• The Child Soldier: From the Congo to Chicago

    News and Commentary

    by Nick Patricca with Katherine Kaufka Walts

    The forced use of a child in armed conflicts profoundly injures the person coerced and gravely insults the idea of the dignity of a human being—an essential value of our civilization and of our self-understanding.

    UNICEF estimates that more than 300,000 boys and girls under the age of 18 have been forced in over 30 conflicts worldwide to use violence against others. In these armed conflicts, children are used as soldiers, messengers, smugglers of drugs and arms, and sex slaves. Some children are forcibly recruited; others are driven to join by poverty or debt. Some are ‘recruited’ with drugs, made compliant by addiction.

    In the complex interaction of violence and social systems, some children join armed groups to seek revenge for violence enacted against them or their families. ISIS has been recruiting boys as young as 10 to be suicide bombers. Nigeria’s Boko Haram has been abducting scores of young women and selling them as sex slaves as well as using boys as combatants. Continue Reading »

  • The Silencing of Writers: Saudi Arabia

    News and Commentary
    Wife and children of Raif Badawi in Place D'Youville, Old City Quebec. Photo by Joanne Leedom-Ackerman

    Wife and children of Raif Badawi in Place D’Youville, Old City Quebec. Photo by Joanne Leedom-Ackerman

    By Nick Patricca

    On the Rue Saint-Jean in the Place d’ Youville just inside the Gate to the Old City of Quebec, a young woman stands in silence with three young children at her side. A large photo of a man stands next to them. BADAWI is printed on the left side at the bottom of the portrait; on the right side is printed the logo of PEN International. The young woman — her name is Ensaf Haidar — is the mother of the three children: two girls and one boy, ranging in age from eleven to eight years old. Ensaf is the wife of Raif Badawi, the man in the large photo. These are his children. Though their French is limited – they are in exile in Quebec — the family stands patiently in the early morning mist of a balmy October day in the hope of making the world aware of Raif Badawi — the husband, the father, the writer – imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for planning a conference on human rights.

    Badawi was arrested in 2012, convicted in 2013 with a sentence of 7 years in prison and 600 lashes. In 2014 Badawi’s sentence was increased to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes. In January 2015, the first 50 lashes were inflicted upon him with disastrous effects on his health. The lashings are currently on hold. Continue Reading »

  • PEN protests the rise of anti-LGBTQ legislation

    News and Commentary
    Nick Patricca

    Nick Patricca

    by Nick Patricca

    At the 81st PEN World Congress this October in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, the delegates of the General Assembly of PEN International, the largest world-wide organization of professional writers, passed Resolution #20 protesting the anti-LGBTQI legislation enacted recently in 75 nation-states.

    The 250 delegates from 80 PEN Centers from 70 countries and regions of the world participated in this Congress. Resolution #20 received the support of all voting Centers. There were only three abstentions.

    The astonishingly rapid acceptance of ‘gay marriage’ and other LGBTQI rights in the U.S., Ireland, and other countries masks a most serious global backlash against LGBTQI people and their supporters.

    In her book Words Will Break Cement: the Passion of Pussy Riot ( Riverhead Books 2014 ), PEN member Masha Gessen documents how The Russian Federation restricts and punishes artistic freedom of expression for women and all other individuals and groups considered ‘anti-state.’ Continue Reading »

  • Nicholas Patricca

    Our Books

    A Nation's Progress coverOne Woman’s Journey: A Nation´s Progress (Peggy Roach)

    A Nation’s Progress tells the story of the activities of Peggy Roach a leader in Chicago and USA civil rights movement.  The book focuses on the projects of Peggy during the 1960’s from the corridors of power in Washington D.C. to the actions of the Contract Buyers’ League on the streets of Chicago to the homes of Black families in Mississippi.  Peggy Roach demonstrates in her life and person the best in the USA and Catholic traditions of social justice. Continue Reading »

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