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Pope Francis, Economic Justice and the Catholic Challenge to Libertarianism

April 11, 2014, 10:19 am | Posted by

New guide helps university students bring the Catholic social tradition to political debates over minimum wages, inequality and role of government

As Pope Francis denounces “an economy of exclusion and inequality,” Faith in Public Life is releasing a new guidebook and website that will help Catholic university students make the connection between the Church’s social tradition and current political debates over minimum wages, taxes, inequality, unions and the role of government.

In this Together: Catholic Teaching and a Moral Economy, a guide that references Church  teaching on labor, workers’ rights and a broad array of economic justice issues, will be distributed to more than 100 Catholic university campuses over the next year. It challenges the recent surge of libertarian, anti-government ideology as incompatible with a Catholic vision of the common good.

The guide includes facts about poverty and inequality with quotes and resources from Pope Francis, Catholic bishops, prominent Catholic theologians and the Vatican’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. An accompanying web site, www.InThisTogether.org, provides more in-depth analysis and videos of prominent Catholics talking about the Church’s economic justice teachings on popular programs such as The Colbert Report.

The effort is endorsed by NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; The Conference of Mercy Higher Education; the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice; the Franciscan Action Network; Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good; and the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach.

“Catholics have a centuries-old tradition that offers a powerful antidote to the anti-government ideology and free-market fundamentalism that distort our political debates,” said John Gehring, Catholic Program Director at Faith in Public Life. “Catholics should know that efforts to oppose living wages, attack unions and slash food aid to struggling families are an affront to Catholic values. This guide can help provoke reflection and encourage students to put their faith into action.”

In This Together has already been distributed to administrators, campus ministers, theologians and social justice directors at the University of San Diego, Creighton University, John Carroll University, the University of Dayton, Santa Clara University and Villanova University. Catholic students at Yale University, Stanford University and Michigan State University have also received the guide.

“I’m grateful for this important effort to stimulate more awareness of the Church’s economic justice teachings at a time when young Catholics are struggling to find their way through a culture that puts individualism and materialism before the common good,” said Moya K. Dittmeier, Executive Director of The Conference for Mercy Higher Education. “I hope this project will encourage Catholic students and others to become citizen-advocates who put our Catholic social tradition into practice by standing in solidarity with those on the margins, especially women and children.”

“Catholics can’t remain passive spectators when workers’ rights are under attack and inequality is soaring,” said Joseph J. Fahey, Chair of Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice and a Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College. “Catholics have always been at the forefront of struggles for economic justice. A new generation of Catholics must now take the lead in fighting for a moral economy.”

“This timely resource will help our university’s ongoing efforts to encourage students to engage with current moral and political debates by using the wisdom of Catholic social teaching as a foundation,” said Carmen M. Vazquez, Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of San Diego. “As Catholics, we have a responsibility to be faithful citizens who bring our commitment to human dignity and a preferential option for the poor to the public square.”

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www.InThisTogether.org

Follow In This Together on Twitter @CatholicEconomy

Visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CatholicEconomy

 

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Prominent evangelicals applaud veto of Arizona bill discriminating against gay community

February 27, 2014, 9:48 am | Posted by

Open letter rebukes those who use religion to justify discrimination

Washington, DC – Following Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto of SB 1062, which would have permitted businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation, nationally prominent evangelical leaders released a statement not only condemning the bill, but also challenging fellow Christians who supported it and similar legislation in other states. Signatories include Alan Chambers, the former president of Exodus International, Ted Haggard, pastor of St. James Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Rachel Held Evans, a leading millennial Evangelical. The statement said in part:

As evangelicals we are saddened to see our brothers and sisters in Christ leveraging their faith to support an Arizona law that would allow business owners to discriminate against the gay community and many others on the basis of religion. We believe that Christians should oppose this law and others like it in Kansas, Georgia and Florida.

To support such a law is to fail to walk in the footsteps of Jesus who was known for associating with and loving those who were considered outcasts by his society.

Signers of the statement also commended Gov. Brewer’s veto.

“Gov. Brewer did the right thing,” said Rev. Ted Haggard. “In public commerce religion must not be a basis upon which we deny a fellow human being our services.”

Religious leaders’ stances on this issue will also shape the future of the church. A poll released yesterday by Public Religion Research Institute showed that 55 percent of white evangelical Protestant Milliennials believe religious groups are alienating young adults by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues.

Signers of the statement include clergy, theologians and thought leaders from across the spectrum, from Haggard to progressive evangelical leader Brian McLaren. The full list of signers and the full text of the statement are below and can be found here. Signers’ affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.

As evangelicals, we are saddened to see our brothers and sisters in Christ leveraging their faith to support an Arizona law that would allow business owners to discriminate against the gay community and many others on the basis of religion. We believe that Christians should oppose this law and others like it in Kansas and Georgia.

To support such a law is to fail to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, who was known for associating with and loving those who were considered outcasts by his society. Serving people with whom we disagree is a central calling for those who follow Jesus. We believe that the current position that many Evangelical leaders are taking on issues of discrimination toward the gay community directly contradict that posture of radical love and grace that Jesus so powerfully embodied in his life and teachings.

Many Millennials are leaving the church because far too often the church has failed to live in the pattern that Jesus has called us to. Many of us are committed to following Jesus but have become increasingly disheartened by the uncompassionate postures that many of our leaders in the evangelical church continue to take on many important social issues. We are saddened by the lack of Christ-likeness displayed by our leaders and deeply desire to see our churches return to speaking and living like Jesus. We believe that the time has come for church leaders to stop allowing fear to dictate their theological and social positions, and start acting in the radical love of Jesus.

In Christ,

Rev. Ted Haggard
St. James Church
Former President, National Association of Evangelicals
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Alan Chambers
Former President, Exodus International
Orlando, Florida

Rachel Held Evans
Author and speaker
Dayton, Tennessee

Brian McLaren
Author and activist
Marco Island, Florida

Doug Pagitt
Director
The CANA Initiative
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Steve Knight
Founder and director
TransFORM Network
Charlotte, North Carolina

Rev. Amy Butler
Senior Pastor
Calvary Baptist Church
Washington, DC

Rev. Lillian Daniel
Senior Minister
First Congregational Church
Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Dr. Michael Hardin
Executive Director
Preaching Peace
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Heidi Weaver
President
LoveBOLDLY
Lexington, Kentucky

Brandan Robertson
Founder and director
The Revangelical Movement
Chicago, Illinois

Dr. Phillip Clayton
Ingraham Professor of Theology
Claremont School of Theology
Claremont, California

Dr. Joel Cruz
Chicago Theological Seminary
Chicago, Illinois

Dr. Egon Cohen
Department of Religion
Temple University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Rev. Jack Haberer
The Presbyterian Outlook
Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.
Richmond, Virginia

Rev. Dr Troy Jackson
Director
Ohio Prophetic Voices
Cincinnati, Ohio

Mr. Jason Wiedel
Minister
Surry, Virginia

Mr. Hye-Sung Gehring
Kingsway Christian Church
Disciples of Christ (Christian Church)
Memphis, Tennessee

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Statement by John Gehring, Catholic Program Director at Faith in Public Life, on Pope Francis’s Selection as Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year”

December 11, 2013, 11:49 am | Posted by

John Gehring, Catholic Program Director at Faith in Public Life, offered the following comments on Time magazine naming Pope Francis the “Person of the Year.”

Pope Francis has done more in the past nine months than any Catholic leader in 50 years to begin rescuing the Catholic Church from a Vatican culture often more fixated on privilege and power than the radical message of the Gospel. His personal humility, focus on the poor and stinging critique of economic inequality is capturing the attention of global leaders and ordinary people. Like his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, this pope is calling the Church to a deep spiritual reform that asks bishops to come out of cathedrals and walk the streets with the homeless, the hungry and the lonely. At a time when 1 in 10 Americans are former Catholics, Pope Francis provides a road map for U.S. bishops to regain their public voice and moral credibility by being pastors, not culture warriors.

 

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Catholic Leaders Send Messages of Support to “Fast for Families” on the National Mall

December 2, 2013, 2:17 pm | Posted by

Advocates begin 21st day of fasting today, urge Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform

Prominent Catholic leaders – including the president of Catholic Charities USA, Catholic university presidents and former U.S. Ambassadors to the Vatican – released a statement today offering encouragement to immigration reform advocates now starting their 21st day of a water-only fast to dramatize the moral urgency of passing comprehensive immigration reform.

“We are hopeful that your sacrifices and determined stand in the face of Congressional delay will awaken the consciences and break open the hearts of elected officials to the human suffering caused by an immigration system that tears families apart,” the leaders write. “Your courageous example reminds us all that the issue of immigration reform is not about partisan politics or narrow ideological agendas. This is a profound moral issue, as old as the Hebrew prophets and the Gospel, that calls into question the kind of nation we aspire to pass on to our children.”

The core group of fasters include Eliseo Medina, former international Secretary Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Dae Joong Yoon of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and Cristian Avila, 23, of Mi Familia Vota in Phoenix, the son of Mexican immigrants. As of today, more than 5,000 people across the country have fasted in solidarity for one or more days and hundreds have joined nightly community meetings at the fasters’ tent to offer support. This week, students on 11 Catholic university campuses are fasting in solidarity. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, will visit the tent tomorrow to offer spiritual support and prayers as the fasters continue a national week of solidarity, prayer and action.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez joined a group of civic and labor leaders last week to announce a 24-hour fast between December 1-3 in solidarity with the Fast for Families. “Everyone knows our immigration system is broken,” Archbishop Gomez said in announcing the fast. “But our leaders don’t seem to feel enough urgency to fix it. So we offer our fasting today as a prayer — in the hopes of moving the hearts of our national leaders in Washington.” Bishop Blase Cupich of the Diocese of Sopkane, WA. last week sent fasters a letter saying their efforts are a “cause of great inspiration to me personally.” Bishop Cupich added: “I have been working with elected officials directly and through other community leaders to spur action on achieving comprehensive immigration reform. You motivate me to enhance those efforts.”

The message of solidarity released today will be delivered to the fasters’ tent on the National Mall, which in recent days has attracted a stream of elected officials, civil rights and religious leaders  – including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Jessie Jackson and Bishop John Wester, the Roman Catholic bishop of Salt Lake City. The statement of support is signed by among others Rev. Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA; Thomas P. Melady, retired U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President George H.W. Bush; Miguel Diaz, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President Barack Obama; the presidents of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities; the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and Sabrina Burton Schultz, Director of Life Ministry in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla.

The full statement with signatories can be found below and here.

Dear Fasters,

We are deeply moved and personally inspired by your prophetic witness that demonstrates the moral urgency of comprehensive immigration reform. We are hopeful that your sacrifices and determined stand in the face of Congressional delay will awaken the consciences and break open the hearts of elected officials to the human suffering caused by an immigration system that tears families apart. Your courageous example reminds us all that the issue of immigration reform is not about partisan politics or narrow ideological agendas. This is a profound moral issue, as old as the Hebrew prophets and the Gospel, that calls into question the kind of nation we aspire to pass on to our children.

As Pope Francis said when he visited the island of Lampedusa to honor migrants, we are all complicit in a “globalization of indifference” when we fail to confront the personal and political realities that undermine human dignity. Thank you for your moral leadership. Please know that you are in our prayers.

In solidarity,

Rev. Larry Snyder
President
Catholic Charities USA

Thomas P. Melady
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (retired)
President Emeritus, Sacred Heart University

Miguel Diaz
Former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See
University Professor of Faith and Culture
University of Dayton

Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J.
President
Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities

Michael Galligan-Stierle
President
Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities

Rev. Stephen Privett, S.J.
President
University of San Francisco

Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M.
President
DePaul University

Arturo Chávez
Mexican American Catholic College
San Antonio

Sister Ann Scholz, SSND, PhD
Associate Director for Social Mission
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Sabrina Burton Schultz
Director of Life Ministry
Diocese of St. Petersburg

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS
Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Kim Bobo
President
Interfaith Worker Justice

Larry Couch
National Advocacy Center
Sisters of the Good Shepherd

Rev. Frederick L. Thelen
President, Action of Greater Lansing
Pastor, Cristo Rey Church

Rev. Joseph Nangle, O.F.M

Susan M. Weishar
Migration Specialist
Jesuit Social Research Institute
Loyola University, New Orleans

Christopher G. Kerr
Executive Director
Ignatian Solidarity Network

 

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100 Catholic Sisters to Koch Brother Billionaires: Stop Opposing Life-saving Healthcare for Ohioans

November 19, 2013, 3:32 pm | Posted by

Nuns Applaud Lawmakers for Rejecting Immoral Priorities of Corporate Outsiders

Ohio “Nuns on the Bus” released a statement today denouncing the Koch Brothers deep-pocketed campaign to oppose Medicaid expansion that will help the state’s poor and most vulnerable populations. The Koch Brothers’ front group, Americans for Prosperity, has launched attack ads against Rep. Barbara Sears and other lawmakers across the state who endorse Medicaid expansion that will improve the lives of pregnant women, the disabled and elderly in nursing homes. Similar obstruction campaigns are being waged by the Koch Brothers in Virginia, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

More than 100 hundred Catholic nuns in Ohio are telling Americans for Prosperity to stand down.

“It is shameful that billionaires who can access the best medical care in the world oppose basic health care for the poor,” the Catholic sisters write. “We urge these corporate leaders to search their souls, consider the pain of so many families and stop this reckless campaign.” 

“In communities across our state, Catholic sisters see firsthand the urgent need for Medicaid expansion,” said Sr. Geraldine Nowak, OSF of Toledo. “Lawmakers like Rep. Sears should be applauded, not demonized, for standing up for commonsense reform that will provide vital healthcare coverage to an additional 275,000 uninsured Ohioans, including 26,000 veterans.”

Today’s statement follows last year’s Ohio “Nuns on the Bus” tour with Nuns traveling across the state highlighting the values at the center of their faith — solidarity, justice and the common good. Ohio “Nuns on the Bus” toured the state and stood with fellow people of faith to highlight dangerous federal budget cuts and to call on Democrats and Republicans to support a faithful budget that affirms the life of all of God’s children – not just the wealthiest few. Today, Catholic sisters are continuing their pursuit of justice by shining a light on outside corporate interests who are bullying their way around Ohio politics.

“As a mental health professional, I see far too many lives shortened and diminished due to a lack of access to basic healthcare, said Dr. Sr. Fran Repka, RSM of Cincinnati. “We applaud Ohio’s Controlling Board for their approval of Medicaid Expansion and urge the Koch Brothers to leave Ohio policymaking up to the people of Ohio.”

The Catholic sisters applaud Governor John Kasich’s support of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid and are committed to working with lawmakers to ensure the full implementation of this life-saving reform. 

The full statement with signatories is below.

 As Catholic sisters with Nuns on the Bus, we stand with the Catholic Conference of Ohio and leaders of Catholic hospitals in support of Medicaid expansion. Providing quality medical care to the most vulnerable is central to our pro-life commitment and consistent with our faith tradition’s concern for the common good. We know from our ministry to those living on the margins that a lack of health care is a constant burden that unnecessarily weighs on families. Medicaid expansion will provide immediate relief. 

Sadly, wealthy activists are organizing in Ohio and across the country to deny health care coverage to pregnant women, the disabled and elderly in nursing homes by undermining Medicaid expansion. Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group backed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, has made this a top priority. This is unconscionable. It is shameful that billionaires who can access the best medical care in the world oppose basic health care for the poor. We urge these corporate leaders to search their souls, consider the pain of so many families and stop this reckless campaign. 

The Koch brothers are targeting lawmakers, including Republican state Rep. Barbara Sears, who support Medicaid expansion. Fear and bullying will not win out over courage and hope. We are grateful for her moral leadership and other elected officials who are putting family values and human dignity before narrow ideological agendas. We pray that other lawmakers do the same.

In faith,

Sr. Mary Barbara Agnew, Sister of the Most Precious Blood

Sr. Mary Averbeck, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Sandy Bates, Ursulines of Brown County

Sr. Joyce Bates, Sisters of Notre Dame

Sr. Patmarie Bernard, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Marlene Berthelot, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Dorothy Blatnica, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Mary Bodde, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Mary Bookser, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sr. Nancy Bramlage, College of Mount St. Joseph

Sr. Carol Brenner, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Carolyn Brink, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Rose Marie Burns, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sr. Ruth Casper, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Marie Andree Chorzempa, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Jeanne Conrad, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Juliana D’Amato, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Theresa Darga, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Julia Deiters, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Shirley Dix, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Jacquelyn Doepker, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Gemma Doll, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Ellen Dunn, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Dorothy Englert, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Nancy Ferguson, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Mary Ann Flannery, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Virginia Froehle, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Mary Gallagher, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Patricia Gardner, Sisters of St Francis

Sr. Mary Faith Geelan, Dominican Sisters of Peace

Sr. Alice Gerdeman, Sisters of Divine Providence

Sr. Dorothy Gerhardstein, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Rosemarie Gerrety, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Joan Groff, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Sharon Havelak, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Kathleen Hebbeler, Dominican Sister of Hope

Sr. Mary Alice Henkel, Ursuline Sisters

Sr. Carren Herring, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Maureen Heverin, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sr. Louise Huitink, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Mary Humbert, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Ruth Hunt, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Rebecca Hurr, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Florence Izzo, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Leanne Jablonski, Marianist Sisters (Daughters of Mary Immaculate)

Sr. Pamela Jones, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Joyce Kahle, Sisters of the Precious Blood

Sr. Tracy Kemme, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sr. Phyllis Kemper, Ursuline Sisters

Sr. Dorothy J. Krupp, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Mary Kuhlman, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Teresas Laengle, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Rebecca LaPoint, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Olivia Latiano, Sisters of Notre Dame

Sr. Elizabeth Lavelle, Congregation of St. Joseph

Sr. Louise Lears, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Laura Leming, Marianist Sisters

Sr. Nancy Linenkugel, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Sandra LoPorto, Sisters of St. Joseph

Sr. Patricia McClain, Sisters of Notre Dame

Sr. Dolores McDonald, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sr. Monica McGloin, Dominican Sisters of Hope

Sr. Martha Meyer, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Jean Miller, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Mary Alan Miller, Sisters of Notre Dame

Sr. Rose Morand, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Virginia Morgan, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sr. Geraldine Nowak, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Maria Pacelli, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Annette Paveglio, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Mariellen Phelps, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Marguerite Polcyn, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Christine Pratt, Ursulines of Brown County

Sr. Letetia Rawles, Sister of the Most Precious Blood

Sr. Fran Repka, Sister of Mercy

Sr. Therese Ruffing, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Patricia Ann Sabourin, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Sr. Mary Schiller, Sisters of the Precious Blood

Sr. Janet Schlichting, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Greta Schmidlin, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Shannon Schrein, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Anita Schugart, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Julie Sheatzley, Sisters of St. Joseph

Sr. Sally Sherman, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Sandra Sherman, Ursuline Convent

Sr. Delia Sizler, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Wanda Smith, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Janet Snyder, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Carol Ann Spencer, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Jeanette Stang, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Donna Steffen, Sisters of charity

Sr. Joan Supel, Dominican Sister of Peace

Sr. Judy Tensing, Sisters of Notre Dame

Sr. Patricia Theriault, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Mary Therese Thorman, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Sarah Sherman, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Jean Vogelsang, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Nancy Vollman, Ursulines of Brown County

Sr. Martha Walsh, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Cabrini Warpeha, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Mary Wendeln, Sister of the Most Precious Blood

Sr. Carol Ann Wenning, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Barbara Wheeler, Dominican Sisters of Hope

Sr. Donna Wilhelm, Sisters of St. Joseph, Third Order of St Francis

 

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