Current Issues of Social Justice
- Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth
- Congregation Endorsements
- BVM Hunger Fund Contributions
- Congress and the Budget
- Immigration/Worker Rights
- Human Rights/Women and Children
- Opposition to Death Penalty
- Peace & Nonviolence
- Bottled Water
- Justice Alerts
Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth
The Sisters of Charity, BVM have joined the Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth in preparing a reflection booklet on the various rooms of a house, placing each room and its activities into the broader context of our Earth-home. Click here for "Earth as Our Home" brochure.
Vice President Mira Mosle signed Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the organizational letter co-drafted by a group of service organizations (LIRS, AILA, Tahirih Justice Center, NIJC, First Focus, National Immigration Project, and others) that advocate for immigrants and refugees. The letter expresses extreme concern regarding "Operation Border Guardian and the March 9, 2016 Department of Homeland Security press release announcing additional raids and the lack of due process afforded the inidividuals and families being targeted. The letter was sent to President Barack Obama and the Honorable Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security - March 22, 2016
President Teri Hadro, at the request of the Refugee Council, USA, signed Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the organization letter sent to Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee. The letter states strong opporsition to the "Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act of 2016" (HR4731) which would gut the US refugee resettlement program as we know it and would undermine the US as a global leader. - March 15, 2016
Sisters of Charity, BVM signed an organization letter, at the request of the Coalition on Human Needs, to Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid in support of the immediate need to fund repair of water pipes in Flint, Michigan to protect the wellbeing of children and families in Flint. – February 19, 2016
Sisters of Charity, BVM signed a letter calling on President Obama to protect child refugees and stop the immigration raids on Central American families. The letter was initiated by First Focus. – January 15, 2016
Sisters of Charity, BVM upon the invitation of the Clinton Franciscans and NETWORK signed a letter urging Congress to pass a “clean” budget with no destructive policy riders in the Peoples Budget. - December 10, 20145
The Sisters of Charity, BVM, at the request of the Refugee Council USA, signed the letter asking US Senators to support the US Refugee Resettlement Program and to oppose any legislation that would stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees. – December 2, 2015
Sisters of Charity, BVM signed a National Organization letter urging Congress to make the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) and CTC (Child Tax Credit) permanent now rather than wait until 2017. The letter was initiated by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. – December 7, 2015
At the invitation of Sally Dunne, NGO Representative of the Loreto Community, the Sisters of Charity, BVM signed in support of a UN resolution entitled “Human Rights Defenders in the Context of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” adopted by the UN General Assembly Third Committee on November 25, 2015. The resolution was sent to the Member States of the United Nations General Assembly. – December 4, 1015
Sisters of Charity, BVM signed the petition urging political leaders to sign a treaty at the UN Climate Summit in Paris to drastically cut carbon emissions and registered as a partner of the Global Catholic Climate Movement. – November 24, 2015
President Teri Hadro, at the request of the Church World Service Immigration and Refugee Program, signed Sisters of Charity, BVM to the religious leaders’ interfaith letter in support of Syrian Refugees addressed to the Obama Administration, the US Congress and Governors of all states to demonstrate moral leadership and affirm their support for the resettlement of Syrian refugees to the United States. – November 24, 2015
Sisters of Charity, BVM, at the request of the National Women’s Law Center, signed on to the letter urging Senators and Representatives to increase federal funding for early learning programs for children and child care programs for families. – October 19, 2015
Sisters of Charity, BVM signed on to the letter urging President Obama to follow through on his intention to veto the National Defense Authorization Act over its use of the Overseas Contingency Operations Account. The letter was by the Pentagon Budget Campaign.
Sisters of Charity, BVM, at the invitation of the Refugee Council USA, a coalition of US-Based organizations dedicated to refugee protection and welcome, signed the letter to President Obama stating four urgent recommendations for how the United States should respond to the spiraling Syrian refugee crisis. The letter was copied to Secretary of State John Kerry and Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. --September 16, 2015
Sisters of Charity, BVM, at the request of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, signed the Investor Support Statement Requiring Disclosure and Corporate Action on Human Trafficking Risks in support of The Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015. The statement was sent to the leadership of the House and Senate committees addressing the bills and shared publicly. September 2, 2015
The Sisters of Charity, BVM Leadership Team, at the request of the National WIC Association, endorsed the reauthorization letter calling on Congress to honor several recommendations in the reauthorization of WIC (The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children). The letter includes a recommendation to change the program’s name to Special Supplemental Public Health Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children so the name reflects what WIC delivers. – July 23, 2015
Sisters of Charity, BVM, at the request of the Food Research and Action Center, signed on in support of the Access to Healthy Food for Young Children Act of 2015 sponsored by Senator Robert Casey. This bill urges Congress to strengthen the Child and Adult Care Food Program in order to provide more children in child care and afterschool programs access to nutritious food. – July 23, 2015
President Teri Hadro, signed Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary to an Organizational Sign-On Letter initiated by Pax Christi. This letter strongly urges Congress to fully support the nuclear agreement the P5+1 Group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany) have reached with Iran; and “to reject any congressional effort to undermine its implementation.” – July 22, 2015
The Sisters of Charity, BVM, at the request of the Coalition on Human Needs, signed the letter calling Congress to act this year to make permanent key provisions in the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit that will otherwise expire. The letter was sent to Representatives and to Senators. – July 8, 2015
Sisters of Charity, BVM, at the request of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, signed-on to a new resolution calling for handgun purchaser licensing nationwide. – July 1, 2015
President Teri Hadro signed Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the National Organizations Letter: End Family Detention at the request of the Coalition on Human Needs. The letter urges President Obama to end his administration’s practice of family detention and to “listen to the thousands of voices calling an end to this practice for humanitarian and legal reasons.” - June 15, 2015
Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary signed-on to the National WIC Association letter in support of full funding ($6.684 billion) for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in Fiscal Year 2016. This letter was sent to Committee on Appropriations members: Chairman Cochran, Ranking Member Mikulski, Chairman Rogers, and Ranking Member Lowey and the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development , FDA, & Related Agencies members: Chairman Moran, Ranking Member Merkley, Chairman Aderholt and Ranking Member Farr. – June 9, 2015
The Sisters of Charity, BVM declared a proxy vote calling Exxon Mobil and Chevron to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb climate change. The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility collected proxy votes from shareholders and released On Eve of Shareholder Meetings at Exxon Mobil and Chevron, Global Investors Demanding Bolder Action on Climate to the press prior to shareholders addressing management at the annual general meeting on May 27, 2015
The Sisters of Charity, BVM, at the request of Farmworker Justice, signed-on to a letter that responds to the US Department of Labor's request for comments on the proposed H-2A sheepherder and other range worker regulations. This letter addressed to the attention of Adele Gagliardi, Administrator of the Office of Policy Development and Research, urges the US Department of Labor to strengthen the proposed rules in several areas, including wage rates and housing standards. - May 28, 2015
The Sisters of Charity, BVM Leadership Team signed the statement, Catholic morality and nuclear abolition, at the request of the Washington Working Group of Pax Christi International. The statement will be given to Catholics in Congress and the Administration with a copy of the Holy See’s Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition and be made public in advance of the UN Review Conference of the NPT (Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty) in New York April 27-May 22, 2015.
BVM President, Teri Hadro, signed the Faith Leaders’ Open Letter Against Family Detention asking the Administration for an immediate halt to the practice of family detention and to employ alternatives that allow children freedom and dignity while they await due process. Mary McCauley, BVM requested sign-on to this letter initiated by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition and sent to President Barack Obama and copied to Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security. - April 23, 2015.
The Sisters of Charity, BVM signed a letter initiated by the Child Labor Coalition urging CEO’s of tobacco companies to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with FLOC (Farm Labor Organizing Committee) to participate in the Dunlop Commission process regarding tobacco growers and farmworkers in their supply chain. - April 23, 2015.
The Sisters of Charity, BVM signed a letter to support the Global Water Justice Campaign. This letter is being sent to the Ambassadors of the UN Member States urging them to ensure that the human right to water and sanitation be made explicit and realized in the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and the Declaration of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Sign-on was requested by Sally Dunne of Loretto at the UN and Mary Martens, BVM is the BVM contact. - April 23, 2015.
The Sisters of Charity, BVM Leadership Team signed on to the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) support letter urging members of the House and Senate to support $18 million in funding the VITA grant program, which assists persons of limited means to accurately file their taxes. The Corporation for Enterprise Development and United Way invited state and local organizations to sign on to this letter sent to the Appropriations Committee Chairmen Cochran and Rogers and Ranking Members Mikulski and Lowey. – March 18, 2015
The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque signed on to Green Climate Fund Letter at the invitation of the Justice Conference of Women Religious asking Members of Congress to support the US pledge to the Green Climate Fund. This fund is a critical part of addressing the needs of persons who are poor and vulnerable and who will be most impacted by climate change. – March 18, 2015
The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque signed-on to the Statement by Religious Leaders in Iowa on Global Climate Change 2015. Iowa Interfaith Power and Light invited the leaders of faith based organizations to endorse this statement urging Iowans to take action and practice energy conservation; and, encouraging all people of faith to be actively engaged in advocating for decisions that reduce the threats of global climate change and promote climate justice. Iowa Interfaith Power & Light will release the signed statement to Iowa media for Earth Day on April 22, 2015.
The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque signed a letter addressed to Representatives and Senators asking Congress to abide by 4 key principles in budget decisions. SAVE for All (Strengthening America’s Values and Economy for All) initiated the request for local, state, or national organization to sign the petition. Groups coming together, in Washington, DC, under SAVE for All will distribute the signed letter to all members of Congress and will bring it to members in dozens of Capitol Hill meetings. (February 27, 2015)
The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque signed The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act Sign-on Letter addressed to Foreign Relations Committee Chair, Bob Corker and Ranking Member, Bob Menendez. United Way initiated the request for signatures to build support for this landmark human trafficking legislation introduced by Senator Corker (R-TN) and Senator Menendez (D-NJ). February 24, 2015
The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque signed a Petition for Concrete and Specific Action on Immigration which submits seven demands on behalf of refugees and immigrants. This petition initiated by Annunciation House in El Paso was sent to President Obama, Senator Harry Reid and Congressman John Boehner. October 10, 2014.
The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque, signed the Interfaith Letter on Unaccompanied Children sent to President Obama and the Members of Congress strongly objecting to proposals to detain families with children and to any move to roll back the Trafficking Victims Protecion Reauthorization Act of 2008, which guarantees some level of due process for the unaccompanied minors from Central America. This sign on letter was initiated by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition. (July 24, 2014)
The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque, signed a letter to the CEOs of the world's major tobacco companies regarding the hazardous health and safety issues of children working in US tobacco and urging them to implement policies that prohibit children under the age of 18 from hazardous work in tobacco, including direct contact with tobacco. The request was initiated by the Child Labor Coalition and Human Rights Watch. (June 18, 2014)
The BVM Leadership Team at the request of the 8th Day Center wrote to Denis McDonough, White House Chief of Staff, requesting that he work with President Obama to issue an Executive Order closing the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC, formerly known as the School of the Americas or SOA). This institution is directly responsible for the training of human rights abusers and continues to damage the U.S.'s image in the region. (June 10, 2014)
BVM Hunger Fund Contributions
The Sisters of Charity, BVM commits funds each year to organizations abroad that work toward systemic change to alleviate hunger. The BVM Hunger Fund Committee reviews applications in the Fall, Winter, and Spring and determines the grants to be awarded.
In May 2016, the BVM Hunger Fund Committee distributed $15,714 to four projects.
$4,000 to the Brothers of St. Charles Lwanga to assist with the food program at St Kizito Orphanage Primary School in Uganda. The funds will be used to cultivate the land for food security, as well as, for the medicines and medical services the children need.
$3,714 to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart to assist with the food program at the Kuya Center for Street Children in the Philippines. Hundreds of children are served through the Center's street and community based programs.
$4,000 to the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters to provide life-saving food, vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements for severely malnourished and critically ill children who seek help at their Nutrition-Health Center in Nipepe, Moxambique.
$4,000 to the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth for the Orphans and Vulnerable Children's Center at Mmopane Village in Botswana. The center has 45 children between 3-6 years or age who are from very poor socio-economic backgrounds. Some are orphans, some are on antiretroviral drugs, and others are children of people living with HIV and AIDS.
In January 2016, the BVM Hunger Fund Committee distributed $11,500 to five projects.
$2,000 to the Dominican Sisters of Peace to provide nutritious food for HIV youngsters and needy families at Casa Aurora in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Nutrition is next to medicines for the overall health of families. Each month these funds will provide basic provisions of beans and rice to an average of 15-17 of the neediest families.
$2,500 to the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee to feed the children at Guadalupe Homes Orphanage in Guatemala. The agricultural program at Guadalupe Homes provides the children with a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Rice, milk, baking ingredients and meat need to be purchased. These funds will feed the children for one month.
$2,000 to the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph Kenya in Nairobi to feed the women students at St. Clare Hostel. The students go to different schools, colleges and universities. The hostel provides the nutrition needed to enable the women to focus on their studies, and makes them less vulnerable to an attack when they aren’t renting small shaggy houses.
$3,000 to the Presentation Sisters in San Francisco for Sister Rachel Pinal’s ministry in the western coastal area of Nicaragua known as the “Dry Corridor.” Only 3 of the 27 wells in the rural areas have water. Many experience hunger as the result of draught and climate change and survive on one meal a day. Funds are needed to provide lunch for students in two schools, for some it is their only meal.
$2,000 to the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany to provide food for hungry children in Bolivia. Two Sisters minister in a parish where the families lack the resources to give their children sufficient food. These funds will allow the Sisters to arrange for the feeding of about 10 children a week.
In September 2015, the BVM Hunger Fund Committee distributed $15,000 to seven projects.
$1,000 to the Haiti Committee of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Arlington, VA to provide hot lunches for the school children of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in LaSource, Haiti, one of the chapel schools of their sister parish, St Joseph's in Medor.
$2,000 to the Sisters of the Holy Cross to assist with the feeding of students at Our Lady of Holy Cross School in Kasoa, Ghana. Many of the 550 children come from poor families and the sisters supplement their diet with small meals at school.
$2,000 to the Society of the Holy Child Jesus to assist with the feeding of children at the School of the Holy Child in the Dominican Republic. The school and mission serve some of the world’s most impoverished children and families in the Haitian community of Batey Lecheria.
$3,000 to the Holy Union Sisters for a small farming project in Baba, Cameroon to empower single women. The funds will be used to develop the women’s farming skills and to purchase seeds, gardening tools, carts, manure, and irrigation materials.
$2,500 to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart to assist with the feeding program of Project M.O.S.E.S (Mobile Operations for Street-children Education and Services). This project is a service system that gathers children from the streets of Boga City, Cebu in the Philippines for Art Jam, Alternative and transformative Education, Values and Spiritual Formation, feeding programs, as well as health and hygiene services.
$2,500 to Richard Seivert, Director of Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras and Mission Honduras Le Mars, to assist with the water project in Lavenderos, Honduras.
$2,000 to the Caring Response Madagascar Foundation for a special project designed to reduce food insufficiency and malnutrition among families in Toamasina, Madagascar. Six new varieties of fruit and vegetable seeds will be provided to fifty families. In addition, each family will receive a keyhole garden template made from recycled plastic to encourage recycling of kitchen waste for fertilizer.
In April 2015, the BVM Hunger Fund Committee distributed $9,500 to four projects.
$3,000 to the Brothers of St. Charles Lwanga to assist with the food program at the Orphanage Primary School in Uganda. Due to several months of drought the crops they planted have dried up.
$2,500 to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart to assist with the food program at the Kuya Center for Street Children in the Philippines.
$3,000 to Upendo Village in Kenya, a ministry of the Wheaton Franciscans and the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi, to provide nutritional supplements to those infected and/or affected by HIV and AIDS. These dietary supplements are given to ensure that the client and family members have enough food for their medications to work properly and to keep the virus from spreading.
$1,000 to Rev. Sylvester Ngarba Nasa, Principal of St. Joseph's College Lassin, in Cameroon to assist with the food program for the students.
In January 2015, the BVM Hunger Fund Committee distributed $12,500 to six projects.
$2,000 to the Dominican Sisters of Peace to provide nutritious food for HIV youngsters and needy families at Casa Aurora in Honduras.
$2,500 to the Bernardine Franciscans to provide basic food, vitamins and minerals for at least 250 malnourished children between the ages of 6 and 12 in the Children's Education Program in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
$1,000 to the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee for the purchase of dried beans to feed the children at Guadalupe Homes Orphanage in Guatemala.
$2,000 to the Hermanas Marianitas of Durán, Ecuador to organize and maintain a community center where the sisters can cultivate medicinal plants and nutritious foods for malnourished or anemic family members in "Una Sola Fuerza," an invasion community located in Cantón, Durán. They currently have a property covered with water and mud that needs to be cultivated and fenced.
$2,500 to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth to feed severely malnourished children in the rural section of Antipolo, Rizal in the Philippines. The families in this area are "informal settlers" and are able to be evicted at any time. With the assistance of volunteers the sisters provide food for the malnourished children on the grounds of the novitiate. When children reach their appropriate weight, they are dropped from the program and other needy children take their place.
$2,500 to the Sisters of Notre Dame in California for the Friends of the Environment Association in a deprived area of Passo Fundo, Brazil. The sisters work with very poor women who separate trash and sell recyclables to earn wages to feed their families. The funds will be used to purchase masks, gloves, boots and heavy jackets for the safety and security of the women separating trash.
Congress and the Budget
As congress considers tax reform and ways to reduce the deficit, there is fear that budget cuts will affect the vulnerable among U.S. citizens. Reductions in funding for "safety net" programs and entitlement programs like Medicare will harm those most affected by the recession-- those who have lost homes, those facing food insecurity and the unemployed. Such reductions will not serve the common good. By the same token, increasing the defense budget and raising taxes on middle income people will affect the common good as well.
In the face of mounting antipathy to immigrants, especially those of Hispanic origin, the congregation bases its position on the gospel values of love and justice. While we recognize the right of countries to control their borders, we also recognize the needs of people to migrate in search of work that will sustain life and hold families together. We support dialogue toward comprehensive immigration reform in the United States.
The National Farmworker Ministry, www.nfwm.org, celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2011. In 1976 BVMs became members of the NFWM, with one BVM representative appointed to the Board of Directors. Membership has given the congregation a way to be involved in this justice issue on a continuing, sustaining basis. Current board member is Mary Martens, who keeps the congregation apprised of national movements to support farm workers in their organizing efforts.
NFWM works closely with United Farm Workers, www.ufw.org, in support of efforts to secure worker justice, especially for those who labor in the fields to harvest the food we eat.
Human Rights/Women and Children
BVMs are supportive of decent, affordable housing as a human right, and we especially focus on the needs of women and children for safe shelter. Maria House and Teresa Shelter in Dubuque, Iowa are among the ministries the congregation helped to found and has continued to support.
In 2011, the BVMs entered a partnership with Loretto at the UN. "The Loretto Community at the United Nations advocates on the international level for the issues and values of concern to the community, including disarmament and peace issues, the rights of women & girls, the rights of indigenous peoples, the rights of migrants and victims of trafficking, and social & ecological development. Having an office at the UN allows the Loretto Community to advocate for and empower those whose voices are often neglected in the world system."
Opposition to Death Penalty
We believe that all life is sacred. We stand in opposition to the devaluation of human life by capital punishment and the use of violence to exact retribution from the perpetrators of violent acts.
We oppose the state-sanctioned executions of our brothers and sisters done in our name and reject the argument that the death penalty is a deterrent to violence. We assert that violence only continues the cycle of violence and that only through love and nonviolence can we end violence. BVMs are committed to the work of abolishing the death penalty in the United States.
Each date of a scheduled execution, the bell from the Old Motherhouse at St. Joseph Prairie is tolled. This is in solidarity with a national initiative, For Whom the Bells Toll, among religious organizations. The community email distribution list carries the name(s) and state(s) of the condemned.
Peace & Nonviolence
Following the gospel value of nonviolence to which Jesus gave witness, we oppose war as a means of dealing with conflict and execution as a means of punishment. We promote justice through dialogue and peaceful protest, upholding the human dignity of all involved. We belong to and support organizations which further the development of humankind.
The BVMs have long been involved with the School of the Americas Watch movement, which began in 1989 when 4 Churchwomen were martyred in El Salvador at the hands of those who had been trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning, GA. Each year, thousands gather at the gates of Fort Benning to call for a close to the School and to remember the lives of those lost at the hands of its graduates.
For 37 years, the BVMs have been members of 8th Day Center for Justice, a grassrootes faith-based coalition of religious congregations. The Center, rooted in the values of nonviolence, mutuality, and cooperation, works as a critical alternative voice to oppressive systems. Visit 8th Day Center for Justice to find out more about current issues of peace and nonviolence.
Manufacturing bottled water has a significant impact on our wallets, our lives, and our environment. This compelling video delves deeper into the issue and breaks down the facts so we can measure the impact. Click here to watch!
Action alerts from several sources often request adding the signature of organizations or individuals to a letter or a petition going to the President or Congress. NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby in Washington and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) regularly send updates on current issues. These requests are posted via emails to BVMs and associates.
Whether responses come from the BVM Leadership, the BVM Congregation, or from individuals, they are specific ways of taking action on political issues that affect the lives and wellbeing of many people on local, national and international levels.