Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Before There was Veteran's Day, There was the Feast of St. Martin of Tours

"As we hold individuals in high esteem those who conscientiously serve in the armed forces, so also we should regard conscientious objection and selective conscientious objection as positive indicators within the Church of a sound moral awareness and respect for human life." (U.S. Bishops, Declaration of Conscientious Objection and Selective Conscientious Objection.)
Today our government observes Veteran's Day and the Catholic Church observes the feast day of St. Martin of Tours the patron saint of both soldiers and conscientious objectors.
Martin of Tours was the son of an officer in the Roman army who, at the age of 15, joined Roman army himself. As a young man, he underwent a conversion after an encounter with a beggar. In a dream, the beggar he had encountered earlier that day, appeared to him as Christ.
Some time after his Baptism, he began to view his military service as incompatible with his Christian faith. Prior to a battle, he asked Emperor Julian for his release from the army declaring, "I have served you as a soldier; allow me henceforth to serve Christ... I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight".  He offered instead to stand unarmed between the Roman and Gothic lines.  Julian declined Martin's offer but he did throw Martin into prison until a truce was reached.
After his release, Martin returned to the place of his birth in the Alps and founded, what is considered to be, the first monastery. Some years later, he was reluctantly elected bishop. 
Today, let us hold in our thoughts and prayers all those who have suffered and sacrificed after an examination of conscience. Let us pray for those who are honored because, out of a moral duty, they served, and those who are persecuted and punished because, out of a moral duty, they refused. 

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

What One Local Catholic Group is Doing to Support the Iran Deal

Catholics in the United States have been mobilizing across the country all summer long to build support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (aka the Iran deal).

Two Pax Christi members who are active in their local Pax Christi region (Pax Christi New Jersey), Father Gene Squeo and Carol Fay, were so concerned about this issue, that they got up around 4 am on Friday, August 21st and paid last minute train fares to head to DC and meet with two of Senator Booker's aides in his DC office.  

Gene and Carol were joined by three other faith community colleagues at the meeting - Marie Dennis, Co-President of Pax Christi International, Kate Gould of FCNL, who has headed up their Iran nuclear agreement activities for over two years and Bob Cooke of Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore.

Father Squeo, a retired priest in the Archdiocese of Newark who is also a lawyer, relayed to Will the moral need for this agreement and how it will make the world a much safer place. Carol, who is the head of the religion department at Holy Angels Academy in Demarest, also spoke eloquently for the need for this agreement, the need for diplomacy over violence.

While Will was noncommittal on the Senators stand, he thanked the group for coming all this way and for also providing at least one good argument for the agreement that he had not heard voiced before.

To make good use of their time, Gene and Carol then headed over to the White House for the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker's weekly noontime vigil there, which has been going on for well over 20 years.  They spoke with, and had their picture taken with Sister Megan Rice, out of prison and now living in the DC area and continuing her work to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Pax Christi New Jersey is one of the local groups that have been working on this issue.  Since mid-August (before Senator Menendez came out against the agreement), in coalition with other groups including NJ Peace Action, Coalition for Peace Action, MoveOn, NJ Citizen Action and others they have been mobilizing their members and other peace activists in the state. This coordinated effort has included meeting with Senator Booker’s aides and Senator Menendez himself, as well as members of Congress in various parts of New Jersey.

Pax Christi New Jersey has been working at identifying constituents for legislative meetings,as well mobilizing constituents to make calls, send emails, sign petitions and show up at rallies in support of the Iran deal. The tactics include a social media presence that includes blog postings, coordinated tweets, and a Facebook event page.  The event page serves as a virtual bulletin board for all things related to local action and sometimes daily changing messaging on the Iran deal including phone numbers, revised call-in scripts, Twitter hashtags, and news and details about local events.

This Saturday August 29th,  Pax Christi New Jersey will be co-sponsoring and participating in the second action in one week in support of the Iran deal outside Senator Booker’s office in Newark.

For information on local actions, call-in scripts and phone numbers

For the Pax Christi NJ Statement in response to Senator Menendez’s rejection of the Iran deal

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pax Christi NJ Joining Catholics Groups in DC to Lobby at Cory Booker's Office

Members of Pax Christi NJ will be travelling to DC to meet with Cory Booker's foreign relations staff and urge his support for the Comprehensive Joint Plan of Action (aka the Iran deal). 

Please call Sen Booker's DC office tomorrow to support their efforts at (202) 224-3224. 

Call-in script for Friday:
"Hello my name is______. I am a constituent and a member of Pax Christi. I am calling to thank the senator's staff for meeting with Pax Christi this morning about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and urge the senator to choose diplomacy and vote in favor of the Iran deal. Thank you."

If you have a twitter account you can tweet the senator @corybooker use the following hashtags

This is a large meeting. It will include Pax Christi USA, Pax Christi International, Maryknoll Office of Global Concern, the Sisters of Mercy, the Franciscan Action Network, and the Columban Fathers. 

Pax Christi New Jersey’s Official Statement on Senator Menendez’s rejection of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

August 19, 2015- Yesterday during what was called a “major policy speech” Senator Menendez announced that he would not only vote against the P5+1 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action he would also vote in favor of any veto override. While we are not surprised by Senator Menendez’s announcement, we are disappointed.

The leadership and the membership of Pax Christi New Jersey, a region of Pax Christi USA which represents the Catholic peace movement in the United States, would like to respond to the senator that his past opposition to the war in Iraq is not a justification of his current rejection of diplomacy with Iran and the opportunity to build on a nuclear-free Middle East. 

We point to the Vatican and its 2014 statement on nuclear weapons entitled Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition, which stated “Now is the time to affirm not only the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons, but the immorality of their possession, thereby clearing the road to nuclear abolition.”  We believe that this agreement will set us on a path to not only curb Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon but also serve as an important step toward nuclear non-proliferation and ultimately nuclear abolition.

Pax Christi New Jersey sides with Pope Francis, the Vatican, the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and numerous other Catholic clergy, women religious and lay leaders in its belief that this agreement will foster greater dialogue and help create a more peaceful world.


About Pax Christi
Grounded in the Gospel and Catholic social teaching, Pax Christi USA (PCUSA) is a membership organization that rejects war, preparation for war, every form of violence and domination, and personal and systemic racism. As PCUSA, a section of Pax Christi International, we are a Catholic peace and justice movement that seeks to model the Peace of Christ in our witness to the mandate of the nonviolence of the Cross.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Youth Organizations Issue Statement Calling on Gov. Christie to Keep his Promise to Support Tuitiion Equity

YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS CALL ON GOVERNOR CHRISTIE TO FULFILL DREAM ACT CAMPAIGN PROMISE Youth Demand Equality & Economic Opportunity (Trenton, New Jersey) As a result of Governor Christie's public support of the NJ DREAM Act during his campaign, he won a second term with 51% of the Latino vote. However, before the bill is even on his desk, the governor backpedaled on his campaign promise, stating, “They’re overreaching and making it unsignable and making the benefits richer than the federal program, the federal Dream Act, that’s simply not acceptable for me.” The governor’s comments are erroneous and suspect, given that the federal Dream Act is about a path to citizenship for college-eligible youth and service men and women in the armed forces, while the NJ Tuition Equity Bill, (also known as the NJ DREAM Act), is about ensuring that all taxpaying NJ residents are charged in-state tuition and have access to state aid. A NJ DREAM Act with access to state aid for undocumented immigrants is the best policy for all NJ residents and will strengthen NJ’s economy. To be eligible for state aid, undocumented students would be required to submit proof of residency and tax payments. Denying tax-paying NJ residents access to the state aid their taxes help to fund, solely on account of their immigrant status, is discriminatory. The NJ DREAM Act will ensure all taxpaying NJ residents have access to education. Full access to higher education for all NJ residents will cultivate a highly educated workforce that will attract and keep business in the state. As tuition becomes more affordable, families can use their tuition savings to meet other needs, circulating this money back into the economy. In addition, tuition equity and access to state aid for all NJ’s residents would lead to an increase in county college tuition revenue, as undocumented students would be able to attend such institutions. Strengthening New Jersey’s county colleges strengthens the state economy.[1] Workers with a BA earn significantly more per year than those with just a high school diploma & pay more of their earnings in taxes. Some of these students will eventually become entrepreneurs who will create jobs for others. The National Small Business Association points out that one in five new business owners in New Jersey is foreign-born. NJ can’t afford to discriminate against its students and future business owners. Contrary to critics’ concerns, a NJ DREAM Act with access to state aid for undocumented immigrants does not conflict with federal law, does not negatively impact the availability of funding for NJ’s low-income students, nor does it significantly affect the state’s budget. Federal law guarantees access to public education for all children, regardless of immigrant status, from Kindergarten to 12th grade. While federal law has not made federal aid available to undocumented students, states may and have passed laws to provide legal benefits to undocumented immigrants.[2] Specifically, California, New Mexico and Texas already provide undocumented students with access to state aid.[3] For almost all NJ families, college tuition means financial hardship. For undocumented families, whose average earnings are about 40 percent less than the earnings of authorized immigrants or citizens, the burden is even heavier. Only those students whose families have filed their income tax returns will be eligible to even apply for state aid. We must fund education sufficiently so that all who are qualified may complete their education, not deny the opportunity to undocumented immigrant students[4]. The NJ DREAM Act would increase the number of recipients of state aid by less than five percent.[5] In Massachusetts for example, after 7 months of providing instate tuition for undocumented students, less than 50 undocumented students had enrolled.[6] Texas recorded the largest student influx, with just over 8,000 students, but even there, undocumented students only account for seven-tenths of one percent of the total student population[7]. Most importantly, tuition equity with access to state aid is not a freebie. Like all New Jersey residents, undocumented immigrants pay property tax, either as homeowners or indirectly as renters. Undocumented immigrants pay sales taxes and many have payroll taxes deducted from their weekly earnings. In 2006 over 100,000 individual filers living in New Jersey used an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (available from the IRS for those without Social Security Numbers) to pay these taxes. Governor Christie has no reason to oppose the NJ DREAM Act with access to state aid and every reason to support it. The NJ Tuition Equity for DREAMers Coalition urges the assembly to join the state senate in passing this bill. Christie should fulfill his campaign promise to support this bill. [1] [2] section 505 of the Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Reconciliation Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) prohibits states from providing any higher education benefit based on residence to undocumented immigrants unless they provide the same benefit to U.S. citizens in the same circumstances, regardless of their residence. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] See “AssemblyAppropriations Committee Statement to Assembly Committee Substitute For NJA-2633,” 210th Legislature. December 11, 2003.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Catholics Against Militarism Organizing Opposition to Collection for Archdiocese of Military Services

Spread the word: Catholics Against Militarism (CAM) an informal, grassroots, Internet-based movement challenging militaristic attitudes in the U.S. Catholic Church is organizing opposition to this weekend's first-ever nationwide collection for the Archdiocese of Military Services. No one is suggesting that Catholics anywhere should go without spiritual guidance and support. The question is: What kind of spiritual guidance and support are soldiers receiving from Catholic military chaplains? Are conscientious objectors finding support from Catholic chaplains? The evidence suggests not because of the inherent conflict of interest that comes from having chaplains who are employees of the military.

Pax Christi USA: Still Reawakening the World to the Nonviolence of Jesus

Response to “What Peace Movement” (Aug.2, 2013 NCR) and Tom Cordaro’s “The Catholic Peace Movement: dying and rising” (Sept. 27, 2013 NCR) By Antonia Malone, Middletown, NJ Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace Any analysis of what’s happening with the Catholic Peace Movement, and for that matter, other peace movements, and any discussion as to where we are going has to take into account the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and its geo-political consequences. The peace movements, both in the eastern and western blocks took a serious blow at that time. When I visited Russia in the 1980’s the going riddle was, “What do you do if the United States launches a nuclear weapon at us?” And the answer was, “Wrap yourself in a sheet and walk to the cemetery.” In the USA we talked about MAD (mutually assured destruction) and the clock at 1 minute before midnight… and the bishops wrote their careful historic peace pastoral, The Challenge of Peace. After 1989 the urgency felt on both sides by the general populace in both blocks disappeared to a large extent. In the former East Germany, at a meeting I attended in 1993 with some pastors who had been leaders of the resistance, it was clear no one knew what they should do now. In Berlin, the talk in church circles was of “Die Wendung”, the turning to the West, and not everyone thought of this as positive. Fear of the influence of Western materialism and individualism was also present in Russia by those still preferring Gorbachev’s careful realism to Yeltsin’s impetuous turning to the free market. And in the USA people in general thought the crisis resolved, and got back to business as usual. Now, of course, this didn’t happen all at once within the peace movement, but it definitely set the present crisis (as referred to in the aforementioned articles), in motion, and forced a reassessment of Pax Christi’s priorities. The 1992 PCUSA National Assembly celebrated both our 20th Anniversary and began the process of formulating for our movement a new Statement of Purpose and set of priorities. Those priorities, The Spirituality of Nonviolence and Peacemaking; Disarmament, Demilitarization and Reconciliation with Justice; Economic and Interracial Justice; and Human Rights and Global Restoration, are still our priorities today. Other peace movements, such as the Coalition for Peace Action chose to remain focused on the abolition of war and nuclear weapons. Both of us are still in business. The beauty of Pax Christi was and is, that it has always tried to address the many avenues to peace and social justice promoted by Scripture and the Catholic tradition, (and perhaps improve on the latter a little bit along the way). Cordaro and O’Neill note that “the Catholic peace movement ain’t what it used to be.” (NCR, Aug.2). Well, right, nothing is. Everything evolves, and paths need to be redefined as awareness and consciences evolve, but Pax Christi USA was never, including in the 1970’ s, “founded to serve the needs of White Catholic peace activists.” (Cordaro, Aug 2, 2013). It was founded to reawaken the world to the nonviolence of Jesus and to address the signs of the times, in particular the evil of war. In the 70’s and 80’s Pax Christi did this by focusing on the nuclear issue and the violence against the poor in Latin America and the marginalized, especially in the cities of the developing world. Since PCUSA’s refocusing of 1992-93, the need to address the internal issues of immigration, racism and the death penalty has become increasingly apparent, while at the same time we are reminded by our great leaders, such as Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, that the nuclear danger and the violent wars of today require our constant vigilance and the best of our brains, spirit and bodies to address. Pax Christi and the larger peace movement can do both, and O’Neill’s article illustrates excellently that there are many conscientious grassroots organizers working on it. We just need to keep our eyes on the Nonviolent Jesus. In the 1980’s I was at a large social justice and peace conference in Washington DC run by Sojourners. I remarked, perhaps naively, to a leading black activist, a friend of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., that there were so few people of color present. He simply told me that these were not his people’s issues. “Our concerns are jobs, getting enough to eat and the ever present racism.” I’m sure he would be pleased to note that he has been heard, at least by the peace movement, and that we don’t live in parallel universes. The members and staff of Pax Christi USA, the NCR, Pope Francis and our authors Patrick O’Neill and Tom Cordaro are all working on peace and social justice, each in their own way, and for that we thank God and pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide us all.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Parishioners and Friends of St. Mary of the Assumption Demand a Meeting with the Archdiocese

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, December 31, 2012 CONTACTS: Barbara Burke (English) (908) 578-2877 Maritsa Jaramillo (Spanish) (848) 203-4310 ***PRESS RELEASE*** Parishioners and Friends of St. Mary of the Assumption Protesting Decision by the Archbishop Holding Press Conference to Demand a Meeting for the Archdiocese to Explain Reasons for Removal of All of the Priests at St. Mary’s Newark, NJ- Beginning at 11 am on Wednesday January 2nd, people from Elizabeth and the surrounding communities will gather to show their love for the priests of St. Mary’s and their disapproval of the abrupt decision of the Archbishop John J. Myers right before Christmas to remove all of the priests. “It is our belief that such a drastic event warrants a thorough explanation and dialogue, neither of which has happened,” said Barbara Burke, a spokeswoman for the parish, in a letter addressed to the Archbishop. The parishioners are also asking for assurances “that our church, school and ministries are retained.” Who: Members and friends of the parish of St. Mary of the Assumption in Elizabeth including community & faith leaders, and community members What: Press conference Where: in front of the Archdiocesan Center- 171 Clifton Ave., Newark, NJ When: 11:00 AM Members of the parish will be making statements about the removal of all of their priests by Archbishop Myers. Other members of the community will be making statements about how important the work of the parish of St. Mary’s is to the City of Elizabeth and the surrounding communities. The parishioners and friends began organizing as soon as they heard the news that all of their priests were told to leave. The Facebook page “We Stand with Fr. Jack Martin & the Priests & Parishioners of St. Mary’s” has gained over 400 members in just over 2 days. A story about the removal of all of the priests , which quoted parishioners, was published in the Star Ledger on Christmas Day. ### About St. Mary of the Assumption The parish began serving Irish immigrants working on the railroads and local factories in 1845. Parishioners built their present church in 1858, making it the oldest Roman Catholic church in Union County. Today it continues to serve the people who work in the factories and the nearby port some descendants of the Irish immigrants, but many who arrived in newer waves of immigrants including Central and South America and the Philippines. It has grown to include a high school and a convent. Among its many ministries, its parish family cares for the impoverished and the homeless providing shelter and distributing food and other necessities through its food pantry.

Monday, December 24, 2012

What do You Think This is - A Charitable Institution? Priests Dedicated to Helping Poor & Marginalized Dismissed Before Christmas

When Fr. Jack Martin asked Msgr. Harrington, the pastor at St. Mary of the Assumption in Elizabeth, if he would allow an asylum seeker and torture survivor from Darfur to live in the vacant third floor of the rectory, Monsignor, according to the story replied “What do you think this is – a charitable institution?” before winking and giving his approval. So it was that another ministry at the parish was born and so it has been for many years at St. Mary’s that whenever anyone was in trouble and needed help, Fr. Jack was on a short list to call. This Sunday at all the masses the parishioners of St. Mary’s were shocked to learn that Fr. Jack, Msgr. Harrington and all the priests of St. Mary’s were being dismissed by Archbishop Myers and they would be evicted from the rectory shortly after Christmas. No reason was given for this action, the priests asked for a meeting with the Archbishop, but he refused. Fr. Jack and Msgr. Harrington have already retired and will not be reassigned. Msgr. is confined to a wheelchair and St. Mary’s is fully handicapped accessible, so he asked if he could continue to live at St. Mary’s. His request was denied. We don’t know yet what will happen to the other two priests who are assigned to St. Mary’s. All of the priests at St. Mary’s are beloved not only for their work on behalf of the poor and the marginalized, but also for their respect and understanding of the culture and traditions of the diverse community of worshipers at St. Mary’s. This abrupt and drastic action by the Archdiocese jeopardizes the many ministries that serve immigrants, the poor, the homeless, the elderly, etc. This will have a tremendously negative impact on the local community. In the short term, the asylum seekers who have been living in on the 3rd floor of the rectory have already been told to leave and we expect that IRATE & First Friends whose offices have been at St. Mary's convent will be told to do the same very soon. This is a terrible injustice and we cannot remain silent. For more information on this story please contact Maritsa Jaramillo is 848-203-4310. She is a parishioner at St. Mary's and is working on coordinating the parishioners’ response.