Statement of the National Black Catholic Congress on the Civil Unrest in Baltimore

The National Black Catholic Congress has released a statement on the civil unrest in Baltimore:

The recent events in Baltimore, Maryland, along with those in Ferguson, Missouri and other communities in our nation, lead us to reaffirm our position as African American Catholics on the inviolate value of the Life and Dignity of every Human Person.

Deeply rooted in the Word of God and our Catholic Social Teaching, and in the spirit of the Pastoral Plan from the eleventh National Black Catholic Congress in 2012, we deplore the violence, brutality, harmful illegal and self-destructive behavior and the racism that plagues our communities. We call for prayerful, honest and peaceful dialogue that will lead to justice and truth.

Poverty and hopelessness breed violence and despair. With tragic frequency young people, our most treasured human asset, seem to be both perpetrators and victims. Not all anger and frustration manifests itself in looting or violent behavior, and many know how to positively, creatively and productively channel their frustrations.

More than ever we need a new model for engaging society on poverty and race. Faith communities have a unique and particular role to play in the healing of broken communities and are called to courageous witness. The Catholic Community in particular has been challenged by Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to enter fully into the struggles of the people who are most marginalized and on the peripheries of society. We call for a renewed a commitment to ministry with our youth and young adults, along with meaningful commitment to meet their educational, employment and other social justice needs.

The full statement can be read here.


Key Quotes from Pope Francis’ First Speech in the Philippines

Check out these highlights from Pope Francis’ speech:
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  1. “This visit is meant to express my closeness to our brothers and sisters who endured the suffering, loss and devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda.  Together with many people throughout the world, I have admired the heroic strength, faith and resilience demonstrated by so many Filipinos in the face of this natural disaster, and so many others.”
  2. “It is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good. Thus will they be able to marshal the moral resources needed to face the demands of the present, and to pass on to coming generations a society of authentic justice, solidarity and peace.”
  3. “Essential to the attainment of these national goals is the moral imperative of ensuring social justice and respect for human dignity.”
  4. “The great biblical tradition enjoins on all peoples the duty to hear the voice of the poor.  It bids us break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequalities.”
  5. “Reforming the social structures which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor first requires a conversion of mind and heart.”
  6. “I hope that this prophetic summons will challenge everyone, at all levels of society, to reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor, and to make concerted efforts to ensure the inclusion of every man and woman and child in the life of the community. “
  7. “A fundamental role in the renewal of society is played, of course, by the family and especially by young people.”
  8. “Families have an indispensable mission in society.  It is in the family that children are trained in sound values, high ideals and genuine concern for others.  But like all God’s gifts, the family can also be disfigured and destroyed.  It needs our support.”
  9. “We know how difficult it is for our democracies today to preserve and defend such basic human values as respect for the inviolable dignity of each human person, respect for the rights of conscience and religious freedom, and respect for the inalienable right to life, beginning with that of the unborn and extending to that of the elderly and infirm.”
  10. “I would also mention the oft-neglected yet real contribution of Filipinos of the diaspora to the life and welfare of the societies in which they live.”
  11. “May the deepest spiritual values of the Filipino people continue to find expression in your efforts to provide your fellow citizens with an integral human development.  In this way, each person will be able to fulfill his or her potential, and thus contribute wisely and well to the future of this country.”


Pope Encourages Integral Development, Solidarity, and Economic Redistribution by the State

Pope Francis met with a number of representatives from the United Nations today, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Here are some of the key points he made in his address to the UN delegation.

Pope Francis explained how future development goals should reflect a commitment to integral development:

Future Sustainable Development Goals must therefore be formulated and carried out with generosity and courage, so that they can have a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labor for all, and provide appropriate protection for the family, which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development. Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustice and resisting the “economy of exclusion”, the “throwaway culture” and the “culture of death” which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted.

He argues that it is the spirit of solidarity and sharing, along with recognition of the dignity of all, that should guide us:

The gaze, often silent, of that part of the human family which is cast off, left behind, ought to awaken the conscience of political and economic agents and lead them to generous and courageous decisions with immediate results, like the decision of Zacchaeus. Does this spirit of solidarity and sharing guide all our thoughts and actions? Today, in concrete terms, an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God’s providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others…Equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level.

Finally, he explicitly highlighted the responsibility of the state to engage in economic redistribution, while also highlighting the responsibilities of the international community, private sector, and civil society:

A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.


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.