News and events

Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv

Standing up and standing together for immigrants


Nothing is more American than the stories of immigrants who risked everything to be here.

But Bishop John Stowe wonders what’s happened to that narrative.

"Who would believe that in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we would be so threatened by penniless, shoeless migrants who have traveled hundreds of miles to escape gangs, violence and brutal poverty?" he asked an audience last week at Xavier University in Cincinnati. One of more than two dozen speakers defending the role and the rights of immigrants, Bishop Stowe was part of a conference on "Promoting Just & Inclusive Communities in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana". The sentiment shared by participants is reflected in the Gospel of Matthew: "I was a stranger and you welcomed me." Read more:

World Day of Social Justice is observed on February 20, 2018.

Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, orientation, religion, culture or disability.

Justice is a central moral standard in social life, is generally held to have a prominent role in social theory and social action, and so it is perhaps not surprising that all the social sciences have examined the concept at some length. "Charity is no substitute for justice withheld," Saint Augustine said.

As Immigrants Claim Sanctuary Around North Carolina, One Church Steps Up, Again
reprinted from WebEditors, Jan. 19, 2018

A fifth person has claimed sanctuary in North Carolina. Oscar Canales, a father of three and a business owner, took sanctuary in Congregational United Church of Christ on Thursday. He was ordered to leave the country by Jan. 18, 2018.

"This is a loving, strong, and brave family determined to stay together," said Rev. Julie Peeples, senior pastor at Congregational United Chuch of Christ. "… When I consider the biblical imperatives to love our neighbor and welcome the sojourners, along with the pledge of allegiance, which speaks of ‘liberty and justice for all,’ I don't know how anyone can be in favor of splitting up this wonderful family. They must be allowed to stay here in their own home, together."

Canales had been checking in with ICE since 2013 but still had his deportation order reinstated last October. He came to the U.S. from El Salvador in 2005 and has three children. He also owns a roofing company in Greensboro, N.C., where he claimed sanctuary Thursday.

"It will be really hard on my mom and my brother and sister without my dad around," said Oscar's 17-year-old daughter Shirley Canales in a news release. "We're really hoping he'll be able to come home soon to tuck them in at night again."

This is not the first time Congregational United Church of Christ has offered their church as sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. Minerva Garcia took sanctuary in the church from June 28 to Oct. 2. Her deportation order has been vacated, but she now has to wear an ankle monitor and check in with ICE regularly.

Speak Out for the Rohingya

It makes both moral and strategic sense for the US to back Burma’s persecuted minority.
Adapted from U.S. News and World Report (Dec. 4, 2017)

The tragedy of the Rohingya people dwarfs any domestic story in the Western world, and save for the menace of North Korea, China, terrorism and Russia, internationally as well.

The Burmese Buddhist majority accounts for 69 percent of the population and notably sided with the Japanese during World War II. The Rohingya stayed loyal to the allied side. In 1947, the British helped to orchestrate the 1947 Panglong Agreement which stated: "Citizens of the Frontier Areas shall enjoy rights and privileges which are regarded as fundamental in democratic countries." Rohingya received official national identity cards, many received citizenship, and some served in parliament. But in 1962 a socialist military coup took over the Burmese government. The Rohingya were stripped of citizenship in 1974 and declared foreigners in 1982. This effectively made them stateless. The Burmese government consistently refers to the Rohingya as Bengalis in an effort to ostracize them.

The recent cascade of violence began in 2012. The atrocities committed by the Burmese military against the Rohingya have been chronicled many times over and include mass killing, concentration camps, rape, arson, and property theft. This has resulted in the flight of 625,000 Rohingya (about 2/3 of their population), primarily to the squalor of refugee camps in impoverished Bangladesh.

Americans have a vested interest in the plight of the Rohingya. The Rohingya who practice a blend of Sunni and Sufi Islam are not natural partners for the extremists, and thus pose a good choice for American foreign policy combating radical Islam. The West, especially the United States, should not force the Rohingya to choose between survival and joining the jihadists.

There is always an easy test for American foreign policy: If one can maximize international relations realism and liberalism, aka democratic realism, one can be assured it is a good policy. Championing the Rohingya fits this completely.

The United States and Refugees

The United States has historically led the world in terms of refugee resettlement, and today remains the top resettlement country. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, the United States resettled 84,994 refugees. Beyond accepting refugees for resettlement, the United States also grants humanitarian protection to asylum seekers who present themselves at U.S. ports of entry or claim asylum from within the country; in FY 2015 (the most recent data available), the United States granted asylum to 26,124 individuals.

Refugees and asylees are individuals who are unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin or nationality because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Refugees and asylees are eligible for protection in large part based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act expanded this definition to include persons forced to abort a pregnancy or undergo a forced sterilization, or who have been prosecuted for their resistance to coercive population controls. In the United States, the major difference between refugees and asylees is the location of the person at the time of application. Refugees are usually outside of the United States when they are screened for resettlement, whereas asylum seekers submit their applications while they are physically present in the United States or at a U.S. port of entry. Refugees and asylees also differ in admissions process used and agency responsible for reviewing their application.

In response to the worsening global humanitarian crisis, the Obama administration increased the number of refugees the United States accepts annually, from 85,000 in fiscal year (FY) 2016 to 110,000 in FY 2017. Since assuming office in January 2017, President Donald Trump has issued executive orders to cut the refugee admission ceiling for FY 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000, and to suspend the refugee resettlement program for 120 days. These policy changes have been challenged in federal court and are presently blocked from implementation. So far this fiscal year, more than 42,000 refugees have been resettled.

The World's Refugee Crisis

Ai Weiwei’s documentary Human Flow, available in theaters or on Amazon streaming, is not a substitute for getting to know migrants and refugees. One cannot foster or participate in a culture of encounter merely by watching a film.

A documentary can, though, promote understanding and help viewers begin to perceive the individual stories behind the political debates. Worldwide, more than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes, more than at any time since the Second World War. Millions now live in refugee camps, often in appalling conditions. The film begins with thousands of refugees plucked by United Nations’ rescue teams from the Aegean Sea and bundled into tent cities on the Greek island of Lesvos. Over the next 140 minutes, Ai takes us to Bangladesh, Kenya, Iraq, Israel, France, the United States, Mexico and others — a total of 23 countries and more than 40 refugee camps.

If the global refugee crisis seems like too immense a problem to wrap one’s head around, Ai isn’t interested in narrowing his focus. Going for scope over depth, Human Flow isn’t a definitive study of the problem, but it offers an incomparable starting point for further discussions. Those open to walking with displaced persons "in prayer and support" may find watching Human Flow an aid to these goals. []

Missing in Our Response to Puerto Rico: Attention, and Generosity --Adapted from Hannah Reynolds article in Sojourners, Sept. 26, 2017

Last week, the island territory of Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria. Our response to the devastation following the hurricane is the latest test of this country’s character. The cumulative effects of an explosive hurricane season in Puerto Rico, the U.S.’ largest, most densely populated unincorporated territory, have garnered some attention at the highest level.

Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States — a title it shares with four incorporated states — and its people are U.S. citizens. Unlike their stateside counterparts, Puerto Ricans rely upon a D.C.-based oversight board to oversee their current financial crisis — a committee appointed by a Congress in which Puerto Rico has no voice.

As the people of Puerto Rico emerge from the rubble of Hurricane Maria into an ongoing quagmire of debt and corruption, they are now met with neglect and delay from Washington. Recent news indicated that the White House’s proposal for emergency aid would be up for congressional approval as late as the second week of October. This is simply too late.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico remains flooded and without power. The aftermath of the storm continues to unfold as the damage builds upon itself, forcing hundreds from their homes. Without electricity, cell service, or reliable communications, the situation on the ground is difficult to imagine for Americans living on the mainland.

Delay and inaction may be the hallmarks of our current government, but these are not the province of a Christian people. If the government’s resources are limited, surely our generosity is not. There is no shortage of opportunity to help. Beyond this, one of the most precious resources we have to give is our attention. To confer dignity — to affirm the inherent dignity — of the neglected, marginalized, and ignored. This is the measure of our character.

Harvey and Irma devastate coastal areas

Hurricane Irma is continuing on its destructive path north through Florida. Hurricane Jose is gathering strength in the Atlantic. And Hurricane Katia is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. Irma, Jose, Katia? How did such energetic forces of nature end up with these names?
Clare Nullis, a spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told Live Science in an email, "Hurricanes are assigned names for the purpose of public safety. It's easier for the media to publicize a storm and increase interest in warnings when a storm has a name."
Hurricane Irma got its name because it follows Harvey on a predetermined list established by the WMO for hurricanes that occur in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the North Atlantic Ocean. Six years' worth of names have already been planned out, including 21 names per year. But although the names more or less follow the alphabet, don't hold your breath for Hurricanes Quinn or Umberto — there aren't any names on the list that begin with Q, U, X, Y or Z.
Hurricane names are retired upon request of the country's representative at annual meetings of a WMO committee called the Regional Association IV Hurricane Committee. This is done when a storm has been so damaging that a future use of the name is considered insensitive.

US Franciscans speak out against President Trump's DACA action
September 5, 2017

As leaders and members of the Franciscan Order in the United States, we object in strenuous terms to the decision of President Donald Trump to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This decision constitutes a rejection of the 2012 executive order by President Barack Obama that allowed young immigrants, who were brought to the United States by their parents, to seek the opportunity to realize their full potential. President Obama’s executive order was not only moral, it also responded to the highest ideals of our nation.

The 780,000 "dreamers" (those who have received deferred action) are good, generous, talented and hard-working individuals. Many of them we know personally in and through our various Franciscan ministries. We have celebrated the DACA program with them as a modern response to the Biblical imperative to "welcome the stranger." Now, after President Trump’s decision to end the executive action, we commit ourselves to stand in support of and solidarity with "dreamers."

We urge all members of the communities we serve to condemn this unnecessary and harmful order by President Trump. Furthermore, we call upon all to contact their members of Congress and urge them to pass legislation that will fully welcome "dreamers" to our nation, remove the permanent shadow of their temporary status and make it illegal to deport or harm them. We join the U.S. Catholic Bishops in advocating for the bi-partisan "Dream Act of 2017," H.R.3440 and S. 1615. This legislation can help "dreamers" receive a piece of the security and human dignity they and all people deserve.

Unless a permanent legislative solution is enacted that welcomes and fully incorporates the young men and women "dreamers" who are already a vibrant part of our communities, our society will take yet another step on the path of moral and social decline.

Provincial Ministers of the United States of America

Very Rev. Robert Campagna, OFM
Immaculate Conception Province
New York, New York

Very Rev. James Gannon, OFM
Assumption BVM Province
Franklin, Wisconsin

Very Rev. Kevin Mullen, OFM
Holy Name Province
New York, New York

Very Rev. Thomas Nairn, OFM
Sacred Heart Province
St. Louis, Missouri

Very Rev. Jack Clark Robinson, OFM
Our Lady of Guadalupe Province
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Very Rev. Mark Soehner, OFM
St. John the Baptist Province
Cincinnati, Ohio

HAMBURG, Germany July 7, 2017

The pope is urging leaders of the Group of 20 nations to make the poor and refugees a priority of their summit.

Pope Francis said that "in the hearts and minds of leaders and in every phase of taking political measures, it is necessary to give absolute priority to the poor, refugees, those suffering, the displaced, those excluded, without national, racial, religious or cultural distinction."

The pope also urged leaders to reject armed conflict, urging an end to "useless massacres." The goal of the G-20, the pope noted, "is to peacefully resolve economic differences."

Francis said that the leaders should "move to deep reflection" on the fact that the summit brings together 20 nations that represent 90 percent of the production of goods and services in the world, while those who suffer the most are less represented on the world stage.

-- Adapted from the Associated Press July 7 at 7:17 AM

Franciscans decry U.S. withdrawal from Paris Climate Accord 6/1/2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Franciscan friars of the English Speaking Conference OFM, representing friars in all of the English-speaking countries of the world, have joined their voices with those of other Catholic leaders to decry the action of President Donald J. Trump to remove the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.

The statement by all the members of the Catholic Climate Covenant is below:


We, the member organizations of Catholic Climate Covenant, are deeply disappointed by President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement and stop all future payments to the Green Climate Fund. We implore him to reconsider. The international agreement of 2015 demonstrates that all nations will be impacted by a warming world and that all nations have a corresponding responsibility to limit greenhouse gas pollution causing climate change.

Climate change is already harming vulnerable people throughout the U.S. and around the world. American citizens in Louisiana and Alaska are being displaced by rising sea levels caused by melting glaciers and thermal expansion. Across the globe, families in Zimbabwe are being devastated by crushing drought amidst some of the hottest years on record. Globally, the World Health Organization warns that "between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress." Both at home and abroad, climate change unjustly and disproportionately harms poor and marginalized people who contribute least to the problem.

Catholic teaching insists that climate change is a grave moral issue that threatens our commitments: to protect human life, health, dignity, and security; to exercise a preferential option for the poor; to promote the common good of which the climate is part; to live in solidarity with future generations; to realize peace; and to care for God’s good gift of creation. These arguments have been made by Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, bishops from every continent and, most recently, Pope Francis.

The Catholic Church recognizes that climate change is a global problem that requires global solutions. It has repeatedly called for and supported international climate change agreements including by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2009, 2010, and 2012. Pope Francis wrote and released his ecological encyclical, Laudato Si’, in part to influence the Paris Agreement stressing that "its implementation will require unanimous commitment and generous dedication by everyone." In Laudato Si’, he emphasized that "continuity is essential, because policies related to climate change and environmental protection cannot be altered with every change of government" (no. 181).

Here in the United States, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has encouraged the Trump Administration—in letters and visits to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor Lt. Gen H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin— to abide by the Paris Agreement and live up to its commitments for the Green Climate Fund. In March, 15,000 Catholics sent a petition to President Trump asking him to honor the Paris Agreement and to contribute to the Green Climate Fund.

Beyond the Catholic community, majorities of Americans in every state believe that the U.S. should remain in the Paris Agreement. Similarly, hundreds of U.S. businesses – including major fossil fuel companies – have urged President Trump to honor the Paris Agreement. Across the United States, the message from Americans to President Trump is clear: any short-term economic gains should not be at the expense of long-term stability. This is not what America wants.

We, the members of Catholic Climate Covenant, believe there is no justification for this decision and we implore President Trump to reconsider this path. We will continue to raise our voices against climate policies that harm the planet and people while we will advocate for policies that respond to "both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor" (Laudato Si’ no. 49, emphasis in original).


Daniel Misleh, Executive Director, Catholic Climate Covenant Eli McCarthy, Ph.D. Associate Director of Justice and Peace, Conference of Major Superiors of Men Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv. Board of Directors, Franciscan Action Network Scott Wright Director, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach Sheila Hopkins President, National Council of Catholic Women Sr. Carol Keehan President & CEO, Catholic Health Association Sr. Donna Markham, OP, PhD, ABPP President & CEO, Catholic Charities USA Sr. Jane Remson, O.Carm. Main Representative, Carmelite NGO Sr. Mary Pellegrino, CSJ President, Leadership Conference of Women Religious Sr. Patricia McDermott, RSM President, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Tomas Insua Movement Coordinator, Global Catholic Climate Movement Very Rev. Kevin Mullen, OFM President, English Speaking Conference, Franciscan Friars (OFM)

President Trump to Announce Climate Change Decision

President Donald Trump is expected to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, a major break from international partners that would isolate the United States in global efforts to curb global warming. The decision would put the US at odds with nearly every other nation on earth.

The Paris Agreement (French: Accord de Paris) is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020 negotiated by representatives of 195 countries. As of May 2017, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the treaty, 147 of which have ratified it. The agreement went into effect on 4 November 2016.

Trump's expected decision to withdraw was likely to raise further questions about US credibility abroad. Rex Tillerson argued that scrapping the agreement could damage US negotiating power. Other major powers, including China, have signaled they will uphold their commitments to Paris regardless of Trump's moves.

"[Trump’s decision to withdraw] would be a colossal mistake," said Nick Burns, who served as under-secretary of state during George W. Bush's administration. "We are one of the two largest carbon emitters, with China. We are the ones who put this deal together. It is the first step to try to do something about climate change. For President Trump to take us out, it is anti-science."

Trump’s decision could come down to a single sentence. A rough translation of that sentence is: Any country that signs onto the Paris Agreement has to make a pledge to reduce pollution, called a "nationally determined contribution." The overall goal is to eliminate fossil fuel pollution this century, to avoid sinking low-lying islands, flooding cities like New Orleans and creating the sort of runaway warming that scientists say could lead to mass extinction. Hopefully these pledges will get MORE AMBITIOUS over time but there is no prescription that they MUST.

Does this sentence REQUIRE the United States to stick with its current pledge, which was made by the administration of Barack Obama? Or could it revise its pledge to be LESS AMBITIOUS?

The best thing for the health of Earth and its inhabitants would be for Trump to stay in the Paris agreement and stick to the existing pledge. Policy makers have identified an increase of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) as the red line for warming. Existing pledges to the Paris Agreement put the world at about 3.4 degrees Celsius of warming, which is unacceptable. That's why negotiators encourage countries to boost their pledges over time.

Todd Stern, Obama's special envoy for climate change, said that negotiators discussed and then left out language that would have required countries not to moderate their pledges. Stern would rather see the Trump administration stay in the Paris Agreement while pursuing whatever climate-warming policies it would like, rather than formally withdrawing from the agreement. Both are horrible choices, he acknowledges. But the first would be less of a catastrophe.

US bishops urge Senate to strike 'harmful' aspects of AHCA

Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Senate to strip out "harmful" provisions of the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1678) when the chamber takes it up for consideration or else to essentially start over on Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. "Even with efforts to improve the bill before passage, the American Health Care Act still contains major defects, particularly regarding changes to Medicaid that risk coverage and affordability for millions; it is deeply disappointing that the voices of those who will be most severely impacted were not heeded," said Bishop Dewane.

The bishops reiterated "key moral principles in health care reform,": access for all people to comprehensive, quality health care that is truly affordable, including extra consideration for pre-existing conditions; respect for life by preventing the use of federal funds for abortion or to purchase health care plans that cover it; and conscience protections. According to Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, the A.H.C.A.-proposed restructuring and cuts to Medicaid "will have devastating consequences for the many poor and vulnerable populations who rely on the program."

An Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center analysis indeed finds that the A.H.C.A.’s changes to federal taxes and health care benefits "would be very regressive." "Taking both tax reductions and benefit reductions into account, the average high-income family would be significantly better off and the average low-income family would be significantly worse off under the A.H.C.A."

Excerpted from --Kevin Clarke May 05, 2017 America Magazine

*Pope canonizes Fatima siblings May 13 *

Pope Francis will visit the Portuguese shrine at Fatima to canonize two Portuguese shepherd children who saw visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago. Francis had planned to travel to Fatima on May 12-13 to merely mark the anniversary of the apparitions, but with last month’s approval of the miracle needed to make siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto saints, he decided to use the occasion to canonize them.

The Marto siblings, along with their cousin, saw the Virgin Mary six times above an olive tree in 1917. The brother and sister died of pneumonia two years later, at the ages of 9 and 11. St. John Paul II beatified them in Fatima on May 13, 2000.

With the Marto children soon to be declared saints, all that remains to the miraculous events of Fatima is case of their cousin and co-visionary, Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, who became a Carmelite nun and died in 2005. In February, Portuguese church officials turned over 15,000 pages of testimony and other documentation for review to determine if she can be declared to have lived a life of heroic virtue, the first step in the Vatican’s complicated saint-making process.

Earth Day 2017 is April 22nd

64,000 locations on Earth available. Which one will you get?

NASA invites you to help us celebrate Earth Day 2017 by virtually adopting a piece of Earth as seen from space. Your personalized adoption certificate will feature data from NASA’s Earth-observing satellites for a randomly assigned location. Print it and share it, then explore other locations with our interactive map and get even more Earth science data from NASA’s Worldview website.

Climate change unleashed?

Washington (CNN) March 29, 2017

President Donald Trump signed a sweeping executive order March 28, 2017 at the Environmental Protection Agency, which curbs the federal government's enforcement of climate regulations by putting American jobs above addressing climate change. Tuesday's order rescinds at least six Obama-era executive orders aimed at curbing climate change and regulating carbon emissions, including Obama's November 2013 executive order instructing the federal government to prepare for the impact of climate change and the September 2016 presidential memorandum that outlined the "growing threat to national security" that climate change poses. This executive order is also an attempt by the Trump administration to make good on its promise to bring more coal jobs back. The official said that Obama's regulations "were not helpful" to the coal industry and these reversals are the President honoring "a pledge he made to the coal industry." It is unclear whether Trump's order will actually bring back coal jobs, in part, because of market forces like the rise of clean energy that are already putting pressure on the coal industry.

The Birth of a ‘Peace Army’
*By Ellen Furnari *
Unarmed civilian protection, or UCP, is just what it sounds like: nonviolent action by civilians to protect other civilians from political violence. The peacekeeping practice is rooted in the call for a "peace army"—a Shanti Sena—by Mohandas Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, whom the pope referenced in his 2017 World Day of Peace message.
Peace Brigades International is … focused on specific strategies based on the principles and practices of nonviolence, the primacy of local actors, independence, and for many but not all organizations, nonpartisanship, in an organized, disciplined way.
Many organizations around the world are currently practicing this method of intervention, including Peace Brigades International, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Christian Peacemaker Teams, SweFOR, Meta Peace Team, Operation Dove, Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, and others.

--Excerpted from Sojourners, March 2017

A Letter from Chief Arvol Looking Horse
--Excerpted from The Catholic Worker, Jan/Feb, 2017

I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nations, ask you to understand an Indigenous perspective on what has happened in America … Our Ancestors foretold that water would someday be for sale. Back then this was hard to believe since water was so plentiful, so pure, and so full of energy, nutrition and spirit. Today we have to buy pure water, and even then the nutritional minerals have been taken out; it’s just empty liquid.
We fail to appreciate and honor our Sacred Sites, ripping out the minerals and gifts that lay underneath them as if Mother Earth were simply a resource instead of the source of life itself. Attacking nations and using more resources to carry out destruction in the name of peace is not the answer! We need to understand how all these decisions affect the global nation; we will not be immune to its repercussions. Allowing continual contamination of our food and land is affecting the way we think. A disease of the mind has set in on world leaders and many members of our global community with their belief that a solution of retaliation and destruction of peoples will bring peace.
We are the only species that is destroying the source of life, meaning Mother Earth, in the name of power, mineral resources, and ownership of land. We use chemicals and methods of warfare that are doing irreversible damage, and Mother Earth is becoming tired and cannot sustain any more impacts of war. As each day passes, I ask all nations to begin a global effort, and remember to give thanks for the sacred food that has been gifted to us by our Mother Earth … Starvation, war, and toxic waste have been the hallmark of the great myth of progress and development that ruled the last millennium.
To us as caretakers of the heart of Mother Earth, falls the responsibility of turning back the powers of destruction. You, yourself, are the one who must decide. You alone, and only you, can make this crucial choice … On your decision depends the fate of the entire world.
Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind. Did you think the Creator would create unnecessary people in a time of such terrible danger? Know that you, yourself, are essential to this world. Understand both the blessing and the burden of that. You, yourself are desperately needed to save the soul of this world. Did you think you were put here for something less?

Breaking News January 25, 2016

The Standing Rock Tribe Will Go to Court Seeking to Invalidate the Executive Order & Camp Leaders Want ‘Mass Civil Disobedience’

According to NBC News the executive orders the new president signed "will make it easier for TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL pipeline and for Energy Transfer Partners to build the final uncompleted portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline."

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe will take legal action against President Trump’s executive order. In a statement, the tribe accused Trump of disregarding treaty rights and violating the law through his executive order on DAPL. Protest camp leaders released a statement calling for mass civil disobedience, saying, "… the heart of Standing Rock beats everywhere." They also called on people to divest from any banks helping fund the pipeline.

CNBC reported that Congress cannot overturn an executive order, and the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld all but two in U.S. history.

January 8-14, 2017 Creating a Culture of Encounter

For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking.

The theme for National Migration Week 2017 draws attention to Pope Francis' call to create a culture of encounter, and in doing so to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us. In the homily given at his first Pentecost as pope, he emphasized the importance of encounter in the Christian faith: "For me this word is very important. Encounter with others. Why? Because faith is an encounter with Jesus, and we must do what Jesus does: encounter others."

With respect to migrants, too often in our contemporary culture we fail to encounter them as persons, and instead look at them as others. We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious of their intentions. During this National Migration Week, let us all take the opportunity to engage migrants as children of God who are worthy of our attention and support.

-- From the United States Council of Catholic Bishops

*What Will 'Sanctuary' Look Like in 2017? * *San Antonio's Response to Hundreds of Freed Migrants Shows One Way *

By Sandi Villarreal 12-09-2016

Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently released nearly 500 women and children from Texas family detention centers, flooding San Antonio emergency shelters — and revealing the generosity of a city. "After this weekend’s events San Antonio may not be a sanctuary city on paper, but it’s a sanctuary city just by the actions of the community," said Amy Fischer, policy director for the RAICES in San Antonio.

Fischer said San Antonio residents, faith communities, and state and local government officials quickly rallied to provide the families with food, shelter, cell phone access, transportation, and more. San Antonio Mennonite Church immediately hosted more than 200 women and children on Dec. 4, offering blow up mattresses strewn throughout Sunday school rooms and the facility’s fellowship hall.

On a Facebook post Dec. 9, the church leadership described its motivation, writing, "Jesus very clearly teaches that we love and care for those who suffer as we love and care for God. 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' ... Our church building is not our own but a gift we are stewards of in order to welcome and love. Our resources and networks of people and energies are not our own, but vessels of God's love."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has threatened multiple times to cut funding to cities and state schools that set up sanctuary status — even as a firm definition of the term remains elusive. Of the many questions advocates are exploring, Fischer says at the top are: "What does sanctuary mean in 2016? … What does it mean in 2017?"

Defining "sanctuary" cities:
There currently isn’t an established legal definition. "Sanctuary" policies may include providing services to individuals without regard to status, or declining to spend resources assisting with immigration enforcement, according to Lena Graber from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.
Source: Immigrant Legal Resource Center, city audit reports (Janet Nguyen/Marketplace) -- Excerpted from Sojourners

Army Corps of Engineers delay pipeline for environmental study

The Army Corps of Engineers has told the Oceti tribe that it will halt work on the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline in order to conduct an environmental-impact study and shot down a permit for an easement on the property, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe announced.
In a statement, the tribe said it "wholeheartedly support[s]" the government’s decision, and thanked President Obama and the Justice Department. "We thank the millions of people around the globe who expressed support for our cause," the statement reads. "We thank the thousands of people who came to the camps to support us, and the tens of thousands who donated time, talent, and money to our efforts to stand against this pipeline in the name of protecting our water."
Protesters have been camped out at the site in North Dakota for months to demonstrate against the $3.8 billion project, arguing it will destroy the environment and taint the drinking water used by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. As protesters have vowed to stay put, clashes with police have intensified in recent days. The Army Corps is seeking an alternative route for the project.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an annual holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. George Washington, the first president of the United States, proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1789.

There are claims that the first Thanksgiving Day was held in the city of El Paso, Texas in 1598. Another early event was held in 1619 in the Virginia Colony. Many people trace the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day to the harvest celebration that the Pilgrims held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. However, their first true thanksgiving was in 1623, when they gave thanks for rain that ended a drought. These early thanksgivings took the form of a special church service, rather than a feast.

Not everyone sees Thanksgiving Day as a cause for celebration. Each year since 1970, a group of Native Americans and their supporters have staged a protest for a National Day of Mourning at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts on Thanksgiving Day. American Indian Heritage Day is also observed at this time of the year.

The most widely practiced ritual is the Thanksgiving meal. This usually includes turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce, corn, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pies, but many feasts differ between families and cultures.

Vatican issues new document on Christian burial and cremation

2016-10-25 Vatican Radio (Vatican Radio) The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Tuesday published a new instruction on the burial of the dead and on the conservation of the ashes in cases of cremation. The instruction reiterates the long held view that the Church is not opposed to the practice of cremation, though it continues to recommend that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places. However the new document insists that ashes should not be kept in private houses and that the scattering of ashes on land or at sea is not permitted.

Please see the full English text of the new instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Instruction Ad resurgendum cum Christo regarding the burial of the deceased and the conservation of the ashes in the case of cremation.

Joining in productive political discourse:

The Catholic Church has launched a campaign called "Civilize It: Dignity beyond the Debate."
This non-partisan and non-sectarian movement is a message to all candidates of all parties and in all races that encourages:

  1. Civility: To reflect respect, to throw no stones, and to rise above it.
  2. Clarity: To align one’s political point of view with a formed conscience, which involves standing up for one’s convictions while humbly remaining open to learn more.
  3. Compassion: To encounter others with a tone and posture that say, "I see the dignity and goodness in you."

While people of faith and good will may disagree on a number of critical issues, Civilize It warns us not to sacrifice our own appreciation of God in the other person for a sense of self-righteousness about our own strongly held beliefs.

Please join in this campaign to push back against the mudslinging of negative campaign ads and one-upmanship of partisan attacks. Let us help define the tone set by our candidates at all levels of government and model respectful dialogue among ourselves. You can promote civility, clarity and compassion this election season by going to

CANNON BALL, N.D. — The simmering showdown here between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the company building the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline began as a legal battle. It has turned into a movement.

Over the past few weeks, thousands of Native Americans representing tribes from all over the country have traveled to this central North Dakota reservation to camp in a nearby meadow and show solidarity with a tribe they believe is once again receiving a raw deal at the hands of commercial interests and the U.S. government.

Frank White Bull, a tribal council member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, was overcome with emotion as he looked out over the ocean of brightly colored tepees and tents that have popped up on this impromptu 80-acre campground. "You think no one is going to help," said White Bull, 48. "But the people have shown us they’re here to help us. We made our stance and the Indian Nation heard us. It’s making us whole. It’s making us wanyi oyate. One nation. We’re not alone."

At issue for the tribes is the 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline — or DAPL — that runs through North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois, and has a capacity to transport more than 500,000 barrels of oil a day. The $3.8 billion pipeline now under construction was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cross under the Missouri River just a mile north of the reservation. That decision angered the tribe, because the Missouri is the source of water for the reservation’s 8,000 residents. Any leak, tribal leaders argue, would do immediate and irreparable harm. And tribal leaders point to what they see as a double standard, saying that the pipeline was originally planned to cross the Missouri north of Bismarck, the state capital, but was rerouted because of powerful opposition that did not want a threat to the water supply there.

The tribe says it also is fighting the pipeline’s path because even though it does not cross the reservation, it does traverse sacred territory taken away from the tribe in a series of treaties that were forced upon it over the past 150 years. The reservation sued the Corps in July, saying that the agency had not entered into any meaningful consultation with the tribe as required by law and that the Corps had ignored federal regulations governing environmental standards and historic preservation.

"The construction and operation of the pipeline, as authorized by the Corps, threatens the Tribe’s environmental and economic well-being, and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious and cultural significance to the Tribe," the lawsuit asserts. "This pipeline is going through huge swaths of ancestral land," said Dean DePountis, the tribe’s lawyer. "It would be like constructing a pipeline through Arlington Cemetery or under St. Patrick’s Cathedral."

--Excerpted from Showdown over oil pipeline becomes a national movement for Native Americans, by Joe Heim, The Washington Post.