Read All About It!

We invite you to read and reflect on these recent publications by our Sisters and staff, engaging in the call to “educate, advocate, and act, in collaboration with others, for the dignity of life and the care of all creation.”

The friendly tension between Catholic social teaching and capitalism: Does a rising tide lift all boats? By Kathleen Bonnette, Th.D. (Assistant Director, JPIC)

During the Republican National Convention in 2020, speakers attempted to dispel concerns that President Trump or his supporters are racist. Ben Carson, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary, said at the convention, “President Trump does not dabble in identity politics. He wants everyone to succeed and believes in the adage, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’ ”

The “rising tide” theory is associated with capitalism—an economic and political system that prioritizes private control of goods and services for profit. Because the church calls Catholics to consider every economic and political action according to how the most vulnerable members of society are faring, it is important to evaluate the truth of this adage.

Can a pro-life Catholic vote for Joe Biden? Vatican II has an answer. By Kathleen Bonnette, Th.D., Assistant Director, JPIC

When I cast my first vote in 2008, I was not Catholic. My subsequent faith conversion and corresponding experiences (earning a doctorate in theology and working for a community of women religious) have reshaped my politics in profound ways that have made it increasingly difficult to vote my conscience in any election.

To be truly pro-life, the church must be antiracist by Kathleen Bonnette, Th.D, Assistant Director, JPIC

Pro-life efforts must involve anti-racism efforts, or they are disingenuous. The protests that have erupted around our nation in response to the killings of Black people by police and vigilantes challenge us as a nation to examine the racism embedded in our social structures. As pro-life advocates, we must consider whether our efforts to protect the unborn perpetuate “racism and exclusion.” The 2020 March for Life promoted the theme “Life Empowers: Pro-life is Pro-woman,” but we must ask: Is pro-life pro-Black woman?

God is in the ties that bind, says Pope Francis in ‘Fratelli Tutti’ by Kathleen Bonnette, Th.D., Assistant Director JPIC

Readers hoping for a groundbreaking theological treatise will be disappointed—Francis has not given us that. He has, however, authoritatively elevated the import of the key themes of his papacy—encounter, openness, interconnectedness, and dialogue, to name a few—by bringing them together to enrich our understanding of the ways these gospel values ought to inform our engagement in building a just society. Fratelli Tutti offers a wide-ranging critique of our social structures and suggests a vision for reordering society according to charity in truth.

Now is the time for a new Catholic political vision By Kathleen Bonnette, Th.D., Assistant Director JPIC

Though raised as an evangelical Protestant, I was first drawn to Catholicism when I encountered St. Augustine in an undergraduate philosophy course. Once I discovered modern Catholic social thought I was hooked. The beauty of this faith tradition, I found, lay in the authenticity of its view of human nature—the way faith and reason collaboratively inform a conception of human persons as intellectual, emotional, volitional, and, above all, relational. The principles of justice this view inspires capture the reality and hope of human existence. (Click the link to read more from U.S. Catholic.)

This election season, don’t let culture wars define Catholic advocacy By Kathleen Bonnette, Th.D., Assistant Director JPIC

Our nation is engaged in a winner-take-all culture war. As Michael Grunwald says, this essentially entails “the transformation of even nonpartisan issues into mad-as-hell battles of the bases, which makes it virtually impossible for politicians to solve problems in a two-party system. Cooperation and compromise start to look like capitulation, or even treasonous collusion with the enemy.” There are various historical and philosophical hypotheses that may explain how we got here, but at the heart of the current culture war lies a difference in the import each side confers to individual responsibility and systemic constructs. Responses to the racial tensions exacerbated by the murder of George Floyd—a Black man killed by police brutality—exemplify the divergence. (Click the link to read more from U.S. Catholic.)

Help Convert Dreams into Reality By Sister Pat Ferrick

Dear Editor: In 2012, President Obama announced that certain undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children (Dreamers) would receive temporary permission to remain and work or study in the U.S. but they not entitled to apply for citizenship nor for legal permanent resident status. This program is known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). It affects some 700,000 young people, many of whom know no other home than the U.S. (Click the link to read more from the Brooklyn Tablet.)

World Refugee Day is June 20. Just imagine … By Sister Mary Leonora Tucker

Imagination is a wonderful gift that, as children, we use fairly often. Then, as we grow up, many of us put that gift aside. However, on June 20 of this year, every person around the globe is receiving an invitation from the United Nations to rectify that neglect by responding to the call of the 2020 World Refugee Day, a call which is — in part — for us to imagine the reality that is faced by every refugee. (Click the link to read more from NCR’s Global Sisters Report.)

We are called to embody the Spirit of Pentecost By Kathleen Bonnette, Th.D., Assistant Director JPIC

In Greek, the word for Holy Spirit is derived from the word pneuma, which is also the word for breath. At the first Christian Pentecost, the Spirit was revealed in fire and expressed in unprecedented dialogue between diverse ethnic groups. This year, since the church celebrated Pentecost in the midst of a pandemic and widespread protests, these spiritual realities bear new physical meaning, and we are called to embody the Spirit of Pentecost going forward. (Click the link to read more from NCR’s Global Sisters Report.)

Refugees and Human Trafficking in the Context of a Pandemic By Kathleen Bonnette, Th.D., Assistant Director JPIC

Globally, there are more than 70 million displaced people who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution. A refugee is an officially recognized and vetted displaced person, who cannot return home and has some legal right to remain in a foreign country. There are nearly 26 million refugees worldwide—eighty-five percent of whom are hosted by developing countries, living in overcrowded and unsanitary camps or urban areas, with limited access to the job market, education, healthcare, and housing. (Click the link to read more from U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking. 

What can St. Augustine teach us about living through a pandemic? By Kathleen Bonnette, Th.D., Assistant Director JPIC

In the last years of St. Augustine’s life, in the early fifth century, he watched as Germanic Vandals marched across northern Africa, pillaging and occupying cities along the way until finally besieging his own city of Hippo. Today, as we watch Covid-19 make its way across the globe, ravaging nations and instilling fear, we can learn much from his insights. Though Augustine might seem an unlikely source of hope (given his reputation for pessimism), his spirituality can offer inspiration and guidance at this time. (Click the link to read more from America.)

The United States has criminalized asylum. Covid-19 gives us a reason to reconsider. By Kathleen Bonnette, Th.D., Assistant Director JPIC

If Covid-19 makes anything clear, it is that all of creation is connected. This pandemic is revealing the extent of our physical dependency on one another and our environment. Of course, this connection has been affirmed theologically throughout the Catholic tradition. In St. Augustine’s words, human beings are “linked together by a common fellowship based on a common nature,” and Pope Francis drives the point home in the encyclical “Laudato Si’,” emphasizing that “everything is connected.” In global efforts to maintain social distance, we are seeing, paradoxically, an incredible moment of solidarity—of recognizing our connections and acting for the sake of the common good. (Click the link to read more America.)

Partnership as a Model for Mission: Lessons on Solidarity from Augustine and the School Sisters of Notre Dame By Kathleen Bonnette, Th.D., Assistant Director JPIC
Abstract: This paper highlights the partnership approach to mission adopted by the Atlantic-Midwest Province of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (AMSSND), which is working to empower the people of Haiti through collaboration with Beyond Borders, an established NGO in the region. I explore this approach in light of the spirituality of St. Augustine that grounds the charism of unity of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND). Examining the connections between Augustine and the mission and ministry of the SSND community, through reflecting on the ways partnership has been an effective means of engaging the SSND mission of facilitating unity, or “oneness,” illuminates helpful ways to conceive of solidarity. (Click the link to read more from Praxis: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Faith and Justice.)

Stay tuned for more!