COMBONI THAT DAY

A letter for the Responsibility of Leadership

Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Campaigning is an essential means of advocacy. Actually, a collective advocacy is a "campaign". A campaign It is a way to bring about improvements or changes for a particular group in the community or for all the community by identifying a problem, making the target audience aware of the problem, mobilizing other actors to support the intervention, persuading them to take action to resolve the problem or change a certain behavior. In a word, it is about tackling the causes of injustice, inequality, unfair thoughts and action, by challenging those structures, policies, practices and institutions that keep the poor in poverty.

To write letters is a tool of campaigning. We had an example, when on January 18th 2017, Mary Pellegrino, CSJ, and Brian Terry, SA, the Presidents of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) representing the elected leaders of more than 55,000 Catholic religious sisters, brothers, and priests sent a letter to President-Elect Donald Trump reminding him of leadership responsibility.

They wrote out of their concern for the critical needs facing the country and the world today, and the call to respond through the service of leadership. They express deep concerns about the “fractures and divisions” that “threaten the wellbeing and freedom of all north-Americans and those who have fled in fear to shores and borders” of the US. They urge all to commit to “respectful and dignified civil discourse.” In this letter, they invited President Trump and his administration to join them in promoting the “common good” and they renewed their own commitment to “actively advocate against promoting the privilege of some over the needs of others and turning away from our shores those who are in need.” They made this commitment in the context of Pope Francis’s message for the World Day of Peace urging President Trump to accept “Pope Francis’s challenge to political and religious leaders to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of our respective responsibilities. ‘It is a challenge,’ the Pope writes, ‘to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harming the environment, or seek to win at any cost.’”

“We and the members of our communities – stressed the letter – seek to be instruments of the reconciliation our people urgently need. In our poverty of spirit, we rely on the help of God and the example of Jesus, the one who came to serve us all. Since before the founding of our nation and often during its darkest hours, Catholic Sisters, Brothers and religious priests, ourselves often immigrants, have served the needs of both civic leaders and those on the outskirts of influence. We have chosen to live with those who were sick, dying or living in poverty. Our schools, hospitals and social services helped to build, shape and humanize north-American society by healing, educating and serving those in need regardless of ethnicity, religion, means or circumstance. Then and now, we strive to bring healing, hope and consolation in the face of sadness and despair.”

To write letters, above all when they come from influencing people to lawmakers or high authorities, is a serious tool of campaign: it can succeed, provoking peaceful and joyful change, or fail, engendering frustration and concern, but it always challenges awareness. It can be lost in the memories of social activists, but it’s always a seed for deeper consciousness and free commitment. 
Fr. Gianpaolo Pezzi [in the picture on the right].