June 23, 2021
During a recent trip to El Paso, Texas, to accompany newly arrived asylees, I found myself assisting a young person with wound care for an injury sustained during the journey. The post-surgery recovery space at the migrant shelter was austere when compared to what most of us might have if laid up for a month. No TV or laptop. No magazines.

When I went to check-in one afternoon, the individual indicated that some diversion would be welcome. So, on my day off, I visited a local store to see if I could find reading materials in Spanish. Alas, there was only one option there, but it was a good one: Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future by Pope Francis (with Austen Ivereigh). The book touches on personal moments of transformation and a blueprint for collective change.

As we continue to find our way through the pandemic and other challenges may we be encouraged by the Holy Father’s message for this moment:

But if the Church has a particular role to play in times of crisis, it is precisely to remind the people of its soul, of its need to respect the common good. This is what Jesus did: He came to strengthen and deepen the bonds of belonging—of the people of God and to each other (105).

May our work be work of restoration, not only of minds, bodies, and spirits, but also of systems and structures that must be mended if all are to thrive.

 – Bethany Welch, Justice and Peace Fellow -
Supreme Court rules in favor of Catholic foster care agency

The Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision on June 17 in support of Catholic Social Services (CSS), a human services agency of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, in the case of Fulton vs. Philadelphia. The case hinged on the local city government’s exclusion of CSS from public contracts for foster care because the agency would not place children with same-sex couples. The argument was made that the city’s anti-discrimination laws placed on undo burden on the faith-based nonprofit organization.

The opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, in coverage provided by Catholic News Service and posted by Catholic Charities USA, explained that CSS “seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else.”

Many of those expressing support for the unanimous ruling view it as recognition of religious freedom allowing faith-based agencies to provide social services and fulfill government contracts within the context of their faith. 
Catholic young adults and religious mobilize to challenge oil companies on emissions

The movement for global transformation around energy production and use marked a victory recently when young activists, emboldened by Pope Francis’ message in Laudato Si’, pressured oil companies to change their practice. In this article from Religion News Service, the reporter maps the steps organizers took to collaborate with investors to use the shareholder meeting to enforce promises to reduce emissions and to exceed past targets with more comprehensive changes in favor of the environment. The momentum of these young people, many of whom are involved in the “Economy of Francesco,” is obvious in the global south. It could hold promise for entrepreneurs, economists, and engaged young people in the U.S. as well. 
Immigration news: Improved policies, DACA anniversary, dedicated docket for asylees

There are several updates on the immigration front. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has changed policies with the intent to improve cumbersome processes and to increase access to services. You can read the release here with specific actions and changes.

June 15 marked the ninth anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and with it advocates issued renewed calls for immigration reform, including this statement from the USCCB.

Justice for Immigrants recently provided a summary of the late May announcement by the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) that a Dedicated Docket has been created to expedite the asylum cases of certain families who arrive between ports of entry along the southern border of the United States. Immigration judges working on the Dedicated Docket will seek to issue a decision within 300 days of the initial hearing, but this is said to be a goal, not a requirement. Ten cities with immigration courts have been selected: Docket: Denver, Detroit, El Paso, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. A new backgrounder on the Dedicated Docket is available in English and Spanish
Fast for Freedom Prayer Vigil with CMSM and LCWR
Congress is negotiating one of President Biden’s priority pieces of legislation, the Jobs and Infrastructure Bill, and is expected to use a procedure called “budget reconciliation” to pass it. Through early July, advocates expect things to move quickly around what is included in the bill. Most immigrant rights groups believe that the best opportunity to win a pathway to citizenship is in this legislation and, for that reason, have mobilized national attention around a Fast for Freedom.
The #WeAreEssential Fast for Freedom is a nationwide, multi-faith initiative created to amplify the critical message that our elected officials must include citizenship for essential workers and undocumented immigrants in any reconciliation package presented to Congress. Collaborating partners from the Catholic tradition include the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology, Franciscan Action Network, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Catholic Labor Network, LCWR, and more.
You and your congregation can join this effort in two ways:

  1. If you are local to Washington, DC, attend the prayer vigil on Monday, June 28, 4:30 p.m., at Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 E. Capitol St. NE, Washington DC, two blocks from the Capitol and the Supreme Court. This will be a short, 20-minute gathering coordinated by CMSM and LCWR justice and peace staffs. If you would like to read a petition or assist in any way, please contact Bethany Welch at bwelch@cmsm.org or 267-536-5315 by Monday, 12 noon.
  2. Review the tool kit linked here for a script outlining messaging for legislators. Contact your representatives to emphasize the need for citizenship pathways to be included in budget reconciliation this summer.
CMSM JPIC Coordinators:

Save the date for Tuesday, July 20, 3 p.m. ET, for the summer meeting of the CMSM JPIC coordinators. Participants will be asked to report on their Laudato Si’ Action Platform efforts to date, ranging from general awareness to discernment to join in future years to preparation for a public commitment this October.

We will also discuss a “Pilgrimage of Hope” virtual gathering with the Religious Brothers Conference, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and other collaborators this coming year as well as more details regarding a Listening Circle training in Spring 2022. Go to the JPIC Community on my.cmsm.org to access the Zoom link on July 20.
Laudato Si’ Updates and Resources

An article in National Catholic Reporter's EarthBeat outlines the work of the religious order working group and other sectors as they collaborate to move the Laudato Si Action Platform (LSAP) forward. This is a useful summary for those seeking to understand the interconnectedness of the seven sectors and the seven goals as well as the complexity of mobilizing across the entire planet. For example, the author explains that “The university sector working group has 73 members representing 38 universities in 21 countries.”

The U.S. LSAP Religious Order Group convenes again on Wednesday, June 30, 12:30-2 p.m. ET, via Zoom. All Laudato Si’ promoters from CMSM member congregations are invited to participate.

We will share updates from the Dicastery’s global working group as well as hear from three congregations about where they are in the process of discernment, dialogue, and commitment. Time is set aside for small group discussion and reflection. If you are a registered LSAP promoter for your congregation, you will receive the Zoom link through the LSAP Religious Orders email. If not, and you’d like to join, email bwelch@cmsm.org.
Laudato Si’ implementation: Living chapels and gardens

In a new four-minute video from the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, one of the youth organizations promoting the initiative, Living Laudato Si' Philippines, talks about the organization’s activities: divestment programs, promotion of the encyclical, creation of living chapels and new gardens. It is both practical and inspirational! An accompanying article about this beautiful work and the role of the local parish communities on the ground is available here

Laudato Si’ implementation: Farming, land use, solar panels, and more

EWTN correspondent Mark Irons takes a deeper look at the LSAP, including interviews and a profile of the Little Portion Farm project that is a ministry of the Franciscan Friars ConventualOur Lady of the Angels Province. The farm is located on the property of the Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City, MD, where the provincial house also is located.
jpic 2021 event
Social Action Summer Institute (SASI)

Registration is open for Virtual SASI, Mercy and Mental Health: Strengthening Our Pastoral Response, July 14 and 15, 2021. Programming will examine mental health issues through the lens of mercy and justice and how the Catholic Church can be at the center of a pastoral response.

The institute is coordinated by The Roundtable, which is the national association of Catholic diocesan social action directors and their staffs providing professional support to members through education, formation, professional relationships, and management development. The association is committed to deepening the capacity of social action directors to engage in the social mission of the Church.
Catholics and restorative justice

Catholic Mobilizing Network is offering a new tool to introduce Catholics to the basics of restorative justice, a practice that might be described as a principled approach to achieving justice that emphasizes living in right-relationship and resonates deeply with Gospel values and Catholic Social Teaching. Check out the video here.
Anti-Asian hate crimes discussion

The G20 Interfaith Forum held its second webinar organized by the Anti-Racism Initiative, co-sponsored by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University; the World Faiths Development Dialogue; the International Academy for Multicultural Cooperation; and the Fondazione per le scienze religiose (FSCIRE), in early June and sought to analyze, share, and improve responses to an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. A summary of the webinar is available here and a video is here.
CTU logo
Catholic Theological Union talks and offerings for 2021-2022

A tremendous number of men and women religious participated in “A Call to Transformative Love in Religious Life: Stories of Race, Place and Grace” this past year, a compelling series of programs co-sponsored with the National Black Sisters Conference. CTU has made these available digitally to use with congregations, communities, and ministries. You can find the links here.

CTU also has upcoming courses on race, faith, and interculturality that might be of interest, including Black Spirituality as a Source for Ministry with C. Vanessa White, D.Min.; Pastoral Ministry in U.S.Hispanic/Latino(a) Contexts with Roger Schroeder, SVD, Ph.D. and Joanne Doi, MM, Ph.D.; and Racial Justice and Community Organizing with Scott C. Alexander, Ph.D. and Shamar Hemphill. You can find a full list of courses, for credit or auditing, here
Job Opening – Legislative Coordinator

The National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd is searching for a legislative coordinator to advocate on social justice issues at the national level. The center focuses on issues that primarily impact women, children and families. These issues include poverty, immigration, human trafficking, and concerns identified by Good Shepherd agencies serving people in need and on the margin of society. 
We are grateful to the new and returning writers who provided reflections for the Lenten and Easter season! This summer we will feature reflections initially prepared during the last Cycle B in 2018. They are being added here.

New submissions are welcome for the fall. Contact Bethany Welch at bwelch@cmsm.org to inquire about a specific set of Sunday readings. 

You can access the lectionary reflections year round at csmsm.org/homilyresources.

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