Blessed are the Peacekeepers?

In a recent speech, US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power described the vital interest and critical role the United States has in peacekeeping. Power described how intrastate conflicts can displace vulnerable populations, spill across borders, destabilize neighboring countries, undermine economic progress, reverse democratization and disrupt civil society, allow criminals and repressive regimes to thrive, and open up vacuums that are filled by extremists, including interstate terrorists.

But peacekeeping is not just about American or international security, but our values. Given American power and influence, there is a responsibility to do what we can to protect some of the most vulnerable people on the planet and build a more peaceful world. Power explained:

“We do not want to live in a world where more than 9000 kids are recruited in less than a year to become child soldiers, as has happened recently in South Sudan. We don’t want to live in a world where ethnic or religious communities who lived together for decades in harmony, such as the Muslims and Christians in the Central African Republic, learn to hate and fear and demonize one another.”

Of course, the risks and burdens associated with peacekeeping should be shared by the international community, as Power explained. And those who wish to foment conflict have trouble spreading accusations of imperialist designs when peacekeeping operations include representatives of many nations, including those from the global South. The need to revitalize peacekeeping and ensure that it meets the challenges of contemporary conflict is urgent and the shared responsibility of the international community.

Power explained some of the serious challenges that must be addressed: slow troop deployment, limited mobility, keeping units fed and hydrated in remote areas, and failure to confront aggressors and protect civilians. Two-thirds of UN peacekeepers are working in active conflict areas, the highest percentage ever. They are being asked to do more than they ever have been before in a world with suicide bombers and IEDs. And too often they are under-resourced.

Peacekeeping missions are often funded by developed countries, but the troops are typically from developing countries. Power called this unsustainable and unfair. The UN and US are asking Latin American, European, and East Asian countries to contribute more troops in response to this.

Power highlighted the successes and failures of various missions. In Democratic Republic of the Congo there has been some progress, but she noted that there is still a failure to protect local people from atrocities. In hundreds of attacks, peacekeepers almost never used force to protect civilians. Peacekeeping missions must embrace the responsibility to protect these vulnerable populations.

For more than 20 years peacekeeping has been evolving, and the realities of modern conflict support that evolution. As Power explained, consent and impartiality make sense when dealing with legitimate governments and even rebel groups, but less so with extremists and brutal organizations that perpetrate crimes against humanity. Restricting peacekeepers’ use of force to pure self-defense is something that cannot be justified when genocide or other mass atrocities are occurring. As Power stated, the gap between the mandates peacekeepers are given and their ability to carry these out must be closed.

Finally, past scandals involving peacekeepers, including sexual abuse and violence, highlight the importance of enforcing the UN’s zero tolerance policy on these crimes. A strict enforcement will deny peacekeepers any sense of impunity and show vulnerable populations that peacekeepers are working for their best interests. Such a policy, combined with the reforms outlined by Samantha Power, can strengthen the ability of peacekeeping missions to protect the vulnerable and serve the common good.


Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Mercy, Part I by Michael Sean Winters: “Most of us Christians grew up with the idea that the God of the Hebrews was an angry God. Certainly, many Christians have conceived him as such. But, Kasper sets out to destroy this myth and largely succeeds.”

Part II and Part III

Finding Faith in The Simpsons: The Top Five Theological Episodes of The Simpsons by Katharine Mahon: “But hidden inside this deeply flawed family and this caricature of American culture is a honest and rich depiction of family life in 1990’s America. The show explores moral dilemmas, spiritual crises, the love of spouse, parent, child, and sibling, as well as the testing of that love.”

Saudi Arabia continues its outrageous repression of human rights activists by Washington Post: “Saudi Arabia remains determined to shut the windows, close the doors and throw dissidents into solitary confinement.”

U.N. says pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine murder, kidnap and torture by Louis Charbonneau: “Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine are guilty of a wide array of human rights abuses, including murder, abductions and torture, and are receiving a “steady supply” of sophisticated weapons and ammunition, according to a U.N. report obtained by Reuters.”

The Mental Virtues by David Brooks: “In fact, the mind is embedded in human nature, and very often thinking well means pushing against the grain of our nature — against vanity, against laziness, against the desire for certainty, against the desire to avoid painful truths. Good thinking isn’t just adopting the right technique. It’s a moral enterprise and requires good character, the ability to go against our lesser impulses for the sake of our higher ones.”

The Saint Who Taught Me to Worship by Timothy O’Malley: “The vocation of humanity is this kind of praise, a perfect praise in which every form of worship finds its end not in better, more sophisticated (and novel) worship that generates more and more emotion. But in that gift of self, which Christians call love. Worship is not about us, it is not about our affections. Instead, it is about becoming who God intended us to be: members of a symphony of perfect praise of the voice and the will alike.”

ISIS selling Yazidi women in Syria by Raja Razek and Jason Hanna: “Hundreds of Yazidi women abducted by ISIS have either been sold or handed out to members of the Sunni extremist group, according to an organization that monitors the crisis.”

Getting to the Crux of why Catholicism matters by John Allen: “In places such as the Philippines, corruption is a signature Catholic concern, and with good reason. Global Financial Integrity, a research organization based in Washington, estimates that corruption cost poor nations almost $6 trillion over the last decade, draining badly needed resources for education, health care, and poverty relief.”

Russia Is Burying Soldiers in Unmarked Graves Just to Conceal Their Role in Ukraine by Josh Kovensky: “The Russian government couldn’t care less about its dead soldiers. Paratroopers who have been killed in Ukraine are not receiving military funerals, nor are they being recognized for having died for their country. Rather, their graves have been kept unmarked.”

More Workers Are Claiming ‘Wage Theft’ by NY Times: “The lawsuit is part of a flood of recent cases — brought in California and across the nation — that accuse employers of violating minimum wage and overtime laws, erasing work hours and wrongfully taking employees’ tips. Worker advocates call these practices ‘wage theft,’ insisting it has become far too prevalent.”

What’s missing in the Ebola fight in West Africa by Jim Yong Kim and Paul Farmer: “To halt this epidemic, we need an emergency response that is equal to the challenge. We need international organizations and wealthy countries that possess the required resources and knowledge to step forward and partner with West African governments to mount a serious, coordinated response as laid out in the World Health Organization’s Ebola response roadmap.”

Siege of Iraqi town broken by CNN: “Iraqi security and volunteer forces have broken the siege of Amerli and have entered the town, retired Gen. Khaled al-Amerli, an Amerli resident and member of its self-defense force, told CNN on Sunday….The breakthrough came after the United States said it carried out airstrikes and dropped humanitarian aid in Amerli to protect an ethnic minority that one official said faced the threat of an ‘imminent massacre.’ Amerli is home to many of Iraq’s Shiite Turkmen.”

Right to Die, or Duty to Die? The Slippery-Slope Argument Against Euthanasia Revisited by Charles Camosy: “When euthanasia is legalized in cultures where the values of autonomy and consumerism hold sway, we soon end up with the kinds of deaths that almost no one wants. We also end up with a culture that almost no one wants – one that pushes vulnerable older persons, not just to the margins of society, but even to the point of dying in order to make space for the young, vigorous and productive.”


Fears of Genocide Grow in Iraq

The Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) is once again gaining ground in Iraq. As it increases its control of Iraqi territory, it has engaged in mass atrocities and terrorism, while increasingly implementing its totalitarian vision. Kurdish forces have been resisting the Islamic State’s advance, but were forced to pull back in recent days, exposing more Iraqis, particularly members of minority populations, to the Islamist extremists’ violence. Christians have fled IS in large numbers, including 200,000 from the Nineveh plains. Thousands of Iraqi Yazidis meanwhile face grave danger:

Stranded on a barren mountaintop, thousands of minority Iraqis are faced with a bleak choice: descend and risk slaughter at the hands of the encircled Sunni extremists or sit tight and risk dying of thirst.

Humanitarian agencies said Tuesday that between 10,000 and 40,000 civilians remain trapped on Mount Sinjar since being driven out of surrounding villages and the town of Sinjar two days earlier. But the mountain that had looked like a refuge is becoming a graveyard for their children.

The situation has become extremely dire. The Obama administration is pondering (and is perhaps already engaging in) efforts to help those fleeing violence and repression by providing humanitarian support. This may also mean a direct bombing campaign against IS militants. The administration had been reluctant to conduct such a campaign thus far because of the President’s general desire to reduce American involvement and intervention in the region, combined with the legitimate fear of appearing to side with the Shi’a in what many Iraqis had initially viewed as a Shi’a-Sunni conflict.

There are a variety of factors behind the strength of the Islamic State and its success in Iraq. A key factor has been Sunni alienation from the Maliki regime, which has increasingly engaged in violent sectarianism since American forces left the country. Some Sunnis welcomed the advance of IS, though such sentiments seem to be fading now that IS has begun to implement its vision. The decision to pull all US troops out of Iraq in 2011 was a terrible blunder by the Obama administration, as the US presence was restraining Shi’a sectarianism by the Iraqi government. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is of course more directly responsible for this sectarianism and shares responsibility for the withdrawal of US forces, but the Obama administration backed Maliki and was not firmly committed to protecting the gains made by American troops. The surge and Sunni Awakening had opened up a window for Iraq to move toward a more stable, democratic future, but Maliki’s malfeasance and the American abandonment of Iraq closed the window.

Of course, the Bush administration should not escape criticism for the current state of Iraq. The 2003 war was launched with little effort to ensure international support and legitimacy. Once no weapons of mass destruction were found, these problems were compounded. But as bad as these mistakes were, the failure to plan for the occupation and the mistakes made by the Bush administration during the occupation, which led to increased radicalism and eventually civil war, were even worse. Bush and Rumsfeld clung to a failed strategy, while Iraq descended into a civil war that was far from inevitable. The absence of security prevented Iraq from working out the political solutions it would need to achieve greater stability as an extremely young, developing democracy. Finally Rumsfeld was replaced and a superior strategy was implemented, but the legacy of those lost years endures.

Would Saddam Hussein have survived until (and through) the Arab Spring if the US had not invaded? Would he have responded to the Arab Spring even more brutally than Bashar al-Assad, killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, but perhaps making an IS invasion impossible? We will never know. But we do know that the Bush administration’s many errors in Iraq made Iraq more vulnerable to this invasion.

Finally, the Obama administration’s refusal to sufficiently arm the moderate rebels in Syria and help them to displace Assad led to the radicalization of the opposition and strengthening of ISIS. Assad meanwhile intentionally allowed ISIS to gain strength by releasing terrorists from prison, buying oil from them, and refusing to bomb key locations where they had control. The strategy was to try to present the entire opposition as terrorists and force the international community to choose between a continuation of his rule and a state governed by terrorists. While the moderate rebels fought both Assad and ISIS (without proper assistance), Assad allowed the threat of ISIS to grow.

Given the chaos that exists in Iraq, it seems unlikely that Maliki will survive as prime minister. Unfortunately the US has little leverage in pressing for a government that is representative of the entire Iraqi people and likely to reduce sectarian tension. To defeat the Islamic State, Sunni opposition is essential, but this is unlikely if the Iraqi government is run by Iran-backed Shi’a sectarians. Perhaps even Iran will see the foolishness of such a strategy at this moment.

Ultimately, however, the humanitarian situation seems to require more direct American intervention. Establishing emergency airdrops of essential goods seems like an obvious step as this point. Airstrikes may be necessary to prevent IS from gaining more ground. The US could also provide greater support to Kurdish forces. But the US should also use whatever small amount of leverage it has to push for a more representative government in Baghdad before fully aligning with the Iraqi government. Even now, it is essential to push for a reduction in sectarianism, rather than reinforcing it.


Standing with Iraq’s Christians – And All of Its Persecuted Innocents

The militant group ISIS, which invaded Iraq from Syria and began seizing control of Iraqi cities several months ago, has systematically persecuted religious and ethnic minorities, forcing many to flee. The terrorist organization imposed Sharia law this past June and recently prevented Christian services from being held in Mosul for the first time 1600 years. Christians were given the option of converting to Islam, paying a jizya tax, or fleeing. Last week, the city’s remaining Christian families fled – and were reportedly robbed at ISIS checkpoints as they left.

These actions have prompted many Christians around the world to adopt the Arabic character of “nun” on social media in a show of solidarity with the persecuted.  This symbol had been painted and posted on the homes of Christian families in Iraq, marking them as targets for their beliefs.

It is heartening to read the posts and essays by Christian writers who express concern for the welfare of their brothers and sisters suffering in Iraq.  Their work has been a moving testament to the pain fellow Christians are facing and an important reminder that this suffering must not be forgotten.

But there has been a disturbing undercurrent in some of these tributes to Mosul’s Christians: an unspoken indifference to the plight of non-Christian Iraqis who are suffering with their Christian countrymen. Given that most Christian denominations are defined by their concern for all people regardless of their faith, I fear this is creating a discrete, insular provincialism that cannot be reconciled with Christianity and does no favors to broader Christian outreach.

As an example, here is Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry at Patheos:

The persecution of Christians happens under a great shroud of silence. Maybe, as John Allen has argued, persecuted Christians are too Christian for the Left to care, and too third-worldy for the Right to care (but, you know, there’s a War on Christmas on). And the worst thing for our governments would be to be seen in non-Christian lands as having any sort of special solidarity with Christians (yes, wouldn’t that be terrible), so better to err on the side of indifference. Right?

This blood is particularly on the hands of the American government, which has a special duty to help them and, I am sure, will do nothing of the sort.

Much credit should go to Gobry and his fellow bloggers for lifting this shroud of silence surrounding Christian persecution through their work – I certainly wouldn’t have learned as much about this crisis without their efforts.  But Gobry’s proposal for a governmental declaration of solidarity with Iraq’s Christians makes little sense.  What reason would the U.S. have for expressing any particular affinity for Christians over Muslims in Iraq, especially when ISIS extremism is affecting Sunni and Shi’a Muslims in different but equally disturbing ways?

For that matter, if the U.S. were to signal solidarity with a persecuted minority, why would it limit its symbolic gesture to only Christians?  Human Rights Watch reports that a variety of religious and ethnic minority groups, including Turkmen, Shabaks, and Yazidis, have also been persecuted for their beliefs and subjected to decrees similar to the one given to Mosul’s Christians.  A significant number of non-Christian believers are being affected by these decrees. Turkmen, for example, constitute the third-largest ethnic group in Iraq, with 500,000 living in the Mosul area and 30,000 in the city proper. Despite its large Christian population, the U.S. government obviously has no explicit Christian affiliation, and to express “special solidarity” with Christians in Mosul, which Gobry sarcastically suggests would be no big deal, is actually a serious affront to the other religious groups suffering similar harm in Iraq.

Michael Brendan Dougherty at The Week falls into a similar trap as Gobry, suggesting that Christians are the primary group that deserves American attention:

The U.S. owes Christians and other persecuted Iraqi minorities assistance… Mosul was a home for Christians for as long as Christianity existed. Not anymore. Now, the U.S. cannot restore these people to their homes, or reverse the desecration of Christian shrines. But our diplomatic, financial, and moral energies should be used to protect them from any further harm.

To his credit, Dougherty references other “religious minorities” throughout the essay, but he never actually names any of them.  The piece’s title reinforces a decidedly narrow view of whom American aid should assist: “Why America is duty bound to help Iraqi Christians.”

Dougherty calls for the U.S. to withhold financial aid to Iraq until its government does more to protect only afflicted religious minorities.  To argue this point is to ignore the besieged members of Iraq’s religious majority.  While Islam constitutes 97% of the country’s religious population, Sunni Muslims account for around 35% of the total religious population and Shi’a Muslims account for around 60%.  There have been atrocities committed against both denominations and the Iraqi government is not blameless.  To suggest aid should be preconditioned solely on the welfare of minorities – and to ignore the hardship inflicted on innocent Sunni and Shi’a Muslims – seems tone-deaf at best, since civilians of all religious communities have been unjustly affected. The Christian commitment to human rights is not limited to fellow Christians, but premised upon the belief that they belong to all people, regardless of their background.

Rorate-Caeli similarly frames the atrocities in Iraq solely through their impact on Christians in the region (and seemingly in a way to cover their past opposition to supporting those who have actually been fighting ISIS):

For two thousand years, our dearest brethren saw it all from Mosul… For years, we have been warning that support for terrorists in neighboring Syria would surely end badly. But even we could not imagine that it would end so badly so fast and over such a vast area. And yet, the insane Empire-builders are still handing billions and billions, and hundreds of millions of dollars to “moderate” terrorists! Where’s the outrage? Have you contacted your congressman, senator, president, MP, prime-minister expressing your outrage, begging this madness to stop?…

After two thousand years, it is finished. It’s over. Who will pay for the lasting damage lying Western politicians created by starting a process that would lead to what not even the first Islamic rulers, thirteen centuries ago, ever did, the obliteration of Christian life and populations?…

In Mosul, genocide has been accomplished. Where’s the outrage?

There is something vaguely, quietly cruel in this call to contact government officials as a response, first and foremost, to Christian persecution in Iraq.  One million Iraqis have fled the country in 2014.  500,000 people in total have left Mosul. Did the authors of this post think it unimportant to emphasize how a general diaspora of displaced Iraqis is equally unacceptable?  Are we to believe that Christian persecution is more important and worthy of collective action than the pain felt by those of other religions?

This is not to minimize the particularly brutal treatment of Christians by ISIS, but to emphasize that all forms of persecution to every religious group in Iraq are worthy of condemnation.  Christians should not simply stand in solidarity with their tribe, but with all believers of good will who are unjustly harmed or prevented from worshipping by ISIS’ extremism.  Action should not be a consequence of singular Christian oppression; voices should be raised because innocent people are prevented from exercising religious liberty and fully practicing their beliefs. Voices should be raised to defend ethnic minorities as well and to support the human rights and dignity of all who must live under ISIS’ vicious repression.

I understand that, as Christians, Gobry and Dougherty feel a particular connection with those who share their conception of the world, and I do not mean to suggest that any omission of other religious groups is tantamount to a dismissal of their well-being.  But to focus on Christians to the exclusion or marginalization of other minorities is to reject the universalism that is implicit in Christian teaching (catholic means universal, after all).  We must not risk even the slightest chance of conveying this attitude in any dialogue about religious persecution in Mosul.  Framing the unjust conditions that Christians face within the broader context of Iraqi upheaval and violence is critically important as a testament to the hardship endured by all.

Muslims, Turkmen, and Iraq’s other religious and ethnic minorities are as much our brothers and sisters as Christians in Iraq.  Christians around the world should not forget them as they pray and work for peace.

Chris Fegan is a graduate of Boston College and currently works in New Jersey. He and his fellow blogger Matt Mazewski write about politics, religion, and culture at Reasonably Moderate, where a version of this article first appeared.

 


Fighting Injustice: Profiles from the Time 100

In this year’s Time 100, Pope Francis, “a moral leader in word and deed,” is profiled by President Barack Obama. Our Millennial of the Year, Malala Yousafzai, is also profiled:

In the face of oppression and bitter injustice, she demands education and opportunity. In the face of violence from the hands of cowards, she refuses to back down. Malala is a testament that women everywhere will not be intimidated into silence.

But there are some others included in this year’s Time 100 with whom you may be less familiar:

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe

In Gulu, Uganda, Sister Rosemary has made it her mission to provide within an orphanage a home, a shelter for women and girls whose lives have been shattered by violence, rape and sexual exploitation.

Imam Omar Kobine Layama, Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga and The Rev. Nicolas Guérékoyame-Gbangou

As violence ravages Central African Republic, three men are working tirelessly for peace to hold their country together.

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih

Erwiana shared that she endured months of torture at the hands of her employer, a 44-year-old mother of two, who told Erwiana that her family would be killed if she did not perform her duties. Nor was Erwiana paid; when she was sent home, she had $9 in her pocket. But Erwiana could not be broken, nor could she be silenced.

Obadah al-Kaddri

His radio station, al-Watan, is part of a parallel press free of censorship. His journalists inside Syria risk death to tell their stories. In doing so, they’ve helped reshape a media space that was long limited to the ruling Baath Party line.

Withelma “T” Ortiz Walker Pettigrew

Now a college student, T has become a beacon of hope, raising her voice against the world’s $96 billion human-trafficking industry, which exploits 27 million victims, including millions of youths and children.

Arunachalam Muruganantham

Buying sanitary napkins would cost too much. His response: designing a simple machine to produce sanitary pads… And instead of selling his idea to the highest bidder, he supplies his low-cost machines to rural communities.

Ertharin Cousin

Her goal is nothing short of eradicating global hunger in our lifetimes, creating a world where no child or adult knows the feeling of an empty stomach.

Thuli Madonsela

Thuli Madonsela is an inspirational example of what African public officers need to be. Her work on constitutional reform, land reform and the struggle for the protection of human rights and equality speaks for itself.


Quote of the Day

Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on Elie Wiesel Award winner General Roméo Dallaire: “You, General, have stood between the killers and their prey. You have heard the piercing screams of victims, and the deafening silence of a world unable to muster the will to act. You have turned that deadly silence into a personal – and now global – crusade to help summon meaningful action to protect peoples endangered by crimes of unfathomable and unconscionable proportions. In 1994, you were doing your job, at a time when no one else was willing to do theirs. Your story is a call to action, your commitment is an inspiration, and your courage is unmatched.”


A Prophetic Rejection of Sectarianism and Defense of Human Rights in the Middle East

In a remarkable communiqué, the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land has put Christian persecution in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring in the proper perspective. The persecution of Christians in the region is real and gravely serious, but it does not exist in isolation. Other groups are also face persecution, and since our commitment to human rights must be universal to be authentically Christian, we cannot ignore their plight and focus exclusively on our co-religionists.

There is no doubt that the recent upheavals in the Middle East, initially called the Arab Spring, have opened the way for extremist groups and forces that, in the name of a political interpretation of Islam, are wreaking havoc in many countries, particularly in Iraq, Egypt and Syria. There is no doubt that many of these extremists consider Christians as infidels, as enemies, as agents of hostile foreign powers or simply as an easy target for extortion.

However, in the name of truth, we must point out that Christians are not the only victims of this violence and savagery. Secular Muslims, all those defined as “heretic”, “schismatic” or simply “non-conformist” are being attacked and murdered in the prevailing chaos. In areas where Sunni extremists dominate, Shiites are being slaughtered. In areas where Shiite extremists dominate, Sunnis are being killed. Yes, the Christians are at times targeted precisely because they are Christians, having a different set of beliefs and unprotected. However they fall victim alongside many others who are suffering and dying in these times of death and destruction. They are driven from their homes alongside many others and together they become refugees, in total destitution.

Even more important, however, is the prophetic call to reject the Faustian bargain of supporting brutal, repressive regimes because of the favoritism they show toward Christians. In rejecting this sectarian mentality and embracing the Church’s commitment to human rights for all, there is a willingness to accept the Way of the Cross rather than taking the easy path that might seem to offer greater security.

These uprisings began because the peoples of the Middle East dreamed of a new age of dignity, democracy, freedom and social justice. Dictatorial regimes, which had guaranteed “law and order”, but at the terrible price of military and police repression, fell. With them, the order they had imposed crumbled. Christians had lived in relative security under these dictatorial regimes. They feared that, if this strong authority disappeared, chaos and extremist groups would take over, seizing power and bringing about violence and persecution. Therefore some Christians tended to defend these regimes. Instead, loyalty to their faith and concern for the good of their country, should perhaps have led them to speak out much earlier, telling the truth and calling for necessary reforms, in view of more justice and respect of human rights, standing alongside both many courageous Christians and Muslims who did speak out.

The contrast between this prophetic statement and the support some Christian leaders have given to regimes that engage in mass murder or other forms of counterrevolutionary repression could not be starker. And not only does the Assembly reject a sectarian mindset, it calls for cooperation across religious lines:

Christians and Muslims need to stand together against the new forces of extremism and destruction. All Christians and many Muslims are threatened by these forces that seek to create a society devoid of Christians and where only very few Muslims will be at home. All those who seek dignity, democracy, freedom and prosperity are under attack. We must stand together and speak out in truth and freedom.

It is easy to understand why Christians might favor brutal dictatorships when terrorists and other extremists are just a few miles away, threatening to impose totalitarianism and persecute all of those who do not fit into their dystopian fantasies. We can understand why frightened Christians might believe the propaganda and lies of those who exaggerate the strength of extremists to preserve their own power.

But we should expect more from our Christian leaders—from bishops and those at the Vatican. We should expect an affirmation of the core tenets of Catholic Social Teaching and the non-sectarian application of our universal values. We should expect the type of authentic Christian witness that is present in this letter.