Consensus Report: Inequality
Aware that our abundance arises out of a place of privilege we, as a congregation, share a passionate desire to engage with others in confronting issues of inequality in our society today. As we acknowledge our own biases, racist attitudes and white privilege, we want to act boldly in areas of injustice in society and Church such as economic disparity, immigration, violence and gender discrimination.
Discernment Question: God of infinite abundance, as women and men who share a passionate desire to confront issues of inequality in our society, to what bold actions are you calling us at this time?
After listening, reflection and conversation, we recommend the following direction/s.
1. Acknowledging that systemic racism of all kinds is a root cause of inequality in our society, and consistent with our Constitutions (#15, 17, 19, and 45), we commit to recognize our unearned privileges and explore and acknowledge our responsibility for our participation in systemic racism and marginalization of people. We will consider meaningful reparations and ways to support persons (e.g., persons of color, indigenous, immigrants, refugees) experiencing discrimination, poverty, and other inequities.
1. We are called to seek out and partner with others who are addressing systemic issues of injustice in all its forms, especially racism.
We are called to educate ourselves about our own accountability to convert our study of racism from an academic pursuit to something that changes us and moves us to action.
We are called to direct some of our BVM congregational resources in support of minority businesses, reparations for slavery and restitution to Native Americans.
We are called to advocate for and partner with religious women Congregations of color both in country and out of country and with local and national organizations that promote racial equality.
1.We strive to give strong public witness to Gospel values by taking bold action against oppression, brought about by unjust political and social structures through actions in the following areas including: (ref. Cons. #17)
- Systemic Racism:
-use financial resources to support minority businesses
-Reparation to Native Americans / slavery (sisters in black communities) / Asians / Latinx (sisters in black communities) scholarship
2. Immigration: BVM Congregational statement 2018 / global awareness
- Service/ hospitality / political advocacy/ finances
3. Climate: create sustainable world
* ensure access to clean water / lobby congress to support policy for infrastructures related to clean water
- Education / direct advocacy / reduce carbon footprint
- Make Covid-19 Vaccines available world wide
- Health facilities for the poor locally and internationally
5. Violence (esp guns)
- lobby congress for policy regarding guns and police violence
6. Public Statements
- continue to use internal and external media to promote our positions on issues
We will explore our own and community blind spots on the issues listed above and join with others in taking positions of advocacy and reparation.
1. We commit to educate ourselves and to work with others for a change in attitude in addressing systems that perpetuate racism:
-Acknowledging our own racism, and exploring our own unconscious biases and blind spots, personal and congregational, and any possible need for response or reparation.
-Continuing to assure that any funds we give promote our values and concerns for creating greater equity
-Collaborate with other religious congregations to publicly challenge the continued exclusion by our Church of certain groups (women, LGBTQ, etc.) from ministry and Sacrament.
-Extending our concern, money and service to immigrants, refugees and others seeking asylum.
-Mutually supporting international congregations of women religious/ Vietnamese IHMs, African Sisters Educational Collaborative, etc.
1. Focus on ways to make systemic change in practices which promote racism, economic discrimination, material deprivation, environmental degredation/harmful climate change. Form collaborative partnerships with groups working for systemic change
2. Educate ourselves about different cultures, including listening to those whose experiences are different from ours. Examine congregational history for biases; identify personal biases and blind spots and work to change.
In sharing our financial resources, at this time we are being called to review our BVM funding policies and practices to have a greater impact.
1. We only have one planet. In light of the severe challenges facing the earth and all its inhabitants, we commit ourselves to joining with others in creating a more just, inclusive, equitable and sustainable world in which all flourish.
2. We acknowledge our responsibility for our participation in systemic racism and we continue to educate ourselves and explore meaningful congregational responses.
1. We are called to acknowledge and educate ourselves and others about privilege and racism, and work boldly and courageously toward systemic change in society and the Church.
2. We are called to evaluate our financial distribution policy and practices and respond in collaboration with other organizations having shared values in response to emerging local and global needs.
1.Being and becoming the face of the inclusive, welcoming, and merciful Church working for a just and equitable society by:
- Committing to educate ourselves and others to a change in attitude on critical issues of our time, exploring our own biases, and humbly acknowledging our participation in past wrongs and making communal acts of reparation.
- Raising our communal voice for justice in collaboration with other women and men religious and other organizations in the US and internationally when appropriate.
- Engaging in a congregation-wide conversation around how much we are willing to risk by publicly challenging the continued exclusion by our Church of various groups (women; LGBTQ; etc.) in regard to governance, ministry, and sacrament.
1. We root our suggested actions in Constitutions 15, 17, 19, 45, making every effort to personally and corporately:
- LISTEN, LEARN, LAMENT, LEAD
- collaborate with diverse groups to expand our understanding and respond to inequities in Church and society
- review corporate funding policies and practices through the lens of mitigation of systemic racism
- humbly explore and acknowledge our personal and congregational privilege and responsibility for our participation in systemic racism and marginalization of people, and consider meaningful reparations
- continue personal and corporate education and boldly use our communal voice to join with others to make statements on local and global issues of justice
We boldly dare to question ourselves and others in regard to:
- Climate change
- Gender inequality
- And other prejudices
We work collaboratively and take a public stance on:
- Making congregational reparation
- Using our finances to deal with the issues listed
- Working to educate ourselves and others in regard to diversity and multi-culturalism
- Initiating congregational discussion regarding public stances and how much tolerance we have for degrees of risk
- Collaborating with others to expand access to clean water and sanitation
1. Being and becoming the face of the inclusive, welcoming & merciful Church:
- We desire to continue studying the critical issues of our times, exploring our own biases, and humbly acknowledging our participation in past wrongs;
- to collaborate with global & local religious congregations & others to act boldly in challenging the hierarchical Church & unjust societal realities. In acknowledging the abuse of power, we commit ourselves to make reparations in the areas of all “isms”, particularly racism & women’s role; and
- to educate ourselves about global issues to focus our financial contributions, and to evaluate our financial distribution prcocesses to respond in collaboration with other organizations with shared values to emerging local & global needs.
1. As vowed BVMs and promised Associates, we desire to confront issues of inequality by boldly
- Challenging the continued exclusion by our Church and our society of various groups (e.g., women, LGBTQ+, etc.) and in regard to ministry, sacraments, and language,
- Analyzing endowment giving through the lens of our values and potentially establishing our own foundation/trust for distribution to groups that share our values,
- Collaborating with others who address systemic issues of injustice in all forms, especially racism,
- Acknowledging our congregational harm toward others and begin making reparations, and
- Continuing to acknowledge the abuse of power by corporations.
1. We desire to collaborate, along with local and global religious congregations and others, to seek out and partner with others who are addressing systemic issues of injustice in all its forms especially racism.
In order to hold us accountable:
- we would review in dialogue with all concerned our current BVM policies and practices to build relationships
- by or through reparations
For example: education as a first step, to be informed and transformed
Inclusive ways to disburse our resources.
1. To educate ourselves and others as to how our consumption impacts climate change and how climate change affects inequality and injustice. To address the climate crisis by responding both as a community & individuals by consuming less and reducing our carbon footprint.
2. Put ourselves in places where we can learn from those who experience racist attitudes and economic disparity. This learning will inform our actions for the future which could include using BVM resources to endow ministries serving the marginalized to enable sustainability.
1. We are called
- to be open and to be led by the spirit of God
- to explore the abundance provided by our own privilege;
- to reflect on our own failures of prejudices and biases;
- to acknowledge what we have done and failed to do;
- to listen to the people we have hurt;
- to confront issues of inequality we have caused and to act boldly to repair the injustice.
1. There is a deep grief for the situations of discrimination currently in our society that calls us to seek out ways to learn about and be in the company of persons of different ethnic and marginalized groups.
- Create reading circles for books written by people of color or different groups.
- Establish Zoom conversations to learn more about indigenous people with whom you should know.
- Stay current with issues in the news
- Advocate for accurate and inclusive curriculum options for students
- Advocate for legislation that does not impede or discriminate marginalized people
- Looking to our current communities and see where we can advocate and support social justice efforts in the areas we are now.
- Hold focused discussions on how we are reaching out to people of color and marginalized populations to see what their sides of issues are in the community.
- Create ever-widening circles of conversation on the topics of discrimination.
- Dedicate prayer time with diverse groups to address these issues.
1. The bold actions we feel God is calling us to at this time include:
- To create a speakers’ forum for educating on theology and Church;
- To support institutions that address inequities in education at all levels;
- To share our abundance with those in need, especially the poor, the homeless, immigrants, and families at the Borders;
- To continue to make corporate and personal choices that support care of the earth;
- To offer opportunities to have each voice heard on social justice issues facing our government leaders.