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Calls for peace and justice ahead of Mexico’s general election

June 29, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 29, 2018 / 05:17 pm (ACI Prensa).- Various civil organizations in Mexico, including one dedicated to the philosophy of St. Thomas More, have urged politicians participating in the upcoming general election to re-establish peace and justice in the country.

By signing of the “Pact for Peace,” the organizations stressed that “We educational, social, political and governmental actors must all be united  in order to strengthen the essential conditions for peace: the promotion of ethical, human and social values of respect and peaceful coexistence. The prevention of violence, drugs and crime. Social dialogue and conciliation.”

The signatories include National Parents Union, the Mexican Commission for Human Rights, the Citizen Coordinator, the Fundación Tomás Moro, and the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice.

Mexico’s July 1 general election will determine the country’s president as well as all of the members of the federal legislature. Many regional and local positions will also be voted on.

The Mexican civil organizations also expressed their rejection of campaign promises such as the creation of an “armed civilian guard.”

The signers encouraged “the Armed Forces to remain as long as necessary (performing) domestic security duties to protect citizens,” and at the same time they called for “the prohibition and dissolution of self-defense groups” and “the dismantling of armed organized crime gangs.”

They also asked the winners of the July 1 electoral contest to establish as public policy in the different levels of the government a substantial improvement in “care and assistance for crime victims and their families who are demanding justice and solidarity.”

“We social organizations that are fighting for peace demand from the political actors the commitment to create a social and political climate of peace and to resolve their conflicts without creating chaos, making threats, or encouraging acts of vengeance.”

The civil organizations also urged the authorities who are elected to work with “transparency” against corruption and that they provide “justice against impunity.”

“We ask the president of Mexico to report quarterly to the National Public Safety Council and to make the information public so society can evaluate the results in abating impunity, crime and vioence. And that the Council report on the performance of the public prosecutors, criminal judges and magistrates,” they said.

They then encouraged that there be order in the prisons and at the same time neither “hatred nor amnesty.”

“We urge that the prisons be put in order so they are not schools of criminality, that sentences be served with social work and that their assimilation back into society be effective with the participation of social organizations,” they stated.

The Pact for Peace concluded by urging candidates to accept the results of the July 1 elections and “in the case of disagreements,” that they turn to the board of elections and the other legally competent authorities.

More than 100 politicians have been killed across Mexico ahead of the general election.

On June 21, Ocampo mayoral candidate Fernando Ángeles Juárez was killed by unknown gunmen, the BBC reported. When federal forces arrived to investigate the killing, they were stopped by local police. The entire local police force of the city in Michoacan state has since been detained.

 

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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No Picture
News Briefs

LA archbishop on immigration: God calls us to speak out against injustice

June 29, 2018 CNA Daily News 3

Los Angeles, Calif., Jun 29, 2018 / 04:48 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- At a Mass in honor of immigrants on June 24, Archbishop Jose Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles called on Catholics to pray for immigrant families, to speak out against injustice and to demand better solutions from their legislators.

“For years now, we have been asking our leaders to fix our broken immigration system. Year after year, they keep telling us, ‘Mañana, mañana.’ Next year. It makes no difference which political party is in power, there is always some excuse,” he said.

“Our leaders in Washington are about to do it again – they are about to let another Congress close without taking action. Brothers and sisters, we need to tell our leaders – no more ‘mañanas,’ no more excuses. The time is now.”

Gomez gave his remarks during his homily on Sunday, June 24 at the annual Mass in Recognition of All Immigrants at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, which was attended by about 3,000 people from throughout California.

The Mass came just days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order on June 20 entitled “Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation,” intended to end the practice of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border while maintaining the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy illegal entry into the United States.

The executive order said that detained families will be held together, “where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.” It came after weeks of widespread criticism and public outcry over the separation of families at the border, due a policy that limited the amount of time children could be detained by the government, and the administration’s decision to prosecute illegal border crossings criminally.

Gomez said in a Tweet on June 20 that he welcomed the executive order, and urged Congress to act on bipartisan reform. In his homily on June 24, Gomez again voiced his support for a bipartisan immigration reform bill, and urged Catholics to call their legislators.

Catholics are called to speak out against injustices towards immigrants, Gomez said, because they are also a part of God’s family.

“In the Church, we are God’s people, his family. And he gives us the duty to take care of one another. He calls us to speak out against injustice, to make things right when they are wrong,” he said.

“That is why we fight for the life and dignity of every child who is trying to be born. And that is why we all are so concerned right now for the children that our government has separated from their parents at the southern border of our country.”

He also urged Catholics to pray for the families who have been separated, that they may be reunited quickly.

“We need to pray today for those little ones and their parents. And especially we need to pray for our politicians and for all citizens of goodwill. May all of us open our hearts to the voice of God…” he said.

Attendees of the immigration Mass also had a chance to venerate the relics of St. Junípero Serra, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini and St. Toribio Romo, and to write prayer intentions that Gomez will bring to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in July. The archdiocese has also started a social media campaign with the hashtag #PrayForImmigrants, so that Catholics can show their support for immigrants.

Gomez closed his homily by invoking the intercession of St. John the Baptist on his feast day, and that of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“Let us ask St. John the Baptist to help us to follow his example in proclaiming the love and mercy of God in these times when so many people feel angry and afraid,” he said.
“And let us keep working for a new spirit of compassion and love — especially for the weakest and most vulnerable among us,” he added.

“May our Blessed Mother be near to every child and every parent suffering separation along our borders this day. And may she help every one of us to share in the dream of America.”

 

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No Picture
News Briefs

Bishops weigh in on SCOTUS union case and workers’ rights

June 29, 2018 CNA Daily News 4

Washington D.C., Jun 29, 2018 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A US Supreme Court decision striking down mandatory fees paid to public-sector unions undermines workers’ collective rights and can’t be squared with Catholic teaching, including Benedict XVI’s encyclicals, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has said.

“It is disappointing that today’s Supreme Court ruling renders the long-held view of so many bishops constitutionally out-of-bounds, and threatens to ‘limit the freedom or negotiating capacity of labor unions’,” Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said June 27.

Bishop Dewane drew on the 25th paragraph of Benedict’s 2009 encyclical on integral human development in charity and truth, Caritas in veritate, to object to limits on labor unions’ freedom.

“By reading the First Amendment to invalidate agency fee provisions in public-sector collective bargaining agreements, the Court has determined – nationwide, and almost irrevocably – that all government work places shall be ‘right-to-work’,” said the bishop.

The outlawing of these agency fee agreements means that state and federal legislatures should explore alternative means “for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights,” Bishop DeWayne said, again citing Caritas in veritate.

However, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois took a different view, saying he finds it “encouraging” that the Supreme Court “upholds the right to be free from coercion in speech.”

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>It is encouraging that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFCSME upholds the right to be free from coercion in speech. No longer will public sector employees be required pay dues to support unions that promote abortion and other political issues with which they disagree.</p>&mdash; Bishop Paprocki (@BishopPaprocki) <a href=”https://twitter.com/BishopPaprocki/status/1012363223377563648?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>June 28, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Commenting in a June 28 post on Twitter, Paprocki, depicting the agency fees as dues, said that “no longer will public sector employees be required pay dues to support unions that promote abortion and other political issues with which they disagree.”

The 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME struck down a 1997 Illinois law that required non-union workers to pay fees for collective bargaining.

The plaintiff in the case, Mark Janus, is an Illinois state employee who sued the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). He contended that mandatory “agency fees” paid to the union for contract negotiations violate his free speech because the union takes actions with which he does not agree, the Washington Post reports.

These fees are not used for political purposes, but his lawyers argue that the unions’ lobbying efforts are political acts.

In a Feb. 26 essay in USA Today, Janus said the union uses his monthly fees “to promote an agenda I don’t support.” He objected to the legislation supported by the union’s lobbying arm and to politicians supported by its political arm.

The court considered the constitutionality of “fair share” or “agency” fees, SCOTUSblog reporter Amy Howe said in a June 27 opinion analysis. The decision overturned the 1977 ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

The majority opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, ruled that the mandatory agency fees violate the First Amendment. The fees mean public employees who are not union members pay for “unspecified” lobbying expenses and other services that may benefit them. This purpose is “broad enough to encompass just about anything that the union might choose to do” and if a non-member wanted to challenge a fee it would be a “laborious and difficult task” given that it is hard to distinguish what expenses non-members are required to pay and which they are not.

Alito said that the legal and economic environment has changed, with public spending, including public employee wages, benefits and pensions, showing “mounting costs.” These changes give collective bargaining a political significance that might not have been present when such fees were upheld by the Supreme Court.

Despite burdens on unions, Alito said, there have been “many billions of dollars” taken from non-members and transferred to public sector unions “in violation of the First Amendment.”

Justice Elena Kagan, who authored the main dissent, said previous legal precedent “struck a stable balance between public employees’ First Amendment rights and government entities’ interests in running their workforces as they thought proper.” Over 20 states have statutory schemes based on the precedent, she said, charging that the majority of justices acted “with no real clue of what will happen next – of how its action will alter public-sector labor relations.”

“It does so even though the government services affected – policing, firefighting, teaching, transportation, sanitation (and more) – affect the quality of life of tens of millions of Americans,” Kagan said.

Janus was represented by the Liberty Justice Center and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

His case also had the support of the Becket Fund, whose own amicus brief argued that allowing government workers to opt-out of mandatory union payments protects their freedom of speech and religious freedom.

The legal group, which focuses on religious liberty concerns, argued that giving power to unions to force employees to support speech with which they disagree was a form of “coercion laundering” in which the law uses non-government organizations to coerce.

In a case summary on its website, Becket said the case could have ramifications for religious colleges and universities under private accrediting agencies that could use delegated government authority to infringe on their religious speech and practices.

The Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops filed its own amicus brief in the case. It said that “right-to-work” laws eliminate the clauses that prevent “free riders” who benefit from union contracts without paying for union membership. Eliminating these clauses “dramatically weakens” unions and their bargaining power on workers’ behalf, the brief objected.

The brief cited the Church’s strong commitments to protect both the poor and vulnerable from exploitation, and to protect the right of association from governmental infringement. It invoked the Church’s historic, consistent support for workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively. The brief cited repeated papal calls since Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical on capital and labor, Rerum novarum, to promote “workers’ associations that can defend their rights.”

The USCCB’s brief advocated that the court leave “constitutional space” for the public policy position supported “for so long by so many bishops and bishop-led institutions” rather than “declare still another such position outside the bounds of what policymakers are permitted to implement by law.”

At the time, Bishop Paprocki objected to some news coverage of the case that depicted the legal brief as a position adopted by the U.S. bishops.

“In fact, no vote was taken on whether to file such a brief,” he said Feb. 13. “While church teaching clearly supports freedom of association and the right to form and join a union, it does not mandate coercing people to join a union or pay dues against their will.”

For Paprocki, the question of whether rights of association and free speech are helped or hurt by mandatory dues is “a matter of prudential judgment on which reasonable people can disagree as to whether the rights of association and free speech are helped or hindered by mandatory union dues.”  

A May study from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute predicted that a decision in favor of Janus would mean a loss of over 700,000 members from public-sector unions and a wage decline of several percentage points for public sector employees.

Teachers’ unions could be “permanently crippled” by the decision, the journal Education Next reported, though the decision could provide an impetus for other changes.

A loss in teachers’ unions membership could result in a decline in revenues and ability to affect policy. The National Education Association has planned a 13 percent cut for its two-year budget, totaling about $50 million, with its estimated membership losses of 300,000 people, about 10 percent.

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