Archive for July, 2017

Pope Francis and Active Nonviolence

Posted on 30. Jul, 2017 by .

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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Message to the participants in the G20 meeting taking place in Germany July 7-8. The Message is addressed to the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, and details what the Holy Father recognizes as four principles of action for the building of fraternal, just and peaceful societies: time is greater than space; unity prevails over conflict; realities are more important than ideas; and the whole is greater than the part.

Please find the full text of Pope Francis’ Message, in its official English translation, below…

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To Her Excellency
Mrs Angela Merkel
Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany

Following our recent meeting in the Vatican, and in response to your thoughtful request, I would like to offer some considerations that, together with all the Pastors of the Catholic Church, I consider important in view of the forthcoming meeting of the G20, which will gather Heads of State and of Government of the Group of major world economies and the highest authorities of the European Union.  In doing so, I follow a tradition begun by Pope Benedict XVI in April 2009 on the occasion of the London G20.  My Predecessor likewise wrote to Your Excellency in 2006, when Germany held the presidency of the European Union and the G8.

In the first place, I wish to express to you, and to the leaders assembled in Hamburg, my appreciation for the efforts being made to ensure the governability and stability of the world economy, especially with regard to financial markets, trade, fiscal problems and, more generally, a more inclusive and sustainable global economic growth (cf. G20 Leaders Communiqué, Hangzhou Summit, 5 September 2016).  As is evident from the Summit’s programme, such efforts are inseparable from the need to address ongoing conflicts and the worldwide problem of migrations.

In my Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, the programmatic document of my Pontificate addressed to the Catholic faithful, I proposed four principles of action for the building of fraternal, just and peaceful societies: time is greater than space; unity prevails over conflict; realities are more important than ideas; and the whole is greater than the part.  These lines of action are evidently part of the age-old wisdom of all humanity; I believe that they can also serve as an aid to reflection for the Hamburg meeting and for the assessment of its outcome.

Time is greater than space.  The gravity, complexity and interconnection of world problems is such that there can be no immediate and completely satisfying solutions. Sadly, the migration crisis, which is inseparable from the issue of poverty and exacerbated by armed conflicts, is proof of this.  It is possible, though, to set in motion processes that can offer solutions that are progressive and not traumatic, and which can lead in relatively short order to free circulation and to a settlement of persons that would be to the advantage of all.  Nonetheless, this tension between space and time, between limit and fullness, requires an exactly contrary movement in the minds of government leaders and the powerful.  An effective solution, necessarily spread over time, will be possible only if the final objective of the process is clearly present in its planning.  In the minds and hearts of government leaders, and at every phase of the enactment of political measures, there is a need to give absolute priority to the poor, refugees, the suffering, evacuees and the excluded, without distinction of nation, race, religion or culture, and to reject armed conflicts.

At this point, I cannot fail to address to the Heads of State and of Government of the G20, and to the entire world community, a heartfelt appeal for the tragic situation in South Sudan, the Lake Chad basin, the Horn of Africa and Yemen, where thirty million people are lacking the food and water needed to survive.  A commitment to meet these situations with urgency and to provide immediately support to those peoples will be a sign of the seriousness and sincerity of the mid-term commitment to reforming the world economy and a guarantee of its sound development.

Unity prevails over conflict.  The history of humanity, in our own day too, presents us with a vast panorama of current and potential conflicts.  War, however, is never a solution.   As the hundredth anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s Letter to the Leaders of the Warring Peoples draws near, I feel bound to ask that the world put an end to all these “useless slaughters”.  The goal of the G20 and of other similar annual meetings is to resolve economic differences peacefully and to agree on common financial and trade rules to allow for the integral development of all, in order to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (cf. Communiqué of the G20 Hangzhou Summit).  Yet that will not be possible unless all parties commit themselves to substantially reducing levels of conflict, halting the present arms race and renouncing direct or indirect involvement in conflicts, as well as agreeing to discuss sincerely and transparently all their differences.  There is a tragic contradiction and inconsistency in the apparent unity expressed in common forums on economic or social issues, and the acceptance, active or passive, of armed conflicts.

Realities are more important than ideas.  The fateful ideologies of the first half of the twentieth century have been replaced by new ideologies of absolute market autonomy and financial speculation (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 56).  In their tragic wake, these bring exclusion, waste and even death.  The significant political and economic achievements of the past century, on the other hand, were always marked by a sound and prudent pragmatism, guided by the primacy of the human being and the attempt to integrate and coordinate diverse and at times opposed realities, on the basis of respect for each and every citizen.  I pray to God that the Hamburg Summit may be illumined by the example of those European and world leaders who consistently gave pride of place to dialogue and the quest of common solutions: Schuman, De Gasperi, Adenauer, Monnet and so many others.

The whole is greater than the part.  Problems need to be resolved concretely and with due attention to their specificity, but such solutions, to be lasting, cannot neglect a broader vision.  They must likewise consider eventual repercussions on all countries and their citizens, while respecting the views and opinions of the latter.  Here I would repeat the warning that Benedict XVI addressed to the G20 London Summit in 2009.  While it is reasonable that G20 Summits should be limited to the small number of countries that represent 90% of the production of wealth and services worldwide, this very situation must prompt the participants to a profound reflection.  Those states and individuals whose voice is weakest on the world political scene are precisely the ones who suffer most from the harmful effects of economic crises for which they bear little or no responsibility.  This great majority, which in economic terms counts for only 10% of the whole, is the portion of humanity that has the greatest potential to contribute to the progress of everyone.  Consequently, there is need to make constant reference to the United Nations, its programmes and associated agencies, and regional organizations, to respect and honour international treaties, and to continue promoting a multilateral approach, so that solutions can be truly universal and lasting, for the benefit of all (cf. Benedict XVI, Letter to the Honourable Gordon Brown, 30 March 2009).

I offer these considerations as a contribution to the work of the G20, with trust in the spirit of responsible solidarity that guides all those taking part.  I ask God’s blessings upon the Hamburg meeting and on every effort of the international community to shape a new era of development that is innovative, interconnected, sustainable, environmentally respectful and inclusive of all peoples and all individuals (cf. Communiqué of the G20 Hangzhou Summit).

I take this occasion to assure Your Excellency of my high consideration and esteem.

From the Vatican, 29 June 2017

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Undocumented immigrant driver’s licenses near milestone in California

Posted on 30. Jul, 2017 by .

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Nearly a million undocumented drivers could be licensed in California by the end of the year.

Through June 2017, the Department of Motor Vehicles has issued approximately 905,000 driver’s licenses under Assembly Bill 60, the law requiring applicants to prove only their identity and California residency, rather than their legal presence in the state.

Passed in 2013, after more than 15 years of lobbying by advocates, AB 60 was intended to bolster driver-1public safety and reduce penalties for undocumented immigrants who drive. When it finally took effect at the beginning of 2015, making California the 10th state to offer driver’s licenses to immigrants living in the country illegally, the response was so immense that it doubled initial expectations.

That pace has since slowed considerably. The DMV issued about 11,000 AB 60 licenses last month, the lowest number since the program launched. There have been approximately 83,000 issued in the first half of 2017, only slightly more than March 2015, when the monthly total peaked with 76,000.

A study released by Stanford University researchers in April credited the law with reducing hit-and-run accidents statewide by at least 7 percent in its first year of implementation. Supporters have suggested it may also be a responsible for a surge in organ donors.

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Iraqi man facing deportation takes sanctuary at local church

Posted on 30. Jul, 2017 by .

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An Albuquerque man who moved here as a refugee from Iraq in 1994 faced deportation and expected to be detained by immigration officers, but took sanctuary from a local church.

Rebecca Kitson, a lawyer for Kadhim Al-bumohammed, said he decided to skip his immigration hearing.

Kitson says Immigration and Customs Enforcement knows where he is. His family can visit him at the church whenever he wants but he can’t leave the premises.

The U.S. government says 1,400 Iraqis are under deportation orders nationwide. Al-bumohammed was convicted on domestic violence charges in the 90’s but came under ICE’s radar when he missed an immigration hearing.

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El Paso bishop: Stop deportations until immigration is fixed

Posted on 30. Jul, 2017 by .

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From America 20170718T1218-0026-CNS-MIGRANTS-BORDER-BISHOPMagazine –

The bishop whose diocese sits on the stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border visited by Pope Francis last year is urging Catholics and elected officials to take action against “a dark night of fear and uncertainty” facing undocumented migrants currently living there.

“Our border community knows the reality of a broken immigration system,” Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso writes in “Sorrow and Mourning Flee Away,” a pastoral letter published on July 18. In it, he condemns “the militarization of our border” and he calls for a “moratorium on the deportation of non-violent immigrants” until comprehensive immigration reform is enacted.

Bishop Seitz also announced the creation of a scholarship program for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, known as Dreamers, to attend Catholic schools, and he announced that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol officers would not be allowed on diocesan property without a warrant.

The letter, which the bishop describes as “just the beginning of a deeper solidarity with the poor and excluded,” comes as Texas prepares to implement a new law aimed at dismantling so-called sanctuary cities as the Trump administration moves forward with plans to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In May, Catholic bishops vowed to continue fighting many Trump-backed immigration policies, and the mandate for a temporary working group of bishops focused on migration was renewed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and archbishop of Galveston-Houston.

Bishop Seitz told America he wrote the letter because immigration is “a topic that is on the minds of many in our country. Sometimes it feels like the narrative of those who say that immigration is the cause of every problem in our country and that the border is a fearful place seems to be winning out.”

In reality, he writes in his pastoral letter, the border is “beautiful, rich in history and culture, faith and natural wonder.”

“This is a place where people of many cultures, languages and nationalities coexist and thrive,” Bishop Seitz said. “I ask lawmakers and policymakers in other parts of the country to end the demonization of our border, our border residents and migrants.”

He said that people living in his diocese tell him that fear among immigrant communities living on the border is on the rise.

Discussing the plight of contemporary undocumented immigrants, he said, “They’re afraid every time they leave home, even to come to church sometimes.

“I was approached by a number of teachers, not only from our area but beyond, asking for advice: What do I tell my children who come to school crying, fearful that their parents won’t be there when I return from school? They said that they’re even seeing kids having panic attacks and things like that.”

“It’s a very real fear,” he added.

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Reject NAFTA Renegotiation!

Posted on 30. Jul, 2017 by .

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The Trump administration just released its detailed plan to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. It promises to be a disaster for people and the planet. 

This plan makes it clear: Trump intends to use a new NAFTA to further attack our environment and public health. He aims to give Monsanto, DuPont, Chevron, and Conagra even more of what they want. 

Congress can still stop Trump from succeeding. But it’s going to take strong resistance from Senate Democrats — led by Minority Leader Schumer. So we need your help to make it clear to him: He must fight Trump’s NAFTA plan and protect the planet!

Tell Senator Schumer: Reject Trump’s plan for renegotiating NAFTA!

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