Chicago

Shively Smith 6-12-2017

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In essence, we have struggled to understand the work and responsibility of Christian compassion in issues of healthcare and policy. Should this responsibility be shared by all and secured by the government, or should it primarily be the domain of people of faith and those moved by a higher calling to mercy and healing? With the new GOP Health Care Bill, and the ongoing debates about healthcare in America, Christians across the aisle struggle to evaluate how well we are doing at caring for the disenfranchised and the sick.

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Nine Catholic organizations from around the world have announced they are divesting their savings from coal, oil, and gas companies, in a joint bid to fight climate change.

Religious orders and dioceses from the U.S. and Italy made the announcement on May 10, ahead of international negotiations due this month on implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change.

the Web Editors 4-10-2017

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On April 10, Columbia University presented 21 Pulitzer Prizes for achievements in journalism, literature, and music. Notables from the list of social justice-oriented works that received a Pulitzer Prize include: New York Daily News and ProPublica receiving the Public Service award for reporting on evictions of mostly poor minorities carried out by police abusing the law —

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With the blessing of Pope Francis, Cardinal Blase Cupich on April 4 unveiled an anti-violence initiative for this beleaguered city that will be underscored by a Good Friday procession, using the traditional stations of Jesus’ way to the cross to commemorate those who have lost their lives in street violence.

Cupich said he was inviting civic, education, and religious leaders, and “all people of good will,” to take part in the April 14 “Peace Walk” through the heart of the violence-scarred Englewood neighborhood.

Image via Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened on March 27 to cut off U.S. Justice Department grants to cities that fail to assist federal immigration authorities, moving the Trump administration closer to a potential clash with leaders of America's largest urban centers.

Sessions' statements were aimed at a dozens of cities and other local governments, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, that have joined a growing "sanctuary" movement aimed at shielding illegal immigrants from stepped-up deportation efforts.

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It was her desire to hear the stories of real people — “not just faceless refugees or immigrants” — that brought the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton to a refugee resettlement agency that provides a range of services to refugees in the Chicago area.

“Especially now, when there’s this fear that’s been stirred up, and anti-refugee sentiment, it’s really critical to say, ‘No, these people are our grandparents, our aunts and uncles,” said the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination.

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Anti-Semitic incidents have been rising in the U.S. in the past few years, and many Jews and others fault the Trump administration for only belatedly calling out anti-Semitism, and for failing to explicitly denounce those who have heralded his election as a victory for white people.

And Jewish and Muslim groups have banded together in unprecedented ways, in recent months, as mosques and Jewish institutions have been targeted.

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As Pope Francis marks the fourth anniversary of his revolutionary papacy, the pontiff apparently finds himself besieged on all sides by crises of his own making: an open “civil war” in the Catholic Church and fears of schism, mounting opposition from the faithful, and a Roman Curia so furious with his reforms that some cardinals are plotting a coup to topple him.

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More than 500 prominent evangelical Christians from every state have signed on to a letter addressed to President Trump and Vice President Pence, expressing their support for refugees. The “Still We Stand” petition, coordinated by World Relief, ran on Feb. 8 as a full-page advertisement in the Washington Post.

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In one weekend, the swastika appeared in public places in three U.S. cities — HoustonChicago, and New York. The sight was so offensive, average New Yorkers pulled out hand sanitizer and tissues to wipe the graffiti from the walls of the subway where it had been scrawled.

“Within about two minutes, all the Nazi symbolism was gone,” one subway rider who was there said. He added, “Everyone kind of just did their jobs of being decent human beings.”

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“We were wrong.”

That’s how former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns summarized one of the most notorious episodes in the history of American refugee policy. In 1939, the MS Saint Louis carried 937 Jewish refugees towards our shores. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration denied the ship access to the U.S. and forced it to return to Europe. A third of the passengers died at Auschwitz and other concentration camps.

Marcia Good 1-27-2017
BrooklynScribe / Shutterstock, Inc.

BrooklynScribe / Shutterstock, Inc.

“The walls are the publishers of the poor.” —Eduardo Galeano

She had a simple assignment. Walk into the botánica, buy something small, and at minimum exchange greetings with Doña Victoria, the owner who knew she would be seeing random students from DePaul University in Chicago, where I teach, coming in during the week.

But the student sat outside on a bench, pretending to text instead. Why? She admitted that she hesitated going in “for reasons I’m not very proud of”—there were four people on the street, all of them older than her and speaking Spanish, a language she didn’t understand. Three of them had tattoos and piercings. Was she encroaching on their neighborhood? Would that be considered offensive?

When you feel scared and intimidated, what do you do next? She busied herself in her phone until she thought they were gone, and then entered the store.

Later, she wrote:

So I went in, only to discover they were inside as well. I quietly went to look at candles, hoping no one would talk to me. However, the lady I wrote about to the class—the mother who had come to ask Doña Victoria for a prayer of protection for her son, the woman who helped me pick out a candle and patiently answer all of my questions—was the same woman I had avoided outside of the store. She was so willing to help a complete stranger who was so obviously not from the area that I felt incredibly guilty for judging based on her appearance.

Even though I am well aware this entire story sounds like something out of one of those “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books for preteens that teach lessons of cultural acceptance, volunteering for good, creating lasting friendships, etc., everything is completely true and the significance is only becoming apparent as I reflect back. I witnessed the blessing of candles for long-lasting love and safety from violence that day. I also walked away with a unique experience and new impression of Humboldt Park. No other neighborhood that I visited welcomed a complete stranger with such open arms.

the Web Editors 1-13-2017

There were more than 400 force reports and over 170 officer related shootings in Chicago from January 2011 to April 2016 that. Not only did the department review, investigate and analyze these police documents, procedures, and trainings, they met with city leaders, community organizers, former police officer, rode along with current officers, and heard from over 1000 community members before making this judgement.

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The outgoing president encouraged Americans to listen better and try harder, to realize that “science and reason matter,” to assume the best of others. That’s important in a time, he said, when it’s “become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions.”

Jim Wallis 1-10-2017

President Barack Obama at a rally in Charlotte, N.C. July 5, 2016. Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com

The election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States was a fundamental blow to white supremacy — a black man in the highest office of the land and most powerful position in the world. That was and will always be a great legacy of the Obama presidency — a historic moment in the longstanding and ongoing movement to undo white supremacy and privilege that challenged and threatened all the ways the original sin still lingers.

Kathy Kelly 1-03-2017

One of more than 750 crosses carried in a Chicago rally commemorating homicide victims on New Year’s Eve. Photo by Ed Juillard.

It was a year of social service program shutdowns driven by the governor’s office in Springfield. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s description of a triplet of giant evils, each insoluble in isolation from the others, helps us identify an answer to the Tribune’s question. King spoke of the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism. Training for, and the diversion of money to, wars overseas was a crisis inextricable from the race crisis at home, as were policies promoting radical wealth inequality. Rep. Danny Davis of Chicago, whose grandson was killed by gun violence in 2016, insists that “poverty was fueling the city’s bloodshed, and that Chicago needed to make investments ‘to revamp whole communities.’

Eboo Patel 12-21-2016

Imagine receiving this message on your voicemail: “Dear Mr. Gonzalez, we regret to inform you that your heart surgery has been canceled. The medical professionals scheduled to perform it, Doctors Sarna and Latif, have discovered that they have serious disagreements about Middle East politics. Consequently, they are refusing to work together. We will do our best to find you other doctors, before your condition becomes fatal.”

Seem far-fetched? In my mind, it is the logical outcome of the manner in which many Jewish and Muslim groups have chosen to engage each other in recent years. Or, rather, not engage.

Richard Mouw 12-14-2016

Some of my friends have been talking about giving up the “evangelical” label, because of what it has come to be associated with, in this year’s political campaign. I’m not ready to make that move. I spent a good part of the 1960s trying hard not to be an evangelical, but without success.

When I marched for civil rights during my graduate school years, I helped to organize “ban the bomb” marches and protested the Vietnam War. I was clearly out of step with much of the evangelicalism of the day.

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First came the mayors of New York, Chicago, and Seattle declaring their cities “sanctuaries”, and saying they will protect undocumented immigrants from President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to deport them.

Then thousands of students, professors, alumni, and others at elite universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Brown, signed petitions, asking their schools to protect undocumented students from any executive order.

Now, religious congregations, including churches and synagogues, are declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for immigrants fleeing deportation.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Jerry Lai/USA Today Sports

For decades, people have milked metaphors of baseball and religion beyond what they are worth. It’s not illegal, though there should probably be a special place in hell for those who claim to see the Trinity in baseball’s rule that three outs end an inning, or that the ballpark is a “cathedral.”

The truth is, we can go deeper.

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