A year into the presidency of Donald Trump, Catholic sisters working at the international level say they have grown frustrated, weary and even angry with the direction Trump's administration is taking the United States in its relations with the rest of the world.
The frustration is particularly acute among the sisters who represent their congregations at the United Nations. As strong supporters of the U.N.'s dedication to international cooperation in what they describe as an increasingly interconnected and globalized world, the sisters say they are worried and dismayed about the Trump administration's go-it-alone "America First" foreign policy.
"When national self-interest trumps the common good — well, that's a never-ending dilemma at the United Nations," said Sr. Margaret Mayce, an American who represents the Dominican Leadership Conference at the U.N. "But it's in our face now."
Mayce said she does not want to "impugn people," but nonetheless, it looks more and more like the U.N. values of international cooperation and mutual accountability "are not values for the present administration," she said.
Indian Sr. Justine Gitanjali Senapati, who represents the Congregations of St. Joseph at the world body and who expressed concern after Trump's 2016 election about what his presidency could portend for women, people who live in poverty and migrants, said any possible wait-and-see moment for the Trump administration is over.
In an interview with Global Sisters Report, Senapati said she and others have to stand for the "one common global voice" that the United Nations represents.
"How can we be silent in the face of injustice?" she asked, adding that Catholic sisters have "to take a stand for what is right. We can't be silent."
Mayce, Senapati and other sisters provide a long list of frustrations with the current administration. These include:
- The U.S. withdrawal from the U.N.-negotiated Paris agreement on climate change;
- A similar withdrawal from negotiations on a U.N.-sponsored set of international compacts on migration and refugees;
- Comments made by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, that she was "taking names" of countries that criticized the United States for its decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.