Fight For $15

People all around the country rallied last week for better pay for low-wage workers. Outside our local McDonald’s, fast food workers, crossing guards, home health aides and adjunct professors told what it’s like to live on poverty wages. Day after day, they’re faced with hard choices – choosing whether to pay the rent, pay the electric bill, or put food on the table.

They aren’t teenagers. They’re people with families trying to get by. They’ve worked in their jobs for 12, 15, even 20 years, and they’re still being paid minimum wage. They require public assistance to make ends meet. Meanwhile, the corporations that employ them rake in record profits.

What kind of people are we when we stand silently by as people struggle on poverty wages? What kind of people are we when we try to justify it in our own minds and pretend it’s the natural order of things? What kind of people are we to let soulless corporations get away with it?

It’s time to bring an end to corporate greed. It’s time for us to demand that corporations stop exploiting their workers and start paying them what they deserve. Forget “minimum” wage. Every worker deserves a living wage – enough to cover basic necessities, food, clothing, housing, child care, transportation. It’s time for corporations to start paying their employees enough to live.

In “Economic Justice for All”, the US Catholic bishops wrote, “…the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community. The extent of their suffering is a measure of how far we are from being a true community of persons.”

How far we are, indeed, from being a true community.


When the Stranger says: “What is the meaning of this city?
Do you huddle close together because you love each other?”
What will you answer? “We all dwell together
To make money from each other”? or “This is a community”?

T.S. Eliot
Choruses from ‘The Rock’

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Remembering Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem some 2000 years ago, I offer you “Benedictus” by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins from “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace.”

“Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini!
Hosanna in excelsis!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!”

The full piece with its haunting cello solo is performed here by the Plymouth Choir in Lincoln, Nebraska:

You’ll also enjoy the vocal portion only, performed here by The Priests:

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Sr. Mary Ann Walsh: A Humble Way of Mercy

Sr. Mary Ann Walsh: A Humble Way of Mercy.

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We’re Feeling Left Out

Thank you to my friend Jean for sending me this article from the New York Times — “Women See Themselves as Left Out Amid Talk of Change in Catholic Church.”   Here’s the link —

The article mentions that Pope Francis once described women on a committee as “the strawberries on the cake.”  Huh?  Strawberries on the cake?  I had to check it out.  In fact, he made the comment in remarks to the International Theological Commission in December.  His full sentence was, “In this light, within the increasingly diverse composition of the Commission, I would like to note the increased presence of women — still not too many — they are the strawberries on the cake, but we need more — a presence that becomes an invitation to reflect on the role that women can and should play in the field of theology.”

I’ll go with “we need more.”  The church needs our presence, not just in theology, but in every aspect of ministry and decision-making in the church.

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Religious leaders gather for the eradication of modern slavery

This is an excerpt from the Vatican News Service:

Vatican City, 2 December 2014 – For the first time in history, the leaders of the world’s major religions gathered together in the Vatican this morning with the aim of eliminating modern slavery.  Today, International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, a ceremony was held for the signing of the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery.  Following is the full text of the Declaration:

“We, the undersigned, are gathered here today for a historic initiative to inspire spiritual and practical action by all global faiths and people of good will everywhere to eradicate modern slavery across the world by 2020 and for all time.

“In the eyes of God, each human being is a free person, whether girl, boy, woman or man, and is destined to exist for the good of all in equality and fraternity.  Modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity, is a crime against humanity.

“We pledge ourselves here today to do all in our power, within our faith communities and beyond, to work together for the freedom of all those who are enslaved and trafficked so that their future may be restored.  Today we have the opportunity, awareness, wisdom, innovation and technology to achieve this human and moral imperative.”

The Declaration was signed by:

Catholicism:  Pope Francis

Hinduism:  Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma)

Buddhism:  Venerable Bhikkhuni Thich Nu Chan Khong, representing Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, Thailand; Venerable Datuk K. Sri Dhammaratana, Chief High Priest of Malaysia;

Judaism:  Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Rabbi David Rosen KSG, CBE

Orthodox:  His Eminence Emmanuel, Metropolitan of France, representing the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I

Islam:  Abbas Abdalla Abbas Soliman, undersecretary of State of Al Azhar Alsharif, representing Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar; the Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi; Sheikh Naziyah Razzaq Jaafar, special advisor, representing Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Basheer Hussain al Najafi; Sheikh Omar Abboud

Anglicanism:  His Grace Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury






















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The Synod, and a Suggestion

The synod of bishops wrapped up a couple of weeks ago.  To be honest, I didn’t follow much of it.  There are a lot of things I like about the Catholic Church, but the hierarchy’s obsession with sexual matters and family issues isn’t one of them.  When the talk becomes a debate about “acceptable” or “unacceptable” families and individuals, I turn away.

I don’t mean that church leaders should never talk about family.  But they need to understand that it’s hard enough to raise a family without them adding on the burden of their judgments.  Families are trying to hold it all together, and judgments from church leaders only serve to wound and divide.  What families really need from any church is compassion, love, support and encouragement.

So here’s my suggestion to the leaders of the church:  Follow the lead of Pope Francis. Welcome people as they are.  Stop talking about sex.  Talk about Jesus and his love for us. Live the Gospel, really live it.  Do what you can to rid our world of poverty and violence and injustice and help us find a way to peace.


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The Flowers of Iraq

Among the blessings in my life are my friends from Iraq.  They came to this country as refugees a few years ago.  They’re Christians, a tiny minority in their country.  They like to tell this story:

Saddam Hussein, taking note of the Christians in Iraq and the way they lived, posed a question:   How many Christians are in the jails in Iraq?

His aides took a count, polling all the prisons in Iraq.  How many Christians?  How many Christians?  Prison after prison, the answer came back the same:  None.  There were no Christians in the prisons in Iraq.  Upon hearing this, Saddam Hussein proclaimed, “Christians are the flowers of Iraq!”

Today, the flowers of Iraq struggle to survive.  Their situation is dire as militants gain control of more and more of northern Iraq.  My friends have brothers and sisters in northern Iraq and they’re in touch frequently by phone and computer.  Last week, they had to leave their homes.  They’re still in northern Iraq, but they don’t know what will happen from day to day.

“What do they do?” I asked my friend.  “They pray,” he said, “we all pray.”  And then he added, “They sing, Barbara.  They sing ‘Alleluia!’ all the day.”

In unimaginable circumstances, they sing!  With faith and trust in the Lord, they sing!  Flowers indeed!


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