This past January 29, Br. Paolo Nicosia, SA, represented the Atonement Friars, as well as the Franciscan International, at two meetings at the United Nations. These events looked at issues concerned with the protection of human life – specifically at human rights and injustices in prison systems.

Br. Paolo had an opportunity to hear and see the prevalent issues of our time, and to learn about sustainable ways to paving a future where every human life is valued, as in the Franciscan understanding of life.

First, he attended the Symposium on the Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs. Several issues were brought up starting with questions like, “What are the moral foundations for an Economy of Life that incorporates peace, justice and sustainability?” There was a proposal to create an international finance structure which promotes human rights and finds solutions to the debt crisis. The mobilization of domestic resources and alternative financing for social protection came up along with that topic. The meeting acknowledged the growing role of the private sector, including faith-based organizations, in development finance and policy to guarantee human rights and promote climate and ecological sustainability.

The second event he attended was the screening of the documentary film Fallout, directed by Mark McLoughlin. It looks at the post-prison lives of four, high profile, exonerated prisoners. Each had been sentenced to death and eventually freed after several years of incarceration on death row, because they were found innocent. The audience was struck by the injustices they suffered, but also witnessed their courage and generosity of spirit, as they engaged in activism for criminal justice reforms. Two of them, Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle, were present at the event and talked about their Sunny Center Foundation to help exonerees assimilate back into society. They also campaign worldwide against the death penalty and unjust prison conditions.

Br. Paolo also had the opportunity to meet with the Italian Deputy of Foreign Affairs and further discuss the meetings and their relation to Franciscan and human values. Along with other Italian officials, she came to Waverly Place to dinner with Br. Paolo, Minister General Brian Terry, SA, and Fr. Jim Loughran, SA.