(Spanish version follows)
4 November, 2018
We, the members of the board of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS), unequivocally pronounce our solidarity with communities most impacted by the current climate of fear, trumped up threats, and increasing national division. As Christians, our first call is to honor life and human dignity for all in the face of the hatred, division, and violence that has marked our nation in the past weeks:
- The racially motivated killing of two African-Americans at a grocery store in Kentucky;
- The anti-Semitic murder of eleven people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA;
- Proposed policies by the current administration to erase the reality of our transgender and gender-non-conforming family;
- The deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to police the border ahead of the arrival of a caravan of migrants and refugees fleeing terror in their homes.
These are all signals that human life and human dignity are currently under peril, threatened by a narrow and distorted understanding of the common good. We call out these events and policies as evil, against life, and against the common good.
In the face of these threats we affirm human life and condemn all forms of violence against it, renew our commitment to welcoming the immigrant, proclaim the dignity of every person in their embodied nature, and recommit to the arduous work of dismantling racism and white supremacy.
Through these commitments, the ACHTUS board joins the struggle to promote the dignity of all marginalized communities in this country, particularly those being targeted by the hateful and divisive rhetoric that dominates these times. While we recognize that this struggle is exhausting, we understand all too well the risks of giving up. Honoring life in the face of fear requires that we ally with so many others who are also burdened in these efforts. Most especially, we seek to ally with the Holy Spirit, who sustains and inspires so many in the work of dismantling division and hate.
(Declaración en español)
Honrar la vida en una cultura de miedo
4 de noviembre de 2018
Nosotros, los miembros de la junta directiva de la Academia de Teólogos Hispanos Católicos de los Estados Unidos (ACHTUS, por sus siglas en inglés), manifestamos inequívocamente nuestra solidaridad con las comunidades más afectadas por el clima actual de temor, las falsas amenazas y el incremento de división nacional. Como cristianos, nuestra primera vocación es honrar la vida y la dignidad humana de todas las personas frente al odio, división y violencia que han marcado a nuestra nación en las últimas semanas:
- El asesinato por motivos raciales de dos afroamericanos en un supermercado en Kentucky;
- El asesinato antisemita de once personas en la sinagoga Árbol de la Vida en Pittsburgh, PA;
- Políticas propuestas por la presente administración para anular la realidad de nuestras familias trans-género y no-conformista de género;
- El despliegue de miles de tropas estadounidenses para vigilar la frontera antes de la llegada de una caravana de migrantes y refugiados que huyen del terror en sus países.
Todas estas son señales de que la vida y la dignidad humana peligran actualmente y se ven amenazadas por una estrecha y distorsionada comprensión del bien común. Señalamos la maldad de estos eventos y políticas, como contrarios a la vida y el bien común.
Ante estas amenazas, reafirmamos la vida humana y condenamos todas las formas de violencia en su contra, renovamos nuestro compromiso de acoger al inmigrante, proclamamos la dignidad de cada persona en la totalidad de su naturaleza y nos comprometemos de nuevo a la ardua labor de derribar el racismo y la supremacía blanca.
Por medio de estos compromisos, la junta directiva de ACHTUS se une a la lucha para promover la dignidad de todas las comunidades marginadas en este país, particularmente aquellas que son blanco de la retórica de odio y división que prevalece en estos momentos. Si bien reconocemos que esta lucha es agotadora, comprendemos muy bien los riesgos que implican el rendirse. Honrar la vida frente al miedo requiere que nos aliemos con tantos otros que también están agobiados por estos esfuerzos. De manera especial, buscamos aliarnos con el Espíritu Santo, que sostiene e inspira a muchos en la labor de derribar la división y el odio.
(A Spanish Version Follows the English)
21 June 2018
We, the board of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States and the Executive Committee of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium, reiterate previous ACHTUS statements in support of just, comprehensive, and humane immigration reform. We also reiterate previous BCTS statements about the dangerous ways racism has shaped the Trump administration’s rhetoric about immigration.
In the strongest terms, we denounce the Trump administration’s recent decisions to criminalize asylum-seekers, to increase detention and deportation of unauthorized residents, and to separate migrant children from their parents. We decry the use of children for political gain while inflicting pain on families. We also denounce the use of tents, in the richest country on earth, to house any person held in detention.
We denounce the use of Christian scriptures in order to legitimize cruelty and violence. Furthermore, we reject the use of biblical arguments to support institutional violence against migrants and refugees.
We lift up those traditions within the Bible that measure justice according to society’s care for those most vulnerable, God’s little ones (e.g., widows, orphans, displaced persons).
Additionally, we affirm Catholic teaching regarding the human right to migrate.
Therefore, we support legislation and policies that sustain union between all loved ones crossing any of our international borders, and we will work toward achieving this goal.
(Declaración en español)
Nosotros, los miembros de la Junta Directiva de la Academia de Teólogos Católicos Hispanos de los Estados Unidos (ACHTUS, por sus siglas en inglés) y el Comité Ejecutivo del Simposio Teológico Católico Afro-Americano (BCTS, por sus siglas en inglés), reiteramos previas declaraciones de ACHTUS que apoyan una reforma migratoria justa, comprensiva y humanitaria. También reiteramos previas declaraciones de BCTS sobre las maneras peligrosas en las que el racismo permea gran parte de la retórica del presidente Trump con respecto a la inmigración.
Denunciamos de manera contundente la decisión reciente de la administración del presidente Trump de criminalizar a aquellos que buscan asilo y refugio, de aumentar la detención y deportación de residentes no autorizados, y de separar a niños inmigrantes de sus padres. Condenamos el uso de niños y niñas para efectos políticos, causando al mismo tiempo un gran daño a sus familias. También censuramos que en el país más rico del mundo se usen carpas para albergar a cualquier persona que esté detenida.
Denunciamos el uso de las Escrituras cristianas para legitimar la crueldad y la violencia. Además, rechazamos el uso del lenguaje bíblico para apoyar cualquier clase de violencia institucional contra los migrantes y refugiados.
Realzamos aquellas tradiciones bíblicas que miden la justicia según la manera cómo la sociedad protege a los más vulnerables, a los pequeños de Dios (por ejemplo, las viudas, los huérfanos y las personas desplazadas).
Además, reafirmamos las enseñanzas de la doctrina social de la Iglesia Católica que garantizan el derecho del ser humano a migrar.
De esta manera, apoyamos esfuerzos de legislación y políticas que preserven la unidad de seres queridos que cruzan cualquier frontera internacional, y trabajaremos arduamente para alcanzar dicha meta.
The ACHTUS Board joins the BCTS in solidarity, and fully supports their statement denouncing racism in the United States of America. In doing so we also uphold the dignity of our communities in the U.S.A. and in Latin America, and all who suffer the impact of this grave sin.
15 January 2018
The Black Catholic Theological Symposium‘s full “statement regarding Mr. Trump’s racist comments about Haiti and African countries” may be read here.
In his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis asserts that the “Church, in her commitment to evangelization, appreciates and encourages the charism of theologians and their scholarly efforts to advance dialogue with the world of cultures and sciences (133)”. Speaking mainly from the margins of society and the Church, and from our particular and diverse social locations, the Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS) and Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians in the U.S. (ACHTUS) have collaborated to proclaim the good news, the joy of the Gospel, to a nation sorely in need.
4 September 2017
In the wake of the horrific events of Charlottesville Va. on August 11-12, 2017, and the deeply troubling displays of hate speech, neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideologies, the recent pardoning of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, and the battle over the “sanctuary cities” law in Texas, the leadership of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) and the Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS) stand in solidarity as one body, with one voice to condemn the systemic violence, racism and legitimized hatred that diminish the integrity of the United States of America. We call for a united front of human dignity and civil rights for all who call these United States home.
As sorrow fills our hearts for our brothers and sisters who have senselessly lost their lives to cowards who instill fear and provoke violence with impunity, our spirits are filled with hope as we vow to live in Love and advocate for Justice.
As Christians, we stand with the families and communities of our lost beloved. We are both comforted and led by the certain knowledge that in Christ we are all one body, in one Spirit: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13; 26).
As global citizens we commit to “recognizing the inherent dignity and the equal inalienable rights of all members of the human family [as these are] foundations of freedom, justice and peace in the world” (Preamble, UN Declaration of Human Rights).
We proclaim and teach anew the preamble of the US Constitution, establishing a more perfect Union built on Justice and the promotion of the common good.
Together as Catholic scholars and disciples, we recognize that much work, dialogue and healing lie ahead. As such, we commit to being prophetic voices for justice and peace by condemning violence, denouncing the sins of hatred and retrieving the redemptive nature of the cross as a way toward a common good.
We recognize the historical legacy of hate and oppression against black and brown folk in this nation. White supremacist attitudes, volatile and explosive words, and death-producing actions related to fascist movements, are not new phenomena in these United States of America. These stem from an enduring history and cycle of institutionalized racial prejudice and oppression. While this nation’s declaration of independence proposes “that all men [sic] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights…,” still whiteness dominates in all sectors of society and remains the norm in the worldview of this country underscored initially by Christian principles. Normative whiteness and white privilege perpetuate and sustain racism, which does not lead to a so-called post-racial society. Instead racism grows on fertile ground where white supremacist racists feel emboldened to chant “blood and soil” in their quest to “Make America Great Again.”
A history of violence, racial oppression, and hatred runs counter to our longstanding biblical history and primary teachings in the Christian tradition. These sources promote the dignity and incomparable worth of all human beings who are social in nature. It is because of this that we are called to be in right relationships of justice and love with God, self, and others.
The membership of ACHTUS and BCTS, representing a wide array of academic and pastoral vocations, consistently dedicate our lives to the struggles for justice for black and brown peoples, and all the human family. Many of us pay a heavy price in our professional lives because the work of organizing, community action, and public theology are not viewed as worthy of the academic endeavor. In addition, racist and bigoted rhetoric, violence against black and brown bodies, and practices and politics that oppress black and brown folk significantly impact our membership in ways that go unacknowledged by the institutions in which we work.
Nevertheless, we persist in our efforts to organically make our intellectual pursuits relevant to the plight of black and brown folk, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ, and any other group persecuted and regarded as “less than” by the myth of white supremacy in all its expressions. In seeking to do more than simply react to this newest spate of hate through a letter or statement, we commit to the hard work of creating a joint document that will focus on race and racism in the theological academy and the nation. We commit to this joint project aware that this kind of hard work is often unrewarded by our institutions, and may even be detrimental to our professional lives. But we are convinced that there is no way forward other than to join our intellects and our souls to provide some guidance to the academy and the Church – both institutions that we love – in the effort to disrupt white supremacy and racism.
Lastly, as leaders of ACHTUS and BCTS, we commit to supporting our constituents in the ongoing work of:
- Constructing theology that’s transformative, challenging, and hopeful, deeply grounded on the Incarnate love of God as it bears the marks of the experiences of our peoples;
- Denouncing the ways that the myth of white supremacy in its current expressions do violence to the bodies, souls, and minds of our communities and this nation;
- Shaping and leading communities of wholeness, hope, resilience, and radical welcome to the most vulnerable in our institutions, neighborhoods, nationally, and across borders;
- Sustaining ourselves and each other through practices of self-care of mind, body, and soul that acknowledge our response to the command to love self as we love neighbor;
- Joining others in actions of resistance and solidarity in our campuses, parishes, and communities.
Therefore, as we journey together in spirit and in truth may our combined voices give testament to the ongoing struggle for justice and be hope to our constituencies and communities that continue to work for a time when we truly will love one another.
June 9, 2017
In keeping with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the leadership of Pope Francis, and the mission and vision of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS), the Board of Directors issues this public position expressing our deep regret and disappointment in the United States of America’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord: Given that President Donald Trump’s June 1, 2017 decision runs directly counter to the vision for care of creation presented by Pope Francis in his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, among other ecclesial documents,* we stand with the international community of scientists, academics, and citizens of the world, who recognize the impact of climate change on all of creation, particularly the world’s most vulnerable citizens. As such, we commit to stand with global and local leaders who act in a manner that promote environmental stewardship that meets or surpasses the previously held commitment of the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement. Furthermore, we commit to supporting critical, theological reflections that advance ecological consciousness and the common good.
* Pacem in Terris (1963), n. 2–5; Octogesima Adveniens (1971), n. 21. See also Catholic Climate Covenant at www.catholicclimatecovenant.org
February 2, 2017
The Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) is an association of scholars dedicated to promoting research and critical theological reflection within the context of the U.S. Hispanic experience. Our work puts us directly in contact with the people who come to the United States in search of better opportunities and/or escaping persecution, war, environmental catastrophe, or famine. The experiences and perspectives of immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean are at the heart of our work. This also makes us particularly attuned to their plight for better treatment, their quest for asylum via our shores and national borders, and their yearning to contribute to the common good of this new place they call home. As Christians, however, our very faith and sacred texts privilege care for immigrants and refugees as a sign of faithfulness and respect for the inherent dignity of every human life (for instance, see Lev. 19:10 or Matt. 25:35-40).
For these reasons, the ACHTUS Board of Directors expresses its ongoing solidarity with immigrants and refugees. In turn, solidarity demands that we speak clearly against the two Executive Orders signed by President Trump on January 25 and January 27, 2017, targeting immigration to the U.S. in many of its forms. The Executive Orders on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, and on Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States run counter to the values of our faith, and negatively impact some of the most vulnerable members of society.
Our ongoing scholarly reflection highlights the gifts that immigrants and refugees bring to this nation, in the form of strong community values, admirable work ethic, deep spiritual roots and practices, rich cultural heritage, and unceasing resilience in the face of adversity and challenges. We are also aware that sometimes immigrants’ experiences on their journeys to the U.S. and once on U.S. soil can be fraught with severe physical, mental, and spiritual challenges, and often violence. Among our membership are advocates and practitioners who seek to improve the lives of immigrants and refugees while on their journeys toward greater human dignity.
Embracing the inalienable human dignity of every person, we support immigrants and refugees regardless of their citizenship status, and seek to contribute to their well being and full participation in society and the economy. Pope Francis, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and other Catholic bodies and authorities have strongly denounced the way these two Executive Orders on immigration negatively impact the integrity of families and entire communities by increasing the fear of deportation and separation of families, increasing detention, keeping persons who have travelled abroad from returning to their jobs and their loved ones, hindering support of innocent refugees fleeing violence, preventing many students from fulfilling their goals of a higher education, and the targeting of immigrants through the publication of a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants (regardless of legal status or conviction in a court of law). In addition, the proposal to build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border irresponsibly allocates precious financial and human resources in a venture that has proven to bear no impact on border security.
The ACHTUS Board of Directors will continue to put the journeys and welfare of immigrants and refugees at the core of the work we do as an Academy of scholars and as Christians. In solidarity with our migrant family globally, we categorically oppose policies that threaten the human dignity of any group.