During the last weeks we all have been invited to mourn and pray for the over 100,000 people in the United States and over 7,000 in Canada, who have died as a result of Covid-19. We have seen the unequal suffering of those impacted by the pandemic, particularly our black and brown brothers and sisters, the elders of all communities, the First Nations people, prisoners, the homeless, the unemployed, refugees, and those who have found themselves on the front lines of service.
The Society of the Sacred Heart in United States and Canada upholds human dignity, especially the most vulnerable, through a focus on several significant issues: racism, immigration, human trafficking, and environmental sustainability. Covid-19 has implications for each of these priorities.
Here are examples of ways that the virus intersects with JPIC priorities:
People of color are disproportionately becoming ill, and disproportionately impacted by the economic contraction. Read a reflection from the United States, and a reflection from Canada (PDF).
The Trump Administration has continued deportations from ICE facilities, including deportations of unaccompanied minors. ICE facilities are currently riddled with Covid-19, and detainees are kept in cramped facilities. Deportees who have tested positive for coronavirus have been sent on crowded flights to at least 8 countries, places already vulnerable to virus outbreaks and without the public health infrastructure to handle them. The Administration is also conducting immediate border expulsions without due process, including unaccompanied minors. Learn more.
The economic contraction in the United States, Canada, and Europe has led to a significant increase in food insecurity in developing countries. The World Food Program estimates that up to an additional 130 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020 as a direct result of covid-19. Learn more.
Food insecurity increases vulnerability to labor and sex trafficking. Deported migrants are also especially vulnerable to trafficking. Learn more.
There is evidence that some of the root causes of climate change also increase the risk of pandemics emerging, and/or intensify the adverse effects. These root causes include air pollution, deforestation, loss of animal habitat, and animal husbandry practices. Learn more.
Coronvirus relief for the most vulnerable.
In the US: You can email your Senators here. Bread for the World is advocating for legislation to address a global hunger crisis, and you can support it here.
In Canada: The Society of the Sacred Heart USC Province has endorsed The Principles of a Just Recovery, a set of 6 principles to uphold human dignity and ensure the well-being of those who are most vulnerable. The Society of the Sacred Heart is also an organizational supporter of Development and Peace (Caritas Canada), who has advocated forcefully to increase development assistance targeted at Covid-19 relief.
Deportations and immigration status.
In the US, you can sign a petition opposing deportations during the pandemic here.
US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking is asking us to send letters to Congress to prevent trafficking of refugees during the Covid-19 virus.
In Canada, Kairos is urging action to protect migrant workers with residency status.
Just a few weeks ago we celebrated the five-year anniversary of the papal encyclical “Laudato Si.” Development and Peace in Canada has issued a statement on “Five Ways of Living Laudato Si during the pandemic," applicable to all of us.