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Update: Students plan to raise nuclear weapon dangers in fall return to campuses

IMAGE: CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- At the start of his senior year at The Catholic University of America last fall, Tim Jones never thought he'd be joining a crash course on nuclear weapons policy within days of his May 18 graduation.

What Jones, 22, said he learned was more eye-opening than he imagined. And that was only after two days.

His greatest concerns: making sure that nuclear weapons are never used and that others, especially people of his generation, better understand the grave threat to human life and dignity posed by such weapons of mass destruction.

"I felt this conference could give me the tools that maybe in the future I can rally some people on campus since we are located just down the Metro from the Capitol, and to lobby and become a force against nuclear weapons," said Jones, whose degree is in political science. He will begin graduate studies in business analysis at the university in the fall.

Jones, of Wayne, New Jersey, was one of 15 college students who participated in the weeklong program designed to develop the next generation of Catholic nuclear nonproliferation specialists and activists.

It was coordinated by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame in cooperation with the Catholic Peacebuilding Network and Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. Notre Dame's Keogh School of Global Affairs Washington office hosted the students May 20-24.

Gerard F. Powers, director of Catholic peacebuilding studies at the Kroc institute, earlier told Catholic News Service that the need for young Catholics in particular to engage in the nuclear disarmament debate is as crucial as it has been in more than three decades. He said lay Catholic voices have played a key role in the past and that it's time for his generation to prepare new voices to enter policymaking and activist roles.

The program touched on numerous topics and gave students the opportunity to hear from some of the foremost U.S. Catholic actors who work on peacebuilding and nuclear nonproliferation policy.

Presentations explored the Catholic Church's evolving stance on nuclear weapons since St. John XXIII's 1963 encyclical, "Pacem in Terris" ("Peace on Earth"), the history of nuclear weapons development and arms control, ethical concerns posed by nuclear weapons, and the history of popular movements in calling the world toward total nuclear disarmament.

Several attendees admitted that nuclear weapons were not an oft-discussed topic on their campuses. They said student concerns focused on paying off student loans, climate change, gender issues, racism, gun violence and, in some cases, abortion.

Krystyna Kula, 19, of Smithfield, Rhode Island, who is studying mathematics at the University of Notre Dame, admitted to not knowing much about nuclear weapons but wanted to participate in the program to learn more.

"I didn't grow up with the Cold War," she said.

When classes resume in the fall, she hopes to share what she learned about the history of weapons development and citizen-initiated efforts to shrink nuclear stockpiles.

The decreasing emphasis on arms control in recent years was a concern of attendee Lauren Appel, 21, a political science major at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia, who studied the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and the Cold War during a recent study tour in Cuba.

"Learning about the tensions of the Cold War drew my attention to nuclear weapons and how it was a really big deal and yet today the issue still continues," Appel said. "I would like to have a new knowledge of nuclear weapons on the world scale that still exist today. I would like to learn more about how to negotiate for peace and promote peace across all nations and resolve the issues that exist today."

Two attendees from South Korea said they wanted to return to Seoul, where they are graduate students at Ewha Womans University, and take what they learned to campus as well as to the Archdiocese of Seoul.

"For me it's been an eye-opening experience. In some ways, I could even say mind-blowing," said Agatha Kim, 30. "In scale and scope, I didn't know the history of nuclear weapons programs."

She said that although there has been some coverage of North Korea's efforts to develop nuclear weapons in South Korean media, wider coverage on nuclear nonproliferation is largely ignored.

"The way things are happening is not getting to the people. We have big trouble with fake news, wrong information," she said.

"Everything related to the North Korea issue is pretty much polarized or politicized," Minjeong Ko, 27, agreed. "Even the nuclear issue, with most of the people, is not really raised in detail. Everything (from North Korea) is raised as being communist propaganda."

"I'm excited to bring back some more details and additional context so we can talk about it," Ko said.

Kim is active in youth ministry in the Archdiocese of Seoul and plans to share what she learned with other young people. She also is helping translate into Korean the U.S. bishop's 1983 pastoral letter, "The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response" so it can be widely shared in parishes.

Several students said they were inspired to act to reduce the world's nuclear weapons stockpiles after hearing from experts, college faculty and those involved in developing policy, some of whom have been involved in nuclear nonproliferation and peacebuilding for decades. They pledged to carry on the tradition of Catholic peacemaking as much as possible.

"They were against these 30-plus years ago," Jones, the CUA grad, said of the presenters. "They're still against them today."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

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Family portraits, mutual support part of Caritas global assembly

IMAGE: CNS photo/Robert Duncan

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle added a photo of his "Lolo Kim" to a mosaic of migrants, world leaders and Caritas workers to illustrate how humanity forms one family and is sharing one journey.

The mosaic, now including the cardinal's maternal grandfather who immigrated to the Philippines from China, was unveiled May 23 at a Vatican news conference kicking off the May 23-28 general assembly of Caritas Internationalis.

The assembly brought together some 450 delegates from more than 150 national Catholic charities from around the world to focus on the theme, "One Human Family. One Common Home."

Cardinal Tagle, Caritas president, told reporters the theme "isn't a slogan," but rather an affirmation of the Gospel, of Catholic social teaching, of the teaching of modern popes and, particularly, "an affirmation of the lived experience of Caritas," its staff and volunteers around the world.

"We are part of one human family," he said. "We share the same humanity and when we set off on a journey, we discover we have the same dreams, the same desire for a future for our children and for a more just world. We are a family."

Being part of one family, the cardinal said, also means sharing responsibility for the family home, which is the earth. Efforts to protect human beings and protect the environment at the same time are part of what the Catholic Church calls "integral ecology."

Michel Roy, who is completing his second four-year term as Caritas secretary-general, said the experience of Caritas Internationalis and its aid and development partners around the world is that climate change is displacing people, especially the poor, and making natural disasters more severe.

"In the coming decades, you will see millions of people who cannot survive where they live now," because they can no longer grow food or because their land is under water, Roy said.

Cardinal Tagle said that in the Philippines, the expression "June bride" was common because June was the most popular month for weddings. "No more," he said, because typhoons and monsoons have become common in June.

Traveling around the world as Caritas president, he said, skyscrapers and fancy shops and other signs of economic growth are seen in many places, but so are people who are poor.

"As wealth is produced, you wonder why the number of poor people increases," he said. Because economic growth and development projects are not keeping a middle-class strong and helping the poor, "there are a lot of angry people -- angry and suspicious" -- around the globe.

"The astute politicians and business people know that anger and so they present themselves as messiahs. And they win elections, even if they were the ones who benefited from that type of distorted development," the cardinal said.

In many parts of the world, that anger has contributed to the election of politicians promising to stop immigration, the Caritas leaders said.

Oliviero Forti, director of migration services for Caritas Italy, said his agency is one of many humanitarian agencies accused of favoring migration by Matteo Salvini, Italy's deputy prime minister, and similar politicians. At the same time, though, Salvini's government has signed an agreement to issue humanitarian visas for vulnerable migrants and refugees.

"What I can and must say on behalf of Caritas Italy is that no matter what, we will continue to work from the conviction that the human person must be the center" of concern, Forti said. The political debate over immigration can be disturbing, "but it won't move us a millimeter from welcoming, rescuing and doing anything else necessary to recognize these people as our brothers and sisters."

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Foster brotherhood, solidarity, pope tells new ambassadors

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Nations, like individuals, have a "solemn duty" to care for the poor and to work together to promote development, Pope Francis told a group of ambassadors beginning their service at the Vatican.

International cooperation for development and for peacemaking tap into a common, universal desire to experience real fraternity, the pope told the new ambassadors from Thailand, Norway, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Luxembourg, Mozambique and Ethiopia.

The nine ambassadors, who presented their letters of credential to Pope Francis May 23, do not reside in Rome, but serve as their country's representatives to the Vatican while simultaneously holding other posts, mostly as ambassadors to other European nations.

"As we face increasingly complex global challenges," the pope told them, "it is right to underline the importance of fraternity, for striving together to ensure just and peaceful coexistence is not merely a sociopolitical strategy but is an example of that solidarity which runs deeper than a mutual desire to achieve a shared goal."

"The pressing need to be attentive to the poorest of our fellow citizens is a solemn duty," Pope Francis said, and it is "eloquently expressed when, respectful of legitimate diversity, we are united in promoting their integral human development."

While violence and armed conflict continue to sow death in multiple areas of the world, he said, peace always is possible.

"Conflict resolution and reconciliation are positive signs of the unity that is stronger than division and of the fraternity that is more powerful than hatred," Pope Francis said.

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

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