Notes on peace and justice

Books help children learn about faith-based action

Two new books with the goal of helping children connect with the idea of faith-based action have been developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Green Street Park” and “Drop by Drop” are new entries from the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development and published by Loyola Press.

two-feet-green-street-park-coverJill Rauh, assistant director of education and outreach in the department and the mother of a 2-year-old son, wrote the books. They illustrate the two feet of Christian love in action: social justice and charitable works, she said.

“It’s an area where there are not a lot of children’s books to reflect our call to discipleship in the world and how do we put God’s love for the world into action,” Rauh said.

“Green Street Park,” written for children in kindergarten through second grade, tells the story of children playing in a park who encounter trash and overgrown brush. Inspired by St. Francis of Assisi’s love of creation, the children organize a plan to clear the debris and plant a community garden to beatify the park.

two-feet-drop-by-drop-cover“Drop by Drop,” intended for second- through fourth-graders, focuses on the actions of students at a Catholic school who step up to raise money for water projects in Africa. They act after hearing from a Catholic Relief Services worker visiting their classroom who tells the story of a young girl in Burkina Faso. The girl, Sylvie, yearns to attend school, but cannot because she spends much of her day collecting water from a river miles away from home for her family. That changes when the village gets a well, inspiring the American students to act to help other communities

The books are accompanied by “Pray Me a Story” guides developed by Loyola Press. The books and guides are being promoted to schools and parish school of religion activities.

Rauh said the books can be used in tandem with Pope Francis’ planned encyclical on the environment coming this summer.

“It’s an opportunity for the students to have a real deep impact, a prayer experience, a faith experience rather than just hear a story,” she said.

The materials can be ordered here.

 Pax Christi International concerned about ‘excessive’ military spending

Although worldwide military spending declined slightly in 2014, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Pax Christi International has raised concerns about the almost $1.8 trillion spent on weapons systems last year.

The international Catholic peace organization called such massive spending a “scandal” and “excessive” in a “world where human and ecological well-being are in dire need of investment.”

Pax Christi raised its concern April 13, the Global Day of Action on Military Spending.

The 2014 figure is about 1.7 percent less than the peak of spending in 2011, according to a report released by the Stockholm institute April 13.

The report identified the top 10 nations in order of spending as the U.S., China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, United Kingdom, India, Germany, Japan and South Korea. The U.S., even with a 0.4 percent reduction in spending, still came in at about $610 billion and accounted for 34 percent of the world’s military spending in 2014, according to the report.

Spending by China and Russia increased 167 percent and 84.5 percent, respectively, the Stockholm institute reported. It cited continued declines in military expenditures in Western Europe, which it attributed to austerity measures undertaken by numerous governments. Military spending increased in Central Europe, led by Poland, the report said.

Pax Christi raised concern about boosts in major spending increases in the Middle East and Africa based on the report’s findings.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute is an independent organization that researches conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. It was established in 1966 and the Swedish government is its primary funder.

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