Notes on peace and justice

During a prayer walk sponsored by Christian Churches Together at Kelly Ingram Park in Birmigham, Ala., April 15, members holds hands in prayer at the "Kneeling Ministers" sculpture. The statue depicts the Revs. John Thomas Porter, Nelson H. Smith and A. D. King kneeling in prayer after being confronted by Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor during an April 7, 1963 protest. Christian Churches Together sponsored a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail." (CNS/Mary D. Dillard, One Voice)

People pray during walk sponsored by Christian Churches Together in Birmigham, Ala., to mark the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” (CNS/Mary D. Dillard, One Voice)

Religious leaders publish response to ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’

The response of U.S. Christian clergy leaders to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is available in booklet form.

Available from Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A., which represents 36 national communions including the Catholic Church, was drafted to mark the 50th anniversary of Rev. King’s letter written while he was held in solitary confinement in Birmingham, Ala., at the height of the civil rights movement..

The booklet can be viewed and downloaded here.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, participated in two days of events commemorating the anniversary April 14-15 in Birmingham.

The booklet calls upon people of faith to address the causes of injustice rather than simply respond to its symptoms. The clergy said the struggle today is more than political and economic, but personal as well.

“Dr. King reminds us that though we may pursue the illusion of moderation, in reality we cannot avoid taking a stand,” the response from clergy reads in part. “Mere ‘lukewarm acceptance’ of the concerns of African-Americans and other disadvantage groups, which tacitly communicates that we have already made sufficient progress, presents a stumbling block to authentic change.”

The response includes several steps that can be taken to confront injustice in society.

It’s a good read, something worth reflecting upon for those called to follow the example of the living Jesus in today’s world.

New York drone protesters found guilty of trespass

Five people who last fall blocked an entrance to the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base near Syracuse, N.Y., in a protest against U.S. military drone policy were found guilty of trespass April 18.

DeWitt Town Court Judge Robert Jokl determined the five were guilty in an evening trial after they admitted to refusing a police order to leave a roadway into the base during the Oct. 5 peaceful demonstration.

Defendant Jim Clune, a Catholic Worker and member of St. James Church in Johnson City, N.Y., said Jokl allowed each person to speak about their reason for participating in the demonstration, which called attention to American drone policy and indiscriminate targeting of subjects in places such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Hancock is one of several U.S. bases where drone operators pilot unmanned aircraft in their search for suspected Muslim militants halfway around the world.

“The killing of the innocent must never be business as usual, the normal course of events,” Clune told the court, “but should be seen as what it is. A catastrophe. An outrage. An attack on the very order of all that is good and holy.”

“So we have a choice. Given that law can be either among the greatest of human achievements or the falsification of morality we must say yes or no. Choose life or choose death.”

Clune told Catholic News Service this morning that he has been at Hancock before and will return again. He said his action stems from his faith.

He expects to be sentenced to a short jail term April 25, but said that the price of losing his freedom for a few days is small compared to the price people living under drone flyovers face daily.

Also convicted were Brian Hynes of New York, Ed Kinane and Julienne Oldfield, both of Syracuse, and Mark Scibilia-Carver of Trumansburg, N.Y. Martha Hennessey of Vermont, whose grandmother is Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, was found not guilty in absentia. She is traveling in Jordan.

Ignatian Solidarity Network honors Sister Helen Prejean

The Cleveland-based Ignatian Solidarity Network will honor Sister Helen Prejean with its Robert M. Holstein Faith That Does Justice Award.

Executive Director Chris Kerr said Sister Helen, a Sister of St. Joseph, is being honored for her work on ending capital punishment and ministry to inmates on death row.

Sister Helen will receive the award May 7 during a reception in New Orleans, her home.

The award is named for Jesuit Father Robert Holstein, who died in 2003. A labor lawyer and long-time social justice advocate, he was a member of the order’s California Province. He was a founder of the network’s annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.

The network promotes leadership and advocacy among students, alumni, and others from Jesuit schools, parishes and ministries through education and by encouraging a lifelong commitment to serving the Catholic faith and promoting justice.

4 Responses

  1. Whom among our Catholic Bishops will be the first to step forward wearing the shoes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ready & willing to serve time in jail by joining in the ranks of Americans who are out on the streets organizing, protesting, and bringing to light social, political, & economical injustice? Mr. King was assassinated while fighting against economic injustice. If he were alive today, I believe that he would have been very much involved in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. Sadly, during that time – when the backing for such a movement by the Catholic Church could have been truly instrumental in it’s cause – leaders of the Catholic Church were not there. Does the Catholic Church of The United States have a “lukewarm” approach to social, political, and economical injustice concerning the ultra-wealthy (personal & institutional) in our country? Concerning the convictions of protesters against drones, will we ever read a news story like this in which one of the names of the arrested is preceded by the title “Bishop?” It is unacceptable that the USCCB is not out in the forefront were the real battles are taking place, but instead, making such statements in the comfort and protection of conference rooms!

  2. On a related issue: Bishop Blaire of Stockton is upset that the US Senate failed to pass new legislation related to gun control, calling the Senate guilty of failure in its moral duty.

    Perhaps the good bishop ought to review the skads of state and federal laws that already exist and that are not being enforced.

    Perhaps the good bishop ought to understand how it is that the crazed gunman in Connecticut got his weapons–from his mother, who already knew that her son was a disturbed individual.

    Perhaps the good bishop ought to understand that our society is largely composed of individuals who believe in no power beyond their own individual right to make decisions based on no principles whatever other than the principle of whatever makes them feel good at the moment.

  3. John Stockdale, do you presume to decide who among us has enough money and what that limit should be? Is it “injustice” when individuals themselves do no prepare themselves to be contributing members of society? It is; to themselves. Is it “injustice” when people breed but do not rear their children with any sound values? It is; to themselves and to their children.

    Why, John, is it “the other guy’s fault” all the time and never the responsibility of every one of us for ourselves?

    Margaret Thatcher had it right when, in so many words, she noted that some folks think it their right to go after someone else’s earnings.

    By the way, John, Thatcher’s funeral was polluted by groups celebrating her death. These are groups, mind you, who don’t seem to realize that Thatcher had been out of office for two decades and that the country had since returned to the socialist model these celebrators enjoy–and that they are worse off now than they were during her years in office.

    Dr. Ben Carson and his brother grew up poor and went on to make something of themselves. They may be millionaires now. Do they have “too much” at the expense of others?

    Just askin’, John.

  4. Today a chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. Its occupants were captured including, occording to the Taliban, “9 Americans and 2 translators”. The Taliban report that those captured have been taken to “the most secure portion of the nation.” To deal with these “secure” areas would cost the lives of thousands of US and loyal Afghan troops to say nothing of civilians unintentionally killed because these illegal combatants hide among civilians and wear no uniforms. Perhaps John would like to explain his point of view to those who risk their lives to prevent the return of Afghanistan to it’s former self. Let him help create a nation where women are no longer executed in soccer stadiums for failing to wear the burka! I suggest he revisit some of the old films of what happened there and talked to those who tried to remedy the situation without the use of drone aircraft. Start with those whose helicopters were shot down. In fact maybe he aught to start from an earlier time and talk with the pilot who was shot down in the former Yugoslavia.

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