PEACE AND JUSTICE UPDATES
DECEMBER 2013 - JANUARY 2014
Euthanasia for Children, Belgium: On December 12, the Belgium Senate passed legislation allowing for the euthanasia of children. According to Human Life International's Director of International Coordination, professionals in the medical field pushed to have the law passed, and that the majority of the individuals under 18 who are facing euthanasia are infants. Before the law was passed, doctors were technically breaking the law for euthanizing infants who were very sick. Now, they will face much less legal difficulty for euthanizing sick infants, or for deciding to euthanize infants whom they determine will face poor "quality of life", like those who suffer from diseases such as Down Syndrome.
Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi, First World Day of Peace Messages, Vatican: Pope Francis delivered his second "Urbi et Orbi" (to the City and to the World) address on Christmas. In it, he gave special attention to appeal for: peace in Syria, the end of violence and poverty in the Central African Republic, for social harmony in South Sudan, for peace in Nigeria, the end of conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis, and for relief for displaced refugees in the Horn of African and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He also appealed for prayers for the victims of human trafficking, especially children, and for the protection and aide for victims of natural disasters, especially in the Phillipines.
Pope Francis also delivered his first World Day of Peace Message on January 1. In it, he emphasized the need for fraternity as the pathway to peace as the world continues to embark down the paths of globalization and development. He also emphasized that such fraternity is a prerequisite for fighting poverty, extinguishing war, and cultivating nature.
Poverty Awareness Month, USA: The USCCB and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development reminds the Catholic Community in the United States that January is Poverty Awareness Month. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness of poverty, especially in light f Pope Francis' recent exhortations for members of the Church to live in solidarity with the poor, stating in his first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, that he desires "a Church which is poor and for the poor". The USCCB's Justic and Peace Committees have also joined with Pope Francis' global campaign to fight hunger through Caritas Internationalis, "One Human Family: Food for All".
Day of Prayer for the Survivors and Victims of Human Trafficking: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration designated February 8 as an annual day of prayer for survivors and victims of human trafficking. February 8 is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. Once Josephine was freed, she dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering.