PEACE AND JUSTICE UPDATES
January - February, 2014
Persecution of Christians in the Middle East - Britain's most senior Muslim politician, Sayeeda Warsi, has warned that the persecution of Christians has become ‘a global crisis’. In a January 10 open letter to L’Osservatore Romano, she wrote: "The bitterest irony of this persecution - ostracism, discrimination, abuse, forced conversion, torture and even murder - is that it is taking place in a region where Christianity has its roots...Sometimes these cases are examples of collective punishment: people lashing out at Christian minorities in response to events happening many miles away...Other times, a Christian is just a convenient ‘other’ - a scapegoat...The threat to religious freedom, I believe, has become a global crisis."
Geneva 2 Conference, Switzerland - The Holy See has called for an “immediate” ceasefire in Syria, during the Geneva 2 Conference in Switzerland. The leader of the Holy See’s Delegation, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi said the “violence has to stop because too much suffering has been inflicted on all the people of Syria and on the entire region.” The international peace talks are looking for a compromise which can end the conflict in Syria.
Nine Days for Life Campaign - The USCCB launched the "Nine Days for Life Campaign", a novena for the end of abortion. This is the second year that the bishops have held a 9 Days for Life campaign. The initiative ran from Jan. 18-26 and overlapped with the national March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case that mandated legal abortion throughout the U.S. in 1973. All people – regardless of whether they were able to attend the March for Life – were welcome to participate in a nine-day novena for life through their prayers and sacrifices. Pope Francis voiced his support for the March for Life on January 22 when he "tweeted": "I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable."
Farm Bill, U.S. - The chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace responded to the agreement of the Farm Bill Conference Committee, commending their ability to set aside partisan differences to advance a farm bill. The USCCB and its Catholic partners have been vocal in their opposition to harmful cuts and changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Farm Bill Conference Committee proposal calls for a reduction of $8.6 billion to SNAP over ten years by increasing the threshold at which persons receiving the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may receive SNAP benefits. However, the bill does include increases for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).