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Letter 57 | American Values Religious Voices

Letter 57

Teresa Delgado

Associate Professor and Chair of Religious Studies
Director, Peace and Justice Studies
Iona College

March 17, 2017

Dear President Trump, Vice President Pence, Members of the Trump Administration and 115th Congress:

As a young Puerto Rican girl growing up in the Roman Catholic Church and attending Roman Catholic school from kindergarten through twelfth grade, I often heard a popular song at Mass that repeated the following refrain: “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” I always loved this song, with its inspiring yet haunting melody. It usually made me cry in silent repentance, reminding me in my combative and impulsive youth that peace rarely began with me.

In my life’s journey—through college and graduate school, as a wife, mother, theologian and teacher—I have sought the wisdom of those who seem to embody this message of Matthew’s Gospel: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). In his blog, “What Is Written in Our Hearts,” David Cloutier affirms Pope Francis’s call for us to reflect on this section of the Beatitudes, for these words “say to us, find the merciful, find the poor in spirit, find the peacemakers, find those who suffer for their faith…and imitate them.”

We are blessed with peacemakers to imitate in our time: Mohandas Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thich Nhat Hanh, Anna Mae Aquash, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Tawakkul Karman. Walking different spiritual paths, these leaders sought peace with every step on a journey illumined by a striving toward justice. As Pope Paul VI said, “If you want peace, work for justice.”

Like them, we have a choice, as the song goes, to “take each moment, and live each moment, in peace eternally.” That means surrounding ourselves—in body and spirit—with peacemakers worthy of our imitation, reminding us of our unique capacity to do the work of justice and peace in our world without exception. If we are to be called God’s children, nothing less is expected of us.

I pray that in your unique capacity as leaders of our country—but more importantly as children of God—you will surround yourselves with those worthy of imitation in the work of justice and peace. That way, we can proclaim together, “Let there be peace on earth. And let it begin with me.”

In the peace of God,

Teresa Delgado

Teresa Delgado, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Chair of Religious Studies
Director, Peace and Justice Studies
Iona College

 

About the author

Teresa Delgado, Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program and Associate Professor and Chairperson of the Religious Studies Department at Iona College, received her doctorate from Union Theological Seminary. Her scholarship utilizes the experiences of marginalized peoples to articulate a constructive theological/ethical vision. She has published extensively on issues ranging from diversity in higher education, transformational pedagogies, constructive theology and ethics, and justice for racial/ethnic/sexual minorities. She is currently completing a book entitled Prophesy Freedom: A Puerto Rican Decolonial Theology.