Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Jesuit Middle East Expert on Egypt's Revolution

Jesuit Father Drew ChristiansenShare

Jesuit Father Drew Christiansen, editor-in-chief of America magazine and former director of the U.S. bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace, said that the success of a nonviolent revolution in Egypt is one of “multiple signs of spring in the North African winter.”

Fr. Christiansen, an expert on the Middle East, was keynote speaker at the Diocese of Arlington’s annual peace symposium on Feb. 12.

“I think it’s wonderful that Egypt was a nonviolent revolution. It was so unexpected. For 18 days in a country of 80 million people, how do you get that to happen?” Christiansen asked. “Those that preached that nonviolence wasn’t to be found in the Muslim world have been proved wrong again.”

As for what’s next for Egypt, he said it will be a waiting game, with the hope that the country will end up with a responsible democratic government.

Christiansen also focused his talk on religious freedom in other Middle Eastern countries and the role the United States is playing and has played. For more on Christiansen’s talk, visit Catholic News Service.

Jesuit Talks to Vatican Radio on Roots of Egyptian Revolt

Jesuit Father Samir Khalil SamirEgyptian Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir, a professor at Rome’s Pontifical Oriental Institute and an Islamic scholar, recently spoke to Vatican Radio about the current waves of protests that are sweeping Arab nations in North Africa and beyond.

“What we need first of all is justice, equality, social reform because the gap between rich and poor is far too wide, and this is the real cause of the Islamic fundamentalist movement,” he said.

“We need change, the Arab world must change. We need alternate parties but in our countries there is nothing.” When asked if the Western concept of democracy is applicable to Egypt and the wider Arab world, Fr. Samir said it is “applicable but not yet practicable.”

“If you have authoritarian regimes, they systematically destroy all the leadership so only people who are in agreement with the current system are in power.” In the case of Egypt, he said, “Mubarack nominated his second in command, Omar Suleiman who is a good diplomat, a military officer. But … is this good for the country?”

Listen to the interview with Fr. Samir on Vatican Radio.

Jesuit Says Zambia Must Not Let Elections be Marred by Violence

Jesuit Father Peter HenriotShare

U.S.-born Jesuit Father Peter Henriot, who has served for 20 years in Zambia, said the country must not permit its 2011 elections to be marred by political violence, as happened in other African countries.

Fr. Henriot, outgoing director of the Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection in Lusaka, said Zambians must ensure that their general elections are held freely and transparently, which includes ensuring fairness in the period leading up to the election.

“That means the media should cover all political parties,” said Henriot, who recently returned to the U.S. and is scheduled to go to Malawi later this year. “Secondly, those civic authorities, the police and election officials must also treat all parties equally.”

Henriot dismissed the notion by some people that the Catholic Church was too involved in political matters.

“Politics is life. Jesus was a strong politician, too, because he talked life. What is wrong is to be partisan,” he said.

More of Henriot’s thoughts on the subject are available from Catholic News Service.

Jesuits Respond to BP Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico

The New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus has compiled a resource packet in response to the growing environmental catastrophe in the Gulf Coast region from the BP oil spill. It can be found at

The packet includes prayers, an oil spill policy brief and a study on the spill from the e-newsletter of the Jesuit Social Research Institute.

Also, the Jesuit school Loyola University New Orleans has created a website addressing the numerous efforts being made by its faculty and staff to respond to the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The site, Crude Awakening at, features a list of faculty experts who can speak authoritatively on oil spill topics; a blog compiling faculty and staff commentary regarding the spill; press releases and news about Loyola’s involvement; local and national news headlines; and ways to get involved.

In addition, Loyola’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has reached out to more than 1,000 affected small businesses in the area, offering them assistance in filing claims, counseling, and support since the spill began.

The SBDC’s director, Carmen Sunda, recently testified at a Senate hearing in Washington, D.C., on the oil spill’s impact on small businesses. In her written testimony, Sunda expressed the far-reaching devastation of the uncertainty of the spill and provided details about how the SBDC is helping affected businesses.

“The worst part is that it has no foreseeable ending. People can’t estimate the value of their long-term losses or the long-term impact, because they can’t define ‘long-term’–does it mean this season, a few years, a lifetime?” wrote Sunda.

Loyola’s SBDC has partnered with the Louisiana Small Business Administration (LSBA) to staff twelve Business Recovery Centers in seven parishes across coastal Louisiana. Each center is staffed with an LSBA and an SBDC consultant who help with the BP claims process and filling for loans.

“SBDC assists any business that feels that they have been impacted. Our consultants provide businesses with a free, independent, third party that they can speak with on a personal level,” said Sunda.

In the Halls of Congress, Jesuits Are Going Door to Door for Immigration Reform


Today, a letter signed by every Jesuit major superior in the United States was hand delivered to the White House and each individual Congressional office. Their canvassing effort seeks immediate and comprehensive immigration reform.  “With the new Arizona law, there is a real risk that life on our national borders will become subject to a patchwork of state responses; Congress is faced with both a constitutional and moral imperative to act,” said Jesuit Father Thomas H. Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference of the United States.  “Despite what some reactionary politicians would have us believe,” Smolich added, “we can secure our borders in a way that does not cost us our humanity.”

With important primary elections on Tuesday and Capitol Hill staffers working on the legislative agenda for the resumption of the Congressional session, the Jesuits took the rare step of issuing a joint letter from all ten of their Provincial major superiors across the country.  “In our language of religious life, we would refer to this as a kairos moment,” Smolich said.  “Or in the language of a baseball fan,” he continued, “now is the time for Congress to get in the game.”  John Kleiderer, director of social and international ministries at the Jesuit Conference, worries that if Congress does not act quickly, “the lives of thousands of people on both sides of the border will be hostage to the mid-term elections and neither side of the debate will see progress toward either security or justice.”   Referencing the Justice for Immigrants Campaign sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Smolich said “the Catholic Church has been a leading advocate of immigration reform.  We wanted to send a clear message to the President and Congress as well as invite all Jesuits and our many lay partners to join us in support of the Church, speak out for the least among us and ask your members of Congress to act now.”

The Jesuits are asking for legislation based on five core principals shared by the Justice for Immigrants Campaign.

1.    A path to legalization that ensures undocumented immigrants have access to full rights.
2.    A legal employment structure for future workers that protects both migrants and United States workers.
3.    Expedited family reunification and emphasis on family unity.
4.    The need for due process and humane enforcement of our immigration laws.
5.    Economic development assistance and fair market access for developing countries.

For the complete text of the letter, you can click here.