They need us, and we need them!

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.


They are deadbeats who want free benefits from our country. They are taking our jobs. They are dangerous criminals who are hurting our people and our country. “They” are the 11 million undocumented migrants living in the U.S. And “they” are overwhelmingly not any of the above. Quite the contrary!

Numerous studies confirm that immigrants are less likely to commit violent crimes than U.S.-born citizens. The truth is that immigrants greatly enrich our churches, culture and economy.

According to “The Hill” (see: http://bit.ly/1rm6iF0), certain segments of the U.S. economy like agriculture, are overwhelmingly dependent upon undocumented immigrants. “In terms of overall numbers, The Department of Labor reports that of the 2.5 million farm workers in the U.S., over half (53 percent) are illegal immigrants. Growers and labor unions put this figure at 70 percent.”

Over 40 years ago, when Annunciation House – a sanctuary and home of hospitality that has served over 100,000 refugees, homeless poor and undocumented workers – was started in El Paso, Texas, founding director Ruben Garcia and a few friends, wanted to place themselves among the poor, to see where the poor would lead them. He said, “They took us to the undocumented – the most vulnerable.”

Garcia explained to me that since the undocumented have no legal status in the United States, they are forced to take undesirable, poorly paid jobs, which offer no benefits. Unlike poor U.S. citizens, undocumented workers and their families cannot receive food stamps, Medicaid, or housing assistance. They are at the lowest rung of American life.

So why do they come? They come because most often they and their families are extremely poor, and they cannot find jobs in their native countries that pay a living wage. And that the U.S. has many more low-skilled jobs than there are Americans who are willing to take them. And many others come to escape death threats from drug gangs and other violent conflicts.

But why don’t they enter legally? Because there are too few low-skilled visas available.

Worldwide, according to U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees there are more than 25 million refugees and over 4 million asylum seekers throughout the world. And 40 percent of displaced people are children (see: https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html). Sadly, only a very small percentage of them are allowed to build new lives in host countries. Last year, the U.S. allowed only approximately 11,800 refugees to enter legally.

The Catholic Church clearly teaches that needy people have a right to migrate to other countries. Saint Pope John XXIII, in his encyclical Pacem in Terris (“Peace on Earth”) wrote, “Every human being has the right to freedom of movement and of residence within the confines of his own country; and, when there are just reasons for it, the right to emigrate to other countries and take up residence there.”

Garcia asked that I raise the following questions on behalf of the undocumented: “Should undocumented immigrants have to live in an underground world? Is it right to use closed borders for the purpose of exploiting cheap labor? Why is it so acceptable to have undocumented workers perform the jobs few Americans are willing to do – pick our fruits and vegetables, wash dishes, and work in meat slaughterhouses?”

It is very important that U.S. citizens email and call their two U.S. senators and congressperson (Capitol switchboard number: 202-224-3121) urging them to pass long overdue fair, compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year.

Lord Jesus, heal the indifference of most wealthy nations toward vulnerable and poor refugees who are only asking what all of us desire: a decent, safe place to live and work.

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 tmag6@comcast.net.

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

God is the Center of Our Lives

Reflection for the Third Sunday in Lent by FAN Board Member, Sr. Marge Wissman, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our March 1st newsletter


Image by Andrea Don from Pixabay

The readings for the Third Week of Lent impress upon us that God is the Center of our lives. The commandments given through Moses to the Israelites are signposts meant to point the way toward authentically living out this reality. Jesus also reminds the people to make God the center of their lives when he encounters the sellers in the temple. In Matthew, Mark and Luke’s gospels Jesus admonished the sellers by telling them that “This is a house of prayer.” But John’s retelling in his gospel is more forceful and goes further, saying that Jesus made a whip to drive out the sellers with their goods and animals that were being sold and turned over the money changers’ booths. Also, during John’s portrayal, Jesus says that he will rebuild the temple in 3 days which was a reference to his passion and resurrection and not rebuilding the temple. The Jews did not understand his prediction and asked where he got the authority to throw out the sellers. But his prediction proved true in three days with his resurrection.

The scriptures that were written years ago are passed down to us today, so we can perhaps apply them to actions in the present time. When contemplating Jesus expelling the sellers for turning his house into a market place, I was reminded of the attack on the Capitol building on January 6th. In that attack, God was not the Center of the attackers’ lives. Moses’ prediction that the commandments were a signpost for authentic living also proved to have been forgotten. Several of the commandments were not reverenced on that day especially: Honor your father and your mother, You shall not kill, You shall not steal. What would Jesus have done if he had been at the Capitol building that day? During this attack, God was not the Center of the insurrectionists’ lives.

In the Gospel event, the Temple is a sacred building but is a building that can be replaced. The Capitol is a revered building but it too is still a building. Memories of what happened here will never be forgotten by those living today and will go down in history as a violent event.

God never gives up on us and God’s truest intention for creation is always aimed toward love and life. We read in Genesis that God looked on creation as very good. God’s intention is to be the Center of our lives and hopefully in all our lives God wins that center space.

Sr. Marge Wissman, OSF
FAN Board Member

Published in: on March 2, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Editorial: Bold, Visionary Thinking is Necessary to Combat Climate Crisis

By Patrick Carolan

Patrick Carolan is a Catholic social justice advocate originally from Connecticut and is currently working with Vote Common Good as Director on Catholic outreach. His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.


Patrick Carolan

A little over five years ago Pope Francis wrote a profound teaching document (called an encyclical) on climate change named Laudato Si. In it he said: “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications, especially for the poor and in developing nations.” He called for an economic system with “more balanced levels of production, a better distribution of wealth, concern for the environment and the rights of future generations.” Overall, Pope Francis has called for what some would describe as a radical environmental ethics influenced by St. Francis and his followers. He said “St. Francis’s message for today is that the intrinsic value of all of God’s creatures should be respected and our economic practice must reflect this recognition.”

He wasn’t the first Pope to speak out about the destruction of the environment, Pope Benedict XVI was often referred to as the “Green Pope”, because of his ecological commitments in his writings, statements, and actions. In 2008, Pope Benedict oversaw the installment of a new solar energy system to power several key buildings and a commitment to use renewable energy for 20 percent of the Vatican’s needs by 2020. In 2010 as part of the World Day of Peace Benedict XVI said:

“In 1990 John Paul II had spoken of an “ecological crisis” and, in highlighting its primarily ethical character, pointed to the “urgent moral need for a new solidarity”. His appeal is all the more pressing today, in the face of signs of a growing crisis which it would be irresponsible not to take seriously. Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of “environmental refugees”, people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it – and often their possessions as well – in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement? Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources? All these are issues with a profound impact on the exercise of human rights, such as the right to life, food, health and development.” Pope John Paul II was also well aware of the rapid environmental decline facing our planet and often appealed for international cooperation in the fight against climate change in his annual messages on the World Day of Peace.

Pope Francis followed in the footsteps of both John Paul II and Benedict XVI by writing and speaking about the connection between caring for God’s creation and caring for the poor and marginalized. He recently tweeted “The earth and its poor urgently demand a sound economy and a sustainable development. Therefore, we are called to rethink our mental and moral priorities so that they are in conformity with God’s commandments and the common good.” In many of his writings, Pope Francis writes about the intersectionality of all creation and how we are all part of our Common Home. In Laudato Si, he says: “Natural creatures have an intrinsic value independent of their usefulness. Each organism, as a creature of God, is good and admirable in itself; the same is true of the harmonious ensemble of organisms existing in a defined space and functioning as a system” Then he continues this thought in Joy of the Gospels, writing: “In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.”

Today our mainstream economic and business practices do not consider the value of God’s creation, as our Holy Father urges. A tree has no inherent value when it is standing in a forest. It only has value when it can be cut down and sold. We develop economic models on the value of a tree based on the cost of cutting the tree down vs the monetary value of the profit gained by cutting the tree down. We look at environmental assets and services by using their market value. This view is contrary to what Franciscan values teach us. In a recent article Social Justice without Cosmic Theology is Blind, Ilia Delio, OSF writes “God liberates when God becomes fully alive in the human person and in creation. If we want a different world then we must become a different people.” The Economist and Ethicist Laszlo Zsolnai wrote in his article Franciscan Spirituality and Economics, “However the total value of natural entities cannot be calculated merely on the basis of their material usefulness for humans. Price is a poor and often misleading model for assessing the value of natural entities. Scholars demonstrated that the value of natural entities cannot be determined by the market mechanism.” In his book Franciscans and their Finances: Economics in a Disenchanted World, Fr. David Couturier wrote, “Francis’ fraternal economy is not primarily about dollars and cents, market shares or stock derivatives. It is about the destiny of men and women in the real world and how they come about a new security and peace in God.”

Saints Francis and Clare had a relational understanding of creation. For them and for us today, we believe that all people and all creatures, from the smallest to “our Sister, Mother Earth,” are sisters and brothers, part of the very fabric of the family of God. Because of this, Francis was named the patron saint of ecology by Pope John Paul II. As Franciscans, we are called to consistently examine our relational understanding of creation. Looking to theologians like St. Bonaventure who developed a theological and spiritual vision that acknowledged all creation as emanating from the goodness of God, existing as a “footprint” of God, and leading us back to God if we are able to “read” nature properly. He spoke of creation as the first book that God wrote.

The Franciscan emphasis on the goodness of God and creation has many ramifications. Creation is the outpouring of God’s love into the universe. Creation reveals to us God’s love for us and God’s beauty which is why Franciscans call creation, beauty and goodness the mirror of God. We build on Bonaventure’s idea that God has two books of creation—Sacred Scripture and creation.

Francis of Assisi looked at life and all creation through the lens of relationship and connectivity. He lived, preached and modeled this relational connection from which blossomed a perspective of deep empathy. He looked for ways to awaken within people his way of seeing all life as integrally connected, especially concerning the care of those who were poor and marginalized and for Sister Mother Earth. Rather than viewing creation from ‘anthropocentrism,’ which literally means ‘human-centered’, Francis saw creation as ‘biocentrism’ which means ‘life-centered.’

“The earth sustains humanity,” wrote Hildegard von Bingen, the 12th-century Benedictine nun and doctor of the church. “It must not be injured; it must not be destroyed.” Laszlo Zsolnai points out in his aforementioned article that “Pope Francis’s encyclical letter “Laudato Si’” is consistent with and supports St. Francis’s views which emphasize the frugality of consumption and acknowledging the intrinsic value of nature.” The overall vision that St. Francis taught us by his words and his life is based on a God-centered, spiritual way of living and acting. Pope Francis added an integral ecology to the vast body of Catholic social teaching in the hope that it “can help us to acknowledge the appeal, immensity and urgency of the challenge we face”.

Most scientists, religious leaders and even everyday people agree that we are running out of time to tackle the climate crisis. The clock is ticking as more and more communities face catastrophic wildfires, droughts, and storms. Over the past decade, the federal government has spent $350 billion due to extreme weather and fire events, according to a 2017 report by the U.S. Government Accounting Office. But it will only get uglier, according to the experts. Reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Global Change Research Program tell us that if the global average temperature exceeds pre-industrialized levels by 2 degrees Celsius or more it will cause more than $500 billion in lost economic annual output by the year 2100. Forest areas affected by wildfires in the U.S. are on pace to at least double by 2050, and there is a risk of damage to $1 trillion of public infrastructure and coastal real estate in the U.S. To avoid this, we urgently need bold, unprecedented action to tackle the twin crises of climate change and inequality. We need to mobilize vast public resources to transition from an economy built on exploitation and fossil fuels to one driven by dignified work and clean energy. What we need is a Green New Deal.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The term “Green New Deal” was used by Pulitzer Prize-winner Thomas Friedman in an article written in January 2007. America had just experienced its hottest year on record (there have been five hotter since), and Friedman recognized that there wasn’t going to be a palatable, easy solution to climate change as politicians hoped. It was going to take money, effort, and upsetting an industry that has always been very generous with campaign contributions. Friedman saw the need for a bold transformation of our economy in the same way Roosevelt’s New Deal helped lead us out of the Great Depression. The idea of a New Green Deal was used in the platforms of multiple Green Party candidates, and organizations like the United Nations Environment Programme began to promote a similar global initiative.

In listening to the campaign rhetoric during the 2020 election, one would think the Green New Deal was a satanic communist manifesto that will force us all to live in caves. People believe this rhetoric without bothering to learn what is actually in the Green New Deal. In reality, the goal of the Green New Deal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst consequences of climate change while also trying to fix societal problems like economic inequality and racial injustice.

In 2019, an enormous step forward was realized when Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey introduced a resolution supporting the concept for a Green New Deal. While official legislative language was never developed, the proposal lays out a 10-year plan to achieve 100% clean and renewable energy by 2030, a guaranteed living-wage job for anybody who needs one, and a just transition for both workers and frontline communities. This is the type of visionary thinking that reflects the passion and care for all of God’s creation that guided the life of St. Francis of Assisi.

The Green New Deal calls on the federal government to wean the United States from fossil fuels and curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions across the economy. It also aims to guarantee new high-paying jobs in clean energy industries. Included are proposals to mobilize all aspects of American society towards a goal of 100% clean and renewable energy, guarantee living-wage jobs and a just transition for both workers and frontline communities, all over the next 10 years. Our current COVID crisis has highlighted the fact that the status quo economy continues to leave behind the poor and marginalized while corporations and billionaires grow wealthier. Working class families, communities of color, and others are continually exposed to stagnant wages, toxic pollution, and dead-end jobs. The climate crisis only magnifies these systemic injustices. The Green New Deal is insightful as it recognizes the interconnectedness of all these issues and attempts to transform our economy from one based on exploitation of people and God’s creation to one where, as St. Clare challenges us, we become a mirror of Christ for others to see and follow by reflecting Christ in our lives, and helping build up the body of Christ through transformation in love.

Francis of Assisi was bold and prophetic in his vision. He understood the interconnectedness of all creation. The Green New Deal reflects this same visionary thinking combined with an understanding of the relational nature of creation. In Laudato Si, Pope Francis also reflected this vision when he said: “New processes taking shape cannot always fit into frameworks imported from outside; they need to be based in the local culture itself. As life and the world are dynamic realities, so our care for the world must also be flexible and dynamic.” (#144) He goes on to say: “All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution…We do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur.” (#114)

It is this type of bold visionary thinking that our nation so desperately needs today. Neither Congresswoman Cortez nor Senator Markey make claim to being Franciscan, but their vision as laid out in the Green New Deal clearly embraces the values and the vision of our Franciscan life and spirituality.

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

The Hill We Climb

Reflection for the Second Sunday in Lent by FAN Board Member, Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our February 22nd newsletter


Our readings for this Second Sunday of Lent provide us with varied and interesting insights into how God was experienced throughout the scriptures. They also call and challenge us to be attentive, clear and sensitive to how we embrace and express our attitudes and understanding of God’s presence in our lives and in our world today. This is a call to be the transfigured love and presence of God.

In the Book of Genesis, we know that God established a covenant relationship with Abraham. This covenant was a bond of divine-human love with not only Abraham but all of his descendants. Yet, in the first reading we hear of a God who puts Abraham to the test. Does Abraham measure-up? Do we measure-up? So many of us grew up being taught of a God who sat in judgment looking down from the heights of heaven recording all we did or didn’t do. Do we still hang onto this perception of a judging and testing God? Do we embody and witness to a God of merciful covenant love or one who stands in judgment of others?

Paul’s Letter to the Romans states, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” We grasp a message for a people emboldened with confidence in the presence of God despite the suffering and persecution they experienced under the reign of the Emperor Nero. It’s interesting that the biblical scholar, N. T. Wright used an image of a mountain peak when he identified the Letter to the Romans as Paul’s masterpiece presenting a challenge and spiritual vision to the faithful. He wrote of the Letter to the Romans, “It dwarfs most of his other writings, an Alpine peak towering over hills and villages.” The source of this mountain peak, emboldened confidence is surely the resurrected Christ, who conquered hatred, persecution and humiliating death to rise victorious and promises this new life to all who believe.

The gospel passage of the Transfiguration of Jesus gives us the ultimate mountain peak experience. “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” This event marked God’s covenantal union with Christ and all of us, for Jesus did not go up that mountain alone. His invitation to Peter, James and John was for them to witness and later preach that he, standing with Moses and Elijah, was the true fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. He is indeed the Christ, the Messiah of God.

Last month, we all witnessed the prophetic words of the young Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, a black woman, Harvard scholar and Catholic. Her words of wisdom, The Hill We Climb, still echo in my heart. “We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always just-ice.” “If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change, our children’s birthright.”

With the sacred scriptures, Amanda’s words call and challenge us to live and witness to the emboldened confidence of God’s presence. This covenantal love and mercy is within us and in all people, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, and even in the midst of dark and difficult times. It is the call to enter into the sufferings of others, to work for justice, to see and to be the transfigured and resurrected presence of Christ Jesus. Do we have the courage to live in the light of Christ and together work and climb to the peaks of justice and love?

May this be our life’s work, so that united with Amanda and all God’s people we may proclaim, “When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Margaret Magee OSF
Member of the FAN Board

Published in: on February 23, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Let us venture together from darkness into the light

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.


Image by Peter H from Pixabay

On Ash Wednesday, with dust-like ashes crossed upon our foreheads we were each invited to call to mind that this mortal body, this earthly life, is passing away – sooner than we realize – and that you and I would be wise to diligently prepare for eternity, to get our lives in God-like order: “Remember you are dust and to dust you will return.”

Another essential message presented to us as we received ashes is that we are to “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” Scripture often equates sin with darkness – the inability to see clearly, causing us to stumble around in this life with no clear direction; with no sure way to the truth that sets us free – free from enslaving deadly sin.

Left unchecked, with no repentance, our many collective individual sins metastasize into what St. Pope John Paul II called the “structures of sin” – those larger elements within our cultures, societies, governments and corporations that operate in the darkness of self-absorbed greed, power-lust, violence and indifference to suffering (see: https://bit.ly/3bgyjOh).

We desperately need to turn away from sin – both personal sin and the structures of sin. An honest look into many of our human-made institutions surely reveals decadent sinful structures that need conversion.

From abortion to war, from poverty and hunger to homelessness, from the refugee crisis to unfair trade agreements, from sweatshop labor to low frozen minimum wages, from the international arms trade to neighborhood gun violence, from nuclear weapons to astronomical military budgets, from lack of affordable health care to COVID-19, from drug abuse to insufficient drug treatment facilities, from crumbling infrastructures to unemployment, from racism to human trafficking and from environmental pollution to climate change … it is undeniable that our world is deeply suffering from human-caused structures of sin.

As the world struggles to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, we must even more importantly be determined to emerge – with the grace of God – from all of our structures of sin. Let us instead build structures worthy of human beings for the greater glory of God!

Our nation and our world desperately need a new standard to measure human progress: not gross national product, not the stock market and not military supremacy.

The new standard we need to creatively envision and fully implement is as old as the Sermon on the Mount and Christ’s final judgment of the nations scene in Matthew’s Gospel. And it’s as modern as Catholic social teaching (see: https://www.crs.org/resource-center/CST-101).

Pope Francis continues to urge us to see how all of humanity is interconnected. And that we are interconnected to all of creation. In order to survive and thrive, we need to join hands and hearts in prayer, and to tirelessly work together to build a world of love, social justice and peace.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

As we more faithfully walk in the Master’s footsteps, we become more and more radiantly like him. And we begin to better understand and more fully live out his related challenge to us: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. … Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

There is no better time than Lent to “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel!”

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 tmag6@comcast.net.

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

Living out the Covenant with God and All Creation

Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent by FAN Communications Coordinator, Janine Walsh

This reflection was originally posted in our February 15th newsletter


This week we begin our Lenten journey, a solemn religious observance where Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God. It is often thought of as a period to coincide with the forty days Jesus went into the desert and fasted, then faced three temptations of money, power and greed. These are the things that, had Jesus succumbed, would have led him away from God. These are the same three things that we are tempted with today. How easy it is for us to fall prey to those temptations.

In the first reading from Genesis, God said to Noah: “See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark. I will establish my covenant with you.” God did not establish a covenant with just humans. The Noahic covenant is with all of God’s creation. Several times in this reading God reiterates that the covenant is with all creatures, not just man. I often think this is one of those stories that we tend to gloss over. We focus on the rainbow and forget the wondrous beauty of a covenant with all living creatures. Why would God feel it necessary to include all living creatures in this Covenant? As St. Hildegard of Bingen, the 12th century mystic taught us; every creature has a spirituality. And as St Francis of Assisi believed, all of God’s creation are his brother and sister thereby, we are connected to all of creation through God. Think about how profound that is. It is not just about you and God, but you, God and all creation. This covenant should give us pause for reflection the next time we consider destroying the environment through fracking, building a pipeline or digging up coal and oil, or when we think nothing about polluting the water and air. We are breaking the covenant that God set down at the very start of the first book of our sacred scriptures.

In the Gospel reading from Mark we are told the “kingdom of God is at hand.” What kind of kingdom are we building? Is it a kingdom where we live in separation? A kingdom where we feel righteous while we destroy God’s creatures, where we think it is okay for some to starve while others waste? Are we building a kingdom where we feel that it is just about me and God?

As we begin our Lenten journey let us take time to reflect on how we can truly live out the covenant God made with us and all living creatures so as to build a kingdom of interconnectedness. A kingdom based on the fundamental truth that we are all brothers and sisters, connected to all creation through God.

Janine Walsh
FAN Communications Coordinator

Published in: on February 16, 2021 at 10:30 am  Comments (2)  

Seek the Common Good

Reflection for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Friend, Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our February 8th newsletter


Our readings this week teach us a lesson that was as applicable in Old Testament times as it is today; for humanity to survive and thrive we must choose to seek the common good instead of prioritizing our own desires.

Today, throughout the world people have been wearing masks and gloves, social distancing and quarantining themselves to protect those they love and for society at large. Our reading from the book of Leviticus reminds us that from early history, people have quarantined or separated themselves from those they love and the general population for the common good.

St. Paul warns us that self-seeking behavior will only serve to bring down society “Not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved.” (1 Cor. 10:33) In Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis asserts: “Radical individualism is a virus that is extremely difficult to eliminate, for it is clever. It makes us believe that everything consists in giving free rein to our own ambitions, as if by pursuing ever greater ambitions and creating safety nets we would somehow be serving the common good.”

This week’s Gospel will remind every Franciscan and Franciscan-hearted person of the story of St. Francis embracing the leper, whom society rejected. After embracing “what had seemed bitter to me”, Francis was transformed. The leper awakened the best in Francis as those that are the most vulnerable awaken the best in all who embrace them. Perhaps this is a lesson for all those who survive this pandemic. In his book Let Us Dream, Pope Francis states that the pandemic has unmasked how we have “shriveled within our bubbles of indifference” and self-absorption. The global pandemic has taught us that we are on a shared journey and that what happens to a person half a world away does impact us. The pandemic invites us to look at each person made in the image and likeness of God as integral to the whole of humanity, regardless of our racial, ethnic, economic, or ideological differences.

In Let Us Dream Pope Francis warns, “We must not let the current clarifying moment pass us by. Let it not be said, in years to come, that in response to the coronavirus crisis we failed to act to restore the dignity of our people.” In the spirit of our nonviolent Jesus, Saint Francis and Saint Clare, let us humbly seek the common good together.

When did you last choose to act for the common good instead of prioritizing your own desires?

When did you last have the opportunity and blessing to “embrace” the most vulnerable?

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Member

Published in: on February 9, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Slavery in the 21st century

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.


St. Josephine Bakhita

Slavery ended in the 19th century, right? Wrong.

It’s an easy enough mistake to make. After all, the end of America’s civil war and the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – both in 1865 – brought an end to slavery in the U.S. And the British Slavery Abolition Act in 1834 ended slavery in the West Indies, Mauritius, and South Africa.

But many countries didn’t outlaw slavery until the 20th century. In fact, it wasn’t until 1981 that Mauritania finally abolished slavery – becoming the last country on earth to end this dehumanizing practice.

But tragically, slavery did not completely end in 1981. It continues to this very day under a new name: Human Trafficking.

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transport, transfer, harboring or receipt of a person by such means as threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud or deception for the purpose of exploitation.”

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (https://humantraffickinghotline.org/what-human-trafficking), human trafficking is “the business of stealing freedom for profit.”

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) there are over 40 million victims of human trafficking throughout the world – including in our own communities – trapped in domestic servitude, agriculture work, fishing, manufacturing, hotel services, construction, hair and nail salons and prostitution.

And of all the sad forms of human trafficking, the worst of the worst are those that enslave children.

According to the ILO, the worst forms of child labor/trafficking that must be eliminated without delay include: the sale of children, debt bondage and serfdom, forced labor, forced recruitment for armed conflict, child pornography, child prostitution, and the drug trade.

Every year the Catholic Church designates Feb. 8 – the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was abducted as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy, later becoming a Canossian nun (see: https://bit.ly/2YFWKhZ and https://bit.ly/2NYaFhf) – as the “International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking.

Here are additional excellent resources in the fight against human trafficking – Polaris http://polarisproject.org, International Catholic Migration Commission https://bit.ly/3rwhkOv and the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section https://bit.ly/36APcBy.

The Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking is requesting our participation in their “Labeling for Lent” campaign. They are urging seafood producers, distributors and retailers to publicize through labeling, or other means, efforts they are making to fight human trafficking in their supply chains. Please sign their petition to Sysco – a major global food distributing corporation (see: https://bit.ly/3oOv0Cq).

To report suspected human trafficking activities in the U.S. call the Homeland Security investigative tip line (1-866-347-2423). Or call your local police department.

To help someone in the U.S. who may be the victim of modern-day slavery, call, or urge them to call, the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888). This hotline has multi-language capabilities.

For help outside the U.S., go to the Global Modern Slavery Directory website (http://www.globalmodernslavery.org/).

We have a lot of tools here to help us end the scourge of modern-day slavery. Let’s get involved. And let’s get our parishes involved. Let’s refuse to be indifferent to human trafficking!

For as Pope Francis said, “It is not possible to remain indifferent before the knowledge that human beings are bought and sold like goods.”

FAN Director of Advocacy, Sr. Maria Orlandini is our representative in the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT) and will be part of a prayer service on February 8th. Click here for more information.

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 tmag6@comcast.net.

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

He drove out many demons

Reflection for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.

This reflection was originally posted in our February 1st newsletter


In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear of Jesus “driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.” There is nothing ordinary about driving out demons, not today nor even in the time of Jesus. In our world today, many use the word ‘demons’ to make fun of a believer. Or as part of a spooky movie or novel.

But in reading about the time of Jesus, his life had many remarkable things that confound our present world. His Conception, his parents being warned and told to go to Egypt. Again at his start of ministry, his Baptism was marked by a heavenly sign and hearing a voice say, “This is my Son for whom I am well pleased.” Signs and wonders were a central part of Jesus’s ministry. In fact He commanded the Apostles and Disciples to “Go and do the same.”

“Salvation” in Greek translates into “healing” and “justice”. What we do in Jesus’ name is to help those who need help, either personally or as a group and to speak the Good News.

I recently read a study that Churches and Parishes made up mostly of people who had arrived as part of a migration from a few generations past, had never met a migrant, or listened to someone who is trying to make a better life for their families.

The Parish that our community worked in most recently was made up from the first Irish migration. Then there was a migration from Quebec of families looking to work in the mills. Years later, the migration from Central America arrived, followed by the Vietnamese and then the Bosnians. More recently, this Parish has welcomed African families as well as those from the continued migration from Central and South America.

Not all the immigrant groups were welcomed by the community. But each group has somehow held on. Some families have grown and moved away. But when new immigrants arrived, those who came before had forgotten their experiences.

We learned the need to bring the entire community together to Worship on special Feast Days and Holy Days. We learned to gather into small groups to hear the story of the recently arrived and to help them with their needs. It was a blessing, a miracle that many minds and hearts were touched and turned.

We lost some people who said this group or that other group got special attention. So, it’s important to be able to share one’s story and to be listened to.

Today’s demons that need to be cast out from the midst of our society are greed, thinking others are different, and a resistance to having justice reign down to us all.

Pope Francis in his latest book, “Let us Dream” talks about how the Poor and those living on the margins are to help us move closer to God by their stories and their allowing us to become a collaborator instead of a helper.

May we see this come about, I pray.

For those on the margins of society that they may feel welcomed and show us how to live a better life.

For our struggle with a national dialogue that brings us together for the common good.

That you and I can follow the example of St. Francis to embrace the “lepers” in our lives.

That, like St. Clare, those who can not embrace and dialogue and fight for justice for all, can join us in prayer.

Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.
FAN Board Member

Published in: on February 2, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Songs in a minor key

By Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF is a Sister of St. Francis of Philadelphia and the Associate Director of Franciscan Action Network. This poem of hers was recently published in their Congregation’s e-newsletter.


Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

“Sing joyfully to the Lord!”
cries the psalmist.
Yes, desires the soul–
but some days are just off key.
coffee pot dies
traffic crawls
internet shuts down
CRACK!
Twenty small bodies bloody a classroom floor.
BOOM!
A fiery explosion adds to mounting Syrian deaths.
POW!
Another blow struck to the common good in the Capitol boxing ring.
The song must be sung,
but some days can bear only
songs in a minor key.

-Marie Lucey, OSF

Find out more about the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia: https://osfphila.org/

Published in: on February 1, 2021 at 3:31 pm  Leave a Comment