Posted on 16. May, 2015 by admin.
Then there are the countless frustrations which the people of Aleppo have had to endure because of the siege, particularly shortages of food and other essential supplies. In a word, my flock has suffered and has been the innocent target of a war that is unjust and devastating.
Posted on 25. Apr, 2015 by admin.
Our very own Bro. Mark Schroeder and Bro. Tommy King (pictured right to left respectively) along with other of their Franciscan brothers gathered in San Francisco on Caesar Chavez Day. They joined other UFW supporters to get the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution supporting the dignity of farmers. This resolution calls on Gerawan Farming to obey the law and implement a contract with its workers!
What a success!
Also, if you live in the Washington D.C Area, join a UFW rally on May 5th! View this flyer for more details.
Posted on 21. Apr, 2015 by admin.
Tuesday April 14th was Equal Pay Day. Based on the fact that on average women earn 78 cents to every white man’s dollar, women would have to work from Jan. 2014 to April 2015 to earn on average what white men earned from Jan. 2014 to Dec. 2014. Here are some not-so-fun facts about equal pay (or the lack thereof) in the United States:
On average white women earn 77 cents per every white man’s dollar.
It is worse for women of color:
African American women earn 64 cents on average
Latina women earn an average of 54 cents
However, Asian American women earn 90 cents on average.
For more information, read this article from the Huffington Post!
Posted on 11. Apr, 2015 by admin.
The following article is from the Vatican Radio:
The Holy See on Wednesday declared “bloodless means” are capable of defending the common good and upholding justice, and called on States to abolish the death penalty.
Speaking to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, urged countries to use a “more humane” form of punishment.
“As for those countries that claim it is not yet feasible to relinquish this practice, my Delegation encourages them to strive to become capable of doing so,” Archbishop Tomasi said.
The full text of Archbishop Tomasi’s intervention is below
Statement by His Excellency Silvano M. Tomasi
Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva
at the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council
Item 1 – Biennial High-Level Panel on
“The Question of the Death Penalty”
4 March 2015
The Delegation of the Holy See is pleased to take part in this first biennial high-level panel discussion on the question of the death penalty and joins an increasing number of States in supporting the fifth UN General Assembly resolution calling for a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Public opinion and support of the various provisions aimed at abolishing the death penalty, or suspending its application, is growing. This provides a strong momentum which this Delegation hopes will encourage States still applying the death penalty to move in the direction of its abolition.
The position of the Holy See on this issue has been more clearly articulated in the past decades. In fact, twenty years ago, the issue was framed within the proper ethical context of defending the inviolable dignity of the human person and the role of the legitimate authority to defend in a just manner the common good of society. Considering the practical circumstances found in most States, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, it appears evident nowadays that means other than the death penalty “… are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons.” For that reason, “public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.”
Political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order are moving in the right direction.
Pope Francis has further emphasized that the legislative and judicial practice of the State authority must always be guided by the “primacy of human life and the dignity of the human person.” He noted as well “the possibility of judicial error and the use made by totalitarian and dictatorial regimes… as a means of suppressing political dissidence or of persecuting religious and cultural minorities.”
Thus, respect for the dignity of every human person and the common good are the two pillars on which the position of the Holy See has developed. These principles converge with a similar development in international human rights law and jurisprudence. Moreover, we should take into account that no clear positive effect of deterrence results from the application of the death penalty and that the irreversibility of this punishment does not allow for eventual corrections in the case of wrongful convictions.
My Delegation contends that bloodless means of defending the common good and upholding justice are possible, and calls on States to adapt their penal system to demonstrate their adhesion to a more humane form of punishment. As for those countries that claim it is not yet feasible to relinquish this practice, my Delegation encourages them to strive to become capable of doing so.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, the Holy See Delegation fully supports the efforts to abolish the use of the death penalty. In order to arrive at this desired goal, these steps need to be taken: 1) to sustain the social reforms that would enable society to implement the abolition of the death penalty; 2) to improve prison conditions, to ensure respect for the human dignity of the people deprived of their freedom.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Posted on 11. Apr, 2015 by admin.
Franciscan School of Theology
March 2, 2015
Please enjoy Fr. Joe Chinnici’s homily from February 27th.
Does the Gospel Make a Difference?
My sister Rosemary has been involved in work for restorative justice for many years. She is a sister of Loretto, a psychologist with a great commitment to justice for others and compassion for those suffering. Through a U.S. Justice Department program she was hired to interface between families of victims of a capital crime and prosecuting attorneys, trying to convince the members of the family who had lost a loved one not to push for the death penalty for the criminal; and to convince prosecuting attorneys sometimes trying to make a name for themselves to argue for a penalty commensurate with the crime but excluding death as a punishment. Not an easy task, as you might note; but she is good at it. One day a few years ago she came all excited into my office. “I have just witnessed something really extraordinary!” This was highly unusual since she would often come back from her court cases noting how difficult were the prosecuting attorneys and how injured were the family members. I perked up–what had my sister seen?
It turns out that for several months she had been working with a woman whose son had been violently murdered by another young man. The mothers of both sons had gone to court to witness the proceedings: the one doing her best to assimilate what her son had done and also trying to be faithful to him as belonging to her; the other mother coming to court every day to see that justice was done and that the murderer of her son would in fact lose his own life to justice. Rosemary tried over time to get the offended mother to be open to the possibility of a punishment less than death. She would not budge: “He deserves to die.” The prosecutors also would not budge: “We are not soft on crime.” As the trial went on everyone got more intense, and the mother of the victim angrier and anxious. Her son must at least be recognized as worth the ultimate price of another’s man’s life. She spent much of the time just glaring at everyone. “I will never forget nor forgive what has happened.” Meanwhile, the mother of the criminal got more distraught and confused.
One day, during a break, Rosemary, thinking she had completely failed in her task of reconciliation, stepped out of the courtroom to get a glass of water. When she came back, something extraordinary was happening before her very eyes. There in front of her she saw the mother of the victim embracing the mother of the criminal, each sobbing and holding the other in their arms. Rosemary could not believe it. The event was entirely unexpected and completely spontaneous. She waited until the day’s sessions were over and asked the one mother what happened; Why had she done this? The woman said, “Well, I am not sure what happened. It just happened. I was sitting there, as angry as ever, and all of a sudden it occurred to me: ‘You know, I am not the only one who has lost a son during this whole thing; the mother of the criminal sits there, lonely and without friends, mourning.’ And I felt so sorry for her. She is just like me. And all of a sudden, there I was, running over to her and embracing her and telling her, “We have both lost our sons this day.” She is now my friend.
“Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees you shall not enter the kingdom of God.” (Mt. 5.16) These words that begin our Gospel this morning pick up a fundamental theme in Matthew’s narrative of the Good News. “Righteousness”, deeply rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures and sometimes translated as “justice” or “holiness”or “uprightness”, captured how people were to be before God and neighbor. They were to do God’s will in the TORAH. Joseph the husband of Mary– unwilling to shame his betrothed and open to the possibility of God’s work in another human being– was the epitome of the “righteous man.” (1.19) The meaning of righteousness comes up again in the scene of Jesus’ baptism. The Baptist protests: It is not right that the higher should receive from the lower. But Jesus responds in all humility, “Allow it now for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (3.15) Righteousness in the human sphere imitates the power of God’s humility. The Lord also tells the crowd gathered on the mountain: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” (5.6) Later on he will teach, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (6.33)
The Gospel today is a great invitation not to practice our own sense of justice but to enter into a much deeper knowledge and practice of God’s righteousness. The Gospel calls us not only to teach by word but also by example; it challenges us to a practice of righteousness. Real justice apparently is not a value but an action. We are to remember and then act upon the fact that we are “children of our heavenly Father,” our God who makes his “sun to rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust…Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (5.44-48) The Gospel is not so much a critique as a great call to something really beautiful, becoming in this world, as much as possible, like God in whose image we are made.
It is a tall order–and the practice of Gospel righteousness does not mean that we simply forgive and forget, as if The Lord was calling us to be wimpy and soft, squishy followers of a God who masks himself as some type of Caspar Milquetoast do-gooder (here the reference dates me, but I can’t help it, it was a phrase my mother used with both Rosemary and I; “What are you,” she would say when we would avoid some confrontation that needed to happen. “What are you, some kind of Caspar Milquetoast”)? Justice and equity, even that which poor humans try to administer, are important in this world and sometimes we are called to administer it, much like the poor judge in Augustine’s great passage in the City of God (XIX). Justice, as the scriptures tell us over and over again, will have its own way in the long haul: the Sanhedrin will exercise their duties, Gehenna is a possibility, brothers and sisters “will be liable to judgment.” What goes around, comes around.
Righteous action is important. Still, we as followers of Christ in the tradition of our Franciscan inheritance, are called to an even greater righteousness, a quality of life that changes the administration of justice and affects its modality. We are called in the midst of all signs to the contrary to witness to the fact that the Kingdom of God already exists in this world, even if only in an inchoate way. Bonaventure argues this point in his great treatise defending the evangelical life of the Franciscans. He believes this call to a deeper righteousness is what differentiates the followers of Francis from other very good Christians. By their practice of the virtues the brothers and sisters of this movement take to heart: “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you shall not enter the kingdom of God.” It is a wonderful vocation we here at the Franciscan school have, called as we are in the midst of practicing our little justices to inject into this very practice the utter gratuity of God’s charity, compassion, forgiveness, patience, forbearance, respect, solidarity with those who are suffering. It is this practice, which will require penance and self-mastery, that will enable the world to move closer to the life of its Creator.
Knowing the difficulty, the Lord, in his wisdom, asks us to begin in a small way: How do we use our tongues? What are the terms in which we talk about our neighbors? Does the resentment in our hearts spill over into our public ridiculing or demeaning speech: “Raqa,” “fool.” We need only to turn on the TV or read the papers or go the movies or examine social media to see the problem and to know the direction into which we are called.
Even these small steps however cannot finally happen without grace. As the mother in our story realized, even though my sister had worked at it for months and the mother had pondered the challenge for a long time, it finally happened spontaneously, without planning; almost as if a seed had fallen on good soil, planted itself in the heart, took root over time, and then suddenly received water or light or heat or an activating energy from a place the participants did not anticipate. Immediately the seed flowered as it broke through the hard surface of the procedures of law that had trapped all the court participants in the human ways of justice. Something extraordinary had happened.
Thanks be to God, in his knowledge of our weakness, our Lord gives us a means of rooting out our anger and making the extraordinary grace of true righteousness an ordinary dimension of life. We are in the courtroom of life right now. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,” the apostle James writes.” (James 1.17) That gift from above that plants true righteousness in our hearts is the grace of the Eucharist. Jesus indicates the way it happens by telling us a story placed in the middle of our Gospel passage. It is about a person who does their homework and takes the gift they imagine they have to the altar. But, at the altar, their memory is activated: At the altar the Lord breaks his own life for them, performing righteousness by bending down to be received by them, giving up his life for his friends and his enemies, raining his food down on the just and the unjust. “…this is the blood of the covenant which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sings” (26.28) he says, and hearing the words we recall not how we have been wronged but how we have wronged each other. Remembering this, we act upon it, go into the world, and practice reconciliation. In the end, having practiced God’s righteousness, we return to the altar with a different gift. Now, having entered the kingdom we offer to God a great prayer of gratitude for his Son. Empowered by his example we have placed ourselves in the hands of another, injecting into the world of courtroom justices an act of humility that forms a truly human community of forgiveness. Anger flees, the communion of friendship arrives, and a small bit of peace comes to the world. Amen.