Alert is the newsletter of the Justice and Peace office of CMSM.
It is intended to inform and stimulate
discussion and involvement among the members. Its contents do not
necessarily represent official positions of CMSM.
from Sacramentum Caritatis
[The 11th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops
took place between Oct. 3 and Oct. 23, 2005, devoted to the Eucharist.
Below are some excerpts from the post-synodal apostolic exhortation of
Pope Benedict XVI, in response to the Synod.]
The Eucharist, bread broken for
the life of the world
88. "The bread I will give is
my flesh, for the life of the world" (Jn 6:51). In these words the
Lord reveals the true meaning of the gift of his life for all people.
These words also reveal his deep compassion for every man and woman. The
Gospels frequently speak of Jesus' feelings towards others, especially
the suffering and sinners (cf. Mt 20:34; Mk 6:34; Lk 19:41). Through a
profoundly human sensibility he expresses God's saving will for all people
– that they may have true life. Each celebration of the Eucharist
makes sacramentally present the gift that the crucified Lord made of his
life, for us and for the whole world. In the Eucharist Jesus also makes
us witnesses of God's compassion towards all our brothers and sisters.
The eucharistic mystery thus gives rise to a service of charity towards
neighbor, which "consists in the very fact that, in God and with
God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can
only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter
which has become a communion of will, affecting even my feelings. Then
I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings,
but from the perspective of Jesus Christ." (240) In all those I meet,
I recognize brothers or sisters for whom the Lord gave his life, loving
them "to the end" (Jn 13:1). Our communities, when they celebrate
the Eucharist, must become ever more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ
is for all, and that the Eucharist thus compels all who believe in him
to become "bread that is broken" for others, and to work for
the building of a more just and fraternal world. Keeping in mind the multiplication
of the loaves and fishes, we need to realize that Christ continues today
to exhort his disciples to become personally engaged: "You yourselves,
give them something to eat" (Mt 14:16). Each of us is truly called,
together with Jesus, to be bread broken for the life of the world.
The social implications
of the eucharistic mystery
89. The union with Christ brought about
by the Eucharist also brings a newness to our social relations: "this
sacramental ‘mysticism' is social in character." Indeed, "union
with Christ is also union with all those to whom he gives himself. I cannot
possess Christ just for myself; I can belong to him only in union with
all those who have become, or who will become, his own."(241) The
relationship between the eucharistic mystery and social commitment must
be made explicit. The Eucharist is the sacrament of communion between
brothers and sisters who allow themselves to be reconciled in Christ,
who made of Jews and pagans one people, tearing down the wall of hostility
which divided them (cf. Eph 2:14). Only this constant impulse towards
reconciliation enables us to partake worthily of the Body and Blood of
Christ (cf. Mt 5:23-24). (242) In the memorial of his sacrifice, the Lord
strengthens our fraternal communion and, in a particular way, urges those
in conflict to hasten their reconciliation by opening themselves to dialogue
and a commitment to justice. Certainly, the restoration of justice, reconciliation
and forgiveness are the conditions for building true peace.(243) The recognition
of this fact leads to a determination to transform unjust structures and
to restore respect for the dignity of all men and women, created in God's
image and likeness. Through the concrete fulfilment of this responsibility,
the Eucharist becomes in life what it signifies in its celebration. As
I have had occasion to say, it is not the proper task of the Church to
engage in the political work of bringing about the most just society possible;
nonetheless she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the struggle
for justice. The Church "has to play her part through rational argument
and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which
always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper." (244)
In discussing the social responsibility of all Christians, the Synod
Fathers noted that the sacrifice of Christ is a mystery of liberation
that constantly and insistently challenges us. I therefore urge all the
faithful to be true promoters of peace and justice: "All who partake
of the Eucharist must commit themselves to peacemaking in our world
by violence and war, and today in particular, by terrorism, economic
corruption and sexual exploitation." (245) All these problems
give rise in turn to others no less troubling and disheartening. We
know that there can
be no superficial solutions to these issues. Precisely because of the
mystery we celebrate, we must denounce situations contrary to human
since Christ shed his blood for all, and at the same time affirm the
inestimable value of each individual person.
The food of truth and human need
90. We cannot remain
passive before certain processes of globalization which not infrequently
increase the gap between the rich and the poor
worldwide. We must denounce those who squander the earth's riches, provoking
inequalities that cry out to heaven (cf. Jas 5:4). For example, it is
impossible to remain silent before the "distressing images of huge
camps throughout the world of displaced persons and refugees, who are
living in makeshift conditions in order to escape a worse fate, yet are
still in dire need. Are these human beings not our brothers and sisters?
Do their children not come into the world with the same legitimate expectations
of happiness as other children?" (246) The Lord Jesus, the bread
of eternal life, spurs us to be mindful of the situations of extreme poverty
in which a great part of humanity still lives: these are situations for
which human beings bear a clear and disquieting responsibility. Indeed,
"on the basis of available statistical data, it can be said that
less than half of the huge sums spent worldwide on armaments would be
more than sufficient to liberate the immense masses of the poor from destitution.
This challenges humanity's conscience. To peoples living below the poverty
line, more as a result of situations to do with international political,
commercial and cultural relations than as a result of circumstances beyond
anyone's control, our common commitment to truth can and must give new
The food of truth demands that we denounce inhumane situations in which
people starve to death because of injustice and exploitation, and it gives
us renewed strength and courage to work tirelessly in the service of the
civilization of love. From the beginning, Christians were concerned to
share their goods (cf. Acts 4:32) and to help the poor (cf. Rom 15:26).
The alms collected in our liturgical assemblies are an eloquent reminder
of this, and they are also necessary for meeting today's needs. The Church's
charitable institutions, especially Caritas, carry out at various levels
the important work of assisting the needy, especially the poorest. Inspired
by the Eucharist, the sacrament of charity, they become a concrete expression
of that charity; they are to be praised and encouraged for their commitment
to solidarity in our world.
The Church's social teaching
91. The mystery of the
Eucharist inspires and impels us to work courageously within our world
to bring about that renewal of relationships which has
its inexhaustible source in God's gift. The prayer which we repeat at
every Mass: "Give us this day our daily bread," obliges us
to do everything possible, in cooperation with international, state and
institutions, to end or at least reduce the scandal of hunger and malnutrition
afflicting so many millions of people in our world, especially in developing
In a particular way, the Christian laity, formed at the school of the
Eucharist, are called to assume their specific political and social responsibilities.
To do so, they need to be adequately prepared through practical education
in charity and justice. To this end, the Synod considered it necessary
for Dioceses and Christian communities to teach and promote the Church's
social doctrine. (248) In this precious legacy handed down from the earliest
ecclesial tradition, we find elements of great wisdom that guide Christians
in their involvement in today's burning social issues. This teaching,
the fruit of the Church's whole history, is distinguished by realism and
moderation; it can help to avoid misguided compromises or false utopias.
The sanctification of the world and the protection of creation
Finally, to develop a profound eucharistic spirituality that is also
capable of significantly affecting the fabric of society, the Christian
people, in giving thanks to God through the Eucharist, should be conscious
that they do so in the name of all creation, aspiring to the sanctification
of the world and working intensely to that end.(249) The Eucharist itself
powerfully illuminates human history and the whole cosmos. In this sacramental
perspective we learn, day by day, that every ecclesial event is a kind
of sign by which God makes himself known and challenges us. The eucharistic
form of life can thus help foster a real change in the way we approach
history and the world. The liturgy itself teaches us this, when, during
the presentation of the gifts, the priest raises to God a prayer of blessing
and petition over the bread and wine, "fruit of the earth,"
"fruit of the vine" and "work of human hands." With
these words, the rite not only includes in our offering to God all human
efforts and activity, but also leads us to see the world as God's creation,
which brings forth everything we need for our sustenance. The world is
not something indifferent, raw material to be utilized simply as we see
fit. Rather, it is part of God's good plan, in which all of us are called
to be sons and daughters in the one Son of God, Jesus Christ (cf. Eph
1:4-12). The justified concern about threats to the environment present
in so many parts of the world is reinforced by Christian hope, which commits
us to working responsibly for the protection of creation. (250) The relationship
between the Eucharist and the cosmos helps us to see the unity of God's
plan and to grasp the profound relationship between creation and the "new
creation" inaugurated in the resurrection of Christ, the new Adam.
Even now we take part in that new creation by virtue of our Baptism (cf.
Col 2:12ff.). Our Christian life, nourished by the Eucharist, gives us
a glimpse of that new world – new heavens and a new earth –
where the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven, from God, "prepared
as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev 21:2).
(240) Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est
(25 December 2005), 18: AAS 98 (2006), 232.
(241) Ibid., 14.
(242) During the Synod sessions we heard very moving and significant testimonies
about the effectiveness of the Eucharist in peacemaking. In this regard,
Propositio 49 states that: "Thanks to eucharistic celebrations, peoples
engaged in conflict have been able to gather around the word of God, hear
his prophetic message of reconciliation through gratuitous forgiveness,
and receive the grace of conversion which allows them to share in the
same bread and cup."
(243) Cf. Propositio 48.
(244) Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est (25 December 2005),
28: AAS 98 (2006), 239.
(245) Propositio 48.
(246) Benedict XVI, Address to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the
Holy See (9 January 2006): AAS 98 (2006), 127.
(248) Cf. Propositio 48. In this regard, the Compendium of the Social
Doctrine of the Church has proved most helpful.
(249) Cf. Propositio 43.
(250) Cf. Propositio 47.
(251) Cf. Propositio 17.
(252) Martyrium Saturnini, Dativi et aliorum plurimorum, 7, 9, 10: PL
8, 707, 709-710.
(253) Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17
April 2003), 53: AAS 95 (2003), 469.
(254) Eucharistic Prayer I (Roman Canon).
(255) Propositio 50.
(256) Cf. Benedict XVI, Homily (8 December 2005): AAS 98 (2006), 15.
Farm Bill Principles
[The year 2007 will see broad debate in Congress
and in civil society about the passage of a new farm bill that will govern
U.S. Farm policy for the next several years. The Religious Working Group
on the Farm Bill, which includes the USCCB, provides the following analysis
and guidance for the discussion:]
From God’s initial command to be good stewards of
creation to the Prophets’ call for justice among governments and
nations, people of faith in every age are called together to work for
the common good. Inspired by Jesus’ command to care for poor and
hungry people, we join together to support policies that promote economic
justice, strengthen rural communities at home and around the world, care
for the land as God’s creation, foster right relations among nations
and achieve an end to hunger.
The Working Group will urge Congress to take the opportunity
presented by the reauthorization of the Farm Bill to prioritize policies
that reduce hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.
To this end we support the following principles for the 2007 farm bill.
The 2007 farm bill should:
Increase investments that combat rural poverty and
strengthen rural communities.
Strengthen and expand programs that reduce hunger and
improve nutrition in the United States.
Strengthen and increase investment in policies that
promote conservation and good stewardship of the land.
Provide transitions for farmers to alternative forms
of support that are more equitable and do not distort trade in ways that
fuel hunger and poverty.
Protect the health and safety of farmworkers.
Expand research related to alternative and renewable
forms of energy.
Improve and expand international food aid in ways that
encourage local food security.
Bread for the World
Church World Service
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
National Council of Churches
The Episcopal Church
Presbyterian Church (USA), Washington Office
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The USCCB Office of Social Development and World Peace
information on the farm bill on their web site.
Br. David Andrews, CSC, National Catholic Rural Life Conference:
Sacred food, economic meaning.
Franciscans Launch Historic
Social Justice Initiative
Washington, DC – Members of the various communities
of Roman Catholics, and their ecumenical counterparts, known collectively
as the Franciscans
met last week to form a new Center for Action and a broad-based Franciscan
Family Commission for Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation. The
represents an unprecedented effort within the Franciscan family to focus
combined resources on social justice and peace advocacy.
More than 130 leaders and social justice and peace representatives
from the Franciscan provinces, congregations, Secular Franciscan Regions,
Ecumenical partners approved the new initiative in Baltimore last week.
The Center for Action and the Family Commission – together known
as the Franciscan Voice for Advocacy – are tasked with assisting
the tens of thousands of Franciscans in the U.S., and the millions whom
they serve, to effectively influence social policy in order to transform
“This is a notable step in the development of the Catholic social
justice and peace movement,” said Marie Dennis, a Secular Franciscan
and director for the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. “By leveraging
the resources of the various components of the Franciscan Family we can
provide an effective voice on a wide array of issues, such as war, oppression,
poverty, and the global climate crisis.”
The Franciscan Family is comprised of several large Catholic
and Ecumenical institutions that span all fifty states and encompass
over 25,000 religious
and lay members in more than 210 parishes, schools, colleges, and hospitals
here as well as in 40 countries abroad. Its evolution as a public social
justice advocate will elevate the voice of Catholic and Christian social
traditions and their commitment to the common good.
Vision Statement of the Franciscan Family, adopted March
We Franciscan brothers and sisters, Religious and Secular,
from throughout the United States, gathered together in Baltimore, MD,
the possibility of a unified Franciscan Voice for justice. With great
for dehumanizing issues in our society, we recognized trends contrary
to our calling as followers of Christ. We see that we have the
effectively advocate for the redistribution of resources, the responsible
care for creation, and the healing of relationships within the
Franciscan Family, the Church and society. To these ends, we commit ourselves
and call all members of the Family to speak with one Franciscan
the transformation of national social policy. By walking with our
brothers and sisters who are poor and marginalized, we intend to
and to reaffirm the dignity of all creation.
CRS Update on Darfur
The crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan continues to
be a major concern to Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the U.S. Conference
of Catholic Bishops and Catholics throughout the United States. CRS has
sustained its lifesaving humanitarian efforts in the northern corridor
of West Darfur despite difficult conditions. However, the violence persists
unabated with few options to protect vulnerable populations, especially
women and children. The renewed conflict in the past few months as well
as increased challenges for humanitarian organizations has left tens
of thousands of newly displaced people inaccessible to relief efforts.
In a terrible mirror image across the border, the Darfur conflict has
exacerbated related civil wars in Chad and Central African Republic where
CRS is supporting local partners to address increasingly desperate humanitarian
The World’s Response to the Darfur Crisis
United Nations (U.N.), the U.S. government and others continue to seek
an end to the violence in Darfur. While efforts have
been made to
install a U.N. peacekeeping force in the region, the U.N. and the Government
of Sudan have not agreed on the terms of such a deployment. African Union
troops continue their peacekeeping operations in the region but they
are poorly equipped and understaffed.
Last September, President Bush appointed Andrew Natsios
to be the U.S. Presidential Envoy to Sudan. Since his appointment, Special
has frequently traveled to Sudan and engaged in diplomatic efforts to
bring an end to the crisis in Darfur. With the help of your advocacy
efforts, the U.S. Congress passed and President Bush signed into law
the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (DARPAA) in October 2006, which
presses the government of Sudan to disarm the warring factions, cease
all attacks against innocent civilians, provide unimpeded humanitarian
access and bring to justice those perpetrating crimes against humanity.
Recently Special Envoy Natsios has signaled that failure
to reach a diplomatic solution to date is leading the U.S. government
to consider implementation
of “Plan B.” Plan B reportedly includes putting in place
certain provisions in DARPAA such as tightening the existing sanctions
regime and making it harder for companies to do businesses in Sudan with
U.S. dollars as well as imposing travel and banking restrictions on several
Sudanese individuals. Reports suggest that implementation of certain
aspects of Plan B are imminent.
CRS’ Response to the Darfur Crisis
in Darfur report that access to the northern areas of West Darfur, the
main region of CRS’ operations, finally
opened up in January and February but that the area recently has seen
violence. CRS is providing humanitarian relief such as food, water, shelter,
sanitation, and education.
In the United States, CRS is actively monitoring the
diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the violence in Darfur and how
stepped up measures could effect our humanitarian efforts. CRS continues
to advocate for:
An end to the violence by securing a comprehensive
ceasefire in Darfur;
A fully-funded peacekeeping force with a strong mandate
to protect civilians and humanitarian workers in the Darfur region;
Adequate funding to provide lifesaving assistance
to the people suffering due to the conflict; and
A long-term political solution to the crises in Sudan,
including Darfur, the North-South and eastern Sudan conflicts, which
engagement of relevant actors in the region, especially Uganda
Stay Informed about the Sudan Crisis
CRS has updated
resources for Catholics to learn, pray, reflect, and speak out in support
of our Sudanese sisters and brothers.
For an overview
and to download available resources, please visit our website http://sudan.crs.org. For up-to-date information about how you can join CRS to
brothers and sisters in Sudan, become a CRS Legislative Network
member by visiting:
For more information, contact:
Tina Rodousakis, Legislative
Network Specialist, Catholic Relief Services; 1-800-235-2772 x 7462; email@example.com
Iraq: Catholic Resources
The second installment of this resource is available
on the web site of Jesuit
"For the Peace of Jerusalem"
Churches for Middle East Peace Middle East Peace Advocacy Conference, May 6-8,
National City Christian Church and Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Washington,
Advocates from churches around the country are invited to participate. This ecumenical
conference will focus on US policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with
speakers, workshops, advocacy preparation and a day of lobbying your elected
officials. The program will begin on Sunday evening and conclude with Tuesday's
Hill appointments and will include a special session for denominational gatherings.
Information and on-line registration are available at www.cmep.org/2007_conference/conference_mainpage.htm.
Globalization & the Migrant
A Witness for Peace delegation from southern Mexico to the northern border
May 20th - June 3rd, 2007. Travel from the migrant sending state of
(site of he current social uprising) to northern Mexico, meet migrants preparing
to cross into the US, and participate in the 4th Annual
Migrant Trail Walk from Sasabe, Sonora to Tucson, Arizona.
Cost: The price of the delegation is $895 USD for the
first 9 days, which includes the first day of the Migrant Trail Walk.
The delegation fee covers all reading
materials, set-up, preparation, meals, lodging, interpretation, and transportation
(including in-country flight) during the delegation. We encourage participants
who are able to continue the delegation with us for the rest of the walk, for
which we ask an additional $150 ($25/day, all of which goes directly to the
Migrant Trail Walk
organizing committee). Note: These fees do not include airfare from your hometown
start of the delegation in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Application and non-refundable deposit of $150 due ASAP.
Download the application at www.witnessforpeace.org/travel/application.html.
For more information, contact
Jennifer Hill at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-938-1029.
Jubilee USA's second annual grassroots conference
The conference will take place on June 15 to 17 at Loyola University's
Water Tower Campus in downtown Chicago, Illinois.
Special guests at this year's conference will include
Amy Goodman of Pacifica Radio program Democracy Now!, hip-hop performance
ensemble Kuumba Lynx, Illinois
State Senator Don Trotter of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators,
Afro-Colombian performers Julio y Marta Montaño Arboleda, as well
as activists and debt campaigners from Liberia, Ecuador, and the Democratic
Republic of Congo.
Invited guests include the Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu
Ndungane, Tanzanian political cartoonist Gado Mwampembwa, Senator Barack
Judy Biggert (R-IL) and many more. More information is available on the
Social Action Institute
The twenty first annual Social
Action Summer Institute will be held
at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 15-20, 2007.
is a joint
project of the Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors,
USCCB Social Development and World Peace, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic
for Human Development, Catholic Relief Services and Justfaith Ministries.
An application form is available at www.nplc.org/roundtable/events/sasi_regform.htm.
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.
can the Justice and Peace Office help you get involved?
T. Michael McNulty, SJ, editor
||assists major superiors in their
role as leaders;
||promotes dialogue and collaboration with the conference of
bishops and other major groups in church and society;
||provides a corporate influence in church and society.
8808 Cameron St., Silver Spring, MD 20910
• Fax: 301-587-4575 • www.cmsm.org