Home » Posts tagged 'U.S. bishops’ committee'

Bishop Cantu calls for diplomacy to ease U.S.-North Korea differences

By

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Diplomacy and political engagement are necessary to resolve the differences between the United States and North Korea and avoid a military conflict, the chairman of a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops committee said in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, N.M.,  chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace,  talks with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department in Washington last March. The bishop wrote an Aug. 10 letter to Tillerson calling for diplomatic efforts to avoid a war between the U.S. and North Korea. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, N.M., chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, talks with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department in Washington last March. The bishop wrote an Aug. 10 letter to Tillerson calling for diplomatic efforts to avoid a war between the U.S. and North Korea. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Writing Aug. 10, Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, N.M., chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, echoed a recent call from the Korean bishops’ conference to support talks to secure the peaceful future of the Korean Peninsula.

Bishop Cantu acknowledged that the escalating threat of violence from North Korea’s leaders cannot be “underestimated or ignored,” but that the “high certainty of catastrophic death and destruction from any military action must prompt the United States to work with others in the international community for a diplomatic and political solution based on dialogue.”

The letter follows days of back-and-forth threats between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. Trump has threatened to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” in response to Kim’s warnings of imminent attacks on the U.S. Meanwhile, Kim has said his country was preparing to fire missiles into waters around Guam, a U.S. territory in the western Pacific Ocean with two military bases.

The angry talk between the leaders has escalated since the Aug. 5 passage at the United Nations of new economic sanctions threatening to cut off a third of North Korea’s exports. Russia and China, two of Pyongyang’s few economic trading partners, supported the sanctions. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations also adopted a statement expressing “grave concern” over North Korea’s actions related to the development of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems.

From North Korea came an announcement that the country is reviewing plans to strike U.S. military targets in Guam with medium-range ballistic missiles to create “enveloping fire.” In response, the Archdiocese of Agana, Guam, in an Aug. 9 statement said everyone there should “stay grounded in the peace of Christ. Look to God during these difficult times when world peace is threatened and pray always.”

“Please pray that the Holy Spirit will instill in the leaders of our country and all the nations the virtues of wisdom and understanding to promote peace rather than war.”

The statement, issued by Father Jeffrey C. San Nicolas, a spokesman for the archdiocese, also reiterated what Guam’s governor, Eddie Calvo, has advised, that al on the island “remain calm and trust that the security of our island is in good hands with local and national defense forces in place to address such threats.”

“This is the time for all of us to come together,” the priest said. “If a family member, co-worker or neighbor is troubled, take time to talk to them, pray for them and remind them of the providence of Our Lord. We place our complete trust in our God.”

In his letter Bishop Cantu said his committee agreed with the stance of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea in its support for South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s proposal for humanitarian and military talks with North Korea.

“In solidarity with the Catholic Church in Korea and the efforts of the South Korean government, we urge the United States to encourage and support these talks,” Bishop Cantu wrote. “This avenue, unlike most others, offers the Korean Peninsula a future free from military conflicts or crises, which could simultaneously threaten entire nations and millions of lives in the region.”

A former Vatican diplomat supported such talks.

In an interview with Vatican Radio Aug. 9, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, former Vatican representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva, said that “instead of building walls and creating dissidence or admitting the possibility of recourse to violence,” both countries must have a constructive approach that benefits the people.

A former member of the U.N. Panel of Experts tasked with monitoring and implementing North Korea sanctions also called for calm and a negotiated solution to the differences between the two countries.

George A. Lopez, chair emeritus of peace studies at the University of Notre Dame, told Catholic News Service Aug. 10 the interests of both countries can be addressed at the negotiating table.

“We need somebody to talk about what are the underlying security needs of both North Korea and the United States and is there a forum to talk about that,” Lopez said. “If the U.S. issued a simple pledge that we seek no first use against North Koreans, we seek some way to bargain this out, you’d get some response to that.”

Asian nations want stability rather than uncertainty and that will require that talks get underway to assure the peaceful co-existence of both countries, Lopez said. “So how do we get there?” he asked.

Bishop Cantu’s letter reminded Tillerson that “this crisis reminds us that nuclear deterrence and mutually assured destruction do not ensure security or peace. Instead, they exacerbate tensions and produce and arms races as countries acquire more weapons of mass destruction in an attempt to intimidate or threaten other nations.”

The bishop also cited a call in July by agencies of the U.S. and European Catholic bishops for all nations to develop a plan to eliminate nuclear weapons from their military arsenals.

A joint declaration released by the USCCB and the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions called upon the U.S. and European nations to work with other nations to “map out a credible, verifiable and enforceable strategy for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Bishop Cantu and Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, conference president, signed the statement.

Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, the Catholic peace organization, said the organization was praying that both nations would step away from potential confrontation. She said Aug. 9 Pax Christi expected to release a statement on the situation within days.

 

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

Comments Off on Bishop Cantu calls for diplomacy to ease U.S.-North Korea differences

East Jerusalem tour heightens U.S. bishops’ awareness of complexities

By

Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM — U.S. bishops visiting the Holy Land said a tour and briefing about the situation in East Jerusalem heightened their awareness of the settlement issue in the divided city.

“The expansion of settlements is quickly driving (the possibility of a two-state solution) off the drawing board,” said Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace. “The continuing expansion of the Jewish communities and its implication for a two-state solution has been a concern of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East.”

U.S. Bishops John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa., and Dale J. Melczek of Gary, Ind., listen as Israeli attorney Daniel Seidemann gives an explanation of land use at an overlook on Mt. Scopus in East Jerusalem Sept. 12. Eighteen bishops are on a nine-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

U.S. Bishops John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa., and Dale J. Melczek of Gary, Ind., listen as Israeli attorney Daniel Seidemann gives an explanation of land use at an overlook on Mt. Scopus in East Jerusalem Sept. 12. Eighteen bishops are on a nine-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

On a two-hour tour, Israeli attorney and activist Daniel Seidemann shared his concerns for the increasingly shrinking window of opportunity to push forward the concept of the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The group visited the sites of small Jewish enclaves being built in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, which abuts the 1967 border with West Jerusalem.

The bishops also viewed the desert corridor northeast of Jerusalem. The corridor, known as E1, has been designated by Israel for a Jewish settlement that would connect the largest settlement in the West Bank, the 30,000-resident city of Ma’aleh Adumim, with Jerusalem. That would, in effect, cut off that area of the Palestinian West Bank from any connection to Jerusalem, contributing to a further cantonization of the West Bank and destroying the possibility of creating a contiguous Palestinian state, said Seidemann.

The tour included a visit to the Israeli separation wall that divides the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Dis, running across the road that, traditionally since Biblical times, has led to Jericho.

In an envisioned peace agreement, most of the 200,000 Jews living in East Jerusalem would be permitted to remain in exchange for land of equal quality and size elsewhere in the West Bank, noted Seidemann. He said while the Israeli enclaves embedded in East Jerusalem remain small, with at most 2,500 Israeli Jews living there, it is still possible to withdraw them, but that if the settlements continue to expand the situation will become more complicated.

The next two to three years are critical if a peace agreement is to be reached, he told the bishops.

“Seven years ago in order to get to where the border needs to be (to reach an agreement), we would need to relocate 100,000 settlers. Today, we will need to relocate 150,000. If it continues to grow, at some point it will not be feasible for the national leaders to relocate hundreds of thousands of settlers. It will be so Balkanized it won’t be possible,” said Seidemann.

Bishop Pates said the bishops’ visit was intended to support the peace process.

“The importance of Jerusalem (in the negotiations) has been heightened as well as the necessity to maintain ourselves open to all religious communities (here), particularly the Jews, Christians and Muslims,” he said. “This visit enables us to focus on this reality and to coalesce behind the Vatican initiative to insist on international guarantees of this religious expression in Jerusalem.”

Retired Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, said the bishops would need to listen to other narratives before they can come up with some recommendations about what needs to be done on both sides. Nevertheless, he said, Seidemann’s briefing had captured very well “the frustration the people living in East Jerusalem are experiencing, especially with the settlements.”

“It is suddenly clear that if this is not addressed aggressively and immediately, a two-state solution will no longer be viable,” he said.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, noted the importance of learning more about the intricacies of the situation although he has been aware of the churches’ support for the two-state solution.

The possibility of losing the window of opportunity to reach a viable solution is “alarming,” he said, and increases the need for religious leaders to pray for peace and to encourage political leaders to work towards a just solution.

“This story has been a long time in the making. It is not only political but also a religious and human one. Coming here has certainly cemented for us the human lives which are affected by this situation — Muslim, Christian and Jewish,” Bishop Cantu said.

The group of 18 bishops from the United States began their nine-day pilgrimage Sept. 11 and celebrated Mass with Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem following the Sept. 12 tour.

Later in the day they were to meet with Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custos of the Holy Land, and participate in an interfaith Sabbath eve prayer at a local Jewish synagogue.

More interfaith and ecumenical prayers were scheduled during the visit. The bishops were also to visit Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem and Galilee, as well as meet with Israeli and Palestinian political leaders.

 

Comments Off on East Jerusalem tour heightens U.S. bishops’ awareness of complexities
Marquee Powered By Know How Media.