Over 400 Catholics, including a number of men religious – Franciscan, Columban, Jesuit, de la Salle Christian Brother, and others – participated in a Sept. 4 Day of Action in Newark, New Jersey, to protest federal government policies and practices that traumatize immigrant children, particularly the policy of child and family detention.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin, CSsR, Archbishop of Newark, offered a prayer for the group. Learn more on the campaign page here, and see photos posted by the Franciscan Action Network here.
Please feel free to reach out to the CMSM Justice and Peace office for more information.
Renew the Face of the Earth: An Urgent Catholic Call to Energy Transition “Lord send out your spirit and renew the face of the Earth.” – Psalm 104
Following Pope Francis’ meeting on June 13-14, 2019, with major fossil fuel executives and investors at the Vatican, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) announced support for Pope Francis’ recent urgent plea to these companies and investors to a renewable energy transition. In support of this global effort, our members, who are leaders of men’s religious institutes in the United States, issued a statement that calls upon the U.S. Senate to pass the International Climate Accountability Act, the companion to the recently passed Climate Action Now Act (HR9). We also support an equitable pricing mechanism on carbon pollution along with financial resources toward a national transition to a renewable energy economy.
CMSM President Brother Larry Schatz, FSC, said, “The journey toward holiness calls us to ongoing transformation and conversion. There are pivotal moments in our personal and social experience that determine the well-being of our fellow brothers and sisters, as well as the earth. Motivated by our Holy Father, our collective discernment has illuminated one of those moments for a renewable energy economy. Let us enter, be transformed, and grow toward holiness together.”
As Catholic leaders, the members of CMSM call on our fellow Catholics and interfaith partners to take the lead in this area through prayer, local energy transition (ex. Catholic Energies program), and congressional advocacy until our earth is sustainably renewed.
The Senate hearings this week have brought to the forefront the dignity of women.
A statement developed by CMSM notes, “In collaboration with women, we must help to create space so that women are heard, can participate equally, and many more can become leaders. As Jesus lifted up the value of women in his cultural times, we commit to continuing to engage with and for women to build a more just society and culture.”
Executive Director, Fr. John Pavlik, OFM Cap, commented: “While refraining from the politically divided dimensions of a difficult process, hearing the intense pain of a woman deeply wounded in an experience of sexual assault, we must join our collective voices to those who seek not to allow ourselves to pass over this moment which opened the minds and hearts of women and men everywhere to new awareness of the suffering inflicted. The moral imperative of the Holy Scriptures as well as the values of our Constitution ask for nothing less, to say nothing of the pleas from the hearts of parents grieving for their daughters and sons so scathed.”
As the national board for the leaders of U.S. Catholic religious brothers and priests, we are called to discern wisely the signs of the times and to act courageously in our response. Gathering as a national assembly in St. Louis, MO this week, we continue to see the deep scars of racial injustice, white supremacy, and exclusion of many types of people of color in our country. We acknowledge our own sin and responsibility for racism in our lives, our religious communities, and our Catholic Church.
“Every proper conscience cannot help but decisively condemn racism in whichever heart or place it lurks. Unfortunately, it shows up in forms ever new and unexpected, offending and degrading the human family. Racism is a sin which constitutes a grave offense against God.” Pope John Paul II
Today, we revive our 2014 national assembly commitments to racial justice and to follow the Holy Spirit into new territory. We need to walk with Jesus into Jerusalem.
Thus, we commit to a long-term process of listening, dialogue, and accountability. This process will enable us to thoroughly discover the historical reality of racism, exclusion, and white privilege in our religious communities. Through such discovery we will generate concrete actions toward racial justice and solidarity.
This process will include engaging these stories and issues at our regional meetings leading up to a focused 2020 national assembly on this topic. We will provide key resources to our members to enable a fruitful and transformative process. We will also explore an anti-racism training for our upcoming board meeting.
Broad Goals of the Initiative
1) Courageous conversations about race and privilege: enable leaders to facilitate these 2) Generate concrete actions
The following statement regarding the separation of families upon entry at the U.S. border was released June 20, 2018:
As Christians and Catholic religious leaders, our hearts are broken whenever our sisters and brothers suffer injustice. Many of us minister in border communities. We see the desperation of families fleeing violence and death in their homelands. We know the sacrifice of mothers and fathers seeking safety for their children.
We have once again entered that grace-filled space of deep empathy, pain, and righteous indignation as we see children being torn from their parents arms, desperately reach out and eyes widen with fear; as mothers and fathers fall to their knees in tears, the trauma of their journey suffocates their energy as the window of hope grows dim or even pitch black.
The Trump Administration has scaled-up its policy of separating children from their parents when they come to the border fleeing violence and seeking help. During a six-week span from April 19 to May 31, over 2000 children have been separated from their families, at least 100 of these children are under the age of four. This separation creates major trauma for the children and families and simply adds to the already heavy anxiety of their journey. At least one such parent committed suicide.
While every nation has a responsibility to ensure its borders, Jesus calls us to welcome the stranger and to care for the most vulnerable (Matthew 25). The Administration’s policy of separating families and prosecuting asylum seekers is immoral. The president of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops has clearly stated that “separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”
This immoral policy and unjust order must no longer be followed. As religious leaders, we appeal to the heart of each individual person who participates in this tragedy of separating families. We ask you to consider the consequences of your actions and to desist as a matter of moral conscience.
We directly call to the heart of each member of Congress and the Administration. For those who have been resisting this train of injustice over many years, we deeply thank you and raise you up. For those in these institutions who have created this policy or enable it, now is time for repentance, a turning away from this sinful behavior. This immoral practice must end. The President has the power today to change the policy that has created the travesty of family separation. Laws need to be passed to prevent such policies from developing in the future. The root causes of immigration must be the focus. Our immigrants must be welcomed.
We also particularly call on individuals in Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Department of Homeland Security, especially Catholics in these institutions to withdraw their cooperation from these unjust orders. There are effective ways to slow-down or obstruct the process, and even to directly refuse to separate the children. We understand the risks this can pose for those involved. We see you as brothers and sisters. If requested and as possible, we will try to facilitate direct discussions with you and pastoral care while you discern these difficult decisions as Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv. recently suggested at the June 2018 Bishops’ meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We will also try as possible to mobilize resources to support you if such risks materialize into difficult consequences. Yet, know that you will become heroes for justice.
The power of a community resides in the spiritual guidance of the Spirit and in the cooperation of the people. If we allow the Spirit to guide us and we refuse to cooperate in injustice, then the leaders cannot implement this policy of separating children. We have the power if we choose to use it.
Several Catholic groups have opposed President Trump’s nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, saying Gina Haspel’s role in overseeing torture disqualifies her, according to “basic moral standards for human dignity.”
The move marks a rare instance of Catholic activists opposing a government nominee, rather than addressing specific policy questions.
“Confirming someone who actively supervised torture to be CIA Director would send a very unhealthy, unethical, and anti-rule of law message to the world,” said a May 7 letter sent to all U.S. senators ahead of Haspel’s confirmation hearings, which begin Wednesday.
“Our friends and allies would question our opposition to torture, and tyrants and dictators would once again point to us to justify their own use of torture,” the letter said.
The letter was signed by Pax Christi USA, a national Catholic peace organization, and groups representing religious men and women, including the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and Network, a Catholic social justice lobby.
Other signers included the Franciscan Action Network, Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, USC Province of the Society of the Sacred Heart and the Institute Justice Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.
“Catholic social teaching is clearly against the practice of torture because it violates human dignity, and it is certainly not in accord with Jesus’ way of reconciliation and love of enemies,” Eli McCarthy, director of justice and peace for the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, told NCR.
McCarthy cited Pope John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor, which condemned physical and mental torture as intrinsic evils.
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.
CMSM was a signatory to a recent statement signed by 751 leaders of Catholic organizations, religious orders and justice and peace committees which challenges President Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea and his efforts to repudiate the Iran deal negotiated by the Obama administration.
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.
This is what many are saying about South Sudan. Reading newspaper accounts of the ongoing violence, which began as a power struggle between political leaders and rekindled unresolved ethnic hostilities, one would think there is no hope for peace in this new country.
There are, however many peace-making initiatives taking place both inside and beyond the borders of South Sudan. The government has initiated a National Dialogue on reconciliation and peace which is now holding regional gatherings. The South Sudan Council of Churches has received funding from the US Government, through Catholic Relief Services, to develop peace building initiatives at all levels. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD, comprised of the countries surrounding South Sudan, has taken the initiative to hold talks with the opposition leader, Riek Machar, who is being held captive in South Africa. IGAD is also hosting meetings in Ethiopia with the hope of bringing opposing sides together and honoring the August 2015 Agreement.
With the splintering of the SPLA, the national army, and emergence of local militias, there are no longer just two “sides.” Any peace initiative needs to deal with all the factions and include not only government leaders, but also civil society, women and the youth.
The greatest potential for peace making is the country’s rich heritage of community-led peace processes. The churches are well positioned to assist local communities coming together to resolve local conflicts and reflect on the larger conflict besetting the nation. Bishop Emeritus, Paride Taban, from Torit Diocese, has established the Kuron Peace Village and called on leaders from the area to gather in the village to engage in processes leading to reconciliation and forgiveness.
Solidarity with South Sudan, working with the National Pastoral Director, is introducing the concept of active non-violence to groups of women, young adults, diocesan pastoral leaders and clergy – building awareness and skills over a three year period. In turn, these groups will plan together for similar workshops at the local level. Sr Annette St. Amour, IHM, a member of the training team, writes, “A quality of the South Sudanese people is resilience. Month after month, year after year they have been living in the midst of conflict, insecurity, poverty, hunger and now hyperinflation with the rising cost of food and basic necessities. They express being ‘sick and tired’ of war and conflict.” They are open to any initiatives which will end the conflict and are eager to learn skills to avoid conflict in the future.
We invite religious communities to join with the South Sudanese people in praying for peace with this Prayer for South Sudan. You can also access the Advent Brochures at Advent Journey. To make a tax deductible donation in support of Solidarity peace-building initiatives click here.
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