Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
The readings this Sunday remind us that all who recognize Jesus as “the Holy One of God” are called to be prophetic witnesses to His truth. St. Mark echoes one of the principle tenets of nonviolence “We all have a piece of the truth and the untruth” when he makes the point that it is the man with an unclean spirit who cries out “I know who you are-the Holy One of God.” (MK 1: 24)
Catholic Social Teaching teaches that we have the right, but also the responsibility, to speak to issues that affect the human right to life and that assure that all persons live with dignity. This Sunday’s readings speak out against apathy and the hardening of hearts to the many injustices of our world. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts,” (Ps 95:8) warns the psalmist. “Whoever will not listen to my words…I will make him answer for it.” (DT 18: 19)
A pervasive issue that is undermining human rights and human dignity in our society today is the effect of money in politics. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United vs. the FEC that corporations could expend unlimited funds to promote a candidate who will do what they ask while at the same time use money (negative ads) to defeat someone who stands up to them. In the 2010 midterm elections alone corporations spent 300 million dollars, more than the amount of money spent in all the midterm elections since 1990 combined. Since 2010, we have witnessed both Monsanto and the oil industry block legislation that would protect God’s creation. We watch as banks and giant corporations are given bailouts and subsidies, while 14.7 million children in America go to bed hungry each night. We watch as money “donated” to our legislators influences how they vote on gun control, product safety, and trade agreements. Franciscan Action Network is working to educate Americans about money in politics and to overturn Citizens United.
Fifty-five years ago this Sunday, February 1st, four African American students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College began a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter. This peaceful action sparked many similar nonviolent protests throughout the South, which eventually led to an end to segregation. As we mark the beginning of Black History Month today, let us look to the example of those who peacefully struggled, and who continue to struggle, to uphold human rights and human dignity both in our country and throughout the world.
Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board Member