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IHM Leadership Council Endorsements and Public Statements – 2019

Nov. 7, 2019
IHM Statement Regarding Withdrawing the
United States from the Paris Climate Agreement

We, the Leadership Council of the IHM Sisters of Monroe, Mich., were deeply disappointed by President Trump’s 2017 pledge to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement and were profoundly saddened by the announcement earlier this week that his administration has begun the official process of withdrawing from the landmark environmental accord.

The World Health Organization warns that “between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.” Right now, California is fighting the biggest wildfire that the state has ever experienced due to extreme heat and drought caused by climate change.

The climate crisis unjustly and disproportionately harms people who have the most to lose but who contribute least to the problem. All nations (but especially those nations that contribute most to the problem) have a responsibility to limit their greenhouse gas emissions. The United States (the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases) is now officially abdicating that responsibility.

The IHM Sisters remain committed to collaborating with others in shaping public policies that will foster ecological co-responsibility and eco-justice. We will continue to advocate for strong policies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We also commend civic leaders, mayors, governors and the majority of the business community who continue to support the Paris Climate Agreement and have vowed to continue to move the United States forward in reaching our emissions reductions goals.

We remain hopeful that if our government will not lead in addressing the climate crisis, the people will. As Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si’, “We require a new and universal solidarity. … All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.”

July 26, 2019
IHM Reaction to Reinstatement of the Federal Death Penalty

The IHM Sisters of Monroe, Mich., joined Catholics across the country in swiftly objecting to reinstatement of the federal death penalty.

IHM Sisters and Associates were meeting for their annual Assembly on July 25 when the news broke that the United States Department of Justice will resume federal executions. Only three federal executions have taken place since the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S. in 1988. The last one was in 2003.

The execution of five inmates on federal death row will take place from December 2019 through next January.

The IHM Sisters issued the following statement “Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the federal government will resume capital punishment for the first time in nearly 20 years. In response, we – IHM Sisters and Associates gathered in Assembly – reaffirm our 1993 Congregational stance on the death penalty, which reads: ‘We, the IHM Congregation, oppose the death penalty. The Gospel and Catholic social teaching impel us to do so.’”

The IHM Sisters join numerous other Catholic voices that have expressed concern about this move including Sister Helen Prejean, a longtime opponent of capital punishment, Catholic Mobilizing Network and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In August 2018, Pope Francis announced that he was formally changing the Catechism of the Catholic Church to declare the death penalty “inadmissible.”

July 1, 2019
IHM Leadership Council Statement on the Treatment of Children at the Border

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 non-violence. This commitment compels the IHM Leadership Council to speak out against the unconscionable mistreatment of children on the United States-Mexico border. We call upon our elected leaders to take all measures necessary to provide the children with adequate food, shelter and health care and to reunite them with family residing in the U.S. as quickly and safely as possible.

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Mt 19:14) It is appalling that children “such as these” have reportedly been subject to overcrowding, hunger, sleeping on concrete floors and deprived of necessities such as soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, creating unhygienic and inhumane conditions.

It is not enough that children at the facility in Clint, Texas were moved to other facilities after the scandalous way they were being treated was exposed. These and other immigrant children in detention should be reunited with their parents or other relatives residing in the U.S. who can claim them safely. As Congress takes steps to address the urgent humanitarian crisis on the border, the top priority must be to ensure the welfare of children such as these – now and into the future.

Finally, while we recognize that an immediate solution to the current humanitarian crisis is necessary, it highlights – once again – the need for compassionate and just immigration reform. Therefore, we call upon Congress and the president to work together on bipartisan legislative solutions that protect asylum-seekers, TPS recipients and Dreamers and would create an eventual path to citizenship for immigrants who are currently living in, working in and contributing to our communities.

March 1, 2019
The IHM Leadership Council signed onto a faith amicus brief  in support of the plaintiffs in the “Juliana v. The United States” climate case. “Juliana v. United States” is a lawsuit filed in 2015 by 21 youth plaintiffs against the United States and several of its executive branch positions and officers. The plaintiffs, represented by the nonprofit organization Our Children’s Trust, include Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, the members of Martinez’s organization Earth Guardians and climatologist James Hansen on behalf of future generations.

The lawsuit asserts that the U.S. government violated the youths’ rights by allowing activities that harmed the climate and asks the government to adopt methods for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The lawsuit is cutting edge in an area of environmental law referred to as “atmospheric trust litigation,” a concept based on the public trust doctrine and international responsibility related to the government’s control over natural resources in the interest of public benefit. While previous lawsuits in a similar vein have been dismissed by U.S. courts, Juliana v. United States gained attention in 2016 when U.S. District Court of Oregon Judge Ann Aiken upheld the idea that access to a clean environment was a fundamental right, allowing the case to proceed. Since then, the government has sought to dismiss the case for various reasons, which has delayed the case’s hearing at the district court level.

After an Oregon federal judge granted an interlocutory appeal to the defendants following a denial of their motion to dismiss, the case is now pending before the Ninth Circuit. Click here for detailed information about the case to date.  Amicus (friend of the court) briefs are legal documents filed in appellate court cases by non-litigants with a strong interest in the subject matter. The briefs advise the court of relevant, additional information or arguments that the court might wish to consider.

In his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis acknowledged that, “If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.” In October, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a global scientific authority, released a special report showing that governments around the world must take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disastrous levels of global warming.

This recommendation for endorsement is being made with this and with the IHM 1994 “Enactment on Ecojustice” in mind. In this enactment, the IHM community committed itself to collaborating with others in shaping public policies that will foster ecological co-responsibility and eco-justice.”

Feb. 20, 2019
IHM Leadership Council Statement in Response to the President’s Emergency Declaration to Build a Border Wall

The Leadership Council of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Mich., opposes President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in order to circumvent Congress and reallocate funds to construct a wall at our southern border.

This declaration is unnecessary (as the president himself admitted), undemocratic and an alarming abuse of executive power. We urge our members of Congress to strongly oppose this declaration and support proposals to revoke it. We call on them to respond, not as members of a particular political party, but as elected representatives of the people, charged with defending the Constitution and the balance of power between the three branches of our government laid out in it.

IHM Sisters and Associates recently returned from volunteering at the southern border, where they offered hospitality to arriving migrants. They can attest to the fact that the majority of those arriving are asylum-seekers, many of whom are women and children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. They pose no threat to United States citizens and are themselves fleeing persecution, violence and extreme poverty in their home countries.

While there is no crisis at the border, there are significant humanitarian challenges that have been growing because of the policies of this administration. These include the separation of migrant children from their parents; militarization of border crossings; the use of tear gas on women and children; and proposed rule changes that would make it even more difficult for asylum-seekers to find safety in the U.S. These are problems that will not be solved by constructing a wall.

Instead of building a border wall, we urge the president and Congress to work together to craft and pass long overdue comprehensive immigration reform legislation that is humane, just and addresses the root causes of migration. This includes acknowledging the role that U.S. military, economic and environmental policies often play in creating conditions that force people to flee their home countries. However, to do this, our leaders must break free of the political polarization that continues to grip our democracy.

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 to challenge stereotypes about those perceived as ‘other.’” We hope our nation’s leaders will have the wisdom, courage and compassion to do the same.

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.