J/P Alert is the newsletter of the Justice and Peace office of CMSM. It is intended to inform and stimulate discussion and involvement among the members. Its contents do not necessarily represent official positions of CMSM.
When I was in Peru a number of years ago, the Peruvian
government concluded an agreement with the International Monetary Fund
for a restructuring of its debt, incurred primarily because of large purchases
of military hardware, including sophisticated fighter aircraft, by the
previous military government. As a condition of the refinancing, the IMF
required the elimination of subsidies on staple food items, including
bread, rice and sugar, causing them to double in price overnight. The
net effect of this condition was to price the canasta básica
[basic weekly family food and supplies purchase] out of reach of the poorest
sectors of Peruvian society. This in turn led to an increase of malnutrition,
mental retardation, and infant mortality.
Reading I (Gen. 1,1 - 2,2): God created human beings in God’s image; in the divine image God created them; male and female God created them....God also said: “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food....” And so it happened. God looked at everything God had made, and God found it very good.
Clearly the earth and its riches are the heritage of all. How can it be possible that some can demand of others a price in interest for the use of resources that have become mal-distributed because of unjust economic structures?
Reading IV (Is. 54, 5-14): But with enduring love I take pity on you, says the Lord, your redeemer....Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you....In justice shall you be established, far from the fear of oppression, where destruction cannot come near you.
God is on the side of the victim. No amount of neoliberal justification of the “world economic order” or appeal to “market forces” can change the fact that the enforcement of debt repayment in the present circumstances of the world’s economic structure is evil: it victimizes the victimized and bloats the self-satisfied and comfortable. This is not God’s desire for creation.
Reading V (Is. 55, 1-11): Thus says the Lord: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy?
God’s promise is of abundance freely available to all. Isaiah’s challenge to us is to create a world in which that promise is fulfilled.
Reading VII (Ez. 36, 16-28): I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.
The biblical call is for change, for freedom from the burdens of the past, which is after all where debt’s power lies, and movement toward a future of justice, peace and the possibility of human flourishing for all. The present economic order limits and stunts the potential of the many so that the few can enjoy a level of consumption that borders on the obscene. Salvation for the few who are powerful lies along the path of renunciation of the power to maintain the many in misery. Natural hearts do not hold others hostage to artificial and unjust economic “realities.”
Debt belongs to the dead past. If the resurrection of Jesus means anything, it means newness of life, a leaving behind of the burdens of the past and a moving ahead into a promise-filled future. The message of Easter is a message of freedom from bondage, of opening possibilities, of life ever more abundant. It is a message of liberation and empowering love.
Gospel (Mk. 16, 1-8): “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, the one who was crucified. He has been raised up; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. Go now and tell his disciples and Peter ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee, where you will see him just as he told you.’”
Jesus is “going ahead of us,” showing us the possibility of a human world filled with an abundance of love, peace, and solidarity, where all are invited to fullness of life, free of the burdens of hunger, disease and ignorance that are the legacy of our present greed-created social structures. It is up to us to take the steps to follow him.
(T. Michael McNulty, SJ)
Five national Christian denominations and organizations joined by the Hopi Villages of Arizona issued a statement on March 13 for consideration by Ministers and stakeholders participating in the 4th World Water Forum (WWF) held March 16 – 22, 2006 in Mexico City. The forum sought solutions for existing and expected water problems around the world and presented as a Ministerial Declaration. The group urged the WWF Ministers to base their decisions on concern for the common good giving special emphasis on how the most vulnerable and voiceless will fare: future generations, low-income and otherwise marginalized people, other threatened species and whole bioregions.
NCRLC Executive Director Br. David Andrews, CSC, one of the signators, said, “We all agree that water is a gift, inspiring in all of us a response of gratitude. A spirituality of gratitude takes us beyond the consideration of water as only a physical, economic, social, or cultural good to its status as a gift of the Creator, having a unique life-giving role in creation. We believe that the observance of the 10 principles presented in the statement Water: Essential for Justice and Peace can help people of good will reach solutions that will demonstrate justice and nurture peace throughout the world.”
For the complete statement, visit www.ncrlc.com/WaterEssentialJusticePeace.html.
The Global Fellows Program empowers seminarians, priests, and deacons to preach about global justice and peace for the purpose of engaging Catholics in the U.S. in global solidarity with those who are poor and vulnerable around the world through the work of CRS.
The program will achieve its mission through education and engagement. Specifically, the program will:
Global Fellows has adopted a three step training process participants will complete before becoming part of the alumni network. Once seminarians, priests, and deacons have gone through the vetting process and been accepted to the Global Fellows Program, they will receive a CRS orientation. This will provide them with the knowledge to speak on behalf of the mission of CRS. The participants will also take part in a seminar on Catholic Social Teaching, which will not only educate them on CST, but will also help them incorporate the faith-based traditions in their daily lives. The type of CST training they receive will vary due to the nature of the groups. Finally, the participants will have an opportunity to travel overseas with CRS to become witnesses of global solidarity and CRS’ work.
More information and application materials are available on the CRS website.
“Northern Ireland: The Dynamics of Peace Building and Reconciliation” – a summer institute co-sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Presbyterian Committee of Northern Ireland
“Northern Ireland: The Dynamics of Peace Building and Reconciliation” is a two-week Institute, with joint Protestant and Catholic sponsorship, taking place in Ireland in August of 2006. This study tour will meet with religious, political, and community leaders in a series of informal discussions and tours. These events are designed to reveal the dynamics of building a lasting peace to the long-running conflict in Northern Ireland, and put into context the recent developments that have significantly altered the political landscape. By fostering an understanding of the Irish situation, The Institute intends to explore means of encouraging peacemaking within a Christian context. It is hoped that participants will gain insight into helpful models for reconciliation that can then be applied in the American context - home, community and nation.
Further information is available from Walt Grazer at USCCB: phone 202-541-3182 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.
T. Michael McNulty, SJ, editor
8808 Cameron St., Silver Spring, MD 20910