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Office of Peace, Justice and the Integrity of Creation, Advisory Board
Notes from The OPJCC Director

October 12, 2017

Mount Saint Joseph University (MSJU) will host a 2017 Candidates Forum on Monday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. in the University Theatre. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

More than 30 candidates from the offices of Cincinnati City Council, Cincinnati School Board, Cincinnati Mayor, Delhi Township Trustee, and Hamilton County Municipal Court are expected to participate in the forum.

The event will feature a “candidate fast pitch” segment that allows participants to vote on the “best pitch” per political office, as well as a meet-and-greet session with the candidates.

The Candidates Forum is open to the public and free of charge. Parking is available in the MSJU west parking lot next to the University Theatre.

To register, please contact Keith Lanser, manager of Service Learning and Civic Engagement, at keith.lanser@msj.edu or call 513-244-4634.

MSJU is a Catholic academic community grounded in the spiritual values and vision of its founders, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. The University educates its students through interdisciplinary liberal arts and professional curricula emphasizing values, integrity, and social responsibility.

MSJU does not favor, oppose, or endorse any political candidates for any political offices.

“In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. This obligation is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do.” Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


September 28, 2017

October 2 is International Day of Nonviolence. According to the United States Institute of Peace, nonviolent movements are nearly twice as successful as violent ones in achieving their objectives.
Civil resistance, nonviolent direct action, and people power all refer to a series of techniques ordinary people use to challenge various injustices and oppression. These techniques employ direct action tactics, tactics that operate outside existing institutions and do not involve a threat of violence or actual violence.

Mass participation is part of what makes nonviolent movements so successful, particularly when women are included. Women’s meaningful involvement in civil resistance movements has shown to be a game changer. And research shows that sustainable peace is more likely if women are significantly involved.
Women have historically been denied full access to political spaces. Yet, all over the world, women have persisted in the face of inequalities to assume roles as strategists, organizers, and active participants in various nonviolent campaigns and movements.

The global community must commit to promoting women’s contributions, not only in the post conflict phase but also early on, when citizens organize to nonviolently challenge repression and advance government accountability. The United Nations (UN) seems to be seeking and promoting women’s contributions. The 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals represent a global commitment to promote gender equality by actively engaging women in decision-making and peace processes. Scholars, policymakers, and practitioners too have a role to play in advancing the understanding of and support for women’s meaningful participation in nonviolent movements.

Source: United States Institute of Peace, Special Report. Women in Nonviolent Movements, Marie A. Principe, January 2017

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


September 14, 2017

Sisters, Associates, and SC friends,

You are invited to a presentation about migration from a global perspective.

S. Teresa Kotturan, SCN, the SC Federation’s Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) representative to
the United Nations (UN), will be at the Motherhouse on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017.

One of her roles at the UN is to give voice to those living in poverty and provide firsthand knowledge to decision makers in areas such as human rights, human trafficking, migration, climate change, global citizenship, and women and children.

S. Teresa’s role at the SC Federation is to educate Federation members and the public on the services and activities of the UN. She disseminates UN information, raises awareness of issues and offers advocacy actions to take. The Office of Peace, Justice and Care for Creation then shares that with
you via Update, Intercom and/or a simple “Click to Act” via Charitynet.

At the Federation Leadership meeting this past June, S. Teresa gave an informative presentation on migrants, refugees, and internally displaced persons, with a focus on women and children. She will be giving the same presentation for all of us in the Greater Cincinnati/Dayton area.

We will learn the difference between the terms migration, immigration and refugees. S. Teresa will help us to understand why people leave their homes and who is most vulnerable to displacement and discrimination when in a foreign place.

Please join S. Teresa on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017. Choose the time that works for you: 3:30-4:45 p.m. in Cedars Auditorium or 6:30-7:45 p.m. in Cedars Auditorium. Family and friends are welcome!

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


August 17, 2017

The Season of Creation begins with World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on Sept. 1 and ends
with the Feast of St. Francis on Oct. 4. During this time, Christians across denominations and around the
world are invited to pray and care for creation.

Sept. 1 was originally proclaimed as the World Day of Prayer for Creation by the Orthodox Church in 1989. Many other Christian churches have joined since then, Pope Francis most recently in 2015. According to the Pope, this day “offers to individual believers, and to the community, a precious opportunity to renew our personal participation in this vocation as custodians of creation.”

To kick off this Season of Creation, consider taking the Laudato Si’ Pledge. Laudato Si’ is Pope Francis’ historic encyclical on caring for creation and our common home. It challenges us to “hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” through ecological conversion, changes in lifestyle and society, and strong political action.

The Laudato Si’ Pledge is a worldwide campaign to raise awareness of the Laudato Si’ message and to encourage the Catholic community to take action with the urgency required by the climate crisis. Following the second anniversary of his historic environmental encyclical, Pope Francis on March 7, 2017, endorsed the Laudato Si’ Pledge campaign.

Answering Pope Francis’ urgent call in Laudato Si’, I pledge to
 pray for and with creation,
 live more simply,
 advocate to protect our common home.

Sources:
Global Catholic Climate Movement
Vatican Radio

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


August 17, 2017

Toward the end of August, there are two special days you might wish to observe with prayer and reflection.

1. World Humanitarian Day takes place on Aug. 19 and is a time to recognize those who face danger and adversity in order to help others. The day was designated by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 UN staff.

Pray for humanitarian aid workers who help millions of people every day, regardless of who they are and where they live. Our sisters and brothers who are aid workers often risk their safety and sometimes lose their lives in the pursuit of helping the most vulnerable people around the world.

2. In 1971 the U.S. Congress designated Aug. 26 as Women’s Equality Day at the request of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY). The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful, civil rights movement by women.

As you observe Women’s Equality Day, reflect on that peaceful civil rights movement that led to the passage of the 19th Amendment. Pray for women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.

Sources:
National Women’s History Project
United Nations

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


August 3, 2017

August 9 is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

Let us be mindful that for years indigenous peoples in the United States and all over the world have sought recognition of their identities and way of life as well as their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources. Yet, throughout history, their rights have been violated. Indigenous peoples today are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world.

“Indigenous communities are a part of the population to be appreciated and consulted, and whose full participation should be promoted at the local and national level.” Pope Francis, Feb. 15, 2017

Sources:
United Nations
Vatican Radio

Creator God of all people,
We come to you as your many children,
to ask for guidance.
Remind us that none of us were discovered,
since none of us were lost,
but that we are all gathered within the sacred circle of your community.
Guide us to restore the truth of our heritage.
Help us to confront the racism that divides us.
Call us to kinship.
Mend our hearts and let us live in justice and peace,
so that all people might live in dignity.
Amen.
Adapted from the Native Ministries of the Episcopal Church

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


July 20, 2017

“One of the most troubling of those open wounds (in the world) is the trade in human beings, a modern form of slavery. It violates the God-given dignity of so many of our brothers and sisters and constitutes a true crime against humanity.” Pope Francis, November 7, 2016, RENATE Conference (Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation)

July 30, 2017 is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

According to the United Nations, every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims. Worldwide, children make up almost one-third of all human trafficking victims, and women and girls comprise 71 percent of human trafficking victims.

All of us can work to end this crime by being aware of it and making sure that the plight of our sisters and brothers does not go unnoticed. Here are two ways we can help:

If you see anything that you think might be related to human trafficking, tell the police or call the national anti-trafficking helpline at 888-373-7888. Remember, victims can be coerced in many ways. If you are unsure, it is better to be mistaken than to let another victim continue to be enslaved.

Download the app Sweat & Toil: Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking Around the World. This app can be a starting point to empower yourself with knowledge about modern-day child slavery, to take action, and to demand change. For iPhone and Android downloads of this app, go to: www.dol.gov/dol/apps/ilab.htm.

Sources:
United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime
United States Department of Labor
Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


July 6, 2017

Fourth of July Prayer

Merciful Creator, as we observe Independence Day receive our prayers for our nation, our public officials
and all those who dwell here.

Bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships so that we may seek truth boldly, love fearlessly, and live from deep within our hearts.

Bless us with open hearts to work together for the benefit of our common home, Earth, and all humankind.

Bless us with determination to break down the walls that separate us and to reunite us in bonds of love so that all nations and races may jointly serve each other in justice, peace and harmony.

Bless us with courage to challenge teachings of arrogance, fear, division and hatred.

Bless us with the desire to treat all beings, human and nonhuman, with respect.

Bless us with sorrow for our misdoings, our injuries to others, and the misuse of our freedom so that
we may seek peace, make amends, and heal broken relationships.

Bless us with understanding that all of your creation is sacred.

Bless us with holy anger at injustice, oppression, prejudice, and exploitation of people so that we may
tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

Bless us with wisdom to teach our children to love, to respect, to be kind to each other so that they may grow with peace in mind.

May it be your will that our nation be a blessing to all inhabitants of Earth.

Amen.

(A compilation of Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Native American prayers)

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


June 22, 2017

According to the United Nations, every minute 24 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror. There are several types of forcibly displaced persons:

Refugees flee their home and country for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Many refugees are in exile to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters.

Asylum Seekers flee their homes as refugees do, but their claim to refugee status is not yet definitively evaluated in the country to which they fled.

Internally Displaced Persons have not crossed an international border but have moved to a different region than the one they call home within their own country.

Stateless Persons do not have a recognized nationality and do not belong to any country. Statelessness situations are usually caused by discrimination against certain groups. Their lack of identification — a citizenship certificate — can exclude them from access to important government services, including health care, education or employment.

Returnees are former refugees who return to their own countries or regions of origin after time in exile. Returnees need continuous support and reintegration assistance to ensure that they can rebuild their lives at home.

World Refugee Day is held every year on June 20. Let us commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of our refugee sisters and brothers. Let us show our support in our cities, states and nation for families forced to flee.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


June 8, 2017

June 12, 2017 is World Day Against Child Labor. The intention of the International Labor Organization (ILO) is to focus attention on the global extent of child labor and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. The ILO defines child labor as work that deprives children and adolescents of their childhood, their education or training, their potential, their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.

Around the world, large numbers of children are engaged in paid or unpaid work. These children can be particularly vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking. Their work is often hidden from the public eye, they may be isolated, or they may be working far away from their family home.

Poverty, along with lack of an education, is a social condition that makes it easier for human traffickers to operate. Children are often employed and exploited because, compared to adults, they are more vulnerable, cheaper to hire and are less likely to demand higher wages or better working conditions. Some employers falsely argue that children are particularly suited to certain types of work because of their small size and “nimble fingers.”

Let us unite and renew our efforts to remove the causes of this modern slavery that deprives millions of children of certain fundamental rights and exposes them to serious dangers. Today there are many child slaves in the world. Pope Francis, June 2016

Sources:
International Labor Organization
United Nations
Vatican City
World Fair Trade Organization

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


May 25, 2017

Every June, human rights and faith organizations join together to mark Torture Awareness Month, for on June 26, 1987, the nations of the world took a major step against the immoral and abhorrent practice of torture.

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) invites you to join people of faith throughout
the world in commemorating Torture Awareness Month. NRCAT believes “torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear. It degrades everyone involved including policy-makers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation’s most cherished ideals. Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable.”

NRCAT has provided an online petition calling for government officials across the country to take steps to end the use of prolonged solitary confinement: nrcat.org/torture-in-us-prisons/statement.

A Prayer for Those Affected by Torture

God who is the source of all life, we pray for our sisters and brothers.
For those affected by torture, whether physical or mental.
For those who suffer brutal violence.
For those who are mocked and humiliated and disempowered.
For those who are shown no mercy.
For those who are forced to exist in a state of perpetual terror.
For those whose precious humanity is taken away.
For those who are not given the chance to live the gift of life,
but instead fear for that life
every moment.
Guide the nations and peoples of the world to turn from policies and practices
that violate one another. Move us to act in that cause. We pray in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

Katie J. Anderson, Racial Ethnic Young Women Together

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


May 11, 2017

May 21 is World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialog and Development. The day provides an opportunity to help individuals and communities understand the value of cultural diversity and learn how to live together in harmony. It was adopted in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension. Bridging the gap between cultures is urgent and necessary for peace, stability and development.
Below are a few things we can do to celebrate World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development … or any day:

  • Speak up when you hear inappropriate cultural or ethnic jokes or comments. Don’t be a “silent supporter.” Let people know that biased speech is always unacceptable.
  • Attend diversity-focused events, workshops or conferences.
  • Explore the linguistic and cultural composition of the U.S. by looking at the Modern Language Association’s Language Map: arcmap.mla.org/mla/default.aspx.
  • Be culturally sensitive toward our sisters and brothers in the U.S. who have been recently forced to flee their homelands. They may be in culture shock and grieving over the “loss” of their cultures and families. Ask, “How would I feel if I were in their shoes?”

Let us do our part to promote culture in its diversity and in all of its forms, based on the principle that “tolerance and respect for cultural diversity and universal promotion and protection of human rights, including the right to development, are mutually supportive.” United Nations General Assembly

Sources:
Catholic News Service
United Nations

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


April 27, 2017

Global trade is not inherently bad. However, it often focuses on efficiency at all costs, lower prices, and little consideration for social, economic and environmental impacts. Large-scale consolidation of power in supply chains has resulted in fewer options for consumers, farmers and workers, and unprecedented wealth controlled by few.

May 13, 2017 is World Fair Trade Day. Fair trade focuses on inclusion, empowerment, human rights, and transparency. It is about mutually beneficial relationships rooted in trust and respect spanning geographic and cultural boundaries.

But even the fair trade movement has its problems. Many small-scale producers are hurt by strict certification requirements and high costs that result in uneven economic advantages. And, larger corporations often succumb to the corporate push for productivity and profit and therefore violate the certified standards. Fair Trade International and Fair Trade USA conduct audits of their certified producers. When violations are found, certification is suspended until corrections are addressed.
Despite its issues, as a global movement, fair trade brings attention to people around the world who work under exploitative conditions and highlights environmental damages and the true costs of goods in global supply chains. It is a tangible contribution to the work of caring for all creation.
Catholic Relief Services is dedicated to ethical trade. Join their staff in prayer and consider going to the website to learn what they are doing and how you can live your faith by consuming with your conscience: www.ethicaltrade.crs.org.

Sources:
Fair Trade Federation
Fair Trade International
Fair Trade USA
World Fair Trade Organization
Stanford Social Innovation Review

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


April 13, 2017

Over the past several years, Sisters of Charity (SC) and Associates have nurtured wonderful relationships with several Cincinnati neighbors who are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Many have been guest presenters at the Motherhouse, informing us about what is currently happening in the DRC.

One friend in particular is Claver Pashi, Ph.D. He, like our other Congolese friends, works for various justice issues here in the United States as well as in the DRC.

Dr. Pashi travels each year to the DRC to teach three classes at the National Pedagogy University to help pay back what he received from his university education there.

Most of his students face several barriers to obtaining their degrees. One such barrier is money to buy books. To assist the students, Dr. Pashi creates a syllabus that contains all the information taught in his courses. The “book” fee per class for the syllabus is $15. This is much more affordable than buying textbooks, but is still impossible for some students to purchase.

For several years the SC family has supported Dr. Pashi’s efforts to provide a syllabus to his students who cannot afford it. He tells us that there is always a joyous outburst of applause when he announces the gift of free “books.” It is, for many, the first time they have experienced such generosity.

Dr. Pashi extends his gratitude and appreciation to the SC family for ongoing prayers and monetary support that have assisted the students in the DRC to obtain books for their classes.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


March 30, 2017

In 1987 U.S. Congress designated the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” To close this month, OPJCC invites you to remember the following sample of prophetic women. If you are unfamiliar with a particular woman, we urge you to research more about her.

  • St. Hildegard of Bingen, OSB - writer, composer, philosopher, mystic, visionary
  • Chipeta - Ute Indian leader, diplomat, peacemaker
  • Marie Curie – scientist, Nobel Prize recipient
  • Marian Wright Edelman - children’s rights activist
  • Dolores Huerta - labor leader and civil rights activist
  • Gwen Ifill – journalist, newscaster, author, mentor
  • Mary Harris “Mother” Jones - labor and community organizer
  • S. Karen Klimczak, SSJ - human dignity and peace activist, martyr
  • Aung San Suu Kyi - political leader, diplomat, author and Nobel Peace Prize recipient
  • Tegla Loroupe – athlete and promoter of peace, education and women’s rights
  • Wangari Maathai - environmental and political activist
  • Graciela Olivarez - civil and human rights activist
  • Dame Miriam Louisa Rothschild - nature conservationist, civic, social and political activist
  • S. Blandina Segale, SC, Servant of God - humanitarian, peacemaker
  • Marian Alexander Spencer - community servant, civil rights activist
  • Edith Stein, also known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, OCD - philosopher, author, martyr
  • Annalena Tonelli - social activist, Catholic volunteer of 33 years, martyr
  • Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga - lead researcher of the investigation into the Japanese American internment camps
  • Malala Yousafzai – education and women’s rights advocate

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


March 16, 2017

According to the United Nations (UN) racial and ethnic profiling is defined as “a reliance by law enforcement, security and border control personnel on race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin as a basis for subjecting persons to detailed searches, identity checks and investigations, or for determining whether an individual is engaged in criminal activity.” Refugees and migrants are particular targets of racial profiling and incitement to hatred.

In September 2016, UN Member States strongly condemned acts and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance against refugees and migrants, and committed to a range of steps to counter such attitudes and behaviors, particularly regarding hate crimes, hate speech and racial violence.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is Wednesday, March 21. Stand up for someone’s rights – for racial discrimination, but also for all forms of discrimination. Take the UN’s Pledge to:

  • • Respect and uphold someone’s rights regardless of whom they are and/or if you disagree with them.
    • Stand up when anyone’s rights are denied.
    • Raise your voice, take action and use your rights to stand up for another’s rights.

In an October 2013 address, Pope Francis said, “I wish to emphasize that the problem of intolerance must be confronted in all its forms: wherever any minority is persecuted and marginalized because of its religious convictions or ethnic identity, the wellbeing of society as a whole is endangered and each one of us must feel affected. Let us join forces to promote a culture of encounter, respect, understanding and mutual forgiveness.” Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rome

Sources:
standup4humanrights.org
United Nations
Vatican

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


March 2, 2017

I will close Black History Month and begin Women’s History Month honoring one of only three orders of predominantly black nuns in the U.S.

The Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary were founded in Georgia in 1916 after a state law was proposed to bar whites from teaching black children. It was under these circumstances that S. Mary Theodore Williams, an African-American nun, cofounded the Handmaids.

The Handmaids were intended to be an order of teachers in parochial and public schools to teach black children should the bill become law. The proposal never passed, so black and white nuns taught side by side in Georgia’s schools.

However, the Handmaids lived according to the South’s social order where blacks and whites, even those in communities of shared faith, lived apart. The nuns worshiped separately, and black nuns often endured ridicule from white Catholics who did not think them worthy of wearing habits.

In 1924, the Handmaids moved to New York City to open a day nursery for working families in Harlem. The St. Benedict Day Nursery continues to be the order’s primary charity.

Today, the Handmaids also operate a food pantry on Staten Island. They promote Catholic social justice teaching, advocate for victims of social in-justice, and work toward education for all - especially for the most vulnerable.

The Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary was founded as a Black congregation but today they are a multicultural congregation that welcomes women from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Happy 101 years of service, Sisters!

Sources:
Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary
U.S. Catholic

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


February 16, 2017

February is Black History Month. We remember and celebrate the following three people:

Servant of God Mary Lange (1784-1882) was an immigrant and educator who cofounded the Oblate Sisters of Providence, a religious congregation established in Baltimore, Maryland, to allow African-American women to enter religious life in the Catholic Church; the first in the U.S. The order sought to evangelize the black community through Catholic education. In addition to schools, the Sisters later conducted night classes for women, vocational and career training, and established homes for widows and orphans.

Venerable Henriette Delille (1813-1862) was a Creole nun whose great-great-grandmother was brought from Africa as a slave. S. Henriette founded the Roman Catholic order of the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans, which was composed of free women of color. The order provided nursing care and a home for orphans. They also established schools and opened the first Catholic home for the elderly in the U.S.

Activist, lecturer and author Daniel Rudd (1854-1933) was born a slave on a Kentucky plantation owned by a Catholic man. Rudd embraced his master’s religion and in 1886 established a weekly newspaper in Cincinnati to advocate Catholicism as the path to social equality for African-Americans. The newspaper was the American Catholic Tribune. Rudd described the newspaper as “the only Catholic journal owned and published by colored men.” It was one of the most successful black newspapers in the country.

Sources:
A Cry for Justice: Daniel Rudd and His Life in Black
Oblate Sisters of Providence
Sisters of the Holy Family

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


February 2, 2017

Wednesday, Feb. 8 is International Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Human Trafficking. It is also the Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita who was kidnapped and forced into several years of slavery. Once Josephine was freed, she dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting those who were suffering and living in poverty.

Catholics all over the world are encouraged to pray for the emotional, physical, and spiritual healing of those that have been trafficked, and make a personal commitment to work against human trafficking.
We offer this prayer from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, California: God of hope and peace, touch our hearts and energize our ongoing efforts in abolishing this crime against humanity so that every victim is freed and every survivor’s life rekindled. You blessed St. Josephine Bakhita of Sudan with mercy and resilience. May her prayers comfort and strengthen the women, men and children who are in search of freedom.

We ask for transformation of heart for those who inflict pain, anguish and grief on our sisters and brothers. Give them compassion, generosity and the courage to stand in solidarity with others so that together we heal the hearts and lives of all your people. Amen.

Sources:
Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, California
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


January 19, 2017

World Interfaith Harmony Week, Feb. 1-7, is a United Nations week of observance founded on the recognition that the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding. The need for dialogue among different faiths and religions is needed to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people.

Based on two common fundamental religious Commandments, Love of God and Love of the Neighbor, ‘Love of the Good’ was added to the spirit of this week to include all people of goodwill. This addition invites everyone and excludes no one.

It is hoped that this annual week of observance provides a focal point from which all people of goodwill can recognize that the common values they hold far outweigh the differences they have, and thus provide peace and harmony to their communities.

If you are interested in learning about an inter-religious nonprofit, visit the United Religions Initiative: uri.orgThis organization promotes interfaith cooperation to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for Earth and all living beings.

Sources:
United Nations
United Religions Initiative

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


January 5, 2017

Jan. 8–14, 2017, is National Migration Week. The Catholic Church in the United States encourages us 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, Creating a Culture of Encounter, draws attention to Pope Francis’ call to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us.

Migration Week in the U.S. precedes the World Day for Migrants and Refugees on Jan. 15, 2017. Pope Francis has chosen the theme: Child migrants, the vulnerable and the voiceless. He is focusing our attention on migrant children because they “are the first among those to pay the heavy toll of migration, almost always caused by violence, poverty, environmental conditions, as well as the negative aspects of globalization. The unrestrained competition for quick and easy profit brings with it the cultivation of perverse scourges such as child trafficking …”

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Notice that the word “trafficking” is used in the above two paragraphs. According to End Slavery Now, “The most vulnerable people of human trafficking in our world today are refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons.” They are often forced out of their homes with no identification documents and often travel to countries where they do not know the language. Human traffickers are known to wait for desperate and vulnerable migrants at the destination country and then exploit them upon arrival.

In his message for the 2017 World Day for Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis states that it is “absolutely necessary” for all of us to understand, and work to end, the root causes of forced migration and human trafficking.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director