Category Archives: Jesuits

Jesuit Migration Network on Capitol Hill

Along with other members of the Jesuit Migration Network, I spent last Friday on Capitol Hill meeting with staff from three Senate offices. We discussed the importance of tackling the root causes of violence in Central America that are forcing thousands of men, women, and children to flee the region.

In particular, we advocated for continued U.S. support for the region. We've followed an enforcement heavily policy for much of the last two decades, and it seems to have only gotten worse under President Trump. At this point in time, I urged public support for Guatemala's new attorney general and the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). I can't say that any of the staff members from the three offices were familiar with what is going on in Guatemala. See Kate Doyle and Elizabeth Oglesby's take on what is happening in Guatemala in Why Guatemala’s Anti-Corruption Commission Faces a New Wave of Efforts to Derail It for World Politics Review.

We also discussed the awful policy of separating children from their parents at the border and holding migrants in custody rather than releasing them before their hearings,. The staff seemed to overplay concerns about how some of these children could be released into the hands of human traffickers.

Finally, we discussed the damage that is being done to families and communities by deporting long-term members of our society and people from families of mixed immigration status.

The staff were clearly concerned about the plight of migrants. They also seemed to indicate that each of their Senators supported paths to citizenship for long-term undocumented migrants, even though I thought what they were willing to accept in return for sensible reform was too much. Finally, they were at a loss to understand what the administration would or would not accept on immigration reform. 

Pope Francis follows St. Ignatius’ command

Greg points out that a great deal of the media coverage of Pope Francis' message and his visit to South America evoke fire. I noted on Twitter that it sort of made sense. Roughly 500 years ago, St. Ignatius of Loyola told his Jesuits to "Go forth and set the world on fire." St. Ignatius founded the Jesuit order of Catholic priests, of which Pope Francis is now the most high profile. We even joke about having an Arson Studies major.

Pope Francis' words and actions shouldn't be that surprising. As a Jesuit, he is supposed to work on the margins of the world and to meet people where they are at in their faith. Jesuits are known to shake things up which sometimes gets them in trouble with the Catholic hierarchy and conservative Catholics. Here is something that I linked to from Fr. Martin (perhaps the second most famous living Jesuit) shortly after Bergolio's selection as pope.
the Jesuits were sometimes viewed with suspicion in a few quarters of the Vatican. There are a number of reasons for that, some of them complex. The first is, as I mentioned, our “differentness.” Second, our work with the poor and people on the margins sometimes struck some as too experimental, radical and even dangerous. “When you work on the margins,” an old Jesuit said, “you sometimes step out of bounds.”
One of the other things that strike me from the New York Times piece that Greg links to is Francis' admission that he doesn't have the answers with regards to a new economic system for the critique of capitalism he is making. In Jesuit educational circle, we take pride in helping our students to think critically about the world around them and to learn to ask the right questions. We usually don't have the answers to the world's problems but through sharp questions and discernment, we hope that those we interact with and those who come after us will leave the world a better place than the one we inherited.

That sure seems to be what Pope Francis hopes to accomplish during the few years he is likely to occupy the Papacy.

Honduras’ Jesuit-run Radio Progreso

The most violent country on the planet isn’t halfway across the globe; it is a 2.5 hour flight from Houston. Most U.S. citizens are at best dimly aware of the bloodshed that is the defining feature of present-day Honduras. Last summer, 2014, Honduran children surfaced on the southern U.S. border by the tens of thousands, prompting a Texas congressman to decry this “invasion of our nation.” Likewise, protesters in California met the young immigrants with angry slogans like “return to sender!” But did protesters have any understanding of the situation these youth were escaping? The violence they’d be thrown back into if they were indeed “returned to sender”?
La Voz Del Pueblo is an 18-minute documentary that explores the difficult and violent Honduran reality through the perspective of journalists at the Jesuit-run radio station, Radio Progreso.