Replace Andrew Jackson (Not Alexander Hamilton) with Harriet Tubman

Amy Davidson succinctly explains why so many people favor leaving Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill and replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill:

“Ever since the Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew, announced, last month, that the next version of the ten would feature a woman, that has been the baffled response. Alexander Hamilton, as the musical opening for previews on Broadway this week reminds us, has much to recommend him: he was the immigrant son of a single mother who became a founding father and the architect of our financial system. Why take him off the ten, and leave Andrew Jackson, who brutalized Native American communities, defended slavery, and opposed a national paper currency, on the twenty? A group called Women on 20s had already been organizing a drive to get Jackson off and a woman on. Harriet Tubman won the group’s online poll of who that woman should be, and she seems to be the leading choice all-around.”

Check out her full article to see why it would be so fitting for the Treasury Department to make this change.

Archbishop Seeks Remedy to Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis

Puerto Rico is facing a fiscal crisis. This has largely escaped the attention of the American public. Thankfully Archbishop Roberto González Nieves of San Juan, Puerto Rico has taken to Time to shine light on the debt crisis his nation faces, the human impact, and how we might respond. He writes:

Puerto Rico, the island where I serve as Archbishop of San Juan, is $72 billion in debt. That $72 billion represents about $20,000 of debt for every man, woman, and child on our island. Governor Alejandro García Padilla announced last month that the island cannot pay its debts, and that a solution is needed. Many bad scenarios now loom, including default.

The victims of this crisis are not any government—they are my people. Puerto Rico’s debt comes from a combination of mismanagement, bad luck, and its unique colonial status as neither a sovereign country nor a U.S. state. In recent years, Puerto Rico’s debt has become a death spiral….

The consequences are tragic. About 80% of children in Puerto Rico live in high-poverty areas, compared to about 11% of children in the U.S. The island’s poverty rate is about 44%, and unemployment is almost 13%. Already the island is feeling the impact of austerity—last fall, the Department of Health cancelled emergency helicopter service due to lack of funds. Debt is bringing death and increased hardship to our people….

First and foremost, Puerto Rico needs debt relief….But the U.S. Congress also has a role to play. Our non-voting member of Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, introduced legislation in the U.S. House to allow Puerto Rican entities to declare bankruptcy. Now Senators Chuck Schumer and Richard Blumenthal have introduced a similar measure in the Senate. Although not a perfect solution, bankruptcy protection would provide a more fair, transparent system for resolving Puerto Rico’s debt burden and creating the fiscal space we need to grow our economy and serve our people. The issue is now gaining traction in the U.S. presidential race as well. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton both called for bankruptcy protection for Puerto Rico. Congress should pass this legislation immediately.

The full article can be read here.

The Road Ahead for the Church

The internet has been full of jubilation and despair in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the US, and this is certainly true for Catholics as well. Some Catholics are rejoicing in this historic moment, seeing a major step forward for justice, human dignity, and mercy. Others are deeply disappointed, believing the Supreme Court has redefined marriage in a way that will undermine the family and human flourishing. For some Catholics, however, it’s a bit more complicated.

Two pieces caught my eye that reflect on the tensions some millennial Catholics feel when it comes to figuring out how to reconcile devotion to the Church and the love we have for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

The editors of the Jesuit Post write:

Those of us loyal both to our church and to our LGBT family and friends are left in a difficult position. On the one hand, we want to proclaim the way, the truth, and the life – we want to witness to the radically transformative power of God’s love in the world – and we want to follow the church’s lead in that endeavor. On the other, we struggle to reconcile the church’s teaching with the suffering of our loved ones, or the church’s disappointment with our loved ones’ joy.

Christopher Hale writes:

When we listen to each other with big hearts, we can begin to overcome the unfair stereotypes that divide us. We can put to rest the great lie that everyone who opposes gay marriage is a bigot and that everyone who supports it is a bad Catholic. We can begin to understand and form ourselves again around the fundamental truths of our faith: that God loves us, that the Church welcomes us, and that Jesus walks with us.

As bishops from around the world prepare to respond to the clear need for better pastoral care of gay, lesbian, and transgender people at the upcoming Synod, we can only hope that they will hear from and focus on those voices (on both sides of this issue and anywhere in between) dedicated to dialogue and love, rather than those spewing hatred (of the Church or gay and lesbian people) or pushing legalism. The road ahead is not entirely clear, but if we are guided by the wisdom and love of Christ, we will surely find our way.

Pope Francis Praises Heroism of Parents Who Chose Life

Politicians and activists often see themselves as the heroes of the pro-life movement. But the real heroes are the parents who choose life, even in difficult circumstances. Sometimes these circumstances are the result of our society’s failure to support families and ensure that they have all of their needs met. Sometimes they result from decisions made by one or both of the parents that they later regret. Other times, the child has a serious illness or disability. An obscene number of these children are killed, inextricably linking the pro-life cause with the fight for disability rights. These parents who choose life know the road ahead will not always be easy, but refuse to cast aside their precious children. Instead they affirm the value and worth of their children against a culture that too often estimates a person’s worth using a brutal utilitarian calculation that finds little value in the weak and vulnerable. Pope Francis has rightly labeled such parents heroes:

Francis met for nearly an hour with a group of severely ill children and their parents Friday…

The Vatican said Francis spent time with each child, who ranged in age from two to 14. The father of one child, Andrea Maria, told Francis how doctors had advised his wife to have an abortion because of a difficult pregnancy and the child’s ailments but that they refused.

A Vatican statement of the closed meeting said Francis expressed his admiration for their courage, saying abortion is a false solution and that such parents show “heroism.”

These are the heroes of everyday life. It is good to see the pope recognize some of these “saints of daily life” that are helping to build the kingdom of God right now.

Nebraska Abolishes the Death Penalty

One of the nation’s most conservative states, Nebraska, abolished the death penalty earlier today. Nebraska legislators had just enough votes to override Republican Governor Pete Ricketts’ veto.

This is a tremendous win for advocates of a whole life approach—those who are looking to broaden the pro-life movement’s commitment to human life and dignity—as well as all other opponents of the death penalty. It is also a big win for the Catholic Church, as Nebraska’s bishops took a strong stand against the death penalty during this debate, saying:

We are also disturbed that since 1973, 143 individuals in the U.S. have been released from death row as the result of evidence that demonstrated they were wrongly convicted. As technology improves, this may become more commonplace. We also know that racial minorities and the poor are disproportionately sentenced to death, often as a consequence of racial bias or inadequate defense due to an ability to pay for better representation. We are deeply troubled by a justice system in which the innocent might be executed, and in which race, education, and economics might play a factor in a death sentence.

The death penalty is not necessary in Nebraska. The purposes of a criminal justice system are rehabilitation, deterrence, public safety, and the restoration of justice. The death penalty does not provide rehabilitation to convicted criminals. There is no clear evidence that executions deter crime. Public safety can be assured through other means. And justice requires punishment, but it does not require that those who have committed capital crimes be put to death.

Nebraska is the 7th state since 2007 to abolish the death penalty. More and more people seem to be drawing the conclusion that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent, that it is arbitrarily and capriciously applied, extraordinarily expensive, unfairly applied across demographic lines, prone to gruesome mistakes, and always at risk of being applied to innocent people, among its other flaws. Hopefully other states—red, blue, and purple—follow Nebraska’s lead.