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Pope Francis’ Environmental Views

Posted on 31. Dec, 2014 by .

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SNN1604P-620_1728824aPope Francis intends to issue a papal encyclical on climate change in early 2015.

“Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.” (May 21, 2014)

“Take good care of creation. St. Francis wanted that. People occasionally forgive, but nature never does. If we don’t take care of the environment, there’s no way of getting around it.” (April 22, 2013)

To read more quotes from Pope Francis, visit the Catholic Climate Covenant website.

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St. Boniface San Francisco Homeless Sanctuary

Posted on 31. Dec, 2014 by .

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The following article was published on SFGate.com and was written by Meredith May. 

“Nonproft’s Leader Helps St. Boniface Give Sanctuary to Homeless”

920x920As rain pounds San Francisco’s Tenderloin, more than 100 homeless people are snoozing on the pews inside St.Boniface Catholic Church, while schoolchildren leading Mass ask the Lord to give the needy a safe and happy Christmas.

Only a handful of the “sacred sleepers” are sitting up and listening. Most are out cold, some are snoring, and one is raising just an arm to ghost-conduct during the musical interludes. In the very back pews, one man is starting to get testy because he can’t find his shoes.

Laura Slattery, who oversees the nation’s only nonprofit program that allows the homeless to sleep during the day in a church sanctuary, is by the man’s side in an instant, whispering and guiding him down the aisle to the back of the church. She tiptoes over sleeping bodies until she finds his black loafers and gently places them before his feet.

Slattery, 48, is the executive director of the Gubbio Project, which was founded a decade ago by the now-retired Rev. Louis Vitale to give homeless people respite during the hours that the city’s nighttime shelters are closed. He named it after the Italian town where legend has it that residents befriended a wolf after realizing it wasn’t dangerous, just hungry. The church’s 76 pews are available from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Confessionals have been converted into commissaries that dispense free blankets, socks, razors and toothbrushes. Breakfast is served in the church basement kitchen on Fridays. Homeless visitors can use the restrooms, talk with a chaplain, get referrals to supportive services, and take advantage of care provided by drop-in podiatrists, hairstylists, masseuses and HIV-test providers.

Slattery raises $280,000 a year to keep the program running and supplements her budget with $100,000 worth of in-kind donations and volunteer help. She has seven employees.

“Since the shelters kick people out in the mornings, and since the passage of Sit/Lie (the law banning sitting and lying on city sidewalks), there is no place for people to go,” she said. “The last homeless count said there are at least 6,500 homeless in San Francisco and 1,200 shelter beds. You can do the math. There are 2,500 on the streets at any given time. The library can only take in so many. We are responding to people’s needs for a safe, warm place to go during the day.”

Demand for a place to rest during the day is at an all-time high. Up to 300 people visit the Gubbio Project every day, and about 100 are sleeping at any given time.

Slattery would like to see more churches follow St. Boniface’s lead, but it’s been an uphill battle. While many churches open winter shelters, all put the homeless in spaces that are not being used by parishioners, Slattery said.

“The church is for everybody,” she said. “It’s not practicing grace to sequester some people in the basement or an empty room and keep the sanctuary off limits.”

Feeling like outsider

Inclusiveness is important to Slattery. As a child in Los Angeles, she was teased by her classmates and her five siblings for being cross-eyed. Her condition was so severe that she saw double until she was 7, when an operation corrected her vision. The experience left an indelible impression; she wanted to be a missionary doctor in faraway countries helping the sick and poor.

But more impressive than the medical miracle was the way people treated Slattery after the operation.

“People stopped assuming I was dumb,” she said. “It’s part of why I do this job at Gubbio. It comes from that whole idea of once being an outsider, thinking about who is welcome and who is not, and my experience of wanting to be included.”

An Army recruiter offered her a chance to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Her mother, a computer programmer at Lockheed Martin, and her father, who worked in the maintenance department at Hewlett-Packard, had six kids to put through college and encouraged her to accept.

She played basketball and softball and majored in engineering at West Point. After graduation in 1988, she chose to do her military service in the medical service corps in Oahu, where she was in charge of a field hospital for a little more than three years.

After the Army, Slattery thought she would become a doctor. In the meantime, she volunteered at a Mexican shelter near the Texas border, where she administered to a man with open ulcers on his leg and decided medicine was not for her.

Instead, in 1992, Slattery joined some friends from the Mexican shelter who went to El Salvador during the Chapultepec Peace Accords. She joined a church group that accompanied El Salvadorans returning to their villages after a decade of civil war.

A year later, Slattery returned to Los Angeles, where she worked as a hospital chaplain and taught high school classes in religion and math.

“I came back because I realized that if I really wanted to stop the violence in Latin America, I had to come back and change U.S. policy.”

Increasingly, Slattery wanted to blend her military background with more study of nonviolence. She enrolled in the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and graduated in 1998 with a master’s degree in theology. She lived at the Oakland Catholic Worker House of Hospitality, a sanctuary house for refugees fleeing violence in Latin America.

Peaceful alternatives

Then she became the international liaison and global LGBT outreach coordinator for Pace e Bene Franciscan Nonviolence Service. She traveled to Colombia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor to exchange ideas about nonviolence training and world peace. She collaborated on a creative nonviolence training textbook, and she met her partner, a mechanic, with whom she now shares a home in Oakland.

And she put her convictions into practice.

In 2001, to the chagrin of her parents, she hung her last military Battle Dress Uniform jacket on the chain-link fence at theSchool of the Americas, at Fort Benning in Georgia, to protest alleged terrorist trainings inside the classrooms.

“I gave the jacket back to whom it really belonged, to those who still believe that violence is a possible solution,” she later wrote in a booklet called “From Warriors to Resisters.”

In 2002, she walked onto the School of the Americas property with a group of protesters to call for the school’s closure. She and 87 others were arrested for trespassing.

Slattery served three months in the women’s Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin in 2003. Incarceration itself wasn’t difficult for Slattery, who was used to living in crowded Army barracks, but she described the experience as “humbling.”

“I’m always trying to get out of the judgment game. Being with people in prison helps you do that. It gave me more empathy. I was much more aware of the ways the system dehumanizes women so completely.”

‘Somebody cares’

In 2010, Slattery was invited to take over the Gubbio Project. On her second day, the outgoing executive director said the program had run out of money and had to close.

Slattery started working the phones, calling church board members and other parishes to help. An order of nuns that had just sold some property came through with $100,000. Gubbio has been going, and growing, ever since.

After the children of De Marillac Academy finished their Mass, they walked the aisles of St. Boniface and passed out white gift bags to homeless people.

A 73-year-old man who gave his name as Philip looked through his gift bag, finding socks, toothpaste, shampoo and granola bars.

“Oh, I can use all this stuff!” he said. “I shouldn’t be here, at my age, while there are so many people who are rich in this city. But it’s nice to know at least somebody cares.”

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California’s Plastic Bag Ban In Jeopardy

Posted on 31. Dec, 2014 by .

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The following article is from Yahoo! News and was written by Sharon Bernstein

“Effort to Kill California’s Ban on Plastic Grocery Bags Moves Forward”

bagslandfillSACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – An effort to kill California’s first-in-the-nation state ban on single-use plastic grocery bags advanced this week after bag makers spent several million dollars on a campaign to gather signatures for a proposed ballot initiative to overturn it.

The ban, which was passed by the state Legislature and signed by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in the autumn, is widely supported by environmentalists, who say the bags contribute to litter and pollution. But the measure has triggered a harsh reaction from plastic bag manufacturers, who say their product can be easily recycled.

“You just take it back to the grocery store and stuff it into a container and it gets recycled,” said Jon Barrier, a spokesman for the American Progressive Bag Alliance, which is funding the effort to repeal the ban.

The industry group contributed most of the $3 million spent to gather signatures for a ballot initiative to overturn the state’s ban, currently set to take effect next July. The organization said on Monday it had submitted more than 800,000 signatures to county governments, more than the 505,000 needed to place the measure on the ballot.

Environmentalists have long pushed for banning plastic bags, which are cheaper for supermarkets to use than paper bags, but create mountains of trash. In California, there is particular concern that the bags, when swept out to sea, could harm ocean life.

bringbagDozens of cities and counties throughout the state have already implemented their own local bans.

Mark Murray, a spokesman for a group supporting the statewide ban, said the plastics industry was trying to protect its revenues at California’s expense.

“Virtually all of the plastic bags sold in California are produced by just three out-of-state corporations,” Murray said in a statement. “And these corporations and their chemical suppliers have made it clear that they will do and say anything, and pay any price to continue to sell plastic bags into California.”

It is not clear whether the proposed referendum will actually make the ballot, because the state must confirm that 505,000 of the signatures submitted are valid. If it does so, implementation of the new law would be postponed until after the November 2016 election.

Ironically, the incoming secretary of state who must check the signatures, Democrat Alex Padilla, authored the ban as a state senator and was the target of industry attack ads while running for statewide office this year.

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To Wake the Nation

Posted on 31. Dec, 2014 by .

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Nonviolent Direct Action for Personal and Social Transformation

Nonviolence1This article is about our responsibility as Christians to work for nonviolence both in our personal lives and in the public sphere. To read the article, click the link below or copy it to your URL bar:

http://www.cpt.org/files/To_Wake_the_Nation.pdf

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Franciscan Nonviolence

Posted on 30. Dec, 2014 by .

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Sponsored by the OFM Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation International Council and the Interfranciscan JPIC Commission, this document contains stories, reflections, and resources about nonviolence in general and within the Franciscan tradition. Click the link below to view the document or copy and paste the link to your URL bar:

http://www.ofm.org/01docum/jpic/jpicviolen.pdf

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