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Angry Mob Invades Assembly of Families of Disappeared at Oblate Center in Sri Lanka August 12th, 2014
On the afternoon of August 4th, a group of Buddhist monks with a large number of civilians and media personnel forced their way into a meeting being hosted by the Oblate Centre for Peace and Justice in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The mob was intent on disrupting a meeting of families of the disappeared that were meeting in the place to tell their stories to an assembled group of priests, nuns, human rights activists, and representatives of civil society organizations as well as of diplomatic missions. The aim of the meeting was to pinpoint methods and strategies for helping the families of missing people locate their loved ones. The center, which is currently led by Oblate priest, Fr. Ashok Stephen, has been helping civil war victims for years.
Despite repeated requests from the organizers and the diplomatic corp present, the police failed to disperse the mob, but suggested rather that the meeting be disbanded and representatives from both parties attend an inquiry at the police station. Fr. Ashok Stephen, OMI, Director of the CPJ, filed a complaint of criminal trespass against the one Buddhist whose name he was able to determine, but does not think anything will come of it. The families present, which included children, were frightened but the mob, which shouted abuse and took photographs of those present.
Statements on the incident from Fr Ashok Stephen, OMI and Fr Rohan Silva, OMI are available on the website of the Colombo Province.
The Conference of Major Religious Superiors of Sri Lanka have also issued a statement condemning the incident. (Download PDF here)
Shareholder Proposal Succeeds in Bringing Google to the Table to Talk about Corporate Taxes May 23rd, 2014
The Oblates supported a shareholder proposal filed by Domini Social Investments with Internet giant, Google, seeking a responsible code of conduct on global tax strategies. Google has agreed to sit down with the investor group and discuss this issue, which is an important element in the conversation around the role of government and the revenue sources available to it to meet its responsibilities.
Adam Kanzer, Managing Director and General Counsel at Domini, wrote an Op Ed to explain the thinking behind the investor position that corporations need to pay their fair share of taxes. In it, he dispels a few myths about US corporate taxes, and argues that a deeper analysis shows that “Corporate tax minimization strategies present serious threats to long-term wealth creation and might pose greater risks than corporate taxation itself.”
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OEI Celebrates Earth Hour March 30th, 2014
Oblates and friends at the Oblate Ecological Initiative at La Vista celebrated Earth Hour, a worldwide movement organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to recognize the importance of energy conservation and actions to protect Earth.
The international event is held annually to encourage individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on the last Saturday in March, as a symbol for their commitment to the planet
The group at La Vista sang the a night prayer around the camp fire – “Lights Out La Vista – Night Prayer” (Download PDF)
Ukraine Economy and US Leadership at Stake
190 policy experts, business and academic leaders, and former Senate-confirmed appointees who had oversight responsibilities for organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank yesterday delivered a unified message to Congress: promptly enact IMF quota reform legislation. Fr. Seamus Finn, OMI signed the letter on behalf of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The Oblates have long supported New Rules for Global Finance, which works for fundamental reforms at the IMF.
The broad-based bipartisan letter to Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Reid comes at a time when Congress is considering a $1 billion bilateral emergency assistance package for Ukraine to help the country stabilize its economy during its crisis with Russia. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN) displayed the foresight and joint leadership to respond strongly to the Ukraine crisis by introducing the Ukraine relief bill, which includes the IMF quota reform legislation. Ukraine is also seeking IMF assistance directly.
Treasury Under Secretaries Tim Adams, David McCormick, David Mulford, and Jeffrey Shafer, and five IMF Executive Directors that served under Republican Administrations, among other former senior government officials, support the IMF reform legislation. “The IMF has played a crucial role in the global approach to recent financial crises and in navigating the world economy through severe threats. While the United States is on a path to recovery, threats remain…and the IMF has been called upon to support reform in Ukraine. In times like these, a financially strengthened and reformed IMF is in the U.S. interest,” notes the letter.
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Oblate Auxiliary Bishop in Crimea Calls for Peace March 4th, 2014The following is an official statement from Bishop Jacek Pyl, omi, the auxiliary bishop of Odessa-Sinferopol of the Crimea region of Ukraine. Let us pray for peace!
STATEMENT OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP IN CRIMEA
Since many weeks now the Roman Catholic Church with her prayers accompany whole of Ukraine praying for the peaceful solution of the problems, which the country is struggling with. In our prayers we ask God for his mercy for all Ukrainian people and we also offer voluntary fasting on bread and water in the same intention. Today when the unrest has encompassed the Crimean territory we want to pray especially for our peninsula. With our prayer we reach out to all the people without concern for their religion, political views or ethnic background. We pray that the people, who for tens of years live in peace – do not start fighting today and that the bloodshed of the kind we have seen in Kiev Maidan may be avoided here.
I am calling on all the people both faithful and the others that in the name of the solidarity with the heritage of our Fathers, who cared for the development of our Autonomous Republic of Crimea, to stay away from extremisms and in this hard time do not let the brotherhood among Crimean people to be broken. In ARoC we have Ukrainians, Russians, Crimean Tartars, Armenians, Poles, Germans, Czechs and many others living peacefully together. For many centuries we had the Orthodox, Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Caraims, people of other denominations together with atheists living in Crimea. We cannot let our ethnical background nor our religion to divide us now. We are children of the same God; the only God, who is our common Father. The motto of the Republic of Crimea which is inscribed into our coat of arms is „Процветание в единстве” (Blooming in unity) and may this words be our motto for the difficult time now.
I would like to reach out with my words to the faithful of all denominations that they keep praying for peace, and those who has decided so keep voluntarily fasting. May the Good God free our hearts from all evil temptations and may he bless our good intentions.
+ Jacek Pyl, OMI Auxiliary Bishop of Odessa-Simferopol Diocese
We would like to thank Fr. Warren Brown, OMI and Fr. Charles Hurkes, OMI for sharing this information with the JPIC Office.
Wells Fargo, a major US bank targeted by faith-based investors for their harmful pay day lending practices, announced today that they would discontinue their Direct Deposit Advance service. This is a huge victory on behalf of those who have fallen prey to this predatory lending.
In a Shareholder Resolution with Wells Fargo, which the Oblates co-filed in 2012 and 2013, and in dialogs with company officials, ICCR members raised serious concerns about these loans, their impact on people, and the risks to the bank by engaging in such practices.
ICCR issued a press release on the bank’s decision:
After a long-term engagement with Wells Fargo to promote more responsible lending products, today members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) wish to commend management for making the right decision in ending its Direct Deposit Advance program. The company issued a statementtoday announcing that it would discontinue the product effective February 1st.
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