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January 17, 2022, Adrian, Michigan – The Leadership Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters issued the following statement in support of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both pending in the U.S. Senate.
As women of faith who believe that all of us were created equal in the image of God, we call on the U.S. Senate to take immediate action to enact the two voting rights measures now pending. Nothing could more justly commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day than passage of legislation ensuring that all citizens of voting age are free to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy. It should not be dependent on political party, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, or economic status. As a nation blessed by people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, including descendants of people who were sinfully enslaved for 12 generations, we are a multiracial democracy. As Dr. King once said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
We are in the same blessed boat and we believe that our differences are a gift from God that we are called to honor, respect and value. We call on the Senate to take whatever steps are necessary to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, which would prevent partisan gerrymandering and make it easier to register and vote, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore protections in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that the vast majority of Congress has continued to reauthorize in bipartisan support until recently.
As Dr. King once said, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.… This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Leadership Council, led by Prioress Patricia Siemen, OP, are Sisters Peggy Coyne, OP, Chapter Prioress; Joy Finfera, OP, Secretary; Judy Friedel, OP, Chapter Prioress; Elise D. García, OP, General Councilor; Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor; Mary Jane Lubinski, OP, Mission Prioress; Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; Mary Priniski, OP, Chapter Prioress; Mary Soher, OP, Mission Prioress; and Sharon Spanbauer, OP, Mission Prioress. Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, also serves on the Leadership Council as Chapter Prioress in the Philippines.
May 7, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – In anticipation of the National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day on Saturday, May 8, 2021, we Adrian Dominican Sisters endorse the joint statement issued by the National Black Sisters’ Conference and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious on the critical importance of ensuring that all people – no matter race, zip code, economic status – enjoy the sacred right to vote.
As women of faith and faithful Americans, we believe that all people have the right and obligation to participate fully in our democracy. The National Black Sisters Conference (NBSC) and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) strongly oppose all attempts to restrict that participation by limiting the sacred right to vote. The strength and vibrancy of our democracy is dependent on the right of all people to vote regardless of their race, zip code, economic status, or party affiliation.
Our country has a long racist history when it comes to voting. From the end of the 19th Century to 1965, “Jim Crow Laws” systematically kept blacks from the ballot box. Violence, rigged literacy tests, property tests, grandfather clauses and more were used to deny people of color access to democracy’s most fundamental right, the right to cast their ballot. That right is under attack once again.
Our brothers and sisters struggled, some gave their lives, to secure the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It falls to us to continue their work. Pope Francis reminds us in Evangelii Gaudium that our vocation as Catholic sisters is inherently political: “We are all called to participate in public life…. Authentic faith always involves a deep desire to change the world…. We cannot remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.”
We must call out elected officials, at every level, who continue to introduce measures that would return us to the era of “Jim Crow.” They are celebrating our dark past by enacting laws that limit participation and threaten our democracy. We pledge to oppose them at every turn, and we promise to support legislation that will ensure all people can exercise their precious right to vote.
It is long past time we established national standards for voting to ensure all of us have a voice in decisions that affect our lives and protect our common home. We call on the Senate to immediately take up the For the People Act and we call on members of both the house and Senate to introduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
National Black Sisters Conference
Sister Anita Baird, DHM
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Sister Annmarie Sanders, IHM — Director of Communications
Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ General Council are Sisters Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress; Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor; and Elise D. García, OP, General Councilor.