28 Nov

The Social Justice Committee of the Sisters of St. Joseph, TOSF opposes all efforts to deny immigrants the right to apply for asylum in the United States. 

(photo from New York Times)

We have heard the news about tear gas being deployed against immigrants at the border between the United States and Mexico. This caravan includes children. A small group of the caravan broke off to try to outrun the Mexican police and get into the U.S. Our president has threatened to completely close the border. 

“Asylum is a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or at the border who meet the international law definition of a ‘refugee.’ The United Nations 1951 Convention and1967 Protocol define a refugee as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and cannot obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future ‘on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.’ Congress incorporated this definition into U.S. immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980.” American Immigration Council May 2018 

Through attempts to deny entry for those seeking asylum, the U.S. is breaking both international and US law. In order to remedy this, we call upon Congress to pass a comprehensive Immigration Law and to obey the laws currently in place.  

Why are they coming here? Many are fleeing from violence in their country where they might be targeted for their political beliefs or by drug cartels. It was discovered in the 1980s that the U.S. held some responsibility for this violence through the training provided by the School of the Americas. Two weeks ago the demonstration against the School of the Americas was held in Nogales, Arizona to make that connection. 

As we enter the Advent and Christmas season, let us recall that the Holy Family also needed to flee their homeland because of persecution and enter the land of Egypt. Let us pray for all involved with this situation that peace and civility might direct their decision making. 

Please contact your member of Congress to ask that they work to pass a comprehensive immigration law including a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.


A Voice Cries Out in the Wilderness

26 Jan


“All those who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with their whole strength (cf. Mk 12:30) and love their neighbors as themselves (cf.Mt 22:39) …. Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them, since the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon them (cf. Is 11:2) (First Version of the Letter to the Faithful from St. Francis of Assisi)

I have not written on this blog for a while.  It is just very hard to find the words. I watch as families are being torn apart.  I watch as white nationalism is rising more than I have seen in my lifetime (and I am not that young). I watch as some evangelical Christian preachers seem to excuse accusations of pedophilia and affairs outside of marriage. It might cause one to despair.

However… I am also seeing over a million women marching in the streets two years in a row.  I have seen women running for office and winning in numbers also not seen in my lifetime.  80% of this country supports the DACA program and wants to provide a pathway for citizenship.

I have also seen concerned citizens rushing to the airports to protest the Muslim ban when it was first announced.  I work in Social Justice.  There was not a lot of pre-planning for this.

We are a good people, a loving people.  We cannot give into fear.  We must speak out for those who are not able to make a living on one wage, but have to work two or three jobs.

I once read Stephen King’s novel “The Stand” and these words (paraphrased here) have always stuck with me.  “God does not ask us to win , God asks us to stand.”

Well, my friends I will stand and continue to be a voice of love and not hatred, even for those who disagree with me.

Please contact your Federal representative and Senator and ask them to vote to pass a Clean Dream Act.

Laudato Si – All Praise be Yours

9 Jul

st francisPope Francis just came out with this encyclical around Climate Change and Ecology to provide input to the world around the moral dimensions of Climate Change. This is to coincide with the Council of Parties meeting to be held in Paris, France from November 30, 2015 to December 11, 2015.   The Conference of Parties (COP) is the supreme body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It currently meets once a year to review the Convention’s progress and establish the rules of its implementation. This will be an incredibly important meeting to establish specific criteria to reduce greenhouse gasses and other promoters of climate change at a time when we are at the brink of being unable to change the course.
In the Encyclical, Pope Francis uses St. Francis’ Canticle of Creation as an example of someone who understood the interconnection of our environment and human ecology. Human ecology refers to how we treat human beings on this earth. He notes how we have not only become a throw-away society when it comes to our refuse and use of the earth; we have also chosen throw-away people. The Church demands a preferential option for the poor. Yet our societies seem to have chosen a preferential option for those who are wealthy. We are not balanced in this world. He points out that 2008 would have been an opportune moment to change our economic systems to make sure that the poor in our society were protected. Yet this was another opportunity mixed.

Pope Francis does not demonize technology. Technology has offered advances in medicine, etc. “It is right to rejoice in these advances and to be excited by immense possibilities which they continue to open before us…” 102 Pope Francis is concerned that “our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience.” 105 The technological paradigm exalts the use of logic to gain control over an external object. It is confrontational rather than communal. It also looks at the world as though there is an infinite supply of goods, which is just not true.

He challenges the world leaders to reach decisions to reduce our impact on climate change through treaties, etc. But to also have a sense of accountability with real consequences attached to any agreement. (He could be speaking directly to the Council of Parties.)He encourages individuals to do what they can. Every little bit we can do helps. If you lead a simple life, you provide an example that can help our planet.

Actions, demonstrations, educational events, etc. are being planned during the months of October and November leading up to the Council of Parties meeting. Stay tuned. Further info will be coming.

For more information go to Council of Parties;;; to order your copy of the encyclical go to

Questions for reflection:

What are you willing to do to help develop a communal approach to climate change?

What systems need to be changed in order to bring earth’s ecology and human ecology in balance?



“Right to Work”

20 Mar

chi-fight-for-15-20130424Right now unions are under attack. Wisconsin just signed the “Right to Work” Act. There are 25 “right to work” states. Illinois’ new Governor Bruce Rauner is attempting to make Illinois 26.

“Despite its misleading name, this type of law does not guarantee anyone a job and it does not protect against unfair firing.  By undermining unions, so-called ‘Right to Work’ laws would weaken the best job security protections workers have – the union contract.

A ‘right to work’ law is a state law that stops employers and employees from negotiating an agreement – also known as a union security clause – that requires all workers who receive the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement to pay their share of the costs of representing them.  Right to Work laws say that unions must represent every eligible employee, whether he or she pays dues or not.  In other words, ‘Right to Work’ laws allow workers to pay nothing and still get all the benefits of union membership.

‘Right to Work’ laws aren’t fair to dues-paying members.  If a worker who is represented by a union and doesn’t pay dues is fired illegally, the union must use its time and money to defend him or her, even if that requires going through a costly, time-consuming legal process.  Since the union represents everyone, everyone benefits, so everyone should share in the costs of providing these services.  Amazingly, nonmembers who are represented by a union can even sue the union if they think it has not represented them well enough!” AFL-CIO

So why are unions even needed? “CEOs Earn 331 Times As Much As Average Workers, 774 Times As Much As Minimum Wage Earners. With CEO compensation analysis season in full swing, the AFL-CIO released data this morning stating that American CEOs in 2013 earned an average of $11.7 million–an eye-popping 331 times the average worker’s $35,293.”Apr 15, 2014 Forbes Magazine.

In the meantime minimum wage workers are fighting for a $15 minimum wage. Unions have supported this “Fight for Fifteen.” No longer are the jobs at McDonalds and other minimum wage jobs for students trying to pick up a few bucks. They are for all of those people who have lost jobs during the recession and because of companies moving their companies overseas for even cheaper labor.

Are these laws really “right to work” or “right to exploit.” Remember that they also called the MX nuclear missile the “Peacekeeper.”

Save the Great Lakes! Save Ourselves

10 Oct


By the Religious Coalition for the Great Lakes

“Praised be you, My God, through Sister Water, which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.” – Canticle of Creatures, Saint Francis of Assisi

The Great Lakes provide 20% of the world’s drinking water. They are at great risk.

The Problem

As we write this statement there have been several incidents that are precursors to the potential destruction of the Great Lakes.

  • In August, there was an explosion at the British Petroleum refinery in Whiting, IN on Lake Michigan. We are assured by the company that everything is fine, but this comes after an oil spill in March, 2014. To this date, we have not been informed as to whether it was tar sands that was spilled into Lake Michigan. BP in Whiting is one of the largest refineries for tar sands in the U.S.
  • In July there was an outbreak of phosphorous induced toxic blue algae in Lake Erie near Toledo, Ohio which caused drinking water in the area to be contaminated. It is estimated that over 400,000 residents were affected.
  • Enbridge Corporation is trying to transport tar sands by shipping it through Lake Superior and all the Upper Great Lakes. “Wisconsin regulators tabled an earlier permit application for a tar sands crude oil maritime loading dock in Superior after residents objected.” Eric Hanson, Midwest Energy News 4/15/2014.
  • The Great Lakes do not stand alone. Rivers flow into the lakes. The Calumet River in Illinois flows into Lake Michigan. Pet coke (Petroleum waste) has been stored along the Calumet River and has been polluting it.
  • In July, 2010, an Enbridge pipeline break poured 840,000 gallons of tar sands crude oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. To date, the cleanup is not complete with over a billion dollars being spent.
  • On August 18, 2014, documents posted by the State Department shows that Enbridge wants to almost double the flow of tar sands into the Great Lakes region using a pipeline along its Alberta Clipper pipeline (Line 67). (Jim Murphy, “State Department Approves Illegal Scheme for Doubling Tar Sands Flowing through the Great Lakes,” 8/25/14. National Wildlife Federation
  • “Tiny particles of plastic have been added to possibly thousands of personal care products sold around the world. These microbeads, hardly visible to the naked eye, flow straight from the bathroom drain into the sewer system. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to filter out microbeads and that is the main reason why, ultimately, they contribute to the Plastic Soup swirling around the world’s oceans. Sea creatures absorb or eat microbeads. These microbeads are passed along the marine food chain. Since humans are ultimately at the top of this food chain, it is likely that we are also absorbing microbeads from the food we eat. Microbeads are not biodegradable and once they enter the marine environment, they are impossible to remove.”

What Should Be Done

“Our mistreatment of the natural world diminishes our own dignity and sacredness, not only because we are destroying resources that future generations of humans need, but because we are engaging in actions that contradict what it means to be human. Our tradition calls us to protect the life and dignity of the human person, and it is increasingly clear that this task cannot be separated from the care and defense of all of creation.” – US Catholic Bishops, Renewing the Earth, 1991, p. 2.

  • According to the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the U.S. and Canada should enact regulations or pass laws to meet the phosphorous targets from the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Currently the Agreement does not require the U.S. or Canada to do that.
  • S. Army Corps of Engineers must stop using Nationwide Permit 12 (a process expediting approval for projects like access roads and pipelines that do not result in the loss of greater than ½ acre of waters of the United States for each single and complete project) for long pipelines like Flanagan South in Illinois and Keystone South. Instead these pipeline projects should be transparent, open to public opinion, and be reviewed for compliance with the Clean Water Act.
  • The “Halliburton Loophole” that allows a fracking exemption to the Safe Drinking Act must be overturned. Fracking also pollutes potable water.
  • Tar Sands and Fracking should be discontinued as ways to provide energy into the future. Renewable energy sources should be invested in and used.
  • The American Legislative Exchange Council must be exposed and discontinued. “Through the secretive meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council, corporate lobbyists and state legislators vote as equals on ‘model bills’ to change our rights that often benefit the corporations’ bottom line at public expense. ALEC is a pay-to-play operation where corporations buy a seat and a vote on ‘task forces’ to advance their legislative wish lists and can get a tax break for donations, effectively passing these lobbying costs on to taxpayers.” ALEC pushes for legislation that is friendly to fossil-fuel production. (
  • Microbeads should be removed from all personal care products.


What Can We Do?

  • Keep informed. Go to   un/climatechange; ; for Alliance for the Great Lakes; on Facebook go to Tar Sands Free Midwest and Oil Sands Truth;
  • Let your legislators, Governor, Congressional Representatives, and Senators know how you feel.
  • Join with groups in your area protesting the polluting of the Great Lakes.
  • Check your personal care products for microbeads. Go to to find out what other actions you can take.
  • If you have petroleum stock consider divestment or Corporate Responsibility resolutions (go to Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility )



Water is a requirement for life. Access to water is a right rather than a privilege. When we look at the future of the Great Lakes, we are gazing into our own future. Now is the time to act to preserve the Great Lakes and indeed our own futures.




“Let the Children Come to Me”

26 Jun

immigrant children3 Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

There has been a lot of press as of late speaking of the influx of children coming into the United States from Central America. Since 2009, there has been an a dramatic rise of unaccompanied children coming from Central America.  Why?

Some believe that they are coming here because they are looking for a better life and have heard that the U.S. is easier on children than adults.

Why would children risk crossing deserts, going hungry, risking the possibility of being trafficked, etc.?  Why would parents allow this?

The United Nations has been asking these same questions.  Brian Resnick of the National Journal questioned Leslie Velez , senior protection officer at the U.N. High Commission for Refugees.  “The normal migration patterns in this region have changed,” Ms. Velez stated. They are not coming for economic opportunity.  They are fleeing for their lives.”  The U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees surveyed 404 children from Mexico and Central America.  The report states that “no less than 58 percent of the 404 children interviewed were forcibly displaced” to a degree that warranted international protection. If the U.S. refuses these children, it could be in breach of U.S. conventions.  These are refugees no more or less than we are seeing in the Middle East. This time we are the receiving country.

Why are they fleeing for their lives?  In 2009, the democratically elected President of Honduras was overthrown by a military coup ( some of whom are graduates of the School of the Americas).  The U.S. has provided support ever since in the form of arms and support for the corrupt government that emerged after dubious elections in 2009 and 2013.

“Since 2008, the U.S. has spent over $800 million in security aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador through ‘Central American Regional Security Initiative’ (CARSI) in addition to millions more in bilateral military and police aid to each country.” (SOA Watch 6/19/2014)

Violence in Honduras is so high that people are scared for their lives.  Children are being recruited by gangs and drug cartels in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.  They are given little choice because of their vulnerability.  Adult gang members and drug pushers feel that children provide them with safe cover.  These children  don’t want to be in gangs or to be involved with the drug cartels so they flee.  This is similar to the child soldiers we heard about in Uganda.

It is easy to think that children are coming to the United States from Central America for a better economic life.  It appears that, at least for 60% of them, they are just coming for a chance to live.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious just came out with a statement on this.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have had several testimonies given to Congress.

You can also give testimony to your congressperson.  Let them know that the humanitarian approach to this is to treat the children as refugees and increase funding for immigrant services.


No April Fools, It Has Happened Again

1 Apr


BP protestOn Monday, March 22, 2014, the British Petroleum Plant in Whiting, Indiana spilled over 1600 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan. BP in Whiting, Indiana is the largest refiner of tar sands in the United States.  It took hours before this was reported to the EPA, which requires that you immediately inform them of a spill.

If this was a crude oil spill, it is bad enough.  If the spill contained tar sands, it will go to the floor of the lake and continue to poison Lake Michigan.

Many are concentrating on stopping the Keystone XL pipeline from being approved. That is the right thing to do. What many may not realize is that Tar Sands is flowing through pipelines already approved in the U.S. One Enbridge pipeline spilled 877,000 gallons of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River in July, 2010. The cleanup is not complete over three years later.

When I reported about the Kalamazoo spill and protest actions that occurred to make sure this never happens again, little did I know that just three months after that blog, I would be reporting about another blog.  This time in Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan is one of the largest sources of drinking water in the Midwest. We have been warned over and over again about the necessity of protecting our natural resources.  When will we learn.

British Petroleum was just taken off the no contract list. They were put on this list after the Gulf oil spill.  This shows they need to go back on the list.  They cannot be allowed access to our water resources.

On March 28, members of Global Climate Convergence Chicago held an emergency response demonstration at British Petroleum America’s Midwest Headquarters.  Letters and petitions will be sent to the Environmental Protection Agency and our representatives and senators.  Something needs to be done to put back protections that were removed from the Clean Water Act during the Bush administration.

The GCC, in conjunction with multiple environmental organizations, issues the following demands:

  • The EPA immediately begins testing our water to ensure that it is safe to drink, and publishes their findings.
  • BP is returned to the federal no contract list – which they were removed from only THIS month following their contamination of the Gulf Coast – so that public money does not fund their damage to the ecosystem.
  •  BP may no longer divert resources from the public – e.g. the use of contracted police officers to prevent citizens from entering the land that has been contaminated- to shield themselves from warranted investigation.
  • The city of Chicago becomes a green-energy leader by shifting our energy sources to 100% renewables-based.

Even though British Petroleum has reassured us that the cleanup was successful, based on past history, we have real concerns.

For more information about Global Climate Convergence actions in your area, go to