Archive for the ‘Social Justice’ Category

Jesuit Says Conversion for Social Justice Springs from Engagement

Jesuit Father Thomas MassaroJesuit Father Thomas Massaro spoke at the recent assembly of the Congregation of Major Superiors of Men in Orlando, during which he offered his insights on encouraging action.

“It is just not reasonable to expect to impact lives in the most profound ways through classroom activities alone,” Fr. Massaro, a professor of moral theology at Boston College, said in an address. “If you want to change the world, you will have to contribute to transforming people, not just reshuffling the ideas in their heads.”

Massaro added, “True conversion for social justice springs from personal experience and exposure to social problems and engagement in efforts to solve them. You cannot succeed without some ideas and intellectual commitments, but principles only get you so far. At the risk of lapsing into clichés, it is a matter of hearts and hands, not just heads.”

Massaro said that while there are still unresolved questions on how to best serve the poor, it is clear the Catholic Church “will continue to understand its mission as including ample engagement with the political and economic realms. … There will continue to be a crucial role for men and women religious to play in front-line work for both charity and justice.”

For more on Massaro’s address, visit the Criterion Online.

Jesuits Join With Other Religious Leaders to Protect Programs for Poor During the Debt Crisis Debate

Late last night, President Obama and the leaders of Congress hammered out a down-to-the-wire deal to raise the federal debt limit, finally breaking a partisan impasse that had driven the nation to the brink of a government default.The deal could clear Congress as soon as tonight — only 24 hours before Treasury officials said they would begin running short of cash to pay the nation’s bills.

Jesuit Father Thomas Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference of the United States, recently added his signature to an ecumenical and interfaith “Circle of Protection” Statement urging the Federal Government to protect programs for the poor. The statement was signed by more than 50 leaders of Christian denominations, organizations and religious orders across the country and marked the strongest and most unified Christian voice in the budget debate. In it, these leaders asked Congress and President Obama to remember that the most vulnerable who are served by government programs should not bear the brunt of the budget-cutting burden.

The Jesuits continue to urge people to reach out to their elected officials today to reiterate that Congress should give moral priority to programs that protect the life and dignity of poor and vulnerable people in these difficult economic times.


African Jesuits Gathering in Baltimore Explores Future Opportunities to Partner with American Jesuits

In May, the Jesuit Conference of the United States sponsored a gathering at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore of African Jesuits currently studying in the U.S. and Canada. The gathering was a means of solidarity, support and collaboration with the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) with its president, Jesuit Father Michael Lewis also present at the meeting.

During the meeting, the members of the U.S. Assistancy and JESAM in attendance considered strategies for the various ways the U.S. and the African provinces might have opportunities to work more closely together, such as in the arenas of potential exchange programs between the U.S. and Africa’s apostolic works, in creating partnerships between apostolates, and by identifying tertianship experiences in Africa for U.S. Jesuits.

The African Jesuits also shared with their U.S. brothers the challenges the Society of Jesus faces in Africa around educational opportunities; with ethnic and political tensions; in health care, especially for HIV/AIDs and malaria treatments; and also the environmental and ecological concerns facing the continent.

“It bodes well for the future of the Society of Jesus that there will be well trained men in various disciplines to continue and develop the work of the Jesuits in Africa and Madagascar. It goes without saying that the Jesuits of North America have been extremely generous to us in providing the wherewithal for African and Malagasy Jesuits to specialize in these many and varied subjects. The Church and the Society are very grateful for this often unsung and open-handed support for the apostolates of the Society in our continent,” said Jesuit Father Michael Lewis, president of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar. “There are men studying everything from engineering, informatics, administration, to pedagogy and the like which will help the Church and the Jesuits of the future to continue offering the work we do for the people of Africa and Madagascar.”

Thirty-seven African Jesuits participated in the gathering (there are approximately 60 African Jesuits currently in the U.S. and Canada), representing seven African provinces and regions, and 16 different countries. The participants came from various places throughout the U.S. and Canada where they are studying, ministering or on sabbatical.

In addition, five people from the U.S. Assistancy participated: three from the Jesuit Conference, including Jesuit Father Tom Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference of the United States; a provincial assistant from the New York province; and a provincial assistant from the Wisconsin province.

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Jesuit Ministers to Troubled Youth on South Dakota Reservation

Jesuit Brother Pat Douglas

Jesuit Brother Pat Douglas (far left) with co-workers at the Lakota Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.

Jesuit Brother Pat Douglas, of the Wisconsin Province, is a youth counselor at the St. Francis Mission in South Dakota, and he works with young men at the juvenile detention center on the Lakota Rosebud Reservation. He sees his ministry as a way of making an impact on young people in trouble.

Spirituality is very strong here, Br. Douglas says. The Lakota people see no separation between counseling and spirituality.

Douglas has developed a mentoring program for young men, “many [who are] active in gangs and from families plagued by alcoholism and abuse.

“I’m all for consequences,” Douglas says, “but if we do not address the hurts these young men have had since they were children, they will keep hurting others. To be empathetic to a perpetrator does not mean you condone what they do.”

Douglas sees Jesuit spirituality coming alive through his work.

“I pray before and after I meet with the guys,” he says. “I also know the limitations of my skills, and have many times asked questions or offered advice that I know is beyond me. I consistently feel the Holy Spirit working with me and these young men.”

For more on Jesuits engaged in prison ministry, visit the Wisconsin Province website.

Jesuit Discusses the Intertwined Relationship of Social Justice and Environmentalism

Within the Society of Jesus’ governmental structure, five areas of apostolic importance have been identified and given special attention. One of these apostolic sectors is Social Justice & Ecology, which is headed up by Jesuit Father Patxi Álvarez de los Mozos. Recently appointed to his role this year, Fr. Álvarez de los Mozos explains the intertwined nature of working for social justice with a connection to ecological issues during this video interview he recently conducted with National Jesuit News during his visit from his headquarters in Rome to the United States.

On this Earth Day, Álvarez de los Mozos encourages Jesuits and their partners to work toward justice, peace and environmental care.