Manna from Heaven isn’t good enough for me

Reflection for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Supporter, Gordon Kubanek, TSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our July 26th newsletter

We people are an ungrateful lot. Whatever God blesses us with, it’s never enough.

David becomes King and has many wives. Is this enough? No, of course not! He “had” to have the wife of Uriah the Hittite, going so far as to have him killed in battle.

The tribe of Israel, as they were fleeing Egypt, weren’t much better. In this week’s first reading, they were starving, so they complained to God. God provided them with Manna, fresh food every day, a blessing from heaven. Were they satisfied? Was this good enough? No, of course not! They “had” to have meat too and God, knowing our frailty and weakness, provided quail to the people.

Christians sometimes feel superior to the Jews after reading these stories but honestly, given that a command, no, more than that, a requirement, that all who follow “The Way” remain united, settle their squabbles, support and help and share with each other, always being of the ONE body of Christ – well, we broke that one long ago. Now there are literally thousands of separate denominations – it’s as if the body of Christ has been chopped up into little pieces and each of us claiming that theirs is the real thing and everybody else is “wrong”. Really, can any mature adult take such silliness seriously?

The plain fact is that we people are pretty much as weak as David, as demanding as the Israelites, as immature as the squabbling early church Christians. We are like the people who were fed in the miracle of the loaves and fishes and wanted more, more, more….. How about we listen to what Christ said to those who wanted merely physical bread and realize that Christ, the bread of life, is enough. Believe. Love. Let God alone judge. Treat every person as your neighbor. That is good enough for me.

I leave you with this Franciscan blessing as we each now go into the world as Christ’s arms and feet to feed our neighbours with the bread of life.

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

By Gordon Kubanek, TSSF
FAN Supporter

Published in: on July 27, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

World’s worst humanitarian crisis

By Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose writings are published in print and/or posted online in various U.S. diocesan papers. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.

After six years of war, “Yemen remains the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe,” according to the International Rescue Committee.

Confirming that terribly sad fact, Catholic Relief Services reports, “Conflict and a lack of aid has triggered a humanitarian disaster, leaving 80 percent of the population in need of assistance, including 2 million children suffering from acute malnutrition. Hunger is on the rise, and basic services like education, water, health and sanitation have deteriorated. These conditions triggered an unprecedented cholera outbreak in Yemen – the worst in history.”

Despite years of immense suffering endured by Yemenis, war-torn, desperately poor Yemen remains a mere blip on the radar screens of rich nations.

And to be honest, Yemen was a blip on my radar screen, that is, until I met Barbara Deller.

For 12 years Deller worked as a hospital nurse-midwife in Yemen, and later served as a faculty member of the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, advising ministries of health in numerous countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

She explained to me that when Houthi rebels took control of Yemen’s government, an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia attacked the Houthis because the Houthis are backed by Iran – Saudi Arabia’s archrival.

Deller added that the Saudi Arabian-led bombing campaign against the Houthi rebels, as well as the counterattacks by the Houthi’s, have greatly increased the suffering of this already desperately impoverished nation of 30 million people.

All sides have resorted to awful atrocities in this war. However, Saudi Arabia has killed most of the civilians and bombed away much of the country – destroying numerous hospitals, schools, residential areas, water treatment facilities, food manufacturing facilities and farm land.

Furthermore, with U.S. military aid and support from several other nations, Saudi Arabia has been pounding Yemen for the last six years with ongoing airstrikes; and is suffocating Yemen with a crippling air, land and sea blockade. The Saudi-led campaign could not continue without the military and political support of the U.S.

Friends in Yemen recently shared with Deller that life is hard, bombing continues, and they are constantly in fear.

According to the United Nations “Yemen remains the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and the situation for the millions of affected people is deteriorating … Malnutrition rates in Yemen are at record highs as the country is speeding towards the worst famine the world has seen in decades” (see:

Although President Biden announced the U.S. would no longer supply Saudi Arabia with “offensive” weapons in its war against Yemen, however, he also indicated that his administration would provide the Saudis with “defensive” military support – like providing commercial contractors to service Saudi warplanes which continue to kill countless innocent Yemeni children and adults. Any support of Saudi Arabia in its brutal war against suffering Yemenis is unconscionable.

Please urge President Biden to immediately end every aspect of military support – including “defensive” support – to the Saudi-led coalition. Also urge him, in concert with the United Nations, to thoroughly revise U.N. Resolution 2216 which under current interpretation permits the Saudi-led coalition to continue its blockade of food, fuel and medicine into Yemen (see:

Former American nurse in Yemen, Barbara Deller, is asking readers to view the realistic, powerful, gut-wrenching film “Hunger Ward” (see:; and then to please make a donation to the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation – a grass-roots on the ground humanitarian organization that uses volunteers to distribute food, medicine, clothing, blankets to desperate Yemenis. She told me, “The foundation is run by a dear Yemeni friend of mine who is 100 percent genuine” (see:

Deller’s last, most important request is that we “pray unceasingly.” Let the people of God say Amen!

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at

Published in: on July 24, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Unity Through the Bond of Peace

Reflection for 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Supporter, Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our July 19th newsletter

FAN Staff at a Peace Rally in 2017

Anyone in search of a prayer for our church, our country, or our world today may look no further than to St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, written almost 2000 years ago.

“I urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received” as a human being made in God’s image and likeness. “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” Eph 4:2-3

The coronavirus has brought to light the inequalities now facing humanity and the growing divisions in every aspect of our society today. In the midst of the pandemic last year, Pope Francis released the encyclical Fratelli tutti which at times paraphrases much of St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

The Pope warns that we are losing our sense of belonging to one human family. He calls for human beings, all of us deemed worthy of being made in God’s image and likeness, to promote unity through dialogue and to put the common good, love for others, before our personal interests and agendas. He writes “I ask God to prepare our hearts to encounter our brothers and sisters, so that we may overcome our differences rooted in political thinking, language, culture and religion. Let us ask him…for the grace to send us forth, in humility and meekness, along the demanding but enriching path of seeking peace.” (Fratelli Tutti, 254)

Let us pray that leaders of our church, of our nation, and worldwide live and lead “in a manner worthy of the call they have received” with humility, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.

Pray for the leaders of our church, of our nation and worldwide so they look beyond their own interests and agendas and lead for the good of all.

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Supporter

Published in: on July 20, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Gathering Together and Sharing

Reflection for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member Bro. Paul Crawford, OFM, Cap., MSW

This reflection was originally posted in our July 12th newsletter

The Readings for this Sunday take on a different lens, at least for myself.

This past week I went to a classmate’s memorial Mass held outside, went into a store, voted at a polling location and finally went to a restaurant.

It seemed a little strange after over a year of limiting my outings to medical appointments only. In fact, to be honest I was a little nervous and truthfully, I cheated a little by voting early, knowing that there would not be as many people there as on the official election day. Needless to say it was great to share what I did and saw each night at dinner.

In the Gospel reading from Mark, the disciples came back from their day to discuss with Jesus what they had done and experienced that day. Too many times we do not bring our lives to God, after all, God knows. But there is something about talking, sharing our lives that make us more alive through the Presence and Power of God.

Sharing our lives together brings us into deeper communion with each other and with God. God wants to be a part of our lives. Just as God calls us to accompany the poor and forgotten, so God wants to do the same for us.

Also notice that Jesus wants the disciples to discuss their day with each other. Over the past year we had little opportunities to do this. Zoom might be an adequate substitute, but there’s something about physically gathering around a table, sharing and being fed. The Holy Spirit is always present in a group of two to three or more and empowers us to accept each other and those whom we meet. By that sharing and acceptance, the Holy Spirit empowers us to action. So hear the call to come away, share with others, accept the stranger and the signs and wonders will again be a part of our lives.

Bro. Paul Crawford, OFM, Cap., MSW
FAN Board Member

Published in: on July 13, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

A healthy, holy love of country

By Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose writings are published in print and/or posted online in various U.S. diocesan papers. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.

Today, as I write, is the Fourth of July – Independence Day in the U.S. It’s a time when many Americans naturally feel a sense of pride.

As the world’s oldest continuous democracy, the U.S. has served in many ways as a model for other democratic nations. Its Bill of Rights guarantees freedoms of religion, the press, speech, and the right to peacefully assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.

These are excellent examples of what is lovable and healthy about America.

But on the other hand, a healthy and holy love of country does not turn a blind eye to what is unlovable and sick about one’s country – quite the contrary.

Think of someone you love. Now imagine that your loved one has a serious life-threatening habit, say he or she is hooked on opioids, wouldn’t you honestly acknowledge their sickness and try to get your loved one into treatment?

In many ways the U.S. is sick and is in need of treatment.

Every year in the U.S. approximately 900,000 unborn babies are brutally dismembered and killed by legal surgical and chemical abortions. This is sick. A civilized nation does not kill babies!

Contrary to the rhetoric of some politicians, the U.S. is not broke. The nation has plenty of money. The problem is that it’s being squandered on astronomical military budgets and war – President Biden’s proposed fiscal year 2022 military budget is a whopping $752 billion – and is largely concentrated in the hands of a small percentage of individuals who have low overall tax rates (with many U.S. millionaires and billionaires having seen their wealth increase tremendously during the pandemic), and corporations that often pay little to no taxes – while millions of Americans are jobless, underemployed, medically uninsured and poor. All of this is a national sickness which needs healing.

Approximately 11 million undocumented workers – who harvest our food, repair our roads, landscape our businesses and labor in miserable slaughterhouses – are forced to live an underground existence unjustly fearing deportation. This too is sick.

In a world where 800 million fellow human beings live and die in extreme poverty – with little food, no clean water or sanitation, no medical care, no education, no insurance of any kind, dirt floor shacks for houses and with no hope of ever living decent lives – the U.S. government gives less than 1 percent of its annual budget for poverty-focused international assistance. This stingy response to the poorest of the poor is shamefully evil. This too is a national sickness.

After China, the U.S. is dumping the largest amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere dangerously warming our environment. This is not good stewardship of God’s creation, and is thus causing our common earth home to be sick.

The U.S. – along with Russia – possesses the most lethal nuclear arsenal in the world, and is also the leading global arms merchant – thus fueling many of the world’s armed conflicts. And this too is sickness.

Instead of just celebrations, perhaps the days around the Fourth of July should also include the medicine of mourning and repentance.

If we fairly and justly share the nation’s wealth to end all poverty and hunger, if we tirelessly strive to eliminate environmental degradation, abortion, war and war preparation, as well as every other form of injustice suffered by humanity, we will truly become what both U.S. presidents Kennedy and Reagan called that shining city on a hilltop – which other nations will be inspired to emulate.

To all of this Pope Francis inspiringly writes, “I very much desire that, in this time that we are given to live, recognizing the dignity of every human person, we can revive among all a worldwide aspiration to fraternity” (see:

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at

Published in: on July 10, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Being Special in Ordinary Time

Reflection for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our July 5th newsletter

Being chosen is the clear theme of the Scripture readings for July 11, 2021, Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. It is notable that ordinary people, not the rich and powerful, are most often chosen by God. Amos was a shepherd, chosen to be a prophet to Israel. Jesus chooses 12 ordinary men, not priests or scholars, and sends them out two by two to preach repentance and heal the sick. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul states emphatically, “In (Christ) we were also chosen. . .” In this 21st century, we followers of Jesus Christ are also chosen to share the Good News, to help bring about the reign of God on Earth.

Being chosen is special. As kids we wanted to be chosen to be on the team, an acknowledgement that we were good enough to be needed. Not being very skilled at softball, I was often the last chosen! Jesus says, “Forget about being good enough. I need you to carry on my mission. I choose you. You are special to me.”

Some days are special to some people, even in “Ordinary Time.” July 11th is my birthday, a special day for me. Although the number of candles weighs down my cake, all the more reason to count my blessings. It is also the feast of St. Benedict, one of the great chosen ones. Although he is bumped from the Liturgical Calendar by Sunday, Benedictine men and women all over the world, and those with the name “Benedict,” will celebrate their very special founder or patron.

The fact that I was called—chosen—to be a Franciscan is evidence that God chooses very ordinary people to be “on the team.” Jesus also instructs the Twelve to travel very lightly, taking only a walking stick. I can’t manage to be that unencumbered physically, but how about traveling without being burdened by anxieties, ego, self-righteousness, judgmental and critical attitudes? That’s a question to ponder on a special day in Ordinary Time.

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director

Published in: on July 6, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Prophetic or prudential action?

Reflection for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Executive Director, Stephen Schneck

This reflection was originally posted in our June 28th newsletter

Prophetic or prudential action? As an advocate and activist for faith-based social justice, I struggle more about means rather than ends. My formation in the religious, moral, and social teachings of our faith offers much clarity about ideals. What’s uncertain is the path for progress toward those ideals.

Sometimes this is a question of inside versus outside. Sometimes this is a question of pursuing incremental change versus radical change. Sometimes this is a question of the extent that ends can ever justify means. Ultimately, though, these questions boil down to how “prophetic” versus how prudential to be for making progress.

Take the ideal of racial justice, for example. How best do we make progress toward that end? Is it more effective to try to work within the existing system, or is the system itself too resistant to change for the inside path to achieve progress? To paraphrase the former President Reagan, is the system itself the problem? Similarly, will I make more progress toward the ideal by working for incremental changes that are more readily achievable? Or, am I compromised or even complicit by choosing incremental change when the ideal of racial justice holds out a vision that only radical, systemic transformation can bring about? And, how far can I go in the means to reach for that ideal? How does one judge when it is just and effective to break with friends, family, tradition, due process, the will of the majority, or even civil laws and sanctioned authority to make progress toward justice?

These are the questions in struggling with the balance between prudential and prophetic approaches to action. The readings for this Sunday, July 4th, speak to the limits to being prophetic, as well as the inescapable divine call to be prophetic.

In the First Reading (Ez. 2:2-5) the prophet Ezekiel recounts how the “Lord spoke” and “the spirit entered into me and set me on my feet.” Not really wished for, the divine call to prophesize comes powerfully and compellingly. Ezekiel is warned of the dangers all prophets face – ridicule, persecution, rejection, threat. For, the need for prophecy itself lies in our human complacency and resistance to justice. We sinful people are indeed “Hard of face and obstinate of heart.”

In the Epistle, St. Paul in Second Corinthians too speaks of both the power of being called to prophecy and the sufferings that prophets must expect. He writes:

That I, Paul, might not become too elated,
because of the abundance of the revelations,
a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan,
to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,
but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Cor 12:7-10

And, the Gospel from Mark recounts how Christ returned to his beloved hometown of Nazareth and to the synagogue of his friends, neighbors, and family. Yet, Christ as a prophet finds little welcome and little openness. His words are rejected by the hardened hearts of those who knew him even most intimately. “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his kin and in his own house.” Mk 6:1-6

I here publicly confess that I seem constitutionally predisposed to suspect the prophetic and to favor the prudential. I’m inclined to think that the perfect is more often than not an enemy of the good. I wonder too often that those choosing prophetic action over prudential just want to dodge the hard, grey, and often boring work needed to make incremental progress within the system. It’s glamorous to shout through a megaphone outside the White House; yet, rolling up your sleeves behind the scenes to win a few small provisions for the homeless in a housing bill is real toil. How naïve, unhelpful, and holier-than-thou those who reject working within the system must be, I sometimes think. Yes, I also easily convince myself that the path of prudential action actually achieves measurable progress while prophetic action seldom does and can too often spark counterproductive reaction.

Sunday’s readings, though, bring me up short. They take my breath away. Unmistakably, the message is that the prophetic is imperative.

Prudential action can never be sufficient in itself. It risks getting lost in the trees and losing sight of the forest, confusing means as ends. Prudential action without the judgmental vision of prophecy can too easily settle, can too easily accommodate itself to the status quo, and can too easily become complicit and compromised in its deferral to the system, traditions, existing laws, and even to our natural desire to be liked and approved. I think Christ must have strongly felt that desire among his neighbors in Nazareth.

The readings make clear that prophetic vision cannot be simply set aside if progress is to be made. Progress requires keeping our “eyes on the prize,” as the Civil Rights Movement put it so well. Prudential action is in many cases – and perhaps most cases, more efficacious for progress, but the prudential must always be directed by the prophetic and in service to the prophetic. And, yes, there are genuinely moments of enormous inflection when norms of prudence have little role, moments when the voice of the prophet must be the only voice, moments when prophetic action is the only way forward. I vow to listen more for prophets.

Stephen Schneck
Executive Director

Published in: on June 29, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Just imagine

By Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose writings are published in print and/or posted online in various U.S. diocesan papers. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.

Today, as I write, is World Refugee Day (June 20). For those of us who are not refugees – nor internally displaced people, migrants, asylum seekers – it is easy to ignore their plight involving fears of harm and death, traveling long and dangerous unknown paths, hunger, thirst, carrying the uncertainty of not knowing if a safe and decent home will ever be found, and being confronted with walls that shout-out to them: Not welcomed! Go back where you came from! We don’t want you!

Instead, let’s genuinely try to understand their misery by turning to our imagination. Let’s try to imagine ourselves in their shoes.

So, just imagine in the middle of the night you are awakened to the explosive sounds of war just outside of your town. Hoping that the fighting would not come to you and your family, you realize it has arrived and is quickly approaching.

Just imagine that you received a text message from a Middle East terrorist Islamist group warning that if you don’t convert from Christianity to Islam you will be decapitated.

Just imagine that a Central American drug gang has threatened to rape and mutilate your teenage daughter if your 10-year-old son does not join their gang.

Just imagine getting news that Nigerian Fulani herdsmen have just burned the neighboring village to the ground, along with all of its farm fields, and that they are heading towards your village.

Just imagine in your extremely poor economically underdeveloped country that no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot find a job to earn enough money to feed your family.

Just imagine that you are a Rohingya Muslim living in Myanmar, and that the Myanmar government insists that you and your people have no right to citizenship, freedom of movement, state education, nor civil service jobs.

Just imagine that it is no longer possible to grow any crops on the land of your small subsistence farm because it is bone-dry from the effects of climate change.

Just imagine!

What can you do? What will you do? In all of these real-life scenarios you choose the best possible chance of survival: Hoping against all hope you begin the very long, difficult and perilous journey to a country somewhere, anywhere that will maybe welcome you and your family.

Despite the pandemic, a record 82 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict, human rights violations, persecution, extreme poverty and climate change according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (see:

According to the UNHCR, the tiny nation of Lebanon is host to the largest number of refugees relative to its national population – where one in every six persons is a refugee. That’s equivalent to the U.S. taking in 55 million refugees! But instead, according to the Refugee Processing Center, in fiscal year 2020, the U.S. resettled only 11,814 refugees. That is unconscionable!

Please email and call your two U.S. senators and congressperson (Capitol switchboard number: 202-224-3121) urging them to robustly increase funding to poorer nations like Lebanon who are struggling to host millions of refugees. And urge them to petition President Biden to authorize for this year at least 110,000 refugees as was done in past years.

And there is much more we can do to help: Parishes can sponsor a refugee family (see:, utilize still relevant ideas from the UNHCR tool-kit (see: UNHCR – World Refugee Day 2021 – Toolkit (PDF) and donate to Catholic Relief Services (see:

And we can seriously reflect on the words of Pope Francis: “The human tragedy that is forced migration is a global phenomenon today. This crisis which can be measured in numbers and statistics, we want instead to measure with names, stories, families.”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at

Published in: on June 26, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

“Little girl, I say to you, arise!”

Reflection for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Director of Advocacy, Sr. Maria Orlandini, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our June 21st newsletter

Talitha Koum – Little girl, I say to you, arise! –Is the name the UISG (International Union of Superiors General, the worldwide organization in Rome of leaders of institutes of Catholic women religious) has given to the organization’s efforts to end human trafficking. It is an appropriate name if we want to bring someone back to life, as Jesus did in this week’s Gospel story. God has created people for good and wants us all to have a good life, the theme that runs through the Scripture readings of this Sunday’s Liturgy.

In the Gospel, Jesus does not accept death as the final say. In fact, he ignores the report of the death of the little girl and, inviting the parents to have faith, he calls the girl back to life. But his care is not over. He goes even further in showing his desire for a good life for her, inviting the parents to give her something to eat, presuming that she would be hungry, and food is a sign of normalcy and comfort. Having food to eat is a sign of a good life, something that all of us are entitled to by being created with the dignity of the children of God. Even on his way to Jairus’ house, Jesus had restored the woman who touched his clothes to her own dignity of being freed from her illness, which the text says lasted for twelve long years. Jesus’s mission is giving life, restoring life.

Do I take to heart the same mission? Is restoring life what I do, no matter the situations or conditions?

We have a daunting mission. So many people are struggling physically, emotionally, spiritually. Their life is not even close to being restored. Their life is not what God wants for them, but this is the mission of those who take the message of Jesus seriously.

The Second Letter to the Corinthians is inviting the Christian community to excel also in using their abundance to come to the help of those in need. Our world is so in love with money! I wonder what it will take to be able to reach a point where money is used for the good of ALL, to give life, to restore life. What can we do when even the proposal of $15 an hour for minimum wage can cause so much division, yet it would help so many people to have a better life? It seems that some of our elected leaders are more content in taking care of those among us who have a lot, and not so much as the letter says “…your abundance at the present time should supply their needs.”

I conclude with a question that has been on my mind in the past few days: How would we all be different if Jeff Bezos would use his astronomical wealth for the good of all by providing a good and just life for his workers, fighting diseases in countries that do not have the means by themselves, building housing for those who cannot afford a rent with their salaries, instead of going to space because he doesn’t know what to do with all his money? What would the poor people of Honduras be able to do with just one of his billions? How to awaken the sense of taking care of each other?

Jesus reminds us daily that we are our sisters’ and brothers’ keeper.

“Little girl, I say to you, arise!

Sr. Maria Orlandini, OSF
Director of Advocacy

Published in: on June 22, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

COVID vaccines for poor nations is a human right and moral duty

By Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose writings are published in print and/or posted online in various U.S. diocesan papers. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), as reported by The Guardian, has warned that as COVID vaccines continue to roll out, the world faces a “catastrophic moral failure” as richer countries administer the vaccine on a vast scale, while poor countries are left behind.”

Image by torstensimon from Pixabay

The head of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, underscored the fact that millions of doses had been received by higher income countries, while many of the world’s poorest countries go without – resulting in overwhelming sickness and death among the poorest (see:

A tragic and preventable example is that “Only 1 percent of the 1.3 billion vaccines injected around the world have been administered in Africa” (see:

In India, which in April broke the world record for new COVID cases in a single day – surpassing 330,000 – only 3 percent of the population has been vaccinated (see:

The editor of Indian Catholic Matters (see:, Verghese V. Joseph, told me that while the number of new COVID cases is now declining, Indians are still very vulnerable since the supply of vaccinations is nowhere near matching the demand.

But the hardest hit country is Peru. According to Johns Hopkins University data, Peru has the highest death rate per capita from COVID in the world (see:

St. Michael Catholic Church in Prior Lake, Minnesota, where I serve as pastoral care minister, has a sister parish relationship with Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chimbote, Peru (see: We work in concert with the umbrella organization Friends of Chimbote (see:

In an email to me, Friends of Chimbote Executive Director Todd Mickelson wrote, “The deadlier Brazilian COVID variant is spreading through Peru. Medical systems have collapsed with no hospital beds available and severe shortages of oxygen and treatments. The economy is in failure with no government funds reaching the poor we serve who do not have bank accounts to receive assistance. Education for the children of the poor cannot occur with no access to electronics or the internet.

“It is essential to humanity and the health and prosperity of the world that global leaders of the wealthiest nations immediately provide vaccines, funding, logistical support and leadership to developing countries. Dedicating resources and expertise to vaccinate the world expeditiously is not only the just and humane thing to do but the only way to stop this pandemic and the risk of continuous mutations and devastation.”

U.S. President Biden’s decision to send 500 million COVID vaccinations to poor nations, and the offer from the other G-7 nations to send an additional 500 million doses is certainly a good step in the right direction. But buying these doses from a very small group of patent holders like Pfizer-BioNTech will take far too long – into 2024 – to safely reach the nearly 6 billion remaining unvaccinated brothers and sisters whose lives are unnecessarily on the line.

Over 170 former world leaders and Nobel laureates have urged President Biden to support a waiver of profit motivated intellectual property rules for COVID vaccines and related treatments, thus allowing many other companies around the world to produce the life-saving vaccines (see:

Please contact President Biden urging him to push the World Trade Organization for a comprehensive waiver of intellectual property rules on COVID vaccines and related treatments (see:

Weighing in on this, Pope Francis said we need “a spirit of justice that mobilizes us to ensure universal access to the vaccine, and a temporary suspension of intellectual property rights” (please watch the Holy Father’s video

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at

Published in: on June 19, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment