Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pax Christi USA's Fr. Joe Add Featured on CNN

Pax Christi USA's television ad, "Father Joe on Keeping Racism out of the Election", went national on Monday, October 27, when it was featured on CNN's "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer. The ratings for the show were over 1.4 million.

Visit www.paxchristiusa.orgfor additional resources for voting for the common good and donate now to help Pax Christi USA in this ad campaign.

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Help Provide Thanksgiving for Separated Families

Kevin Amaya age 5 with a letter from his mother who had been deported to Honduras a month earlier.

On Friday November 21st, at the Episcopal House in Newark, the American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program in Newark will be hosting a party for families of recently deported immigrants and immigrant detainees.

Detention and deportation creates both an emotional and a financial strain on the families who are left behind. These family members are often legal residents or American citizens. (Up to 15% of US families are of mixed immigration status.) As a result, deportation will effectively permanently separate immediate family members, including parents from their young children.

At the party the families will be given each family a Thanksgiving basket of food stuff to celebrate the holiday. A list of items requested is listed below. Monetary donations will also be accepted. You can make checks out to:

Sr. Janet Yurkanin
Migration & Refugee Svcs.
Diocese of Trenton
149 N. Warren St.
Trenton, NJ 08608-1307

For more information, or if you know of a family who is suffering from the separation of immigration detention or deportation, please contact Alix Nguefack at 973-854-0401.

Thanksgiving Basket

Turkey (12 - 15 lb for family of four; 16 - 22 lb for family of five +)
Packaged Macaroni and cheese or rice and dried beans/peas
Fresh Broccoli or Green Beans
Canned Corn
Canned or Fresh Sweet Potatoes
Canned or Fresh Carrots
Packaged Stuffing
Cranberry Sauce
Yellow Onion(s)
Pearl Onions (optional)
Celery (optional)
Evaporated Milk
Chicken Broth
Butter or Margarine
Fresh Fruit – Apples, Bananas, Pears, Tangerines and or Clementines
Pie(s) (not frozen) – Pumpkin, Apple, Mincemeat. Pecan (or the fixings = crust, fruit)
Shelled Nuts
Brown Sugar

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Opposing Evil AND Doing Good

Like many other Catholics, this election has been causing me a great deal of angst. The battle in the pews over single issues is at a fever pitch in my parish.

I was able to find some comfort in the this joint statement I just recieved from the USCCB offices of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities and the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. I think I will let the statement speak for itself.

Joint Statement by
Cardinal Justin Rigali
Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities
Bishop William Murphy
Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

October 21, 2008

In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (2007), the Catholic bishops of the United States urged Catholic voters to form their consciences in accord with the Church’s moral teaching. We emphasized that: “Both opposing evil and doing good are essential obligations” (No. 24). Unfortunately, there seem to be efforts and voter education materials designed to persuade Catholics that they need only choose one approach: either opposing evil or doing good. This is not an authentically Catholic approach.

Some argue that we should not focus on policies that provide help for pregnant women, but just focus on the essential task of establishing legal protections for children in the womb. Others argue that providing life-affirming support for pregnant women should be our only focus and this should take the place of efforts to establish legal protections for unborn children. We want to be clear that neither argument is consistent with Catholic teaching. Our faith requires us to oppose abortion on demand and to provide help to mothers facing challenging pregnancies.

In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision knocked down laws against abortion in all 50 states, fabricating a constitutional “right” to abortion that continues to haunt and divide our society. Within two days of that decision, the Catholic bishops rejected it as “bad morality, bad medicine and bad public policy.” We called for a comprehensive response: exploring “every legal possibility” for challenging the Court’s tragic error and restoring legal safeguards for the right to life of the unborn child; helping to pass laws to “restrict the practice of abortion as much as possible” in the meantime; and educating society to the need to safeguard the child and support “more humane and morally acceptable solutions” for women facing problems during pregnancy.

Recently, some have called on the Church to abandon most of this effort. They say we should accept Roe as a permanent fixture of constitutional law, stop trying to restore recognition for the unborn child’s human rights, and confine our public advocacy to efforts to “reduce abortions” through improved economic and social support for women and families.

The Catholic community is second to no one in providing and advocating for support for women and families facing problems during pregnancy. Catholic hospitals, charitable institutions, and thousands of pregnancy aid centers, provide life-saving care and compassionate alternatives to the violence of abortion. We have advocated for universal health care coverage, generous family leave policies, increases in the minimum wage, humane welfare policies for women who are pregnant or caring for young children, expanded funding for WIC and other nutrition programs, and a federal children’s health insurance program that includes coverage for unborn children and their mothers. Because some women still feel pressured by economic hardship and lack of support to resort to abortion, our task in this regard is far from over.

These efforts, however, are not an adequate or complete response to the injustice of Roe v. Wade for several important reasons. First, the Court’s decision in Roe denied an entire class of innocent human beings the most fundamental human right, the right to life. In fact, the act of killing these fellow human beings was transformed from a crime into a “right,” turning the structure of human rights on its head. Roe v. Wade is a clear case of an “intrinsically unjust law” we are morally obliged to oppose (see Evangelium vitae, nos. 71-73). Reversing it is not a mere political tactic, but a moral imperative for Catholics and others who respect human life.

Second, the many challenges to the Court’s error since 1973 have borne fruit, leading to significant modifications of Roe. Most recently in its ruling on partial-birth abortion, the Court upheld a ban on an abortion procedure for the first time in 35 years, and acknowledged that abortion takes a human life and does serious harm to women.
Third, Roe itself enormously increased the annual number of abortions in our society. The law is a teacher, and Roe taught many women, physicians and others that abortion is an acceptable answer to a wide range of problems. By the same token, even the limited pro-life laws allowed by the Court since Roe have been shown to reduce abortions substantially, leading to a steady decline in the abortion rate since 1980. Bans on public funding, laws requiring informed consent for women and parental involvement for minors, and other modest and widely supported laws have saved millions of lives. Laws made possible by reversing Roe would save many more. On the other hand, this progress could be lost through a key pro-abortion proposal, the “Freedom of Choice Act,” which supporters say would knock down hundreds of current pro-life laws and forbid any public program to “discriminate” against abortion in providing services to women.
Providing support for pregnant women so they choose to have their babies is a necessary but not sufficient response to abortion. Similarly, reversal of Roe is a necessary but not sufficient condition for restoring an order of justice in our society’s treatment of defenseless human life. This act by itself would not automatically grant legal protection to the unborn. It would remove an enormous obstacle to such protection, so the people of the United States and their elected representatives in every state could engage in a genuine discussion of how to save unborn children and their mothers from the tragedy of abortion. Both approaches to opposing abortion are essential. By protecting the child’s life to the maximum degree possible, improving life-affirming support for pregnant women, and changing the attitudes and prejudices imposed on many women to make them see abortion as an acceptable or necessary solution, we will truly help build a culture of life.
In light of a wide range of attempts to interpret Church teaching or imply that outside materials represent the teaching of the Church, we wish to affirm that Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship is the teaching that has been approved by the body of bishops of the United States. As we explained in that statement, “We encourage Catholics to seek those resources that are authorized by their own bishops, their state Catholic conferences, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.”

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Special Screening of The Visitor

Did you know?

Over the past decade US policies have been stealthily and systematically enmeshing immigrants in the criminal justice system and the War on Terror, and they are using detention and deportation as critical tools.

Please join

Pax Christi NJ and The American Friends Service Committee Immigrants Rights Program

At a special screening of The Visitor

Wednesday November 12, 2008 6:00 pm

followed by: A Panel Discussion on the Issue of Immigration Detention
6pm reception followed by 6:30pm film screening and panel discussion)

St. Peter’s College
Pope Lecture Hall
Jersey City Campus)
2641 Kennedy Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ

This critically acclaimed feature film examines the issues of due process, detention and deportation of refugees and immigrants through the eyes of a college professor whose life is changed after a chance meeting with an immigrant couple. Click here to view the trailer.

To RSVP, call American Friends Service Committee at 973-643-1924.

Co-Sponsored by:
American Civil Liberties Union-NJ
Casa de Esperanza
First Friends
Human Rights First
Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry in NJ
New Jersey Civil Rights Committee
New Jersey Immigration Policy Network
New Sanctuary Movement
Pax Christi-NJ
South Asian Americans Leading Together
Wind of the Spirit
Migration and Refugee Services, Diocese of Trenton

For more information visit:

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Clear Statement on the Iraq War from the Catholic Church


Donate now to help Pax Christi USA run this ad as a TV spot before the election.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

"For Profit" Immigration Detention Center - A Legitimate Business?

[Ownership] becomes illegitimate... when it is not utilized or when it serves to impede the work of others, in an effort to gain a profit which is not the result of the overall expansion of work and the wealth of society, but rather is the result of curbing them or of illicit exploitation, speculation or the breaking of solidarity among working people. Ownership of this kind has no justification, and represents an abuse in the sight of God and man. Pope John Paul II from Centesimus Annus

A group of investors who have no background in law enforcement or running residential facilities of any kind has just been awarded a contract by ICE and the Department of Homeland Security to build and run a 1000 bed facility in the city of Farmville, Virginia.

According to this article in Facing South the contract was hastily awarded to keep pace with increased demand for space and overcrowding in current facilities as a result of the stepped up pace raids and incarceration.

Gerald Spates, Farmville town manager reasons that the new detention center will keep those who are housed there "safe" from the abuses in overcrowded facilities and from the dangers of being housed with criminal offenders in county jails and other facilities currently doing double duty. He was honest enough to admit that profit was a motivation.

"We've been hearing horror stories about detainees being put into prison with other criminals when all they have done is be here without documentation. Our goal is to keep them safe," Spates said. "But I want to be honest with you. We do stand to gain financially from this."

Holding immigrants in prison-like facilities is much more expensive. It costs between $95 and $170 per day to house immigrants in these detention facilities. Alternatives to detention such as supervised release, electronic monitoring, etc. are much cheaper, costing only about $12 per day.

In the past large numbers of immigrants who were seeking asylum or who were facing deportation as a result of non-criminal offenses had been allowed to remain in the community. Even though they were not in custody the immigration court system still realized well over a ninety percent appearance rate.

In the context of Catholic Social Teaching is for profit detention a "legitimate" business? I can't find a justification, can you?

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Great Turnout at the Detention Center Protest

We had beautiful weather on Sunday and a great turnout. Over 200 people showed up to protest the inhumane treatment of immigrants at the Elizabeth Detention Center. The march stretched almost the entire length of Evans St. The multi-racial crowd ranged in age from infants to senior citizens. Many family members of the detained and recently deported were on hand.

Members of the crowd were at times moved to tears as the conditions and the stress on the separated families were described. At one point David Fraccaro the coordinator for the Sojourners Visitors Program at Riverside Church invited people up to the mic to call out the names of those who were being held inside. Sadly we do not know all of their names because ICE will not release that information.

The speakers included: Shai Goldstein, executive director NJIPN, Pradeep Thappa- poet, journalist and a detainee in 2001 and 2002, Fr. Gene Squeo, Co-Pastor St. Patrick & Assumption/All Saints, Jersey City, Sr. Jacinta Fernandez, David Fraccaro, Coordinator Sojourners Visitor Program and Bill Westerman, IRATE Director & Princeton University Professor.

The event was co-sponsored by various religious, social service and human rights organizations including First Friends, American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program, Benedictines for Peace, Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic Justice Office Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, The New Sanctuary Movement, NJ Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, NJ Immigration Policy Network, Pax Christi NJ, People's Organization for Progress, St. Joe's Social Service Center.
To see the rest of the photos with captiosn go to the Pax Christi NJ Facebook page.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's a Beautiful Day for a Protest

Weather for Elizabeth, NJ 07201 10/12/2008

Clear and Sunny with a high of 70 degrees

I will be leaving soon to attend the Columbus Day vigil and march at the Elizabeth Detention Center. The detention center is located just beyond the end of one of the runways at Newark Airport in a converted warehouse. I will be taking lots of pictures so I hope to have time to post again later tonight.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pax Christi NJ to Join Protest at Elizabeth Detention Center

Pax Christi NJ, a region of Pax Christi USA the national Catholic peace movement (, announced that it will join First Friends as a co-sponsor of the 10th Annual Columbus Day vigil and march at the Elizabeth Immigration Detention Center operated by Corrections Corp of America. The event is being co-sponsored by various religious, social service and human rights organizations including American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program, Benedictines for Peace, Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic Justice Office Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, The New Sanctuary Movement, NJ Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, NJ Immigration Policy Network, Pax Christi NJ, People’s Organization for Progress, St. Joe’s Social Service Center

John Cosgrove, speaking on behalf of the NJ Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers explained why his organization is supporting the protest, “For social workers, protection of the most vulnerable is fundamental to our professional ethics and practice. Therefore we share the concern of others of conscience about the documented violations of essential human rights of non-criminal aliens in federally-funded detention.”

“Our faith does not allow us to separate those warrant protection from those who do not. Incarcerating immigrants and separating families on the basis of immigration status alone while denying them access to healthcare, and adequate legal services erodes the respect for human dignity” said Kathy O’Leary, co-coordinator of Pax Christi NJ.

“As Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Associates, who hold sacred the dignity of each person, we are saddened and outraged at the treatment of our brothers and sisters held in detention centers throughout the United States,” said Sr. Diane Guerin, Justice Coordinator of the Mid-Atlantic Sisters of Mercy.

The event will begin at 1:30 pm at the corner of Dowd and Evans Streets in Elizabeth, NJ before marching to the detention center. The speakers will include: Shai Goldstein, executive director NJIPN, Pradeep Thap- poet, journalist and a detainee in 2001 and 2002, Fr. Gene Squeo, Co-Pastor St. Patrick & Assumption/All Saints, Jersey City, Kofi Amoako, an asylee recently released from detention, David Fraccaro, Coordinator Sojourners Visitor Program and Bill Westerman, IRATE Director & Princeton University Professor.

First Friends

10th Annual Columbus Day March & Vigil

October 12, 2008


Formation Shai Goldstein, executive director NJIPN

Poetry Reading by Pradeep Thap- Poet, journalist and a detainee in 2001 and 2002

Music & March- The Solidarity Singers

At the Center

Fr. Gene Squeo, Co-Pastor St. Patrick & Assumption/All Saints, Jersey City

Kofi Amoako, An asylee recently released from detention

David Fraccaro, Coordinator Sojourners Visitor Program

Bill Westerman, IRATE Director & Princeton University Professor

Music- Carol FayCoordinator Pax Christi St. Joe’s East Rutherford Chapter

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Domincan Nuns Added to Terrorist Watch List

Sister Carol Gilbert and Sister Ardeth Platte were among 53 peace activists whose names were added to the national terrorist watch list after being targeted by a Maryland State Police surveillance program. Each previously served nearly three years in federal prison for a non-violent protest at a missile silo in Colorado in 2002. The story of their 2002 arrest and prosecution is the subject of a documentary entitled Conviction.

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