Today begins in Washington, DC, the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, CSMG, which has been held for 30 years. It will end on Tuesday, January 31. It is organized by the U.S. Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, in collaboration with 10 other departments of USCCB and 20 national Catholic organizations.
More than 500 national leaders gather from across the country to address today’s pressing national and global social challenges. The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering offers an excellent opportunity for Catholic leaders to network, learn about the many social projects being carried out by Church institutions, deepen their knowledge of the Social Teaching of the Church, pray as a community and advocate for the rights of the most vulnerable.
Social issues have always been essential for the Church
Although the social theme has always been important for the Church, since the proclamation of the encyclical Rerum novarum by Pope Leo XIII in 1891, the theme has gained first level “official” relevance. Pope Francis gave it a special importance. His first trip as pontiff was to the island of Lampedusa, in the south of Italy, where Africans arrive escaping from the miseries of their places of origin, in search of a better fate. Many die in the attempt. With this trip Pope Francis intended to show the world the importance he gives to the dignity of the most needy.
There must be coherence between spirituality and social commitment
Through his magisterial documents Pope Francis was sealing with more precision the Christian spirit of social commitment. Evangelii gaudium, Laudato SI, Fratelli tutti, and even Gaudete et exsultate, apostolic exhortation on holiness, set the course on the coherence that must exist between a profound spirituality and a radical commitment to the dignity of our brothers and sisters.
Pope Francis expresses in Gaudete et exsultate: “Holiness, then, is not about swooning in mystic rapture. As Saint John Paul II said: ‘If we truly start out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he himself wished to be identified.’” GE 96.
The theme of this year’s CSMG meeting is “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5:9). Participants will explore the Catholic Church’s call to respond to the signs of the times by reflecting creatively and in community to create opportunities for healing and renewed encounter.
Issues to be discussed include those affecting both families and communities at large: climate change, racial justice, gun violence, violence in Ukraine, peacebuilding, migration, hunger, restorative justice and poverty.
Participants will conclude the final day of the meeting with a tour of Capitol Hill, where they will visit the offices of their elected officials. The CSMG 2023 program will include offerings for Hispanic/Latino leaders who play an important role in forming missionary disciples in their communities.
Contributions of personalities
William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, who will speak about the “Walking with Moms in Need” initiative and share about local efforts to fight racism and support immigrants. Also in attendance will be Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, who will speak in a plenary discussion on the COPS/Metro partnership, funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, to respond to the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Archbishop Garcia-Siller was chairman of the USCCB Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church.
Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, will speak on how we can articulate the Church’s voice in peacemaking and respond with love to displaced brothers and sisters, migrants and those in need of welcome in a new home, as part of a plenary discussion. Bishop Dorsonville is a former chair of the USCCB Migration Committee and currently serves on the Domestic Justice and Human Development Committee, the Migration Committee, the Religious Liberty Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.
Sister Norma Pimentel, M.J., executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, will share about the Church’s support of women and children through accompaniment of migrants and refugees on the southern border. Sr. Pimentel, oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, coordinating different ministries and services in the Rio Grande Valley through emergency assistance, homelessness prevention, clinical counseling, pregnancy care, feeding programs and humanitarian aid to immigrants.
The event takes place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington, DC, located at 400 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington D.C., 20001. Registration is available upon arrival at the meeting site.
Live updates will be shared throughout the CSMG on Twitter via @USCCBLive and #CSMG23. More information can be obtained through the link www.catholicsocialministrygathering.org.