Post by MAHR student Brandon Shoewalter
Following a five-year stint in full-time journalism in Washington D.C., in late August I met for the first time seven other thoughtful young men and women who comprise this year’s cohort in the Institute for Human Ecology’s Master of Human Rights program at The Catholic University of America for a splendid orientation day. We’re in for a terrific year.
Five of us are studying on a full-time basis and three are part-time students. We hail from a variety of backgrounds and professional experiences and are committed to deepening our knowledge in the Roman Catholic tradition, particularly its engagement of human rights and the profound meaning of the human person that the Church has declared through the centuries.
In an age when social pathologies are being defended in the public domain under the banner of human rights, it was a privilege to hear from CUA’s Provost Aaron Dominguez, who recounted the ways in which our academic pursuits matter to the broader mission of the university, to society at large, and for the furtherance of the Gospel.
Likewise, it was an extraordinary honor to connect in person with human rights hero and leading critic of the Communist Party of China Chen Guangcheng. This brave man spoke in no uncertain terms about how the CCP is one of the greatest threats to humanity, explaining the dire state of affairs as it pertains to human rights in the world’s most populous nation. Sobering were his descriptions of the ongoing plight of the Uighurs and ethnic minorities currently enduring brutal imprisonment and torture in internment camps and his words about the myriad persecutions of Christian congregations.
Prior to a concluding dinner at Clyde’s in Chinatown, we visited the Museum of the Bible and made a point to see the human rights exhibit on the second floor which honors St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of Sudan, human trafficking survivors, and of our graduate program.
May her bold witness and passion for justice continue to inspire and guide us this year.