Call for 'disrupting' oppression that hurts, violates human dignity
A delegation from the Oakland diocese, including pastors and representatives from Catholic Charities of the East Bay and other nonprofit groups and community organizations, came away from the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements feeling inspired.
"The gathering is so essential in the eyes of Pope Francis and eyes of all those who are working for the common good," said Rev. Jesus Nieto-Ruiz, delegation member. "It was an opportunity for us to strengthen the foundation in the work we have to do," said the pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Union City.
It was, too, a call to "continue to be faithful to Jesus," he said.
The event focused on areas including housing, labor and land. "Given the reality here in the diocese," Father Nieto-Ruiz said, "racism, immigration, work and housing" were among the issues of great interest to the delegates.
About 600 people, including 20 from the East Bay, attended, said Rev. Aidan McAleenan, pastor of St. Columba Parish in Oakland. "Not just Catholics," he said, "People from all over the Americas." The event was well organized, with translating equipment so language was not a barrier.
The event ended with a final message that a "small elite is growing wealthy and powerful off the suffering of our families. Racism and white supremacy are America's original sins. They (the elites) continue to justify a system of unregulated capitalism that idolizes wealth accumulation over human needs," said the "Message from Modesto." The message broadly echoed Pope Francis' regular critiques of the world economy in which he has said the accumulation of wealth by a few people has harmed the dignity of millions of people in the human family. It also called for a global week of action May 1-7 in which people "stand together against hatred and attacks on families."
Father Nieto-Ruiz said, "We cannot work on one particular issue without taking care of the others. … Those issues are interrelated with one another. We must address these issues. We must work in collaboration with one another, come together to strengthen and empower people."
Some of the issues, immigration, in particular, can't wait, he said.
"It's destroying our families and our communities," he said.
The local delegates were scheduled to meet again to develop a proposal to present to Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ.
"The bishop's response will let us know how he wants us to take the next steps," Father Nieto-Ruiz said.
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