June 11, 2015

New NM Archbishop has social justice promise | by Chris S. Salas

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St. Francis Cathedral in downtown Santa Fe is just a stone's throw from the State Capitol building. Photo credit: David Bailey

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]CHRIS S. SALAS is a New Mexico Catholic from Albuquerque[/box]

Catholics in New Mexico have long worked to alleviate the suffering of marginalized communities from the effects of poverty and injustice in our state and across the world. Clergy are often advocates for those most vulnerable to inequalities in a society, and people of our faith have always played an integral role in movements for racial justice, worker’s rights, immigrants’ rights and more. Though New Mexicans are facing many obstacles, our challenges are not insurmountable. With the leadership of communities of faith, we can together lift up our families.

Catholics in New Mexico have worked for generations to link our faith values to our communities, so I was excited to see the recent appointment of Archbishop John C. Wester, who has a history of being a champion for poor and immigrant communities. Including the leadership of the Holy Father Pope Francis, I am proud to see a Catholic Church rooted in the social justice teachings of our faith.

Archbishop John C. Wester

Archbishop John C. Wester

Our Catholic faith is deeply woven into New Mexico’s culture and history, and our commitment to that faith is what calls us to have compassion and respect for others in our community. I was raised believing in the teachings of Jesus that instruct us to be kind, compassionate, and to always treat others as I would want to be treated. It is important to me that our spiritual leaders embody these teachings, as well as promote justice, dignity, and equality for all members of society.

People of faith and clergy have also historically been leaders of reproductive justice movements. While we don’t always see eye to eye on reproductive health issues, here in New Mexico we can agree that the values of one family shouldn’t be imposed on another. I hope that we can find middle ground to have respectful, open conversations about reproductive healthcare. New Mexican women and families make decisions about their futures every day, which includes decisions about contraception and abortion. We need to leave these personal decisions in the hands of women, and act with compassion and empathy instead of judgment.

Jesus calls us to have compassion for others, and it is apparent that the
Archbishop-elect has taken this message to heart. In times of such economic uncertainty, we need a humble leader willing to take on the systemic issues facing our communities. As a Catholic, I am committed to working so that we can have complex, respectful conversations that affect all of our families.

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