Center of Concern Celebrates 45 Years of Championing Global Social Justice and Peace

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Center of Concern celebrates its 45th anniversary while shaping its future as a millennium-ready, global social enterprise. The Center’s legacy has been a gift to a world whose vision now benefits from the transformative leadership of Pope Francis: a world that aspires to an integral ecology of justice and care for our common home and one another.

Center of Concern Team

Center of Concern team (left to right): Lester A. Myers; Christine M. Hyland; Ann O. Venton; Anna M. Misleh; and Dianna M. Ortiz, O.S.U.

We are very proud of our Center family and how it has advanced the integral ecology at the heart of our mission. Because of the steadfast support of countless individuals, our Center family is growing, global, inclusive, and intergenerational.

On May 4, 2016, Center of Concern (Center), in Washington, D.C., celebrates the 45th anniversary of its founding. The Center is a think tank that researches, educates, and advocates from Catholic social tradition to create a world where economic, political, and cultural systems promote sustainable flourishing of the global community.

The Center’s role since its founding in 1971 by Bishop (later Cardinal) Joseph Bernardin and the Very Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., in the office of United Nations Secretary General U Thant as a joint project of the U.S. bishops and the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) has included service as a convener of global conversations about issues of global social justice via its research, education, and advocacy.

This service has included engagement in venues such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations, Capitol Hill, the bishops’ conference, universities, and other think tanks. Over the past three years, this scope has expanded to include advisory services and engagement with corporations, professional services firms, social service organizations, and philanthropies.

In observance of this anniversary, the Center published a reflection by its president, Dr. Lester A. Myers, an attorney, CPA, and business ethicist. “The Center for Our Concern: Reflections on 45 Years of Research, Education, and Advocacy”. Myers commented, “We are very proud of our Center family and how it has advanced the integral ecology at the heart of our mission. Because of the steadfast support of countless individuals, the Catholic sisters, religious communities, parishes, universities, schools, foundations and corporations, our Center family is growing, global, inclusive, and intergenerational. We are continually augmenting our efforts in research, education, and advocacy in public and private centers of influence around the world to be the voice for global social justice and peace.”

Referring to this collaboration, Myers quoted comments by Pope Francis from last fall: “The family is the principal agent of an integral ecology, because it is the primary social subject which contains within it the two fundamental principles of human civilization on earth: the principle of communion and the principle of fruitfulness.”

Myers noted, “Just as any family, the Center remains mindful of its responsibility to educate and nurture the next generation of social justice leaders.” He then shared examples from the Center’s work of such “fruitfulness”:

  •     The Center’s Rethinking Bretton Woods Project Director Aldo Caliari, continues to lead civil society organizations’ advocacy efforts for democratic reform of the international financial system to foster sustainable development that respects human rights. During the past month, Caliari led panel discussions and gave presentations on these topics, including standards and safeguards for public-private partnerships, at the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations, and Columbia University.
  •     The award-winning Education for Justice (EFJ) has begun its 16th year of illuminating dialogue between Catholic social tradition and the signs of the times. The EFJ team serves a growing list of members around the world, including high schools, universities, parishes, dioceses, religious congregations, retreat centers, social justice centers, healthcare organizations, and individuals. Its portable and accessible educational resources help people, especially young people, engage with principles and practices of Catholic social tradition and to think differently and act differently to advance global social justice. EFJ is pleased to share its most recent artistic reflection, "In the Signs of Our Times".
  •     In February, Sr. Dianna M. Ortiz, O.S.U., Editor of EFJ, released the powerful anti-human trafficking video, I Am Miriam, and companion Web site, http://www.against-humanity.org. With funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters, she and her team created this multimedia project to challenge the viewer with this true and heartrending story and to act to fight human trafficking. Over 225 print, broadcast, and on-line media outlets have picked up the story, with a potential audience of over 235 million. The Global Sisters Report in the National Catholic Reporter published an interview with her in late April in which she eloquently talked about this project as part of her life’s journey on behalf of social justice.
  •     In January, Myers spoke before a gathering of prominent Catholic philanthropists in Miami about the refugee crisis and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. He also gave a presentation on Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si, and the pope’s vision for integral ecology, to a gathering of Fortune 500 sustainability and corporate citizenship executives in Phoenix. At the Georgetown University Law Center Corporate Counsel Institute in March, he hosted a panel on corporate citizenship and responsibility with civil society, corporate, and government leaders, including a former law dean and a former assistant secretary of state.
  •     The Center team continues to advise foundations, universities, civil society, and social service organizations around the world regarding their strategic philanthropic plans to optimize their resources for effectiveness, scalability, and sustainability.

“We are just getting started as we shape the Center’s future as a millennium-ready, global, social enterprise for social justice,” Myers explained. “With our new leadership team and board, we are working for sustainable, quality growth in the scale and scope for our programs and a sustainable future by building capacity to generate increasing portions of capital internally. The Center has enjoyed many blessings from the Jesuits, women religious, foundations, and long-term supporters, and these resources have been key to helping it reach this milestone.”

“This is a pivotal moment in the Center’s graced history,” Dr. Myers emphasized. “We are so grateful to the members of the team, board, donors, and EFJ who have created and nurtured the Center over these first 45 years by generously sharing their time, talent, and treasure. We and all whom we serve benefit from the vision of our co-founders, Cardinal Bernardin and Father General Arrupe, and the women religious who have been so dedicated in providing leadership and financial support. Their legacy has been a gift to a world whose vision now benefits from the transformative leadership of Pope Francis: a world that aspires to an integral ecology of justice and care for our common home and one another.”

ABOUT CENTER OF CONCERN

Since its founding in 1971 at the office of United Nations Secretary General U Thant by National Conference of Catholic Bishops General Secretary Joseph Bernardin and Jesuit Superior General Pedro Arrupe, S.J., and with significant talent and treasure from women religious, Center of Concern (Center) has operated in Washington, D.C., with a mission to research, educate, and advocate from Catholic social tradition to create a world where economic, political, and cultural systems promote sustainable flourishing of the global community. The Center envisions a global community that upholds basic human rights and human dignity, fosters just relationships, promotes sustainable livelihoods, and renews the earth. http://www.coc.org
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Anna M. Misleh
Center of Concern
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