Topic: For the Public

Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero to be Canonized

The Vatican announced on March 7 that Pope Francis has approved decrees of miracles for five individuals, including Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero, opening the way for their canonizations. Pope Paul VI will be canonized in Rome in October; the date for Archbishop Romero has not yet been announced.

  • Blessed Paul VI (Giovanni Battista Montini), Supreme Pontiff
  • Blessed Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, Archbishop of San Salvador (El Salvador), Martyr
  • Blessed Francesco Spinelli, diocesan priest and founder of the Institute of the Sister Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament
  • Blessed Vincenzo Romani, diocesan priest
  • Blessed Maria Catherine Kasper, foundress of the Institute of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ

In the news: VaticanNational Catholic Reporter | AmericaCatholic News Service

Media Release: Catholic Religious Across the Americas Escalate Migrant Accompaniment

CMSM Y& LCWR on the Border

Silver Spring, Md. – We are moved by the anxiety and suffering of the Dreamers to escalate our accompaniment and our resistance to injustice, especially as the March 5th deadline approaches. On Friday Feb. 23rd, Catholic leaders from the religious conferences of the U.S. (Conference of Superiors of Men and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious), Mexico, Caribbean and Latin American Confederation of Religious, and Canada crossed borders to meet for the first time as a group, and journeyed to the border wall at Sasabe, AZ. We offered a prayer service for Dreamers as well as all our migrant sisters and brothers. We sensed the deep pain of their struggles and the desire in us for our country to build bridges, not walls between communities and countries. We heard from a Samaritan leader in Tucson about how immigrants continue to die in the desert and more walls mean more deaths.

Religious leaders participating in the encounter were Fr. Brian Terry, SA, Fr. Mark Padrez, OP, Fr. Roberto Salvidar-Ureno, MSpS, and Fr. John Pavlik, OFM Cap from the U.S. Conference of Superiors of Men, Sr. Teresa Maya, CCVI, Sr. Sharlet Ann Wagner, CSC, and Sr. Carole Shinnick, SSND, from the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Sr. Clara Alcantara Torres, ME, Br. Francisco Flores, FSC, and Fr. Gerardo Maya Gonzalez, MJ from the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious in Mexico (CIRM), Sr. Mercedes Leticia Casas Sanchez, FSpS from the Caribbean and Latin American Confederation of Religious (CLAR), along with Br. Louis Cinq-Mars, OFM Cap and Sr. Michelle Payette, MIC from the Canadian Religious Conference.


Sr. Clara Alcantara, ME: “Thank you for allowing us to participate in this experience of solidarity and presence with the reality of migration and dreamers. In religious life we have to be where there are no signs of the kingdom and actions such as today are steps to create chains of encounter and prayer.”

Sr. Teresa Maya, CCVI: “Standing on the US-Mexico Border contemplating the miles of desert where thousands of migrants have died in an effort to get to a better life I prayed for our Church. I prayed because I realized what losing DACA means. We could fail the young men and women who deserve the basic human rights of work, education, and legal personality. But I prayed for all Christians everywhere to stand up and refuse to fail our fellow human beings by the complicity of silence. This would be the greater moral failure, to remain silent when human dignity is being refused.”

Sr. Michelle Payette, MIC: “At the foot of this wall, in the desert, we prayed in solidarity with Dreamers and migrants. The text of Leviticus 19: 33-34 guided our prayer: If a foreigner resides with you in your land, you will not mistreat them. The foreigner who resides with you will be for you like your compatriot and you will love them as yourself, for you have been strangers in the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your God.”

Fr. John Pavlik, OFM Cap: “Praying at the border of Mexico and the United States, with the steel and concrete wall running far onto the horizon, and standing shoulder to shoulder with women and men religious from Mexico, Canada, and the United States, allowed us to touch a periphery, a narrow space but opening to wide, empty spaces where real persons have perished in braving harsh, unforgiving landscape in order to escape harsh and deadly social conditions. How many of the citizens of the three countries represented at the wall in Sasabe came to another land for similar reasons? As women and men of the Gospel, we could not close our ears to the cry of the downtrodden nor could we close our eyes to persons hurting; let not our country want to become cruel again by evicting those who endured great pain to escape worst. We are much better than this self-protective impulse.”

Together, we renew our commitment to act in concrete, courageous solidarity with Dreamers and all our migrant sisters and brothers across the Americas. This Tuesday Feb. 27th in the U.S. we will be participating in the Catholic Day of Action with Dreamers. We strongly encourage our fellow Catholics to participate in this day and for our Catholic congressional representatives to take a leadership role in passing a clean Dream Act.


The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) supports and offers resources for U.S. leaders of Catholic men’s religious institutes. CMSM promotes dialogue and collaboration on issues of religious life as well as peace and justice issues with major groups in church and society. There are more than 17,000 religious priests and brothers in the United States.

Download this media release.

UPDATE 2/27:

The National Catholic Reporter featured the CMSM / LCWR border witness as part of their “Justice Action Bulletin.”

Pope Francis Appoints Members to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

Jesus with the Children

Pope Francis has confirmed Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap. as President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors [PCPM] and named sixteen (16) members to this advisory body, including nine new members.

The new members are: Prof. Benyam Dawit Mezmur (Ethiopia); Sr. Arina Gonsalves, RJM (India); Hon. Neville Owen (Australia); Ms. Sinalelea Fe’ao (Tonga); Prof. Myriam Wijlens (Netherlands); Prof. Ernesto Caffo (Italy); Sr. Jane Bertelsen, FMDM (UK); Ms. Teresa Kettelkamp (USA) and Mr. Nelson Giovanelli Rosendo Dos Santos (Brazil).

The seven returning members are: Dr. Gabriel Dy-Liacco (Philippines); Bishop Luis Manuel Alí Herrera (Colombia); Fr. Hans Zollner, SJ (Germany); Prof. Hanna Suchocka (Poland); Sr. Kayula Lesa, RSC (Zambia) Sr. Hermenegild Makoro, CPS (South Africa), and Msgr. Robert Oliver (USA).

Cardinal O’Malley stated: “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has given much prayerful consideration in nominating these members. The newly appointed members will add to the Commission’s global perspective in the protection of minors and vulnerable adults.  The Holy Father has ensured continuity in the work of our Commission, which is to assist local churches throughout the world in their efforts to safeguard all children, young people, and vulnerable adults from harm.”

The Holy Father has chosen these eight women and eight men from a multi-disciplinary field of international experts in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults from the crime of sexual abuse.  Representatives from several new countries will now offer their insights and experience to the Commission, reflecting the global reach of the Church and the challenge of creating safeguarding structures in diverse cultural contexts.

Victims/survivors of clerical sexual abuse are included among the members announced today.  Since the Commission’s foundation, people who have suffered abuse and parents of victims/survivors have been members.  As has always been the Commission’s practice, the PCPM upholds the right of each person to disclose their experiences of abuse publicly or not to do so.  The members appointed today have chosen not do so publicly, but solely within the Commission.  The PCPM firmly believes that their privacy in this matter is to be respected.

Read more on the website for the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Pope Privately Meets, Cries With Victims of Sexual Abuse by Clergy in Chile

Jesus with the Children


from Zenit

by Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope Francis alone met privately with several victims of sexual abuse by clergy on Tuesday evening, Jan. 17, 2018, at the Apostolic Nunciature in Santiago, Chile, reported Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, in a brief statement.

The Vatican spokesman also noted that the Pope “prayed and cried with them after hearing their experiences.”

Pope Francis is making his 22nd Apostolic Visit abroad, to Chile and Peru, Jan. 15-22, 2018.

In his first speech in the country, speaking to the nation’s authorities, Pope Francis expressed his “pain and shame’” for the “irreparable damage” caused to children by some priests in the Church.

In Chile, a country that has been scarred by the abuses that have caused tension and protests even up to and during the visit, Pope Francis asked forgiveness for these acts and appealed that “every effort” be done to help victims and to ensure that “such things do not happen again.”

CMSM Releases New Module, Hosts Webinars for ‘Conversations That Matter’ Series for the Protection of Minors

Jesus with the Children

The Case of “Father Tom” and supporting materials are available for purchase and download on the CMSM website.

As part of our 15-year effort of education and accountability among men’s institutes for religious life for the protection of minors in our church and society, CMSM is privileged to distribute the latest module in the excellent series “Conversations That Matter.”

Our newest module, “The Case of ‘Father Tom'” is a pseudonymous account of a real situation involving sexual abuse from a professed male religious. It includes a narration of “Father Tom’s” story along with discussion questions and didactics. The questions and key points have been crafted according to the needs of three key audiences:

  • Men in formation
  • Men currently living in Apostolic Life
  • Men living in a Retired Community

Each of these audiences has their own materials unique to them and constitute three different “kits” which can be purchased. To purchase downloadable and online resources for “The Case of ‘Father Tom’,” visit the Protection of Minors page on our website. Online purchases are completed through PayPal and you may use a PayPal account, debit card or credit card to complete the purchase.

The kits are $50 individually and you may purchase multiple kits for a discount. Once you have completed the checkout process through PayPal, you will be directed to a page on which you will receive information on how to access the materials. Please be sure to save the information on that landing page for future access if needed.

If you have questions, or would like to access previous “Conversations That Matter” modules, please contact Fr. Jerry McGlone, S.J. at the CMSM National Office by email or by phone at 301-588-4030 ext. 235 for additional information.

Training Webinars for use of the “Conversations That Matter” Materials

CMSM is also very proud to announce its first series from the Office of Child Protection Training Webinars: “The Dynamics of More Effective Facilitation: Conversations That Matter – 2018.”

Learn or enhance skills necessary to better facilitate these groundbreaking trainings.

This year’s trainings require attentive care and attention to three types of community conversations: formation, apostolic, and retirement.

The trainings will address these new dimensions and explore various practical techniques to enhance engagement and retention of materials.

Learn practical steps to help focus the materials, avoid problems, manage resistance and more effectively deal with problem people.

Dates and Times for the upcoming webinars are as follows. To register for either or both webinars, click on the links provided.

Tuesday , January 16, 2018 1 – 2 p.m. ET
Thursday, January 18, 2018 4 – 5 p.m. ET

These webinars are free and recordings of these trainings will be available after the event on the CMSM website.

Media Release: CMSM Statement on the Occasion of the Death of Bernard Cardinal Law

Jesus with the Children


With the passing in Rome of the former Archbishop of Boston, Bernard Cardinal Law, the Major Superiors of Men of the United States again affirm their wholehearted support for the victims of sexual abuse by clergy and religious, and apologize for the sins and crimes of our brothers. 

CMSM urges it members to reach out to victims and to continue tirelessly to focus efforts to prevent abuse in all of its forms in the Church, in religious communities and in their ministries.

Father Brian Terry, S.A., President of CMSM, stated that the passing of Cardinal Law “is a milestone in an era.  However, we see no end to our deep, vigilant commitment to prevent further abuse nor any weakening of our day to day accompaniment of those who have been abused and are in need healing.”

CMSM also echoes the words of Cardinal O’Malley of Boston:  “I recognize that Cardinal Law’s passing brings forth a wide range of emotions on the part of many people. I am particularly cognizant of all who experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy, whose lives were so seriously impacted by those crimes, and their families and loved ones. To those men and women, I offer my sincere apologies for the harm they suffered, my continued prayers and my promise that the Archdiocese will support them in their effort to achieve healing.

As Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law served at a time when the Church failed seriously in its responsibilities to provide pastoral care for her people, and with tragic outcomes failed to care for the children of our parish communities. I deeply regret that reality and its consequences. Since the day I arrived in the Archdiocese of Boston, my primary objective has been to work for healing and reconciliation among survivors, their families and the wider community of Catholics for whom the abuse crisis was a devastating experience and a great test of faith. In the midst of these groups that were most affected have stood priests and religious sisters of the Archdiocese who have tried to minister to any and all seeking assistance, even when they have been deeply challenged by the crisis that unfolded in the Church.”

Media Contact: Office for Child Protection, Fr Jerry McGlone, SJ, Associate Director:

Download this media release.

What Is It Like to Be A Religious Brother?

Religious Brother

from Catholic News Agency

by Mary Rezac

When Brother Jim Peterson, OFM Cap., was in middle school and high school, he felt like every time someone prayed for vocations, they were praying for him.

“It was always kind of like, they’re talking about me,” he told CNA.

That was his first inclination that he had a religious vocation, though at first, he assumed he was being called to be a priest.

Although the call was always somewhere in his heart, Peterson said that he finished high school, and then college, and was struggling to find a job when he wondered if he should answer that call.

“But at the same time, I wasn’t sure if it was just me running away from something, so I decided to see if I could make my way in the world before making a decision like that,” he said.

It wasn’t until he finished law school, and worked for a few years as a lawyer in Pennsylvania, that he decided he couldn’t ignore God anymore.

Read more.

Forum – Fall 2017: Pope Francis Revives the Workers’ Church

Pope with workers

The Catholic Church in America—once an ally of workers and their unions—grew deferential to big money in recent decades. Now, prompted by the Pope, a new generation of labor priests and bishops is trying to change that. This article appears in the Fall 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine.

Download a PDF of this article.

By John Gehring October 23, 2017

Jorge Ramirez still remembers his Mexican immigrant father coming home with a bloody face after trying to organize his fellow workers in the Back of the Yards, a storied industrial area in Chicago. “My mom would stitch him up in the kitchen,” says Ramirez, 46, now the president of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “It was brutal, but we always had the Catholic Church. There was always a Catholic priest around.”

As unions face an increasingly hostile political climate and grapple with fresh approaches to becoming relevant to a new generation, there are signs that an old ally is once again stepping up. The Catholic Church, which has an imperfect but long history of using its institutional muscle and moral voice to defend workers’ rights, is getting a serious pep talk from a pope who has put labor rights back at the forefront of the Church’s public agenda.

Unions are “prophetic” institutions that “unmask the powerful who trample the rights of the most vulnerable workers,” Pope Francis said in a June speech to the Confederation of Trade Unions, Italy’s equivalent of the AFL-CIO. While conservative politicians, corporate leaders, and well-funded organizations on the right have spent decades trying to dismantle the labor movement, Francis recognizes that what he calls the “dictatorship of an impersonal economy” is the result of an ideology that demonizes unions, worships individualism, and champions unfettered markets. “The capitalism of our time does not understand the value of the trade union because it has forgotten the social nature of the economy,” he said. “This is one of the greatest sins.”

American union leaders have been energized by this unexpected boost from one of the world’s most popular and influential religious leaders. The shoutouts from a pope with a global bully pulpit are not only symbolically potent. There are tangible signs of a “Francis effect” on the Church’s relationship with the American labor movement. When Ramirez of the Chicago Federation of Labor first met the new archbishop whom Pope Francis appointed to the Chicago archdiocese in 2014, it didn’t take long for Cardinal Blase Cupich to express his commitment to workers. In a major address at Plumbers Union Hall on the city’s west side two years ago, Cupich delivered a clear message. “I have come today to tell Chicago workers: The Catholic Church is with you. Pope Francis is with you. I am with you,” Cupich said.

Nor did the cardinal stop there. He specifically took aim at “right to work” laws, arguing that the Church is “duty-bound to challenge such efforts.” He also made clear that the Church has “never made a distinction between private and public sectors,” a critical point as public-sector unions are frequently targeted by conservative opponents both inside and outside the Church.

For Ramirez, with his childhood memories of Catholic clergy standing up for his father, the speech struck a nerve. “Workers are so hungry for this message,” he says. “It resonates because it shows the Church is in touch with workers, and that the Church hears them and has the courage to speak out.” Ramirez notes that the Chicago Federation of Labor, which represents 300 unions and has more than 500,000 members, is reaffirming a project labor agreement with the Chicago archdiocese that ensures union labor is used on construction projects. The Chicago archdiocese, which employs 15,000 full and part-time workers, also honors picket lines and encourages priests to support the labor movement.

Union leaders beyond Chicago are also buzzing about the new climate. Damon Silvers, policy director at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, admits he was surprised when Catholic scholars and advocates began reaching out to the federation after the Pope’s election in 2013. Silvers knew about the Church’s role in labor history, including Pope John Paul II’s support for the solidarity movement in Poland, but he wasn’t used to Catholic leaders beating down his door. The election of the first pope from Latin America was a game-changer.

“Pope Francis set the tone,” Silvers says. “The dignity of work really matters to him. Both the labor movement and the Church are remembering again that Catholic social teaching is one of the fundamental principles of the American labor movement.” Catholic immigrants from Europe found a refuge and an advocate in the Church and unions a century ago. Today Latino immigrants, a large percentage of them Catholic, make up a significant share of workers trying to climb up from the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Silvers recognizes not only the historical parallel, but a potential template for the future. “The labor movement needs a larger ecosystem to grow and thrive,” he says. “A critical part of that ecosystem is the Catholic Church. We have to be embedded in the lives of working people in a multidimensional way and have a connection to the spiritual life of its members. There is a deeper thing here we’re trying to do as a movement. People are not simply the sum of their economic parts. Workers are not a commodity. The Church at its best is trying to help people live as something more than a thing. In that sense, the Church and labor need each other because we’re engaged in a common project.”


Behind-the-scenes conversations between the AFL-CIO and Catholic leaders led to a high-profile conference at the union’s headquarters a few months before Pope Francis’s 2015 visit to the United States. More than a dozen Catholic bishops and cardinals—several of them close advisers to Pope Francis took part in public dialogues around the theme “Erroneous Autonomy: A Conversation on Solidarity and Faith.” It was the first time in recent years that a number of Catholic heavyweights, including a cardinal, spoke at the federation’s headquarters. In a keynote speech, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington cited a “renewal of appreciation” for the “Catholic idea of solidarity.” He told labor leaders in the audience that the church cannot be “bystanders” in the fight for workers’ rights and referred to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka as “our president.” A Catholic and the son of a coal miner from southwestern Pennsylvania, Trumka spoke in glowing terms about the Pope. “Part of the greatness of Pope Francis is that he sees everyone,” Trumka said. “And in seeing those who are excluded and suffering, he lifts all of us up so we can see and hear each other.”

Stephen Schneck, the recently retired director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, played a leading role in bringing AFL-CIO officials and the Catholic hierarchy together in recent years. “The picture of all those bishops standing with union leaders was amazing,” he said. “The optics sent a powerful message.”

When Pope Francis addressed the second Popular Movements event in Bolivia in 2015, he almost sounded like a fiery union agitator.

Mary Kay Henry grew up immersed in an environment where the priests, nuns, and lay Catholics in the pews at Holy Name parish in the suburbs of Detroit viewed the dignity of work as central to their faith. The president of the Service Employees International Union, Henry made her way through an eclectic gathering of faith-based organizers, union leaders, and Catholic bishops during a February meeting of “Popular Movements” in Modesto, California. Pope Francis had inspired the meeting as part of the World Meeting of Popular Movements, which he launched in 2014. Held in Rome, the first event brought together activists from five continents: migrants, landless peasants, indigenous leaders, and representatives from trade unions. The themes of tierra, trabajo, and techo (land, labor, and housing) structured the original gathering and have remained the guiding focus during subsequent events. When Pope Francis addressed the second Popular Movements event in Bolivia in 2015, he almost sounded like a fiery union agitator. “The future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers, and the elites,” he said. “It is fundamentally in the hands of people and in their ability to organize.”

In Modesto, Henry chatted up a Vatican cardinal close to Pope Francis, briefing him about the Fight for 15 movement to raise wages of low-income workers, and told Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez she wanted to bring the union’s home health-care workers and janitors into closer dialogue with the church. More than half of SEIU members are Catholics, union officials estimate. “I’ve always felt the power of faith is key to any breakthrough that working people have made,” Henry told me. “I’m a Catholic, and my first experiences with solidarity came from the church and my family.” Several SEIU organizers and workers in the union visited the Vatican in 2015 for a round of meetings with church officials. Topics included the Fight for 15 movement, immigration reform, and mass incarceration.

“Pope Francis is really opening a space for those toiling in the vineyard to rise up,” Henry says. “The way he talks about economic inequality and links that to racism and care for the common home of our environment really affirms so much of what we’ve been fighting for over the years.”

One of the most significant ways a pope can steer the massive ocean liner that is the Catholic Church in a direction that reflects his priorities is through the bishops he appoints. In the United States, several Francis picks are emerging as strong allies of the labor movement. Cardinal Joe Tobin in Newark can bench-press more than 200 pounds, has the sturdy frame of a dock worker, and is at home at union events. This summer, he celebrated mass on the waterfront with members of the International Longshoremen’s Association who work for the Port of New York and New Jersey. The cardinal was also one of the keynote speakers at the New Jersey state AFL-CIO meeting in June held at Harrah’s casino in Atlantic City. He’s also been a vocal critic of President Trump’s aggressive immigration orders, calling them “the opposite of what it means to be an American.”

In Kentucky, Lexington Bishop John Stowe blasted his state’s right-to-work push in January. Strong labor unions, the bishop wrote in an open letter, “lead to more fair negotiations which benefit all workers in the state. The weakening of unions by so-called ‘right to work’ laws has been shown to reduce wages and benefits overall in the states where such laws have been enacted. This cannot be seen as contributing to the common good.”

Another sign that Catholic leaders are redoubling their efforts on worker justice issues is a project to create a new generation of “labor priests.” From the 1920s through the 1960s, clergy who stood with and advocated for workers were a central part of the labor movement. Priests ran labor training schools, often in parish halls, where workers learned about the minutiae of collective bargaining and the principles of Catholic social teaching. Reverend Clete Kiley, a Chicago priest and director for immigration policy at UNITE HERE, which represents more than 270,000 workers in the hotel, gaming, food service, laundry, and airport industries, is determined to revive that tradition. He launched a labor priest initiative in 2012, a loose network of more than 100 priests across the country who are trained to support workers through the framework of Catholic social justice. About half of the priests are immigrants. Most are under 40 years old. “Priests who work in immigrant communities are asking themselves what is happening to my parishioners when they go to work,” says Kiley, who is also chaplain for the Chicago Federation of Labor. “They hear about wage theft and unsafe working conditions. Some of the most egregious violations are against immigrants.”

Clergy receive training and opportunities to network at workshops hosted in different cities. Along with learning about Catholic teaching on labor, the clergy often hear directly from workers attempting to unionize. At one gathering last year, workers from several Las Vegas casinos shared their experiences about efforts to form a union.

During a recent visit to Owensboro, Kentucky, Kiley heard from priests who have watched well-paying factory jobs with solid benefits vanish from their communities, to be replaced by low-wage work with little security. Some clergy who are new to labor issues, especially in the South, can be skittish about speaking out. Kiley doesn’t force things. “I don’t start off talking about unions,” he says. “I talk about workers and their rights.”

The golden era between the Church and labor in the United States lasted roughly from the end of World War I to the late 1950s. Inspired by Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical on labor and capital, Reverend John Ryan, a priest from Minnesota, became a nationally prominent social reformer whose writing and advocacy on behalf of living wages for workers later helped mold Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Ryan drafted a bold 1919 statement, the Bishops’ Program for Social Reconstruction, that put moral weight behind what were then radical social reforms: a minimum wage, public housing for workers, and unemployment insurance. During the Great Depression, a generation of priests who had firsthand experiences with injustice and poverty came of age in an immigrant church that reflected a working-class ethic.

In the postwar decades, this sensibility began to shift as American Catholics grew wealthier, moved out of urban enclaves, and the church came to reflect the upwardly mobile aspirations of its parishioners, according to Joseph

McCartin, a Georgetown University history professor and director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor. To be sure, caught up in the social activism of the 1960s and the spirit of Vatican II, Catholic leaders marched with Cesar Chavez behind banners of Our Lady of Guadalupe during grape boycotts organized by the United Farm Workers—and the U.S. Bishops’ Conference called efforts to bust unions “an intolerable attack on social solidarity” in a major 1986 economic justice national letter.

But McCartin points to well-funded efforts on the right in more recent years that have created a formidable counterweight to traditional church teaching on the economy and unions. “There have always been elements in the church that have not looked fondly on labor, but what is different now is the vast wealth pushing those points of view,” he says. The business school at Catholic University of America, McCartin notes, has accepted nearly $13 million from the Charles Koch Foundation over the last several years, despite the Koch brothers’ abysmal track record of labor violations, toxic chemical spills, and funding of anti-union campaigns. In October, Catholic University’s business school is hosting a $2,500-per-person conference called “Good Profit,” featuring Charles Koch. Another well-funded foe of the labor movement is the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, led by a Catholic priest, Reverend Robert Sirico. Acton has benefited from the Koch Foundation and the Christian conservative DeVos family, the billionaire heirs to the Amway fortune who have bankrolled anti-union efforts in Michigan.

The boards of trustees at Catholic universities are also often populated by wealthy CEOs and business leaders who made their fortunes in private equity. “Many of these people are in the top 1 percent and they profited from and helped lead the transformation in our economy that benefited the wealthiest few,” McCartin says. “Many college presidents have boards who say, ‘Why should we deal with unions?’ In their own businesses, they don’t deal with unions.”

While some Catholic universities such as Georgetown have unionized janitors, food service workers, and adjunct professors, a number have aggressively resisted organizing drives by citing religious freedom arguments. Gerald Beyer, a Christian ethicist at Villanova University and Donald Carroll, an adjunct professor of law at the University of San Francisco, challenge that posture as blatant hypocrisy. “By deterring unionization efforts, universities violate adjuncts’ ability to live out Catholic teaching,” they wrote in the National Catholic Reporter.

Beyond his vocal support of the role of unions, the Pope is striking at the heart of neoliberal economics and market fundamentalism in ways that make some well-heeled donors in Catholic circles jittery. After Francis wrote an encyclical that blasted trickle-down economics, questioned “the absolute autonomy of markets,” and said that poverty would never be addressed without “attacking the structural causes of inequality,” the billionaire cofounder of Home Depot complained to New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan (not one of Pope Francis’s appointees). Ken Langone, who spearheaded a $180 million restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, confided to the cardinal that one of his wealthy friends was so upset by the Pope’s words that he was considering pocketing his contribution to the renovation. Cardinal Dolan told CNBC that he would assure the reluctant donor that he was “misunderstanding” Francis. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed entitled “The Pope’s Case for Virtuous Capitalism,” Dolan offered a much sunnier assessment of 21st-century capitalism than the pope has. The free market, the cardinal wrote, “has undoubtedly led to a tremendous increase in overall wealth and well-being around the world.” He argued it was a mistake to “reject economic liberty in favor of government control.” When Larry Kudlow, a CNBC commentator who had questioned the Pope’s understanding of capitalism, tweeted that he helped Dolan with the op-ed, the optics were awkward, to say the least.

Some wealthy Catholics seem content to blatantly co-opt and deliberately misconstrue the Pope’s words. John and Carol Saeman, who are active in a network of Catholic business leaders called Legatus, started by Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan, wrote a head-scratching Washington Post op-ed in 2014 in which they strained to align themselves with Francis. “For us, promoting limited government alongside the Kochs is an important part of heeding Pope Francis’s call to love and serve the poor,” wrote the couple, who are financial contributors to the Koch-backed Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce. Every summer, wealthy Catholics active in Legatus and a cadre of the U.S. hierarchy’s more conservative bishops gather at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa Valley, owned by Catholic philanthropist Timothy Busch. The business school at Catholic University is named after Busch, who gave the university $15 million, its largest-ever donation. Busch has called the minimum wage “an anti-market regulation,” cites the Koch brothers as an inspiration, and hosted a conference at the Trump International Hotel in Washington earlier this year where he praised the president for being a staunch “pro-life” leader.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, a leading conservative voice in the hierarchy, acknowledged in a 2014 speech at the Napa retreat that the Pope’s views on economics are likely not in line with many of the Catholic CEOs gathered at the resort. “What Francis says about economic justice may be hard for some of us to hear,” the archbishop said. “So we need to read the Holy Father’s writings for ourselves, without the filter of the mass media. Then we need to open our hearts to what God is telling us through his words.”

Far from Napa Valley, a union leader in Atlantic City often found himself wondering why it was so hard to find Catholic clergy ready to stand with workers fighting against casino bosses who squeezed their employees. Bob McDevitt, the president of UNITE HERE Local 54, started in the union as a 19year-old bartender’s assistant in the Playboy casino. He now leads a union that has lost 40 percent of its members over the last decade. Five casinos have closed since 2013. He recalls one civil disobedience action with workers at the now shuttered Taj Majal casino. Only one priest showed up, and he came from outside the city.

“From a practical standpoint, if so many people in your pews are in organized labor it doesn’t make sense for the church to be tone-deaf to this experience,” McDevitt says. “I’m not the best Catholic, but I know the church talks all the time about social justice. It’s just a matter of doing what you said should be done.”

Things started to change when a new young pastor, Reverend Jon Thomas, was assigned to McDevitt’s church, the Parish of St. Monica, in 2015. Thomas is part of the labor priest network. The pastor teamed up with McDevitt to plan a special mass dedicated to solidarity with workers. The local bishop fully supported the idea, and while he couldn’t attend because of an illness, his letter was read to the congregation. After the service, Thomas and his parishioners marched down Atlantic Avenue in a procession behind a banner of St. Joseph, the patron saint of workers. It was the kind of visual, public support that showed the church and labor walking side by side. “So many of my parishioners are union members, and they bring their fears of downsizing or losing their jobs to church,” Thomas says. “I need to be involved. I’m trying to make the church relevant to their lives.”

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Photo credit:  Luca Zennaro/ANSA via AP

How the Rome Conference on ‘Child Dignity in the Digital World’ Opened My Eyes

Jesus with the Children


from Aleteia – English Edition

by Fr. Joshan Ridrigues

A very important conference took place in Rome October 3-6, 2017, at the Gregorian University, hosted by the University’s Center for Child Protection. I was privileged to be part of the proceedings as a member of the Communications Team, for which I had signed up as a volunteer. The conference was titled “Child Dignity in the Digital World” and focused on understanding and creating innovative solutions to tackle abuse and violence perpetrated against minors on the internet, or in real life (using the internet as a tool). The conference was held in partnership with the WeProtect Global Alliance and Telefono Azzuro.

Though I was aware to a certain extent of the existence of the problem, the gravity of the situation eluded me until this conference. This was a huge eye-opener, and we owe it to our children and future generations to make the digital continent a safe and secure place for them.

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Media Release: New Chair and Vice Chair Elected to the CMSM National Advisory Council

Jesus with the Children


Board and Officers of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) announce that the National Advisory Council (NAC) has elected a new Chair and Vice Chair

We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the extraordinary quality, expertise and generosity of these two new officers of the National Advisory Council. The NAC is similar to the National Review Board (NRB) of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB). The NAC is an independent panel of nationally recognized experts who volunteer their time and which advises CMSM on all matters related to the protection of minors for religious institutes of men in and throughout the United States. Dr. Len Sperry will replace Dr. Kathleen McChesney as Chair and Steve Levatino will replace Dr. Rolando Diaz.

Len Sperry, M.D., Ph.D., D.Min. is Professor and Director of Clinical Training at Florida Atlantic University, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He is board certified in psychiatry, preventive medicine, and clinical psychology. He has consulted with religious orders and dioceses throughout the U.S. on the health and well-being of priests and other ministry personnel. Among his 1000+ professional publications are Sex, Priestly Ministry and the Church: Understanding and Treating Sexual Addiction and The Inner Life of Priests, both of which received best book of the year awards from the Catholic Press Association.

Steven Levatino, Esq. has practiced law since 1991 and has a wide breadth of experience in business law, litigation, and church law. He practiced as a partner in one of the largest firms in Texas for 13 years. He has had extensive experience prosecuting and defending sex abuse claims in state and federal court. He is rated as an AV Preeminent® attorney. AV Preeminent® is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that his peers rank him at the highest level of professional ability and ethical standards. He also has been elected as a Fellow to the Texas Bar Foundation. Membership in the foundation is reserved for the top 1/3 of 1% of Texas attorneys. Election to the Fellows is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a member of the State Bar of Texas.

Fr. Brian Terry, President of CMSM stated, “These are extraordinary and talented experts who have graciously offered their services to the religious of the United States and to the mission of the Church. The good work that happens here creates a ripple effect elsewhere throughout the world.”

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