Dear members, partners, friends and allies,

Pax Christi USA congratulates President Obama on his re-election, and we extend our best wishes to all those elected officials who will be assuming positions of leadership both nationally and locally.  We also congratulate the millions of volunteers who worked on the campaigns to help elect their candidates, though not all were victorious. It is to these grassroots people we pay special homage on the day after the national elections. State initiatives passed and the new faces that will be making the news in the not too distant future show that the electorate cannot be bought as easily as appeared.

With the end of this election we will see and hear familiar voices and faces, and become acquainted with new voices and leaders in the halls of Congress, in state legislatures and in local boards and councils. Many citizens might consider the work of the electorate over. But for members of Pax Christi USA, I want to emphasize that our work has just begun. No election achieves the goals to which we are dedicated:

  • The cultivation of a spirituality of nonviolence and peacemaking
  • Disarmament, demilitarization and reconciliation with justice
  • Economic and interracial justice
  • Respect for human rights and care for God’s creation

It is our responsibility to hold accountable our elected officials, to make sure they work to make concrete and positive changes for the common good. Real change and real hope for all who are marginalized, suffering and disenfranchised is the vision of world peace that is rooted in Catholic Social Teaching.

Let us re-embrace our resolve, as the Catholic peace movement in the United States, to be more intentional in our prayer-study-action process. One that promotes community, not division; worship and life in prayer, not judging rhetoric and accusations; that builds local communities committed to justice with peace; and members and leaders who provide much needed formation to new generations of young people while embracing our most generous senior supporters.

Today we roll up our sleeves and we continue on our mission. This election is neither an end nor a beginning for Pax Christi USA; it is but another opportunity for us to take stock of what we have accomplished, to reaffirm where we want our organization to go, and to recommit to how we plan on being effective advocates for creating a more peaceful world.

The long election process and watching the election returns made it clear who Pax Christi USA has yet to invite to the table of the Catholic peace movement. In this election year, our African American and Latino sisters and brothers demonstrated the power of solidarity and inclusion. The results speak for themselves. Can Pax Christi USA re-embrace our resolve for a just and sustainable peace movement that is inclusive of the true face of the Catholic Church in our nation?  We are called to build community, not to create division that alienates the faithful from their baptismal call. As Pax Christi USA, we are on the right path to becoming humble, but confident and prophetic peace makers.

In Christ’s peace & prayers that our elected officials work for the common good,

Sr. Patricia J. Chappell, SNDdeN
Executive Director, Pax Christi USA

19 thoughts on “ELECTION 2012: A letter from Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, PCUSA Executive Director

  1. Thank you Sister Patty for your commitment to peace. A good start for President Obama would be to take Executive action and close the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA). Additionally, Christian President Obama and his close Catholic advisers who each week determine who will be the target of drone strikes in various foreign places, need to stop. Pax Christi must petition the President to end the killings and begin serious diplomatic and cooperative international police work to investigate, arrest and prosecute suspected terrorists. Assassination should not be the way of any culture, especially one that claims to act with a Christian conscience.

    1. Amen to this important comment, Jack! Everything we do to negate our country’s commitment to peace works against young people growing up in a country which values every human being, not just certain Americans who resemble us. Guantanamo is a stain on our democracy as are the drone strikes. One innocent person killed in trying to get the terrorists is one too many. And thank you, Patricia, for your excellent letter. Peace, Sheral Marshall, OSF

  2. Thank you for your dedicated ministry in raising the consciousness of the American voter to crucial issues of justice and peace. You helped to make a positive difference in this election! Grateully, Fr. Tom Ivory

  3. Congratulations should not be given without the caveat that many of the winners including Pres. Obama on issues of Life and religious freedom are not in conformity with Catholic Teaching as the Pope wrote to the President in his congratulatory letter

  4. Thank you for your leadership in providing avenues to help us respond to issues in a peaceful and just manner.

  5. Patty, thanks for you reflection and animation. Truly our work of inclusive community building in the pursuit of dismantling oppressive, racist societal structures and co-creating a world of peace with justice continues whoever is the President. The landscape will be a little easier with Barack Obama and the groundswell that elected him needs to keep up the pressure. The way is peace. How we relate to one another on the path is as important as the outcome. Kudos to Pax Christi for your work.

    1. “The landscape will be a little easier with Barack Obama and the groundswell that elected him”??? I am confused Sister Ann. I was not one of the 49% groundswell that endorsed the President, but one of the 48% that endorsed Mitt Romney. My reasons included the follwoing:
      – Mr.Romney has not endorsed a War, or escalated a War. The President, however, has. As a Senator, he said that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, that as a nation, we took our eye off the ball, that the “right” war was in Afganistan.
      – As a Senator, the President voted “yea” 100% of the time for appropriations to continue funding for both wars.
      — As President, Mr. Obama withdrew troops from Iraq, then sent thousands more to escalate the military action and deaths in Afganistan.
      – As a Senator, the President has endorsed abortion, to the extent of voting for the allowance of partial birth abortions as well. I am assuming you agree with Scripture, which emphatically states that human life (the soul) begins at conception. I cannot remember the exact chapter and verse but I beleive it was the book of Luke. Did not the soul of John the Baptist, leap in the womb of Elizabeth, at the greeting of her sister, the blessed Mary, who had just concieved out Lord, the Christ?
      With sincere thanks, I hope you can help with my confusion.
      .

  6. Thank you, and GOD BLESS YOU and all you do to spread the GOOD
    NEWS of Social Justice for all. Keep up your good work, Sister Patty.
    You make me proud to be a memeber of a religious community.
    S. Carole Gurdak, CSA

  7. We appreciate your leadership and special words of hope, faith and love among all. Onward we move in God’s peace! Thank you!

  8. Thank you, Sister Patty, for keeping before us the work to be done in this moment of great opportunity for committed Peace makers.
    Loretta Sullivan,OP

  9. I simply want to echo the important words of Jack Gilroy and to thank Pax Christi and Sr. Patty for continuing to keep the pressure on President to shut down the SOA and to end permanently these haphazard and unjust drone strikes. They must come to an end.

  10. Dear Sister Patty, For over two decades the US has been waging unjust wars with full Catholic participation and episcopal approval. A single bishop ordinary, John Botean, has authoritatively taught that participation in unjust war is mortal sin in accord with our Catholic Moral Tradition. Given all its bishop members, I have to wonder if Pax Christi asks anything of its membership. These bishops have first abandoned the Gospel. When they realized that it was ludicrous to turn to just/unjust war theory to continue their justification of the wars, they invented a sham called “Responsible Transition” that can accommodate any war. The several versions of this new rationale are not even part of our tradition but serve as a group smoke screen for the bishops who can say they share some kind of a moral position.
    In what ways has PC challenged these bishops? Why do you hasten to congratulate the newly elected “Caesar” who is indictable under international law for war crimes? Isn’t the Gospel always a scandal for those whose first loyalty is Caesar and his empire?
    I have found the names of almost 1000 US Catholics soldiers who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 1991. We call it a “Scroll of Remembrance” In every instance, save one, where some account of a Catholic funeral service was found, the liturgy served to glorify war and warriors. One can imagine such liturgies also serve as important opportunities for the military to recruit Catholic youth.
    I hope Pax Christi will find a more prophetic voice. One place to begin might be the 3Ms, i.e. St. Martin of Tours, St. Marcellus and St. Maximillian. Also recommended is the Spring 2007 issue of The Sign of Peace about the life and witness of Ben Salmon which is crucial to understanding where Catholics have been in the US since WWI.
    If you would like a copy of the “Scroll of Remembrance” I would be happy to send one. There is also a “scroll calendar” that lists those who have been killed in the wars on any particular date. There are not many blank days. These resources are a shocking reminder of the extent that US militarism has penetrated our Church.

  11. I cannot extend my congratulations to a President who “presides” over the selection and killing of men and women created by God, and who extended war, as he promised, in Afghanistan. “Love your enemies” does not allow me to do that. Nor could I support his opponent who seemed even more militaristic, and who seemed to stand with indifference to the poor and marginalized. To me, voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. I do extend my prayers for healing of this nation.

  12. I commend your peace movement, but congradulations to a anti catholic President, anti cutural of life. Approves Abortions and same sex marriage. The Cathchism condems the sin of homosexuality and clearly defines marriage between man and a women. Obama is killing the moral values of America. Pot approved in two states. America, one of great Christian nations is becoming socialist. I’m done with this website. Brad

  13. Thanks for your very good letter, Sister Patty, and thanks to some writers for their to-thepont comments.I liked hat of Larry Vitelli (for Romney), but agree with William H. Privett that Romney “seemed even more militaristic.” He resented having to vote for the lesser of two evils. I am a died-in-the-wool Democrat (the working man’s party, and “the party with a heart.”, but became dissalusioned with Obama’s policies regarding the drone assasinations and the continuing presence in Afghanistan for at least another year. Also, I was startled to watch Nany Keenan of the National Action League for Abortion Rights spoke on a Democratic panel, supposedly expressing the party’s authentic view on abortion as entirely up to the woman, supposedly right through late term. I disagree with the Church’s contention that since “life begins at conception” it is illicit to abort in the earliest moments after conception. I do not believe that the fertilized ovum is a person. I do not agree with Vitelli that “scripture expressly states that human life (the soul) begins at conception.”

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