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I Thought [Catholics] Couldn’t Join ESTHER

The November 2019 issue of The Compass, the official newspaper for the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, contains an article entitled, “I Thought We Couldn’t Join ESTHER.” It was written by Peter Weiss, program manger for the Diocesan Office of Living Justice.

As Weiss notes, the view expressed in the article’s title is incorrect:

So to summarize, Bishop Ricken did not say it was wrong for individual Catholics to belong to groups like ESTHER and JOSHUA [ESTHER’s sister organization in Green Bay]. Rather, he recognized the good work these organizations do in our communities and left the decision [about membership or support] up to the prudential judgment of the individual.

In the article, Weiss reviews decisions that were first discussed in late 2009 and finalized in February, 2011, barring Roman Catholic parishes in the Diocese from being corporate members of ESTHER. Weiss notes the Bishop's concern with potential conflicts of interest due to what he called “parallel hierarchies.”

Equally important, Weiss quotes Bishop Ricken in commending the work of ESTHER and JOSHUA: “I want to make it abundantly clear that I am very proud of many of the works that JOSHUA and ESTHER are doing here in Green Bay and the Fox Valley. The living out of the Gospel values of Matthew 25 is truly commendable, an example of living out the call of charity and justice in our day.” Furthermore, Weiss notes that the Bishop explicitly stated that parishes could partner with ESTHER and JOSHUA on specific projects consistent with Catholic Social Teaching and that individual parishioners could personally be members of ESTHER and JOSHUA.

We are grateful for the initiative taken by Mr. Weiss to correct a longstanding misunderstanding, and we appreciate the support for ESTHER and JOSHUA shown by the many Catholics who support our organizations financially and through their work as volunteers and advocates. We appreciate also our continued strong relationships with Catholic parishes in justice work as they seek to carry out Catholic Social Teaching in partnership with ESTHER and JOSHUA.

Mr. Weiss’s article is available online at this address:

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