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October is Respect Life Month October 9th, 2018
October is Respect Life Month! This year’s Respect Life theme is “Every Life: Cherished, Chosen, Sent,” highlighting our call to build a culture of life as missionary disciples. It’s time for us to renew our commitment to defending those most vulnerable in our midst. There are many ways we can get involved in our parishes, and our own prayer lives.
In a recent statement, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), wrote on July 6, urging that support for Roe v. Wade not be used as a litmus test for judicial nominees in their deliberations about the recent vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States. You can read Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston’s entire statement here. Statement to the members of the Senate.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has prepared a number of excellent resources to share with members of parish communities. Many of these are available to print for free. Visit the FAQ page to learn more about available materials and suggested ways to use them: http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/respect-life-program/2018/respect-life-program-faq.cfm
The Missionary Oblates JPIC continues to advocate that “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” CCC 2270.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has a strong commitment to pro-life issues and their website is rich with related information. Visit the USCCB Pro-Life Initiative
Above all, let us remember to pray for an end to abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, war, and all violations of human life. “Only with prayer – prayer that storms the heavens for justice and mercy, prayer that cleanses our hearts and souls – will the culture of death that surrounds us today be replaced with a culture of life.” -Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Catholic Bishops
Fr. Séamus P. Finn OMI, Among Presenters at 2018 G20 Interfaith Forum October 1st, 2018
The G20 Interfaith Forum took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina from September 26th – 28th, 2018 in advance of the G20 2018. The 2018 theme is “Building Consensus for Fair and Sustainable Development: Religious Contributions for a Dignified Future.”
(The work of the OIP Trust, the Missionary Oblates and the members of the ICCR www.iccr.org was represented on two panels by Rev. Séamus P. Finn OMI)
The Imperatives of Better Governance: Fighting Corruption is a Sine Qua Non for Global Agendas
Panelists from regions throughout the world referenced the teachings of the faith traditions on the ways that corruption is reflected in the lives of individuals and in the institutions and organizations that they rely on each day. It was recognized often in their comments that corruption remains both a deep disorder and disease that operates in all societies across the world.
Generalizations about groups of individuals and specific cultures and particular industry sectors are not very helpful in any analysis of this topic and in fact can be instrumental in profiling and stereotyping groups of people and certain organizations and institutions.
Recent decades have shown a marked breakdown in the trust and confidence that many citizens have in their governments and many customers, clients and investors have in their institutions and organizations. Much of this rupture has been traced to the arrogance, misbehavior and lack of responsiveness of representatives, leaders and managers.
The erosion of this trust and confidence will continue to result in serious consequences for the social bonds that hold a society together and on the many relationships that individuals rely on as they seek to live fulfilling and meaningful lives. The importance of adopting education curricula in all countries that are comprehensive and not hostile to the teachings and experience of faith traditions was emphasized in the formation of individuals and communities that are able to resist the vices that enable and promote corruption.
Religions have an important role to play is helping people and institutions to create and promote cultures that value transparency, accountability and trust while protecting and sustaining institutions that promote the common good and care for Mother Earth, our common home.
Human Rights, Faith and Sustainable Development: Institutional Contributions to Global Priorities.
This panel reviewed the numerous ways that faith traditions have worked to integrate their beliefs and values in the ways that they manage their assets both fixed and liquid. A question that often guides this review is to ask if we know what our money is doing while we sleep or whether our property and institutions are seen as witnessing to the principles that our institutions are founded on. This has often been accomplished by refraining from investments in certain sectors and companies as well as actively engaging the managers of those institutions where investments are held.
The panelists recalled the contributions of the faith traditions to the establishment and expansion of microfinance and microcredit as well as their work on revolving loan funds and community development funds. Much of this work has recently been enhanced by giving priority to “Impact Investing” whereby practitioners are no longer focused on what they want to exclude from their portfolios but on the projects, sectors and funds that they want to support. The Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 193 countries at the UN in 2015 provide a good working framework for those who are committed to “Impact Investing”.
Fr. Seamus Finn, OMI, Visits Oblate Parish in Edinburgh, Scotland September 26th, 2018
On September 21 Fr Séamus Finn, OMI, visited St Mary’s Star of the Sea, an Oblate parish in the Leith district of Edinburgh, Scotland which falls under the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh. The Oblates have had a missionary presence there since 1849.
September 21 was also the feast day of St Matthew and the day’s schedule included Noon liturgy followed by fellowship. Fr. Séamus met with the pastoral team to discuss JPIC issues and programs and to hear about projects the parish is pursuing. They also talked about Faith Consistent Investing and how people of faith, as well as religious institutions, need to continue pushing their financial consultants to help them integrate their beliefs into the investment opportunities and funds that they recommend to them.
St Mary’s Star of the Sea has an active justice, peace and integrity of creation group. They work on practical projects, focusing on a different theme every couple of months. Some of their recent JPIC pursuits include:
- Fairtrade – the parish participated in Fairtrade Fortnight, a two- week annual campaign organized by the Fairtrade Foundation that invites people to consider fair trade options when making purchases, including in the workplace.
- Sanitation –they successfully organized a fundraiser and raised money to purchase 10 latrines for people in a developing country through the humanitarian group Toilet Twinning
The parish also joined Christians worldwide to celebrate the 2018 Season of Creation – www.seasonofcreation.org – which kicked off on September 1 with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. The observance runs from September 1 and ends on October 4, also the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Major Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican organizations have joined to encourage the 2.2 billion Christians worldwide to pray and act on ecological issues.
Oblates Host 2018 Scholars from McLean Center for the Study of Culture & Values (MCSCV) September 12th, 2018
(Click twice on photos to enlarge)
Rev. George F. McLean, OMl (1929-2016), was the Founder of Catholic University of America’s (CUA) Center for the Study of Culture and Values, and the International Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (RVP, www.crvp.org). He taught philosophy at CUA from 1956-1993 but devoted his entire life to promoting dialogue and cooperation among different peoples, cultures and religions around the globe.
In 2017 to honor Fr. McLean the university officially inaugurated the CUA McLean Center for the Study of Culture and Values (MCSCV).Fr. McLean initiated an annual seminar in 1984 to invite scholars and philosophers from diverse cultures and civilizations to participate in five to ten week seminars in Washington, D.C. to discuss current and urgent philosophical issues. The program continues today with the 2018 seminar taking place from August 20-September 21 under the theme Power, Truth, and Trust: In Search of More Human Governance. Participants in this year’s program come from Belgium, China, India, Italy/Portugal, Poland, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
To mark the 2nd anniversary of Fr. McLean’s death, on September 6 the Oblate Community in Washington, DC and participants from the McLean Center celebrated a Memorial Mass in the residence’s chapel. This was followed by lunch and discussions on “governance and trust” led by Fr. Séamus Finn, OMI.
For more information about the Center visit http://www.crvp.org/McLean/McLean.html
Poem for the occasion contributed by: Professor Hu Yeping, Executive Director, McLean Center for the Study of Culture and Values
Today sees the moment of yesterday
humbly walk into the goodbyes
full of gratified blessings, unutterable peace
continuing another dialogical conversation
among unseeable yet named souls
in a world of sole beings
housed by trees and stones, stars and rainbows
full of wordless silence, soundless smiles
forever and ever
in you, in me, in many
from yesterday to today
What a Day!
(Washington, DC, September 6, 2018)
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)
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.
August 9 is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples August 3rd, 2018
This day is celebrated around the world and at the United Nations Headquarters in New York each year, bringing together indigenous peoples’ organizations, UN agencies, Member States, civil society, academia and the general public. This year’s theme is “Indigenous peoples’ migration and movement.” The 2018 theme will focus on the current situation of indigenous territories, the root causes of migration, trans-border movement and displacement, with a specific focus on indigenous peoples living in urban areas and across international borders.
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.
To learn more about this international observance visit the UN’s website.
Visit the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) page to download the event program and key messages.