For more than nine decades, Columbans have served the poorest of the poor in fifteen different countries, proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel, crossing boundaries of language, culture, and religious tradition, and living in solidarity with the poor. In that spirit, the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach joined Catholic religious congregations and other faithful for a Way of the Cross through the streets of our nation’s capitol, remembering the sufferings of Christ in the poor, and calling to account those global economic institutions and policies that favor profit over the dignity of the poor and the integrity of Creation.
On Good Friday, Christian communities around the world gather in public places to recreate the story of Jesus’ passion. In dramatic public liturgies, we remember who we are as people of faith and why we believe that even the greatest of evils will not have the last word.
Often in the retelling, this central story is cast in a contemporary context and serves as a powerful critique of social sins in our own times – sins that mirror the powers and principalities responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus in the first century. That is what we, who would be disciples, are called to do – to apply the message of the sacred story in our own lives, times and places. It is what we attempt in this Economic and Ecological Way of the Cross.
We know that powerful political and economic forces, in a macabre mirroring of Jesus’ journey to the Cross, are dealing death in our world by war and by working to benefit a privileged few while millions of people live and die in debt and in dire poverty. We touch, we feel, we live the pain of these many excluded ones. Because we are a global church, we are compelled to be in solidarity and respond.
We are also eyewitnesses to the destruction of our earth. We have stood by in the exploitation and waste of natural resources. Because our planet and all creation are gifts from God, we must care for them and recognize God’s presence revealed in them.
We know that the institutional roots of this suffering and devastation are painfully close to home – in decisions made by governments, transnational corporations, international financial institutions, and transnational agreements that give shape to economic activity around the world and even in our own religious institutions. By our witness here today we also acknowledge our own complicity in these decisions that harm the poor and harm creation.
However, also present in our community are signs of hope – those organizations and institutions that nurture solidarity and action for justice. To some of these we come as well – to pray for courage and strength on the journey toward a better world. By our presence, we are seeking justice, mourning suffering, repairing community. We are claiming hope; recreating the world, praying for peace and the fullness of life for all of creation.