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African American and Latino Faith Leaders Meet w/Key Vatican Leaders and Advisors to Pope Francis about 'Economic Exclusion' & Racism Hurting America
6/11/2015 4:35:19 PM

This week, more than a dozen faith leaders and organizers with the PICO National Network from across the U.S. are at the Vatican for a series of meetings with Pope Francis' top advisors to pull the veil off economic exclusion and racism and to deepen the narrative, in advance of the papal visit, about what is really hurting families in America. 

African American and Latino delegation members with PICO, heavily involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, are testifying before the Pope's advisors specifically about the sins of racial oppression in the U.S. and the need to strengthen the voice of the Roman Catholic Church on these issues intensified by economic exclusion.  The visit is part of PICO's ongoing, national efforts through its 'Year of Encounter' campaign intended to offer context around economic exclusion, racism and some of the most pressing issues at the center of family struggles in the U.S., including low wages, criminalization of people of color, the immigration deportation machine and detention, and police brutality.

"We want to push out the Black protestant voice, the immigrant family voice, the voice closest to the pain of police brutality and racial injustice to make the point that you can't talk about strengthening families in America, poverty, or any other issue in this nation without talking about race," points out Bishop Dwayne Royster, Executive Director for POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower & Rebuild (POWER).

The interfaith delegation represents a cross section of visitors, including a pastor and member of the Ferguson commission, a formerly undocumented priest from California, a DREAMER from Florida and a protestant African American bishop from Philadelphia- the poorest big city in the country and the location of the World Families meeting and mass in September. Their visit comes just after a meeting last month with Cardinal Oscar Rodriquez at the Year of Encounter's kickoff meeting in Philadelphia, PA. 

Below are excerpts from 'Why We Are at the Vatican', just published on the Huffington Post, as well as links to our national release, Twitter hashtags, and more information about our efforts:

"Through a friendship and ministerial partnership, forged in the crucible of the Ferguson uprising, we have traveled to many communities, joining a chorus of clergy leaders and faith-based networks, prophetically calling the systems of racial oppression to account."

"We are taking that same message we've spread in the United States to leaders at the Vatican. The voices leading the Black Lives Matter movement that call out to us from the streets of Ferguson, Baltimore, Oakland, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Miami, Detroit and New Orleans is calling out to the largest religious institution in the world for a response."

"This week we are carrying with us the stories of wailing mothers, angry youth, terrorized fathers, exploited women, marginalized families and vulnerable communities. We are naming the sins of racial oppression made concrete through economic exploitation."

"We want to welcome Pope Francis' voice into the clarion call, affirming black, brown and all the lives of the marginalized matter, by calling us all to see in one another's faces, our shared reflection of the Divine."

  • Read the full Huffington Post piece, "Why We Are At The Vatican".
  • Read the national press release for more information on the trip and a list of delegation members.
  • Follow @PICONetwork or #TellThePope for real-time updates from PICO delegation members meeting with key Vatican advisors to Pope Francis.
  • Get more information about the "Year of Encounter" campaign.


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