On the second day of December in 1980, four US women working for peace and justice in El Salvador were brutally murdered by the military forces of that country:
Laywoman Jean Donovan, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and two Maryknoll missionary sisters, Maura Clarke and Ita Ford. Due to the politics of both the Reagan administration and Pope John Paul II, these women were often spoken of as radical Communists seeking to overthrow the government of El Salvador instead of the loving, kind, hard working women striving to help people oppressed by both poverty and war. In fact, Alexander Haig and Ambassador to the UN Kilpatrick both made statements implying the four churchwomen caused their own deaths. And the cold response of Pope John Paul II that the clergy and religious were not to be involved in political struggles did not help bring any justice to the situation.
But even though the Roman Catholic Church has neglected to honor these women officially, many of us who have felt challenged by their martyrdom have found ways to remember what Jean, Dorothy, Ita, and Maura did with their lives. We hold them as saints to be emulated, whose actions inspire us to work in political campaigns, to write Congress members demanding justice for the poor..
This year one of the ways I am seeking to honor these women is by asking President Obama to have a woman lead one of the invocations at his upcoming Inauguration. And I have asked specifically for one of the women on the verge of being 'martyred' by the Roman Catholic Church to be this woman: Sister Simone Campbell, of Nuns on the Bus. There are many reasons for my selecting her, first and foremost, her work with those hit hardest by this economy. She is courageous in calling the Ryan budget for what it is .. a giant sin! And if she is invited, the United States Council of Bishops will be infuriated. Okay, the last reason may not seem to be very Christian, but somebody needs to tell the Bishops they have forgotten the most important Gospel messages and Sister Simone is just the lady to do it! So it is a good reason to ask her. (Sister Simone Campbell did speak at the Democratic National Convention)
I know many of you wish there wouldn't be an invocation at all, and I actually agree with you. But there is going to be at least one.. and last time, there were two..
I think by asking a woman to lead one of the invocations Obama can make a strong statement: Women are full citizens with all the rights and privileges of citizens and his Presidency will focus on helping all citizens, not just the rich and powerful, but those who voices haven't been heard before.
If Sister Simone cannot do it, I am asking for the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church who is a woman to be invited. The President often attends the National Cathedral across from the White House and it's an Episcopal church (which is a very inclusive church)
I have started a petition at We the People, and on this anniversary of four women martyred for trying to help the poor have a voice, I am asking your help in getting people to sign it. I need 25,000 signatures to get a response. (I also need 150 to get it searchable) Thank you
Here is the text of my petition:
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
to invite Sister Simone Campbell to deliver an invocation at the President's Inauguration in January.
It is time for a woman to deliver one of the invocations at the Presidential Inauguration. Sister Simone would be perfect; she is respected by people regardless of their faith status. If she is not available, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is a woman. This would be one of the best ways for the President to say that he is the President of all of us, and that repressive religious views should not allow women's rights to suffer. With Sister Simone, it would emphasize that we need to commit ourselves to seeing that the 'least among us' receive the full benefits of US citizenship.
and for the next inauguration, I will help with a petition that we keep Church and State completely separate and not have invocations at the Event... have a private morning service instead ...