Dear OSJ Family,

In recent months, we have seen many of our fellow Americans exercising their constitutional right to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression/speech as provided for by the first amendment. Peaceful and lawful marches and non-violent protests are an essential part of the very fabric of our American way of being and proceeding.

In the past few years, peaceable marches in which Americans have participated have focused on a number of issues including; climate change and the environment, the war in Syria, Veterans rights, federal divestment from fossil fuels, the cessation of offshore drilling, immigration reform fair housing, health care, LGBT rights, racial justice, prison reform, freedom of religion, workers’ rights, and education reform, just to name a few. We saw several weeks ago, the “Million Woman March” where millions marched peacefully in support of numerous issues facing women and other social justice related concerns. Over a week ago, hundreds of thousands peacefully gathered to represent their beliefs and positions at the annual “March for Life” where supporters, on behalf of the voiceless unborn, call for an end to abortion and the defense of human life from birth to natural death. Finally, we saw most recently, thousands of concerned citizens protesting at airports and the nation’s capital in support of refugees and immigrants

These issues facing our country are serious and demand our consideration as Americans and as Catholic Christians as they affect the lives and wellbeing of others. It is critical to remember that the position of our Church, consistent with Christ’s teachings, calls for each of us to uphold the dignity and worth of every person, especially those most vulnerable in our communities; the poor, the aged, the youth, the disabled and infirmed, the refugee and immigrant, the unemployed, the abandoned, the marginalized, abused, addicted, the voiceless, the persecuted and the homeless. The Church teaches that all human life is sacred because God creates it, and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our Catholic Social Teaching.

Truly, our bishops, pastors and church leaders have asked us to renew our call as individual Catholics and as the Body of Christ to unite our efforts to restore respect and the legal protection for every human life—to be what Saint John Paul II asked us to be: “a people of life and a people for life” (The Gospel of Life, no. 78).

Together then, with respect for all people, like Jesus himself, let us never tire of working for justice and for being a voice for all who cry out for peace, healing, acceptance, reconciliation, life and love. In the Lord,

Fr Phil Florio ,SJ