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Image: The Holy Land: How should we respond to Bishops’ calls for prayer, awareness and action?

29/03/2019

This week in our blog, Mike Mineter reflects on the situation in the Holy Land and asks ‘How can we help bring about justice for all in the Holy Land?‘


Each year the English-speaking bishops visit the Holy Land, and on their return issue a communiqué.  In 2017 they began, “For fifty years the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza have languished under occupation, violating the human dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis. ...As Bishops we implore Christians in our home countries to recognise our own responsibility for prayer, awareness and action.” (http://catholicnews.org.uk/hlc-final-communique-2017 )

Exploring how we can respond was one focus of the St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese’ Caritas, Justice and Peace commission, when we met in February. We had just heard how our country has been ill-served by media obstructing awareness, and propagating false values in relation to refugees. With exceptions, Israel and Palestine have also been misrepresented in the media for many years.  In consequence, distinguishing fact and spin is difficult, especially those who have not visited.

This year, the Bishops wrote, “Along with other Palestinian Arab citizens and migrants living in Israel, many Christians find themselves systematically discriminated against and marginalised.  Those we met expressed particular concern about the Nation State Law….the misery of occupation has been deepened by severe cuts to humanitarian funding by the US government.

...we commit ourselves through prayer, pilgrimage and practical solidarity...”

(http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/Home/News/HLC19-Final-Communique)

Some Jewish organisations in Israel and other countries are among those who have been calling Israel to a deeper expression of Judaism, with rights for all in the land. You can read the Nation State Law here:

https://knesset.gov.il/laws/special/eng/BasicLawNationState.pdf

In my visits to the West Bank, I have met Christians whose lives are dominated by settlers and Israeli forces through increasing violence, permits, checkpoints, settlements, roads only for Israelis, demolitions, control of water and imposed unpredictability.  Even in this context, these Palestinians said, “We would not displace the settlers. Many have known nowhere else. We will not do to them what Israel tries to do to us. The occupation and the oppression must cease; there is land enough for us all.” 

Christian Palestinians in 2009 spoke out in the Kairos Palestine document, “A Moment of Truth; A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering.”  As decades earlier in South Africa, the term Kairos conveys a faith-based hope of transformation in a desperate time, ripe for change.  The document is a call for the international community and especially the churches, to act to bring about a just future for all in the land. It calls us to recognise and challenge theologies that claim to justify oppression and exclusion.

How can we help bring about justice for all in the Holy Land?

We can form a network by sharing knowledge, resources; planning events of awareness and solidarity in every parish. (contact mike.mineter@gmail.com )

We can challenge the media, when they fail to report adequately continuing protests such as the “March of Return,” when Israeli forces shot Palestinian journalists, medics and children. (e.g. here https://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=11988);

We can write to politicians to call for action – as I was told by a Palestinian, “not to bring Israel to its knees but to its senses.”

We can shop to support Palestinians, see hadeel.org,

We can join Sabeel-Kairoshttp://sabeel-kairos.org.uk

We can visit.

We can keep informed (e.g reading UN reports, https://www.ochaopt.org/reports)

We can read the Bishops’ communiques and do what they ask.

We must pray.

 

 

 

 



Image: Cahira House -  A Place To Heal

22/03/2019

In our latest blog, Jacci Stoyle reflects on her involvement with Cahira House,  a much needed place of healing for victims of human trafficking, modern slavery and abuse in Scotland.


I was recently asked to become ambassador for Cahira House, which is a supported accommodation project, based in West Central Scotland. It offers space to women over the age of 16 who have exited trafficking in the sex industry and those who have experienced significant trauma relating directly to childhood sexual abuse, sexual violence and sexual exploitation. 

Having campaigned against human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation for about 15 years, I was deeply touched to be asked to take on this role.

Cahira was the vision of Bob and Melissa in 2001. they wanted to bring hope and healing to women recovering from trauma and brokenness and they have created a safe and secure haven for the women to begin the process of rebuilding and restoring themselves.

The accommodation for the women is delightful. There are six en-suite, beautifully decorated bedrooms, which are comfortable and cosy. There is also a communal dining area and kitchen, where the women can cook and eat together.

Every woman has an individual support plan to suit her particular needs. The emphasis is on helping her feel unique, valued and loved in order to restore a sense of dignity, self-worth and purpose. There is a member of staff on duty in the daytime, who can offer hands on support - for example, helping the women to shop, go to college, or learn to drive, or going with them to appointments. The women have access to trained counsellors, a community support service, a bespoke education programme and a range of craft and pampering activities to promote mental, physical, emotional and spiritual healing. There is an on-call system for emergencies day and night.

Cahira was registered with the Care Inspectorate on 7 July 2017 and was inspected on the 3rd July 2018. It received a rating of Grade 5 for Care, Support and Staffing.

This is what one of the residents said about Cahira:

'I love it here. I like everything about it. I can't think of anything they could do better. I feel a million times better. I was a riot. Just having support and people who care has made the difference ... I plan to grow up here, I'm going to learn to drive, I attend a literacy class ... I feel happier. I was the most miserable person you could ever see. I feel safe here. There's an on-call number. It’s so clean. I feel like a princess. Having people care and stick by you, it helps. You get support with everything. I've put on weight as I didn't used to eat. I'm not on any drugs, I don't even smoke anymore. I couldn't even speak to people before.’

Truly, I couldn’t imagine a more supportive, non-judgmental space to heal and recover. I am delighted to be in a position to promote this remarkable project in order that more women, who so desperately need it, can receive its specialised care.

PS  - due to financial difficulties Cahira house is no longer providing this facility, but those involved believe the model of supportive care is one that should be available for all those recovering from being trafficked.  Help for victims of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery can be found at Hope For Justice Scotland.

https://hopeforjustice.org/news/2016/12/hope-for-justice-launches-in-scotland/

 



Image: PAST and FUTURE

15/03/2019

In this week's blog Bruce Kent, renowned justice campaigner, Vice-President of CND, Pax Christi, and the Movement for the Abolition of War reflects on a life of campaigning and questioning.


Over many years I have acquired quite a collection of papal and episcopal pastoral letters, statements and instructions.   They have something to say on a wide variety of subjects. Some ring much louder bells than others.  Top of my chart comes the message Pope Francis sent to a Rome Symposium on Disarmament in 2017.  He had this to say about nuclear weapons:  'The threat of their use as well as their very possession is to be firmly condemned.’ 

Out of the church window go decades of unconvincing  moral distinctions between deterrence and use.

My runner up for first prize goes to the bishops of the world for their 1971 statement on justice.  It came out in English with the title Our World and You and runs to 12 pages. This sentence is my favourite: 'We are called to preach…the good news  of the mission of Christ to liberate mankind.  Right at the heart of this preaching lies the work we must do for Justice.’

Charity is vital but so too is justice. Charity is not too difficult: be loving and generous to those in trouble and dig deep into your pocket when the call comes. 
 
Justice however is much more uncomfortable.  In a rich world why are some people starving? Where do all the weapons come from that make wars - Yemen for instance - possible? Why is the United Nations Charter not available on church bookstalls?  Why was there no church outcry when it was decided to spend at least £200 billion, not on the NHS, but on yet another set of nuclear weapons?  Are there not moral problems when the rich can have spare homes while some of the poor have nowhere to live?

In that powerful 1971 document there is a bit about the Church's own witness.  For instance it says: ‘To help all members of the church take part in the making of decisions Councils at every level should be set up’.  Well there are some diocesan and parochial councils but most of us are still waiting.

These were all very new ideas to those of my vintage generation.  Justice raised questions of politics and that, so many then thought, was for the politicians.  So called 'Charity' law made it, then and now, financially safer to avoid contentious issues of 'politics'.

My 'mistake' was to get involved with Pax Christi at an early stage.  An accident really, since all I wanted was to recommend some good holiday experiences for the members of 'my' youth club.  Pax Christi led me onto CND, to the International Peace Bureau, to War on Want, to Prison Reform projects and to the Catholic Worker movement.  Beware - once you start sliding it’s not easy to stop!  I don’t regret a moment of it and am still more than happy to be an active member, not in the way I had planned, of our universal church.  But then someone brighter than me said once that God writes straight with crooked lines.  Or something like it.
 



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