Monday Starter: UISG webinar poses questions about kindness and care

Has the world become a kinder place in the wake of the global pandemic? Is there a resulting "revolution of kindness"?

Those were a few of the questions posed during a July 8 webinar by the International Union of Superiors General focused on care as a mission of women religious. 

Sr. Maryanne Loughry, a member of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea and a trained psychologist, asked the questions during the two-hour event, which attracted a global audience of about 400 participants.

Though there are not definitive answers, Loughry suggested that there is now more awareness in the world about the need for kindness given the physical, economic, social and psychological toll the pandemic has taken during the last 18 months.

Through finding solidarity with neighbors, affirming the need to make common sacrifices, and more, "we know more about kindness than ever before," Loughry said. She added that such awareness comes as scientists are exploring the neuroscience of kindness and care, the ways in which practicing kindness becomes "contagious" and helps with emotional and mental health.

Loughry and another participant, Dominican Sr. Véronique Margron, a French theologian and president of the Conférence des Religieux et Religieuses de France, the French conference of religious, noted that care as lived and experienced by religious is bound up with religious tradition and with spiritual mystery.

The spiritual dimension of care, Margron said, "is that it is not graspable like the biological, psychological and social dimensions."

"The spiritual dimension of care means not thinking of oneself," she said, but being open "to the other and to the world."

The July 8 event was part of an ongoing webinar series, Sisters Empowering Women. The next and last in the series will be Sept. 29. The July 8 webinar on care is available for viewing here.

Mon Starter 7.19.2021 RESIZED 20210709T1230-TPS-YEMEN-1286535.JPG

Yemeni Americans in New York City demonstrate in December against then-President Donald Trump's travel ban and denials of visa applications (CNS/Reuters/Amr Alfiky).
Yemeni Americans in New York City demonstrate in December against then-President Donald Trump's travel ban and denials of visa applications. On July 6, the Biden administration announced an 18-month extension of Temporary Protected Status for the approximately 2,200 Yemeni nationals in the United States. (CNS/Reuters/Amr Alfiky)

CLINIC praises decision on Yemenis in the US

Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., or CLINIC, the largest network of nonprofit immigration programs in the United States, is praising a federal decision to extend maximum Temporary Protected Status to Yemenis now living in the United States.

Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of homeland security, announced protection for approximately 2,200 Yemeni residents in the United States on July 6. The designation will go into effect Sept. 4 and continue through March 3, 2023. An earlier designation was to have expired Sept. 3.

"Protecting Yemenis in the U.S. from the devastating conditions in Yemen is a legal and moral duty and we applaud Secretary Mayorkas for this decision to grant maximum TPS protection," Anna Gallagher, CLINIC's executive director, said in a July 6 statement. "As a blanket protection for nationals of an entire country, TPS plays a unique and important role in our humanitarian immigration system."

Gallagher urged the Biden administration to continue to use the designation "broadly and boldly to save lives and keep families together and stabilized."

The designation allows 1,700 Yemeni residents in the United States to retain their protected status and permits an additional 480 people living in the country to file for TPS.

The Yemenis living in the United States have fled conditions that the United Nations has called the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. About 24.1 million people, roughly 8 out of 10 Yemenis, need protection or humanitarian assistance, CLINIC said in its statement.

Numerous Catholic sisters work in CLINIC-affiliated immigration programs, and several Catholic sisters serve on CLINIC's 19-member board of directors.

Pandemic has increased global hunger, UN agencies say

The global pandemic, climate change and continued conflicts have significantly increased hunger globally, according to United Nations agencies that respond to food and health needs.

The number of people who did not have access to sufficiently nutritious food in 2020 stood at 2.4 billion, an increase of nearly 320 million people over just one year, UN News, the United Nations' news service, reported July 12.

Of particular concern, the report said, is the role the global pandemic has played in worsening global hunger.

"The pandemic continues to expose weaknesses in our food systems, which threaten the lives and livelihoods of people around the world," the heads of five U.N. agencies wrote in the U.N.'s "The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021."

The number of people affected by chronic hunger rose at a greater rate last year than in the previous five years combined, the news agency reported.

The toll of 2020 will take years, and possibly decades, to reverse, said the heads of the five agencies: World Food ProgramFood and Agriculture OrganizationInternational Fund for Agricultural DevelopmentWorld Health Organization and UNICEF.

The full report is available here.

Chris Herlinger

Chris Herlinger is the New York and international correspondent to Global Sisters Report and also writes on humanitarian and international issues for NCR. His email address is cherlinger@ncronline.org.

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