Last fall, on a Sunday afternoon, as I walked out of the church, a young man tugged on my Franciscan habit. It was Miguel, a member of our Latino choir.
“Father,” he said, “please, pray for the people of my home parish back in El Salvador, especially for one of the priests who has received death threats.”
Startled, I asked: “What is happening there?"
“These priests are organizing against the multinational companies,” he said. “The companies are looking for gold. What will be left for our people? Only poisoned water, a wasteland, and death.”
A few weeks later, I had another similar conversation with a group from Guatemala. Theirs was a similar tale of how indigenous communities were being threatened by mining projects.
As a Catholic and a member of the Franciscan Order, I believe that we are called to “read the signs of the times” and to listen to the cry of the poor and the “groaning” of God’s Creation.
Photographs tell stories. At least, good ones usually do.
And there were some good pictures on display in Washington, D.C., for Oxfam America’s pop-up photo exhibit from acclaimed photographer Emma Hardy, whose work is regularly featured in The New York Times magazine, TIME, Vanity Fair, and Vogue.
The images tell the particular stories of Cambodians directly affected by land grabbing, the buying or leasing of large pieces of land in developing countries, by domestic and transnational companies, governments, and individuals, which in turn displaces the poor and vulnerable.
Faith and fishing: two central parts of Louisiana’s vibrant coastal culture. Every April, going back generations, you can see them intersect in a celebration of bayou life at the annual Blessing of the Fleet in Chauvin, La. Families welcome the opening of the year’s first shrimp season by coming together to pray for family and friends who depend on the seafood industry, and for a healthy ecosystem that yields a bountiful catch.
“We pray for the safety and welfare of all fishermen,” said Fr. Frederic Brunet, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic church who has presided over the event for many years. “Bless the shrimp and crabs and help us to catch a lot of them.”
This year saw the second blessing since the BP Oil Spill shut down the Gulf fishing industry in 2010. Since then, many shrimpers have reported problems: poor catches and startling irregularities (such as shrimp with no eyes).