“Lord, make me a means of your peace.”

A statement from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Paul, regarding the Orlando shooting:

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Paul Province, express deep sadness at the news of the killings of so many individuals during the tragic shooting in the Orlando nightclub.

We join Pope Francis, President Obama and church and civil leaders worldwide in expressing “the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred.” (Vatican Spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi)

We extend prayers and heartfelt sorrow to the families of all those who were killed and injured as well as to all involved first responders and medical personnel and to the people of Orlando.

We weep with you and mourn with you and join the network of those praying with and for you around our country and world. We realize ever more deeply the need to acknowledge the need for stricter gun control and the need to confront bigotry in any form among the people of God.

May the God of love, mercy and grace comfort all who mourn and grieve. May our faith strengthen us and our hope give us new resolve to work untiringly to bring the justice, peace, freedom, equality and non-violence for which our Redeemer died.

“Lord, make me a means of your peace.”

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet
St. Paul Province

Knowing that Jesus Welcomed Everyone to the Table – from June 2015

“We can make something good out of this:” A call to Resurrection

Tragedy provokes us. It lifts us from the places where we no longer can sit within complacency; it forces us to reassess our direction in life. We have heard, a million times, that tragedy brings people together. From my writing research, trying to resolve conflicts between characters, I have learned this togetherness often comes with the recognition of a common enemy, one which is greater than previous divisions. Now, in the light of the violence this past Holy week, I would like to ask: who is the ‘common enemy,’ and how should we respond to them?

Christians are called to live out these instructions in Heb. 13:1-3:

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you are also in the body.

There are no stipulations on this reading. Paul does not say “remember those who are imprisoned unjustly,” or “only show hospitality to those strangers who look and act like you and cause you no discomfort.” This is a difficult reading in theory, and it is even more difficult in practice. How can we truly love our enemies? On a global scale, is it possible to despise the systems that encourage radicalization without despising radical groups and individuals? More simply put, can we hate terrorism without hating terrorists? How can we love God and the dear neighbor without distinction when others seem determined to do the distinguishing for us?

I have to admit that I raise these questions without having a single answer to them – except, maybe, to have faith. By this I do not mean to prescribe inaction, or the assumption that God will take care of things so that we do not have to. On the contrary, it is only through us that God can work. One of the beautiful things about God is that God is the ultimate spin doctor. I think we can pretty well agree that not everything that happens in this world is good. And it is pretty well established in theological studies that God does not simply cause bad things to happen as a part of some ineffable plan to punish the wicked and save the righteous (Job, anyone?)  Not everything happens for a reason. But we can trust that God will create reason for everything that happens.

A small scale example: A few years ago I lost my job. Now, I absolutely do not believe that God caused me to lose my job, or that losing my job was part of some divine plan to put me on a different track. Similarly, I do not believe that God causes death and destruction in order to bring about some greater glory. But after the fact, God can be found in the midst of the mess, tools in hand, saying “we can make something good out of this.” God’s agency is known when we move from the point of tragedy, no matter how large or small, to trust that something good can be made from the ashes of what was.

We are an Easter people, a people of resurrection.  By the reality of our rising, all divisions between us cease. A common enemy brings us together only long enough to define who is “us” and who is “them.” God brings us together when our common factor is love, not hate. Together, we can make all things new.

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Written by Elea Ingman, SJW
Program Assistant in the Justice Office

SDG #10: Reducing Inequality, Dismantling Racial Injustice

By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status. –SDG Goal #10

The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals highlight the unmet needs of our time, and the steps to take in achieving them. In Minnesota and in the United States as a whole, I am greatly motivated to reduce inequality (Goal #10).

Over the course of 19 days Black Lives Matter has peacefully occupied the 4th Precinct in Minneapolis in response to the November 19th shooting of Jamar Clark (whom witnesses say was handcuffed when fatally shot). The encampment ended yesterday morning when the police cleared protestors from the site. Nearly twelve hours later, a march to City Hall later further asserted the protestors’ request for the release of the police tapes without a grand jury.

On their Facebook page Black Lives Matter posted the following:

Over 300 of us took over City Hall 12 hours after a military style raid by over 100 police bulldozed the ‪#‎4thPrecinctShutDown, destroying the physical community we built together and arresting 8. Thank you to the thousands who have stood with us through an armed white supremacist terror attack, mace, batons, less lethal bullets, and freezing temperatures in the past 19 days since Jamar Clark was murdered by Minneapolis Police. Our work is not over, it has just begun.

The Minneapolis protests, vigils and occupations amongst many currently happening in our country are a blaring example of the social exclusion of black people in America. The lack of unfettered access to social power and resources are a product of an inherently racist design of systemic injustice, and is largely being acted out in our criminal justice system.

Michelle Alexander, author of the riveting book The New Jim Crow, wrote:

In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. So we don’t. Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color ‘criminals’ and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind. Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination—employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow. We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.

To support the Black Lives Matter community the Justice Office offered direct action items such as firewood, 20151204_103940_resizedfood, and hand warmers for the protesters during the encampment. The Justice Office and Ritual and Liturgy Services offered a Prayer Vigil in Our Lady of The Presentation Chapel on Thursday and Friday December 3rd and 4th.  Elea Ingman, SJW, Justice Program Assistant made cards especially for the vigil, which will now be available in the ad center. We invite everyone to stop by to write a message of encouragement, a prayer, and/or a statement of support.

Please join us as we stand in solidarity with our Black Lives Matter family.

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This post was written by Megan Bender, Justice Associate

Safe Harbors Law

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The Minnesota Legislature Safe Harbor legislation on July 20, 2011.  This public safety bill includes protections for children who are commercially sexually exploited and clarifies that sexually exploited children are crime victims, not criminals.

Six changes were made to how the state protects sexually exploited children. The law:
  • Includes the definition of sexually exploited youth in Minnesota’s child protection code;
  • Excludes sexually exploited children under 16 from the definition of delinquent child;
  • Creates a mandatory first-time diversion from arrest for any 16 or 17 year old who has been exploited in prostitution (where the child meets the criteria);
  • Allows prosecutors to continue diversion or to proceed with Children in Need of Protection (CHIPS) petitions for 16 and 17 year olds coming through the system an additional time;
  • Increases penalties against buyers of sex with adults from $250 to a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $750. The revenue these fees generate will be distributed to law enforcement, prosecutors, and service providers to serve sexually exploited children; and
  • Directs the commissioner of public safety to work with stakeholders to create a victim-centered response for sexually exploited youth. (The Advocates for Human Rights)

On February 15, 2013 – The Advocates released a report analyzing Safe Harbor 2011, including the Safe Harbor Working Group process and the comprehensive approach to Safe Harbor which it developed, entitled Safe Harbor: Fulfilling Minnesota’s Promise to Protect Sexually Exploited Youth.  Read the Report

Thursday, February 21, the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC) Day on the Hill was held at the Xcel Energy Center and at the Minnesota State Capitol.  Participants from all 67 Legislative Districts were briefed on four issues including Human Trafficking.  The JRLC Human Trafficking reads in part:   Support the “Safe Harbor—No Wrong Door” bill, SF 384 (Pappas); HF 485 (Allen), appropriating about $13 million over two years to form a network of specialized victim services. The bill also provides that 16 and 17 year old minors who are trafficked be treated as victims, not offenders. (JRLC)

A Member of the Anti-Human Trafficking Working Group of the Justice Commission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates, Ann Redmond, CSJ has been involved in the Minnesota State Task Force, mandated by the Legislature  that includes, advocates, service providers, attorneys, law enforcement and legislators. Sister Ann said, “the Safe Harbors Law is important because people at all levels have been involved in spelling out what is needed to achieve the goal of providing services to trafficked youth.”

Michele Garnett-McKenzie, Director of Advocacy, The Advocates for Human Rights stated that the Minnesota Safe Harbors Law is “at the forefront nationally in protecting exploited youth using a victim centered model.”

Posted by Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

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International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

As the title suggest, November 23rd is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, sponsored by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

This is an annual celebration to shed light on the problems of violence against women around the globe, and to take action to eliminate such violence. The focus this year is youth leadership in preventing and ending violence against women and girls, in line with efforts to engage youth in the Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, and with the recent International Youth Year.

This day is a kick-off to 16 days of activism against gender violence, and the UN Women has created a 16 Step Policy Agenda aimed at ending gender violence. This, along with the UNiTE to End Violence campaign demonstrates a collaborative, cross-field approach to ending violence around the globe. I challenge each of us to read the 16 Step agenda and find at least one step that we can take action on.

For more information check out the Virtual Knowledge Center, provided by UN Women. I would also suggest the book Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as a source of global experiences of women.

-Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Intern