Newswire : Dr. Barber ‘surprised’ by Moral Monday fame in Rome


By Cash Michaels. Wilmington Journal
barber pope visit.jpg
 Bishop William J. Barber II poses with the Vatican guards in Rome during his visit.


( – Rome, Italy is over 4,600 miles away from Raleigh, NC. But when it came to “Moral Mondays,” the massive yet peaceful demonstrations held in North Carolina’s capital city, and led by the former president of the NCNAACP, no distance was too far as far as admirers attending a recent international conference on labor at the Vatican were concerned.
“I was …surprised by how many leaders from around the world had been inspired by Moral Monday, the moral revival last year, and the Poor People’s Campaign plans,” Bishop Dr. William Barber, leader of the social justice group, “Repairers of the Breach,” said by text from the Vatican shortly after the visit.
Dr. Barber was one of 300 participants from around the world attending the conference which addressed the conditions of working people, and the working poor on Thanksgiving. Representing the upcoming Poor People’s Campaign in the United States, Dr. Barber’s social justice reputation from the 12 years he led the NCNAACP preceded him, with an invitation already given him to attend and preach at another world gathering about labor rights and the poor in Liverpool, England next June. He has also been invited to Brazil next year.
As a birthday present, Dr. Barber took his mother, who had turned 84 the week before, along with his wife and one of his son, all part of an eight-person delegation.
In an exclusive telephone interview from Washington, DC, Dr. Barber recalled two “long, intense eight-hour days” of deeply committed religious and labor leaders working together. From countries like France, Sudan, England and others, Dr. Barber said he was greeted warmly by all.
Even the Vatican guards saluted him because of his title of “Bishop.”
During his presentation at the conference, Dr. Barber said, “Rightfully, the Pope has noted at the start of the twenty-first century that religious leaders must play a leading role in the struggle for justice in dialogue with all social and political actors. We must articulate a way of thinking that brings together the complexity of the current situation and proposes an action strategy for the construction of a just society. Not only is democracy at stake, but the wellbeing of world itself.”
Later in his remarks, Bishop Barber continued, “I believe Pope Francis’ call for a moral vision of the common good connected to a call for solidarity within the labor union economy and ethos is most important. I join you today as President of Repairers of the Breach and Co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival in the United States. We have identified five areas–five moral diseases that must be addressed if we are to be a people able to address the common good, promote the general welfare, and ensure the common defense, with liberty and justice for all. We must address systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy, and the immoral narrative of extreme religionism.”
Before he left, Dr. Barber was satisfied with how his presentation was accepted by other religious and labor leaders. “Many of the points that we raised were in the final document produced by the conference as a guide to the way forward,” he texted.
And what about that much anticipated Thanksgiving Day meeting between Dr. Barber and Pope Francis that was scheduled during the two-day gathering? It got cancelled at the last minute,” Barber says.
“Up until 4 p.m. yesterday the Pope was scheduled to come and be with us,” Bishop Barber texted last Friday. “[But] we were informed around 4:15 p.m. that due to challenges around his trip to Malaysia, and other world events (like the mosque [terrorist] shootings in Egypt), he had to change [his plans].”
“[The Pope] sent a personal note to us and a papal letter,” Dr. Barber added. Indeed, Pope Francis walked a fine, and some say diplomatically peril less line during his visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh. Myanmar has cracked down on Rohingya Muslims in what some are calling an “ethnic cleansing.” Reports say villages are being burned and women and children are being raped, as over 600,000 refugees have fled to Bangladesh.
But before he left Italy, Pope Francis issued a letter at the conclusion of the international conference. In that papal letter, the Pope warned of “the money god” that leads to the exploitation of the working poor globally.
“Work must serve the human person,” Pope Francis said, not the other way around.” He added that “…every worker is the hand of Christ who continues to create and do good.”
Even though Dr. Barber wasn’t able to personally meet the Pope as he had hoped, he was able to present one of the Pope’s cardinals with gifts for His Eminence from the United States – a small stone from the home of North Carolina civil rights leader Ella Baker, and sand from the Rio Grande [River] where Barber walked with families traveling to see relatives from Mexico they had not seen in years.
Beyond the conference, if there was one consolation, Dr. Barber wrote, it was that one of the cardinals [from Ghana] he exchanged personal information with promised to visit with the bishop in North Carolina upon his next visit to the United States.
Editor’s Note – you can red Dr. Barber’s Vatican presentation at

Newswire : Bishop William J. Barber II to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thanksgiving Day

By Cash Michaels (The Wilmington Journal/NNPA Member)

Rev. William Barberb II
Rev. William Barber II

In an exclusive interview with The Wilmington Journal, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, the president of Repairers of the Breach, a nonpartisan, nonprofit social advocacy group, has confirmed that he and a delegation of “moral, workers’ rights, anti-poverty and ecological justice advocates…” will be meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thanksgiving Day.
Dr. Barber, who was consecrated as a bishop over the summer, received the invitation from the Vatican last September, along with invitations to visit England and Africa to join other labor and workers’ rights advocates.
“[The Pope] wants to bless this movement and meet with other activists from around the world who are fighting against poverty,” Dr. Barber said.
Dr. Barber, who officially stepped down from his post as the president of North Carolina’s branch of the NAACP in October after serving 12 years, will be part of a two-day conference attended by social justice advocates from countries like Canada, Senegal, Italy, Ireland, Tunisia, Ghana, Brazil, and the United States, among others.
It’s no doubt that Dr. Barber’s involvement in the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign caught the attention of, not only national, but international, social justice leadership, like Pope Francis, who is world renowned for his personal and official advocacy for the poor.
Just last Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, celebrated a special mass for poor people on the first World Day of the Poor, eating with 1500 from Italy, Poland and France.
The pope also denounced those who express indifference to the plight of the poor, calling such behavior “a great sin.”
“It is when we turn away from a brother or sister in need, when we change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil, but do nothing about it,” Pope Francis said. “God will not ask us, if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good.”
According to the group’s website, Repairers of the Breach, “…seeks to build a moral agenda rooted in the framework that uplifts our deepest moral and constitutional values to redeem the heart and soul of our country. Our deepest moral traditions point to equal protection under the law, the desire for peace within and among nations, the dignity of all people, and the responsibility to care for our common home.”
The Wilmington Journal is a member publication of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

Malian ‘Cardinal of Peace’ is elevated by the Pope


Bishop Jean Zerbo of Mali, west Africa

( – Bishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako, Mali, is one of five men from four continents elevated by Pope Francis to the College of Cardinals. The move continues the Pope’s practice of adding men from the peripheries of the Catholic word to the body that will elect his successor.
In choosing the five clerics, the Argentine pope passed over dioceses in Italy, the U.S. and other countries whose bishops traditionally receive the rank.
The weekend announcement underscores two priorities of the pope’s reign since his election in 2013: the needs of the poor and reaching out to other religions.
Monsignor Zerbo, 73, played an active role in the negotiations to end a civil war in Mali that broke out in 2012 and officially ended in 2015. In 2012, he was a member of the civil society delegation who took part in the talks held in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) between the military junta and political opposition parties.
When a Catholic nun from Colombia, South America was abducted by armed men in the southern Malian city of Karangasso last February, Bishop Zerbo shared his hope for an end to conflict. “Peace can only be achieved through the conversion of the hearts,” he said, “regardless of faith.”
He also served as president of Caritas Mali, an international aid program for refugees and the poor.
Africa represents about 12.63 percent of global Catholic population and currently, only about 12.1 percent of the African cardinals are eligible to vote in a papal election.
Meanwhile, President Trump, on his first foreign trip, is making three important stops to major religious sites – Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam; Jerusalem, including a stop at the Western Wall; and the Vatican, in order to meet Pope Francis. The choice of countries underscores efforts by the Trump administration to overcome the rhetoric of his campaign speeches that singled out Muslims with prejudicial remarks.
Bishop Zerbo joins two other cardinals from countries with minuscule numbers of Catholics: Sweden and Laos. For El Salvador, a majority-Catholic country, Pope Francis will be elevating the assistant to assistants, Bishop José Gregorio Rosa Chávez.
Cardinal-designate Rosa Chávez was a close associate of the late Archbishop Oscar Romero, a martyred champion of social justice whom Pope Francis approved for beatification, the church’s highest honor short of sainthood, in 2015.
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