Franciscan Peace Movement Initiatives in Korea and Japan

Posted on 10. Jun, 2017 by .


Committees of the two Franciscan Provinces of Japan and Korea held their 8th annual joint meeting in Nagasaki, Japan. “Peace in the Asian Context” was the theme of the gathering, motivated by the venue where the US nuclear bomb was dropped at the end of World War II.  The brothers, 3 from Korea and 4 from Japan, gave each other updates and planned for stronger networking between the two committees.  An important part of the meeting was a visit to some historic sites related to the bombing including the Nagasaki Peace Park, the Peace Museum and the Cathedral of Urakami.   The two committees have also begun discussions on the project of a “Peace Fraternity” in Nagasaki.  Next year’s meeting will be on 2-5 July in Korea.

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The Compassion Course Online 2017

Posted on 03. Jun, 2017 by .


The Compassion Course Online 2017
Changing Lives for 6 Years, in over 100 Countries, with
more than 14,000 Participants and now in 4 Languages

Course Starts June 21st

With Thom Bond, Founder and Director of Education, NYCNVC

The Compassion Course Community Speaks

New Video
“Compassion Course Participants 

Speak Out”

Click Here to Register for the Compassion Course Online

Haga Clic aquí para Registrarse para el Curso de Compasión en Línea

Klicken Sie hier für Mitgefühl als Weg

اضغط هنا للتسجيل للحصول على التحديثات المتعلقة بمسار

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Posted on 03. Jun, 2017 by .


18664225_944418089028417_3703277648550216677_nAmidst a range of domestic controversies and the pushback against his agenda and actions, President Trump went back to one of his default personas, that of a self-proclaimed dealmaker “strongly protecting American interests.” During his trip to Saudi Arabia, President Trump signed an almost $ 110 billion arms deal supposedly in support of Saudi Arabia’s defense.

A May 20, 2017 press release “Supporting Saudi Arabia’s Defense Needs” from the U.S. State Department outlines the framework. How $110 billion worth of killing machinery such as tanks, artillery, helicopters, combatant ships, and other weapons systems reflect the State Department’s slogan “Diplomacy in Action” is a mythological stretch of imagination. More importantly though, this deal is the continuation of global arms trade practices that are sustained by several myths which are driven by a militarist consensus and acceptance of war profiteering regardless of who is President. With the help of historian Paul Holden and colleagues’ 2016 book “Indefensible: Seven myths that sustain the global arms trade,” it is now possible to shed new light on what we are led to believe such deals achieve.

The myth of increased security: According to the State Department, this deal supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia in the face of malign Iranian influence and threats. That’s unlikely, given that Holden and colleagues demonstrated that increased weapons spending leads to arms races, increases security threats due to ill-conceived usage, and under-sources important non-military action. Looking at the bloodshed in the region, we now can say with certainty that the continued influx of weapons makes civilians caught in violent conflict less secure.

The myth of a sound national security analysis: More weapons provided by the United States into a volatile region will not only add fuel to the many regional fires, it will also undermine successful diplomatic initiatives such as the Iran Nuclear Deal. It is more likely that such deals are driven by economic considerations – that is, corporate profits or flat out corruption. In fact, the State Department does not hide the fact that this deal presumably expands opportunities for American companies in the region.

The myth of controlling how the weapons are used: Backed by the U.S., Saudi Arabia is fighting a war in Yemen, which, according to the United Nations humanitarian affairs office is “experiencing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.” In other words, this arms deal will lead to continued killing of Yemeni people by U.S. weapons of war. Women. Children. Civilians.

Administration officials are well aware of how these weapons are used, even though Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called for UN brokered negotiations of the conflict. This was just a month before the $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which is being sold to the public in a sterile narrative of bolstering the security of our allies with U.S. weapons. Of course, we must not dismiss the fact that authoritarian regimes like Saudi Arabia have been known to use weaponry against their own citizens to crush any form of dissent.

The myth of arms deals as job creators: The State Department does not even try to hide that one of the objectives of the Saudi arms deal is to create tens of thousands of new jobs in the United States. There are two flaws with this argument. First, Holden and colleagues demonstrate that military spending is strongly correlated with poorer economic growth and that it can actually hurt the economy. A study found that defense spending creates far fewer jobs than spending on health care, education, green economy or tax cuts. Second, aren’t we morally bankrupt when we even begin to accept the possibility that exporting weapons of war is necessary to drive our economy?

The myth that corruption only exists in developing countries: The current administration’s officials and advisors demonstrate unprecedented levels of ethically questionable connections between their roles as public servants and the many business and consulting entities they belong or belonged to. Some of the more reserved voices talk about kleptocracy, others go straight to the “Banana Republic” analogy. This, together with an already existing arms trade context where blanket secrecy is accepted under the national security disguise, is extremely worrisome.

Some might ask: But what about the seven-decade long security relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia? What about our steadfast ally in the region? Despite its “imperfections,” don’t we need Saudi Arabia to keep the evil Iranians at bay and rid the world of evil Islamic terrorists? These questions place hope in an authoritarian regime acting only in its self-interest and preservation, it also labels an entire nation as evil, and completely misunderstands threats stemming from terrorism. Regardless of those flaws, the answer to all these questions should include justification for why we are not supporting the proven effective nonviolent measures to the many challenges we are facing.

The Alliance for Peacebuilding, for example, is a network of over 100 professional organizations working to resolve conflict and create sustainable peace in 153 countries. These organizations are doing great work, but are underfunded. According to the Peace and Security Funding Index, less than 1 percent ($357 million) of total foundation giving goes toward global peace and security. Organizations and foundations in this sector work toward the prevention and mitigation of conflict, resolving conflict and building peace, and supporting stable and resilient societies. Can we only take a moment to imagine what would happen if we switched the numbers: the U.S. signs a weapons deal with Saudi Arabia over $357 million dollars, and foundations are able to contribute $110 billion to peace and security through nonviolent measures.

[Patrick. T. Hiller, Ph.D., syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Conflict Transformation scholar, professor, served on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association (2012-2016), member of the Peace and Security Funders Group, and Director of the War Prevention Initiative of the Jubitz Family Foundation.]

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May Message for the Month of Ramadan

Posted on 02. Jun, 2017 by .

Letter taken from USfranciscans.com – 

To our Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the World:

As-salaamu ‘alaykum! Peace be upon you!

On behalf of the Special Commission for Dialogue with Islam of the Order of Friars Minor, it gives us great pleasure to extend our greetings to you as you begin the observance of Ramadan, a month devoted to fasting, prayer and almsgiving, honoring God (swt) and the revelation of the Holy Qur’an.

Franciscan friars and Muslims have a history together than stretches back almost eight hundred years, beginning with our founder St. Francis of Assisi. We friars continue to take great inspiration from the meeting of St. Francis and the Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil in 1219, an encounter based on peace, and mutual admiration and respect. It is in this spirit that we greet you.

During this holy month of Ramadan, we encourage and support you as you undertake a rigorous fast. Fasting is a practice enjoined upon all the children of Abraham (upon him be peace!) by our respective holy books. As a religious order in the Catholic Church, we friars practice fasting during the season of the Lent, preceding our celebration of Easter, following the example of Jesus (upon him be peace!) who fasted for forty days (Luke 4.2). The fast that you undertake now is indeed a powerful sign of your commitment to faith and of your obedience to God (swt) so that, as it says in the Qur’an (al-Baqara 183): “you may become more righteous,” and that you may glorify God and be grateful (al-Baqara 185). Your fast expresses our common hunger and thirst for a closer relationship with God (swt), for faith and forgiveness, for justice and peace.

Pope Francis has often spoken about the connection between fasting, praying, and peace. In the first year of his pontificate, on September 7, 2013, he called upon all people of faith everywhere to fast and pray for peace in Syria, the Middle East and throughout the world. This day was chosen to coincide with the celebration of the birth of Mary, whom both Christians and Muslims honor as the mother of Jesus, whom we Catholic Christians call the “Queen of Peace.”

Today, Muslims and Christians around the world face discrimination, persecution, violence and war. As adherents of the two largest religions in the world, it is incumbent upon us, as brothers and sisters in Abraham (upon him be peace!) to join our hands and hearts to build a world of peace and justice.

With the breaking of your fast at the end of each day of Ramadan, you express our shared value of community, of gathering around a meal, a meal that is shared with all so that all might benefit from the bountiful goodness of God’s creation. ‘Iftar, shared with all, vividly demonstrates what Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical on the Creation:

We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference. (Laudato Si’, 52)

During this month, in addition to fasting, many of you will also fulfill the religious duty of zakah, charity that is given for the care of the poor. As with fasting, care for the poor in enjoined upon all the children of Abraham. It is a consistent concern of all God’s prophets (upon them be peace!). In the Psalms of David (upon he be peace!), we read:

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the     oppressed. (Psalm 82.3)

And in the New Testament, Jesus (upon him be peace!) says:

But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. (Luke 11.41)

Today, more than 740 million people in the world live in extreme poverty[1], the majority of which live in Africa and Asia in countries shared by Muslims and Christians. Poverty is not a sectarian problem; it is a human problem for which we share responsibility to all regardless of religion, race, ethnicity and country of origin.

During Ramadan you devote yourselves to prayer with particular attention and frequency, beyond that of the five daily prayers. As men of daily prayer, we Franciscans greatly admire the great devotion with which our Muslim brothers and sisters approach prayer. Quoting the great Christian theologian, St. Augustine, Pope Francis recently reminded us (Ash Wednesday Homily, 2017), that fasting and almsgiving are “the two wings of prayer,” because they are signs of humility and charity.

Above all, however, the month of Ramadan is the time when you celebrate the revelation of the Holy Qur’an. As “people of the Book,” we also recognize that God (swt) communicates with humanity in His Word revealed to the prophets (upon them be peace!). For over fourteen hundred years, the Holy Qur’an has served as the foundation of Muslim life across many cultures and countries, engendering great devotion, scholarship and sublime works of art and architecture. May it continue to inspire great and holy works and deeds.

Together with Franciscan friars around the world, we wish you a most blessed Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak! Ramadan Kareem!


Mübarek Ramazan ayının insanlara Barış getirmesi dileklerimizle hayırlı ramazanlar

May 22, 2017

Michael D. Calabria, OFM
Manuel Corullón, OFM
Ferdinand Mercado, OFM
Jamil Albert, OFM
OFM Special Commission for Dialogue with Islam

[1] Please see: https://ourworldindata.org/extreme-poverty

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Fact Sheet: Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

Posted on 24. May, 2017 by .


Taken from armscontrolcenter.org –

The Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty was an agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union that limited the number of ground-based anti-ballistic missile systems and sites that each side could have. Both parties also agreed not to develop sea-based, air-based, or space-based ABM systems. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the treaty was expanded to include Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.

The ABM Treaty was signed in May 1972 and entered into force in October of that year. Under the Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union could establish two ABM sites: one to protect the national capitol and one to protect an ICBM launch site. The sites, each of which could have a maximum of 100 interceptors and 100 launchers, were required to be at least 807 miles (1,300 kilometers) apart to prevent the creation of a regional defense zone. The treaty did not limit the number of early warning radars that each country could deploy, but stipulated that future radars be located on the countries’ borders facing outwards.

In 1974, a Protocol to the Treaty was added to limit each side to only one ABM site.

Under the treaty, each member could verify other parties’ compliance using national technical means of verification, such as satellite reconnaissance.

The treaty also created a Standing Consultative Commission (SCC), a forum where each country was represented by a Commissioner, Executive Officer and delegation. The SCC could not impose sanctions or any other repercussions on parties that violated the treaty; instead it served as a forum in which members could raise concerns about other’s compliance. The SCC served as a vital body within which the United States and the Soviet Union remained in communication even when other diplomatic initiatives broke down.

In December 2001, the George W. Bush Administration announced that the United States planned to withdraw from the ABM Treaty. Six months later, the United States officially withdrew from the treaty in order to develop and deploy the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. This was the only time that the United States has withdrawn from a major international arms control treaty. At the time, Russia said that it did not feel threatened by U.S. withdrawal, but called the move “a mistake”.


The ABM Treaty was part of the U.S.-Soviet effort to control the arms race in the 1970s. It was negotiated as part of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) that established limits for strategic offensive weapons.

The ABM Treaty codified the U.S.-Russian understanding that offensive weapons and defensive systems are linked. If a country develops an ABM system, an adversary could be incentivized to build more offensive weapons to overwhelm the defensive system. That would lead to an arms race.

Until the United States withdrew from the ABM treaty, it contributed to strategic stability and helped create the dynamic under which further reductions of U.S. and Soviet nuclear arsenals were possible.

Click here for a printable PDF version.  of this page

Sources: U.S. Department of State, Federation of American Scientists, Nuclear Threat Initiative.

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