Peace

This year can be better

by Tony Magliano

Last year was a rough one in many ways. President Donald Trump’s and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s exchange of insults and violent threatening language, put the world on edge that nuclear war was, and still is, quite possible.

Deadly armed conflicts plagued regions throughout the globe

Civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Somalia, and Central African Republic caused hundreds of thousands of deaths – mostly civilians.

In Central America’s Northern Triangle of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, dangerous drug gangs made, and continue to make, that region one of the most dangerous places on earth, causing many to seek refuge in the U.S. where they were met with a 700 mile barrier screaming at them: “You are not welcome!”

Violent government ethnic persecution of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, and extrajudicial murders of suspected drug dealers and drug users by police and vigilantes groups in the Philippines resulted in thousands of deaths.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza continued to make it the world’s largest open-air prison. And the U.S. backed Saudi-led military coalition’s food and medicine blockade of Yemen has caused one of the worst famines in decades.

Last year witnessed the largest number of displaced persons since World War II – over 65 million people were forced to flee from armed conflicts and persecution.

During last year much of the world was on fire

Massive blazes were burning in the United States, Canada, Russia, South America and across Europe.

And in 2017 the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ was unspeakable. According to the report, “Persecuted and Forgotten?” published by Aid to the Church in Need, “It is clear that the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history”.

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation’s report, “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017,” there are 815 million people who are hungry – a recent increase of 38 million people. The U.N. report singles out conflict – increasingly compounded by climate change – as one of the key drivers behind the resurgence of hunger and many forms of malnutrition.

It’s becoming ever more clear that there is a link between poverty, hunger, climate change, armed conflict and forced displacement of peoples.

The artificial mean-spirited sinful barriers built to separate us need to come down

In his famous environmental encyclical letter “Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home,” Pope Francis sees the environmental problem as part of a much larger, more serious problem: Our failure to consistently recognise the truth that everyone and everything is interconnected.

He explains, “When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected.”

That’s the key principle! To realise and actualise the truth that everyone and everything is connected – connected by our loving Father who is Creator of all. And thus we are really all brothers and sisters.

And that as the mystic St. Francis of Assisi so wonderfully realised, even the sun, moon, earth – and everything on it – are our brothers and sisters.

So, the God-given mission for us in 2018 is to faithfully, creatively, enthusiastically, generously and courageously use our time, talents and treasures to spread this divine truth!

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

Peace

Pope condemns death penalty and possession of nuclear weapons

by Tony Magliano

Pope Francis is a determined man with a mission – to lead the church to best reflect Jesus’ call to be the light of the world!

Within the course of just one month, he has dramatically moved the Catholic Church forward in two major ways. On Oct. 11 – the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church – before an international gathering of church leaders and ambassadors from many nations the pope declared that the death penalty is “contrary to the Gospel,” and indicated that there would be a revision in the catechism to reflect this change in church teaching – or more accurately, this development of doctrine.

The Holy Father said that “No man ever, not even the murderer, losers his personal dignity, because God is a Father who awaits the return of the son who, knowing that he has done wrong, asks pardon and begins a new life.” For this reason, he declared “life cannot be taken away from anyone” (see: http://bit.ly/2g2nXoZ).

Then, on Nov. 10, Pope Francis not only denounced the use of nuclear weapons – as his recent papal predecessors have done – but declared for the first time ever that even the possession of nuclear weapons is to be condemned.

Speaking before a high-profile Vatican sponsored international symposium – attended by 11 Nobel Peace Laureates (see: http://bit.ly/2AKiP1P) – titled “Prospects for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament,” the pope said we cannot fail to be “genuinely concerned by the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental effects of any employment of nuclear devices.

“If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned,” said Francis (see: http://bit.ly/2zJAIxD).

“Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family, which must rather be inspired by an ethics of solidarity.”

The U.S. has approximately 1,650 strategic nuclear warheads capable of being delivered via land, sea and air, and plans to spend over $1 trillion during the next 30 years on modernization (see: http://bit.ly/2cmL8v4).

“The escalation of the arms race continues unabated and the price of modernizing and developing weaponry, not only nuclear weapons, represents a considerable expense for nations,” said Pope Francis. “As a result, the real priorities facing our human family, such as the fight against poverty, the promotion of peace, the undertaking of educational, ecological and healthcare projects, and the development of human rights, are relegated to second place.”

And this is exactly what is being reflected in the national budgets of many nations – especially that of the United States.

Congress is poised to pass the astronomical $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act which is even far larger than the $603 billion in military spending proposed by President Trump (see: http://reut.rs/2jdP5py). And these huge military spending increases will largely be paid for by slashing non-defense spending programs like Medicaid, Medicare and SNAP (food stamps).

So, now that Pope Francis has officially declared that capital punishment no longer has any part within Catholic doctrine, and that even possessing nuclear weapons is to be condemned, what are faithful Catholics, and all people of good will, going to about it?

Well one thing is for sure: In good conscience, we cannot ignore these challenging historical papal developments.

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.