The Campaign for Justice
The World Meeting of Families (WMOF) Hunger and Homelessness Committee prepared for the Pope’s presence in Philadelphia by focusing attention on the struggles of our fellow citizens who struggle with poverty.
Given the Pope’s passionate and persistent call for compassion and social justice, we believed this was a powerful opportunity to promote a national public policy agenda focused on poverty. Our committee and national allies developed the attached statement, “A Time for Mercy and Justice: Pope Francis and the Pursuit of the Common Good in the United States.” We sent this statement to Congress and to the President, as an opening step in a “Mercy and Justice” on June 22, 2015. We sent follow-up communications to Congress later in the summer, and began a process of advocating for concrete policies.
A total of 537 letters were delivered to national elected officials with copies of the Mercy and Justice Statement – one for every Congressional representative, every Senator, and to President Obama and Vice President Biden.
131 national, regional, and local organizations co-sponsored the Mercy and Justice Statement and shared it through their networks.
A total of 20,291 email messages were sent to 461 different national elected officials urging them to support legislation in the spirit of mercy and justice.
One month after the Papal Visit, on October 27, 2015, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania came to Philadelphia and joined with Sister Mary Scullion and other nonprofit leaders to call for support for President Obama's request for $2.48 billion in this year's budget to help homeless Americans.
Pope Francis and the Pursuit of the Common Good in the United States
A Statement from the World Meeting of Families Hunger and Homelessness Committee
Philadelphia, June 2015
This September, Pope Francis will make his first visit to the United States. This is an historic moment that presents both profound challenges and opportunities for our nation.
This dynamic pope has seized the imagination of millions around the globe - Catholic and non-Catholic alike. This is in large part because he has spoken out so forcibly about those who are poor and suffering. In an era where the world economy seems inexorably structured to promote greater inequalities and dehumanization, the Pope urges us to hear the cry of our suffering sisters and brothers.
In the depths of our humanity, all of us hear this cry, and it calls forth from us our truest selves. Pope Francis has given us a gift, by urging us to refocus on the truth of poverty and struggle in our world, both in its global and local forms. He is inviting us to tap the wellsprings of compassion and goodness within us, and he is urging us to re-envision our societies along the lines of justice and human dignity.
With millions of Americans struggling for economic survival, we need to heed Pope Francis’ call to hear the cry of poverty in our nation. We believe his visit can be a spark for a renewed commitment by Americans of faith and conscience to actively work together toward greater social and economic justice.
“The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies,” the Pope has written. These words echo the deepest aspirations of our own national heritage, rooted in a vision of liberty and justice for all persons. They also point to a way forward, out of the current political polarization and economic stagnation that leave many Americans bereft of hope and uncertain of their future.
May we seize the historic moment of Pope Francis’ visit to reshape our nation into one in which all persons have true freedom and dignity, in which the preciousness of life is affirmed in our public policies in which families are healthy and stable. Let us build a society where adequate social supports, education, and economic opportunity empower every member of our community to flourish and contribute to a common good.
A Vision of a Just and Compassionate Society
“Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good. … I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor!” – Pope Francis
“A Place to Call Home”
Housing is a fundamental human need for individuals and families to have stability and to flourish. A safe, decent, affordable place to live is a cornerstone of the American dream. A just and compassionate vision of housing would include:
- Policies and resources that empower households with modest incomes to obtain quality affordable housing and that promote home ownership for Americans of all income levels.
- Permanent Supportive housing for Americans with special needs and those working to break the cycle of homelessness, as well as specialized housing to meet specific needs of veterans, at-risk youth, and persons with disabilities.
- Foreclosure prevention, income supports, and crisis intervention to prevent homelessness.
“A Place at the Table”
In a land of plenty, we must ensure that all individuals and families have access to food. We must work to make sure that private organizations and ministries work in tandem with public policies so that food needs are met for all Americans.
“A Chance to Flourish”
Work is essential to human dignity as well as necessary to individuals’ and families’ flourishing. Essential to the American promise is economic opportunity for all citizens. A just and compassionate society would maximize opportunities for work and employment with a living wage, or adequate income supports for those unable to work. Similarly, we must ensure that all children have access to quality education, which is a critical key to preventing homelessness and poverty.
“Health and Wholeness”
Healthcare is a fundamental human need and an essential component of a just society. All families and individuals need access to affordable, quality, and dignified healthcare – including services to cover behavioral health and disabilities supports and accessibility. We must especially work to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens, whose health issues are often aggravated by poverty and social marginalization, have the comprehensive and integrated healthcare services they need to empower them to break the cycle of poverty.
“Liberty and Justice for ALL”
We are a community of diverse people from all walks of life. In building a just society of liberty and opportunity for all people, we need to recognize segments of our community that often face discrimination and marginalization, both because of social attitudes and structural obstacles. These groups are often especially prone to experiencing poverty. These include persons with physical disabilities or mental health challenges; persons who have been through the criminal justice system and are seeking re-entry into society; and immigrants of varying legal status. We must assure that all services and policies maximize accessibility and inclusivity.
American Muslims For Hunger Relief
Armenian Orthodox Church
Catholic Charities USA
Center of Concern
Coalition on Human Needs
Conference for Mercy Higher Education
Department of Global Witness and Ministry - AME Church
Evangelicals for Social Action
Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart
Islamic Society of North America
JBJ Soul Foundation
Mercy International Association
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Health Care for the Homeless Council
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
National Low Income Housing Coalition
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Network of Spiritual Progressives
Pax Christi USA
PICO National Network
Sisters of Bon Secours, USA
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Institute Leadership Team
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Institute Justice Team
Sisters of St. Joseph
Society of St. Vincent de Paul - St. Maria Goretti Conference
The Shalom Center
The Simple Way
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Witnesses to Hunger
Regional, State, and Local Organizations
Advocacy & Training Center
Age Well Senior Services, Inc.
Aminah Ministries Inc
Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore Emmanuel Monastery
Broad Street Ministry
Catherine McAuley Center
Catholic Social Services, MA
The Center for Returning Citizens
Central City Concern
Chosen 300 Ministries
College of Saint Mary
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
Commission on Economic Opportunity
Congregation Rodeph Shalom, Philadelphia
EcoSpirituality Group, Society of the Holy Child of Jesus
Episcopal Community Services
Families Forward Philadelphia
Family Promise Of Berks County
Florida Community Prevention Center
Georgian Court University
Gwynedd Mercy University
Health Care Center for the Homeless, Orlando
Health Promotion Council
Helping Hands for the Hungry/St. Cyprian Church
Homeless & Housing Coalition of Kentucky
Homeless Planning Council of Delaware
Homeless Services Network of Charlotte/ Mecklenburg County
Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania
Immigrant Support And Assistance Center
Joseph's House of Camden
Kailo Haven Residents
Le Moyne College
Marian Court College
Maryland United for Peace and Justice
Mercy Associate Leadership Circle,
Mid-Atlantic Community of the Sisters of Mercy
Mercy Care for the Adirondacks
Mercy Health System, Southeastern Pennsylvania
Mercy Neighborhood Ministries of Philadelphia, INC.
Mercy Northeast Justice Council
Merion Mercy Academy
Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA)
Ministry of Caring, Inc.
Mitzvah Food Project
Morongo Basin Haven
Mother of Mercy House
My Brother's Keeper Shelter
New Visions Homeless Day Shelter
Nutritional Development Services, INC.
Our Mother of Sorrows Outreach Program
Pathways to Housing PA
Philadelphia Unemployment Project
Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless
The Right Place for Housing & Support
Saint Helena's Paish Social Ministry
Salve Regina University
Sisters of the Holy Redeemer
Sisters of Mercy, Buffalo and Rochester, NY
Sisters of Mercy, Mid-Atlantic Justice Office
Sisters of Mercy, Mid-Atlantic Community
Sisters of Mercy, South Central Community
Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Justice Team
Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Leadership Team
Sisters of Mercy, VT
Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis
Sisters of Saint Joseph Welcome Center
Society of St. Vincent DePaul, St. Maria Goretti Conference
Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community Board
S.S.J. Earth Center
Supportive Housing Network of New York
Supportive Housing Works
Sussex County Community Development & Housing
Tabernacle United Church
Tampa Crossroads, Inc
The Alternative Seminary
The Junior League of Philadelphia, Inc.
The Shalom Center
The SHARE Food Program, Inc.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Philadelphia
Saint Xavier University
University of Saint Joseph (CT)
Women Against Abuse
Women's Community Revitalization Project
Yogi In Ya