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Statements issued by the Board of Directors of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians in the United States (ACHTUS)

ACHTUS/BCTS Statement on the Treatment of Families at the USA/Mexico Border (A Spanish Version Follows the English)
21 June 2018

We, the board of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States and the Executive Committee of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium, reiterate previous ACHTUS statements in support of just, comprehensive, and humane immigration reform. We also reiterate previous BCTS statements about the dangerous ways racism has shaped the Trump administration’s rhetoric about immigration.

In the strongest terms, we denounce the Trump administration’s recent decisions to criminalize asylum-seekers, to increase detention and deportation of unauthorized residents, and to separate migrant children from their parents. We decry the use of children for political gain while inflicting pain on families. We also denounce the use of tents, in the richest country on earth, to house any person held in detention.

We denounce the use of Christian scriptures in order to legitimize cruelty and violence. Furthermore, we reject the use of biblical arguments to support institutional violence against migrants and refugees.

We lift up those traditions within the Bible that measure justice according to society’s care for those most vulnerable, God’s little ones (e.g., widows, orphans, displaced persons).

Additionally, we affirm Catholic teaching regarding the human right to migrate.

Therefore, we support legislation and policies that sustain union between all loved ones crossing any of our international borders, and we will work toward achieving this goal.

(Declaración en español)

Nosotros, los miembros de la Junta Directiva de la Academia de Teólogos Católicos Hispanos de los Estados Unidos (ACHTUS, por sus siglas en inglés) y el Comité Ejecutivo del Simposio Teológico Católico Afro-Americano (BCTS, por sus siglas en inglés), reiteramos previas declaraciones de ACHTUS que apoyan una reforma migratoria justa, comprensiva y humanitaria. También reiteramos previas declaraciones de BCTS sobre las maneras peligrosas en las que el racismo permea gran parte de la retórica del presidente Trump con respecto a la inmigración.

Denunciamos de manera contundente la decisión reciente de la administración del presidente Trump de criminalizar a aquellos que buscan asilo y refugio, de aumentar la detención y deportación de residentes no autorizados, y de separar a niños inmigrantes de sus padres. Condenamos el uso de niños y niñas para efectos políticos, causando al mismo tiempo un gran daño a sus familias. También censuramos que en el país más rico del mundo se usen carpas para albergar a cualquier persona que esté detenida.

Denunciamos el uso de las Escrituras cristianas para legitimar la crueldad y la violencia. Además, rechazamos el uso del lenguaje bíblico para apoyar cualquier clase de violencia institucional contra los migrantes y refugiados.

Realzamos aquellas tradiciones bíblicas que miden la justicia según la manera cómo la sociedad protege a los más vulnerables, a los pequeños de Dios (por ejemplo, las viudas, los huérfanos y las personas desplazadas).

Además, reafirmamos las enseñanzas de la doctrina social de la Iglesia Católica que garantizan el derecho del ser humano a migrar.

De esta manera, apoyamos esfuerzos de legislación y políticas que preserven la unidad de seres queridos que cruzan cualquier frontera internacional, y trabajaremos arduamente para alcanzar dicha meta.


The ACHTUS Board joins the BCTS in solidarity, and fully supports their statement denouncing racism in the United States of America. In doing so we also uphold the dignity of our communities in the U.S.A. and in Latin America, and all who suffer the impact of this grave sin.
15 January 2018

The Black Catholic Theological Symposium‘s full “statement regarding Mr. Trump’s racist comments about Haiti and African countries” may be read here.


In his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis asserts that the “Church, in her commitment to evangelization, appreciates and encourages the charism of theologians and their scholarly efforts to advance dialogue with the world of cultures and sciences (133)”.  Speaking mainly from the margins of society and the Church, and from our particular and diverse social locations, the Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS) and Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians in the U.S. (ACHTUS) have collaborated to proclaim the good news, the joy of the Gospel, to a nation sorely in need.

ACHTUS/BCTS Statement Regarding the Most Recent Surge in Racist Hate Crimes in the United States
4 September 2017

In the wake of the horrific events of Charlottesville Va. on August 11-12, 2017, and the deeply troubling displays of hate speech, neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideologies, the recent pardoning of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, and the battle over the “sanctuary cities” law in Texas, the leadership of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) and the Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS) stand in solidarity as one body, with one voice to condemn the systemic violence, racism and legitimized hatred that diminish the integrity of the United States of America. We call for a united front of human dignity and civil rights for all who call these United States home.

As sorrow fills our hearts for our brothers and sisters who have senselessly lost their lives to cowards who instill fear and provoke violence with impunity, our spirits are filled with hope as we vow to live in Love and advocate for Justice.

As Christians, we stand with the families and communities of our lost beloved. We are both comforted and led by the certain knowledge that in Christ we are all one body, in one Spirit: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13; 26).

As global citizens we commit to “recognizing the inherent dignity and the equal inalienable rights of all members of the human family [as these are] foundations of freedom, justice and peace in the world”  (Preamble, UN Declaration of Human Rights).

We proclaim and teach anew the preamble of the US Constitution, establishing a more perfect Union built on Justice and the promotion of the common good.

Together as Catholic scholars and disciples, we recognize that much work, dialogue and healing lie ahead. As such, we commit to being prophetic voices for justice and peace by condemning violence, denouncing the sins of hatred and retrieving the redemptive nature of the cross as a way toward a common good.

We recognize the historical legacy of hate and oppression against black and brown folk in this nation. White supremacist attitudes, volatile and explosive words, and death-producing actions related to fascist movements, are not new phenomena in these United States of America. These stem from an enduring history and cycle of institutionalized racial prejudice and oppression. While this nation’s declaration of independence proposes “that all men [sic] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights…,” still whiteness dominates in all sectors of society and remains the norm in the worldview of this country underscored initially by Christian principles. Normative whiteness and white privilege perpetuate and sustain racism, which does not lead to a so-called post-racial society. Instead racism grows on fertile ground where white supremacist racists feel emboldened to chant “blood and soil” in their quest to “Make America Great Again.”

A history of violence, racial oppression, and hatred runs counter to our longstanding biblical history and primary teachings in the Christian tradition. These sources promote the dignity and incomparable worth of all human beings who are social in nature. It is because of this that we are called to be in right relationships of justice and love with God, self, and others.

The membership of ACHTUS and BCTS, representing a wide array of academic and pastoral vocations, consistently dedicate our lives to the struggles for justice for black and brown peoples, and all the human family. Many of us pay a heavy price in our professional lives because the work of organizing, community action, and public theology are not viewed as worthy of the academic endeavor. In addition, racist and bigoted rhetoric, violence against black and brown bodies, and practices and politics that oppress black and brown folk significantly impact our membership in ways that go unacknowledged by the institutions in which we work.

Nevertheless, we persist in our efforts to organically make our intellectual pursuits relevant to the plight of black and brown folk, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ, and any other group persecuted and regarded as “less than” by the myth of white supremacy in all its expressions. In seeking to do more than simply react to this newest spate of hate through a letter or statement, we commit to the hard work of creating a joint document that will focus on race and racism in the theological academy and the nation. We commit to this joint project aware that this kind of hard work is often unrewarded by our institutions, and may even be detrimental to our professional lives. But we are convinced that there is no way forward other than to join our intellects and our souls to provide some guidance to the academy and the Church – both institutions that we love – in the effort to disrupt white supremacy and racism.

Lastly, as leaders of ACHTUS and BCTS, we commit to supporting our constituents in the ongoing work of:

  • Constructing theology that’s transformative, challenging, and hopeful, deeply grounded on the Incarnate love of God as it bears the marks of the experiences of our peoples;
  • Denouncing the ways that the myth of white supremacy in its current expressions do violence to the bodies, souls, and minds of our communities and this nation;
  • Shaping and leading communities of wholeness, hope, resilience, and radical welcome to the most vulnerable in our institutions, neighborhoods, nationally, and across borders;
  • Sustaining ourselves and each other through practices of self-care of mind, body, and soul that acknowledge our response to the command to love self as we love neighbor;
  • Joining others in actions of resistance and solidarity in our campuses, parishes, and communities.

Therefore, as we journey together in spirit and in truth may our combined voices give testament to the ongoing struggle for justice and be hope to our constituencies and communities that continue to work for a time when we truly will love one another.


ACHTUS Board Statement on the United States Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement

June 9, 2017

In keeping with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the leadership of Pope Francis, and the mission and vision of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS), the Board of Directors issues this public position expressing our deep regret and disappointment in the United States of America’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord:

Given that President Donald Trump’s June 1, 2017 decision runs directly counter to the vision for care of creation presented by Pope Francis in his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, among other ecclesial documents,* we stand with the international community of scientists, academics, and citizens of the world, who recognize the impact of climate change on all of creation, particularly the world’s most vulnerable citizens. As such, we commit to stand with global and local leaders who act in a manner that promote environmental stewardship that meets or surpasses the previously held commitment of the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement. Furthermore, we commit to supporting critical, theological reflections that advance ecological consciousness and the common good.

* Pacem in Terris (1963), n. 2–5; Octogesima Adveniens (1971), n. 21. See also Catholic Climate Covenant at www.catholicclimatecovenant.org


February 2, 2017

The Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) is an association of scholars dedicated to promoting research and critical theological reflection within the context of the U.S. Hispanic experience. Our work puts us directly in contact with the people who come to the United States in search of better opportunities and/or escaping persecution, war, environmental catastrophe, or famine. The experiences and perspectives of immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean are at the heart of our work. This also makes us particularly attuned to their plight for better treatment, their quest for asylum via our shores and national borders, and their yearning to contribute to the common good of this new place they call home. As Christians, however, our very faith and sacred texts privilege care for immigrants and refugees as a sign of faithfulness and respect for the inherent dignity of every human life (for instance, see Lev. 19:10 or Matt. 25:35-40).

For these reasons, the ACHTUS Board of Directors expresses its ongoing solidarity with immigrants and refugees. In turn, solidarity demands that we speak clearly against the two Executive Orders signed by President Trump on January 25 and January 27, 2017, targeting immigration to the U.S. in many of its forms. The Executive Orders on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, and on Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States run counter to the values of our faith, and negatively impact some of the most vulnerable members of society.

Our ongoing scholarly reflection highlights the gifts that immigrants and refugees bring to this nation, in the form of strong community values, admirable work ethic, deep spiritual roots and practices, rich cultural heritage, and unceasing resilience in the face of adversity and challenges. We are also aware that sometimes immigrants’ experiences on their journeys to the U.S. and once on U.S. soil can be fraught with severe physical, mental, and spiritual challenges, and often violence. Among our membership are advocates and practitioners who seek to improve the lives of immigrants and refugees while on their journeys toward greater human dignity.

Embracing the inalienable human dignity of every person, we support immigrants and refugees regardless of their citizenship status, and seek to contribute to their well being and full participation in society and the economy. Pope Francis, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and other Catholic bodies and authorities have strongly denounced the way these two Executive Orders on immigration negatively impact the integrity of families and entire communities by increasing the fear of deportation and separation of families, increasing detention, keeping persons who have travelled abroad from returning to their jobs and their loved ones, hindering support of innocent refugees fleeing violence, preventing many students from fulfilling their goals of a higher education, and the targeting of immigrants through the publication of a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants (regardless of legal status or conviction in a court of law). In addition, the proposal to build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border irresponsibly allocates precious financial and human resources in a venture that has proven to bear no impact on border security.

The ACHTUS Board of Directors will continue to put the journeys and welfare of immigrants and refugees at the core of the work we do as an Academy of scholars and as Christians. In solidarity with our migrant family globally, we categorically oppose policies that threaten the human dignity of any group.


EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY

JUBILEE FOR THE ROMAN CURIA

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

Vatican Basilica
Monday, 22 February 2016

The liturgical feast of the Chair of St Peter finds us gathered to celebrate the Jubilee of Mercy as the community of service of the Roman Curia, the Governorate and the institutions connected with the Holy See. We have passed through the Holy Door and we have come to the Tomb of the Apostle Peter in order to make our profession of faith. Today the Word of God illuminates our gestures in a special way.

At this moment, the Lord repeats his question to each of us: “who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:15). A clear and direct question, which one cannot avoid or remain neutral to, nor can one remand it or delegate the response to someone else. In this question there is nothing inquisitional, but rather, it is full of love! The love of our One Master, who today calls us to renew our faith in him, recognizing him as the Son of God and Lord of our life. The first one called to renew his profession of faith is the Successor of Peter, who carries the responsibility to strengthen his brothers (cf. Lk 22:32).

Let us allow grace to shape our hearts anew in order to believe, and to open our mouths in order to profess the faith and obtain salvation (cf. Rom 10:10). Thus, let us make our own the words of Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). May our thought and our gaze be fixed on Jesus Christ, the beginning and the end of all actions of the Church. He is the foundation and no one may lay a different one (cf. 1 Cor 3:11). He is the “rock” upon which we must build. St Augustine recalls this with expressive words, when he writes that even if shaken and upset over historical events, the Church “will not fall, because she is founded on the rock, from which Peter’s name derives. It is not the rock that draws its name from Peter, but Peter who draws it from the rock; just as it is not the name Christ which derives from Christian, but the name Christian which derives from Christ…. The rock is Christ, upon which foundation Peter too was edified” (In Joh 124, 5: PL 35, 1972).

From this profession of faith derives for each of us the task of corresponding to the call of God. Pastors, first of all, are asked to have as a model God himself, who takes care of his flock. The prophet Ezekiel described God’s way of acting: He goes in search of the lost sheep, guides the stray back to the fold and cares for the sick (cf. 34:16). This behaviour is a sign of a love that knows no bounds. It is a faithful, constant, unconditional devotion, so that his mercy may reach all of the weakest. However, we must not forget that Ezekiel’s prophecy originates from the fact that Israel lacked shepherds. Thus it is good for us too, called to be Pastors in the Church, to allow the face of God the Good Shepherd to enlighten us, purify us, transform us and restore us fully renewed to our mission. That even in our work environments, we may feel, cultivate and practice a strong pastoral sense, especially toward the people we meet every day. May no one feel overlooked or mistreated, but may everyone experience, here first of all, the nurturing care of the Good Shepherd.

We are called to be God’s coworkers in an undertaking so basic and unique as that of witnessing by our existence to the strength of transforming grace and the renewing power of the Holy Spirit. Let us allow the Lord to free us from all temptation that separates us from what is essential in our mission, and let us rediscover the beauty of professing faith in the Lord Jesus. Faithfulness to the ministry combines well with the mercy that we want to make felt. In Sacred Scripture, after all, faithfulness and mercy are an inseparable binomial. Where there is one, there the other is also found, and it is precisely in their reciprocity and complementarity that the very presence of the Good Shepherd can be seen. The faithfulness that is asked of us is that of acting according to the heart of Christ. As we heard from the words of the Apostle Peter, we must tend to the flock with a “willing spirit” and become an “example” for all. In this way, “when the chief Shepherd is manifested” you may receive “the unfading crown of glory” (1 Pet 5:4).

 


 

STATEMENT BY THE ACHTUS BOARD ON TEXAS v. UNITED STATES (#15-40238) [ To be argued before the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, Friday, Apr. 17, 2015]

Date: April 13, 2015

On Behalf of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States:

As we affirmed in our June 7, 2006 public statement on Just, Comprehensive, and Humane Immigration Reform: “We, the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACTHUS), stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, the undocumented immigrants in this nation. In faithfulness to the Gospel of Christ and the social teachings of the Catholic Church, we affirm the dignity of all human beings, regardless of national origin, and we call for just, comprehensive, and humane immigration reform” (http://www.achtus.us/news/).

ACHTUS is an association of scholars dedicated to promoting research and critical theological reflection within the context of the U.S. Catholic Hispanic experience. One component of ACHTUS’s mission is to accompany the Hispanic communities of the United States. In keeping with this mission, we pray that the injunction that halted the implementation of President Obama’s Executive Action programs for deportation relief is lifted, and that our political leaders work to pass just and humane comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

— Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS)

Unanimously Affirmed

Jorge A. Aquino, President
Nancy Pineda-Madrid, President Elect
Elsie Miranda, Vice President
Hosffman Ospino, Secretary
Neomi DeAnda, Treasurer
Michael E. Lee, Past President
Maria Teresa Dávila, Member At-Large
Peter Anthony Mena, Member At-Large
Gilberto Ruiz, Member At-Large
Chris Tirres, Member At-Large
O. Ernesto Valiente, Member At-Large
Jeremy V. Cruz, Associate Member Representative


For more information contact:

Jorge Aquino (University of San Francisco)
Email: jaaquino@usfca.edu

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Friday, November 21, 2014

To the ACHTUS Community and the Readership of the JHLT:

I am writing to report on a decision the ACHTUS Board has taken to ensure the future viability and development of our flagship, the Journal of Hispanic / Latino Theology.

As you know, the JHLT has an exceedingly proud history. As a print journal from 1993 to 2003, the JHLT was the go-to publication for outstanding, peer-reviewed, Latin@-Catholic scholarship. However, profound changes in the economics of academic publishing prompted the JHLT to cease publication in print. In 2006, after a three-year hiatus, the journal relaunched in an online format and has since published eight more volumes of reputable, peer-reviewed content. JHLT’s archives and its bibliography pages (latinobibliography.org) are an invaluable research trove.

At the same time, it has become clear that the economic model under which the JHLT has been publishing for the last several years needs attention from the ACHTUS Board. The online JHLT has been operating at a modest loss, which will become a serious issue in the next few years if allowed to continue unchecked. The JHLT site also needs some technical updating and design work to take advantage of recent advances in online scholarly publishing and design. Both the JHLT and ACHTUS can also benefit from a more deliberate integration of their respective web apparatuses. Finally, a more intentional JHLT marketing strategy, supported by ACHTUS, could maximize the revenue possibilities of the journal’s online platform.

Moved by these challenges, I appointed a committee last August to begin a “visioning” process to consider these and related issues — in anticipation of future recruitment for editors, and so that ACHTUS could generally be more intentional in its support for the journal. This decision was guided by a desire to defend the editorial integrity and independence of the JHLT, while also considering specific ways to formalize the JHLT’s commitment to its economic and online development.

This process was just beginning when JHLT Editor Gilberto Cavazos-González, OFM, was transferred to Rome by his order and resigned his editorship, effective October 17, 2014. His departure was sudden and unexpected, and did not give the ACHTUS Board the opportunity to make plans for an editorial transition. This presented us with a serious challenge. It is clear that the Board must become more knowledgeable and engaged in the economic life of the JHLT if it is to survive in the long term. It is equally clear that the discernment and visioning process we have begun must precede — and guide — the recruitment and appointment of the next JHLT editor.

To that end, the ACHTUS Board this week voted to continue to maintain the JHLT and the latinotheology.org site, but to suspend new editorial work on the JHLT, pending the work of one or more Board committees that will undertake several tasks toward assessing the JHLT and its web platform, including:

1. Publishing a number of book reviews that had been submitted to the JHLT, edited to completion, but have not yet been published.

2. Fixing flaws in the paywall, broken links, and other technical issues.

3. Finish our review of the finances and balance sheet of the JHLT to make a judgment on how (and where) to proceed with its online format.

4. Review and price our hosting agreement with MetaVisual for latinotheology.org, and explore / price alternative hosting platforms, perhaps in one of our Catholic universities.

5. Develop a vision statement for the JHLT, and a model draft contract, that would be used as the basis for recruitment and negotiations with prospective JHLT editor candidates.

6. Recruit a new editor.

It is conceivable that much of this work could be completed by the time of next summer’s ACHTUS Colloquium. Our hope is that once a new editor is in place, the JHLT will relaunch and resume its legacy as an outstanding peer-reviewed journal.

Feel free to contact me (jaaquino@usfca.edu) with questions you may have about the JHLT.

-Jorge A. Aquino
President, ACHTUS

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Easter Sunday
April 12 2009
 
Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States
 

STATEMENT SUPPORTING THE PASSAGE OF THE DREAM ACT

We, the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS), reaffirming our 2006 public stance on Just, Comprehensive, and Humane Immigration Reform, stand in solidarity with our alternately documented immigrant youth who, because of their lack of legal status, live in the shadows with limited access to the educational options necessary for a secure future.

As an association of scholars, whose members are primarily teachers, researchers, administrators and graduate students in colleges, universities and seminaries across the United States and Puerto Rico, we are particularly committed to supporting Hispanics engaged in their academic studies.  With the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops we urge passage of S. 729 and H.R. 1751, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act).
In keeping with our mission to accompany nuestras comunidades in the United States, and faithful to the social teachings of our Church, we are compelled to advocate for just means that provide educational opportunities for our children to participate in our shared destinies as a nation and as a Church.

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June 7 2006
San Antonio, TXAcademy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States
STATEMENT ON JUST, COMPREHENSIVE, AND HUMANE IMMIGRATION REFORM

We, the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACTHUS), stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, the undocumented immigrants in this nation. In faithfulness to the Gospel of Christ and the social teachings of the Catholic Church, we affirm the dignity of all human beings, regardless of national origin, and we call for just, comprehensive, and humane immigration reform.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has clearly stated that our current immigration system is broken and perpetuates the unnecessary suffering of migrants. We further recognize that this situation is driven by structural, economic disparities. These, in turn, breed various forms of racial, gender, and environmental violence.

We oppose the criminalization of undocumented immigrants and of those who serve them, the construction of border walls, the militarization of the border, and the conditions that result in the deaths of so many immigrants.

Through our scholarship and our ministries, we commit ourselves to dispel falsehoods about immigration, to protect civil rights, to promote justice, and to make known the gifts, talents, and contributions of immigrants to our society. Failing to stand for just and comprehensive immigration reform impoverishes us all.
May our common journey with our immigrant brothers and sisters bring us all to share equally at the table of God’s justice.