Leadership Taking Action
IHM Leadership Endorsements and Public Statements
Below you will find the most recent endorsements by the IHM Leadership Council of organizational sign-on letters and position statements on issues that are important to the congregation.
Feb. 8, 2019
The IHM Leadership Council Endorses an “Interfaith Sign-on Letter in Support of South Sudanese TPS-Holders”
The IHM Leadership Council endorsed an interfaith letter in support of South Sudanese with Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
TPS-holders from South Sudan are at risk of losing their protection from deportation to one of the worst conflicts and humanitarian crises in the world. According to the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the safe return of TPS-holders to South Sudan is untenable. Approximately 400,000 people have been killed in the ongoing conflict since 2013. During that time, at least 4 million people have been displaced. Sexual and gender-based violence is a common tool of war and tens of thousands of people are facing famine.
The administration must decide whether to extend and/or redesignate or end TPS for South Sudan by March 3, 2019. This interfaith sign-on letter will be sent to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. The letter requests an 18-month extension and redesignation of Temporary Protected Status for South Sudan.
This endorsement was made in light of the IHM community’s ongoing commitment to the people of South Sudan, specifically through the work of IHM Sisters Joan Mumaw and Annette St. Amour and their ministry with Solidarity with South Sudan.
Jan. 30, 2019
The IHM Leadership Council Endorses the Statement of Support for “No More Deaths” Volunteers
IHM Leadership Council recently endorsed “Public Statement of Support” for the No More Deaths volunteers who could face jail time for leaving food and water for border-crossers in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.
Last week, a guilty verdict was issued by Federal Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco, convicting No More Deaths volunteers Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse, and Zaachila Orozco with entering a national wildlife refuge without a permit and abandonment of property. Ms. Hoffman was also charged with operating a motor vehicle in a wilderness area. All are misdemeanor offenses. A date for sentencing will be set within the next 10 days. Sentencing for each charge can range from zero to six months of time in federal prison and a fine of up to $500.
The four aid workers are among nine No More Deaths volunteers facing prosecution for their efforts to place life-saving food and water on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, a vast and remote area south of Ajo, Ariz., where 155 border-crossers are known to have died since 2001 and countless more have gone missing. The remaining volunteers facing misdemeanor charges are scheduled to begin trial on Feb. 26 and March 4 of this year. This statement will be published in a print newspaper ahead of the second round of trials beginning in late February.
Catherine Gaffney, a long time No More Deaths volunteer, stated: “This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers, but people of conscience throughout the country. If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?”
While they are not among those involved in these legal proceedings, IHM Associate Jean Dietrick-Rooney and her husband Charlie Rooney are long-time volunteers and supporters of No More Deaths. This endorsement was made with this and with the IHM commitment to the welcome and humane treatment of arriving migrants in mind.
Nov. 6, 2018
IHM Sisters Call for the Welcome and Humane Treatment of
The Leadership Council of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Mich., joins the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in calling for the humane treatment of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers arriving at our borders. We are deeply concerned about President Trump’s increasingly toxic rhetoric toward immigrants arriving from Central America and his decision to deploy up to 14,000 United States troops to the southern border. While the U.S. Army is barred from carrying out domestic immigration enforcement, this militarization of our borders perpetuates a dangerous narrative that the United States is somehow under attack or at war with immigrants. This is especially alarming given the specific incidences of hate-fueled violence that we have experienced in the past two weeks.
We urge the administration to cancel deployment of U.S. troops to the border. Instead, we encourage it to manage refugee arrivals humanely and in a manner that respects their dignity and rights under U.S. and international law. This includes:
- Allowing migrants to approach our border and ask for protection in the United States and to be admitted for processing in a timely manner.
- Ensuring that asylum-seekers have access to legal counsel and receive a fair resolution of their claims.
- Guaranteeing that parents and children stay together after they are apprehended. Holding families indefinitely in detention or detaining parents while releasing their children violates the values of this nation and the standards set forth in the Flores settlement.
- Eschewing detention of those awaiting adjudication of their asylum petitions in favor of alternatives that are more humane and more cost-effective
- Directing Homeland Security to cooperate with faith-based and humanitarian organizations that are prepared to assist asylum-seekers.
The United States has a long and proud history of welcoming immigrants and sheltering refugees. They are fleeing unimaginable situations in their home countries and are seeking a better way of life, the way most of our ancestors did. Women religious have been blessed to be able to accompany and serve migrant communities across this country for a very long time. We will continue to welcome them as our national history demands and our faith requires. We encourage our leaders to do the same.
Oct. 30, 2018
IHM Statement in Response to the Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting
It is with immense grief that we, the Leadership Council of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Mich., speak out in condemnation of the horrific shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh over the weekend. We mourn the loss of the lives of our 11 Jewish and brothers and sisters who were gunned down while peacefully practicing their faith.
This attack came one day after a man was arrested in Florida for mailing bombs to prominent political leaders and journalists and several days after an armed white supremacist tried to force his way into an African-American church in Kentucky to carry out a similar act and – when thwarted – went on to kill two people in grocery store. When our places of worship are no longer safe from bigotry and gunfire, and violent rhetoric is increasingly becoming reality, something must change.
We call upon our elected leaders at all levels of government to abandon hateful rhetoric that incites violence and to unequivocally denounce and distance themselves from those who do. We cannot look the other way as racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic speech is wielded for political gain.
We also reject ensuing calls for bringing more weapons into our sacred spaces. Instead, we must work together to pass laws that will keep semi-automatic and other weapons of mass violence out of the hands of those with hate-fueled agendas intent on inflicting mass casualties.
Finally, we must look at the ways in which our own increasingly divisive interactions with each other keep us from recognizing our common humanity. In our Chapter 2018 Direction, the IHM community committed itself to “engage in respectful conversations with those who are seen as different because of ethnicity, class, religion, gender, sexual orientation and political loyalties and challenge stereotypes about those perceived as other.” We encourage those with whom we live, work and minister to join us in this commitment to compassionate dialogue. In the words of the Hebrew Scriptures (Micah 6:8), may we “act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God” in responding to the challenges of our beautiful yet fractured world.
June 20, 2018
IHM Leadership Council Statement in Response to Family Separation
Recognizing the escalation of violence in our world, and especially its impact on women and children, the IHM Sisters choose to act with diligence in pursuit of peace and nonviolence. It is this commitment that compels the IHM Leadership Council to speak out against the Trump administration’s recent practice of forcibly separating families at the southern border in order to punish the parents and deter other asylum-seekers. In April, the Department of Homeland Security stated that it will refer all individuals who cross the border without authorization for criminal prosecution, including adult family members entering with children. This “zero tolerance” practice is leading to an alarming increase in family separation.
Nearly 2,000 migrant children have been intentionally separated from their parents. Many of these children have traveled hundreds of miles fleeing violence in their home countries. They have likely already been exposed to immense trauma. Separating them and locking them up in separate detention facilities will only further expose them to potentially irreparable psychological and emotional harm. This practice is not only unprecedented, it is cruel and immoral. Furthermore, separating children from their parents will not fix the pervasive root causes of migration from the most violent areas of Central America.
We urge the Trump administration to immediately halt this practice of family separation. If the administration refuses to act, we urge Congress to enact stand-alone legislation that prohibits the separation of families.
Finally, we recognize that while an immediate solution to the current humanitarian crisis is necessary, it is no substitute for compassionate, just and comprehensive immigration reform. Therefore, we call upon Congress and the president to work together on an eventual bipartisan legislative solution that protects asylum-seekers, TPS recipients and Dreamers and creates an eventual path to citizenship for our undocumented friends and neighbors who are currently living in, working in and contributing to our communities.
June 7, 2018
The IHM Leadership Council Endorses the “Catholic Climate Declaration”
Catholic organizations across the country are reaffirming their support for the 2015 Paris Accord and pledging to combat climate change. The United States was one of 195 nations to adopt the agreement, but in June 2017, President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement.
The Catholic Climate Declaration makes it clear that Catholic organizations across the nation “are still in” the struggle against climate change. More than 100 congregations of women religious have pledged their continued support for the goals of the Paris Climate Accord.The declaration is a public expression of support by the Catholic community in the United States for action to address climate change. On June 18, in honor of the third anniversary of Pope Francis’ climate change encyclical, Laudato Sí, the Catholic Climate Covenant will announce the names of the organizations that have signed the declaration.
In the 1994 “Enactment on Ecojustice,” the IHM community committed itself to collaborating with others in shaping public policies that will foster ecological co-responsibility and eco-justice. This endorsement was made with this commitment in mind.
Feb. 17, 2018
IHM Leadership Council Statement in Response to the Parkland, Fla., School Shooting
On Dec. 14, 2017, the IHM Sisters held a prayer service marking the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook School shooting in which a mentally ill young man used an AR-15 with high-capacity magazines to brutally murder 20 children and six educators. Two months to the day after this tragic anniversary, another troubled young man used an AR-15 to kill 17 people at a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Sadly, between the Sandy Hook shooting and the hauntingly similar Parkland shooting five years and two months later, more than 500,000 Americans have been killed or injured by guns. There have been more than 1,500 mass shooting incidents in the United States during that time. The annual number of gun deaths increased to more than 38,000 in 2016. Of the 30 deadliest shootings in the United States, 19 have occurred in the last 10 years.
During this time, nothing has been done to address the gun violence epidemic in our nation. Our legislators have not only refused to take action to address gun violence in the United States, they – under increased pressure and funding from the NRA – have actively worked to weaken gun regulations.
The Leadership Council of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Mich., once again calls upon our elected officials to find the courage to reject the influence of the corporate gun lobby and immediately pass legislation that:
- · Bans semi-automatic assault weapons with high-capacity magazines (such as the AR-15);
- · Requires universal background checks for all gun purchases;
- · Makes gun trafficking a federal crime; and
- · Improves access to mental health services.
We pray for the victims of the Parkland shooting, their family and friends and all who are touched by gun violence every day. However, we know that our prayers must be accompanied by meaningful action. IHM Sisters and Associates will continue to contact our legislators through our IHM Monthly Mobilization to Prevent Gun Violence asking them to enact meaningful gun violence prevention legislation. If you are interested in joining us, please contact Sarah Nash and Elizabeth Walters, IHM, in the IHM Justice, Peace and Sustainability Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan. 17, 2018
Statement on the President’s Recent Remarks about Immigration
Urged by the love of God, the IHM Sisters choose to work with others to build a culture of peace and right relationship among ourselves, with the Church and with the whole Earth community. We are committed to bringing about the dream of God on planet Earth through respect for, nurturing of and promoting liberation and well-being of all people and all of nature as God’s good creation.
It is this deep commitment that compelled the delegates of the recent IHM Chapter – the highest governing body when in session – to condemn the racist and xenophobic comments that were allegedly made by the president of the United States last week during a meeting on immigration and the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. President Trump reportedly denigrated our sisters and brothers from Haiti (the country of ancestry of our co-founder Theresa Maxis Duchemin), sub-Saharan Africa (where IHM Sisters currently live and minister) and El Salvador while expressing a desire for increased immigration from predominantly white western European countries.
We call upon President Trump to take responsibility for his comments and immediately issue a public apology. Such remarks not only reveal overtly racist inclinations held by our nation’s highest leader but point to the way in which these inclinations may be shaping this administration’s immigration policy. We also call upon members of Congress and the judiciary to carefully consider the president’s past and present remarks of this nature when voting and ruling on his administration’s policies. Enshrining racial discrimination into law is the very definition of institutional racism and it is not only unconscionable, it is unconstitutional.
As we continue to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this week, the IHM community remains committed to healing the wounds of racism within ourselves, our community and systemically. We desire to deepen our understanding of the ways in which racism contributes to multiple situations of injustice in our world. We will continue to explore the ways that we are complicit in racism, both as individuals and as a congregation, so that we might work toward a more just, inclusive, relational and loving Earth community. We pray that our nation’s leaders will do the same.
Jan. 12, 2018
Statement in Response to Recent Terminations of TPS
The Leadership Council of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Michigan is profoundly disappointed in the Trump administration’s decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for more than 200,000 Salvadorans, many of whom have been living, working and raising families in the United States for nearly 20 years. TPS allows immigrants to temporarily live and work in the U.S. when their countries face armed conflict, environmental disaster or other extraordinary circumstances. It is reviewed every 18 months. For El Salvador, this decision reverses nearly two decades of repeated renewals made under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
While living conditions in El Salvador have improved slightly since it was hit in 2001 by a massive earthquake, the country currently faces significant problems with drug trafficking, gangs and violent crime, which place TPS recipients in danger if they return. This decision also impacts their U.S. citizen children, as these parents now have to make the difficult choice between taking their children with them back to El Salvador and leaving them in the United States.
In his 51st message for the World Day of Peace, “Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace,” Pope Francis reminds us,
“In a spirit of compassion, let us embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands. We know that it is not enough to open our hearts to the suffering of others. Much more remains to be done before our brothers and sisters can once again live peacefully in a safe home.”
We urge the Trump administration to reconsider this decision as well as recent decisions to end TPS for vulnerable immigrants from Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. We call upon Congress to consider a legislative solution that will protect TPS recipients; to immediately pass the DREAM Act and to eventually enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation that will provide a path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants who are currently living in, working in and contributing to our communities.