FAN and FI Sign Memorandum of Understanding

HNP Communications Franciscan World

WASHINGTON — The Franciscan Action Network continues to make its voice heard on social justice issues that are close to the Franciscan mission.

On July 28, FAN partnered with Franciscans International in signing a memorandum of understanding between the two organizations. “This important symbolic moment confirmed the collaborative work and networking that is already in existence between FI and FAN,” said FAN’s executive director Patrick Carolan. The document was signed by Fr. John Doctor, OFM, president of the board of FI, Sr. Denise Boyle, executive director of FI, Sr. Margaret Mary Kimmins, OSF, president of FAN’s board, and Carolan.

One of the two organizations’ first collaborative efforts is co-sponsorship in Washington, D.C., of a conference on human trafficking with the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies of the Catholic University of America. The conference, “Epidemic Contemporary Slavery,” will be Oct. 26 at CUA.

Free and open to all, the conference features the United Nations special reporter on human trafficking, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, as the keynote speaker. The Nigerian native will focus on human trafficking both in the United States and around the world. Information about the conference is available on CU’s website.

The topic of human trafficking is timely, said Carolan, because the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which established the United States’ efforts and leadership to combat the multi-billion dollar human trafficking industry, expired Sept. 30. This act had allowed the United States to work to prevent trafficking, prosecute those who do it, and protect victims.

“If Congress does not reauthorize the TVPA, U.S. pressure on countries across the globe to combat modern-day slavery will suffer,” said Carolan, who joined FAN in December 2010. “In this precarious economic environment, more vulnerable and marginalized people may fall victim to those who would exploit them. Trafficking clearly violates the Franciscan commitment to human dignity and respect for the poor and vulnerable.”

News about the conference and other issues was distributed in FAN’s Oct. 3 newsletter. The issue also included stories about FAN’s work on the Dream Act for immigrants, environmental issues such as hydrofracking, and GreenFaith initiatives.

FAN is also hosting a conference on Oct. 29 in Aston, Pa. Sr. Mary Kay Flannery, SSJ, will deliver the keynote at “Breaking the Chains: The Human Face of Trafficking.”

— Wendy Healy, a freelance writer based in Connecticut, is the author of the recently published book Life is Too Short: Stories of Transformation and Renewal after 9/11.