Century Marks

Century Marks

Nuns vs. corporations

When Nora Nash of the Sisters of St. Francis met with executives from Goldman Sachs in New York, she had four demands: protect consumers, rein in executive pay, increase company transparency and remember the poor. The Sisters of St. Francis use moral suasion to influence corporate behavior. When the order decides to challenge a company's practices, it buys the minimum amount of stock needed to make resolutions at stockholder meetings. The sisters have discovered that corporate executives would rather meet with them privately than be confronted publicly. Jack Welch, former GE executive, even flew by helicopter to a convent in Pennsyl­vania in order to meet with the nuns (New York Times, November 12).

Lost victims

Sexual abusers tend to be narcissistic and grandiose, says Father James Martin SJ, reflecting on the similarities between sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church and those alleged to have taken place in the Penn State University football program. The narcissist thinks only of his own needs and personal gratification. Once a sexual abuser is called to account, he often focuses on his own suffering, thinking that a grave injustice has been done to him, and asks for sympathy. What's lost is concern for the victims (Guest Voices, Washington Post, November 13).

Vision needed

Americans continue to give the majority of their donations to the church and other religious organizations, according to a study by John and Sylvia Ronsvalle. In 2009, the most recent year studied, Americans gave 74 percent of their donations to religious institutions. Charities and other organizations received 21 percent and educational institutions received 3 percent. Per member giving, however, declined from 2008 to 2009 in constant dollars. The Ronsvalles believe that church members are not likely to increase giving toward institutional maintenance. To stimulate increased giving, church leaders need to convey a vision that engages people both inside and outside the congregation (The State of Church Giving through 2009, empty tomb, inc.).

Jews and OWS

An ad running on cable TV shows Occupy Wall Street protesters making anti-Semitic statements and holding up signs offensive to Jews. Kevin Healey points out that the ad is produced by the Emergency Committee for Israel, hardly an unbiased group. It was founded by neoconservative leader William Kristol and evangelical leader Gary Bauer. Other observers point out that the Occupy movement has involved many Jews. Columnists from the Jewish news source JTA said that the Occupy Wall Street protests have a Jewish flavor and are "becoming a fulcrum of Jewish ferment" (Scoop, November 3).

Beyond tribalism

The world was stunned by the Rwandan genocide in 1994 in which the majority Hutu population tried to wipe out the Tutsis. Three years after the genocide a militia group attacked a secondary school at Nyange and ordered  Tutsis and Hutus to form separate lines. The students refused, saying they were all Rwandans. The rebels responded by shooting indiscriminately, killing 13 students for their refusal to be divided along tribal lines (Emmanuel M. Katongole in Witness of the Body, edited by Michael L. Budde and Karen Scott, Eerdmans).