Social justice is about access and opportunity for everyone – especially those with the greatest need.
The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon cherish the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1929) states: “Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man.”
The Catechism also states: “The duty of making oneself a neighbor to others and actively serving them becomes even more urgent when it involves the disadvantaged, in whatever area this may be. ‘As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:40)
The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Constitution
The Constitution of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon define and support the Sisters in their daily lives, both personally and communally. They embody the spirit of the Community, expressing their philosophy of life as they guide the decisions they make in response to the Gospel call to share the Good News of God’s Love.
“Recognizing social justice as a fundamental demand of our faith, and in keeping with the Gospel mandate, the teachings of the Church, and the spirit of our foundresses, we accept the challenge to give preference to the poor and oppressed, in whatever way we find them in our ministries.” – From the Constitution, #44
SSMO Corporate Stand Against Capital Punishment (1997)
The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon announce that their members have voted, by an overwhelming majority, to support a Corporate Stand against Capital Punishment. In the Ministry Directional Paper of their 1995 Chapter of Affairs, the Sisters stated, “We have witnessed our corporate concern for justice and human dignity.”
In solidarity with the Bishops of the United States, we accept and make our own the following statement: “In view of our commitment to the value and dignity of human life, we oppose the use of capital punishment. We believe that the use of the death penalty is leading to, indeed can only lead to, further erosion of respect for life in our society. We do not question society’s right to punish the offender, but we believe that there are better approaches to protecting our people from violent crimes than resorting to executions. In its application, the death penalty has been discriminatory toward the poor, the indigent, and racial minorities. Our society should reject the death penalty and seek methods of dealing with violent crime which are more consistent with the Gospel vision of respect for life and Christ’s message of healing love” (U.S. Bishops’ Statement on Capital Punishment, 1980).
The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon believes that its position against capital punishment reflects Gospel values and is consistent with the social teachings of the Church.
A first step in implementing this stand will be to promulgate it to our various Boards, Associate members, employees, and volunteers; to make it known through our community publications; and to publish it to the broader public through the local media.
The Sisters have made their voices heard and joined the movement to repeal the death penalty in partnership with others through Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (OADP). In a paper prepared for the World Congress Against the Death Penalty in 2007, the Vatican described the death penalty as “not only a refusal of the right to life, but… an affront to human dignity.”
In 2010, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon made this public commitment: “Responding to Jesus’ mandate to love one another and prompted by our charism, we commit to using our gifts, skills and resources to work for justice as we journey in solidarity with the vulnerable, particularly the immigrant, and as we care for God’s creation through sustainable practices.”
The Sisters are also among the affiliate Communities that support the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center (IPJC). Living out of a shared Christian faith tradition, the IPJC recognizes and respects the dignity of all persons and all creation.