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Archive for March 27th, 2013

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Meditating on Christ’s passion and the ways people contribute to his suffering, Lebanese youths lamented the ongoing emigration from and violence in the Middle East, divisions among Christians, the abuse of women and children, and the promotion of abortion.

But despite the hardships, horrors and despair, Christians are called to walk with Christ because “suffering, embraced in faith, is transformed into the path to salvation,” the youths said in meditations for the March 29 Way of the Cross service at Rome’s Colosseum.

Christians can find hope in bearing their burdens because Christ is with them. However, acceptance does not mean putting an end to one’s dreams, to speaking out and fighting for freedom and the truth, the reflections said.

“God does not want suffering and does not accept evil,” the text said. In fact, people can carry the cross with joy and hope because Christians know Christ “triumphed over death for us.”

A group of Lebanese young people wrote the meditations at the request of retired Pope Benedict XVI; the Vatican released the published text with commentary and prayers on the 14 Stations of the Cross March 25.

Each year, the pope chooses a different person or group of people to write the series of prayers and reflections that are read aloud during the solemn, torch-lit ceremony.

The retired pope asked Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai to choose the youths and guide their preparation of the texts. The retired pope’s request was meant to recall his 2012 visit to Lebanon and invite the whole church to pray for the Middle East — its tensions and its beleaguered Christian community.

The task of composing the 14 meditations was divided equally among committees from the six rites of the Catholic Church represented in Lebanon: Latin, Maronite, Melkite, Armenian, Syriac and Chaldean. In addition, six Catholic youth groups, a special needs group and a nongovernmental organization were randomly chosen and assigned a station to focus on.

Participants said they tried to show the biggest challenges facing young people in the Middle East and elsewhere while also showing the Christian vision of hope and resurrection.

The text can be read here.

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“Too often we have seen Wall Street hollow out companies by draining their cash and assets and hollow out communities by shedding jobs and shuttering plants,” said United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard in 2009. “We need a new business model that invests in workers and invests in communities.”

Gerard was announcing a formal partnership between his 1.2-million-member union and Mondragon, a cluster of cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain. Mondragon employs 83,000 workers in 256 companies. About half of those companies are cooperatives, and about a third of Mondragon’s employees are co-op members with an ownership stake in their workplace. Mondragon companies do everything from manufacturing industrial machine parts to making pressure cookers and home appliances to running a bank and a chain of supermarkets. With billions of euros in annual sales, Mondragon is the largest industrial conglomerate in the Basque region and the fifth-largest in Spain.

The cooperatives use workers’ cash investments as part of the capital needed to finance new projects, and worker-owner co-op members get to vote on strategy, management, and business planning. The highest-paid managers’ salaries are capped at six to eight times what the lowest-paid workers make—as opposed to the United States, where CEOs now make 380 times more than the average worker.

As manufacturing in the United States continues in free fall, the USW is working to bring the Mondragon cooperative model to the Rust Belt. It aims to use employee-run businesses to create new, middle-class jobs to replace union work that has gone overseas.

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