Peace, Social Issues

No limits for No Boundaries, recognised by Pax Christi International

by Paul McMullen, Catholic Review

“Everything I do, I do because of what I learned here.” 

Ray Kelly dropped that assessment into the reminder he made at St. Peter Claver in West Baltimore on the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the good news that Pax Christi International, the global Catholic peace movement, had named the No Boundaries Coalition the recipient of its 2018 Peace Award. 

Kelly serves on the executive committee of St. Peter Claver/St. Pius V Parish, and is chief executive officer of No Boundaries, an 8-year-old nonprofit that has grown from an organizer of block parties into an advocate for education, health, recovery and safety, as well as accountability among police and public officials. 

Pax Christi International will recognize Kelly, chief operating officer Ashiah Parker and the entire No Boundaries Coalition at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. A reception will follow at St. Peter Claver, 8:30-10 p.m. …

Read the entire article by clicking here.

Refugee Stories, Social Issues

I was a stranger and you took my child from me

by Tony Magliano

In the last judgment scene of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus sends a severe warning that hell awaits those who ignore meeting the essential human needs of the poor and vulnerable – and thus likewise, ignore him.

And in reference to those who display a lack of hospitality toward migrants and refugees, Jesus warns “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me.” Now … just imagine the indignation expressed in his words “I was stranger and not only did you not welcome me, you took my child from me!”

The Trump administration’s inhumane and unchristian immigration policy of “zero-tolerance” –  stepped-up apprehension and detention of migrants/refugees often fleeing armed conflict and drug gang violence, mass assembly-line criminal court trials, jail sentences imposed, and deportation back to the violence refugees were fleeing – was started under President George W. Bush and continued under President Obama (see: https://bit.ly/2OZwYye).

Joanna Williams, director of education and advocacy for Kino Border Initiative (see: https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/) told me the U.S. practice of criminally charging refugees for entry into the country is against international law as defined by the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol – of which the U.S. is a signatory. The Convention states that refugees have “the right not to be punished for illegal entry into the territory of a contracting State [nation],” and that they have the right to work, education, public relief and assistance (see: https://bit.ly/2Ndn8IR).

But the Trump administration’s policy of systematically separating refugee families was a new and even lower attempt to fearfully deter fleeing families from entering the U.S.

Children as young as 18-months-old have reportedly been forcefully taken away from their parents and placed in government-run caged facilities (see: https://bit.ly/2t83fuO).

But a federal court ordered the Trump administration to end its policy of family separation and to reunite all children with their parents.

Advocacy Officer Esmeralda Lopez of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (see: http://refugees.org/) told me that 2,654 migrant children were separated from their parents in total, and according to a recent federal report 565 children still remain separated from their parents (see: https://nyti.ms/2MT7Yf3).

And to make this sad unjust situation worse, the Trump administration appears to have no idea how to reunite the more than 400 parents it has already deported with their children who are in U.S.

While the court order now bans family separation, it will not keep the Trump administration from continuing its heartless “zero-tolerance” policy toward suffering refugees. That will only come from massive political pressure from us.

Adding injury to insult, the Trump administration cut $300 million in funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency which provides emergency assistance and basic human services to Palestinian refugees (see: https://bit.ly/2PuKvzf).

But the U.S. is not the only economically developed nation to turn its back on most of the world’s 25 million refugees, 40 million internally displaced people and 3 million asylum-seekers (see: https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/statistics/).

Bulgaria, Hungry, Slovenia, Macedonia, Austria and France (funded by the U.K.) have all recently built barriers to keep out refugees (see: https://bit.ly/2d3jscf).

War, drug gangs, the flow of weapons, militarism, individual and corporate greed, poverty, lack of comprehensive immigration reform legislation, nationalism – as in “America first,” and a secularism that has little place for God are among the root-causes that are forcing our brothers and sisters to seek safer havens.

Let’s us commit ourselves to up-rooting these poisonous weeds and sow seeds of true Christian welcome.

* Photo from the Dallas Morning News.
Social Issues, UN Report

Transforming the future: Report on the launch of UNESCO’s book on Futures Literacy

by Vittoria Valentina Di Gennaro
Communications Assistant

(This article is based on the reports of Ghislain Le Ray, Pax Christi International representative to UNESCO in Paris, who attended the conference.)

On the occasion of the launch of the UNESCO-Routledge co-publication ‘Transforming the future: anticipation in the 21st century’ by Riel Miller, UNESCO held an event in Paris titled ‘Why and how to imagine the future?’ on 2 July 2018. The event was organized in collaboration with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) and the International Science Council.  Our UNESCO representative, Ghislain Le Ray, attended the conference on behalf of Pax Christi International.

The aim of the event was to present the new UNESCO book which is an outcome of a collaboration between a network of researchers, members of UNESCO and future laboratories located around the world. It is based upon the results of 40 Laboratories of the Future organized by UNESCO and its partners, for more than 5 years. The book provides an overview of today’s theories and practices across the world related to future literacy.

Academics, researchers and institutions shared their experiences and views on the use of different methods, applicable at all scales and to all fields, to imagine our futures in order to better guide the present. Such methods can lead to a path towards a discipline of ‘anticipation’ free from shackles, conditioning, prejudices, and fears: what they called ‘Futures Literacy’.

Among the recurrent themes that were discussed, our representative reports what Sandra Coulibaly, the vice director of the international organization of La Francophonie and contributor to the project, summarized: “the method of foresight includes deconstructing what we see to achieve a common vision that must flow on a strategic conversation”. She illustrated this by giving the example of  the idea of ​​constructing another mental image of the African continent in order to find new ways of doing things.

Lydia Garrido, UNESCO Chair in Futures Studies and book contributor, pointed out in her intervention that: “the specificity of the proposed method is to start from the way people invent possibilities for the future”. The theoretical structure of the method thus integrates local specificities. It is based on the needs, the expectations of the people. This allows to “create possibilities from what is created”.

Concluding remarks

This event has represented an important step towards a new method to foresight that aims to act on the world in order to make it better, more balanced, and that it can move towards peace, which ties in with the goals of Pax Christi International. This will help us to guide our work in order to continue our mission to reach peace and reconciliation with a new kind of approach and for people to use the future and open up new avenues for fostering peace, inclusion and sustainability.

In closing, Professor Ian Miles affirms that the book “highlights the essential question of our literacy of the future – the capabilities that enable us to determine when and how to use anticipation to inform and guide our decisions in the present. It could be a turning point in futurology”.

Read the book in PDF here.

Peace, Social Issues

Pope’s climate warning to oil-gas executives: There is no time to lose

by Tony Magliano

Challenging world oil executives to recognize the urgent environmental need to quickly transition from fossil fuel extraction and burning, to clean energy production, Pope Francis called them to take to heart that “Civilization requires energy, but energy must not destroy civilization.”

Gathering the heads of some of the world’s largest oil and gas corporations – including ExxonMobil, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell – to the recent “Energy Transition and Care for our Common Home” Vatican conference (see: https://bit.ly/2LEOsyn), the pope told the CEOs that meeting the energy needs of everyone, especially the more than 1 billion people without electricity, must urgently be undertaken, but in ways “that avoid creating environmental imbalances resulting in deterioration and pollution gravely harmful to our human family, both now and in the future.”

The pontiff appealed to the energy executives to see the necessary moral interconnectedness of the elimination of poverty and hunger – including providing “energy for all” – with “sustainable development of renewable forms of energy” to replace dirty fossil fuels that are greatly contributing to a dangerous rise in global temperatures thus leading to harsher environments, and not surprisingly, increased poverty…

Click here to read the entire article.

Peace, Social Issues

Why are people poor?

by Tony Magliano

It’s not because there aren’t enough resources to go around. For one thing, the world produces enough food to adequately feed every single person.

Well, then what are the reasons?

Among the major reasons poverty exists are unemployment, underemployment, lack of health care and education, hunger, homelessness, undocumented immigration status, climate change and war.

But a strong case can be made that the tremendous income and wealth inequality that exists between the haves and the have-nots is the most serious reason poverty exists. It has such a powerful negative influence that it also greatly fuels all the other causes of poverty.

Just last year alone, four out of every five dollars of wealth generated globally flowed into the wallets of the richest one percent, while the poorest half of humanity received nothing.

Oxfam’s Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said, “It reveals how our economies are rewarding wealth rather than the hard work of millions of people. … The few at the top get richer and richer and the millions at the bottom are trapped in poverty wages” (see: https://ti.me/2DoaHEV and https://bit.ly/2zXLTWw).

And in the U.S. wealth inequality is at near record levels .

“Servant of God” and co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, Dorothy Day, said “We need to overthrow this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system.”…

Click here to read the entire article.

Social Issues

Institutional racism: A poorly known concept

by Nicolas Rousseau, BePax

“I never intended to hurt anyone.” In many cases, the media debate about racist polemics comes down to one question: Was there an individual racist intent? Yet racism can also be the product of the normal and routine functioning of institutions.

Today, one vision predominates: racism would necessarily be produced by a “bad” and intolerant person. Not only is racist intent not always necessary, but individuals are not the only source of racism. It can also arise from institutional, collective or ideological practices and representations. In a survey conducted in Marseille in the social housing sector, the researcher Valérie Sala Pala questions this issue and focuses on a particular dimension of racism: institutional racism.

A priori, the main mission of institutions in the HLM sector is the granting of a roof to people in situations of socio-economic precariousness. However, the researcher highlights various developments that have profoundly affected the field of French social housing since the 1980s. In particular, the impossibility of ignoring certain considerations in terms of sound financial management. This includes avoiding unpaid bills and housing degradation to maintain a healthy financial situation.

As a result, the criteria for allocating social housing are also changing. In addition to “traditional” criteria such as the socio-economic status of candidates, a whole series of criteria related to this need for sound financial management come into play. And faced with this set of criteria, those responsible for the decision to grant a HLM have a margin of interpretation. Finally, with the obligation to proceed on a case-by-case basis through a “fine attribution”: to be able to distinguish between a good and a bad candidate via an analysis of potential risks, problems likely to occur…

To read the rest of this article, click here.