Shared from the 9/12/2019 Houston Chronicle eEdition

Houston nuns to 2020 hopefuls: Serve good

The Catholic Sisters of Houston are proud to welcome all 2020 candidates to our great city for the next presidential debate. We hope that this will be a constructive moment of unity in our collective movement for justice. We invite you to get to know the people of Houston and learn about the work for justice being done here.

You gather here at a critical moment for our nation. Families and communities across the United States are in anguish. Catholic Sisters serve the most marginalized families on the front lines of these struggles. We need a president who supports this work, and we will be evaluating each of you with this in mind. Here’s what we’ll be looking for:

We challenge you to voice your commitment to racial justice during the debate. Our faith teaches that every person, regardless of race, income, or immigration status, has inherent dignity. Today, institutional barriers continue to bar people of color from accessing wealth, education, and equal protection. All presidential candidates should demonstrate their commitment to ending structural racism in our nation if they hope to hold our nation’s highest office.

We challenge you to commit to embracing immigrants. Our nation is turning its back on immigrants and asylum-seekers, and now inflammatory rhetoric and anti-immigrant policies push undocumented immigrants further into the shadows and threaten their safety. The consequences of anti-immigrant policies are deeply felt in our city.

Right here in Houston, hundreds of children separated from their parents by our government are kept in the Southwest Key detention center, a private prison. This is sinful. Our next president should reunite separated families, fund refugee resettlement, and support alternatives to detention.

We challenge you to address our nation’s wealth inequality and propose policies to promote amore just economic system. Our current federal tax policies favor the wealthy and keep them from paying their fair share. We reject this wrongheaded emphasis on individualism. Catholic ideas of social justice teach us that every person belongs to a single and interconnected human family. We have a responsibility to consider the good of the whole over the interests of the few. As Pope Francis said, “Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation.”

We live in the richest nation in the history of the world, but millions go hungry and can’t afford the basic necessities they need to live. Our next president should understand that we are failing to meet our moral obligation and commit to action. Raising the tax rate on wealthy corporations and individuals so that they pay their fair share will allow our nation to invest in people over profits. With a president who supports raising reasonable revenue for responsible programs, we can fund programs—many of them administered by Catholic nuns —- that mend the gaps and bridge the divides in our country: lower healthcare costs, improved access to housing, and protections for Medicare and Social Security. We challenge you to explain your plan for tax justice.

This is also a critical moment for the environment. Catholic social teaching creates aspecial responsibility for us and our relationship to the environment. We respect and protect the earth because it is a deliberate and magnificent part of God’s creation. If federal policy isn’t corrected, we condemn future generations to adevastated planet, and people experiencing poverty will be hurt the worst. Our next president should be a global leader on this issue. We challenge you to explain your plan to address climate change.

The 2020 election is crucially important for it can correct our nation’s trajectory and begin the dismantling of structures that cause poverty and inequality.

Please know, as you debate ideas that affect the future of our country, you have a great responsibility.

We pray for presidential candidates with a commitment to justice who will serve the common good.

Mayes, Dideon and O’Connell are Catholic nuns in Houston.

Catholic ideas of social justice teach us that every person belongs to a single and interconnected human family. We have a responsibility to consider the good of the whole over the interests of the few.

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