Topic: For the Public

CMSM Statement on U.S. Bombing in Syria

Syria and Iraq

U.S. Bombing in Syria: We Must Break Free from Retaliation

President Trump recently launched 59 cruise missiles at an air base in Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack within Syria. We, who are called to be Catholic religious leaders, mourn for all those that died in both of these incidents, and we denounce this use of violence which only exacerbates the habits and structures of violence. In fact, these habits and structures are part of the core root causes of this conflict, which has already killed over 300,000 people and led to almost 5 million refugees and 7 million internally displaced persons.

The President has continuously emphasized the “rule of law” and yet in this case it appears that he obtained no congressional approval, nor did he allow for formal due process investigating the facts of the incident. We strongly support the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ investigation into this incident and call on all parties to provide access.

As Christians, we go deeper and turn to the example of Jesus who courageously resisted injustice, even with his very life, and offered compassionate and merciful justice humanity could not imagine. This week we enter into the Paschal Mystery of Jesus facing the violent structures of Jerusalem, risking his life, and providing a way to overcome through his nonviolent cross.

Pope Francis has clearly said that, “countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all” (Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace, Jan. 1, 2017). Thus, he called on all persons, especially government officials to use the Sermon on the Mount as the manual for peacemaking and to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their responsibilities.

CMSM Executive Director Fr. John Pavlik, OFM Cap., says, “Our hearts were broken as we learned of the suffering inflicted upon Syrian families and children with chemical weapons. And our hearts were wounded a second time in a violent response with cruise missiles bombing, destroying, and killing yet more. The US response manifested strong military power but showed nothing of a united will to lift, rescue, and save suffering people from the ravages of war. The US can be so much better than this.”

The issue we must face is not simply chemical weapons, but war itself along with the habits and structures of violence that enable it. The U.S. has too often been involved in killing thousands in recent wars, especially civilians and children, as we have seen most recently in Mosul, Iraq and our direct support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen. As we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam” on April 4th, we are reminded of his words that “war is not a just way of settling differences,” and it cannot be “reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love.” Hence, we recommit to Vatican II’s call that “it is our clear duty to strain every muscle to outlaw war” (Pastoral Constitution, 81). Further, we commit to Pope Francis’ call to make “every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence” (Nonviolence: Style of Politics for Peace) as we create a “culture of nonviolence…that has produced decisive results” (Letter to Bishop Cupich, Apr. 4, 2017).

Download this statement as a PDF.

Previous CMSM statement on use of chemical weapons and alternative responses – Sept. 6, 2013.

CMSM Board Member Elected Provincial of Discalced Carmelite Friars

We extend our prayers and congratulations to current CMSM board member Rev. Adam Gregory Gonzalez, OCD, who was recently elected by the members of the California-Arizona Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars to become their new provincial. The Provincial-Elect takes office on May 15, 2017.

Papal Message to U.S. Religious Brothers

Pope Francis smiling

The following is the text of a letter CMSM received from the U.S. Apostolic Nunciature carrying greetings from Pope Francis in anticipation of Religious Brothers Day on May 1, 2017. A downloadable version of the letter is also available.

Dear Father Pavlik,

I have been asked to forward to you the following message from the Secretariat of State as the Church in the United States prepares to celebrate “Religious Brothers Day”:

As the Church in the United States prepares to celebrate the first annual “Religious Brothers Day,” His Holiness Pope Francis sends cordial greetings to America’s communities of brothers, together with his prayerful good wishes for the spiritual fruitfulness of their varied apostolates. Conscious of the immense contribution made by generations of brothers to the growth of the Church in the United States through their schools, hospitals and other forms of religious and social outreach, the Holy Father trusts that this day of recognition will confirm them in their distinctive witness of consecrated life and their generous service to God’s Kingdom. He likewise expresses his hope that their prophetic testimony to evangelical fraternity and ecclesial communion will act as a leaven for the renewal of the Church in America and the building up of an ever more just society, respectful of the dignity and aspirations of all God’s children. Commending America’s religious brothers to the paternal intercession of Saint Joseph the Worker, His Holiness affectionately imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of abiding joy and peace in the Lord.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State

With cordial regards and assuring you of my prayers, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Archbishop Christophe Pierre
Apostolic Nuncio

An Unexpected Challenge and Urgent Request: Update from South Sudan

Sudan - Feeding the Hungry

The following information comes to us by way of Sr. Joan Mumaw of Friends in Solidarity, the U.S. partner to solidarity with South Sudan. Their offices are part of the shared building with CMSM.

On New Year’s Day, the village of Riimenze in Western Equatoria was the scene of intense fighting between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (national army) and rebels, made up primarily of local men and boys “recruited” to defend their area. During the fighting, homes were looted and burned, sometimes with people in them. Over 5000 people from the village fled their homes and are sheltering at the parish in Riimenze, the site of the Solidarity Agricultural Training Project.

Sisters Rosa and Josephine and Brother Christian, members of Solidarity with South Sudan, are assisting these internally displaced people (IDP), helping them to access water, food, shelter and medicines. Fortunately, there was an abundant crop of sweet potatoes harvested from the agricultural project at the end of the year. Solidarity staff from the Teacher Training College bought all the tarps available in the Yambio area, an insufficient number for the 1700 families needing shelter. Generous donors are providing resources for an additional borehole and water tanks.

The needs are greater than our resources. Solidarity with South Sudan is focused on capacity building- training nurses, midwives, teachers and pastoral teams. The urgent needs of the community built up around the agricultural project present Solidarity members with new challenges. Friends in Solidarity is seeking funds to assist the Riimenze team with this great need. JOIN US in supporting Solidarity. Secure tax deductible donations can be made via www.solidarityfriends.org or Facebook. Checks made out to Friends in Solidarity can be sent to the address below.

Facing Famine

The United Nations recently warned of famine in South Sudan. 100,000 people in Unity State are facing famine and over a million are food insecure. Others indicate that 40% of the population will soon be in a similar situation. The tragedy is that this is man-made. Leaders in the country have failed to comply with peace agreements and are unable to control their own military groups who continue to ravage the country, looting and burning and raping the women and young girls. Humanitarian agencies are unable to deliver life-saving food and medicines because of the lack of security. Solidarity with South Sudan is partnering with Catholic Relief Services to deliver humanitarian assistance in Wau, Riimenze and Juba. Where possible, assistance is given to support people who want to return to their homes and rebuild. The Riimenze crisis provides us with the opportunity to assist people to return to their plots of land and rebuild their homes when peace is restored. This is possible because of the work Solidarity has done to build a community around sustainable agricultural practices. Join us, Friends in Solidarity, as we assist Solidarity with South Sudan in this rebuilding effort. www.solidarityfriends.org

Joan Mumaw
8808 Cameron St
Silver Spring, MD 20910

National Symposium on the Life of the Religious Brother Held at Notre Dame

Brothers Symposium

Despite rainy weather and dramatic traffic challenges at the eleventh hour, the Brothers Symposium held on March 25, 2017 was a very special day for all who participated.

Over 225 individuals attended the Symposium and interacted with speakers, facilitators, panel members, breakout session leaders, and scribes who represented over 750 years as vowed religious in over 15 different communities/institutes.  Thank you to all — your commitment to religious brothers inspires us all!

Please stay tuned to this website where we plan to publish the text of the Keynote Address given by Br. John Mark Falkenhain, OSB, as well as links to the videotape of his talk, the reflections of the two responders (Br. Ton Sison, C.PP.S., and Br. Peter O’Loughlin, CFC), and the opening/closing remarks by Fr. John Pavlik, OFM Cap., and Cardinal Joe Tobin, C.Ss.R.

As additional photos of the event are received, they will be posted on that website as well.  Please send yours to the Symposium Project Manager — Martha Novelly. Some photos  and a video from the events are also posted below.


 
Update 4/6/17:

Videos of the major talks and Mass celebrated at the Symposium are now available. Below is the Keynote address by Br. John Mark Falkenhain, OSB is below along with a link to the CMSM YouTube channel to view other videos from the event.
For more videos, visit the CMSM YouTube channel.

15,000 Catholics ask Trump to honor Paris climate agreement

Flowers

CMSM was one of fifteen Catholic organizations and religious institutes to endorse the petition.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thousands of Catholics have asked President Donald Trump to honor the Paris climate agreement, continue U.S. contributions to the Green Climate Fund, and implement the Clean Power Plan governing power plant emissions.

Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, said 15,000 Catholics signed an online petition that was submitted to the president March 15. It was developed as one response to Trump administration claims that climate change is not caused by human activities.

“They are issues that our organization, the Catholic bishops, Catholic Relief Services, and other organizations have supported for years,” Misleh said of the three areas addressed in the petition. “We think there is a federal role for action on the climate issue.

Read the article on CruxNow.

Media Release: ICE Must Respect Places of Worship and Ministry

ICE Logo

 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials apprehended six men exiting a hypothermia shelter on February 8 at Rising Hope Mission Church in Alexandria, Virginia — violating ICE’s own policy not to conduct enforcement actions at or near “sensitive locations” like houses of worship. We, who are called to be Catholic religious leaders, are deeply troubled by the pattern of deportations of those seeking refuge who do not pose a “significant threat to national security and public safety.” We are outraged when a government agency breaks its commitment to religious respect and invades and violates holy ground. No action of a government should ever bring fear into any person who seeks worship or aid at a religious house of worship or religious sponsored place. Our constitution guarantees our freedom of worship and religion even when it embraces acts of mercy.

As Christians, we turn to the example of Jesus who often had a compassionate and merciful justice humanity could not imagine. The very soul of our country is based on being free from religious oppression. Are we so blind as to not see how many frightening moments in our world’s history began by the erosion of a universal belief in dignity for all and oppression of religion? We choose to remind all people of our long standing Catholic social teaching on the poor and Pope Francis renewed call to all humankind to encounter the other, build bridges with relationships, and resist injustice.

CMSM President Fr. Brian Terry, SA says, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ The very words of Jesus’ parable ring in my ears. I cannot imagine the pain filled eyes of the six vulnerable men who joyfully escaped the death of a cold night because of the care of a loving Church, only to be imprisoned as they exited… by the cold steel of handcuffs, a freezing cold steel of terror and despair which would go right into your soul.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is implementing President Trump’s recent executive orders to increase immigration enforcement by targeting all undocumented immigrants, including a Methodist lay leader in Kansas, a mother in Arizona, and now, men coming out of a church ministry that provides shelter in extremely cold conditions. People are increasingly afraid to go to school, hospitals, and places of worship. We promote the value of law and order, but we also recognize the greater values of merciful justice and compassion.

We invite others to join us in denouncing these deportation efforts that harm the “least of our brothers and sisters.” We especially denounce the irreverence, disrespect and violation of sensitive locations, such as houses of worship and ministry which belong to God and the erosion of our Constitutional right to be free from religious oppression by our government.

For more information about this media release, contact Eli McCarthy or call 301-588-4030.

Download a printable copy of this media release.

15 Christian Organizations Call for Peace, Justice in Israel/Palestine

Jerusalem

The Conference of Major Superiors of Men and Pax Christi International are among 15 major Christian organisations of different denominations that sent a briefing paper to all members of Congress and to the Trump Administration this morning, calling for US policies that promote peace, justice, and equality between Israelis and Palestinians.

The paper states: “2017 marks 50 years since Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza and 24 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords. Over the last 50 years, but particularly since the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993, there have been significant changes on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territories that have a negative impact on efforts to achieve peace with justice.”

View the article. 

Source: ICN News

Forum – Winter 2017: San Diego Catholic Bishop Calls Leaders to Disrupt and Rebuild

Conversation

 

MODESTO,  Calif., Feb. 18, 2017 – The Most Rev. Robert W. McElroy, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, today delivered the following comments at the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements during a panel discussion on the barriers marginalized people face in housing and work.

For the past century, from the worker movements of Catholic action in France, Belgium and Italy to Pope John XXIII’s call to re-structure the economies of the world in “Mater et Magistra,” to the piercing missionary message of the Latin American Church at Aparecida, the words “see,” “judge” and “act” have provided a powerful pathway for those who seek to renew the temporal order in the light of the Gospel and justice.

As the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace described this pathway, it lies in “seeing clearly the situation, judging with principles that foster the integral development of people and acting in a way which implements these principles in the light of everyone’s unique situation.”

There is no greater charter for this gathering taking place here in Modesto in these days than the simple but rich architecture of these three words: “see,” “judge” and “act.” Yet these words — which carry with them such a powerful history of social transformation around the world in service to the dignity of the human person — must be renewed and re-examined at every age and seen against the background of those social, economic and political forces in each historical moment.

In the United States we stand at a pivotal moment as a people and a nation, in which bitter divisions cleave our country and pollute our national dialogue.

In our reflections in these days, here, we must identify the ways in which our very ability to see, judge and act on behalf of justice is being endangered by cultural currents which leave us isolated, embittered and angry. We must make the issues of jobs, housing, immigration, economic disparities and the environment foundations for common efforts rather than of division.  We must see prophetic words and prophetic actions which produce unity and cohesion and we must do so in the spirit of hope which is realistic. For as Pope Francis stated to the meeting in Bolivia: “You are sowers of change,” and sowers never lose hope. 

See Clearly the Situation

One of the most striking elements of “Laudato Si” is its clear and bold analysis of the empirical realities that threaten the Earth which is our common home. “Seeing the situation clearly” is the whole foundation for that encyclical. It is the starting point for transformative justice. Pope Francis was unafraid to venture into this controversial set of questions about climate change and the environment despite the fact that massive social and economic forces, especially within our own country, have conspired to obscure the scientific realities of climate change and environmental degradation, in the very same way that the tobacco companies obscured for decades the medical science pertaining to smoking.

There is a lesson for us here, as agents of change and justice. Never be afraid to speak the truth. Always find your foundation for reflection and action in the fullness of empirical reality. Design strategies for change upon ever fuller dissemination of truths, even when they seem inconvenient to the cause.

This is an especially important anchor for us, in an age in which truth itself is under attack.

Pope Benedict lamented the diminishment of attention to the importance of objective truth in public life and discourse.  Now we come to a time when alternate facts compete with real facts, and whole industries have arisen to shape public opinion in destructively isolated and dishonest patterns. The dictum “see clearly the situation” has seldom been more difficult in our society in the United States.

Yet the very realities which our speakers this morning have all pointed to in capturing the depth of marginalization in housing, work and economic equality within the United States point us toward the clarification and the humanization of truth, which leads to a deeper grasp of the realities of injustice and marginalization that confront our nation.

As Pope Francis underscored in his words to the Popular Movements in Bolivia, “When we look into the eyes of the suffering, when we see the faces of the endangered campesino, the poor laborer, the downtrodden native, the homeless family, the persecuted migrant, the unemployed young person and the exploited child, we have seen and heard not a cold statistic but the pain of a suffering humanity, our own pain, our own flesh.”

One of the most important elements of your work as agents of justice in our midst in this country in this moment, is to help our society as a whole become more attuned to this reality of humanized truth, through narrative and witness, listening and solidarity. In this way, you not only witness to the truth through the lives and experiences of the marginalized, you help us all to see the most powerful realities of our world in greater depth.

Those realities embrace both scientific findings and stories of tragedy, economic analysis and the tears of the human heart. “See clearly the situation” is not merely a step in your work on behalf of justice, it shapes everything that you do to transform our world.

Judging with Principles to Foster Integral Development

The fundamental political question of our age is whether our economic structures and systems in the United States will enjoy ever greater autonomy or whether they will be located effectively within a juridical structure which seeks to safeguard the dignity of the human person and the common good of our nation.

In that battle, the tradition of Catholic social teaching is unequivocally on the side of strong governmental and societal protections for the powerless, the worker, the homeless, the hungry, those without decent medical care, the unemployed. This stance of the Church’s teaching flows from the teaching of the Book of Genesis: The creation is the gift of God to all of humanity. Thus in the most fundamental way, there is a universal destination for all of the material goods that exist in this world. Wealth is a common heritage, not at its core a right of lineage or acquisition.

For this reason, free markets do not constitute a first principle of economic justice. Their moral worth is instrumental in nature and must be structured by government to accomplish the common good.

In Catholic teaching, the very rights which are being denied in our society to large numbers of those who live in our nation are intrinsic human rights in Catholic teaching: The right to medical care; to decent housing; to the protection of human life from conception to natural death; of the right to food; of the right to work. Catholic teaching sees these rights not merely as points for negotiation, provided only if there is excess in society after the workings of the free market system accomplished their distribution of the nation’s wealth. Rather, these rights are basic claims which every man, woman and family has upon our nation as a whole.

These are the fundamental principles which the Church points to as the basis for judgement for every political and social program that structures economic life within the United States. And they are supplemented in Catholic teaching by a grave suspicion about enormous levels of economic inequality in society. Pope Francis made clear the depth of this suspicion two years ago. “Inequality,” he said, “is the root of social evil.”

In his encyclical “The Joy of the Gospel,” Francis unmasked inequality as the foundation for a process of exclusion that cuts immense segments of society off from meaningful participation in social, political and economic life, as we have all heard this morning. It gives rise to a financial system that rules rather than serves humanity and a capitalism that literally kills those who have no utility as consumers.

Now, when I quote the Pope that “this economy kills,” people very often say to me, “Oh come on, that’s just an exaggeration; it’s a form of speech.”

I want to do an experiment with you. I want you to sit back in your chair for a moment. And close your eyes, and I want you to think of someone you have known that our economy has killed:  A senior who can’t afford medicine or rent; a mother or father who is dying, working two and three jobs, really dying because even then they can’t provide for their kids; young people who can’t find their way in the world in which there is no job for them, and they turn to drugs, or gangs or suicide. Think of one person you know that this economy has killed.

Now mourn them.

And now call out their name; let all the world know that this economy kills.
For Catholic social teaching, the surest pathway to economic justice is the provision of meaningful and sustainable work for all men and women capable of work. The “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church” states, “Economic and social imbalances in the world of work must be addressed by restoring a just hierarchy of values and placing the dignity of workers before all else.”

In work, the Church proclaims, men and women find not only the most sustainable avenue to economic security but also become co-creators with God in the world in which we live. Work is thus profoundly a sacred reality. It protects human dignity even as it spiritually enriches that dignity. If we truly are in our work co-creators with God, don’t we think that deserves at least $15 an hour?

Acting

After the panel yesterday, when the panelists were asked in one word how they would summarize their message, I tried to think, what is the “act” that summarizes how we must act in this moment?

And I came up with two words. The first has been provided in our past election. President Trump was the candidate of “disruption.” He was “the disruptor,” he said, challenging the operations of our government and society that need reform.

Well now, we must all become disruptors. We must disrupt those who would seek to send troops into our streets to deport the undocumented, to rip mothers and fathers from their families. We must disrupt those who portray refugees as enemies rather than our brothers and sisters in terrible need. We must disrupt those who train us to see Muslim men, women and children as forces of fear rather than as children of God. We must disrupt those who seek to rob our medical care, especially from the poor. We must disrupt those who would take even food stamps and nutrition assistance from the mouths of children.

But we, as people of faith, as disciples of Jesus Christ, as children of Abraham, as followers of the Prophet Muhammad, as people of all faiths and no faith, we cannot merely be disruptors, we also have to be rebuilders.

We have to rebuild this nation so that we place at its heart the service to the dignity of the human person and assert what the American flag behinds us asserts is our heritage: Every man, woman and child is equal in this nation and called to be equal.

We must rebuild a nation in solidarity, what Catholic teaching calls the sense that all of us are the children of the one God, there are no children of a lesser god in our midst. That all of us are called to be cohesive and embrace one another and see ourselves as graced by God. We are called to rebuild our nation which does pay $15 an hour in wages, and provides decent housing, clothing and food for those who are poorest. And we need to rebuild our Earth, which is so much in danger by our own industries.

So let us see and judge and act.

Let us disrupt and rebuild in solidarity and peace.

And let us do God’s work.

Download the Forum Statement