The two big items for the month continue to be the homeless and the death penalty.
Concerning the first one, the summit meeting of multiple faith community leaders is moving apace. The date will be Thursday, May 10 at Fresno’s St. Paul Newman Center and the hope is that a couple hundred will attend, including priests, ministers, rabbis and imams. This is essential if our Bishop Steinbock Homeless Advocacy Committee is to succeed in the job that Bishop John entrusted to us. As I have written before, the City of Fresno has not been sensitive to the homeless, having ruined their encampments and destroyed most of their possessions. It is presently building housing near Poverello House for 72 people, but this is almost a joke, since there are some 5,000 homeless in the city.
The other work that we have undertaken, helping to get signatures for an anti-death penalty initiative for the November ballot, has been successful. Now the problem is convincing a majority of our voters that state killing is immoral. This is what the Church teaches but there is a great desire for revenge on the part of so many of our people. This has to change.
There was one other important event this month. Four young Hispanics, led by Pablo Reyes, asked me to cooperate with them in putting on a Dream Act march here in Fresno. Already another group has started a walk across the nation, having left San Francisco in early March. The Fresno march will be on Saturday, March 31, starting at 8:00 a.m. at Fresno State University and ending up at the City Hall. It is a statement to the people that even undocumented young people, who have been in the U.S. all their lives, should have a right to a college education so that they can continue here, contributing to the welfare of what is in fact, if not in law, their country.
Rev. James Rude, S.J.
Social Justice Director