Pope Francis signing Fratelli Tutti | Source: Vatican News

September 22, 2021
As a Church and a nation, it feels like we are living in a time of increased polarization and division. But as Pope Francis writes in Fratelli Tutti, we can seek “a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good” (no. 154). This month’s Justice and Peace Alert highlights two tools to aid in the work of unity and peacemaking. The first is the Circle Keeper Training from the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation and the second is called Civilize It, a pledge to proceed in dialogue through charity, clarity, and creativity. We hope you will take advantage of these opportunities and share your experiences with your institute’s leaders and Justice and Peace promoters. These tools may prove particularly useful to lay the groundwork for conversation as the universal Church commences a synodal process later this year.
In the News
Advocates decry treatment of Haitian asylum seekers

According to the latest news, approximately 14,000 migrants, many Haitian, have gathered near the Del Rio International Bridge, a border crossing between Mexico and Texas. When the bridge was closed to manage volume, people were left to ford the river or remain in inhumane conditions under the bridge itself. Images from several news outlets show mounted border patrol agents terrorizing those gathered in a location that has been described as an overnight favela. Haitian migrants arriving or passing through South America, Central America, and Mexico are not new. Some escaped their home country following the 2010 earthquake and made a home in these areas. Others have fled the continued civic instability, and faltering infrastructure. Advocates assert that racial discrimination contributes to the inhumane treatment of Haitians in the Americas and decry the recent deportation flights that have resumed from the U.S. to Haiti.
Budget reconciliation will not include desired immigration measures

For many weeks, Catholic organizations and advocacy groups have mobilized constituents to ask their senators to use the budget reconciliation process to move forward key provisions for undocumented essential workers, including pathways to citizenship. A reconciliation bill in 2005 had used a similar approach. However, that strategy was upended on Sunday when parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough asserted that the immigration elements were more of a policy change than budgetary considerations and could form precedent that would not hold up over the long term.
New EPA report addresses inequitable impact of climate change in the U.S.

A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency on social vulnerability and climate change reveals the degree to which four socially vulnerable populations— defined based on income, educational attainment, race and ethnicity, and age—may be more exposed to the highest impacts of climate change. The research operationalizes the dimension of Catholic Social Teaching known as Preferential Option for the Poor. This easy to read report provides thoughtful statistics that can be used in advocacy campaigns by men religious and all people of faith and good will. You can access the full report here.
Afghan evacuees assisted by Catholic outreach organizations and groups

Migration Policy Institute reports that the United States is on track to receive close to 50,000 Afghans in the coming months with close to 26,000 currently being housed on U.S. military bases. While some will receive a refugee designation, others will be classified under humanitarian parole. Both groups will require supportive services ranging from housing to English classes to employment opportunities. Migration Refugee Services of the USCCB, Catholic Charities USA, local Catholic Charities agencies, and communities of men and women religious are actively assisting with new arrivals. See the member feature for more details on how congregations can help.
Member Feature
Supportive housing for young men seeking asylum 

When CMSM recently shared a call for help with Afghan evacuees, Br. Michael Gosch, CSV reached out to share what the Clerics of St. Viator of the Province of Chicago have been doing. Since its doors opened in 2017, Viator House of Hospitality has provided compassionate accompaniment to 81 young immigrant men from 19 countries. All came as unaccompanied minors seeking asylum. Without a legal parent or guardian in the U.S., these young men would have been bound for prison style detention centers after aging out of federally funded child-care facilities. Br. Michael Gosch and Fr. Corey Brost saw a great need for a bridge program that offers housing, social services, legal assistance, employment preparation, mental health services, and more. Their house has space for 25 men at a time and just welcomed an arrival from Afghanistan. Due to demand, they have begun pursuing second stage housing in area apartments. When asked how other congregations can come alongside Viator House, Br. Michael suggested their “How to Help” page here and encouraged leaders to consider replicating the model in their own location. A webinar is being planned for November 11 from 200-3:00 pm CT on how to conduct a needs assessment, identify property considerations, and more. Stay tuned for details.
Education and Resources
Circle Keeping Training

Peacemaking circles are a foundational restorative practice that can bring about healing among people and relationships impacted by crime and conflict. They can also be useful processes for community building, trauma healing, and reintegration. In the Circle Keeper Training with the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, participants will acquire knowledge, skills, and experience to facilitate peacemaking circles in their parishes, ministries, and communities. The four day training will convene from Wednesday,
October 13 - Saturday, October 16, 2021 in Chicago. For the registration link and more details, click here.
Civilize It

Civilize It: A Better Kind Of Politics is a response to Pope Francis’ invitation. Join us to model this “better kind of politics.” Take the pledge below to commit to seeking the truth, building bridges, and finding solutions together that promote the common good. Individuals, families, and communities can participate.

Taking the pledge is just the first step. Additional materials, like this guide to dialogue with neighbors, can help us as we reimagine our way of being in the world. Small group sharing is another suggested action. Let us know if your community convenes a gathering or if you would like help with facilitation: [email protected].
Laudato Si' Action Platform Update
Upcoming meetings and webinars

LSAP: Planning for Transformation
Wednesday, September 22 | 12:00 pm-1:15 pm ET

LSAP promothers from CMSM and LCWR gather regularly to prepare for enrollment in the action platform. At this session, we will pray together; hear an update on the enrollment period to launch on November 15; and, learn from a panel of LSAP promoters and congregational leaders about their process, content, and evaluation approach. We are delighted to hear from:

  • Sr. Patty Johnson, CSJ, General Council, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet
  • Mr. Tim Dewane, JPIC Promoter for the School Sisters of Notre Dame for the Central Pacific Province
  • Bro. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap., Province of St. Mary of the Capuchin Order

Register here

Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor: Reducing our Carbon Footprint
Thursday, September 23 | 1:00-2:00 pm ET

In this webinar hosted by the Catholic Health Association, Gary Cohen, president and founder of Health Care Without Harm, along with representatives from Ascension and Providence St. Joseph Health, will share how they are working to eliminate the carbon emissions of their organizations as well as concrete actions health care organizations can take to adopt renewable energy and achieve carbon neutrality. See all of CHA's 2021 Feast of St Francis resources. Register here.

Healing Earth Dialogue: Discussion of an online publication of the International Jesuit Ecology Project at Loyola University Chicago
Wednesday, September 29 | 11:00 am - 12:00 pm ET

Facilitated by Michael Terrein, OBL. OSB Chair, Care for Creation Committee, CADEIO
Sponsored and hosted by Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers (CADEIO). Register here.
Small grants available to fund LSAP work

The Victory Noll Sisters Small Grants Program is a fund of more than $100,000 that offers small grants of up to $1,000 to groups to seed sustainability and climate justice projects inspired by Laudato Si’. If you are a Catholic parish, diocese, school, religious community or other Catholic organization, you are eligible! The priority deadline to apply is October 14, 2021. Apply here. If you are a small congregation of men religious and would like assistance formatting your grant application, please contact our Justice and Peace Fellow, Bethany Welch at [email protected].
Additional Opportunities & Resources
Truth and healing webinar series for Catholic religious

We invite you to register for Truth and Healing: A Virtual Series for Catholic Religious on Native American Boarding Schools. This intensive, 4-part webinar series will explore the history of Native American boarding schools, including how the Catholic Church was involved. It will explore the responsibilities and opportunities religious communities have today to contribute to a process of truth and healing. The series will take place in October and November, beginning with a 2-hour opening workshop on October 14 (7:00-9:00 pm ET). Ensuing webinars will be 90 minutes long, and take place on October 28, November 11, and November 18 (7:00 - 8:30 pm ET). Register here and read the speaker biographies here.
New film on centering prayer and incarceration 
Catholic Prison Ministries invites you to a free premiere Zoom viewing of a new documentary called Holding Still on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 7:30 pm ET (4:30 pm PT). This film includes a diverse group of spiritual seekers speaking candidly about their journey of practicing centering prayer while serving time at Folsom Prison. The ministry may resonate with people who practice centering prayer and stimulate an interest in facilitating groups in a new environment; such as an incarceration setting, re-entry facility, or with anyone who has been affected by incarceration or detention. Register here.

Call for exhibitors for the 2022 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering 

For more than 30 years, the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) has served as the central gathering of Catholic social ministry leaders. CSMG 2022 (January 29 -February 1) will reflect on the theme, “Justice at the Margins,” and will focus on equipping participants with the knowledge, relationships, and skills to build communities of justice where all can thrive. This call is especially important as we come out of a pandemic that further pushed some communities to the margins. The call for exhibitors is available now here; the registration link will be coming soon.

New book on racial justice through an Ignatian lens

Patrick Saint-Jean, SJ recently authored The Spiritual Work of Racial Justice: A Month of Mediations with Ignatius of Loyola, a guide for the ways in which Ignatian spirituality offers us tools for today’s antiracist struggle, both spiritual and practical. Check out an interview with Saint-Jean here and purchase the book here.

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