As part of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph, we echo their call to action during this election season.
As mid-term elections draw near, one thing Americans can agree on is that we are a deeply divided country. Frustration, bewilderment, and distrust abounds and manifests in everything from cynical resignation to turning on one another. Madeline Albright once described the experiment of democracy as paradoxical: equally characterized by fragility and resilience. These challenging times have exposed the delicate nature of our body politic, and will test our nation’s spirit of resilience as never before. ¶ As a nation, political vitriol, vastly compounded by the echo-chambers and bad behavior of social media, threaten the very institutions on which we’re founded. The news cycle is dizzying — making the upcoming election feel like we are nearing a panicky crescendo. In some ways it seems like the most consequential midterm election in American history—and those paying attention, regardless of political affiliation, are full of anxiety about its outcome and implications. But those who strive to keep the faith count on the hope that it is never too late for real, meaningful change that can lead us into a positive future.
As part of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph, we oppose Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule. The Federation released the following statement last week.
We, the U. S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, compelled by the Gospel and by our heritage to be responsive to the “dear neighbor” without distinction, are concerned for all of God’s creation and our sisters and brothers everywhere. ¶We stand with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in our deep concern about the release of the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule. The proposed rule would significantly weaken the Clean Power Plan (CPP) which sought to speed the closure of coal-burning plants and the conversion to clean energy in order to reduce carbon pollution, mitigate climate change, and protect the health and welfare of all people, especially the most vulnerable.
As part of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph, we recommit ourselves to address racism in all of its forms. The Federation released the following statement today:
In the presence of constant and painful reminders of the deep roots of racism in our country, we, the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph join with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in committing to the critical work of creating communion, examining the root causes of injustice and our own complicity, and purging ourselves, our communities and our country of the sin of racism and its destructive effects. ¶ Following in the footsteps of Jesus, we commit ourselves to examine the root causes of injustice, particularly racism, and our own complicity as congregations, and to work to effect systemic change as we struggle to ensure immigrant rights, promote non-violence and protect Earth and its biosphere. ¶ We pledge prayer, education, and advocacy and commit to using our collective voice, resources, and power in collaboration with others to establish justice, which reflects God’s abundant love and desire that all may have life.
by Sister Ida Robertine Berresheim
It was arduous work. I was just too tired. It was out of the question. To do one more grant proposal in addition to all I had already done as a board member in attempting to assist Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas, would be more than I could undertake.
But stories of actions at the U.S.-Mexico border continued to worsen. Families had had to face the uncertainty of abandoning their homes in Central America and some departments of Mexico because of extortion and terrible threats of kidnapping, murder, and disappearances. They hoped to find safe haven in the United States. But within the excruciating trek, came their terrible treatment at the border. Now came the intolerable, horrible, wrenching imprisonment of parents together with separation from their children. God’s call was very clear: “Your fatigue is nothing, Ida, compared to the suffering that calls. Get busy.”
Two messages came: one from our congregation’s Sister Danielle Bonetti and one from my longtime friend, a Daughter of Charity team member. The Conrad Hilton Fund for Sisters was offering an emergency grant to help alleviate the suffering, especially of parents and children. So it was that I began the process, knowing that Director Ruben Garcia and many Annunciation House volunteers were working extremely hard, struggling with the chaotic fallout from President Trump’s Operation Hold the Line.
As the deadline approached for submitting the proposal, I felt that my entire effort might be for naught as a serious setback seemed to place my efforts in jeopardy. I met only with the greatest kindness, however, from Fund staff members who were extremely caring as they acknowledged that the setback was on their end.
Then late in the day on Wednesday, July 25, came the email announcement of a six-month grant of $50,000 from the Conrad Hilton Fund for Sisters to be used for Annunciation House during the next six months. The purpose of the gift was clearly stated: All aid necessary for the reunification of parents and children, especially physical, legal, and transportation aid. After filling out the acceptance form online and receiving the affirmation that it had been successfully submitted, I received notice that the check would be awarded within a week. Many families will find hope because our congregation could be the recipient of such a gift thanks to many who have helped to make it a reality.
As part of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph, we stand with the Muslim community and call for an end to the discriminatory Travel Ban. The Federation released the following statement today.
The U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph is extremely disappointed with the June 26, 2018, United States Supreme Court Decision in Trump vs. Hawaii, commonly referred to as the travel ban. The ban restricts travel from seven countries: Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. We believe that this travel ban intentionally targets Muslims and that the Court’s decision adds to the climate of fear of Muslims and fuels the flames to anti-Muslim sentiment in the country. The travel ban, aimed primarily at Muslims, contradicts the values and principles of the United States.
¶ As Catholic sisters, our mission is one of unity. We are grounded in a loving relationship with God and neighbor. We live the Gospel values and view each person, regardless of their race, religion, or nation of origin as our dear neighbor, whom we love without distinction.
¶ We join with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and other women religious in the belief that all people are created in God’s image, all are worthy of respect, and all are entitled to the protection of their human rights and religious liberty. We strongly object to President Trump’s continued attempts to use his authority to create policy by fiat, particularly when that policy is used to deny access to our Muslim sisters and brothers because of their religion. Such discrimination violates our deeply held faith beliefs and is inimical to the principles upon which this nation was founded.
¶ LCWR joined other faith-based groups in filing amicus briefs in this case challenging the government-imposed anti-Muslim discrimination. When religious-based discrimination is permitted, especially when sanctioned by those at the highest levels of government, the free-exercise of religion by members of all faiths is threatened.
¶ We will stand with the Muslim community and all who are subjected to the deeply troubling discriminatory policies of this administration. We call on Congress to exercise its power to challenge the President’s offensive and dangerous policy and ensure that the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are upheld.