Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation

Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate  United States Province

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News Archives » Central America & the Caribbean

Stations of the Forest March 10th, 2014

We would like to thank the Columban Fathers for the powerful Stations of the Forest video. It is a compelling narrative of the destruction of the forest that has ruined ecosystems from the Philippines to Brazil – a destruction that imperils the world.

Following the format of The Stations of the Cross this prayerful resource laments the stages in the death of part of God’s Creation. It incorporates issues related to rainforest destruction: extractive industries, loss of biodiversity and climate change.

A Booklet accompanies the DVD, providing the script, an agenda for meetings, a reflection on the Stations, and prayers. (download booklet here)

Download – The Grace of Forests Lenten resource




USCCB Delegation Examines Massive Youth Exodus from Central America January 27th, 2014

DSC00955.1A delegation from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently traveled to Central America and Mexico to examine and understand why unaccompanied migrant children are fleeing the region in such record numbers.

 The situation has reached crisis level. Whereas the number of children apprehended on the U.S./Mexico border averaged 6,800 between 2004-2011, it jumped to over 13,000 children in 2012 and over 24,000 children in 2013. The projected number for fiscal year 2014 is 60,000-70,000. Most come from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.

There are many factors that prompt these children to undertake such a perilous journey, and the delegation delves into those in their report. But simply put, these children are fleeing violence: generalized violence at both the state and local levels, which has led to a breakdown of the rule of law and created a culture of fear and hopelessness.

The delegation was led by Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, and included Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC); Reverend Daniel Groody, Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame, and consultant to the USCCB Committee on Migration; Jane Bloom, Director, Washington Office of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC); Kristyn Peck, Associate Director of Children’s Services, MRS/USCCB; Ashley Feasley, Immigration Policy Advisor, MRS/ USCCB; and Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration Policy and Public Affairs, MRS/USCCB.

Here are the full findings and recommendations.


Dialogue on Life and Mining from Latin America December 10th, 2013

Religious and Lay representatives from Latin America, “moved by the critical situation of our peoples vis-à-vis the extractive industry”, met in Lima in November 2013. Concerned that mining is a source of “constant and serious conflict” in many countries of Latin and Central American countries, the attendees wanted to develop a vigorous and supportive set of local and international networks to help address the destructive impacts of mining. The Missionary Oblates were represented by Fr. Gilberto Pauwels OMI from Bolivia, and Fr. Seamus Finn OMI from the United States and through their participation in VIVAT, a coalition of religious congregations with ECOSOC status at the United Nations.

There are a number of outcomes from the gathering that included reaching out to a larger number of communities affected by mining, engaging with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican and convening a broader consultation on the challenges of extractives in the second half of 2014.

Extractives, mining oil and gas exploration, play an important role across the world while also imposing great intrusion and damage in local communities and on the environment where they operate. The search for a way forward that addresses the most serious of those negative impacts has been taken up by a number of different initiatives in the academic, business, stakeholder and shareholder and NGO sectors. Hopefully gatherings like the meeting in Lima can make a constructive contribution to that process.

Read the statement: Dialogue on Life and Mining: Open letter from religious and lay stewards of the goods of creation in Latin America

Oblates Join Faith Groups in Protesting Debilitating Discrimination in the Dominican Republic November 27th, 2013

Haitians in Dominican Republic

Photo Credit: HeatherXBradley; Used under Creative Commons License, Flickr

The Missionary Oblates have joined other faith-based organizations and churches in expressing “profound concern” at the September ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic that the children of all persons “in transit” in the country since 1929 are not Dominican. This is part of an on-going effort by the government of the Dominican Republic to deny citizenship and all the rights associated with that to Haitian migrant workers and the children born to them for the past 80+ years. Without legal documents of citizenship (birth certificate, ID cards, passports) Dominicans of Haitian descent are effectively stateless and are unable to go to school, access medical services, open bank accounts, get married, or make needed purchases.

Several years ago, two United Nations human rights experts described in a report a “profound and entrenched problem of racism and discrimination” against blacks in general — and Haitians in particular — in the Dominican Republic.

Dominican citizens of Haitian descent are often among the poorest of the poor. They are the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Haitians who crossed the border in search of a better life, and of migrant workers contracted by the Dominican government to help harvest sugarcane and other crops. They have helped build the wealth of communities, labored at the most difficult jobs, and contributed tremendously to Dominican society and economy. These Dominican citizens for generations have been fully integrated into Dominican society and have long since lost ties to Haiti.

The letter urges “the Dominican government to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to safeguard the nationality and citizenship rights of Dominico-Haitians. This includes ensuring that relevant ministries expedite processing the backlog for issuing of birth certificates and national I.D. cards to Dominicans of Haitian descent born prior to January 2010, whose Dominican nationality is protected by Dominican law as well conventions signed by government.”

The letter goes on to say: “As people of faith, we cannot remain silent as one entire section of the community is dehumanized simply because of the color of their skin and their cultural heritage. Jesus Christ welcomed all into the beloved community, and we cannot honor and follow our Lord and Savior by remaining silent in the face of such extreme injustice.”

Learn more (download PDF)

Pope Francis to launch “Food for All” campaign November 20th, 2013

On December 10, Pope Francis will launch a worldwide movement to respond to the needs of the poor and vulnerable by acting to end hunger. Access to adequate and nutritious food is a global problem of immense proportions, even for families in the U.S.

At noon local time, a global wave of prayer will begin in Tonga and will progress around the world until it reaches American Samoa some 24 hours and more than 164 countries later.

Please join Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, and the network of Caritas Internationalis agencies providing relief to people suffering from hunger around the globe in participating in the wave of prayer. This is the beginning of a much larger campaign to combat hunger.

In addition, please check out the faith-based resource on poverty and hunger available from Catholic Rural Life, called Food Security and Economic Justice.



Philippine Plea for Action on Climate November 19th, 2013

In the wake of Supertyphoon Haiyan, Yeb Sano, Philippine delegate to the international climate negotiations in Warsaw, made an impassioned plea to take action and “stop the madness” that is climate change. Below is an edited video of his address, with scenes of the devastation in the Philippines alongside. It is a powerful video in this second week of the climate negotiations, a major focus of which is financing for climate friendly investments for developing nations.


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