Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation

A Ministry of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate

United States Province

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Just Wages for a Flourishing Society September 4th, 2018

In his 2018 Labor Day statement, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, calls for all persons to work together for just wages, which are necessary for families to flourish. A just wage is one that “not only provides for workers’ financial well-being, but fosters their social, cultural, and spiritual dimensions as individuals and members of society.”

The full statement is available in English is at:

A Spanish translation of the statement is available at:

Visit the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website

Unite with Christians Around the World to Protect Our Common Home August 30th, 2018

JPIC Committee members participating in 2017 People’s Climate March, Washington, DC  (From L to R) Fr. Antonio Ponce, OMI, Fr. Seamus Finn, OMI, Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, Christine Ilewski-Huelsmann (Gary’s wife) and Gary Huelsmann (former JPIC Committee Chairman)

The Season of Creation is is an ecumenical observance and time of year when the world’s 2.2 billion Christians are invited to pray and care for creation. It runs annually beginning with the Day of Prayer for Creation on September 1 and ending on October 4. The event unites the global Christian family around one shared purpose. It also provides flexibility in celebrating prayer services and engaging in a variety of actions to care for creation. 



Ecological Initiative: U.S. Provincial Fr. Louis Studer, OMI, Reflects on 25 Years at La Vista August 24th, 2018

I am proud to say that I was a member of the Central Province Provincial Council in 1993 when we were asked, as a province, to dedicate and preserve sections of the Novitiate property at Godfrey, IL, as a nature preserve.

Whenever I tell people about that, they immediately ask me whether I voted for or against the proposal! I am also happy to say that I remember that the decision of the council was unanimous to devote a large parcel of our Novitiate as a protected nature preserve, particularly some very valuable land along the Mississippi River bluffs.

This was the beginning of what later developed into the Oblate Ecological Initiative at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate which began in 2001.

This initiative began under the leadership of former Oblate, Maurice Lange, along with the community – supported garden and the Ecological Learning Center. He was soon joined by Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, who has continued as Director of the Center these many years since.

The garden is now independent and this is a real sign of its progress and success. Some of these farmers at the Novitiate have begun other similar agricultural projects which furthers the work begun here.

The Ecological Initiative is a mission of our office of “Justice and Peace,” headquartered in the Provincial office building in Washington, DC which has expanded its name with “and Integrity of Creation.”

This office of “Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation” (JPIC) owes a great debt of gratitude most especially to Séamus Finn, OMI, who successfully guided and promoted its mission over two decades as its Director and Mentor. Special thanks as well to the ministry of Antonio Ponce, OMI, as Director more recently, and to Oblates Norm Comtois, Darrell Rupiper and several other Oblates and friends who served on the JPIC Committee over these many years. Special thanks as well to Mr. George Ngolwe and Ms. Mary O’Herron, for their dedication and vibrant spirit of service, at our Washington office.

Godfrey Mayor Mike McCormick, Debbie Newman, Natural Areas Preservation Specialist, Fr. Lou, Sr. Madeleine Lane, SSND, representing her community, and Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, Oblate Ecological Initiative director

The Ecological Initiative has also been supported by many retreats at the Lebh Shomea Contemplative and Retreat Center in Sarita, Texas, on the theme of “Integrity of Creation” as well as the support by the Missionary Oblates of the Three Part Harmony Farm on the property of the U.S. Province in Washington, D.C. Yes, a community supported garden in the center of the city in Washington, D.C. at our Oblate headquarters!

Going even further back in history, as an Oblate Congregation and as a U.S. Oblate Province: As Missionary Oblates, we are known to be “down to earth in our preaching, giving practical application of the gospel to the lives of the people we serve and close to the people we serve.”

We preach the message of Jesus who often used parables and examples relating to soil and food and weather.

Our faith teaches us that all of creation was made in and through Jesus Christ (St. Paul) and in the book of Genesis, after God had finished the work of creation, He saw that it was good.

Each year, the Oblate novices have the opportunity to have their spirituality shaped, in part, by the beauty of this Novitiate property and to encounter God’s grace and generosity on this “holy ground.” More than 20 years before the Encyclical of Pope Francis, “Laudato Si,” this ministry of preserving a forest area and the development of shared farming by the Missionary Oblates was a forerunner of Catholic Ecological Awareness.

It is our sincere hope that the Oblate stewardship of this land, with all of its ability to teach us about God’s generosity and goodness to us, will continue for many years into the future.

On behalf of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, I offer our sincere thanks and congratulations to all who have supported this effort these past 25 years and to all who will continue to support it for many years into the future.

Vatican Voices and Tech Companies’ Ethics August 24th, 2018

Rev. Séamus Finn, OMI, Delivers Remarks at
2018 Annual Event of Socially Responsible Investment Coalition (SRIC) 


(Download PDF of Remarks here)

Work continues apace on a set of ethical investment guidelines that will provide a Catholic perspective on Faith Consistent Investing and therefore be of service to the Vatican itself and to other Catholic Institutions and organizations around the world. This has been in many ways a work of research and consolidation that has worked to mine the Scriptures and the Tradition for insights, teaching, guidance and principles that relate to the kinds of decisions, operations, activities and questions that asset managers including investment committees and individual investors deal with every day. In addition, this project has included an analysis of the investment principles and guidelines that have already been adopted and published by some bishop’s conferences, individual dioceses and religious institutions. Many of you won’t be surprised by what’s in drafts of this document because of the rich and longstanding commitment that your institutions have made to aligning the ways in which you manage your assets with the missionary charisms and priorities of your congregations. Your experience as well as the experience of believers from other faith traditions has already played an important role in verifying that the integration of beliefs and values into the investing process does not mean the sacrifice of financial return while at the same time achieving significant social and environmental return in the process. This approach is wholly consistent with the message of the encyclical Laudato Síthat has been so well received by faith and business communities.

This encyclical and projects, like the one undertaken by the Vatican, is a cause for gratitude and celebration because it elevates and amplifies the voice and presence of the church in venues across the world where the issues that many of you have worked very hard on for a number of years are debated. This has been an important part of your mission here at SRIC, the extended community of ICCR and the mission of many other faith traditions. I think this history and the Catholic Social Teaching tradition and the encyclical Laudato Síprovide a great foundation for the guidelines that are being prepared for the Vatican and subsequently for asset management professionals at Catholic institutions. Today this work embraces the broad spectrum of human rights that have been adopted by the United Nations as well as the care and cultivation of the environment, “our common home” that was highlighted by Pope Francis. The opioid crisis and genetically modified organisms, climate change and access to potable water are also priorities. Work with extractives companies including those in the oil, gas and mining sector and about health care so are an important part of those conversations and activities.

Oeconomicae et Pecuniariae Quaestiones; Economic and Financial Questions

There is another document, that I am told will see the light of day very soon (was subsequently published in May 2018) that is a compilation and consolidation of Pope Francis’s thinking and teachings on the economic and financial questions, on money and on the global financial system. It is significant that this document is being developed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and therefore will serve to locate these teachings at the heart of the church’s teaching tradition. This is in some ways reminiscent of the manner in which the Second Vatican Council located the social mission of the church at the center of the church’s mission and an integral dimension of evangelization. While we know that the Catholic Social tradition has frequently presented guidance on any number of questions about the operation of the global financial system, the perspective of the tradition on the benefits and deficits that flow from economic growth, the integration of the financial system that has resulted from globalization and the efforts to harmonize and coordinate financial regulation as well as the flows of goods, capital and peoples will be studied by many practitioners. Many of these economic and financial questions operate underneath the surface of the issues that SRIC is involved in or anybody who’s involved in faith consistent investing. They will also speak to anyone who’s involved in considering and trying to understand the operations of the financial system and the regulatory debates that are considered in Congress and other legislative bodies and adopted and enforced by different regulators. The document will lay out a vision of a financial system and articulate some guiding principles going forward. I suppose somewhere, between what we often talk about as free market capitalism and a more centralized social economy that is being debated and discussed in many places these days, is a topic and issue that the church has often written about. Many are hoping that this document will offer more clarity on some of the specific issues that were deemed to be at the heart of the near global financial calamity in 2018. I think that this document will be a rich resource for the kind of work that you at SRIC do, and that anybody involved in financial services and asset management ought to be paying attention to.

Amazon, Alphabet, Apple, Microsoft, and Google

I wanted to mention one other issue before I close because it is very current and very important. It is also one of the topics that we have been wrestling with at ICCR recently and it was highlighted this past week for us in Washington; the operating principles and activities of the five of the biggest tech companies: Amazon, Alphabet, Apple, Microsoft, and Google. What social purpose do they serve? What is the relationship between the kind of services and products that they operate or produce and human right, the environment and the wellbeing of human communities across the world. How important and how pivotal an issue this is and how important it is not just for investors whether to invest in Apple or Amazon or Microsoft is important in its own right, but it also opens up a whole other set of questions for the faith consistent and socially responsible investing community. When you think alone about the fact that Facebook has a market capitalization of about $580 billion dollars with 20,000 employees, that’s double the size of the market capitalization of Walmart—with about 1.1 million employees in the United States. How much do we know about and understand what these five giants in the tech/communications industry? I’m sure you heard Mr. Zuckerberg assure senators and congressmen that they were hiring 20,000 more people in the coming months to handle the questions related to Cambridge Analytica scandal and the broader issues of user privacy, “fake news” and exploitation of the tools and services that they have developed. I think largely—what is the added value? what is the product? what is the good that Facebook has created relative to society? Mr. Zuckerberg started out by saying he created Facebook to do two things—he wanted to bring people together and build community starting in his dorm in Harvard. However, we also know that, in a very short amount of time, this company has grown to its present size and has any number of people are engaged in manipulative and abusive practices on others and other questions and concerns about privacy, freedom and illegal activities.

The second thing I want to say about it is very simply that I know this is probably going to convince some of you to not look at Facebook. I encourage you to at least not to let this present controversy push you away from in terms of its capacity and in terms of its utility and in terms of what it may bring to the kind mission that I know most of the organizations in this room are involved in. It is indeed a very important and significant tool like all tools and all technology and can be used for good and purportedly used to disrupt and to create confusion, but it does need our attention. It does need us to engage, it does need us to think about the kind of questions that are out there, as it has, I think, made a lot of people think about that data—how much they reveal on which they put on there, what kind of walls need to be built between some of the things that are shared and not shared, that’s fine. But it does create these other levels of community and communication and establish new and vibrant networks that are extremely important. Aside from that, I think as I have said, the Facebook and Walmart comparison may be an entrance into the kinds of questions that many of you are reflecting on regularly like; how wealth and value are created and what corporations bringto society—how we measure it and how we value it.


Making Migration Work for All: The Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration August 16th, 2018

Submitted by Fr. Daniel LeBlanc, OMI

On July 12, in her opening remarks during the first multi-stakeholders dialogue held at the margin of the first intergovernmental negotiations on the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Migration, Ms. Louise Arbour, made the following plea: “Over the long-term the evidence is clear: the benefits of migration vastly outweigh the challenges. And without a clear understanding of migration, negative narratives surround migrants. “We must not allow xenophobic political narratives about migration to distort our objective to enhance international cooperation on migration.” She further stressed that “it is only with facts and context that we can have a respectful and realistic discussion about migration, one that pushes back on the many inaccurate and negative narratives being touted for short-term political gains and misguided policies.”

The large influx of refugees/migrants from some Middle Eastern and African countries into Europe between 2014 – 2016, following the escalation of conflicts and the socio-political and economic challenges in these regions raised a huge global concern, as well as socio-political backlash from some European countries. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) responded to the situation by convening a high-level summit to address the large movements of refugees and migrants in September 2016. At the end of the summit, UNGA adopted a resolution 71/1, also known as the New York Declaration (NYD). According to the UNGA, the New York Declaration “expresses the political will of world leaders to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility on a global scale.” Explicit in the NYD was a commitment by the Member States to negotiate and adopt separate global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and refugees by 2018.

UN General Assembly

While work on the Global Compact for refugees was largely coordinated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, the process for negotiating the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration was strictly state-led, and facilitated by the Permanent Representative of Switzerland and Mexico to the United Nations. After extensive multi-stakeholder consultations and six intense months of intergovernmental negotiations, Member States came up with an agreed document on 13th July 2018. The agreed negotiated documents for both the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and refugees, will be adopted by the UN General Assembly in early December 2018, in Marrakech, Morocco. When adopted, the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration will be the first-ever global framework on migration governance.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

In her remarks at the end of the negotiations, the UN Deputy Secretary General, Ms. Amina Mohammed, commended Member States for staying in the process despite as she noted, “some profound issues that migration raises such as sovereignty of states and human rights; what constitutes voluntary movement; the relationship between development and mobility; and how to support social cohesion.” Ms. Mohammed pointed out that, “this compact demonstrates the potential of multilateralism: our ability to come together on issues that demand global collaboration – however complicated and contentious they may be.” All Member States of the UN was part of the intergovernmental negotiations for safe, orderly and regular migration except for the United States of America and Hungary.

Read more:  Intergovernmental negotiated and agreed outcome document of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration;

The UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants 2016:

The New York Declaration:


Reflections from the 2018 Global Forum on Responsible Recruitment: Progress and Goals August 13th, 2018

By David Schilling, Senior ICCR Program Director

At the first Global Forum a year ago in Berlin, the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment (LGRR) made the decision to focus on two countries—Malaysia and Thailand (and the respective recruitment corridors) to take steps to transform the foreign migrant recruitment system from ‘worker pays’ to ‘employer pays’.  This was a significant decision to change the recruitment model through collective action in one region of the world.  There was evidence at the 2018 Forum in Singapore that this was a good decision and that some progress is being made.  

The forum’s first panel on the “Experience of the Migrant Worker” made it clear that if we are to make the shift from ‘workers pays’ to ‘employer pays’, migrant workers must be at the centre of the change. Anne Beatrice Jacobs, North South Initiative, and Bhim Kumar Newar, Migrant Worker Network, highlighted the exploitative impact of worker paid fees and described the challenges to transforming the current system.  Representatives from Migrant Forum Asia (MFA), a regional network of non-government organisations, associations and trade unions of migrant workers, and a trusted partner, contributed a great deal to our understanding of on-the-ground realities facing migrant workers in specific countries in the region. 

Read the full post on ICCR’s website.



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