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FPL Catholic Program Director Writes “The Francis Effect”

October 28, 2015, 5:07 pm | Posted by

FPL Catholic Program Director, John Gehring, has authored a new book, The Francis Effect. Check out the reviews and buy a copy

Francis Effect.final.indd

The Francis Effect

A Radical Pope’s Challenge to the American Catholic Church


The Francis Effect explores how a church once known as a towering force for social justice became known for a narrow agenda most closely aligned with one political party, and then looks at the opportunities for change in the “age of Francis.” Pope Francis has become an unlikely global star whose image has graced the covers of Rolling StoneThe New YorkerTime, and even the nation’s oldest magazine for gays and lesbians. The first Latin American pope, the first Jesuit, and the first to take the name of a beloved saint of the poor, Francis is shaking up a church that has been mired in scandal and demoralized by devastating headlines. His bracing critique of an out-of-touch hierarchy, pastoral style when it comes to divisive issues, and humble gestures rejecting the trappings of papal power have changed the conversation about the world’s most powerful religious institution. 

But in the United States, Pope Francis finds a church that has been transformed over the past three decades by a vocal minority of culture warrior bishops, conservative intellectuals, and Christian evangelicals. The first half of the book analyzes the key trends that shaped the Catholic Church over the past century, while the second half looks at the words and actions of Pope Francis, and what they mean for real change.

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Common Good News 10.26

October 26, 2015, 12:46 pm | Posted by
Common Good News– a twice-weekly newsreel for progressive people of faith. Powered by Faith in Public Life and Convergence.

Quote of the Day

“Whether believers or not, we are agreed today that the earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone.”

- Bishops from around the world in an appeal to the UN meeting on climate in Paris in December (Vatican Radio)

Monday Must-Reads

Obama Calls the Death Penalty “Deeply Troubling.”

By The Marshall Project
President Obama called several aspects of the death penalty “deeply troubling” Thursdayduring an interview with The Marshall Project in which he also said he planned to speed up pardons and commutations.

Bishops call for “transformational” climate agreement
By Vatican Radio

Bishops from around the world have appealed to the COP 21 meeting in Paris to create a “fair, legally binding, and truly transformational” climate agreement.

Obama: Listen to the pope on environment
By Curt Mills, Washington Examiner

“As Pope Francis reminds us so eloquently, this planet is a gift from God — and our common home,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio address. “We should leave it to our kids in better shape than we found it.”

Snowball-Chucking, Science-Hating Senator May Crash Paris Climate Talks

By Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine
“Leading Republicans have been doing everything they can to persuade other countries to burn every molecule of carbon they can find. Some of them may even crash the Paris talks in an attempt to blow up the negotiations.”

Donald Trump says he would consider closing down some mosques in the U.S.
By Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Washington Post

In an interview on Fox Business, Stuart Varney asked Trump whether, if elected president, would take similar action as the British government, which has revoked the passports of people of some and closed mosques.

Trump losing, Carson gaining evangelicals
By Mark Silk, Religion News Service

In Iowa, for sure. A month ago, Quinnipiac had Trump leading Ben Carson 27 percent to 21 percent among likely Republican caucus-goers. Now Carson is ahead of Trump 28 percent to 20 percent, according to the latest Q-poll.

Evangelicals Discover Moral Ambiguity on the Death Penalty
By Robert Jones, Atlantic

On the face of it, this shift from unequivocal support for capital punishment to recognition of multiple views seems somewhat inconsequential. But the NAE resolution provides a window into deeper and more significant changes within American evangelicalism.

Who won? Who lost? 5 points on the contentious Vatican summit
By David Gibson, Religion News Service

The most significant and contested gathering of Roman Catholic bishops in the last 50 years formally ended on Sunday (Oct. 25) after three weeks of debate and dispute, but the arguments over who “won” and who “lost” are only beginning.

Florida Bill Tests Waters of ‘Religious Freedom’
By Daniel Reynolds, The Advocate

A Florida lawmaker has proposed a so-called religious freedom bill, echoing controversial legislation passed in recent years in Mississippi, Indiana, and Arkansas.

Apple’s New Religion Emojis Brings Freedom Of Faith To Your Fingertips
By Alex Gladu, Bustle

As the selection incorporates figures from several different faiths and cultures, Apple’s new religion emojis should make any First Amendment-loving American proud.

Twitter must-follow of the Week

Laurie Goodstein, @lauriegnyt

New York Times National Religion Correspondent. @nytimes prev.@washpost. Covered election of 2 popes, raising 2 boys, plenty exciting

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Common Good News 10/19

October 19, 2015, 3:18 pm | Posted by


Common Good News– a twice-weekly newsreel for progressive people of faith. Powered by Faith in Public Life and Convergence.

Quote of the Day

“We told people that Obama was a dangerous socialist who was going to wreck America and he had to be stopped, when really we knew he was a moderate Democrat, not all that radical. But they believed us.”

- A Republican lobbyist, speaking to journalist William Greider. (The Nation)

Monday Must-Reads

Cruz, Carson wow evangelicals in Texas
By Shane Goldmacher, Politico
The 2016 Republican primary detoured for a day beyond familiar Iowa and New Hampshire to a 7,000-capacity megachurch in the heart of Texas, where a half dozen candidates gathered to prove their Christian bona fides and to campaign for the hearts and votes of evangelicals.

House Republicans return to Capitol to face leadership mess
By Erica Werner, Associated Press

House Republicans return to Washington this week to confront a nearly unprecedented leadership crisis, looming budget deadlines and a deeply uncertain future.

US archbishops Chaput and Cupich offer sharply different visions of Vatican synod
By David Gibson, Religion News Service

Philadelphia’s Chaput said “anxieties are running high” among conservatives, while Chicago’s Cupich, a reform-minded delegate, said hard-liners on marriage issues need to be like Pope Francis and chill out.

Gearing up for next ‘religious liberty’ fight, Georgia business leaders look to Indiana
By Jim Galloway, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Come January, a perfect storm of a political fight will be headed our way: A third battle over gay marriage and “religious liberty” legislation, this time supercharged by a Republican presidential primary.

Baptist judge blocks Arkansas executions
By Bob Allen, Baptist News Global

An Arkansas judge who also is pastor of a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church has halted the executions of eight death row inmates challenging a new law allowing the state to withhold information that could publicly identify the manufacturers and sellers of lethal-injection drugs.

Nebraska to Vote on Abolishing Death Penalty After Petition Drive Succeeds
By Julie Bosman, New York Times

The effort, led by Gov. Pete Ricketts, is a blow to legislators and others who led a successful effort four months ago to end the death penalty.

Can We Talk? Some Tough Love Steps to Ending Racism in Our Time
By Barbara Williams-Skinner, Huffington Post

Overcoming racism is about partnership. In spite of our ignorance, prejudice, and privilege, we have the power to end racism, little by little, through conversations, policies and practices.

Hawaii governor declares state of emergency for homelessness
By Cathy Bussewitz, Associated Press

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has declared a state of emergency to deal with the state’s homelessness crisis just days after city and state officials cleared one of the nation’s largest homeless encampments.

Secular, but Feeling a Call to Divinity School
By Samuel G. Freedman, New York Times

Those institutions offer even atheists and spiritual seekers a language of moral discourse and training in congregational leadership.

Oprah’s new ‘Belief’ series shows how dramatically the nature of faith is shifting
By Diana Butler Bass, Washington Post

At a time when many people in Western countries criticize religion as hypocritical, divisive or dangerous, and while large numbers are rejecting religion altogether, Winfrey’s project is a worthy reminder to viewers that religion can heal, restore and transform — and not only fracture.

Twitter must-follow of the Week

Rev. Jennifer Butler, @JenButlerFPL

Executive Director of Faith in Public Life, a strategy center for faith leaders advocating for justice and the common good.

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Faith Leaders Decry Trump’s Call to ‘Round Up Humanely’ Immigrants

September 28, 2015, 4:40 pm | Posted by

For Immediate Release

Contact: Allison Walter, (202) 499-4093 / AWalter@FaithInPublicLife.org

Faith Leaders Decry Trump’s Call to ‘Round Up Humanely’ Immigrants

Just days after Pope Francis called on our nation’s leaders to apply the ‘golden rule,’ it is alarming to hear a candidate for President repeatedly promoting mass deportations. Faith leaders were stunned to hear Donald Trump say about undocumented immigrants: “We’re going to round them up, in a very humane way,” during an interview on 60 minutes.

The following faith leaders have condemned Trump’s statements, and offer these quotes:

Reverend Jennifer Butler, CEO, Faith in Public Life:

“There is no ‘humane’ way to ’round up’ 11 million people for deportation. Mr. Trump is forgetting the Gospel’s call to welcome the stranger. As children of God we know that each person is an important thread in the beautiful tapestry that makes up our nation. What sort of society are we creating where a child has to fear that she could be separated from her parents at any moment?

Sr. Simone Campbell, Executive Director, NETWORK:

“It is easy for Mr. Trump to make outrageous statements when he does not know the lives of real people. In Kansas City, with the Nuns on the Bus tour, we met Katherine a 15 year old girl caring for her U.S. citizen siblings because her employed parents were deported when they went to pay a traffic ticket. If Mr. Trump is serious about running for President, then he needs to get to know the reality of our nation, not just his imagination and prejudice.”

Michelle Warren, leader of Colorado’s Bibles, Badges and Business Immigration Network:

“Immigrants and their families are contributing members of America’s society, and we as a country benefit greatly from those contributions.  The ridiculous notion that rounding people up, separating families and sending them back to their country of origin to legalize them is somehow “nice” shows the lack of understanding Mr. Trump has on family values, economic capacity and compassionate leadership.”

Rev. Dr. Russell Meyer, Executive Director, Florida Council of Churches:

“Mr. Trump’s plan is neither nice nor practical. It is harmful to families involved, many of whose members are citizens and residents of the US. It is harmful to our economic life, especially in Florida where immigrant economic activity nearly equals the state budget. It is harmful to democracy itself because our nation would become a police state in carrying out such a plan. Mr. Trump intends to win his party’s nomination by generating divisive hostility in order to mobilize support. This is gangsterism not leadership. I pray he chooses a higher path.”

Sr. Dorothy Schlaeger, on behalf of the Sisters of St. Francis, Colorado Springs, CO:

We find Mr. Trump’s language of  “rounding up the illegals” highly offensive.  He says “We don’t want to keep people out—we want to keep illegals out”—insinuating the undocumented are not people who deserve the same dignity we afford ourselves.  He seems to be totally insensitive to the myriads of ways his plan would completely disrupt the lives of not just 11 million human beings but the lives of perhaps 24 to 48 million or more family members.  Who cares for the dependent children and elderly during this time of displacement?  What happens to our economy when millions suddenly leave the workforce and housing market?  Might not a plan that exemplifies “the Golden Rule” be far more efficacious?

Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association:

“​It is time that we make it very clear to Mr. Trump, that there is nothing ‘nice’ about his plan to deport 11 million men, women and children, and that his unabashed insults towards undocumented immigrants will not be tolerated without strong rebuttal by Christian leaders throughout our nation. As a Mexican-American citizen of the USA, I am calling on all presidential candidates to choose a path that treats everyone with dignity and that offers solutions to our current immigration crisis. The candidate who offers a way to integrate our immigrant neighbors with dignity will gain the support of the America people.”

Sr. Mary Ellen Lacy, Daughter of Charity, American Social Justice Committee, Nun on the Bus

“After Mr Trump speaks, I often find myself praying for a more collective outrage. It is disgraceful that he comfortably talks about our immigrant brothers and sisters as if they were disposable ranch animals. His political campaign rounds up irrational fear and then breeds it. On the other hand, The Pope amasses Hope, then lavishly gives it away. The latter is a far more appealing and befitting demeanor for US Americans. Our country is too strong to capitulate to groundless fear that will rob us of cultural diversity, economic advancement and enhanced entrepreneurial efforts. And we expect hope filled legislation that reflects are our incomparable American community values.”

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60+ Catholic Leaders Sign Call for a Family Friendly Economy

September 25, 2015, 12:37 pm | Posted by

For Immediate Release

Contact: Allison Walter, (202) 499-4093 / AWalter@FaithInPublicLife.org

60+ Catholic Leaders Sign Call for a Family Friendly Economy
“It is Time to Build a More Humane, Just Economy That Strengthens the Family”

As Pope Francis continues his visit to the United States, more than 60 prominent Catholic leaders have signed a call echoing his words and highlighting the serious economic threats faced by American families and the need to respond with policies that will strengthen the family.

Signers include two retired Bishops, both former Presidents of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Presidents of the AFL-CIO and SEIU, key clergy, women religious and leaders of Catholic organizations across the country.

The letter says:

The essential role that families play is being threatened by the economic pressure and insecurity faced by countless families. Stagnant wages and diminished social mobility, combined with cuts to essential government programs, threaten the most vulnerable families. This economic exclusion too often is matched by social exclusion and a culture of indifference.

The signers call on Catholics to lead the way, working to ensure that children have access to genuine opportunity and all of their basic needs, from healthcare to a safe home to a good education.

John Gehring, Catholic Program Director at Faith in Public Life said “Pope Francis has made families the recurring theme of his visit to the US, highlighting them as a key foundation for establishing a society where communities flourish, everyone has a chance to fulfill his or her potential, and the common good reflects the dignity of all.”

The letter is being released ahead of the pope’s culminating visit to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, PA, this weekend.


Full text of the letter:

Catholics for a Family Friendly Economy

The family is a key foundation for establishing a society where communities flourish, everyone has a chance to fulfill his or her potential, and the common good reflects the dignity of all. In the past few decades, families in the United States have been threatened by a variety of economic and cultural changes. We expect many of these will be discussed at the World Meeting of Families, perhaps even by Pope Francis himself. While there are many topics worthy of dialogue and reflection, we want to highlight one that we hope will receive a great deal of attention: the serious economic threats faced by American families and the need to respond with policies that will strengthen the family.

Pope Francis has repeatedly reminded us of the importance of helping families. He has gone so far as to say, “Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself.” It is in our families where we learn to embrace solidarity and reject the radical individualism and self-centeredness that create a throwaway culture.

But the essential role that families play is being threatened by the economic pressure and insecurity faced by countless families. Stagnant wages and diminished social mobility, combined with cuts to essential government programs, threaten the most vulnerable families. This economic exclusion too often is matched by social exclusion and a culture of indifference.

We can do better. And Catholics should be leading the way.

A culture that respects the family ensures that children have access to genuine opportunity and all of their basic needs, from healthcare to a safe home to a good education. One of the serious economic stresses families face is the skyrocketing cost of childcare. In dozens of states, the cost of childcare now exceeds the cost of attending a public university. Safe, reliable, affordable childcare is integral to achieving stronger families in the 21st century.

As a society, we must ensure that the policies in the workplace make families stronger rather than tearing them apart. Catholic social teaching has thus endorsed a living wage, so that workers can provide for their families. No one who works full-time should live in poverty. An increase in the minimum wage and other measures to guarantee adequate income will go a long way to alleviating the great pressure many families face. Paid family and medical leave is another essential step to strengthening the family. The United States is one of just two nations that do not have any paid maternity leave. This is not how a just society welcomes children into the world. Earned sick time is one more step towards workplaces that respect human dignity and the rights of the person.

A nation that values the dignity of working families must allow its workers to organize and collectively bargain for family-supporting wages and family-friendly work schedules. Protecting workers’ ability to form unions, as well as repealing “right to work” laws that strip crucial labor rights, are essential to a pro-family nation.

Strengthening families means looking out for pregnant women. Pregnant women should not face discrimination in the workplace or be denied the reasonable accommodations they need. No woman should ever have to choose between her job and her child.

Pope Francis has said, “This economy kills.” We might add, “This economy kills families.” It is time to build a more humane, just economy that strengthens the family, so that our families and our society can flourish together.

In Faith,

Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Fiorenza
Former President
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Washington, DC

Bishop William Skylstad
Former President
US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Washington, DC

Rev. Timothy Kesicki, SJ
Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States
Washington, DC

Sr. Mary Scullion
Executive Director
Project HOME
Philadelphia, PA

Sr. Simone Campbell
Executive Director
Washington, DC

Fr. John Baumann, SJ
Founder & Director of Special Projects
PICO National Network
President Richard Trumka
Washington, DC

President Mary Kay Henry
Service Employees International Union
Washington, DC

Sr. Patricia Chappell
Pax Christi USA
Washington, DC

Rev. Dr. Elliott Bush
St. Stephens
Columbus, OH

Rev. Thomas Dymowski
University of the Incarnate Word
San Antonio, TX

Rev. James Hug, S.J.
Adrain, MI

Rev. Bruce Teague
Sheffield, MA

Rev. Drew Christiansen
Distinguished Professor
Georgetown University
Washington, DC

Rev. T. Michael McNulty
Scholar in Residence
Marquette University
Milwaukee, WI
Sr. Maryann Mueller
Felician Sisters
Lodi, NJ

Sr. Marge Clark
Sisters of Charity, BVM
Washington, DC

Sr. Christine Pratt
Social Justice Coordinator
Ursulines of Brown County
St. Martin, OH

John Gehring
Catholic Program Director
Faith in Public Life
Washington, DC

Deacon Michael Bellinder
The Holy Name of Jesus
Redlands, CA

Patrick Carolan
Executive Director
Franciscan Action Network
Stratford, CT

Sr. Sister Carren Herring
Sisters of Mercy
Cincinnati, OH

Dr. Joseph Fahey
Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice
White Plains, NY

Sr. Doreen Charest
Woodbury, MN
Sr. Patricia Caraher
Sinsinawa Dominican
Sinsinawa, WI

Sr. Nancy Sylvester
Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue
Detroit, MI

Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski
Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart
Dayton, OH

Sr. Anne Clifford
Msgr. James A. Supple Chair of Catholic Studies
Iowa State University
Ames, IA

Sr. Nancy Sylvester
Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue
Detroit, MI

Christopher Hale
Executive Director
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
Washington, DC

Dr. Dennis Doyle
Professor of Religious Studies
University of Dayton
Dayton, OH

Dr. Terrence W Tilley
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. Professor of Catholic Theology
Fordham University
Bronx, NY
Dr. Ronald Pagnucco
Associate Professor
College of St. Benedict
St. Joseph, MN

Dr. Eugene McCarraher
Associate Professor of Humanities
Villanova University
Ardmore, PA

Dr. John Sniegocki
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Xavier University
Cincinnati, OH

Dr. Joseph A. McCartin
Georgetown University
Washington, DC

Dr. MT Dávila
Andover Newton Theological School
Newton Center, MA

Dr. Dolores Christie
CTSA Executive Director (retired)
Carmel of the Holy Family
Shaker Heights, OH

Dr. Alex Mikulich
Jesuit Social Research Institute
New Orleans, LA

Kathleen Maas Weigert
Carolyn Farrell, BVM, Prof. of Women and Leadership
Loyola University Chicago
Chicago, IL

Dr. Gerald Beyer
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Villanova University
Villanova, PA
Dr. Susan Ross
Professor and Chair
Loyola University Chicago
Chicago, IL

Dr. Jana Bennett
Associate Professor
University of Dayton
Dayton, OH

Dr. Peter Gathje
Manna House
Memphis, TN

Dr. Christopher Pramuk
Associate Professor of Theology
Xavier University
Cincinnati, OH

Dr. Una Cadegan
Department of History
University of Dayton
Dayton, OH

Eli McCarthy
Director of Justice and Peace
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Silver Spring, MD

Mary Jeanne Lindinger
Pastoral Associate
St. Benedict Parish
Harvard, IL

James Salt
Board Director
Catholics United
Washington, DC

Dr. Kathryn Getek Soltis
Director of the Center for Peace and Justice Education
Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics
Villanova University
Havertown, PA

Judith Fean
Saint Mary’s College
Notre Dame, IN

David Gauthreaux
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans
Westwego, LA

Denise DeBelle
St. Gertrude Catholic Church
Chicago, IL

Dr. Susan Weishar
Jesuit Social Research Institute
New Orleans, LA
Michael Fuchs
St. Francis
Knightdale, NC

Dr. Marian Ronan
Research Professor of Catholic Studies
New York Theological Seminary
New York, NY

Dave O’Brien
Professor of Catholic Studies, Emeritus
Holy Cross
Worcester, MA

Tobias Winright
Maeder Endowed Chair of Health Care Ethics
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, MO

Dr. Mark Allman
Professor of Theology
Merrimack College
North Andover, MA


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