'Peace'

Update: Build peace by welcoming migrants, refugees, pope says in message

Posted on 11. Dec, 2017 by .

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Taken from catholicnews.com –

Exploiting a fear of migrants and refugees for political gain increases the possibility of violence and discrimination and does nothing to build a culture of peace, Pope Francis said in his message for World Peace Day 2018.

“Those who, for what may be political reasons, foment fear of migrants instead of building peace are sowing violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia, which are matters of great concern for all those concerned for the safety of every human being,” the pope said in the message, which was released by the Vatican Nov. 24.

The pope chose “Migrants and refugees: Men and women in search of peace” as the theme for the celebration Jan. 1, 2018. The message is delivered by Vatican nuncios to heads of state and government around the world.

Presenting the message to the media, Father Bruno Marie Duffe, secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said, “It is clear peace begins with saving lives and taking care of people who are trying to escape wars, discrimination, persecution, poverty and climate disasters.”

As work continues on the U.N. Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, Pope Francis urged the international community not to surrender “to cynicism and to the globalization of indifference.”

Countries at the U.N. General Assembly voted in September 2016 to develop the compacts; after meetings around the world, a draft of each compact is scheduled to be released in February and a final vote is scheduled for September 2018.

In his message, which was signed Nov. 13, the feast of St. Frances Cabrini, patron of migrants, Pope Francis said thinking about peace naturally meant thinking about “those who most keenly suffer its absence.”

International organizations estimate there are some 250 million international migrants around the globe and that about 22.5 million of them are refugees, who have fled war, violence or persecution.

In their search for a place where they can live in peace, the pope said, many are “willing to risk their lives on a journey that is often long and perilous, to endure hardships and suffering, and to encounter fences and walls built to keep them far from their goal.”

Pope Francis acknowledged the right and obligation of countries to protect their borders and wisely allocate their resources, including those dedicated to resettling migrants and refugees. But the pope also insisted that basic human decency requires sheltering those whose dignity is at risk.

Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugee Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, told reporters the “prudence” Pope Francis is calling for involves discernment and wise direction. He compared it to the responsibility parents exercise in running a household.

“Prudent parents respond and allocate resources wisely,” he told reporters. “If resources are inadequate, they adjust goals. They obviously do not expel members who seem overly needy. What kind of family would do that? And yet that is what the human family sometimes seems to do to asylum seekers and refugees.”

In the message, the pope also said that welcoming migrants and refugees actually contributes to peace and benefits host countries.

Migrants and refugees “do not arrive empty-handed. They bring their courage, skills, energy and aspirations, as well as the treasures of their own cultures; and in this way, they enrich the lives of the nations that receive them,” he said.

When people in need are welcomed and valued, “seeds of peace” begin to sprout, the pope said. “Our cities, often divided and polarized by conflicts regarding the presence of migrants and refugees, will thus turn into workshops of peace.”

As he said in a message released earlier for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2018, coordinated plans for “welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating” newcomers are essential for helping asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and victims of human trafficking find the peace they seek.

“‘Welcoming’ calls for expanding legal pathways for entry and no longer pushing migrants and displaced people toward countries where they face persecution and violence. It also demands balancing our concerns about national security with concern for fundamental human rights,” Pope Francis said in the peace day message.

Countries have a moral obligation as well as a legal obligation under international law to protect those fleeing from real danger, he said. And no one should forget the very high and very real risk of exploitation faced by migrating women and children.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, a Vatican diplomat, told reporters that to reach the goal of peaceful coexistence “relations among nations must change and be based on: solidarity; dialogue instead of force, which explodes in conflict; policies of collaboration; and the participation of everyone in the benefits of technology, access to markets” and other factors that allow them to live a dignified life.

“Peace flourishes where there is less inequality and injustice,” the archbishop said. “And when there is less inequality and injustice, there is also less migration and people can exercise their right of not having to migrate.”

Pope Francis prayed that the global compacts would be “inspired by compassion, foresight and courage, so as to take advantage of every opportunity to advance the peace-building process. Only in this way can the realism required of international politics avoid surrendering to cynicism and to the globalization of indifference.”

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51st World Day of Peace 2018

Posted on 11. Dec, 2017 by .

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51st World Day of Peace 2018 Migrants and Refugees

Men and Women in search of peace

Click for the two versions of this message from Pope Francis: English  – Spanish

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Our Lady of Guadalupe Resource Page

Posted on 03. Dec, 2017 by .

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Each year on December 12th, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Below are some resources and information on this important day.
 
 

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What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer

Posted on 17. Nov, 2017 by .

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When the world looks at the United States, it sees a land of exceptions: a time-tested if noisy democracy, a crusader in foreign policy, an exporter of beloved music and film.

But there is one quirk that consistently puzzles America’s fans and critics alike. Why, they ask, does it experience so many mass shootings?

Perhaps, some speculate, it is because American society is unusually violent. Or its racial divisions have frayed the bonds of society. Or its citizens lack proper mental care under a health care system that draws frequent derision abroad.

These explanations share one thing in common: Though seemingly sensible, all have been debunked by research on shootings elsewhere in the world. Instead, an ever-growing body of research consistently reaches the same conclusion.

The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.

Outside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Tex., after a mass shooting on Sunday. Credit Callie Richmond for The New York Times

A Look at the Numbers

The top-line numbers suggest a correlation that, on further investigation, grows only clearer.

Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world’s guns. From 1966 to 2012, 31 percent of the gunmen in mass shootings worldwide were American, according to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama.

Adjusted for population, only Yemen has a higher rate of mass shootings among countries with more than 10 million people — a distinction Mr. Lankford urged to avoid outliers. Yemen has the world’s second-highest rate of gun ownership after the United States.

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Worldwide, Mr. Lankford found, a country’s rate of gun ownership correlated with the odds it would experience a mass shooting. This relationship held even when he excluded the United States, indicating that it could not be explained by some other factor particular to his home country. And it held when he controlled for homicide rates, suggesting that mass shootings were better explained by a society’s access to guns than by its baseline level of violence.

Factors That Don’t Correlate

If mental health made the difference, then data would show that Americans have more mental health problems than do people in other countries with fewer mass shootings. But the mental health care spending rate in the United States, the number of mental health professionals per capita and the rate of severe mental disorders are all in line with those of other wealthy countries.

A 2015 study estimated that only 4 percent of American gun deaths could be attributed to mental health issues. And Mr. Lankford, in an email, said countries with high suicide rates tended to have low rates of mass shootings — the opposite of what you would expect if mental health problems correlated with mass shootings.

Whether a population plays more or fewer video games also appears to have no impact. Americans are no more likely to play video games than people in any other developed country.

Racial diversity or other factors associated with social cohesion also show little correlation with gun deaths. Among European countries, there is little association between immigration or other diversity metrics and the rates of gun murders or mass shootings.

A Violent Country

America’s gun homicide rate was 33 per million people in 2009, far exceeding the average among developed countries. In Canada and Britain, it was 5 per million and 0.7 per million, respectively, which also corresponds with differences in gun ownership.

Americans sometimes see this as an expression of deeper problems with crime, a notion ingrained, in part, by a series of films portraying urban gang violence in the early 1990s. But the United States is not actually more prone to crime than other developed countries, according to a landmark 1999 study by Franklin E. Zimring and Gordon Hawkins of the University of California, Berkeley.

Rather, they found, in data that has since been repeatedly confirmed, that American crime is simply more lethal. A New Yorker is just as likely to be robbed as a Londoner, for instance, but the New Yorker is 54 times more likely to be killed in the process.

They concluded that the discrepancy, like so many other anomalies of American violence, came down to guns.

More gun ownership corresponds with more gun murders across virtually every axis: among developed countries, among American states, among American towns and cities and when controlling for crime rates. And gun control legislation tends to reduce gun murders, according to a recent analysis of 130 studies from 10 countries.

This suggests that the guns themselves cause the violence.

An investigator among thousands of personal items left behind after a gunman opened fire in Las Vegas last month. CreditJohn Locher/Associated Press

Comparisons in Other Societies

Skeptics of gun control sometimes point to a 2016 study. From 2000 and 2014, it found, the United States death rate by mass shooting was 1.5 per one million people. The rate was 1.7 in Switzerland and 3.4 in Finland, suggesting American mass shootings were not actually so common.

But the same study found that the United States had 133 mass shootings. Finland had only two, which killed 18 people, and Switzerland had one, which killed 14. In short, isolated incidents. So while mass shootings can happen anywhere, they are only a matter of routine in the United States.

As with any crime, the underlying risk is impossible to fully erase. Any individual can snap or become entranced by a violent ideology. What is different is the likelihood that this will lead to mass murder.

In China, about a dozen seemingly random attacks on schoolchildren killed 25 people between 2010 and 2012. Most used knives; none used a gun.

By contrast, in this same window, the United States experienced five of its deadliest mass shootings, which killed 78 people. Scaled by population, the American attacks were 12 times as deadly.

Beyond the Statistics

In 2013, American gun-related deaths included 21,175 suicides, 11,208 homicides and 505 deaths caused by an accidental discharge. That same year in Japan, a country with one-third America’s population, guns were involved in only 13 deaths.

This means an American is about 300 times more likely to die by gun homicide or accident than a Japanese person. America’s gun ownership rate is 150 times as high as Japan’s. That gap between 150 and 300 shows that gun ownership statistics alone do not explain what makes America different.

The United States also has some of the weakest controls over who may buy a gun and what sorts of guns may be owned.

Switzerland has the second-highest gun ownership rate of any developed country, about half that of the United States. Its gun homicide rate in 2004 was 7.7 per million people — unusually high, in keeping with the relationship between gun ownership and murders, but still a fraction of the rate in the United States.

Swiss gun laws are more stringent, setting a higher bar for securing and keeping a license, for selling guns and for the types of guns that can be owned. Such laws reflect more than just tighter restrictions. They imply a different way of thinking about guns, as something that citizens must affirmatively earn the right to own.

 A vigil after the Las Vegas attack. CreditHilary Swift for The New York Times

The Difference Is Culture

The United States is one of only three countries, along with Mexico and Guatemala, that begin with the opposite assumption: that people have an inherent right to own guns.

The main reason American regulation of gun ownership is so weak may be the fact that the trade-offs are simply given a different weight in the United States than they are anywhere else.

After Britain had a mass shooting in 1987, the country instituted strict gun control laws. So did Australia after a 1996 shooting. But the United States has repeatedly faced the same calculus and determined that relatively unregulated gun ownership is worth the cost to society.

That choice, more than any statistic or regulation, is what most sets the United States apart.

“In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate,” Dan Hodges, a British journalist, wrote in a post on Twitter two years ago, referring to the 2012 attack that killed 20 young students at an elementary school in Connecticut. “Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

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There was a ‘giant picnic’ at the US-Mexico border

Posted on 02. Nov, 2017 by .

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Mexico City (CNN)As the Trump administration eyes the border wall, so does an elusive French street artist.

Building a massive dining table across both sides of the US-Mexico border in the small Mexican town of Tecate, artist JR painted “the eyes of the dreamer” on top of the bench. In a special one-day-only setup, one eye is meticulously placed on either side of the border. People gathered around the table to enjoy the sun and the food on both sides.
In a post on his Instagram, people are sitting on benches at the “giant picnic,” as he calls it. “[P]eople eating the same food, sharing the same water, enjoying the same music (half of the band on each side) around the eye of a dreamer,” he says.
President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program in September. The program was enacted through an executive order by President Barack Obama in 2012. However, the administration also has given Congress a six-month window to find an alternative to protect those 800,000 Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, to remain in the United States.
JR expected the dining table to be brought down, saying he thought the picnic “was clearly forbidden.” Instead, one of his co-artists, Mia Maestro, posted a video of herself bringing tea to a US Federal Agent on one side and JR on the other side. The two stand with the copper-toned pillars of the wall between them. JR asks the border agent, “Will you share tea with me now?” The agent replies with a small smile as the two clink their cups with a “salud” from the artist.
The neighbors at the both sides of the border broke bread together Sunday, the same day the White House released an aggressive list of asks, including tough border security and immigration enforcement measures, for a DACA deal.
The street artist is known for his oversized installations, most recently of a 1-year-old named Kikito who overlooks the US-Mexican border from the Mexican side. During the 2016 Rio Olympics, large installations of swimmers, divers and other athletes popped up across the city.
“Thanks to all the dreamers that joined us yesterday,” JR said on Instagram in his last post from Tecate.

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