Tobin: Abortion, anti-immigrant rhetoric both ‘brutalize’ the American heart

Posted on 23. Jul, 2017 by .


Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, often is styled as among the most prominent “Pope Francis bishops” in America, and he’s indeed a Francis enthusiast. Tobin praised the July 1-4 “Convocation of Catholic Leaders” in Orlando, for instance, as “the first time, at least that I’m aware of, on a national scale, that Church leadership is discussing Pope Francis” due to its focus on Evangelii Gaudium, the pope’s 2013 document on “The Joy of the Gospel.”

20170704T0857-0161-CNS-CONVOCATION-ORLANDO-2-690x450Yet if anyone suspects his backing for Francis comes at the expense of Catholic orthodoxy on matters such as the Church’s pro-life teaching or its sexual morality, Tobin has some surprises in store.

Asked about his outspoken support for immigrant rights, for example, he quickly connects it to the 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion as a further chapter in the “brutalization of the American heart,” one that “affects not only the immigrant population but all of us.”

On his recent decision to welcome a LGBTQ pilgrimage to the Newark Cathedral, Tobin made clear it was not a prelude to challenging traditional sexual ethics.

“I don’t presume that every person who identifies him or herself as LGBTQ is sexually active,” he said. “If they’re attempting to live a chaste life, then they certainly need the support of the believing community, a chance to pray, and to know that they’re welcomed within the body of Christ.”

The bottom line, according to Tobin, is that “I preach what the Church preaches, and teach what the Church teaches, and believe it with great serenity.” At the same time, he said, “I feel it’s my job to welcome people.”

Tobin spoke to Crux during the convocation in Orlando, which brought together almost 3,500 bishops, clergy, religious, and laity to ponder how to implement Evangelii Gaudium in the contemporary American context.

On other matters, Tobin said:

  • Bringing Catholics together in the convocation was a good move, in part because “people who take their faith seriously, and also want to make a lifestyle out of it, can feel like the odd people out if you listen to enough messages from other sectors of society.”
  • There are real threats to religious freedom in America today, including “the fairly persistent attempt to reduce our faith to worship, and then privatize the rest of it. It’s not acceptable, for many religious people, but particularly for Christians who believe in the importance of worship, and where worship is connected to your life.”
  • A “climate of fear” is spreading among immigrants today, including “parents who will tell me that when they kiss their kids going to school, they’re not sure they’re going to be home when they come back, because they could be taken.”
  • Pope Francis, Tobin insisted, does not emphasize the centrality of the poor because of his politics or background, but because it’s core to the Christian faith. Tobin said he was once listening to the radio and “almost drove off the road.” He heard a fellow bishop say Francis uses that sort of rhetoric because he’s a Latin American. ‘Whoa, no,’ Tobin recalls thinking. ‘He reads the Gospel, that’s why he talks that way.’
  • He said he’s still getting used to the intense media spotlight surrounding him in Newark, including a recent spread in the New York Times featuring a picture of him lifting weights. “Sometimes I console myself with the wisdom of Andy Warhol, who said ‘Everybody has 15 minutes of fame in their lifetime,’ so I think maybe I am at 14 minutes 35 seconds, and they’ll grow tired and move on to the next new thing,” he said.

Click here to continue reading a conversation between Crux and Tobin

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UCSC Grad Overcomes Tragedy to Fulfill Promise

Posted on 14. Jul, 2017 by .


Taken from CBS News –

Commencement – a day of triumph, family, and a promise kept. For Brenda Valadez, Students Rising Above Class of 2013, this was her father’s dream.

“I promised him 10 years ago I would walk the stage and become a successful person,” she said.

The journey to this day began a decade ago. Brenda came to live with her grandparents in the Bay Area to escape relentless bullying. Her father, a single parent, stayed behind in their small hometown in Mexico.

The recent University of California, Santa Cruz graduate shared her father’s words, “I want to give you the whole world, but I can’t give it to you here.”

“I was the only person he had in his life and for him to say it’s better for you to go away,” recalled Brenda. “I owe him my life for it.”

Brenda dedicated her life to education, made high school honor roll, and was determined to be the first in her family to graduate from college.

However, once at the university, she almost quit. “It was very hard for me,” she said. “I think I was homesick and I just thought I didn’t belong there.”

The separation was hard enough. It was soon followed by an unspeakable tragedy.

Not long after she left him behind in Mexico, Brenda’s father was kidnapped. The kidnappers demanded two million pesos as ransom, an impossibility for her family.

“He tried to escape,” she tearfully recalled. “We found out that they broke his legs so he wasn’t able to escape. Next thing you know they took his life away, they wrapped him in a blanket and threw him by the side of the road.”

Brenda might have fallen into an abyss with her grief and homesickness. But with the encouragement from a Students Rising Above mentor, Brenda stayed at school. She joined clubs, got a job, and even studied abroad. In the back of her mind was that promise she made to her father.

Fast forward to her commencement, one speaker told the grads, “Now graduates, you can breathe. Appreciate your memories here at UC Santa Cruz.”

Brenda had even more memories to appreciate on her Graduation Day. The day also happened to fall on Father’s Day.

Perhaps it was no coincidence. “My whole four years, everything was because he always guided me,” she said. “He was my angel and he was there every step of the way.”

Today, life after graduation is looking up. After a tough interview process, Brenda landed a fulltime job at a prestigious consulting firm. She says she appreciates the opportunity to learn, to fulfill her eternal promise to her father, and to continue to prove right the wisdom of his fateful decision years ago.

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Resources for helping the Homeless

Posted on 07. Jul, 2017 by .


Did you know that according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (H.U.D.), there are an estimated half a million people on any given night without a bed to sleep in? Homelessness is a circumstance that nearly everyone thinks could never happen to them — and yet, there are hundreds of thousands of men, women and children with nowhere to call home.

Here is the silver lining: we can all do a lot to help those less fortunate than us, and no action is too small to make a difference. The following are great resources to help you find a way to help:

What’s the best way to help the homeless? Former homeless people share their advice

Runaways and Drug Abuse: 15 Ways to Reach Out and Make a Difference

Homeless Shelter Directory

Declutter Your Home Through Philanthropy

13 Essential Items You Never Thought to Donate to Those in Need

The Ultimate Guide to Turning Your Home’s Yard into a Community Garden

10 Incredible Ways To Help Homeless Animals Without Adopting Them


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FAQ on Supreme Court Ruling on Executive Order 13780

Posted on 07. Jul, 2017 by .


Taken from Migration & Refugee services –

After yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on Executive Order 13780, we know that there are many questions. We want to make sure that everyone has the most up-to-date information that we can provide. Below are some answers to some frequently asked questions. Since this situation is still fluid, we will update you as more information becomes available.
What happened with the Supreme Court decision?
  • On June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court decided it will hear two cases,
    Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, et al v International Refugee Assistance Project, et el (Trump v IRAPand Donald J. Trump, President of the United States v Hawaii, et el (Trump v Hawaii). These cases concern Sections 2 and 6 of Executive Order 13780 (EO 13780), that is, the 90-day ban that denies entry to the United States for certain nationals from six Muslim-majority countries, the 120-day ban that denies entry for refugees, and the reduction in refugee admissions for FY 2017 to 50,000. The Supreme Court consolidated the cases together and will hear them in October 2017.
Meanwhile, what happens with the travel ban and the refugee ban of EO 13780?
  • The Supreme Court has so far decided that between now and when these cases are heard in October 2017 that EO 13780 will continue to be halted in part. Immigrants and non-immigrants from the six Muslim-majority countries, and refugees will continue to be able to come to the United States as long as they have “any bona fide” relationship with a person or entity in the United States. However, someone without any such relationship would be at least temporarily banned from entering the United States according to the terms of Sections 2 and 6 of EO 13780.
  • If the number of refugees with such bona fide relationships leads the annual refugee admission number to exceed 50,000 refugees for FY 2017, the Supreme Court ordered that such additional refugees shall still be allowed to enter.
What are bona fide relationships?
  • Bona fide relationship includes “people or entities in the United States who have relationships with foreign nationals [e.g., a refugee] abroad, and whose rights might be affected if those foreign nationals [e.g., refugees] were excluded.”
  • For example, a refugee  has a bona fide relationship with an individual, if the individual is in “a close familial relationship” with the refugee. For a refugee to have a bona fide relationship with an entity, “the [refugee’s] relationship [with the entity] must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading EO-2 [EO 13780].
How will this Supreme Court order impact refugees’ ability to access the U.S. resettlement system in the 
  • Refugees with bona fide relationships with U.S. people or entities as described above will be able to continue to arrive to the United States.
  • Beyond the immediate description, currently, we are seeking clarity about how the “bona fide relationship” definition is to interpreted on the ground.
  • We are hopeful and will advocate that, among others, this would allow admission of all refugees who are assured with resettlement agencies as of June 26; people who are eligible through the Preference 3 refugee category, through Preference 2 categories that are based on family relationship; through the Preference 1 category where the refugees have proven family relationships, and through family unity cases such as I-130 and I-730 that relate to Visa 92/ 93 cases.
  • Note also that even if Section 6 of EO 13780 is fully implemented, there is allowance for admission for refugees “who, before the effective date of the order, have been formally scheduled for transit by the Department of State” and also admission of refugees who have been selected after a case-by-case determination for certain refugees for whom denial of entry would cause “undue hardship.” This will hopefully include unaccompanied refugee minors and others with immediate protection concerns.
  • We have received guidance from the Department of Justice and Department of State, that “refugees who are scheduled to travel through July 6 may proceed with travel to the United States.”
  • The Department of State is awaiting guidance on cases that are booked to arrive after that date.  We will continue to advocate for all refugees already booked for travel after this date.
  • The number of refugees able to receive protection between now and the Supreme Court ruling in October 2017 will depend on how broadly and generously the scheduled-for-travel, bona fide relationships, and humanitarian waiver provisions are interpreted and applied. We are advocating and will continue to advocate for a broad and generous interpretation of the provisions.
What are the possible outcomes of the Supreme Court case in October 2017?
  • The Supreme Court may make a decision that ends the case in whole or part or may make a decision that refers the case to a lower court for further action. The long-term impact of these cases on immigrant, nonimmigrant, and refugee admissions and vetting remains to be seen.
For a printable version of this document, click here.

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Arizona banned Latino Books

Posted on 07. Jul, 2017 by .


The Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) launched its Mexican-American Studies program in 1998, but in the last decade, this initiative has faced an uphill battle. As the fate of ethnic studies in Arizona once again rests in the hands of the judicial system, there are nearly 90 books and textbooks that TUSD students aren’t allowed to read in class.

In 2010, the state of Arizona passed House Bill 2281 – a law banning ethnic studies. The statute made it illegal to teach classes that “promote the overthrow of the United States government,” “promote resentment toward a race or class of people,” “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils.” Two years later – after an administrative law judge ruled that the program violated a state law – the Governing Board of the Tucson Unified suspended the Mexican-American studies program. School officials confiscated books, effectively shutting down a program that’s especially beneficial to students of color. According to a Stanford University study released in 2016, students enrolled in ethnic studies miss fewer days of school, get better grades, and even graduate at higher rates. This is especially true for Latino and male students.

The bill’s legality has faced challenges since then. In 2013, Judge Wallace Tashima stated that the part of  HB 2281 that made it illegal to create courses for students of different ethnicities was illegal. Agreeing with his ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court sent the trial back to court. Starting today, the trial begins. The Arizona Supreme Court will decide if banning Mexican-American studies is discriminatory. Ahead of the case, Librotraficante Tony Díaz – a fierce defender of Mexican-American studies – smuggled banned books into Tucson, just as he did in 2012. And while not everyone can lead the fight like Díaz, there are still some actions you can take, such as spreading awareness of the censorship taking place in Arizona.

As the trial begins, here are 12 books that students aren’t allowed to read in class because of the state’s ban on Mexican-American studies:

June 28 at 10 am.: This piece has been updated to clarify the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision. 


1: ‘Loverboys’ by Ana Castillo

Loverboys – a book originally published in 1996 – is a collection of stories about romances between men and women, women and women, and men and men. And though the title may seem as though boys are at the center of these 22 stories, it’s actually women, many of whom are of Mexican heritage.

Read a preview here.

2: ‘Mexican WhiteBoy’ by Matt De La Peña

In this coming-of-age story, Danny – a tall and skinny kid – grapples with his two identities. As a half Latino, half white teen, he doesn’t know where he fits in. Worse, people are always labeling him. At his private school, no one expects he’ll amount to much. Around San Diego, people immediately assume he’s Latino. But they dismiss him when they learn he’s half-white and doesn’t speak Spanish. To connect with his Latinidad, he spends time with his dad’s side of the family to learn who he truly is.

3: ‘Drown’ by Junot Díaz

Drown – a collection of short stories – is set in the 1980s and illustrates Dominican immigrants seeking the American dream. The semi-autobiographical story begins with Yunior and his older brother, Rafa, dealing with life in the Dominican Republic after their father leaves them. When his dad resurfaces years later, he moves the family to New Jersey, where they still struggle, but in different ways. While the earlier chapters are told through Yunior’s point of view, this book switches perspectives and allows others to give their side of the story.

4: ‘Puro Teatro: A Latina Anthology’ by Alberto Sandoval-Sanchez & Nancy Saporta Sternbach

Puro Teatro: A Latina Anthology is an exploration of Latinas in the world of theater. This anthology focuses on everything from small plays in the 1970s to bigger productions in the early aughts. At 416 pages, it’s not exactly a breezy read, but it does offer full length and one-act plays, such as Botánica by Dolores Prida, Las nuevas tamaleras by Alicia Mena, and The Fat-Free Chicana and the Snow Cap Queen by Elaine Romero.

5: ‘Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States’ by Lori Marie Carlson & Oscar Hijuelos

Red Hot Salsa brings together a group of poets who describe the different experiences of young Latinos in the United States. The poets talk about their families, love, food, success, and failure, and they do it in English, Spanish, or a mix of both.

6: ‘The House on Mango Street’ by Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros’s classic The House on Mango Street follows Esperanza Cordero through her adolescent years, which are at times heartbreaking. It begins with her family – who had previously moved around a lot – settling into the house on Mango Street. As she deals with these changes and her unhappiness, she turns to writing as a way to escape. As the story progresses, so do Esperanza’s views. Eventually, she stops seeing Mango Street as a stifling environment, but one that gives her freedom.

7: ‘Curandera’ by Carmen Tafallo

One of the things that makes Curandera so exceptional is its ability to capture bicultural Latinos. These compilation of poems switch between English and Spanish – reflecting the inhabitants of various neighborhoods in San Antonio.

8: ‘Bless Me Ultima’ by Rudolfo Anaya

Taking place just after World War II in New Mexico, Bless, Me Ultima is the coming-of-age story of Antonio Márez y Luna aka Tony. It begins when he’s seven years old. An elderly curandera – Ultima – has moved in with his family, who are busy fighting about his future. As Tony questions his faith and what his parents want for him, Ultima takes him under his wing.

9: ‘Two Badges: The Lives of Mona Ruiz’ by Mona Ruiz and Geoff Boucher

This autobiography follows Mona Ruiz’s journey from street gang to law enforcement. Set in Santa Ana, this book follows her transformation and all the barriers that stand in her way.

10: ‘The Devil’s Highway: A True Story’ by Luis Alberto Urrea

As immigration remains a contentious issue, The Devil’s Highway – published nearly 15 years ago – is still a must-read. This story follows a group of 26 men who in May 2001 resorted to extremely risky path through the Devil’s Highway – a stretch of land that is so harsh that even the Border Patrol won’t travel through it – to reach the United States. Only 12 made it to the other side.

11: ‘A Place to Stand’ by Jimmy Santiago Baca

In his memoir, Jimmy Santiago Baca details his life before, during, and after spending years in a maximum-security prison. At age 21, Baca was illiterate and faced at least five years in prison for selling drugs. Eventually, he found poetry, which changed his life completely.

12: ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ by Laura Esquivel

In this classic 1989 recipe-filled novel, Tita – the youngest de la Garza daughter – has a role to play. She’s tasked with taking care of her mother, Mamá Elena, until she dies. Despite her future being mapped out, she falls for her neighbor, Pedro. But Mamá Elena suggests that Pedro marry Tita’s oldest sister, Rosaura, instead. Pedro follows her advice to remain close to Tita.

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