BBC News – Canadian Omar Khadr goes on trial at Guantanamo Bay

via BBC News – Canadian Omar Khadr goes on trial at Guantanamo Bay.

Canadian citizen Omar Khadr is the only Westerner still being held at Guantanamo Bay military prison; he was detained in Afghanistan at the age of 15. He’s now 23.

International law says children captured on the battlefield must be treated as victims, and not as perpetrators. Child-soldiers are supposed to be rehabilitated and given the chance to re-enter society.

Please write to President Obama at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact and ask him to halt this trial, which is in violation of international law, and instead arrange for the repatriation and rehabilitation of Mr. Khadr.

Advertisements

My City of Ruins

Buy this Eddie Vedder performance of Bruce Springsteen’s beautiful My City Of Ruins through iTunes for only $0.99. Proceeds from the sale of the track benefit Artists for Peace and Justice Haiti Relief.

Artists for Peace and Justice support the work of Fr. Rick Frechette in Haiti. Rick Frechette is a Passionist priest and doctor who has worked in the slums of Haiti for over 20 years. He founded two hospitals, an orphanage, and numerous street schools and clinics.

Get My City of Ruins at:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/my-city-ruins-benefiting-artists/id352067330

or

http://www.amazon.com/Fathers-Benefiting-Artists-Justice-Relief/dp/B00377PZAS/ref=sr_shvl_album_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1266333890&sr=301-1

Home from Argentina

I haven’t written in a while because I was visiting our community in Argentina. I lived with our sisters in the shanty towns that ring Buenos Aires and went up to the north of the country to visit Corrientes.

In Corrientes I met some amazing young people who try to help the people who live in their community. They are part of our Passionist family and I feel honored that they offered me their friendship.

Here they are:

New Video about the Life of Elizabeth Prout

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Life of Elizabeth Prout on Vimeo“, posted with vodpod

Here is a new video about Elizabeth Prout, Foundress of the Passionist Sisters made by the sisters in England.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Elizabeth Prout, with the help of Passionist Fathers Gaudentius Rossi and Ignatius Spencer, founded the Sisters of the Cross and Passion, a new community that brought comfort, education and hope to the oppressed poor of England’s industrial slums.

Today, the Sisters of the Cross and Passion are in ten countries and on three continents. Members of the Passionist family, they share the charism and spirituality of St. Paul of the Cross. At the heart of their spirituality is the conviction that there is no place on earth devoid of God’s love.

World Moves Closer towards Abolition of the Death Penalty

Amnesty International released its annual report on the death penalty today. According to the group, the world moved even closer towards abolition of the death penalty in 2008.

In December, the United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) adopted by a large majority a second resolution calling for a moratorium with a view to abolish the death penalty. This resolution consolidates three decades of steady progress towards complete abolition of the death penalty. It was passed by a vote of 104 in favor and 54 against, with 29 abstentions.  The United States, along with countries such as China, Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia voted against.

See the vote of every country here: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/ga10678.doc.htm

On a positive note, in its overview of the use of the death penalty worldwide, Amnesty International noted that :

Europe and Central Asia is now virtually a death penalty free zone following the abolition of the death penalty in Uzbekistan for all crimes. There is just one country left – Belarus – that still carries out executions.

In the Americas, only one state – the United States of America (USA) – consistently executes. However, even the USA moved away from the death penalty in 2008. This year, the smallest number of executions since 1995 was reported in the USA.

Two states, Argentina and Uzbekistan abolished the death penalty.

The majority of countries now refrain from using the death penalty. Furthermore, in 2008 Amnesty International recorded only 25 out of 59 countries that retain the death penalty actually carried out executions. The practice of states indicates that there is increasing consolidation of majority international consensus that the death penalty cannot be reconciled with respect for human rights.

However, tough challenges remain. Countries in Asia carried out more executions in 2008 than the rest of the world put together.

The five countries with the highest rate of executions were:

  • China – at least 1,178 (the exact number is a state secret)
  • Iran – at least 346
  • Saudi Arabia – at least 102
  • Pakistan – at least 36
  • United States of America – 37

Some of the methods used to execute people in 2008 included beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection, shooting and stoning.

Read more and link to the full report here: http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty

Stand up for Aisha!

On October 27 2008, in Somalia, 13-year old Aisha Duhulow was stoned by fifty men until she died in front of crowd of more than one thousand spectators. Before her murder, Aisha Duhulow had been raped by three men, and when her family reported the rape she was accused of adultery and sentenced to the stoning.

The Working Group on Girls, http://www.girlsrights.org, has a group on Facebook to raise awareness, especially among young people, not only about what happened to Aisha, but about violence against women and girls everywhere. We are hoping to have at 1000 people join our group by January 28, the four month anniversary of Aisha’s death, when we will black out our pages in her memory.

If you belong to Facebook please be one of 1000 to “Stand up for Aisha” at: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=41898817130&ref=nf

After you join, please share the group on your profile page!

Anniversary of Elizabeth Prout

Today is the anniversary of the death of Elizabeth Prout, the foundress of the Sisters of the Cross and Passion. I have been thinking about her quite a lot lately. So, here are some random reflections

A few days ago everyone in the community received a letter from Sister Maria Angélica our Congregational Leader. This part, in particular moved me.

To-day, “moved by the Holy Spirit” we are called as sisters, associates, members of the Passionist Family, to discover the presence of that Child in the frailty of history, in the frailty of the Church, in the frailty of the Congregation and, like Anna, begin to talk about a God who is already at work in the little and insignificant, in the same way as He acted and revealed Himself in the littleness and weakness of the Child in Bethlehem.

I suggest that we begin to prepare to celebrate Mother Mary Joseph and ask her to work a miracle in us, curing our blindness, in order to “see” the Saviour and experiment his salvation in those places and situations where many see “the dregs of society”, those who are “useless”, those who are “nothing”, and there, like Anna, begin to talk of a God who appeared in the midst of history and changed everything.

You can read the whole letter here at: http://www.passionistsisters.org/Whats_New/Entries/2008/12/28_Feast_of_the_Holy_Family.html

Interestingly, the word frail is often used to describe Elizabeth Prout. She was frail in body, physically small and she had tuberculosis, but she had a strong and courageous spirit. I think about that very often when I am walking. She had to walk quite a distance everyday from where she lived to where she worked through poor congested neighborhoods in all kinds of weather, often in pain.  These days I do the same thing. Union City, New Jersey, where I live, is the most densely populated city in the United States, with a density of 52,977.8 per square mile – roughly twice as dense as New York City. The Brookings Institute studies rank Union City among the 92 most economically depressed localities in the United States, with 18.1% of the population and 27.5% of the children falling below the poverty line. People are “stacked” in the tenements. Several families live in apartments, from attics to cellars, in spaces meant for far fewer. I walk a lot in Union City, especially since I got rid of the car. I walk to the grocery store, the bank, the phamacy, to get a coffee or to get my hair cut. I’m getting to know the neighbors. They are hard working, friendly people with close families who are trying to make better lives for their children. Mostly, I walk to the bus stop to go to New York City to the United Nations, where I hope my work will make the world a better place for everyone, including my neighbors. The courageous spirit of Elizabeth Prout inspires me and keeps me going forward. She proves that frailty is not an obstacle, but an opening for God to enter in and change everything.

Last night I was doing some genealogy research and found my way into the UK census records. After following up some leads on one of my great-grandfathers I decided to look for Elizabeth Prout. Here is the census  record from 1841. You can see Elizabeth living with her parents and grandmother. (Click on the image to see a larger version.) This simple record reminds me that even future saints start out in small ordinary places.