Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence

Posted on 15. Apr, 2017 by .


Taken from chn.org written by James Abro –

Last week the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice sent out a newsletter informing people that today, April 4, marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech.  The Kairos Center is calling for a new Poor People’s Campaign in order to revitalize the movement started by Dr. King in 1968 in an effort to gain economic justice for poor people in the United States.

If you never heard the speech, or it’s been a while since you’ve listened to it, please take this opportunity to hear it or read the text.

This speech was highly controversial at the time because King declared the war in Vietnam “immoral.” I was a teenager at the time and can recall how polarized the nation was about the war. Opposing it was tantamount to being “anti-American” or a “traitor.”

It might have been cool for a teenager to declare themselves a traitor and oppose the war; not so much for an adult.

King delivered his “Beyond Vietnam” speech at the Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967. He was shot to death a year to the day later — April 4, 1968 — in Memphis.

Because the speech is mostly remembered for King publicly declaring his opposition to the war — and the controversy it caused — what has largely been forgotten is what King was referring to when he used the word “Beyond” in the title of his speech.

King was not declaring the war in Vietnam immoral only on Christian theological grounds, but because it stole resources from people who could have used them to lift themselves out of poverty. From the speech:

“There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

I addressed this in an article for Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity.  The successful, community-based anti-poverty efforts that were initiated in the 1960’s were afterward underfunded and neglected as the war sucked up financial resources and diverted political will.

I volunteer to work among the poor and homeless in my community; so what meaning does this speech have for me and the work I do?

In a word, a profound one.

One of the most frustrating aspects of advocating for the poor is how unaware the general public is of this situation, even when it’s happening in their community. As King points out in his speech, we are constantly being fed distractions to take our attention away from what is going on around us. War seems to be the most reliable vehicle for doing so. Throughout my lifetime, the United States has been at war somewhere — Korea, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan. The War on Poverty has been but a neglected stepchild compared to the time, energy and resources we devote to these foreign incursions.

Dr. King:

“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

“The more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.”

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Catholic Conference on LGBT Issues for Church Leaders

Posted on 09. Apr, 2017 by .

New Ways Ministry would like you to know about our upcoming Eighth National Symposium, “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss:  LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis,” scheduled for April 28-30, 2017, Chicago Illinois.
More information can be found by clicking: here and here 
The weekend-long meeting gathers church leaders, ministers, educators, heads of religious communities of men and women, LGBT persons and their family friends and advocates for a weekend of education and dialogue.   Over 500 diocesan, parish, campus, and religious community personnel are expected to attend.
We hope you will share the information about this event with people in your parish and social networks who are interested in LGBT issues.  It would be great if someone from your community, organization, parish, or school could attend.
Our plenary speakers are
     Lisa Fullam, Associate Professor of Moral Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley;
     Leslie C. Griffin, the William S. Boyd Professor of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas;
     Rev. Bryan Massingale, Professor of Theology at Fordham University, New York;
      Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda,

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UN votes to outlaw nuclear weapons in 2017

Posted on 02. Apr, 2017 by .


An article by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weaponsicanw

The United Nations today [October 14] adopted a landmark resolution to launch negotiations in 2017 on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons. This historic decision heralds an end to two decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts.

At a meeting of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, which deals with disarmament and international security matters, 123 nations voted in favor of the resolution, with 38 against and 16 abstaining.

The resolution will set up a UN conference beginning in March next year, open to all member states, to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. The negotiations will continue in June and July.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a civil society coalition active in 100 countries, hailed the adoption of the resolution as a major step forward, marking a fundamental shift in the way that the world tackles this paramount threat.

“For seven decades, the UN has warned of the dangers of nuclear weapons, and people globally have campaigned for their abolition. Today the majority of states finally resolved to outlaw these weapons,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of ICAN.

Despite arm-twisting by a number of nuclear-armed states, the resolution was adopted in a landslide. A total of 57 nations were co-sponsors, with Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa taking the lead in drafting the resolution.

The UN vote came just hours after the European Parliament adopted its own resolution on this subject – 415 in favour and 124 against, with 74 abstentions – inviting European Union member states to “participate constructively” in next year’s negotiations.

Nuclear weapons remain the only weapons of mass destruction not yet outlawed in a comprehensive and universal manner, despite their well-documented catastrophic humanitarian and environmental impacts.

“A treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons would strengthen the global norm against the use and possession of these weapons, closing major loopholes in the existing international legal regime and spurring long-overdue action on disarmament,” said Fihn.

“Today’s vote demonstrates very clearly that a majority of the world’s nations consider the prohibition of nuclear weapons to be necessary, feasible and urgent. They view it as the most viable option for achieving real progress on disarmament,” she said.

Biological weapons, chemical weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions are all explicitly prohibited under international law. But only partial prohibitions currently exist for nuclear weapons.

Nuclear disarmament has been high on the UN agenda since the organization’s formation in 1945. Efforts to advance this goal have stalled in recent years, with nuclear-armed nations investing heavily in the modernization of their nuclear forces.

Twenty years have passed since a multilateral nuclear disarmament instrument was last negotiated: the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which has yet to enter into legal force due to the opposition of a handful of nations.

read more here

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And Jesus Said Unto Paul of Ryan …

Posted on 02. Apr, 2017 by .


16kristofWeb-master768A woman who had been bleeding for 12 years came up behind Jesus and touched his clothes in hope of a cure. Jesus turned to her and said: “Fear not. Because of your faith, you are now healed.”

Then spoke Pious Paul of Ryan: “But teacher, is that wise? When you cure her, she learns dependency. Then the poor won’t take care of themselves, knowing that you’ll always bail them out! You must teach them personal responsibility!”

They were interrupted by 10 lepers who stood at a distance and shouted, “Jesus, have pity on us.”

“NO!” shouted Pious Paul. “Jesus! You don’t have time. We have a cocktail party fund-raiser in the temple. And don’t worry about them — they’ve already got health care access.”

Read more here

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Increase in Arms Transfers

Posted on 19. Mar, 2017 by .


The volume of international transfers of major weapons has grown continuously since 2004 and increased by 8.4 per cent between 2007–11 and 2012–16, according to new data on arms transfers published today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Notably, transfers of major weapons in 2012–16 reached their highest volume for any five-year period since the end of the cold war.

The flow of arms increased to Asia and Oceania and the Middle East between 2007–11 and 2012–16, while there was a decrease in the flow to Europe, the Americas and Africa. The five biggest exporters—the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany—together accounted for 74 per cent of the total volume of arms exports.

Continue reading here

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