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Why Were the Nuns on the Bus?

21 Aug

“He began to say to himself that to refuse what was asked by someone begging in the name of such a great King would be both a shame and a disgrace. And so he fixed this in his heart; to the best of his ability, never to deny anything to anyone  begging from him for God’s sake. This he did and with such care that he offered himself completely, in every way, first practicing  before teaching the gospel counsel: ‘Give to the one who begs from you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Mt.5:42)'”

From the Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano, The First Book

Sr. Simone Campbell and other religious sisters organized by Network, a Catholic Social Justice Lobby, hopped on a bus to spread the news about budget priorities being proposed by Congress and how they impact the poorest of this nation.

Right now the United States is facing an increase in poverty.

According to the National Census Bureau in the year 2010 the following were the statistics on poverty in the U.S.

  • More than one in seven Americans – including one in five children – lived below the poverty line ($22,113 for a family of four)
  • The number of people at risk of hunger increased from 36.2 million in 2007 to 48.8 million in 2010 (according to Bread for the World www.bread.org)
  • Food banks in the United States saw a 46 percent increase in clients seeking emergency food assistance from 2006 to 2010.
  • One in seven Americans receive benefits from SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — formerly food stamps)
  • Nearly half of SNAP participants are children. 8 percent are 60 or older.
  • 85 percent of SNAP participants have incomes at or below the poverty line.

At this same time, drastic cuts are being proposed (and in some cases passed) to cut safety net programs in our national budget.

Last year the House voted to cut SNAP by $127 billion — nearly 20 percent over ten years– and recommended turning the program into a block grant. Under a block grant, SNAP would give a set amount of money to states every year which would limit their ability to respond to increases in need.  In the past food stamps were considered an entitlement.  If you fit the criteria, you received food stamps.

Congress must renew the farm bill this year which includes nutrition programs like SNAP and assistance to Mothers with Children called WIC.  We are concerned that these will be targeted for cuts, when the need is so great.

So, the nuns organized by Network — www.networklobby.org –went out into the country to call attention to the potential draconian cuts to essential programs for the poor in this country. There are more cuts in proposed budgets (one called the Ryan plan), Pell grants, job training, etc.

For more information on the budget go to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities www.cbpp.org.

So let’s all Get On the Bus!!!

Celebration without Exploitation — human trafficking

14 Jul

by Sr. Dorothy Pagosa, SSJ-TOSF

Director of Social Justice

They call it human trafficking.  It is slavery. It is our responsibility as Franciscans, Christians, human beings to do what we can to end this horror.

Human trafficking always includes recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person to be used for:

  1. Labor or services through force, fraud, or coercion resulting in involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery;
  2. Sexual exploitation (physical, visual, verbal, etc.) in exchange for anything of value through force, fraud, or coercion; or
  3. Sexual exploitation of any kind  involving jobs
  4.  a person who is under 18 years old.

(United Nations’ and United States’ official definition)

Unfortunately, human trafficking has been recognized to occur during major sporting events through prostitution and hotel and other services. The Olympics are about to begin in London later this month.

“The Franciscan Federation (of which the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis is a member) has joined with Christian Brothers Investment Services, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility, Fair Pensions, Franciscan Action Network and others in the fight to stop human trafficking at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games taking place in London from July 27 — August 12.” (Franciscan Federation Website www.franfed.org)

“We expect the IOC (International Olympic Committee)  going forward to incorporate clear guidelines on trafficking and slavery that include public reporting of results.  Our request is in line with the IOC’s Charter that includes support for environmental issues and sustainable development and with the requests made in our letters to companies,” said Rev. David Schilling, director of Human Rights, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

Find more info at www.iccr.org/issues/subpages/olympics_home.php  Celebration Without Exploitation.

Is human trafficking a real problem?

  • In 2005, the Department of Justice reported there have been an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 sex slaves in the U.S. since 2001 (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • In 2009, a University of Pennsylvania study estimated 300,000 youth in the U.S were at risk of being sexually exploited for commercial uses.(National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
  • 1.2 million children are being trafficked every year throughout the world; this is in addition to the millions already held captive. (UNICEF)
  • The total market value of illicit human trafficking is estimated to be in excess of $32 billion (UN)
Look for these and other signs of human trafficking:
  • Evidence of being controlled
  • Inability to move or leave jobs
  • Signs of physical abuse
  • Fear or depression
  • No forms of identification

If you suspect trafficking or want more information contact:

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center

888-373-7888 (toll free)

or NHTRC@PolarisProject.org

Additional information can be found at

 www.stopenslavement.org

www.endslaveryandtrafficking.org/action

www.polarisproject.org

www.livesforsale.com