The Catholic Day of Action: My First Disobedience

by Michele Dunne, OFS

Michele Dunne (pictured below with Patrick Carolan) is a Secular Franciscan and an active member of the Franciscan Action Network. She lives in Washington DC with her husband.


“Who will speak if we don’t?”–we sang the Marty Haugen song repeatedly during the press conference portion of the Catholic Day of Action to protest detention of immigrant children in Washington DC July 18, in between inspiring talks by Catholic sisters, priests, FAN Executive Director Patrick Carolan, and Claribel Guzman from El Salvador, who is facing deportation. After the outdoor rally, we headed into the Senate Russell Office Building rotunda for a civil disobedience action—my first ever.

While I have participated in a number of large marches over the past few years, I never really considered showing up for smaller protests that carried the real possibility of arrest until recently. After all, I work full time for a non-profit peace-oriented organization already… and I would have to take time off to protest…and my employer might not like me getting arrested…and my husband might disapprove…and my young adult children might be scandalized, and…well, there were plenty of excuses.

At the same time, staying within my comfort zone was becoming untenable.  My work on the Middle East still seemed important but insufficient; what was I doing about peace, human rights, and social justice right here in the United States? Yes, I prayed, voted, supported organizations such as FAN doing good work, and kept informed about the issues, but I increasingly felt I should do something more—especially as a professed member of the  Secular Franciscan Order since 2016. Our Rule is bracing on this point: “Let them individually and collectively be in the forefront in promoting justice by the testimony of their human lives and their courageous initiatives. Especially in the field of public life, they should make definite choices in harmony with their faith.”

Then in the summer of 2018, an invitation arrived. An email from FAN announced an upcoming pilgrimage to Assisi from an organization called Pace e Bene, with the express aim of connecting Franciscan values and spirituality to a life of nonviolence.

The trip in June 2019 was like a week in heaven: visits to the major sites in the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare, daily mass with invigorating homilies by Rev. John Dear, lectures by Ken Butigan bringing out the revolutionary social and peacemaking initiatives of the two saints, deep conversations with fellow pilgrims who had varied experiences in spirituality and activism—and all while surrounded by the matchless beauty of the medieval city of Assisi and Umbrian countryside. I came away feeling encouraged and inspired, accompanied on the journey by new friends.

So when Patrick Carolan invited me, just a few days after my return from Assisi, to the July 18 protest, I suspected the time for action had come. Still, I was nervous.  Would a protest against detention of immigrant children really do any good? Would I be glad or sorry at the end of the day that I participated? I prayed for guidance over several days.

After participating in a webinar for potential participants, some of my fears were allayed. The protest seemed well planned, and the organizers presented a clear theory of change: we would do the civil disobedience to show that some Catholics were willing to take risks to speak out for immigrant children—and hopefully to inspire more Catholics to speak up as well.  The organizers were clear about what would happen at the protest, what the risks were for those who would be arrested, and what the police processing would involve. They told us to bring photo ID, $50 to pay the likely misdemeanor fine, a Metro card to get home—and not much else.

Organizers and protestors gathered early on July 18 at a church near the Capitol to meet in person and go over the details.  Asked for a show of hands, a large number said we were doing civil disobedience for the first time.

After the press conference on the lawn, we headed into the Russell building and found the rotunda. We donned signs with photos of children who had died in detention and formed a large circle, with several participants lying down to form a cross in the center. After a blessing by a priest, we chanted a few slogans and started praying a rosary—and almost immediately the police interrupted with a warning to disperse. By the third warning, those who were not willing to be arrested had left.  When I saw Sister Marie Lucey of FAN being led off in handcuffs, I knew it was getting real. The police were as courteous as they could have been, with many looking uncomfortable arresting nuns in veils, priests in Roman collars, Franciscan friars in brown robes, and lay people praying the Hail Mary.

Nothing quite prepared me for the disempowered feeling of having my wrists zip tied behind my back.  There followed several hours of police processing: transport to a police station, pat-downs, belongings put into plastic bags, sitting on folding chairs in a large, semi-open room that was very warm but made tolerable with fans and bottled water. My fellow detainees did not complain, but provided cheerful encouragement and interesting conversation—particularly the large contingent of Sisters of Mercy.  As each detainee finished the paperwork, paid the fine, and was released, the remaining cheered and applauded, while even the police officers grinned at our good cheer. Outside the station, protest organizers were waiting to offer water, snacks, rides, and thanks. I rode the Metro home with one of the other 70 people arrested, and we were surprised to discover that we were fellow parishioners.

I arrived home, where my husband promptly ordered my favorite pizza and listened to the story of the day. While I had feared he would disapprove of my participating in civil disobedience, he told me he respected what I had done.

As I relaxed in the evening, I recalled that during my Assisi pilgrimage I had asked Pace e Bene training coordinator Veronica Pelicaric how I could discern whether to undertake greater activism.  She quoted to me civil rights leader Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.”

Although the Catholic Day of Action left me perspired, exhausted, and hungry, did it make me come alive?  Yes indeed, I think it did.  After all, whether on detention of children or any other important issue of peace and justice, who will speak if I don’t? 

Published in: on July 22, 2019 at 9:06 am  Leave a Comment  

The Green New Deal needs Catholic support

Henry Estrada is an intern for the Franciscan Action Network, currently a rising senior at the Catholic University of America majoring in Politics.


In Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si, he calls upon the world to care for the earth and its creatures.  This call for environmental caring is replete in Genesis, when the Lord commanded Adam to care and till the Garden of Eden.[1]  Pope Francis makes it clear that the message in Genesis is one of caring for His creation, rather than one of domination.  He describes the idea of dominating the earth being biblically sanctioned as a “wrong understanding of the relationship between human beings and the world.”[2]  The message is clear to Catholics like me; care for God’s creation is a moral requirement for all of us.  The message is also meant for those who are not Catholic, as this letter is addressed not only to Catholics, but also to the wider human community.  Although his encyclical was published in 2015, things have unfortunately taken a turn for the worse.  Not only have the effects of climate change impacted the global community, but it has also harmed my own state, Maryland.

The moral requirement to care for God’s creation has been ignored for far too long in our world.  Natural disasters have gotten deadlier and become more frequent[3], natural resources have become scarce due to environmental changes caused by climate change[4], and pollution is wreaking havoc in communities in our very own states[5].  The issue strikes a personal chord in my home state of Maryland, where climate change and environmental degradation has harmed our Chesapeake Bay.  High rainfall caused by climate change has caused the bay to increase in sea level[6], as well as more nutrient pollution which in turn may create the bay’s largest “dead zone” in decades.  A dead zone is caused when “excess nutrients enter the water through polluted runoff from cities, suburbs and rural land, and feed naturally occurring algae. This then fuels the growth of algae blooms. The blooms, which then die and decompose, deplete the dissolved oxygen in the water. This creates hypoxic—or low-oxygen—conditions that suffocate the aquatic life that depend on the oxygen to survive.”[7] 

The issue of climate change does not only impact the home either.  Climate change is a phenomenon that impacts the entire earth, thus the need for lasting action in our states is necessary in order to do our part in preserving our planet.  Indeed, Pope Francis argues that not only must man use technology to fix the issue of climate change, but that a fundamental change in the human morality must be undergone in order to truly prevent catastrophe.  What Pope Francis means by this, is that we must move away from the activities which cause us to harm the earth; namely greed and pride.  In wanting the latest phone, the best meals, and the greatest vacations, we contribute to a culture of excess and materialism that not only harms our environment; but also harms our morality by morphing it into one of entitlement.  In believing ourselves to be superior to all things, we forget that we are children of God, children who know nothing yet believe we know everything.  This is exactly what led us to our international crisis to begin with.  As Catholics, we are called to heed the words of our Pope and to live out the message of love for God’s creation, this message also extends to the greater human community as well.  It is an issue the Pope knows requires all of us to address.  The need to right the wrongs we have done in the past, and continue to do today, is exactly why the Green New Deal is an important turning point in American politics.

The Green New Deal has proven itself to be an important catalyst in the congress as a conversation starter.  While political commentators poke fun at the revolutionary ideas found in the Green New Deal, members of congress on both sides have come to understand the importance of the environment and the issue of climate change.  This is evidenced by the introduction of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act in the House by the Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan caucus.  Both of these pieces of legislation attempt to transform the energy usage in our country to a more environmentally friendly one, however, these reforms cannot be passed unless legislators understand that Pope Francis is right when he speaks about the need for transformation of human morality.  There will always be climate change deniers unless legislators convince their constituents of the moral good that comes from protecting the environment.

In order to live up to the ideals of the Green New Deal, legislators must advocate for various faith principles so that legislation is made comprehensibly and morally right.  One of these faith principles is a consistent ethic of life, one in which the culture of life is prized about the culture of death.  By actively following an ethic of life, legislators protect our environment because of the inherent value of human life and the life of God’s other creations.  Another important faith principle to keep in mind is that of interdependence across boundaries.  Dialogue with those who have experienced climate change differently is important because it not only leads to comprehensive legislation, but it also enforces the idea that we depend on each other in order to solve the large issue of climate change.  Compassion and fairness are also important for those hesitant to see the value of environmental preservation, because of its potential to ruin his/her livelihood.  Some may not see the importance of fighting climate change due to the immediate threat of unemployment that environmental legislation may cause.  It is important not to vilify these people with genuine concern, but rather to dialogue and ensure fairness by assisting them in the transition into the new energy sector.  This leads to the next principle, restoration and renewal.  Not only does this principle encompass the renewal of the economy to a more environmentally friendly one, but it is also meant to restore the loss that people will feel in the new era of the Green New Deal.  Restoring is equipping the disenfranchised with the training and schooling necessary to transitioning them into the Green New Deal economy.  Finally, truth and science reminds the legislator to look towards the scientific consensus, so that an effective response to climate change can be made.  All of these principles depend on one another, similarly to how legislators depend on us to keep them accountable and on topic.

The need for action is now.  The constituents to these legislators are tasked with getting the movement moving.  We live in a representative democracy, where representatives are chosen to represent the interests of their constituents.  If we do not participate in the political system, then the Green New Deal craze will become a simple footnote in American history, future generations do not want to live in a world polluted and ravaged, we owe it to them and God to do right.  This is why it is important to contact your legislator and tell them of your concern for our earth.  It is also important to get communities of faith involved in this effort, Pope Francis has demonstrated the need for action, it is now our turn as religious people to take his universal call and be the change God wishes for us to become.  This is why I am currently an intern at the Franciscan Action Network, which has given me the opportunity to fight for environmental justice by participating in a network of activism all throughout the Washington D.C. area. Not everyone needs to become an intern, but we must all come together to care for God’s creation.


[1] Gn 2:15

[2] The Holy Father Francis. May 24, 2015. Laudato si’. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html. June 24, 2019.

[3] The Data Team. August 29, 2017. Weather-related disasters are increasing. https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2017/08/29/weather-related-disasters-are-increasing. June 24, 2019.

[4] Kabul, Shadi Khan Saif. June 23, 2019. The Ticking Bomb of Water Scarcity in India. https://www.fairplanet.org/editors-pick/the-ticking-bomb-of-water-scarcity-in-india/. June 24, 2019.

[5] Smith, Mitch. Bosman, Julie. Davey, Monica. April 25, 2019. Flint’s Water Crisis Started 5 Years Ago. It’s Not Over. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/us/flint-water-crisis.html. June 24, 2019.

[6] Felver, Rachel. May 21, 2019.  The grade of the Chesapeake Bay remains a ‘C’.  https://www.chesapeakebay.net/news/blog/the_grade_of_the_chesapeake_bay_remains_a_c. June 24, 2019.

[7] Shonbrun-Siege, Carly. June 12, 2019. Experts predict largest dead zone in decades. https://www.chesapeakebay.net/news/blog/experts_predict_largest_dead_zone_in_decades. June 24, 2019

Published in: on July 19, 2019 at 9:15 am  Leave a Comment  

I Choose Both

Reflection for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Communications Coordinator, Janine Walsh

This reflection was originally posted in our July 15th newsletter


This week’s Gospel is the familiar story of Mary and Martha. Several lessons can be derived from this modest story. It starts out simply, “Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.” (LK 10:38) My practical self yearns for more detail. How did this welcome happen? Did Martha happen to see Jesus and his disciples walking along and call out to Him? Would I ever have the courage to do such a thing?

The story continues with Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to him speak, while Martha works hard as the hostess, making sure all her guests are comfortable. I imagine she recognizes the significance of this band of men and wants to impress them, offering fine food and drink. If I were in this situation, my own mind would have a constant nagging worry, wondering if they are (as the kids say today) judging me for any number of things: the cleanliness of the house, the quality of the food, the comfort of the chairs, etc.

Having hosted dinner parties in my past, I understand Martha wanting a bit of help from her sister. Putting together a satisfying meal for 15 is certainly much easier with assistance. However, when she approaches Jesus about it, he gently offers her the path to peace: “There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (LK 10:42)

One lesson I take away from this story is that all we need is Jesus. The state of our house, the quality of our food, all our possessions…these things don’t matter. In my day-to-day life, if I listen to Jesus like Mary, and be grateful for what I have, that is all I need. However, I also feel that in society today, we must take the words of Jesus and turn them into action, like Martha. I am conscious of the promise of the psalmist, we “who [do] justice will live in the presence of the Lord.” For me, I choose to do both.

Janine Walsh
FAN Communications Coordinator

Published in: on July 16, 2019 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Lessons for Earth 50 years after first moon landing

By Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose column is 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.


If you were at least 10-years-old on July 20, 1969, you will surely remember that your eyes were glued to a black and white television set watching what no eyes had ever seen before.

You will remember, as I do, the excitement of seeing on screen animation of a lunar module steadily descending toward a first ever human moon landing, together with voices from Mission Control in Houston communicating with the lunar module crew, and all topped off with narration from the legendary American newscaster Walter Cronkite (see: https://bit.ly/2DbxVy8).

But what viewers around the world didn’t know was that lunar module astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were in trouble. As they approached the moon’s surfaced they discovered that they were off course from their preprogrammed landing site and headed toward a field of boulders and craters. Commander Armstrong took over the controls and flew the lunar module – named “Eagle” – manually in search for an open level spot.

With fuel diminishing quickly Armstrong sited his spot. The descent engine was then fired up, but it kicked up so much lunar dust that visibility became extremely poor. Armstrong had to use a few boulders piercing through the dust cloud to estimate the distance from the moon’s surface.

Shortly after Mission Control’s warning that they had just 30 seconds of fuel remaining, Neil Armstrong calmly uttered these famous words: “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Wow!

But the excitement didn’t stop there. Read on at Space.com (https://bit.ly/2H9LNxj).

Space and space exploration is fascinating; especially since it easily helps one to see our awesome God reflected in his awesome creation!

And so, while I am hopeful that humankind will seriously pursue travel out into the cosmos, I am hoping far more importantly that all of us will urgently commit ourselves first to cleaning up and protecting our common home – planet Earth!

Pope Francis in the first ever papal environmental encyclical (“Laudato Si’: On Care of our Common Home”) writes , “Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth” (see: https://bit.ly/2LqORVS).

The Holy Father added, “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system” (see: http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/).

“The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels” – that is coal, oil and gas.

The pope urgently calls for global conversion from the use of these fossil fuels to “clean renewable energy” – wind, solar and geothermal (see Earth Policy Institute http://bit.ly/1JaEb9B).

Pope Francis urges, “Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

In 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy successfully challenged America to “commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out [the 60s], of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”

Now let’s do something far greater. Let’s work and pray to achieve by the end of the coming decade the full hearing and healing of “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”

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

Published in: on July 12, 2019 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Why We Need to Fight for Undocumented Migrants and Their Children

By Catherine Juliano

Catherine Juliano is a math and political science major at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. She is assisting our communications coordinator this summer as an intern.

Recently, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General and House Democrats issued reports regarding the horrific conditions that exist in Border Patrol stations (pictured) along the southern border of the United States.  The migrant centers are filled with children squeezed together on floors in holding cells that were never intended to keep human beings, let alone children, for months on end in the first place.  Yet despite these official findings and even video documentation provided by United States Representative Joaquin Castro, the Trump administration continues to portray migrants as dangerous criminals, job stealers, and rapists who are experiencing better conditions in the migrant camps than they would have at home.  Clearly, America is in an information war in which facts get distorted and innocent human beings (even children) get stereotyped with a broad brush of ignorance and hate. 

The Catholic Church believes that every human life is sacred.  In our society, human dignity is under attack.  Political parties and administrations cannot decide for themselves whose lives are important and whose are not.  Only God can do that—and as His children, we are called to love and serve those who are outcast in the same way that St. Francis was called to care for lepers.  Francis walked away from his family’s fortune and instead positioned himself as a poor person so he could live among the poorest of the poor, the outcasts, and the forgotten ones of society.  If he were still alive, he would be in those camps today, caring for the people in them. 

Migrants have no legal standing and no claim to power.  They are merely trying to survive, and they are the ones Christ blesses, again and again, especially the children. As it is mentioned in the Gospel of Mark: “Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.’” (MK 9: 36-37).

The Franciscan Action Network (FAN) has joined multiple Catholic organizations in planning a campaign to call for an end to the abuse of immigrant children and families by the U.S. government. The first phase is prayerful direct action in Washington DC, at 10am on July 18th. We will gather to call on this Administration to end the abuse and detention of children. The event will include prayer, ritual, and a call to action by Catholic leaders. We hope you will consider joining us. Click here for more information.

Published in: on July 10, 2019 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Will you See the Image and Likeness of God?

Reflection for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, David Seitz, OFS

This reflection was originally posted in our July 8th newsletter


God is merciful. When you consider the mission of FAN, he threw me an easy softball regarding reflecting on his Word and its connection with all of us who support bringing about a more just and peaceful world.

The reading this week from Deuteronomy chapter 30 sets the tone. Moses addressed the people “If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God and keep his commandments and statutes” he continues a few verses later saying that the commandments of God are already in your hearts you only have to carry it out. What a great testament to the natural law, that law that is in our hearts because every person is created in the image and likeness of God.

The Gospel reading is from Luke, 10. The Good Samaritan. I could probably just end the reflection here. The story sums up our call as Christians, Franciscans, and quite frankly, the call to all women and men regardless of creed. We know this story so well. It is often quoted as a call to action and a call to conversion of heart in the care of our fellow human beings. Prior to the story, a scholar of the law tells Jesus that the law is summed up by “You shall love the LORD your God…and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus lets him know that this is right thinking.

I found it very striking as I prayed over this reading. Jesus did not identify the man who was beaten and robbed as coming from any particular background, he simply identifies him as “a man”. I think our minds, conditioned to read the scriptures from a Judeo-Christian perspective, immediately identify him as Jewish. The priest and the Levite ignore his need. The outsider, the Samaritan, comes to his aid. So, who is this man?

I’m going to answer that question by referring back to the reflection I wrote for the 3rd Sunday of Advent. This man is “All people. The immigrant. The migrant worker. The person exploited by human trafficking. The falsely accused. The persecuted. The LGBT community. The republican. The democrat. The soldier. The peacemaker. The protester. The person who disagrees with me. The corporate executive. The homeless person. The sick. The orphan. The Muslim. The Hindu. The Buddhist. The Atheist. The Pharisee. The Saint. The Sinner.”

Will you be the Samaritan, the outsider who provides aid to those in need regardless of their creed or background? Will you see the Image and Likeness of God in those who are suffering and look after their needs?

I want to identify one such Good Samaritan. On June 2, 2019, I was horrified to read about the plight of the Good Samaritan, Scott Warren, of Ajo Arizona. Scott is on trial and facing up to 20 years in prison for providing water and clothing to two individuals from Honduras who crossed the border and were in need of water. He is charged with the crime of “harboring undocumented aliens.” The act of giving drink to the thirsty and clothing to the naked could land him in jail. Yes, in these United States of America, the home of the brave and the land of the free, Scott’s freedom is in jeopardy for being one of the “brave”.

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” -Elmer Davis

Jesus taught that the world hated Him and would hate us too if we follow him. He also taught that his kingdom is not of this world. Sisters and brothers, we belong first to the kingdom of God which has no boundaries. We may live in a world that hates us for living the Gospel, we may feel overwhelmed by the politics and power that needs reform to become more just. What are we to do? We may not as individuals be able to change the macro issues that cause some to lack the basic essentials of life, but we can care for those who God puts in our path. Christians living out their faith in the ordinary circumstance of life changed Rome, the most powerful country in its day. Live your faith in the everyday circumstance of life; that will convert hearts. Over time, we will not need legislation and big government to address the ills of society because there will be an army of converted hearts living the Gospel. However, legislation and government support of freedom and liberty are essential, and so the mission of FAN continues to be the second foot of serving those in need; helping to create a just and peaceful society by advocating for changes that can, at the macro level, reduce the number of those individually in need.

David Seitz, OFS
FAN Board Member

Published in: on July 9, 2019 at 9:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Is this the Kingdom Jesus Had in Mind?

Reflection for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN executive director, Patrick Carolan

This reflection was originally posted in our July 1st newsletter


These past few weeks we have heard the terrible stories and seen the pictures in the news about how migrant children are treated in detention facilities. Our conscience, our very being should be outraged hearing the reports of the inhumane conditions that children live under while in the custody of the federal government at the border. As the USCCB said in a recent statement: “horrific images of Oscar Martinez and his daughter Angie Valeria who drowned in the Rio Grande Valley while attempting to flee persecution and enter the United States. This image cries to heaven for justice.” As Christians we should be angry and enraged. But we hear also from folks like Fox & Friends’ co-host Brian Kilmeade who said “Like it or not, these are not our kids. Show them compassion, but it’s not like he’s doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas. These are people from another country.” Or Congressman Burgess who suggested that it is not our problem and the children can just leave if they do not like the facilities. We are talking about children as young as one year old.

We also hear from folks, claiming to be Christian, that they are here illegally so they deserve whatever happens to them. Except of course seeking asylum is legal. Asylum seekers must be in the U.S. or at a port of entry to apply for, or request the opportunity to apply for asylum. You cannot apply for asylum, then when it is approved, come to the US. You first have to come to the US and then seek asylum. This is not only US law but international law as well. So when we hear people who claim to be Christian say they should ‘follow the law’, we should remind them that these asylum seekers are following the law.

Can we really claim to be a moral people while allowing these horrific conditions? Can we claim to follow the Gospels? Do we believe that Jesus would say its their fault they should not have come here? In our second reading this week, Paul says in his letter to the Galatians, “For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation.” Consider: what is that new creation that Paul speaks of? Earlier in the same letter (Gal 5:4), Paul says bluntly: “You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” Our Gospel reading from Luke ends with Jesus telling us that “The kingdom of God is at hand for you.” (Lk 10:9) I am pretty sure this is not the Kingdom Jesus had in mind when he said that.

Patrick Carolan
FAN Executive Director

Published in: on July 2, 2019 at 10:00 am  Comments (1)  

Happy Anniversary, Laudato Si!

By Catherine Juliano

Catherine Juliano is a math and political science major at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. She is assisting our communications coordinator this summer as an intern.


On June 18th 2015, Pope Francis released his historic encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home. We mark the 4th anniversary of this daring call from Pope Francis to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to join the fight against climate change. The letter was pivotal in building momentum for the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement and for the sustainable development goals issued by the United Nations in January of 2016.

What is Laudato Si?

It’s a papal encyclical, AKA a “circular letter,” and like other encyclicals, its contents were meant to circle the world. The Latin words in the title translate to mean “Praised Be.” The title reminds us of Saint Francis’ own words in “The Canticle of the Creatures”, which was a song St. Francis wrote when he was sick and recovering at San Damiano in an effort to express gratitude to God for all of his creations in nature. The Pope cites Francis in his letter: “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs” (cited in Laudato Si 1), and then the Pope goes on to tell us that “this sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her” (Laudato Si 2). In the letter, Pope Francis is clear: not only is the science of climate change real, but it is a moral issue that must be addressed in order to protect the Earth and everyone on it. Pollution, the water crisis, the loss of biodiversity, the decline of human life, the breakdown of society, the disproportionate impact these events have on the poor, and global inequality in general “have caused sister earth, along with all the abandoned world, to cry out, pleading that we take another course” (Laudato Si VI, 53). The Pope calls for dialogue since the prevalent indifference and materialism we see actually make environmental problems worse.

What can I do?

In his many presentations, former Vice President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Al Gore structures his comments around three ideas: “Can We Change?”, “Must We Change?” and “Will We Change?” The answer to all three questions is a resounding YES. All of us need to continue our valuable work towards sustainable development to ensure that the Pope’s words are honored, that the Paris Agreement’s vision of a climate safe world is met, and that UN’s Sustainable Goals are reached. Diego Arguedas Ortiz of the BBC suggests “Ten Simple Ways to Act on Climate Change”. Today, we can work together to save our planet and all of her creatures. As St. Francis said, “Praise and bless my Lord, and give Him thanks,/And serve him with great humility.”

Published in: on June 28, 2019 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Independence Day 2019: Where do we go from here?

By Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose column is 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.


A birthday is naturally a time to celebrate the God-given gift of life – the past year, as well as all the years the Almighty has blessed each of us with.

A birthday also presents each of us with an ideal opportunity to honestly and humbly assess where we are in life. It’s a time to prayerfully discern in what direction is God calling us to go?

And as it is with each of our individual birthdays, so too it is with our nation’s birthday.

As Americans know, July 4 is the birthday of the United States. And most people living in the U.S. have much to celebrate. For example, the Bill of Rights which enshrines basic human freedoms of religion, speech, the press, peaceful assembly and the liberty to petition the government over grievances are model qualities in a nation.

But in the midst of celebration, we would be wise to also pay attention to the other side of the coin.

Such slogans as “My country right or wrong” and “America love it or leave it” are not patriotic; in truth they hurt the health of the United States. Americans who espouse such feelings ignore the nation’s many critical ills.

If a loved-one has a serious addiction, would it be wise and loving to say my spouse or sister, teenage son or best friend is totally fine and healthy, and thus ignore their addiction? Of course not!

And so likewise it is with one’s country.

Americans who truly love the U.S., and people of every nation who truly love their country, will honestly and maturely identify the ills of the nation and strive to treat those sicknesses with loving life-giving remedies that help all people to be well – in body, mind and soul.

In a nation and world that in so many ways flows against the Gospel of Jesus Christ, faithful disciples must be countercultural!

We need to tirelessly urge the U.S. and other nations to create the political, economic, cultural and spiritual conditions where abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, the death penalty, racism, poverty, hunger, unsafe drinking water, homelessness, unavailable health care, poor education, unemployment/underemployment, illicit drug use, climate change/global warming, weapons manufacturing, the arms trade, war preparation, waging wars and callousness toward migrants and refugees no longer exist.

And instead, we need to urgently develop national and international policies and social conditions which comprehensively nurture social justice, peace and love for all people – born and unborn – as well as for the common earth-home we all share.

Twelve years ago I had the great privilege of interviewing the late courageous peace-activist Father Daniel Berrigan, S.J. With penetrating wisdom he said, “We must ask ourselves are we Christians who happen to be Americans, or are we Americans who happen to be Christian?” This is a crucial question! A crucial question for our salvation and for the salvation of our nation. And it is a question which is equally applicable to Christians in every nation.

So, what really matters to you? Having a “patriotism” that is blind to the ills of the nation, or a faith in Christ and the advancement of the kingdom of God on earth?

Do we allow political, economic and cultural beliefs to trump the Good News of Jesus? Or in a turbulent world, is the Gospel the rock-solid foundation upon which you and I stand?

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

Published in: on June 27, 2019 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

I will follow you wherever you go

Reflection for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Vice President, Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.

This reflection was originally posted in our June 23rd newsletter

The readings this week are not speaking about the usual things we talk about.

In fact most of Sacred Scripture’s language is gently potent. But biblical texts are not usually wordy, nor do the biblical characters really elaborate their feelings. Words are offered to be pondered, measured and considered and most importantly to be responded to. In other words, to have us reflective upon their meaning in our lives and more especially in the times we live in.

Take the first reading, the prophet Elijah came to anoint Elisha to take his place as God’s prophet. Elisha’s reply to his summing the role was a desire to first say goodbye to his family and then respond to God’s anointing. But Elijah calls him to “Go back again; for what have I done to you.” Elisha understands, and slaughters his animals, cooks them and feeds them to his people.

It is for this same reason why Jesus in this week’s Gospel rejects the question asked by James and John as they passed through the Samaritan village. The choice of following Jesus is a personal one and each individual is responsible for the choice that they have made.

Saying yes to God’s call in our lives is always a difficult choice. Many times that call comes to us to drop what is good, and to do something different. It is always a difficult choice and may always remain an inner struggle in our lives. But the good news is that, in the midst of our struggles God walks with us and calls us to follow Him wherever He goes.

Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.
FAN Board Vice President

Published in: on June 25, 2019 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment