International Poverty

Jonathan Glennie, Tess Hart and Henry Schwalbenberg, Ph.D. on JustLove

Jonathan Glennie, Tess Hart and Henry Schwalbenberg, Ph.D.

On this week’s episode, Monsignor Sullivan speaks with three guests about international poverty.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan will be talking to Henry Schwalbenberg, Ph.D. and Tess Hart about Fordham University’s 2017 Pope Francis Global Poverty Index, a multi-dimensional measurement of international poverty. It relies on seven primary indicators of material well-being and spiritual well-being, which itself is based upon measures that Pope Francis proposed in his speech delivered to the United Nation’s General Assembly back on September 25th, 2015.

Also on the show is Jonathan Glennie, Director of the Sustainable Development Research Center at the Ipsos Sustainable Development Research Centre in Londo. Monsignor Sullivan will be speaking with Jonathan about an article that he wrote for The Guardian entitled: “The Saddest Thing in the World is not Poverty, It’s a Loss of Dignity.”

Listen Now

Pope Francis’ Call for Catholics to Become “Missionary Disciples”

In Every Facet of Their Lives

Kerry Robinson & Hosffman Ospino

Kerry Robinson & Hosffman Ospino

On this episode of JustLove, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan focuses on Pope Francis’ vision of “missionary discipleship” for Catholics. 

Hosffman Ospino Ph.D. Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies and Director of the Graduate Program in Hispanic Ministry at Boston College will be on JustLove. Professor Ospino will be talking about the meaning of “missionary discipleship,” and how it is lived out in an increasingly secular and culturally diverse society like our own. 

Kerry Robinson, the Founding Executive Director and Global Ambassador of the Leadership Roundtable will also be on this week’s episode of JustLove. Her organization is dedicated to promoting excellence and best practices in the Catholic Church by harnessing the expertise of senior level executives. Msgr. Sullivan and Kerry will be talking about both the role of women in the Church as well as what things we can do to encourage young adults to live out Pope Francis’ vision of “missionary discipleship” in every facet of their lives 

Religious Identity and Religious Persecution

Thomas Wigant & Samuel Tadros

On this week’s episode of JustLove, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan focuses on “Religious Identity and Religious Persecution” with two guests calling in to provide their perspectives on the matter.

On the show, Thomas Wigant Chief Operating Officer and Director of Ethics and Spiritual Care at Healthcare-Holding Tauberfranken will be calling in from Germany. Msgr. Sullivan and Thomas – who both  attended a Caritas Internationalis Conference last week in Germany where Msgr. Sullivan delivered an address on the “Catholic Identity” of Catholic Charities,  will further discuss how Catholic Identity in the provision of human services is understood on both sides of the Atlantic.

Samuel Tadros, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom will be discussing Pope Francis’s trip to Egypt last weekend. Msgr. Sullivan and Samuel will also focus on the plight of Christians in today’s Egypt, and particularly the pervasive discrimination that they face – in both law and society – because of their religious faith

Tune In to JustLove to Learn About the Pope’s Upcoming Environmental Encyclical


L-R: Longbottom and Brown

On this week’s JustLove episode, Msgr. Sullivan focuses on the Pope’s  Environmental Encyclical and the environment.  He speaks with Donald Brown, Professor at Widener University School of Law, on the topic of ethics and climate change. Also on the show is Henry Longbottom, Blogger for Green Jesuit. Longbottom speaks with Msgr. about the encyclical and  his article, “Why I’d Rather be a Hypocrite Than a Cynic.” from The Jesuit Post.

Religious Freedom – Not to Be Taken for Granted

DSCF3051Yesterday, President Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC.  Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to be part of deliberations on matters related to religious freedom and expression.

Three things in particular caught my attention:

It was a national prayer breakfast.

The President quoted Pope Francis and spoke about his upcoming meeting with him.

The issue of religious persecution was discussed by the President.

A number of years ago, I participated in testimony before a congressional  committee considering legislation that would include monitoring violations of religious freedoms as part of a broader focus on international human rights violations.  This legislation passed and now there are regular reports on these issues that raise awareness see most recent report:

The religious freedom we take for granted in the United States is not respected nor enjoyed worldwide.  We should give thanks for what we enjoy in our own country.   Also, we need to be vigilant to protect our religious freedom in this country that is continuously threatened in very different ways – many times very subtly, a few times with outward malice and sometimes unintentionally.  Both the establishment and free exercise clause of the first amendment are to be balanced in the public square.

I also had the honor to participate in a previous Presidential prayer breakfast at the White House with President Clinton in which he discussed various world issues on which religious leaders shared their perspective.  On that particular occasion the topic was Third World debt.

These are important parts of our country’s legacy of respecting religion’s role in the public square as one critical voice that informs just and compassionate policies.

Pope Francis continues to be a voice that is listened to throughout the world – including those who are not Catholic.  This is as it should be because his message, while steeped in our Catholic tradition, is meant to speak to a range of issues that impact humanity – not specifically or exclusively Catholics or Christians.  The encyclical Peace on Earth by John XXIII extended his opening salutation to all of good will.  The power of the message of life, justice, peace, compassion, dignity of the human person and so many more, rooted in the gospel speak to the best instincts of the human heart.   The world is listening.  We need to make sure that we who are Catholic are also listening.

 Read this article from the New York Times.

Tune in to JustLove This Week to Hear the Discussion on Today’s Income Inequality Crisis

Left to Right: John Allen and Sheldon Danziger

Left to Right: John Allen and Sheldon Danziger

On this week’s show Monsignor Sullivan speaks with Sheldon Danziger, President of the Russell Sage Foundation about the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty to discuss what has worked and what can be improved upon in America today. Also on the show is John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter to talk about Pope Francis and what his comments on inequality and poverty means for Catholics.


Pope Francis Inspiring a Movement to Address Inequality – “Count Me In”

(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Thanks that Pope Francis continues to give voice and draw attention to the unacceptable reality of inequality in the world – most recently in an address prepared for the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Catholic Charities deals with this reality each day – neighbors unfed and under-fed; families dangerously housed or without housing; children neglected and inadequately educated; immigrants un-welcomed and refugees in fear and persecuted.  Providing Help, Creating Hope, Catholic Charities’ tagline, is also our mission laced with more than a tinge of obsession.  And so Catholic Charities provides help – day in and day out to non-Catholics and Catholics alike.  And we try to create hope for those we help.  For many, a different future will require long and hard work.  Yet, it is essential to who we are and what we do.  Catholic Charities’ work is grounded in our core belief that each person – no matter how wounded and struggling – is made in the image of God.

I admit I was stunned by the Huffington Post headline related to the World Economic Forum that the “Richest 85 Wealthier than Half the World poorest” (est. 3.5 Billion).   I know headlines and statistics can be misleading, but this one – even if off by a lot – still points out an incredible amount of inequality in the world.

Let me offer my two cents on this word, “inequality,” that has captured media buzz – and the attention of the Pope, Mayors, and protesters and just about everybody.  Here’s my “non-sound bite” translation of the word. “There is such an unequal distribution of income and wealth that so many people don’t have even the basics that each human being has a right to, while some people have much more than they need.”    This comes with the correct therefore:  “We need to do something about it!”

Let me move into a “spin area.” Too many in the media and others seem to want to make this into “class warfare.”  The media are given ample fodder by political campaigns.  It may be good politics.  It may be good media. But it’s bad public policy and bad for the common good.

Pope Francis Inspiring a Movement to Address Inequality – Monsignor Kevin Sullivan is on Board

To deal with this unacceptable inequality, we need “as many hands on board as possible” and especially “hands” that share different perspectives.  We need business, unions, charities, government, religion, immigrants, native born, rich, poor and the still large middle class, the right and the left.  In our own country and throughout the world this is a human problem.  No person or group can shun the responsibility to be part of the solution.  I am realistic enough to know that some will choose not to cooperate or claim to participate while really being obstructionist.  That’s not good or ideal.  But I do believe we can put together – with God’s providence – a broad enough movement to deal with this inequality so that more and more of our sisters and brothers at home and throughout the world have the basic necessities. Catholic Charities has been working at this for almost a century.  Count me in to be part of this renewed movement.   Enough for now, more to come…

Click here to view the full statement by Pope Francis.

Pope Francis & Atheists & Catholic Charities

(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Francis’ recent talk about the how the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all – including atheists struck a chord with the world – and with me in a particular way.    People often have asked me if Catholic Charities helps “non-Catholics.” At first this bothered me because Catholic Charities for as long as I can remember and much beyond has always helped people regardless of their religion.  I was a little frustrated that after all these years people would still ask.  But then I realized we must not have been doing a good enough job in making sure people knew this fact.  So now in all material we put out about Catholic Charities, we always say: “Helping Non-Catholics and Catholics alike.”  Every person is made in the image of God.  And, in addition, we go out of our way to work with groups and organizations of all religions and no religions to further the common good and help those needing a helping hand.

Maybe Pope Francis was getting a little frustrated that some people didn’t realize that Jesus had come to save them – even if they weren’t Catholics or even Christians.   I have included a few excerpts below and the link to the Pope’s full message:

 “The Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”…
But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him….

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

Read the Pope’s full message on 

Pope Francis Announces Big Synod Meeting on Families in 2014: Broad Transparent Agenda & Grassroots Input

survey3Why all the “buzz” about this two-phase synod meeting beginning in 2014 on the challenges facing families?  (FYI – Synod is a fancy word for a meeting of Bishops and experts around the world called by the Pope to consider an important issue.)  Frankly, there are usually pretty boring and tedious – even when substantive.  I have a couple of thoughts why this Synod on the family should be different:

  • Putting questions on-line and inviting “survey-monkey” responses by anyone with internet access is new for synod meetings. It demonstrates transparency that many would claim is uncharacteristic of the Catholic Church. Everyone can see that the agenda is not ostrich-like.  Major hot-button and important issues are covered.  Same-sex marriage and living together without being married are two topics asked about in the survey.  Surveying real people actually experiencing the goods and bads of families is exciting.  An important caveat!  An accurate description and survey of the current state of affairs alone does not give you the answers. On the other hand, you rarely get the right answers without it.
  • Families are fundamental.  Children are born into them; we live in them; we work to support them and we grow old in them.  I often say Catholic Charities would be out of business if everyone had a good family and a decent job. (The job part is for another post.) Tragically, we know the deep hurt and suffering when families don’t work.  Sadly, this happens far, far too often.

This Synod meeting is on target:  a good and comprehensive agenda and everyone can get a say!   I expect this to be a needed win, not only for the Catholic Church, but also for the common good. Listen to more about it.

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry on Pope Francis’ “Cracking Open the Door to Change.”

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry on Pope Francis cracking open the door to change
While in Rome last week, I felt the enthusiasm and warmth at Pope Francis’ audience with more than 100,000 in St. Peter’s Square.  It’s both fun and instructive to hear someone “outside the fold” comment on Pope Francis’  initial  months on the job.  MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry’s take is crisp, perky and upbeat.  Listen to her report.