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As the month of May draws to a close, the calendar brings us to the Feast of the Visitation. A few years ago, a young author named Brandon Vogt made a case that the memorial of this event is an opportunity for Catholics of diverse viewpoints and perspectives to unite around the common social mission of the Church.

He wrote, “ If we want to flourish, we need all that the Visitation offers: we need humble prayer, we need to dwell with the poor (to know them, not just serve them), and we must notice the dignity of all, including the most vulnerable among us.” May this visit, that produces the Magnificat, be a clarion call for each of us to unite our efforts to ensure that the hungry are fed and that mercy prevails. 
Homily Resources

CALL TO ACTION:
ADVOCATE FOR VULNERABLE DURING COVID-19
Bishops On Racial Disparity and Xenophobia

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a brief statement on May 4, 2020, acknowledging the disproportionate impact the coronavirus has had on African American communities. The next day, chairmen from many of the same committees condemned xenophobia in a public statement , saying, “ While we continue to pray fervently for an end to the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus, we call for a firm rejection of racial categorizations or presumptions, racially based verbal assaults or slurs, and for an end to all forms of violence.”

ACTION: Sign onto Catholic Statement of Solidarity

Across the country, families and advocates for those who are incarcerated and detained have communicated urgent concern about the susceptibility of people confined in close quarters to infectious disease. Officials in San Diego, CA, reported the death of Carlos Escobedo Mejia on May 7 in what seemed to be the first confirmed case coming from an immigrant detention center. Attorneys and activists have called for application of the “ medically vulnerable standard” and for those with non-violent offenses to be released.

The Catholic Mobilizing Network and other national organizations recently issued a statement of solidarity with those behind bars, explaining that the challenges are many, namely:

Limited resources for preventative measures, protective equipment, and health care can create conditions that allow the virus to wreak havoc. Reports of lack of testing suggest measurements of the impact of the virus are incomplete.

The statement reads: “ We are deeply concerned that experiencing COVID-19 from behind bars could, for some, mean a de facto death sentence.” Since the statement was released, nearly 1,000 people of faith have signed on, including more than 40 Catholic dioceses, religious congregations, ministries, and organizations.  

You can join CMSM in signing onto the Statement of Solidarity to stand with our brothers and sisters battling COVID-19 in prisons, jails, and detention and reentry centers. Click the link below to add yourself as an individual or as an organization.
Religious, Others Successfully Advocate for Release

While national efforts grow, targeted work continues in parishes and neighborhoods and has allowed some at-risk individuals have been able to return to their communities. For example, in Philadelphia, two immigrant detainees were released in late March after successful advocacy on their behalf.

One man, a parishioner at St. Thomas Aquinas parish, was considered to be at high risk because of a medical history of diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and hepatitis B. His paris h community, Vincentian Father Kurniawan Diputra, CM, chaplain of the archdiocesan Indonesia n Catholic community, legal team, donors, and local activists mobilized for several months for his release after he and his wife were swept up in an ICE raid in the neighborhood . The application of the medically vulnerable standard, enforced by a lawsuit filing by the ACLU, brought him home. 

CMSM Prays

CMSM is praying for religious affected by COVID-19. The CMSM prayer list includes affected communities of our members, and names of some who have died from COVID-19. Click the page to add a name or email prayers@cmsm.org . (If sending an individual's name, please ensure his name may be shared publicly.)
IN THE NEWS
Environmental Justice

As the universal Catholic Church marked the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’ with the global week of action, a roundup of stories reflect the continued emphasis on environmental justice:

  • Pope Francis used the anniversary to launch a year long campaign from May 24, 2020 to May 24, 2021, citing the urgent need to consider the fragility of life on the planet and the interconnectedness of creation.
  • One of his environmental advisers, Rev. Augusto Zampini, spoke about the link between the pandemic and ongoing reforms, explaining “Although COVID has highlighted the fragility of our food systems, it is still an opportunity to change, both in production and consumption patterns and in private and public actions.” He went on to say, “It is time for a deep and global ecological conversion."
  • The Institute for Works of Religion, which coordinates banking infrastructure for the Vatican, verified that their holdings were not invested in fossil fuels.
  • The Ignatian Solidarity Network, animated by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, offered a reflection from a parish in El Salvador that describes how the community there read the encyclical together and then acted for change. Lay missioner Peg Vámosy explained, “…we have reduced waste from single-use plastic, addressed water issues and, most recently, worked together with local and national government, community leaders, and farmers on developing a watershed management plan for one of our rivers.”
MEMBER PROFILE
Living the Call of Laudato Si’ 

Little Portion Farm, a ministry of the Franciscan Friars Conventual Our Lady of the Angels Province , was directly inspired by the message of Laudato Si’ . Located on the property of the  Shrine of St. Anthony  in Ellicott City, MD, the farm has now entered into its second full growing season.

As reported in the CMSM Laudato Si survey of members, Little Portion Farm grew its first crops in 2019, producing 3,136 pounds of vegetables on 1/4 acre of land. At the same time, they leased 80 acres to a local farmer for grazing cattle. 
Another fruit of “Care for Our Common Home” has come in the form of collaboration for the greater good.

The friars' JPIC Director Mike Lasky shared that the ministry established a relationship between friars in Shamokin, PA, the local community, and the EPA office of Environmental Justice to help reach the community's priority goals and create positive impacts on air, water, public health, economic vitality, and other quality of life needs of residents, particularly the vulnerable and underserved.
ECONOMIC JUSTICE RESOURCE
As the nation continues to weather the effects of COVID-19, scholars are beginning to shed light on the emergent economic realities facing the country. A recent lecture hosted by the Lumen Christi Institute at the University of Chicago, co-sponsored by America Media CREDO , the  Beatrice Institute , the  Saint Benedict Institute , the  Collegium Institute , the  Nova Forum , and the  Saint Paul's Catholic Center , brought forward another dimension—that of Catholic Social Teaching in relationship to the economics of the pandemic.

You can view the webinar here to learn from three Catholic economists: Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde of the University of Pennsylvania, Joseph Kaboski from the University of Notre Dame, and Casey Mulligan at the University of Chicago.

The scholars took care to consider the value of human life, the unique vulnerabilities faced by some populations, and the possible re-scaling of decision-making that could improve outcomes for communities. 
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