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JPR News

October 25, 2020

Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Office
Priests of the Sacred Heart, US Province
"Jesus, Immigrant and Worker" (the Catholic Worker)
In this edition:

  Respect Life Month Reflections
  Election 2020 Reflections
  Bob Bossie, SCJ, on "Religious Liberty"
  Catholic Coalition for Migrants and Refugees Update
  Klingler Award Update
  SGI Annual Conference Report
  Social Justice News
Respect Life Month Reflections  

Every life is sacred, from the moment of conception until natural death. Every person is made in the image and likeness of God, and so each and every person has inherent dignity. This year's Respect Life month theme is, 'Live the Gospel of Life,' inspired by the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's encyclical, The Gospel of Life.  Consider this thoughtful reflection on the upcoming election and dignity of life concerns by Cardinal Blasé Cupich, view USCCB respect life month resources here.  

On Truly Being 'Pro-Life'
America: If Joe Biden wins, what does that mean for abortion policies?
Is it ethical to accept medical treatments derived from abortions?
The president just did. Catholic moral theology can offer some answers.
Election 2020
America:  Voting Catholic: Should Catholics ever be single-issue voters?
How should Catholics prioritize the issues? And what does it really mean to form your conscience?
No Matter Who Is Elected In November, All This Is Likely To Continue...

The U.S. is imposing economic sanctions against 39 countries.  This denies the sanctioned countries access to medicine, medical equipment and even necessary foods.  From 1990 until 2010 the U.S. sanctions on Iraq resulted in the deaths of over a million Iraqis - the majority children. Sanctions on Venezuela have so far killed  40,000 people and cost the country $116 Billion. - Peace Action.

Some $758 Billion of the U.S. budget goes to the military while only $11 Billion to the Centers for Disease Control. - Code Pink

Some 231,000 women and girls - the majority people of color - are jailed in the U.S. and a million are on probation and parole. A third of the imprisoned women identify as lesbian and bisexual women and are more likely to receive longer sentences than their heterosexual peers. 80% of the women are mothers who are allowed little contact with their children.  ---The Movement

U.S. government scientists said this summer broke the record for hottest ever in the Northern Hemisphere. A large chunk of ice twice the size of the island of Manhattan has broken off the Arctic’s largest remaining ice shelf in Greenland. Last month, scientists said Greenland’s ice sheet has shrunk past the point of return.

The total net worth of the nation’s billionaires has soared by nearly $850 billion since mid-March — a 29% increase.  ---- Institute for Policy Studies.  Meanwhile, 72% of Latinx households, 60% of Black households and 55% of Native American households have reported “serious financial problems” this year, with trouble paying for food, housing and debt.---Democracy Now   26 billionaires now own as much as the world’s 3.8 billion poorest people in the world

As the United States marks 19 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, a new report finds at least 37 million people in eight countries have been displaced since the start of the so-called global war on terrorism since 2001. The Costs of War Project at Brown University also found more than 800,000 people have been killed since U.S. forces began fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen, at a cost of $6.4 trillion to U.S. taxpayers.

OR SO IT SEEMS TO ME – An occasional reflection by Bob Bossie, SCJ

Religious Liberty: the Right to Worship Freely, Or ….  
In recent years I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the way some persons have used “religious liberty,” a core value embedded in our constitution, for political purposes and, intentionally or not, as a means of oppressing others of a different ethnicity, religious affiliation or lifestyle. For example, some business owners have refused to serve “others” in the name of religious liberty. They forget that in opening a business, the owner enters into a “contract” with the community to treat everyone with the same dignity and respect.

But it’s not as simple as that. The question remains, what is driving this phenomenon. Let me suggest that this wave of oppression, disguised as religious liberty, is a desire to hold on to “traditional” values which are increasingly challenged by the ever expanding reality of globalization which imposes a culture of its own on a population.

Political scientists have long held that Western, neoliberal economic-globalization -- begun in the 1980s with new modes of communications and transportation -- undermines traditional values at home and abroad. These scientists point out that this McWorld takeover results in new waves of fundamentalism. But that is a deeper dive than we might want to take at this juncture.

 Clearly we have to have an honest dialogue with one another about religious liberty and other challenges to “traditional” values, or we are doomed to live in a world with  greater and greater division. Hopefully the following article will open up some avenues for that conversation. In that vein, I always welcome your feedback. Finally, please note, that I have taken the liberty to edit the article to say “some conservatives” because, while the author’s ideas are very worthy, I do not believe that they apply to everyone who might claim the title of conservative.

Or so it seems to me.

Update on Catholic Coalition for Migrants and Refugees
As the engagement level of our members has dropped precipitously since the Covid-19 pandemic, and with my planned spring retirement, I decided over the summer that the time had come to make some changes. I met with several potential leaders of the group at the end of summer to see if they felt that CCMR should be disbanded. They strongly agreed it should not, but the only one who had time and energy to give to keeping it going was one of our very few younger members. His vision was to expand the focus of the group beyond immigration, and attract young adults by making it more social, adding a service dimension, and possibly become more "political" if that's what new members wanted.

Not everyone was in favor of that direction, but agreed that Alex should be able to pursue his vision if he was willing to do the work. Given that the Priests of the Sacred Heart would likely not have a staff person to coordinate things after I leave, I felt that assisting Alex time as he tries to reach new members was the best move for the future, and that if the group did move in a direction beyond what the U.S. Province was willing to support, we could cut ties with the group at any point and let Alex and the members who wished to join him chart their own path.

Until then, my role will be limited to continuing to work on the legislative advocacy dimension, which Alex supports very much. Currently there are only about half a dozen of our 279 mail list members who are involved in our Senate and House efforts, so this will give me much more time to focus on keeping that going. As for members who still want to work solely on migration issues, they will have the option of joining Catholics for Peace and Justice, another independent group in SE Wisconsin that has supported CCMR's efforts and wants to establish an immigration task force.
Seventh Generation Interfaith Report
SGI's Annual Event Virtual this Year
This year's Conference, "Just Transition to Clean Energy," originally planned for Marquette's Memorial Union as the past two years, was instead held via Zoom. But it did not hurt the attendance (over 140) or the money raised. Panelists included executives of WE Energies, Madison Gas & Electric, leaders from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  Sr. Ruth Geraets, PBVM, was also awarded the Fr. Mike Crosby Award, named after SGI's founder.

Br. Ray Kozuch took part, and afterward wrote:

“…as in the past [I] was impressed by the presentations of the people involved in this Webinar, as well as the very professional presentation using Zoom. I was honored to attend and have my question: ‘How does Church/Religious Orders play a part in the transition or transformation in the concerns presented?’ responded to by four of the presenters… [although] they did not address Religious Orders specifically.”
Br. Ray asked whether “this group which was founded by Religious has moved somewhat away from that understanding to more a corporate style of response.” I explained that it has made the decision to accept non-religious members (such as firms specializing in socially responsible investing) precisely because of the loss of several of its founding Religious members due to personnel shortages and financial constraints. However, it has managed to keep the religious dimension at the forefront, and our secular member organizations have been supportive of that. But it is another reason why I hope the Priests of the Sacred Heart will continue to support this organization in the future.

If you would like to watch the webinar, see the recording: here

2020 Klingler Award
Although their plaques and checks have already been sent, due to the continuing Covid-19 crisis, the public presentation of our awards to Fr. Frank Wittouck, SCJ, and Fr. Mike O'Brien of Sacred Heart Parish in Mississippi will be postponed until next year and combined with the 2021 presentation. 

Nominations for next year's award will be opened in March 2021.
Migration Crisis
America: Pope Francis calls Trump’s family separation border policy ‘cruelty of the highest form’
In a new documentary that premiered in Rome today, Pope Francis says separating migrant children from their parents is “something a Christian cannot do. It’s cruelty of the highest form.”

NY Times: Supreme Court to Review 2 of Trump’s Major Immigration Policies
The cases the court took on Monday are challenges to a program that has forced at least 60,000 asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their requests are heard and the diversion of $2.5 billion in Pentagon money to build a barrier on the southwestern border.

Longreads: Immigration courts are legal labyrinths, especially for asylum seekers
Immigration courts — which are part of the executive branch — have become a battlefield of everchanging rules under President Trump. The constitutional right to due process and the political goal of quickly deporting asylum seekers are often at odds.
Climate Crisis
New York Times: The End of Meat Is Here
If you care about the working poor, about racial justice, and about climate change, you have to stop eating animals.
Economic & Worker Justice
Vox: Extreme poverty is getting worse across the globe for the first time in decades
Covid-19 is projected to leave millions more people trying to live on less than $1.90 a day.
The church is losing touch with working-class Catholics
The poorest Americans are abandoning Mass the most.
Racial Justice
Washington Post: How systemic racism stifled George Floyd’s life, long before his death
George Floyd’s 46 years in America shows that it was shaped by the very forces people are protesting after his death — entrenched poverty, systemic racism, a broken criminal justice system and police violence.

Law enforcement in the United States has been tainted by racism, writes Tobias Winright, but we can reimagine and cultivate a new culture of ”just policing.”
America: Reforms don’t work. The police must be defunded.
The moral legitimacy of modern policing is poisoned by Its racist and anti-worker roots, writes Dwayne David Paul. We must give up the idea that the state provides safety through force and violence.
Covid-19 Pandemic
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