Live the Gospel of Life

Each October the Church in the United States celebrates Respect Life Month, and the first Sunday of October is observed as Respect Life Sunday. As Catholics, we are called to cherish, defend, and protect those who are most vulnerable, from the beginning of life to its end, and at every point in between.

The Respect Life Month statement for 2020, offered here, names the connection between this year’s theme and the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, The Gospel of Life.

An action guide here offers bulletin announcements, intercessions, graphics, printable reflections, and homily helps to live out Respect Life month in the context of parish life and community. 
ISSUE IN FOCUS
migrants & refugees vatican photo
Migration

Over the weekend, Pope Francis marked the World Day of Migrants and Refugees in his address to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square. He reaffirmed the emphasis on internally displaced persons during a time of persistent vulnerability due to COVID-19, conflict, and natural disasters—some related to climate change. The Holy Father asserted the need to involve those who are affected in the interventions designed to help them.

He remarked, “If we really want to promote those whom we assist, we must involve them and make them agents in their own redemption. The pandemic has reminded us of how essential co-responsibility is, and that only with the contribution of everyone – even of those groups so often underestimated – can we face this crisis.” The full message can be read here.

A semi-concurrent event was hosted in Los Angeles, CA, to amplify the pressing needs of migrants in the United States. It culminated in a solo pilgrimage—due to COVID—by a local activist who was greeted by Archbishop Gomez at the cathedral. The archdiocese is inviting Catholics to walk their own pilgrimages and dedicate that time to prayer on behalf of vulnerable individuals and families. The article includes a sign up and more details. 

Photo credit: Annalisa Vandelli | Nexus
ELECTION RESOURCES
From lawn signs to commercials during the evening news, there are near constant reminders all around us that the United States’ general election is upon us! The prevailing tenor may be tense, and the discourse heated, but we are uniquely situated as people of faith to draw upon foundational teachings as we prepare to cast our ballots.

Several collaborators have thoughtfully prepared materials to assist in the forming of conscience in these last days before you go to the polls, mail in your ballot, or drop it off at a local box.

Please keep in mind that each state and locale has different voting protocols. Visit www.vote.org to see a break down of each state’s election deadlines, dates, and rules, with special COVID-19 notes attached.

The resources below have been reviewed by our Justice and Peace Fellow and identified as useful tools in this election year, but do not represent a formal endorsement of the contents of each.

  • The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has updated and enhanced the Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship guide (Spanish). This statement represents the USCCB’s guidance for Catholics in the exercise of their rights and duties as participants in our democracy. 


  • The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns has prepared a series of two-page briefs and webinars on global issues to help voters prepare for the 2020 U.S. elections. The Faithful Voting and Global Concerns series uses the See-Judge-Act method of pastoral-theological social analysis. P people of faith are invited to see, or observe a situation or issue at hand, particularly as it is experienced by the most marginalized or vulnerable; judge, or seek to understand the situation in light of their faith, through attention to Scripture and Church teaching; and act, or respond to the call to help build God's kingdom in that particular context. 

  • The Leadership Conference of Women Religious has prepared an eight-week series of reflections on the principles of our faith and ideals of our democracy. Towards a More Perfect Union: 2020 Election Reflections begins with a scripture reading, incorporates a brief reflection, suggested song, and questions for discussion, and closes with a prayer.

  • Faithful Democracy is part of the Washington Interfaith Staff Community (WISC), a network of over 70 national religious bodies and faith-based organizations collaborating on federal policy advocacy to advance a more just, peaceful and ecologically sustainable world. The group’s Unheard Voices: A Faithful Democracy Toolkit is designed to prepare and mobilize around specific aspects of democratic systems. This resource applies a multi-faith lens and offers applicable faith leader quotes and scripture, prayer, reflection questions and other resources. Collaborators and endorsers for this project include Franciscan Action Network and several congregations of women religious.

  • Two weeks ago, CMSM staff offered a webinar on advocacy and messaging in an election year. It included a range of points on lobbying, legislative alerts, and get out the vote actions, as well as detailed the distinctions between the rules and practices for 501(c)3 non-profit organizations vs. 501(c)4s. You can access the presentation here.
UPCOMING ACTIVITIES
CMSM Justice and Peace Webinars

Free offerings for CMSM members and their JPIC teams will continue in the months to come. Our October webinar and book discussion will continue the commitment we made toward racial justice, while the November webinar will help attendees effectively advocate through op-eds.

Events are free, but you must pre-register to get the Zoom link.
CMSM JPIC Promoters Gathering
Wednesday, Oct. 21, 4 p.m. ET

Join JPIC promoters from across male religious institutes, monastic communities, and societies of apostolic life for a monthly gathering to pray, share effective practices, network, and encourage justice and peace efforts. Plan on one hour together over Zoom. Please register by October 19. For CMSM JPIC promoters: register here.
Racial Justice and the Catholic Church - Book Discussion
Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, 2 p.m. ET

Read (or revisit) this formative work by Fr. Bryan Massingale and then join a discussion session with CMSM members and JPIC promoters. The book is available from Orbis Publishing. Register by Oct. 20 to receive a set of guiding reflection questions prior to our session. For CMSM members and JPIC promoters: Register here.
The Next Step: Implementing Antiracism Policies and Procedures
Wednesday, Oct. 28, 4 p.m. ET

While we know that racism and its effects have impacted this country for over 400 years, the urgent call to action issued this summer demands a response from all people of faith and good will. Many leaders and administrators spent the past few months reading books on U.S. history, encountered new terms like “antiracism,” and held listening sessions within their organizations, schools, and parishes.

This interactive webinar is designed to explore the next step, the movement from learning to doing. Denis Okema, the inaugural director of diversity and inclusion at Cristo Rey Philadelphia and a longtime advocate for human rights and peace building, will lead a discussion on key topics such as combating biases, assessing organizational culture, pursuing equity in hiring and human resources, training staff, cultivating affinity groups, and retaining underrepresented groups. Register here.
Writing Editorials and Opinion Pieces to Contribute to Civic Dialogue
Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2 p.m. ET

Thoughtful, first-person opinion pieces can capture the heart of an issue in a way that data and statistics might not. As the general election results come in and the make-up of local, state, and federal government is changing, November can be an ideal time to use your voice to call for a newly elected official or administration to take up a new approach or define a renewed charge on an issue of justice and peace that you think needs attention.

This webinar, presented by Kim Daniels, associate director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, offers faith leaders an opportunity to learn the basics of writing a strong, informed, and focused message on something that you have experienced in your ministry or institute and situate it in the larger narrative for the purpose of educating or activating the public.

The session will cover how to narrow your topic and theme, how to craft a compelling opening that lays the foundation for your perspective, and how to support your argument with a combination of unique details and universal themes. Tips will be shared on where to send your op-ed and how to work with your congregation’s communication team to manage the social media follow-up. Register here.
Homily Resources

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Oct. 4, 2020) | prepared by Don Timmerman

We are posting homily resources as we receive them at cmsm.org/homilyresources
Contact CMSM JPIC

Bethany Welch, Ph.D., CMSM Fellow for Justice and Peace
Visit us online: cmsm.org/justiceandpeace