Peace, Social Issues

Lessons for Earth 50 years after the first Moon landing

by Tony Magliano

If you were at least 10-years-old on July 20, 1969, you will surely remember that your eyes were glued to a black and white television set watching what no eyes had ever seen before.

You will remember, as I do, the excitement of seeing on screen animation of a lunar module steadily descending toward a first ever human moon landing, together with voices from Mission Control in Houston communicating with the lunar module crew, and all topped off with narration from the legendary American newscaster Walter Cronkite .

But what viewers around the world didn’t know was that lunar module astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were in trouble. As they approached the moon’s surfaced they discovered that they were off course from their preprogrammed landing site and headed toward a field of boulders and craters. Commander Armstrong took over the controls and flew the lunar module – named “Eagle” – manually in search for an open level spot.

With fuel diminishing quickly Armstrong sited his spot. The descent engine was then fired up, but it kicked up so much lunar dust that visibility became extremely poor. Armstrong had to use a few boulders piercing through the dust cloud to estimate the distance from the moon’s surface.

Shortly after Mission Control’s warning that they had just 30 seconds of fuel remaining, Neil Armstrong calmly uttered these famous words: “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Wow!

But the excitement didn’t stop there. Read on at Space.com.

Space and space exploration is fascinating; especially since it easily helps us to see our awesome God reflected in his awesome creation!

And so, while I am hopeful that humankind will seriously pursue travel out into the cosmos, I am hoping far more importantly that all of us will urgently commit ourselves first to cleaning up and protecting our common home – planet Earth!…

Click here to read the entire article.

Peace, Social Issues

Synod for the Amazon: What to expect

by Chloe Noel,
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

The Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region is scheduled to take place in Rome from October 6-27 on the theme, “Amazonia: new paths for the Church and for an integral ecology.”  The following article was published in the July-August 2019 issues of NewsNotes.

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis refers to the Amazon and Congo Basins as the “lungs of our planet.” According to the working document for the Synod for the Amazon, available on the Synod’s website at http://www.sinodoamazonico.va, the Amazon rainforest, covering much of northwestern Brazil and extending into Colombia, Peru and six other South American countries, provides 15 percent of freshwater globally and contributes to global wind currents.

Concerns for the environment in the world’s largest tropical rainforest, unmatched in its biodiversity and influence on the health of the entire planet, and concerns for the human dignity of vulnerable indigenous communities there – communities with deep cultural traditions and spiritual wisdom on living in peace and balance with all of creation – led Pope Francis to announce in 2017 that a Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region would work “to identify new paths for the evangelization of God’s people in that region.”

The working document indicates that key discussion points for the three-week meeting in Rome in October will be the threats to life in the Amazon region by environmental destruction and exploitation, by the systematic violation of the fundamental human rights of the Amazon population, in particular, by the violation of the rights and traditions of indigenous peoples, such as the right to land, to self-determination, to consultation and prior consent, and possible suggestions for greater access to the Eucharist in a region with few priests…

Read the entire article by clicking here.

Refugee Stories

Pope critical of “meanness” toward migrants and refugees

by Tony Magliano

“The signs of meanness we see around us heighten our fear of ‘the other,’ the unknown, the marginalised, the foreigner,” and thus many migrants seeking a better life end up as recipients of this meanness, said Pope Francis in his recently released 2019 World Day of Migrants and Refugees message.

The Holy Father warned that when we allow fears and doubts to “condition our way of thinking and acting to the point of making us intolerant, closed and perhaps even – racist” – there is a serious problem. For “in this way, fear deprives us of the desire and the ability to encounter the other, the person different from myself; it deprives me of an opportunity to encounter the Lord.”

This wonderful idea of actually encountering the Lord, and all others, is one of Pope Francis’ major themes. He is trying to inspire us to build not personal walls, nor national walls, but instead a “culture of encounter.”

There are many lies that have been spread about migrants and refugees; lies that they are murderers, rapists and criminals of all sorts. But numerous studies point to the contrary.

The vast majority are good decent human beings who pay taxes while enjoying virtually no benefits. And they are working at jobs most citizens will not do – like the back-breaking work of picking our vegetables and fruits, washing dishes and landscaping. Furthermore, they add fresh vitality to our towns, cities and parishes. They need us and we need them! This is what Pope Francis’ “culture of encounter” is all about…

Click here to read the whole story.

____________

* Photo from https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/11/16/eu-steps-address-refugee-crisis
Nuclear Disarmament, Peace

The best kept secret of the Catholic Church

by Tony Magliano

The Catholic Church has a very big secret. It is so powerful, challenging and relevant, that if every bishop, priest, religious and layperson was committed to communicating and implementing this secret, it would turn society upside-down and literally transform the world!

However, revealing its contents, and urging the full application of its message, would surely cause great controversy. The church’s leaders would come under attack from both conservatives and liberals. They would be characterized as naïve and acting outside the acceptable bounds of church leadership.

Therefore, most church leaders have opted to tread lightly, sadly guaranteeing that “Catholic social teaching” will remain our best-kept secret.

The best-kept secret is that the Catholic Church is deeply blessed with over 125 years of outstanding social justice and peace documents authored by popes, Vatican Council II, world synods of bishops and national conferences of bishops. Sadly, they attract more dust than readers.

Because Catholic social teaching’s foundational tenets of love, justice and peace boldly challenge governments, corporations and societies, as well as rich and powerful individuals to fairly share their wealth and power with the everyone – especially the poor, the vulnerable and mother earth – and because these teachings insist that war preparation and war-making must give way to peacemaking, Catholic social teaching is to put it mildly: a tough sell.

We need to put the effort into learning the wisdom of Catholic social teaching and selflessly, courageously put it into practice in our personal, political, economic and societal lives. It needs to be put above the status quo of ourselves, our nations, our corporations and our culture.

Like the Gospel, Catholic social teaching is countercultural. And, therefore, we must get out of our comfort zones and be countercultural as well!

But sadly, because Catholic social teaching is so challenging, the path of least resistance is most often used. For example, from time to time a passing reference is made to it in a homily, but such token efforts are too weak and too infrequent to make much difference for the unborn, poor and war-torn of our world. And our faith is all the weaker for it.

Catholic social teaching has at its core a set of principles designed to help guide us in applying the liberating message of the Gospel to the social, economic, and political problems facing modern humanity.

These principles are:

  • The protection of all human life and the promotion of human dignity
  • The call to participate in family and community life
  • The promotion of human rights and responsibilities
  • The preferential option for the poor and vulnerable
  • The safeguarding of workers’ dignity and rights
  • The building of global solidarity and the common good
  • The care for God’s creation
  • The universal destination of goods
  • The call to become peacemakers.

Among the most important documents of Catholic social teaching are the Second Vatican Council’s “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” (see: https://bit.ly/WyDi4S), St. Pope John Paul II’s encyclicals “On Social Concerns” (see: https://bit.ly/1WJB2EX) and “The Gospel of Life” (see: https://bit.ly/1AHf2fZ), and Pope Francis’ encyclical “On Care for Our Common Home (see: https://bit.ly/1Gi1BTu).

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services offer an excellent video introductory overview of Catholic social teaching (see: https://www.crs.org/resource-center/CST-101).

Catholic social teaching could become a tremendously effective tool for building a just and peaceful world, if we would regularly read it, pray with it, teach it, preach it, and live it!

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.

Nonviolence, Peace

Signs of the Times: From Just War to Just Peace

by Jane Deren, Education for Justice

The early Church understood Jesus’ call to redemptive suffering and rejected the concept of redemptive violence, which only destroys. On the cross, Jesus showed his followers “how to hold the pain and let it transform us, rather than pass it on to others around us,” a tenet of nonviolence. But the pacifism of these early Christians was challenged as they became part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Church’s Just War doctrine was first proposed by St. Augustine in the 4th century who sought to reconcile nonviolence with empire building. The Just War doctrine was fully developed by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 14th century and was used for centuries.

But in light of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in WWII and afterwards, the Church has been re-examining this doctrine: civilian deaths and vast devastation have become too commonplace in modern conflicts and warfare. The belief that modern weapons of war and the threat of nuclear mass destruction make all violent conflicts unjust is reflected in Pope St. John Paul II’s declaration during the Iraq War that “war is always a defeat for humanity,” and that “violence and arms can never resolve the problems of man.” He proclaimed that “only peace is the road to follow to construct a more just and united global society.” In declaring “May people learn to fight for justice without violence,” John Paul was affirming the beliefs of his predecessors Blessed Pope Paul VI, who taught that “peace is the only true direction of human progress,” and Pope St. John XXIII, who realized authentic development which supported the human dignity of all members of the human community could only be realized in a peaceful world.

Just Peace

Pope Francis has continued developing the concept of a just peace in his writings. In his January 2017 World Day of Peace message Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace, he makes clear that “violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering…” Francis laments because vast amounts of resources are being diverted to military ends and away from human needs, especially of those suffering at the margins; he calls again for disarmament and abolition of nuclear weapons and the rejection of fear as the basis of co-existence…

Click here to read the entire article.

Nuclear Disarmament, Peace

NATO military alliance incompatible with Gospel nonviolence

by Tony Magliano

As foreign ministers of the 29 member nations of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), gathered in Washington, D.C. on April 3-4 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of this largest military alliance in the world, nonviolent peace activists across the U.S. and from around the world also gathered in Washington to proclaim: “No to NATO – Yes to Peace.”

For six days anti-war proponents participated in  justice and peace workshops, rallies, an anti-NATO conference, an end to war concert and a disarmament counter summit (see: https://worldbeyondwar.org/notonato/).

The kickoff event was a 20 block peace march starting at Lafayette Square (across the street from the White House). Along with members of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Washington, D.C. community, I helped carry a banner saying “No to NATO, No to Nukes” (see video: https://bit.ly/2WLIeCi).

But what’s so wrong about NATO? A lot!

According to David Swanson, director of World Beyond War – a global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace (see:       https://worldbeyondwar.org/) – NATO members place more value on Russia as an enemy. Anonymous U.S. military officials describe the current cold war as driven by massive profits from weapons sales (see: http://davidswanson.org/united-states-wants-war-with-russia/). NATO now accounts for about three-quarters of military spending and weapons dealing on the globe.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, NATO promised Russia that it would absolutely not expand eastward. Breaking its promise, NATO added the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungry, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Albania and Croatia.

While it is important to note that Russia is also immorally making massive profits from arms sales and is also very militarized, nonetheless, if we are honest, it is understandable that Russia sees NATO – now on its very border – as a dangerous threat.

And with both the U.S. and Russia having hundreds of nuclear weapons aimed at each other, and on hair-trigger/launch on warning alert, we are playing an extremely dangerous game of Russian roulette.

To counter all this madness, level-headed, kind-hearted citizens should urge government leaders to appropriate much less money for NATO related operations with the pressing goal of completely dissolving the military alliance – just as the Warsaw Pact was dissolved. And to transfer these massive military dollars toward insuring that all human beings receive their basic God-given rights of life, nutritious food, clean water, improved sanitation, comprehensive health care, quality education, decent housing and a livable wage earned in a safe working environment.

Not only would this conversion provide all people with the necessary means to live, and to live with dignity, but unlike military violence which destroys, insuring universal human rights would also foster lasting world peace.

And most importantly as Christians, we must not to be swayed by the violent ways of the world, but rather by the ways that build up the Kingdom of God – love, justice and peace.

Let’s not forget the stern warning of the nonviolent Jesus: “All who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

During his 1979 visit to the Irish people who were suffering from the violence of the “Troubles,” St. Pope John Paul II prophetically declared “that violence is evil, that violence is unacceptable as a solution to problems, that violence is unworthy of man. Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity. Violence destroys what it claims to defend: the dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings.”

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.