The Supreme Court of the United States released a decision today to prevent termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. From CMSM:
“The decision by the US Supreme Court brings tremendous relief and joy for the 800,000 DACA recipients who came to the United States as children, have grown up here, gone to school here, and are our neighbors, and part of our economy.
“Many CMSM members and their institutes have been actively working to accompany these young men and women and their families and are grateful for this decision. We will continue our commitment to work for just immigration policies that recognize human dignity.”
In the wake of a week of turmoil across the United States, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, which represents the leaders of more than 200 Catholic religious institutes of men across the United States, publicly condemns racism. We condemn brutality that takes away breath and we call for reforms to policies and practices that have oppressed Black Americans. We also pray for an end to the national violence that has been ignited and for a path forward that is based on peace and leads to true change.
This moment in our nation and in the life of our Church demands more than a statement of anguish. It requires us to commit publicly to change, starting with ourselves. We must begin a collective effort—as religious institutes for men, monasteries, and societies for apostolic life—to work to dismantle the individual and systemic practices that perpetuate racism in the places where we live out our vocations. We must listen. We must mourn. We must repent. We must change.
A throwaway culture that values property over people and asserts that some lives are worth more than others violates the human dignity upon which our faith and vocations are based. To say that we represent a Gospel of Life means we cannot look the other way or to fail to hear or see people who are suffering.
To authentically pursue change requires reckoning with one’s own past. That includes us.
The historical record of the Catholic Church in the US on racism reflects a lack of prophetic leadership and humanity throughout history, all too often mirroring the accepted morals of the time. While many of our brothers and institutes have been on the front lines of fighting for civil rights, we acknowledge some congregations owned slaves and refused to accept Black men and other men of color for vows and ordination. While we have created ministries, built schools, and founded social justice efforts explicitly to serve communities of color, we have not always practiced true equality, the kind of equality that seeks to understand and strives for mutuality. In our desire to uplift, we have been paternalistic at times and even have perpetuated segregation.
To be prophetic leaders, we must name past sins, humbly listen to those hurt by racism, and be willing to be uncomfortable with our individual and corporate record of prejudice. We must hear those within our own communities who are marginalized, have been silenced, or remain unseen. We must call ourselves to account.
The Conference of Major Superiors of Men recognizes that this essential work must have tangible outcomes that bear witness to the transformational power of the Holy Spirit working through and in each of us. We will commit to preach, teach, pray, and mobilize in new ways.
We ask that all people of good will pray for this effort, that we might live into the question that Servant of God, Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA, posed to the U.S. Bishops Conference in 1989: “…how can we work together so that all of us have equal access to input – equal access to opportunity – equal access to participation.”
May Sr. Thea’s bold witness serve as our guide for fundamental change in our Church and in all the places where we labor to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Conference of Major Superiors of Men is the national organization supporting U.S. leaders of Roman Catholic men’s religious institutes, monastic communities, and societies of apostolic life. As the common voice for the leaders of these organizations, CMSM promotes dialogue and collaboration in service to over 16,000 religious priests and brothers in the United States.
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.
Dominican Father Mark Padrez is the new executive director of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, effective April 1, 2019. He had been serving as president of CMSM and just completed his second term as provincial for the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
Born and raised in Nogales, AZ, in 1963, Father Padrez was a student at the University of Arizona when he met the Dominicans at the university’s Newman Center. He joined the Order in 1987 and made his first profession the next year. After studies at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, CA, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1995. He served at Holy Rosary Church, Antioch, CA, and at the Newman Center at the University of California of San Diego. He also served as the director of vocations, then socius of the Province before being elected as Prior Provincial in 2011. He was re-elected in 2015.
As president-elect and then president of CMSM, Mark was deeply engaged in the mission of CMSM and in projects such as the transition to our new national office. He also represented CMSM in meetings with Vatican dicasteries, most recently in March 2019, and the USCCB. He is the first Hispanic executive director of CMSM.
In light of recent public discussion regarding the publishing of names of clergy accused of sexual abuse, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) has issued a letter to the leaders of U.S. institutes of men religious on the topic.
The letter, signed by Dominican Father Mark Padrez, CMSM president, and Capuchin Father John Pavlik, CMSM executive director, noted, “Since 2002, CMSM has sought to encourage best practices of members in the area of child protection.” The letter went on to say that CMSM recognizes each institute must make its own decision, and offered several points to consider in that discernment:
Revisit this issue with consideration about what disclosure would mean for victims as well as your institute. You may wish to consult civil and canonical counsel.
Reach out to and engage with bishops in areas where men who have been accused have served.
Be cognizant of CMSM’s Standards of Accreditation and the USCCB’s Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchical Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacon that require that major superiors communicate information regarding allegations of sexual abuse of a minor to the bishops where the abuse occurred and where the men reside.
If publishing a list, consult with your canonical and civil counsel in its development. Please note that Praesidium’s Standards of Accreditation distinguish clearly between allegations that have been established and those that have not. An allegation is established when “there is objective certainty that the accusation is true and that an incident of sexual abuse of a minor has occurred.”
CMSM has actively worked to support healing and child safety policies since 2002. Its child protection efforts include education, a National Advisory Council composed primarily of lay experts, a commitment to prevention and healing, and standards of accreditation for religious institutes developed in partnership with Praesidium.
The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (cmsm.org | @cmsmshares | @cmsmtweets) is the national organization supporting U.S. leaders of Roman Catholic men’s religious institutes, monastic communities, and societies of apostolic life. As the common voice for the leaders of these organizations, CMSM promotes dialogue and collaboration in service to over 16,000 religious priests and brothers in the United States.
The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) responds to the revelation of abuse allegations in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in recent days:
Recent news out of Pennsylvania, Washington and other places regarding past abuse by clergy and religious is devastating to us, the major superiors of men religious in the United States, because these actions harmed innocent young people, and betrayed the mission and person of Christ.
We wish to stand in solidarity with those who were abused. For the men and women who have been harmed, we offer you our support. We renew our personal and organizational commitment to do all that we can to keep young people in our own ministries safe now and into the future.
We also stand with the faithful who are feeling a deep loss of trust resulting from the revelations and the scale of the reports covering the past 70 years. We share in this pain.
We affirm our commitment to the protection of young people, to creating safe environments where young people are able to flourish as children of God and people of faith.
We pledge to continue to implement child safety education, background checks, reporting, and external reviews of our child protection efforts, as we have for the past 16 years. To this end, we will continue to collaborate with other organizations on implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Young People and to be vigilant in the screening and formation of applicants for the priesthood and religious life.
We recognize a need for all of us to use the power entrusted to us because of our ministry for good. We pray in sorrow for our sins.
The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (cmsm.org | @cmsmshares | @cmsmtweets) is the national organization for U.S. leaders of Roman Catholic men’s religious institutes, monastic communities, and societies of apostolic life. As the common voice for the leaders of these organizations, CMSM promotes dialogue and collaboration in service to over 16,000 religious priests and brothers in the United States. CMSM is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland.
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.
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.
As Catholic religious leaders in the U.S., CMSM is sick with grief and disgust at the recent decision by the administration to put children and young people in abrupt uncertainty by ending DACA. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides work authorization and temporary protection from deportation to about 780,000 people who were brought to the United States as children. We have already heard reports of DACA students so disoriented by this decision that they have risked suicide. Further, the decision not only puts these children of God at risk of deportation in the near future but also even death in unknown, often dangerous countries.
Over 90% of these youth have graduated high school and nearly 90% are employed. If a legislative fix is truly desired then the administration should work with Congress rather than throw these children and young adults into turmoil. Our leaders should be asking what is justice rather than exact a narrow obsession with the apparent rule of law. It is simply not justice to further marginalize the vulnerable. God calls us to care for immigrants and treat them “no differently than the natives born among you.” (LV 19:34).
CMSM Executive Director, Rev. John Pavlik, OFM Cap., proclaims, “The President and Congress are playing the welfare and the lives of children, young people, and families against legislators who have shirked their responsibilities to provide the citizens of the United States an immigration policy worthy of the principles on which our society and our government are based. The moment to act justly and rightly is now.”
We see once again that we can no longer rely solely on phone calls, emails, statements, meetings with politicians, and spirited vigils or rally’s. We need to tap further into the creativity of prayer driven nonviolent resistance. In accord with our recent CMSM resolution on Gospel Nonviolence, we lift up our commitment to “solidarity and protection through accompaniment and nonviolent resistance for vulnerable immigrants.”