Friday, May 29, 2009

Invocación al Espíritu

To celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost, I found this lovely prayer on Adital by Basque priest and theologian José Antonio Pagola. I have taken the liberty of translating it into English.

Invocación al Espíritu

Ven Espíritu Santo. Despierta nuestra fe débil, pequeña y vacilante. Enséñanos a vivir confiando en el amor insondable de Dios nuestro Padre a todos sus hijos e hijas, estén dentro o fuera de tu Iglesia. Si se apaga esta fe en nuestros corazones, pronto morirá también en nuestras comunidades e iglesias.

Ven Espíritu Santo. Haz que Jesús ocupe el centro de tu Iglesia. Que nada ni nadie lo suplante ni oscurezca. No vivas entre nosotros sin atraernos hacia su Evangelio y sin convertirnos a su seguimiento. Que no huyamos de su Palabra, ni nos desviemos de su mandato del amor. Que no se pierda en el mundo su memoria.

Ven Espíritu Santo. Abre nuestros oídos para escuchar tus llamadas, las que nos llegan hoy, desde los interrogantes, sufrimientos, conflictos y contradicciones de los hombres y mujeres de nuestros días. Haznos vivir abiertos a tu poder para engendrar la fe nueva que necesita esta sociedad nueva. Que, en tu Iglesia, vivamos más atentos a lo que nace que a lo que muere, con el corazón sostenido por la esperanza y no minado por la nostalgia.

Ven Espíritu Santo y purifica el corazón de tu Iglesia. Pon verdad entre nosotros. Enséñanos a reconocer nuestros pecados y limitaciones. Recuérdanos que somos como todos: frágiles, mediocres y pecadores. Libéranos de nuestra arrogancia y falsa seguridad. Haz que aprendamos a caminar entre los hombres con más verdad y humildad.

Ven Espíritu Santo. Enséñanos a mirar de manera nueva la vida, el mundo y, sobre todo, a las personas. Que aprendamos a mirar como Jesús miraba a los que sufren, los que lloran, los que caen, los que viven solos y olvidados. Si cambia nuestra mirada, cambiará también el corazón y el rostro de tu Iglesia. Los discípulos de Jesús irradiaremos mejor su cercanía, su comprensión y solidaridad hacia los más necesitados. Nos pareceremos más a nuestro Maestro y Señor.

Ven Espíritu Santo. Haz de nosotros una Iglesia de puertas abiertas, corazón compasivo y esperanza contagiosa. Que nada ni nadie nos distraiga o desvíe del proyecto de Jesús: hacer un mundo más justo y digno, más amable y dichoso, abriendo caminos al reino de Dios.

Invocation to the Spirit

Come Holy Spirit. Awaken our small, weak and wavering faith. Teach us to live trusting in the unfathomable love of God our Father towards His sons and daughters, be they within or outside of your Church. If the faith in our hearts goes out, our communities and churches will soon die as well.

Come Holy Spirit. Make Jesus be the center of your Church. May nobody and nothing take His place or obscure Him. Do not dwell among us without bringing us to His gospel and converting us to follow Him. May we not flee from His Word, nor turn away from His commandment to love. May the memory of Him not be lost in the world.

Come Holy Spirit. Open our ears to hear your call, the one that comes to us today from the questions, suffering, conflicts and contradictions of the men and women of our time. Make us open to your power to give birth to the new faith that this new society needs. In your Church, may we be more attentive to what is being born than to what is dying, with hearts sustained by hope, not undermined by nostalgia.

Come Holy Spirit and purify the heart of your Church. Put truth among us. Teach us to recognize our sins and limitations. Remind us that we are all weak, mediocre and sinful. Free us from our arrogance and false security. Help us learn to walk among men and women with more honesty and humility.

Come Holy Spirit. Teach us to look at life, the world, and especially people in a new way. May we learn to look as Jesus looked upon those who suffer, those who cry, those who have fallen, those who live alone and forgotten. If our way of seeing changes, so too will the heart and face of your Church. We , the disciples of Jesus, would better reflect his closeness, understanding and solidarity with the neediest. We would be more like our Lord and Master.

Come Holy Spirit. Make us a Church of open doors, compassionate hearts, and contagious hope. May nothing and nobody distract us or deviate us from Jesus’ plan: to build a more just and worthy world, a more friendly and blessed one, opening the way to the Kingdom of God.

Padre Alberto and religious identity

As I think about Padre Alberto and Ruhama’s decision to join the Episcopal Church, it makes sense, given the few options left for them in the Roman Catholic Church. As Episcopalians, they will be able to have a church wedding immediately, no questions asked. Padre Alberto will not have to wait to be laicized. In fact, the Archbishop of Miami has already issued a scathing statement that all but excommunicates him. It certainly leaves no doubt that his priestly faculties within the Roman Catholic Church have been suspended indefinitely – not that it matters anymore. Both will be able to take communion immediately in their new church, whereas one or both are currently barred from the table in our Church. And, after requisite preparation, Padre Alberto will become a married Episcopalian priest and the only question is how many Hispanic Catholics are sufficiently indifferent to the denominational differences that they would rather follow a pastor they have come to love than remain in the Church whose mandatory celibacy policy forced him out.

Traditional Catholics are wringing their hands and consigning the couple to Hell and my friend Padre Hoyos, with whom I respectfully and totally disagree on this issue, just wrote a column that is extremely critical of Father Cutié, but I don’t share my Church’s view of itself as the one true faith, the only viable alternative to eternal damnation. However, I personally wish that Padre Alberto had chosen to remain in the Church and that the Archdiocese of Miami could have found a role for him as a married lay man. It breaks my heart that we are losing another good Hispanic priest to the Episcopalians because of our intransigent insistence on an outdated policy.

Contrary to popular belief, the Episcopal Church is not just the Catholic Church minus a few pesky rules and the Vatican bureaucracy. There are fundamental doctrinal differences – the question of transubstantiation, the role and nature of Mary in the Church, for example. The liturgy is somewhat different. It defies the rote memorization that makes Catholicism so accessible even to the illiterate. I have never felt at home in an Episcopalian service while I can follow a Catholic Mass even in a completely foreign language.

In the deepest part of my soul, I know I could never be an Episcopalian even though I admire the fact that they have married and women priests and extend communion to all believers. The moment I have to juggle the Book of Common Prayer and the hymnal and struggle to find my way around in them, I feel out of place. When I am in a Spanish charismatic Catholic Mass, I don’t need any books. I have learned the responses and the songs by osmosis. I can find my groove and lift my eyes to God. No page turning involved.

Little incidents or life-changing moments can cause us to open our religious identity up for re-examination. In a recent posting, I wrote that I see Jesus in the faces of our brothers and sisters rather than in the Host. A reader responded that he was surprised that I would make this statement and even more so that I would make it to Father Hoyos, but one of the wonderful features of my relationship with Fr. Hoyos is that we can be truthful with each other, occasionally disagree, and at the end of the day we are still friends who care about and respect each other exactly as we are. I feel blessed to work with him, even on days like today when his column makes me want to scream with frustration.

The reader also confessed that although he is a good Catholic, he has doubts about transubstantiation. This made me re-examine my writing. Perhaps it was too glib or misleading. I do believe that the bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ. Why? Because Jesus Himself said so at the Last Supper. He didn’t say: “This is a symbol of My Body”; He said: “This is My Body.” “This is My Blood.” That is the basis of the Catholic doctrine on transubstantiation and it is all I need to know, but this belief is not visually-based. I am not some mystic who can look at the consecrated Host and see a piece of human flesh or Jesus Himself.

At the Eucharist, Jesus is present in all the elements – in the priest by virtue of his ordination who is acting in persona Cristi, in the bread and wine, and in the faithful who are created in the image and likeness of the Trinitarian God. Jesus is also present in the interaction between the elements if Communion is given and received reverently and mindfully. Unfortunately, all too often the priest becomes a wafer-dispensing robot whose mind is elsewhere, and the communicant gobbles down the wafer, their mind already focused on what they will be doing after Mass. Jesus gets lost in the process.

As for Eucharistic Adoration (which was the topic of the post), it is a spiritual practice not a doctrine, and I do not have to participate in it to be a good Catholic. Eastern rite Catholics, for example, do not practice Eucharistic Adoration. I have spent the last few days looking at the consecrated Host in the monstrance and I still do not see Jesus, but I know I am receiving Him when I take communion because I feel a peace in my heart that I do not feel when eating a regular piece of bread.

I also feel peace and joy from participating in the Hora Santa with Padre Martín and Dei Verbum but I recognize honestly that the peace and joy come from the totality of the experience, not from looking at the consecrated Host, and I know that I would not go out of my way to spend time in prayer alone in front of a tabernacle. In a church, I am far more likely to focus my gaze on the Crucifix, an icon, or some other graphic representation of the Divine One. I admit that I may be missing something spiritually, but it doesn’t make me a bad Catholic.

In the end, I believe it is better to be truthful – for me to admit that I don’t readily see Jesus in the consecrated Host, for Padre Alberto to admit that the Catholic “shoe” no longer fits – than to pretend to be somebody we are not. True love requires honesty and compassion. I also think that it is much worse to spend hours contemplating the Blessed Sacrament and yet fail to see Jesus in the eyes of the beggar outside the sanctuary door.

As Padre Alberto said yesterday, “God is love”, and that love must transcend our denominational boundaries and extend to all God’s creation. May the Lord bless Padre Alberto and Ruhama as they change the course of their lives and follow a different path to Him.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Padre Martin Avalos and Dei Verbum at St. Michael the Archangel

Here are some photos of Padre Martin Avalos and Dei Verbum at St. Michael the Archangel parish in Silver Spring, Maryland last night. I wish Padrecito had been there because it was just his kind of event -- a crowded church with a lot of enthusiasm. A handful of people were slain in the Spirit but mostly the crowd just came together in an amazingly unified adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. At the end of the procession, the congregation spilled into the center aisle to kneel down in veneration. It was awesome to behold and these photos don't begin to do justice to the spirit.

I also want to thank Rosalinda from Dei Verbum for allowing me to sit in the choir's pew to take pictures and to Francisco, the lead male vocalist, who was the one who actually ended up giving up his seat - un verdadero caballero cristiano. And praise the hermanos and hermanas of the Renovación who did such an excellent job shepherding Padre Martín, Dei Verbum, and the Blessed Sacrament around in different locations and conditions while showing unfailing calm and good humor. You guys -- and gals -- are los mejores de los mejores!

Padre Alberto Joins the Episcopal Church

UPDATE 1/16/2011: As a public service -- and because I see that people are hitting on this post while searching for Padre Alberto's current church assignment: Rev. Alberto Cutié is presently at Church of the Resurrection in Biscayne, Florida. This church is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida. Rev. Alberto has a new daughter, Camila Victoria, and a new book out titled Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love.

The Rev. Alberto Cutié, the celebrity priest removed from his Miami Beach church after photos of him kissing and embracing a woman appeared in the pages of a Spanish-language magazine earlier this month, has left the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami to join the Episcopal church.

The small, private ceremony happened early Thursday afternoon at Trinity Cathedral, the church's South Florida headquarters in downtown Miami. Bishop Leo Frade, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, officiated as Cutié knelt in front of the bishop and was received into the Episcopal church.

In doing so, he joins many other ex-Roman Catholic priests who have married and joined the Episcopal ranks. In his official statement, Padre Alberto spoke of his desire to continue to serve God as a priest and a married man. He also alluded to his ideological differences with Catholic teachings on who may receive communion in the Church.


The statement is also available in Spanish on Padre Alberto's Web site.

Dear friends:

The book of Psalms tells us, "Show me your ways, O Lord, and teach me your paths". These words of Sacred Scripture have accompanied me for many years. The life of a man or woman of faith is a constant search for the will of God - we are always seeking God¹s path for each of us. Today I come before this community that I have tried to serve and continue to love with all my heart, to announce that I am continuing the call to spread the message of God¹s love and the vocation God gave me to priestly service. More than ever I am sure that God is love and is the source of all love.

I want to assure you that this journey did not begin a few weeks ago. I have searched my soul and sought after God's guidance for a long time. I have also spoken to friends in and outside the Episcopal Church about their service to God and the many similarities that exist among the various branches of Christianity, which profess the Catholic faith. I have seen the ways that many of my brothers serve God as married men, with the blessing of forming a family. In this process, I must also recognize that I began to have spiritual and deep ideological struggles, especially in dealing with those who felt excluded from living a full sacramental life.

Those who know me understand that I would never want to hurt anyone - especially my family, friends and the church community. Furthermore, my personal struggle should in no way tarnish the commitment of so many brother priests who are celibate and faithful to their promise. I will always love and hold dear the Roman Catholic Church and all its members who are committed to their faith and have enriched my life.

I have decided to become part of a new spiritual family within the umbrella of Christianity. As I have been saying and writing for years through my work in communications, instead of focusing on our differences, let's work together so that all may come to believe in a loving and good God, even in the midst of this changing world.

I ask everyone to please respect my privacy and the privacy of my loved ones. There have been lies, innuendos, rumors, and even hurtful actions by those seeking to profit from my life and struggles in this time of transition. I respectfully ask that all these things stop now.

As we begin this new stage in our lives, I ask that you extend to me and my loved ones the same courtesy and respect that every human being deserves. I am humbled by the support of so many people throughout the world and in our own community; and especially friends and family, who have given us unconditional love and support.

Thank you and May God bless you all.

Rev. Father Alberto Cutié

Noted Hispanic Catholic Theologian Named U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican

First we had Judge Sonia Sotomayor, a Puerto Rican woman of humble origins and a strong social conscience, nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court and now we have one of the top Hispanic theologians, Dr. Miguel Díaz of St. John University's School of Theology nominated to be U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican! Rebel Girl is beside herself with glee!

Here is the scoop on Dr. Díaz from his faculty Web site:


Professor of Theology, 2004-

B.A., St. Thomas University, 1988; M.A., University of Notre Dame, 1992; Ph.D., 2000


On Being Human: U.S. Hispanic and Rahnerian Perspectives (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2002).

From the Heart of Our People: Latino/a Explorations in Catholic Systematic Theology, Orlando E. Espín and Miguel Díaz, eds. (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1999).

“Seer of the Word: The Sacramental Imagination and the Human Vision of God,” in a special collection of the University of Dallas’ Landregan Lecture Series, forthcoming.

“On Loving Strangers: Encountering: The Mystery of God in the Face of Migrants,” in a special summer edition of Word and World: Immigrants: New Neighbors, forthcoming.

“The Life-Giving Reality of God from Black, Latin-American, and U.S. Hispanic Theological Perspectives,” Cambridge Companion to the Trinity, ed. Peter Phan. Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2009.

“Otherness in Black Catholic and Latino/a Catholic Theologies and the Otherness of God,” in the E-Journal of Hispanic/Latino Theology, forthcoming.

“God,” in Hispanic American Cultures, ed. Miguel De La Torre. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO Press, 2009, forthcoming.

“Outside the Survival of Community there is no Salvation,” in Building Bridges, Doing Justice: Constructing a Latino/a Ecumenical Theology (Maryknoll: Orbis Press, 2009), 91-111.

“Life-Giving Migrations: Revisioning the Mystery of God through U.S. Hispanic Eyes,” E-Journal of Hispanic/Latino Theology (April 2006), (Accessed July 8, 2008).

“A Trinitarian Approach to the Community-Building Process of Tradition,” in Futuring Our Past: Explorations in the Theology of Tradition (Maryknoll: Orbis Press, 2006), 157-179.

“Theological Anthropology,” in Handbook of Latina/o Theologies, ed. Edwin D. Aponte and Miguel A. De La Torre (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2006), 67-74.

“Reading the Signs of the Time en Conjunto: Com-missioning U.S. Hispanic Protestants and Catholics to Evangelize in the Image of God,” Apuntes 26/1 (2006): 4-14.

“Mirroring the Life of God in Medio Luporum: Returning to the Heart of the Franciscan Mission,” The Cord 55/6 (2005): 278-289.

“A Critical Reading, Appreciation and Assessment of Responses to On Being Human,” Philosophy and Theology 16/1 (2004): 151-162. (This volume contains three critical essays by Susan Abraham, Michael H. Barnes, and Conrad T. Gromada that address Díaz’s On Being Human.)

“Reading the Signs of the Time: A U.S. Hispanic Perspective on the Future of Theological Education,” New Horizons in Theology, ed. Terrence W. Tilley (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2005), 225-230.

“Hispanic Catholics” (U.S.A.) The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2004), 363-366.


Annual Changing Faces Series Lecture, “Jesus on the Border: Crossing unto the Mystery of God,” 2009.

Annual Landregan Lecture, University of Dallas: “Seer of the Word: The Sacramental Imagination and the Human Vision of God,” 2007.

ACHTUS Presidential Address, “Otherness in Black Catholic and Latino/a Catholic Theologies and the Otherness of God,” 2006.

Series of talks on the Lenten Gospels for the Church of Saint Joseph, St. Joseph, MN, 2006.

“Encountering God in the Eye of the Storm,” delivered at the Spirituality Center at the College of Saint Benedict, 2006.

Presentation on the theology of God at the Basilica of Saint Mary Series “All Things Catholic, “ 2006.

Series of talks for Saint John’s School of Theology·Seminary Theology Day entitled “In the Trinity: Living the Life of God,” 2005.

Keynote Address at the 40th Anniversary of the Franciscan Federation, San Diego, CA, “Mirroring the Life of God in Medio Luporum: Returning to the Heart of the Franciscan Mission,” Summer 2005.

Series of five talks at the Church of Saint Joseph, St. Joseph, MN, entitled “From Ashes to Easter,” March/April 2005.

Plenary Address on “Commissioning U.S. Hispanic Catholics and Protestants on Evangelism and Evangelization,” National Convocation on Evangelism within the Latino Community, Perkins School of Theology, SMU, Dallas, TX, February, 2005.

Plenary Address on “The Future of Catholic Theological Education in the U.S.,” The 50th Annual meeting of the College Theological Society, June 2004, Washington, DC.

General address at the Eucharistic Congress in the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, TX, 2004.

Lecturer at Princeton Theological Seminary as recipient of the 2002 Book of the

Year Award for On Being Human: “Turning to a Context: Latino/a Anthropology and its Communal Vision of Reality,” Response to lecture by Dr. Daniel L. Migliore.


Theological consultant on the Collegeville Ministry Seminar II (advancing the theology of vocation and authorization for lay ecclesial ministry) co-sponsored by Saint John’s School of Theology·Seminary and the USCCB (2009- ).

Invited colloquist for the 2008-2009 Wabash Consultation on Excellence in Teaching for Latino/a Faculty at Colleges, Universities, and Theological Schools, 2008-2009.

Board Member of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA), 2008-2010.

Member of the Karl Rahner Society (KRS) and a board member of the KRS steering committee.

Member of Barack Obama's Catholic advisory group during the 2008 presidential campaign. In recognition of his participation in the advisory council, Dr. Díaz and his wife Marian received an invitation to the inaugural events. Dr. Díaz's involvement in the campaign and participation in the inaugural events were both covered extensively in a variety of media.

President of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS), 2006-07. Read ACHTUS' Statement on the Diaz Nomination.

Colloquist with Walter Cardinal Kasper at the Duquesne University Annual Holy Spirit Lecture and Colloquium entitled,“The Spirit in the New Millennium,” 2006.

Invited to participate at the CTSA annual convention in San Antonio in a discussion of Rahner Beyond Rahner, 2006.

Invited to participate in a national conversation on immigration organized by Interfaith Worker Justice, Chicago, IL, March 2006.

Invited to participate as a theological consultant to the Catholic Alliance for the Common Good, Washington, DC, January, 2006.

Organized the 2006 annual colloquium of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) in conjunction with the Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS).

Invited by Br. Dietrich Reinhart, OSB, President of Saint John’s University to co-chair the president’s Inter-Cultural Directions Council (IDC), 2005-.


Rev. Gérard Jean-Juste, Fighter for Haitian Immigrants, Dies

By Elinor J. Brecher and Jacqueline Charles
Miami Herald
May 28, 2009

The spiritual and political leader of the Haitian community in South Florida died in Miami after suffering a stroke. He was 62.

The Rev. Gérard Jean-Juste, the Roman Catholic priest whose passionate, relentless, 30-year human-rights crusade on behalf of his fellow Haitians cast him as their spiritual and political leader in South Florida, has died.

Jean-Juste was a liberation theologist, controversial in both the United States and his homeland, who battled the unequal treatment of Haitian refugees in the federal courts, in Miami's streets and in the media.

He suffered a stroke recently, according to Ira Kurzban, the Miami attorney who represented Jean-Juste's Haitian Refugee Center in several lawsuits against the U.S. government, and died Wednesday evening at Jackson Memorial Hospital. He was 62.

His death apparently was unrelated to the leukemia that Jackson doctors treated three years ago.

''The Haitian-American community has lost a visionary and a central figure who helped to establish the Haitian community in South Florida,'' Kurzban said. ``They lost a. . .friend whose arms and heart were always open.''

Marliene Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, called Jean-Juste ``an icon, someone who gave himself wholely, selflessly to others without any need to''self-promote.

'He was the greatest champion of refugees' and immigrants' rights, and he showed that we, as a country, could do better in the way we treat people who leave their native land to come here.''

Bastien said that Jean-Juste ``goes all the way when it comes to defending the rights of the less fortunate. He fights with all his might in the pursuit of justice. He doesn't stop to eat.''

Jean-Juste was an unflinching supporter of ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas Party. On learning of his death, Maryse Narcisse, a Lavalas leader and spokeswoman for Aristide -- who is in exile in South Africa -- said, ``This terrible, terrible news. A big loss for us.''

Jean-Juste's demands for Aristide's return after a 2004 violent revolution, and his attacks on government corruption, earned him two prison terms in Haiti.

Unafraid to confront anyone, including Church superiors in two countries, he was suspended by the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince -- and prevented from having his own South Florida church by the Archdiocese of Miami.

Some admirers called him ''St. Maverick.'' He once said, ``The taste of freedom for somebody else is a great victory for me.''

Former Aristide government Prime Minister Yvon Neptune has known Jean-Juste since 1965. They exchanged notes from adjacent jail cells after both had been arrested by the interim government of Gerard Latortue.

Neptune remembered how Jean-Juste's passion for Haiti led him to return from Miami to work closely with Aristide's administrations.

''He's going to be missed a whole lot, and he's going to be remembered in a very positive way even by some of his detractors,'' Neptune said in Port-au-Prince. ``Especially. . .in the 1980s, he was very instrumental in having the U.S. government consider the case of the Haitian refugees. He was very much involved in social work not only in helping the Haitians solve their legal problems but in helping them in many ways.''

Born to an unmarried mother, Jean-Juste left Haiti in 1965 to study at a Canadian seminary.

He returned to Haiti briefly after ordination and worked in a remote parish. He left after refusing to sign an oath of allegiance to the government.

He spent time in New York then attended Northeastern University in Boston, where he earned a degree in civil engineering.

In 1971, Jean-Juste became the first Haitian ordained as a priest by the Catholic Church in the United States. The first Haitian ''boat people'' began arriving in Miami the following year.

Initially they were treated the same as other refugees, but that began to change as their numbers grew and government policy shifted.

By 1978, Jean-Juste was running the Haitian Refugee Center in Liberty City -- and calling U.S. immigration policy toward Haitians ``our Holocaust.''

He upset Church officials by conducting funeral services for non-Catholic Haitians who drowned at sea, picketing the Archdiocese of Miami, and calling then-Archbishop Edward McCarthy a racist.

For Jean-Juste, there was only one priority: better treatment for the poor and hopeless.

''Haitian people had no rights in Haiti and they have no rights here,'' he told The Miami Herald in 1980. ``They are starving, they are being separated from their families, they cannot work.''

That year, the Mariel boatlift brought more than 12,000 Cuban refugees to Miami. At the time, the government routinely granted political asylum to Southeast Asians and Central Americans, as well as Cubans, while Haitians were detained indefinitely, sometimes abused, then usually deported.

The government considered them economic, rather than political, refugees, despite having fled the oppressive regime of Jean-Claude ''Baby Doc'' Duvalier.

About 1 percent of those who sought asylum between 1972-1979 won it. Dozens drowned trying to cross 800 miles of ocean in small boats -- some shoved overboard by the smugglers they'd paid.

Many languished in immigration jails for months, sick with anxiety, depression and fear. Many attempted suicide; some succeeded.

Jean-Juste assailed the government's policy as heartless, racist, and in at least one case, criminal. That 1978 case involved an 8-year-old girl locked in a cell for two weeks with 40 adults after she entered the country illegally with her father.

Jean-Juste said she was hysterical when he found her.

The center's volunteer director since July 1978, he was named executive director drawing a $16,000 salary, shortly after rescuing the little girl.

But he was fired in the fall of 1980, several months after calling the Church in Haiti ''a prostitute'' for endorsing Baby Doc's marriage to a divorcee.

He launched The Haitian Refugee Center Inc. as an independent agency on Northeast 54th Street, and continued his fight through lawsuits.

In July 1980, U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King handed Jean-Juste's cause a major victory. He ruled that the Immigration aned Naturalization Service had systematically discriminated against Haitian refugees by issuing sweeping deportation orders, and told INS to conduct new hearings for 5,000 refugees.

''We are very happy,'' Jean-Juste said. ``Judge King is a man of the Constitution.''

''Father Jean-Juste spearheaded all this,'' said Kurzban, the lawyer. ``He provided the political direction. . .He was a tremendous organizer and got people to demonstrate, and that completely changed the dynamic in South Florida.''

Jean-Juste returned to Haiti to work for Aristide. He fell ill with leukemia while behind bars in 2005, charged in the murder of a journalist.

International pressure the following year led a Haitian judge to drop the charge so the ailing priest could seek medical help in Miami.

He still faced what supporters called trumped-up weapons and criminal conspiracy charges. Eventually cleared -- and apparently in remission -- he returned to Port-au-Prince in early 2008, and had been pondering a run for president.

Miami Archdiocese spokesperson Mary Ross Agosta Wednesday night called Jean-Juste ``a man, a priest and the voice of the poor, both here and in Haiti. We pray his commitments in his life will bring him rewards in heaven. May he rest in peace.''

He is survived by two sisters and two brothers.


In November 2004, Fr. Jean-Juste sent this letter to supporters via his attorney Bill Quigley of Loyola University School of Law, New Orleans, as he languished in the Omega-Carrefour Jail in his country. It is a powerful message to keep struggling for human rights and dignity even in the face of adversity and should be this brave priest's legacy to all of us who still live to carry on the struggle.

Greetings and Gratitude! Courage and Persistence!

I can't stop thinking of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as I am sending you this short letter. Quoting by heart and in substance Dr. King, allow me to remind you of this:

"It is not, if I help my brothers and sisters, what's going to happen to me? Rather, if I don't help them, what's gong to happen to them?"

Hooded men, intimidation, masked gunmen, massacre, masked men attacking the churches, forced entries in our rectories, arbitrary arrests, defamation, character assasination, prison, threats of death - SHOULD NOT STOP ANY HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST OR INSTITUTIONS advocating for the enjoyment of basic human needs for all, especially the poor ones.

I think of all of you who advocate for my release, all who demand the release of all political prisoners, under the "de facto", illegal, unconstitutional Latortue-Alexandre government imposed facistically by the administration of Presidents G.W. Bush, Jacques Chirac, and Prime Minister Paul Martin.

Freedom and democracy shall prevail in Haiti.

Visiting Haiti in 1983, Pope John Paul II called for real change: "Things must change." LET IT BE!

The represssion on all levels is so heavy. I call for: an immediate return to constitutional order; the release of all political prisoners; the respect of the vote and the will of the people; the rejection of kidnappings, coup d'etats from whoever the authors.

Let the word of God win our souls! Let love of God and humanity prevail! Let us start our heaven on earth as God wants it!

Gratitude, Peace, and Love to you all!

Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste (Nsera Njeri Jan-Jis) 509-405-3244


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ellacuría, Crimen Sin Castigo

Last Sunday, the Spanish television program "En Portada" aired a segment on the assassination of Jesuit priest Ignacio Ellacuría and his colleagues, their housekeeper and the housekeeper's daughter at the Universidad Centroamericana "José Simeón Cañas" in El Salvador almost 20 years ago on November 16, 1989, the lack of effort to bring the guilty parties to justice in El Salvador, and the current attempt to prosecute this case in the Spanish courts. It also shows the socio-economic conditions in El Salvador on the 20th anniversary of this crime.

The program can be viewed in its entirety (45 minutes) on RTVE's Web site here: Ellacuría, Crimen Sin Castigo. WARNING: This program contains some very graphic and disturbing violent images. It's also very thorough and well produced.


Defending the migrant in Coahuila

A report released by the Mexican Diocese of Saltillo says that abuses such as kidnapping and extortion by organized crime groups have become the most serious problem for undocumented Central Americans traveling through the country. The fifth annual report on the human rights situation for migrants transiting Mexico also says that government organizations, police officers and guards working for private security companies continue violating the human rights of migrants and continue ignoring complaints that highlight allegations of improper and possibly illegal conduct.

"The aggressions against migrants are not ending, but becoming more offensive, becoming more cruel," said Father Pedro Pantoja, director of the diocesan migrant shelter, Casa Belén, Posada del Migrante, in the northern city of Saltillo. The report -- compiled by the shelter and two Saltillo migrant advocacy organizations, Humanidad Sin Fronteras and Frontera Con Justicia -- outlines a grim situation that has failed to improve over the past year, even though the Mexican government approved laws in 2008 that discard criminal penalties for those detained without proper immigration documents.

Fr. Pantoja, a Jesuit who hails from Durango but grew up in Coahuila where he now works, received the human rights award last month from the Fundación Don Sergio Méndez Arceo for his work. He is founder of Casa Emaús in Cuidad Acuña and Casa Belén in Saltillo, and the Frontera y Dignidad and Frontera con Dignidad projects that provide shelter and food to migrants from other Central American countries crossing through the region on their way to the United States. For more information about Fr. Pantoja's life and work, see Migrante con los migrantes on the Saltillo diocesan Web page.

But the award, even though it brings with it some money, is not what matters most to this priest. All he asks is for the Mexican and U.S. authorities to put a stop to the abuses, assaults, persecutions and assassinations that are being perpetrated on men, women, youth and children who have to leave their home towns so as not to die of hunger. He asks people to "voltear los ojos a los migrantes y fijar la mirada en quienes se van de ilegales a los Estados Unidos con tal de conseguir trabajo para sostener a sus familias" ("turn their eyes towards the migrants and look at those who cross illegally into the United States in order to get work to support their families").

Again, in Fr. Pantoja's words: “Exigimos a las instituciones nacionales de poder y a las instituciones oficiales de los gobiernos estatales la realización de medidas de seguridad humana para la migración en tránsito, el establecimiento de un Estado de Derecho que no sólo reconozca y respete el derecho a migrar de estos caminantes de la esperanza, sino también el derecho a migrar con dignidad." ("We call on the national powers and official state government institutions to provide measures of human security for migrants in transit, for the establishment as a stated right the recognition and respect for the right to migrate along these paths of hope, but also the right to migrate with dignity.")

For those who read Spanish, here is an article by Fr. Pantoja about his work and the theological underpinnings for defending our migrant brothers and sisters. It comes from the Jesuit journal Christus, March-April 2008 (765):

Nuevo precepto evangélico: "No criminalizarás ni penalizarás la persona del migrante extranjero"

Pbro. Lic. Pedro Pantoja Arreola
Asesor del Proyecto Frontera con Justicia
Saltillo, Coah.


Desde los rieles del ferrocarril, a 60 kilómetros de Saltillo cerca de la Estación "Carneros", donde los trenes aumentan por última vez la velocidad de las máquinas y entran así por la miserable periferia poblacional de la ciudad norteña, haciendo sonar fuertemente el silbato, para abrirse camino entre grupos de humildes mujeres y hombres trabajadores y pandilleros amontonados y sentados en los durmientes de cemento y madera…

¿Por qué escribo? Porque en esta hora de la media noche, para amanecer el miércoles 6 de junio, ahí está tirado sin vida el cuerpo de OMAR HERIBERTO CARDOZA, MIGRANTE HONDUREÑO, destrozado por el tren. Así terminó su camino hacia el norte con sus 27 años… Porque ya están interrumpiendo la oscuridad de la noche las luces intermitentes de las patrullas de la policía y de migración, iluminando con chispazos los miembros destrozados del cuerpo del migrante… Porque ya me estoy imaginando los innumerables problemas burocráticos en la Procuraduría de Justicia para que nos entreguen ese cuerpo muerto y no avienten sus huesos "indocumentados" a la fosa común.


Las cosas ya cambiaron en la vida de los migrantes, en su dolorosa aventura de atravesar México, como forasteros y llegar a los Estados Unidos. Ya no es cierto eso que les achacan a las y los migrantes del "sueño americano"… Lo que sí es cierto es EL OTRO SUEÑO, o EL OTRO CONJUNTO DE SUEÑOS que va cargando el migrante en su cuerpo cansado: EL SUEÑO CON EL QUE DUERME RECOSTANDO LA CABEZA SOBRE LOS RIELES… los rieles son su mejor recargadera… sus mejores compañeros… los rieles le harán sentir con su resonancia metálica que ya viene el tren… el migrante sueña que los rieles lo despertaran con su ruido… pero ese ruido no será suficientemente fuerte para hacer reaccionar el cuerpo y el cerebro del migrante, agotados por el cansancio de muchas noches sin dormir, con las piernas agarrotadas y espinadas por tantas persecuciones, dolidas por tantas golpizas… Por eso, ahí está muerto OMAR HERIBERTO, como murieron también Alfredo de Ceiba, Simeón, Alex y muchos más.

El otro conjunto de sueños

" Soñar que es INVISIBLE, que nadie lo verá cuando atraviese el territorio mexicano; ni la migra, ni los garroteros de los trenes, ni los soldados de los retenes, ni los corruptos policías, ni los asaltantes de la selva y de la sierra…
" Soñar que esos garroteros del tren no le quebraran con sus garrotes los huesos de sus manos, cuando colgado de los vagones, tratarán de tumbarlo en el próximo barranco…
" Soñar que no se ahogará en las aguas del Río Bravo, cuando cruce la frontera…
" Soñar que no morirá deshidratado por las altas temperaturas y por la falta de agua y comida cuando atraviese el desierto…
" Soñar que a su compañera ningún soldado o policía la va a manosear ni menos a desnudarla para abusar sexualmente de ella, ni la van a secuestrar los traficantes de mujeres migrantes.

Todo esto ya nada tiene que ver con el muy mentado "sueño americano" desde hace tiempo.

Flujo migratorio

Cuando ya amaneció totalmente el miércoles 6 de junio, llegaron a nuestra casa Belén, Posada del MIgrante, por lo menos 15 compañeros migrantes que presenciaron la muerte de Omar Heriberto. Y también llegaron 50 más que sólo traían dibujado en sus rostros el terror de ese acontecimiento, por la narración de sus compañeros. Llegan a 200 las personas migrantes, que diariamente son acogidas en nuestra casa… muchas historias más de violaciones…

Nuestra Pastoral de Migrantes, nuestra red de casas del migrante tienen que desbordar y frenar estas historias de hambre, violaciones y muerte, y cambiarlas…


"El peor castigo que nos pueden dar a nosotros los migrantes es que, después de haber sufrido todas las penas y violaciones de la policía durante nuestro camino a los Estados Unidos, y ya casi para pasar la frontera, nos detenga y nos deporte a nuestro país, en donde encontraremos una situación peor de la que dejamos, cuando decidimos caminar".
(Migrante Hondureño)

Artículos cuestionados de la Ley General de Población

Artículo 118: Hasta 10 años de prisión para el extranjero que habiendo sido expulsado se interne nuevamente al territorio nacional sin acuerdo de readmisión.

Artículo 123: Se impondrá pena de hasta 2 años de prisión y multa de 300 a 5000 pesos al extranjero que se interne ilegalmente al país.

Artículo 127: Hasta 5 años de prisión al mexicano que contraiga matrimonio con extranjero sólo con el objeto de que éste pueda radicar en el país acogiéndose a los beneficios que la ley establece para estos casos.

A esto podemos añadir el modelo de detención del migrante indocumentado (ordinariamente realizado con violencia), como también la colaboración violenta de elementos policíacos sin ninguna autoridad en esta materia migratoria, como el mismo espacio donde es asegurado el migrante, en muchísimos casos la cárcel común de delincuentes, como también principalmente la estación migratoria que no pierde su dimensión carcelaria, para una persona, quien forzada por el hambre y el abandono social, sólo por buscar trabajo atraviesa el territorio mexicano recibiendo todo tipo de agravios.

Podemos observar que los actos mas frecuentemente efectuados en el contexto de la migración indocumentada son severamente penalizados por este aparato legislativo.


Esta severa penalización es inadmisible por distanciarse de las exigencias sociales y el respeto a los derechos humanos.

Los tipos penales que criminalizan esta migración (centroamericana) vulneran los derechos humanos de la población migrante, ya que atentan contra su libertad, contra su dignidad, pero también contra su vida, colocando las condiciones de estas personas en el riesgo total de la vulnerabilidad más grande que pueda tolerar cualquier ser humano. La Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (OC-18/03, párr. 134), señala que la calidad migratoria de una persona no puede constituir, de manera alguna, una justificación para privarla del goce y ejercicio de sus derechos humanos. Por lo tanto no hay justificación alguna para privar de la libertad a las personas migrantes indocumentadas por su mera calidad migratoria, ni tampoco para someterlas a vejaciones tan humillantes y criminales en su camino hacia la frontera norte.

Estas normas que criminalizan la migración, criminalizan directamente la miseria, la pobreza y el abandono social, que son el territorio social, político y económico en el que habitan todos y todas las migrantes centroamericanas que llegan a nuestras casas, si es que llegan, como también la innumerable población migrante invisible que por caminos desconocidos, continúan su aventura.

Nadie elige en qué país ni en que condiciones sociales puede nacer, nadie que es víctima de la globalización de la miseria puede ser castigado por buscar mejores oportunidades de vida en un país distinto al suyo.

Desde esta perspectiva de derechos humanos y de acuerdo a estándares universales que humanizan la globalización es necesario frenar este aparato legislativo, obsoleto e inhumano.


La frontera sur y la frontera norte de México son fronteras perforadas, quedando en ambos territorios el innumerable costo humano de muertes, costo totalmente innecesario e injusto para esta caravana de la esperanza. Más de 700 000 personas (entre mexicanos y extranjeros cruzan esas fronteras cada año).

Los tratados comerciales avanzan (Tratado de Libre Comercio, Plan Puebla Panamá), avanzan junto con el sometimiento político y policíaco de México a la propuesta institucional de seguridad territorial antiterrorista, moviendo las fronteras y acomodándolas como también la construcción de los muros y de los grupos policíacos, violentando así el respeto histórico en la relación de cultura y convivencia con los pueblos de la región centroamericana, negando toda posibilidad al tránsito legítimo del fenómeno social de la migración que exige una nueva compresión. Todo esto con un descarado servilismo a la política de Estados Unidos y a un vacío institucional de la propia política migratoria de nuestro país.

Esta despenalización es sólo una parte del nuevo escenario jurídico y humanizador que nos compromete a nosotros como defensores de derechos humanos, enraizados profundamente en la tradición bíblica del Evangelio y de los Libros del Desierto del Pueblo de Dios.

Mateo 25,35: "Yo era un forastero y ustedes me recibieron en su casa".

Éxodo 23,9: "No opriman a los extranjeros, pues ustedes saben lo que es ser extranjero, lo fueron en Egipto".

Levítico 19,34: "Al forastero que viva con ustedes lo mirarán como a uno de ustedes y lo amarás como a ti mismo".

Deuteronomio 24,17: "No violarás el derecho del forastero".

Sin duda alguna la visión humanizadora y llena de justicia de los preceptos evangélicos se va redimensionando en este escenario de injusticias que va sufriendo la población migrante y van brotando estos nuevos preceptos evangélicos:


A la migración, y especialmente la forzada y dolorosa, nadie la puede frenar como dice el poeta:

"Viene del sur, del este, del oeste
Con la sed de justicia del que sabe que su causa está perdida…
Viene del sur, del este, del oeste
Con la esperanza ciega del que sabe que no existen las fronteras
A ver quien pone puertas,
El hambre es imparable y la tristeza."

(Víctor Manuel San José, "Vienen del sur")

Ya pasaron 9 días de ese miércoles 6 de junio y todavía la Procuraduría de Justicia no me ha entregado el cuerpo del migrante destrozado por el tren.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Padre Martin Avalos and Dei Verbum at Sacred Heart

Here are some photos from Padre Martín Avalos and Dei Verbum's Mass and Eucharistic Adoration at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Washington, DC last night. It had its dramatic moments but ended joyfully for all...

Most Americans now say: "Let them stay"

According to the latest Pew Research Center survey, Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2009, 63% of Americans now favor some sort of path towards legalization for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in our midst. Here are the survey's findings on immigration-related questions:

Immigration Policy

The public continues to overwhelmingly support limiting the number of immigrants entering the country, and a slight majority agrees that “the growing number of newcomers from other countries threaten traditional American customs and values.”

Nonetheless, most Americans (63%) say they favor providing a way for illegal immigrants currently in the country to gain legal citizenship if they pass background checks, pay fines and have jobs. The proportion favoring such a proposal has ticked upward, from 58% in December 2007.

Support for providing citizenship for illegal immigrants, if they pay fines and meet other conditions, has increased sharply among those ages 30 to 49 (by 16 points), Democrats (11 points) and college graduates (10 points). Among Republicans, half favor giving illegal immigrants a way to become citizens under these circumstances, compared with 56% in 2007.

The change among Democrats has come entirely among the party’s moderates and conservatives: 70% currently support a way to provide citizenship for illegal immigrants under certain conditions, up from 53% in December 2007. As in 2007, more liberal Democrats than conservatives and moderates in the party support this idea (82% in 2009 and 83% in 2007), but the ideological gap among Democrats has narrowed.

Most Want Tighter Immigration Controls

Currently, 73% agree that “we should restrict and control people coming to live in our country more than we do now,” which is little changed from recent values surveys; just 23% disagree with the goal of limiting the flow of newcomers to the United States.

While overall opinions about this issue have changed only modestly in recent years, fewer Democrats agree with this statement than did so in 2007 (64% now, 74% in 2007). By contrast, slightly more independents believe there should be greater restrictions on people coming to live in the United States; 77% say that now, up from 72% two years ago. As a result, the gap between Democrats and independents on this issue, which was negligible in recent values surveys, is now 13 points. Slightly more than eight-in-ten Republicans (83%) favor greater restrictions on immigrants, which is little changed from previous surveys. People in the youngest age group – those younger than 30 –are less likely than older people to say that there should be greater restrictions on people entering this country.

There is an even bigger – and growing – age difference in views about the impact that immigrants have on traditional American values. Currently, 35% of those younger than 30 believe that the growing number of newcomers from other countries threatens traditional American customs and values. That compares with 50% of those 30 to 49, 57% of those 50 to 64 and nearly two-thirds (65%) of those 65 and older. The gap between the youngest and oldest age groups on this issue, which had narrowed to 11 points in the 2007 values survey, has approximately tripled, to 30 points.

Gustavo Gutiérrez receives honorary doctorate of Divinity from Yale

Nuestro amigo y hermano teólogo Gustavo Gutiérrez received an honorary doctorate in Divinity from Yale University this weekend. ¡Felicitaciones!

Official text of citation:

Gustavo Gutiérrez

You are the father of liberation theology. Through your witness and your words, you have called attention to God’s just and gracious love for all. Rather than simply speaking on behalf of the poor, you have listened and created a climate for them to be heard. From your work in the slums of Lima, to advanced study in medicine and theology, as well as in your writing and preaching, you have lived a faith that values all. A Dominican priest, your conviction and concern have challenged the conscience of all faithful men and women, as you call for an end to the injustice of poverty. With gratitude for your example, we honor you as Doctor of Divinity.

To which we can only add: Amen!