Gina Ciliberto is a writer who lives in Minneapolis, Minn., by way of the Bronx. She writes about religion, social justice, food and travel. Her work has been published in Bon Appétit , National Catholic Reporter , HuffPost, ThinkProgress and YES Magazine , among others. She also works as the online communications and programming specialist for the Dominican Sisters of Hope.

In her free time, Gina enjoys fostering bulldogs and companioning small groups of Catholic Sisters and millennial seekers via Nuns and Nones. Follow her on Twitter @ginaciliberto.



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CDC: 1.5 Million Children Orphaned by COVID-19

by Gina Ciliberto 07-22-2021
A child looks at the “Naming the Lost Memorials” at The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 10, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid.

A child looks at the “Naming the Lost Memorials” at The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 10, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid.

According to a new report, 1.5 million children lost at least one primary caregiver to COVID-19 by the end of April 2021.

Children: The Hidden Pandemic 2021 — a joint report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States Agency for International Development, and World Without Orphans, in conjunction with other global child welfare experts — stated that, without immediate action, “the COVID-19 pandemic is destined to leave millions more children orphaned.”

Will U.S. Christians Atone for Church Boarding Schools? Indigenous Leaders Are Skeptical

by Gina Ciliberto 07-20-2021
Recently installed solar lights mark burial sites on Cowessess First Nation, where a search had found 751 unmarked graves from the former Marieval Indian Residential School near Grayson, Saskatchewan in Canada on July 6, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon VanRaes

Recently installed solar lights mark burial sites on Cowessess First Nation, where a search had found 751 unmarked graves from the former Marieval Indian Residential School near Grayson, Saskatchewan in Canada on July 6, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon VanRaes

For Indigenous communities, the existence of these schools and the abuse, neglect, and murder committed within them are not new; Indigenous communities have been aware of — and harmed by — boarding schools, many of them run by Christian groups, for generations. And though Indigenous people have ideas about how Christian communities can atone for their involvement in the schools, many are not sure Christians are willing to listen.

Why Clergy Are Suing Georgia Over New ‘Election Integrity’ Law

by Gina Ciliberto 07-01-2021

People gather during a stop on the Freedom Ride For Voting Rights at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. June 21, 2021. REUTERS/Dustin Chambers

Rev. Carl McCrae, bishop and founding pastor of Exousia Lighthouse International Christian Ministries in Lithonia, Georgia, remembers that his grandfather was one of the first people to vote in Georgia’s Montgomery County. Government officials attempted to prevent his grandfather from voting — until a white man vouched for him. Now, McCrae sees his ministry as continuing his grandfather’s fight for Black and brown Americans’ voting rights.

“I don't see a discontinuation between what I do in the pulpit on Sundays and what I do every day of the week,” McCrae told Sojourners. “That is to advocate for people of color and marginalized people as the systems that are rigged against them seek to destroy them.”

Supreme Court Rules for Catholic Group in LGBTQ Foster Care Case

by Gina Ciliberto, by Joshua Eaton 06-17-2021

The United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., May 17, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday that Philadelphia violated Catholic Social Services’ religious freedom by not placing children with the agency after CSS refused to place foster children with married same-sex couples.

“The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless CSS agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a narrow decision.

When a Pipeline Is a Threat to Earth, Water, and Sacred Spaces

by Gina Ciliberto 06-16-2021

Activists and faith leaders father to protest the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project. Photo Courtesy Carla Aronsohn at Cultivate Strategies.

In 1855, the Ojibwe people signed a treaty in Washington, D.C., that retained extensive land use rights in the Great Lakes region for hunting, gathering, fishing, and worship rights for the community. Today, the Ojibwe, who live throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada, still retain these 1855 treaty rights, which are separate from reservation land.

But the Line 3 Replacement Project is seeking to cut through the land, which activists say would directly violate those treaty rights.

Minnesota Churches Building Together in Year After Floyd's Murder

by Gina Ciliberto 06-03-2021

A view of George Floyd Square on the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, May 25, 2021. REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi

“This solidarity has the potential and the power to propel us into a new future as a community,” Rev. Ingrid Rasmussen, pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, told Sojourners.

Do the New CDC Guidelines Mean a Return to In-person Worship?

by Gina Ciliberto 05-14-2021

Image via Shutterstock / Redaktion93

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidelines telling people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine that they can now attend a full-capacity worship service and sing in an indoor chorus, among other activities.

While people “will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation” the CDC guidelines now say that if “you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did before the pandemic...without wearing a mask or physically distancing.”

Biden Promised to Admit More Refugees. So Why Hasn’t He?

by Gina Ciliberto 05-03-2021

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks speaks during a brief appearance at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 25, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Throughout his presidential campaign, Joe Biden said he would restore America’s role as a “leader” in refugee resettlement. And despite a discouraging start on fulfilling that promise, faith leaders and other advocates for refugees are determined to hold him to his commitment.

Will Bishops Tell Biden Not to Take Communion Over Abortion?

by Gina Ciliberto 04-28-2021

Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, D.C., has said that he would not deny Biden Communion; Rev. C. Kevin Gillespie, pastor of Biden’s home parish in Washington, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, agreed with that decision.

When Conspiracy Theories Come To Church

by Gina Ciliberto 04-28-2021
How to deprogram followers of Trumpism and other extremist cults.
Abstract illustrations of ears, hands, and a church building in a sinister red.

Illustration by Ibrahim Rayintakath

BEFORE 2020, REV. JOSH GELATT did not know much about QAnon. Gelatt had been lead pastor at Cascades Baptist Church in Jackson, Mich., since 2016. On occasion, he had heard congregants allege that “Democrats, liberals, and socialists are evil,” and that “they’re out to close churches and take away guns in the United States.” He had heard Christian nationalistic claims, such as “we are God’s chosen country.”

Gelatt, who does not identify as a Democrat or a Republican, was reasonably concerned. Then in spring 2020, Gelatt noticed what he called an “alarming twist” in his congregation.

After the murder of George Floyd in May, Cascades Baptist Church erupted with QAnon’s apocalyptic conspiracy theories, which the FBI has warned may lead some adherents to domestic terrorism. In the church and on social media, Gelatt witnessed members share false allegations that then-presidential candidate Joe Biden had “an island with an underground submarine where he receives his pedophile orders” and that there were “underground railroads between various cities run by Hollywood elites.” Congregants claimed that then-President Donald Trump was going to “seize power, execute the liberals, and expose pedophile rings.”

Despite Hate From Evangelicals, Katharine Hayhoe Sees Climate Hope

by Gina Ciliberto 04-20-2021

Katharine Hayhoe poses for a portrait. Courtesy photo. (Ashley Rodgers/Texas Tech University)

Hayhoe’s passion for climate science is based in her Christian faith. Hayhoe is an evangelical, which she defines as “someone who takes the Bible seriously.” For her, faith and science go hand in hand: The more that she learns about science, the more her “awe” and faith in God increases.

Christians Counter the Rise of Anti-Trans Legislation

by Gina Ciliberto 04-14-2021
Trans Christians and their allies see affirming gender expression as a “holy endeavor.”

A person holds up a flag to protest a proposal to narrow the definition of gender during a 2018 rally at City Hall in New York City. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

On April 6, the Arkansas State Legislature passed a bill that will make it a felony to provide gender-affirming healthcare to transgender people under the age of 18.

The legislature overrode a veto from Gov. Asa Hutchinson to pass HB 1570, also known as the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act. The bill criminalizes prescribing puberty blockers, hormones, and gender-affirming surgery, and prohibits medical providers from referring patients to other providers for such treatment.

Biden Proclaims César Chávez Day to Honor the Labor Activist

by Gina Ciliberto 04-01-2021

A child looks at a photograph of César Chávez. Photo: lunita lu / CC BY-NC 2.0

In a White House proclamation, President Joe Biden declared March 31, 2021 as César Chávez Day. Biden called upon “all Americans to observe this day as a day of service and learning, with appropriate service, community, and education programs to honor César Chávez’s enduring legacy.”

Why Do Chaplains Have To Pay for Their Internships?

by Gina Ciliberto 03-30-2021

Earlier this month, after a tweet reignited a debate about the inequity of unpaid internships, one corner of the internet pointed out that clinical pastoral education, an unpaid internship that often costs tuition, is an overlooked part of the work-for-free problem.

Sr. Dianna Ortiz, Torture Survivor and Activist, Dies at 62

by Gina Ciliberto 02-19-2021

Sr. Dianna Ortiz. Photo: Johnny Zokovitch

On Feb. 19, Sr. Dianna Ortiz, OSU died of cancer at age 62. Ortiz is known for her international anti-torture activism following her own kidnapping and torture in Guatemala in 1989.

A Love Letter to the Black Church

by Gina Ciliberto 02-16-2021

The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song airs on PBS on Feb. 16 & 17. Image via screengrab.

On Feb. 16, PBS will air the first episode of a new, four-hour, two-part series, The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song. Hosted and written by Henry Louis Gates Jr., who is also the documentary’s executive producer, the series traces the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America, beginning with the trans-Atlantic slave trade and culminating in the present day.

Virginia to Become First Southern State to Abolish Death Penalty

by Gina Ciliberto 02-05-2021

The Virginia State Capitol, the seat of state government of the Commonwealth of Virginia, is pictured in Richmond, Va., Feb. 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jay Paul

Lawmakers in Virginia voted on Friday to abolish the death penalty. The Democratic-led House of Delegates voted 57-41 Friday, after the Senate passed the measure earlier this week. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, said he would sign the repeal into law.

We’re Perfecting Our Capacity for Human Destruction

by Gina Ciliberto 02-01-2021

A sign advocating nuclear disarmament outside the White House on July 4, 2009. Image: Frontpage /

On Jan. 27, former California Gov. Jerry Brown — now executive chair of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists — spoke passionately to fellow global leaders, scientists, and public figures at the Doomsday Clock virtual news conference. “It’s time to eliminate nuclear weapons, not build more of them,” he said.

After 1,300 Days, Pastor José Chicas Leaves Sanctuary

by Gina Ciliberto 01-22-2021

Pastor José Chicas, right, leaves sanctuary on Jan. 22, 2021 in Durham, N.C. Photo: Pilar Timpane.

Today, Pastor José Chicas — an undocumented immigrant who has been in sanctuary in Durham, N.C., since June 27, 2017 — is returning home. His departure from sanctuary comes as a result of President Joe Biden’s 100-day moratorium on some deportations.

Presidents ‘Are Not Supreme Authority,’ Inaugural Prayers Remind Us

by Gina Ciliberto 01-20-2021

The U.S. Capitol during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on Jan. 20, 2021. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

At President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Rev. Leo O’Donovan, SJ, invoked the “Holy Mystery of Love” to be with us “as we dream together.”