Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

Jesuit Talks to Vatican Radio on Roots of Egyptian Revolt

Jesuit Father Samir Khalil SamirEgyptian Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir, a professor at Rome’s Pontifical Oriental Institute and an Islamic scholar, recently spoke to Vatican Radio about the current waves of protests that are sweeping Arab nations in North Africa and beyond.

“What we need first of all is justice, equality, social reform because the gap between rich and poor is far too wide, and this is the real cause of the Islamic fundamentalist movement,” he said.

“We need change, the Arab world must change. We need alternate parties but in our countries there is nothing.” When asked if the Western concept of democracy is applicable to Egypt and the wider Arab world, Fr. Samir said it is “applicable but not yet practicable.”

“If you have authoritarian regimes, they systematically destroy all the leadership so only people who are in agreement with the current system are in power.” In the case of Egypt, he said, “Mubarack nominated his second in command, Omar Suleiman who is a good diplomat, a military officer. But … is this good for the country?”

Listen to the interview with Fr. Samir on Vatican Radio.

Jesuit Honored for Work as Prison Chaplain

Jesuit Father Michael Kennedy

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Jesuit Father Michael Kennedy, executive director of the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative (JRJI), was given the 2010 Distinguished Service Award by the Chief Probation Officers of California in January.

Fr. Kennedy, who advocates for the transformation of the justice system to become more restorative than punitive, was honored for his work at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles, where he is co-chaplain. His focus is on juveniles who are facing life sentences for serious crimes.

Kennedy introduces the youth to contemplative prayer using the Spiritual Exercises and guides them in meditation, which enables them to lead each other in prayer and meditation. For more on Kennedy’s ministry, read The Tidings story.

Six Months after Earthquake, Jesuits say Situation in Haiti Remains a Humanitarian Crisis

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Six months after the earthquake devastated Haiti on January 12, more than one million survivors continue to live in appalling conditions, with inadequate sanitation, limited access to services and food shortages, say the Jesuits who are working to provide humanitarian assistance.

Conditions in many of the nearly 1,400 camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) around the capital, Port-au-Prince, are extremely critical. The conditions at the largest Jesuit Refugee Services’ (JRS) camp, Automeca, with a population of 12,000, are typical. Here, residents continue to live in shacks held up by rags and poles. There are no schools or electricity, sanitation is poor and the water barely drinkable. When heavy rain falls, garbage rushes through the camp.

For many years, JRS has had a grassroots presence in Haiti and has provided humanitarian assistance to displaced Haitians in both the Dominican Republic and along the Haitian border. JRS – Haiti is focusing its current relief efforts in the Port-au-Prince area, working in seven camps that serve the needs of more than 21,000 displaced people in and around the capital by providing emergency assistance, psychosocial support, and training to community leaders to manage camps and civil society organizations.

“Camp management and aid delivery structures should always include consultation and cooperation with the displaced people who are swiftly forming their own organizations to advocate for their own particular needs,” said JRS/USA Director Jesuit Father Kenneth J. Gavin. “More attention must be placed on supporting the food and relief needs for IDP recipient communities and people not living in camps so that moving to a camp is not the only way for people to receive minimal food, water, and livelihood assistance.”

At a meeting with JRS – Haiti on June 20, seven IDP camp leaders highlighted numerous concerns, including the lack of security, particularly in camps that don’t have electricity and lighting at night, which pose a particular threat to women and children.

The situation in unofficial camps is even worse. Throughout the city, unofficial camp residents receive little or no care from large aid organizations or international coordinating bodies; many have even been told leave the camps but have not been provided with alternative housing.

“JRS welcomes the moratorium on forced evictions issued by the Haitian government. Unfortunately, pressure from landowners on IDPs to evacuate the sites continues. Actions go so far as intermittent disconnection of the water supply, and refusals to allow the construction of more permanent shelters and street lighting. ,” said JRS – Haiti Director Jesuit Father Wismith Lazard. “The government needs to use its authority to protect camp residents from this kind of harassment, and put more effort into identifying suitable shelter.”

In the video below, Frs. Lazard and Kawas Francois, president of the Jesuit Interprovincial Committee for the Reconstruction of Haiti, discuss the conditions in the camps in Haiti and the plans to open 17 Jesuit Fe y Alegria (Hope & Joy) schools in the next year in Haiti.

After Fort Benning: What’s Next for the Ignatian Solidarity Network and School of the Americas?


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Since 1995, Jesuits, lay partners and members of the broader Ignatian family have gathered with others organizations at the gates of Fort Benning, Ga., to call for the closure of the School of the Americas, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. On Nov. 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests were shot to death by a Salvadoran military squad, who then proceeded to murder the Jesuits’ housekeeper and her daughter while they slept. The Salvadoran soldiers, who killed these Jesuits and their companions, were trained at the SOA. The Ignatian Solidarity Network annually hosted a teach-in for justice prior to the protest at the fort’s gates.

In 2009, the ISN gathered the national Ignatian family for its final year of participation in the SOA protest. While other groups will carry on at Fort Benning, the ISN is transitioning to a regional model of raising awareness. The focus will be on teaching and informing the public about a variety of issues in their local area.

Watch the video below to hear more about last fall’s protest and the transition plans for ISN.

After Fort Benning: What's Next for the Ignatian Solidarity Network and School of the Americas?


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Since 1995, Jesuits, lay partners and members of the broader Ignatian family have gathered with others organizations at the gates of Fort Benning, Ga., to call for the closure of the School of the Americas, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. On Nov. 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests were shot to death by a Salvadoran military squad, who then proceeded to murder the Jesuits’ housekeeper and her daughter while they slept. The Salvadoran soldiers, who killed these Jesuits and their companions, were trained at the SOA. The Ignatian Solidarity Network annually hosted a teach-in for justice prior to the protest at the fort’s gates.

In 2009, the ISN gathered the national Ignatian family for its final year of participation in the SOA protest. While other groups will carry on at Fort Benning, the ISN is transitioning to a regional model of raising awareness. The focus will be on teaching and informing the public about a variety of issues in their local area.

Watch the video below to hear more about last fall’s protest and the transition plans for ISN.