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The First U.S. Convening of International Social Justice Movement Leaders to Meet in Modesto, February 16-19

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December 13, 2016

The Vatican’s department for Integral Human Development (IHD), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Campaign for Human Development and PICO National Network, the largest network of faith-based organizing groups in the nation, today announced a major convening of faith and social justice movement leaders. The U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements (WMPM), to be held February 16-19, 2017 in Modesto, California, will bring together hundreds of people from various cultures and communities from across the world.  

The Modesto meeting is the first U.S. Regional convening being organized in conjunction with three international meetings that have taken place in Rome (in Oct. 2014 and Nov. 2016) and Bolivia (in July 2015). The purpose of each meeting is for grassroots groups to push for workers’ rights, housing and environmental justice, as well as deepen relationships among these organizations and the faith community.

“We recently gathered in Rome at the invitation of Pope Francis to show the Church’s closeness to all sectors in our society; including grassroots movements,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of IHD. “This is a gathering which is being taken out to the regions and to the national levels. The gathering is about the dignity of all people, which we don’t receive from any government; it’s something we are born with. We encourage all grassroots movements to join us in Modesto.”

“The faith community is called to create spaces of profound empathy where we acknowledge and take up the plight of the marginalized and the oppressed,” said Scott Reed, executive director of PICO National Network. “On the heels of a polarizing presidential race, the gathering will inspire faith leaders to aggressively work towards poverty reduction, fair and humane immigration policies, criminal justice reform, and environmental and racial justice.”

"The gathering will allow grassroots, low income people to come together, share concerns, hopes and aspirations for forging their shared futures,” said Bishop David Talley, Bishop of Alexandria LA and chair of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development Subcommittee. “The Church is invited to accompany those who struggle to find their place, seeking the common good as it embraces the whole human family."