

Mindful of humanity’s recent close brush with nuclear war, and the devastation conventional wars cause, he wrote, “Justice, then, right reason and consideration for human dignity and life urgently demand that the arms race should cease, that the stockpiles which exist in various countries should be reduced equally and simultaneously by the parties concerned, that nuclear weapons should be banned, and finally that all come to an agreement on a fitting program of disarmament, employing mutual and effective controls.”

If only the world would listen to this saint.

“John Paul the Great,” as many of us admiringly refer to St. John Paul II, was bigger than life.

He took the Good News of the nonviolent Jesus to the far corners of the earth, boldly defending the vulnerable and poor.

Early in his papacy in 1979, I remember hearing in Washington, D.C., along with 700,000 others, these challenging words: “We will stand up every time that human life is threatened. When the sacredness of life before birth is attacked, we will stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life.”

But St. John Paul was equally committed to protecting born life as well.

Again in 1979, in New York City he proclaimed, “The poor of the United States and of the world are your brothers and sisters in Christ. Never be content to leave them just the crumbs of the feast. Take of your substance, and not just of your abundance, in order to help them. Treat them like guests at your family table.”

Confronting the world’s addiction to the violence of war he said, “War is a defeat for humanity.”

In his Jan. 1, 2005 World Day of Peace message he wrote, “Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity. Violence destroys what it claims to defend: the dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings.”

In his powerful encyclical “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis”  (“The Social Concerns of the Church”), St. John Paul beautifully summed up all of Catholic social teaching in one clear sentence: “We are all really responsible for all.”

 

Magliano is a syndicated social justice and peace columnist, who lives in the Diocese of Wilmington. 

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