Author: Meghan Clark

Crisis on the Border: The Global Refugee Crisis Comes to America

El Salvador. Honduras. Guatemala. Three countries in Central America with increasing, rampant gang violence and homicide. These are also the 3 countries from which the greatest influx of unaccompanied minors are crossing the border, fleeing to the United States. If we look at the graph, it is clear that the increase of unaccompanied children crossing are not coming from Mexico, but through Mexico to the United States. These children and those who are traveling with their mothers are fleeing from horrific violence and insecurity. I want to be clear from the very beginning of this post – these children are refugees.   So why is it that every time I turn on the television I hear elected officials pontificating about border security? Listening to the litany of Republican congressman, Tea Party activists, and pundits like Governor Palin I have seen interviewed over the past 4 days, it is as if the primary crisis on the border is one of security – all these children are getting across the border. As much of the nation was ensconced in celebrating “independence,” protesters blocked a bus transporting unaccompanied minors. I am horrified,  disgusted, and ashamed of my fellow citizens. The humanitarian crisis at the border is not a political problem. It is not even an immigration problem. It is merely the latest instance of a global refugee crisis. These children are fleeing...

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What is theology? Moral Theology is Messy

Throughout this weekend’s CTSA, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of context within the practice of theology. “Identity and Difference, unity and fragmentation” was the theme and the theme surrounded the conference in ways that I haven’t experienced other year’s themes. There is no doubt that the “conversation starter” of the weekend was Paul Griffiths talk on theological disagreement (see here for Commonweal live tweets and discussion by others).  Griffiths’s paper and Michelle Saracino’s response served as a catalyst for many fruitful discussions about how we each understand the vocation of the theologian and our own participation in the CTSA. Personally, I was deeply uncomfortable with Griffiths talk – not because of his understanding of what he thinks theology is and its purpose but because it was communicated as if it was THE one answer.   I recognized the words he was using – doctrine, interpretation, speculation….and yet, I found his definitions inadequate to capture the depths of “faith seeking understanding” within the numerous branches of Catholic theology and within the Global Church.  His is one way of understanding the theological project – but it is not the only way and as a Catholic ethicist, it’s untenable for moral theology. As a philosophy major, I learned and deeply believe in defining terms and clarifying arguments while maintaining intellectual humility. Intellectual humility is not just about the recognition that...

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Caution: Entitlement & Personal Responsibility

This morning my colleague Julie Hanlon Rubio posted an excellent blog on Paul Ryan and Poverty.  I agree with her 5 points and find them helpful. In the face of poverty, responding to the immediate need is necessary as is structural change (employment, education, affordable housing, etc). This is why the USCCB emphasizes charity and justice as the “two feet of love in action.”  One of the key elements of Julie’s post is the recognition that we are all deeply embedded in personal, familial, social, and cultural realities.Social programs and family life both need to be strengthened to empower those for whom “life is a hill.” We  need a broader and deeper understanding of what constitutes family – so that the inter-generational reality of strong families is captured within our vision of “the answer.” Thus, as she notes, strengthening families of single mothers and single fathers can only be done by listening and engaging them. We seem to have hit a point where we are on a merry-go-round and do not ever seem to move beyond that. Personally, I find it particularly difficult to keep blogging on the same issues – because actual data doesn’t seem to make a difference in the public debate. And yet, I want to make a strong case that the loud and constant debunking of Ryan’s claims about poverty and poor persons is absolutely...

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“There is No Them, Only Us” Learning from U2’s Invisible

Last night, as millions were watching the Superbowl, U2 launched their new single “Invisible.” Everything about this song is what fans like myself have come to expect from U2 – both the song and its release pushing us to see those whom we otherwise might not notice (and raising some money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS in the process – as Bank of America has pledged $1/ per itunes download). In Evangelium Gaudium 53, Pope Francis explains that we must be concerned not just with exploitation but with exclusion. The excluded are “thrown away;” it is as if they do not exist as human persons, they simply do not count.  They are invisible – and yet, their voices call out to the Lord – and we, like Cain, respond “Am I my Brother’s keeper?  Am I my Sister’s keeper?” There is much we can learn from prayerfully reflecting on Pope Francis’s repeated use of the Cain and Able story…but, for now I’d us to prayerfully reflect on what U2’s new song “Invisible” can teach us about human dignity and the one human family. The song includes two refrains and both of them poetically push us to a deeper understanding  justice, inequality, participation, and solidarity. The first: I’m more than you know/ I’m more than you see here I’m more than you let me be I’m more than you know / A...

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Reflecting on the War on Poverty: Booker & Ryan in the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal ran dueling op-eds last week marking the 50th anniversary of Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” In “Building on the Success of the War on Poverty,” Senator Cory Booker laments a lack of strategy in our approach to poverty: Our national investment strategy is hardly a strategy at all. We are failing to invest in areas that not only produce great social returns but also reduce federal spending in the long run. Most glaring of all, we’ve got our priorities wrong: We are failing to maximize the productivity of our greatest natural resource—our people. In America, tragically, social mobility is flat or, by some measures, actually declining: If you are born poor, you are likely to stay poor. This fact contradicts the very concept of America, deprives us of the genius of our people, damages our economy and threatens our way of life. Against this backdrop, we are now having a debate over the War on Poverty, marking the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 speech. Listening to pundits and politicians over the past month, I’ve felt that too much of the discussion has been fueled by our partisan divide and has failed to unite us around actually addressing the pressing crisis of poverty. Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy to hear more people talking about poverty. But we can’t fall prey to the debilitating...

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