January 26, 2017
Dear President Trump, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer,
As members of the Catholic community, we welcome the opportunity to work with this new administration to promote the common good. As your administration takes office, we ask that the dignity of all life, a strong commitment to a just peace, and care for our common home hold a central focus.
As Catholics, we see the human person as created in the image and likeness of God, and value all life as sacred. This sacredness is threatened with each sister and brother left vulnerable in our society. This includes the immigrant, the refugee, the mother at risk, the unborn child, people with disabilities, and the prisoner on death row.
Great progress has been accomplished when all life is protected and we promote a culture of peace and nonviolence. Expansive safety nets that support women and families faced with difficult decisions are effective in contributing to building a culture of life. The steady decline in abortion rates is an important marker of that progress. Another sign of progress is that this past year had the lowest number of executions since 1991, and the fewest new death sentences in well over four decades.
Despite the important progress made, there are still many areas of concern. Far too many people continue to live in poverty, especially children. While the overall unemployment rate is declining, many Americans are not finding opportunities to meet their family needs and to revitalize communities through their work. The dignity and protection of all life is vitally important to a moral and prosperous society.
For that reason, we are concerned that human dignity continues to be threatened in the United States and abroad. A comprehensive pro-life approach would address the following areas of concern:
- Global Conflict and Violence: Current global instability and conflict pose a grave danger to life and the common good. Multiple ongoing conflicts impacting the United States’ interests and the continuing threat of nuclear proliferation make the need to work for just and sustainable peace imperative. We join Pope Francis in calling for a strong commitment to ending conflicts, restoring peace, and de-escalating violence and conflict with other nations.
- Immigration: The proposed deportation of over 11 million immigrants and the pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would break up families, forcing millions of people back into a life of poverty, political strife, and gang violence. We join the overwhelming majority of Catholics calling for comprehensive and humane immigration reform that provides a legal pathway for families to remain in our country. This includes maintaining the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and providing protection for young immigrants.
- Climate Change: As the effects of climate change are felt across our global society – disproportionately affecting the poor and most vulnerable – we join with Pope Francis and the vast majority of Catholics worldwide in calling for a commitment to comprehensive climate reform efforts. This includes honoring the Paris Agreement, contributing to the Green Climate Fund, and implementing a Clean Power Plan.
- Health Care and Social Services: Threats to cut funding for healthcare and other social services endanger the dignity of the 29 million Americans still without health care and the over 20% of our nation’s population living with a disability. People with disabilities seek and deserve to live independently in their communities. We therefore call for strong support and implementation of services that support their well-being and self-sufficiency, such as: Medicaid, education and employment programs.
- Refugee Crisis: Internationally, we face the largest refugee crisis since World War II, with over 4.8 million people having fled Syria, and an additional 6.6 million people internally displaced. This presents a horrific failure to respond to the Catholic community’s call to uphold and care for the life of the vulnerable in our society. We call for swift aid and support to address this crisis and reject proposals that would jeopardize the religious freedom of any groups, especially Muslims.
- Criminal Justice: A disproportionately high rate of incarceration for African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans reveals the deep racial disparities that exist in our country. As Catholics, we call for restorative processes that aim to heal the harm caused by unjust societal systems, including: relations with law enforcement, policies regarding land ownership and water rights, employment, and housing opportunities.
We call on you and all members of the incoming administration to prioritize human life and to promote policies that will enable life to flourish. You can show that you value life by committing to eliminate the poverty and violence that often leads to abortion and mass incarceration; by championing policies that address abortion, abolish the death penalty, confront climate change, promote humane immigration reform, welcome refugees fleeing unspeakable violence and work for a just and sustainable peace. You can show you value life by leading our great country with justice, mercy, compassion, and wisdom.
In his address to Congress in 2015, Pope Francis called on all of us to uphold the dignity and value of all life: “Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples."
We urge you to heed the words of Pope Francis and to serve with the wisdom and moral leadership that our world needs to uphold the dignity and well-being of all human life.
Catholic Mobilizing Network
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Ignatian Solidarity Network
The Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
National Council of Catholic Women
Catholic Climate Covenant
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach