Social Justice

Social Justice

The Indiana Senate has passed Senate Bill 389 (SB 389), a piece of detrimental legislation to repeal regulated wetland laws that will endanger sensitive habitats. The Provincial Leadership Team of The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ have dedicated themselves to protecting creation through ecological restoration and preservation, which is why we are imploring Indiana Legislators to oppose SB 389 as it moves to the Indiana House. Wetlands filter pollutants to purify drinking water, support wildlife, reduce flood risk, and much more. The largest protections for our wetlands are state regulated. SB 389 would leave our wetlands vulnerable to be destroyed without oversight or discernment. Such legislation, if passed, places our wetlands at great risk of irrevocable damage.

According the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana has already lost 85% of the wetlands it once had, and this legislation puts 85% of the remaining wetlands at risk if we do not take action to protect them.

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ ask you to join them in opposition to SB 389 which could lead to the destruction of wetlands that are essential to our environment and our clean water. By working together, we can protect our remaining wetlands and bring about impactful environmental change.

Provincial Leadership of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ

As members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ stand with the other more than 1300 leaders of Catholic sisters nationwide as we make this statement:

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) joins with the world in praying for peace after witnessing the violence and lawlessness yesterday in our nation’s capital. We are deeply concerned about the state of our country and the future of our democracy. Our hearts ached as we watched these despicable actions that threaten not only to destroy the seat of our government but to rend the bonds that unite us. We commend and thank the members of Congress who courageously continued their service to the nation last night even amid the chaos.

In our increasingly divided nation, we renew our commitment to the common good and pledge to take up the challenge to use our energy to repair our democracy and contribute to the work of building a more perfect union. We invite all people of good will to join us and we call on our elected leaders to point the way.

The statement is on the LCWR website and on the LCWR Facebook page.

United in our prayer for the world,
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Blessings of God on you and your families.

You may recall that following the murder of George Floyd, the PHJCs as a member of the Coalition on Corporate Responsibility of Indiana-Michigan (CCRIM) a public Statement was signed along with 128 institutions and other Women Religious Congregations, committing to eliminating systemic racism. The statement with the full list of 128 current endorsements is now publicly available online at (Scroll to see PHJC Logo) and also placed on our PHJC Website.

Provincial Leadership of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ

In the wake of the verdict of no indictment in Ms. Taylor’s death, we the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ are committed to respecting, valuing, and holding the life of every person sacred. We grieve with Breonna’s family and the people of Louisville who like other minority groups across the nation continue to live with injustice in the face of division, racism and hate that has ravaged and threatened our democracy.

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ stand in solidarity with our black sisters and brothers as we work and pray for an end to abuse of power, racism, and injustices toward the poor, minorities and marginalized of our society.

We pledge our continued efforts to combat indifference and injustices as we “act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8)

The American Province of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ
September 23, 2020

Community Voice and Stance Pathway

An Open Letter of Concern:

We Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ are a group of Catholic Sisters who for the past 150 years have served the needs of people in the United States of America. Our first Sisters emigrated from Germany and our first ministry was to immigrants who came to this country in search of justice, freedom of religion, improved economies, peace – not unlike the wishes of today’s immigrants. We continue our ministry among those on the margins, particularly women and children.

We Sisters take the gospel seriously and seek to follow Jesus’ example. Jesus cared especially for those whom society often forgets. We have a history of ministries in education, child care, health care and social work and others. We sponsor a home for children medically compromised; we help women who are homeless and in need of job skills and social supports; we work with families in crisis; we support moms and babies needing basic health services; we help the elderly needing transportation to medical providers, and other ways of assistance. We do this through established institutions and through our individual personal works.

We Sisters are appalled and ashamed at the treatment that families at the Mexican border are experiencing from representatives of the USA. In particular, the separating of children from their parents represents action that is cruel; it is unchristian and un-American. We are better than this and should be able to find a way to protect our borders that avoids the punishment of children, potentially scarring them for life.

We call for an immediate change in policy and procedures so that families can stay together during the review process of asylum seekers and immigrants into our country. We ask that the US Department of Homeland Security, state and national agencies for children’s protection, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, along with other federal agencies act in ways that adhere to international law to respect, protect and fulfill human rights of children and adults.

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ stand in unity with our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters.  We agree with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious’ (LCWR) concerns and with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades’ statement on the recent Executive Orders halting refugee admissions. These concerns are addressed in the statements below.

LCWR Expresses Deep Concern about Executive Orders

January 30, 2017 

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is deeply disturbed by many of President Trump’s recent executive orders. His misplaced priorities and denigration of the values that form the bedrock of this nation, threaten us all.

We are deeply concerned about the administration’s executive orders on immigration and refugee resettlement which serve only to threaten border communities, force our immigrant community members further into the shadows, and endanger those fleeing violence. These misguided executive orders do nothing to make anyone more secure and may well have the opposite effect.

Spending billions of dollars on an unnecessary and ineffective wall and further militarizing the border will divert funding from health, education, and social programs and will not make America safe again. In fact, such action threatens the health and well-being of border communities, the environment, and those seeking refuge in our country. President Trump’s orders, if enacted, will tear families apart, challenge our already stressed immigration courts, and deny those fleeing persecution and violence their right to asylum; all at enormous cost to our treasure and our souls.

The president’s attempt to enhance public safety in the interior by cutting federal funding to sanctuary cities and counties will have the opposite effect. It challenges local authority and threatens to destroy the hard won trust of the immigrant community. The order eviscerates prosecutorial discretion and places every undocumented person in the country in danger of immediate deportation.

Finally, we are appalled by President Trump’s order which bans residents of seven Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, suspends refugee resettlement entirely for four months, and bars resettlement of Syrian refugees indefinitely. This is unconscionable in the face of the unprecedented global refugee crisis. More than 61 million people have been displaced from their homes, more than at any time since World War II. Some 21 million are refugees; most are children who have been forced from their homes by unthinkable violence. The Trump administration has forced all of us to turn our backs on families who are literally running for their lives.

This nation has a long history of welcoming immigrants and sheltering refugees. Women religious have been blessed to be able to accompany and serve immigrant and refugee communities across this country for a very long time. Catholic sisters remain committed to welcoming refugees who come to this country after passing through the U.S. government’s already rigorous screening processes. Halting or undermining the U.S. refugee resettlement program leaves vulnerable refugees, including women and children fleeing violence, in extreme danger and diminishes us all.

We strongly object to President Trump’s attempts to limit our ability to heed God’s call to welcome the stranger (Mt. 25:35) and to care for those most in need (Mt 25:40) and we are particularly concerned about rules and regulations that deny access to refugees because of their religion, race, or nationality. It is a violation of our faith and every norm of humanity.

We vow to continue to welcome refugees and minister to immigrants. LCWR and its members will continue to press for restoration of refugee resettlement, relief for families, an end to needless deportations, and the closure of all family detention centers. We will continue to advocate for compassionate, bipartisan legislation that fixes our broken immigration system. We will continue to stand in solidarity with families, regardless of immigration status, who labor daily to provide safety and security for their children.

LCWR is an association of leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. The conference has nearly 1300 members, who represent more than 38,800 women religious in the United States. Founded in 1956, LCWR assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today’s world.

Statement of Bishop Rhoades on Executive Order on Refugees

The Church stands firm in its commitment to the defense of the life and dignity of the human person and to the promotion of the common good.  Just last week, I joined over 1,000 young people from our diocese at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., where we publicly witnessed to the dignity of the unborn child.  It was a joy to bear witness to the Gospel of Life.

Our commitment to the Gospel of Life also includes the defense of the lives of so many innocent people who are victims of violence, war, religious persecution, and terrorism.  The number of refugees in the world today, persons who have had to flee their homes because their lives are in danger, is staggering.  The Church has been a leading agent in caring for and helping refugees, including resettling so many men, women, and children in our country.  I am proud of the excellent work of our own diocesan Catholic Charities in this area of service to these “least of our brothers and sisters.”  

I am saddened by the Executive Order of our president which suspends the entry of refugees into our country for 120 days, which indefinitely stops the admission of Syrian refugees, and which bars people from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days.  Many refugees are fleeing from ISIS and other extremists.  They are victims and are looking for safety.  Many are children.  I cannot imagine what it must be like for a father or mother to be in such desperate straits, only desiring the safety and wellbeing of their family.  

Clearly our government has a responsibility to protect the safety and security of the United States.  Certainly we must be vigilant lest terrorists infiltrate the refugee population.  But, as many attest, including our Church agencies involved in refugee settlement, “the U.S. is already using a thorough vetting process for refugees, especially for those from Syria and surrounding countries” (Sean Callahan, CRS President).  Fear should not lead us to forsake the innocent, of whatever nation or religion, whose lives are in danger.  

We must remember the criteria by which Jesus said we will be judged, including whether or not we welcomed the stranger among us. “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me,” Jesus said, in the parable of the last judgment, to those granted entry into His Kingdom.  “I was a stranger and you gave me no welcome,” Jesus said to those who were sent to eternal punishment.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind our responsibility to work for and promote the common good.  The common good is not only the good of our nation, but also the good of the human family, the universal common good.  Our brothers and sisters in the human family who are refugees are crying out for our compassion and love.  Let us pray fervently for refugees, for their safety, and for a renewed openness in our country to welcoming these brothers and sisters in need.   

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades’ statement was published in the February 5, 2017 edition of the Today’s Catholic. Bishop Rhoades is the Bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese.

Graphic used with permission of the Catholic Sisters of the Upper Mississippi River Valley