November 7, 2018
As bishop and pastor to our immigrant community and local Church, I have been attentive to the news of our brothers and sisters who are currently moving closer to our U.S. border seeking protection and a humane response. Sadly, we are seeing, once again, a rise of anti-immigrant attitudes and rhetoric that actively seeks to foster fear mongering and hate towards people who are vulnerable and in need of compassion.
As I have stated before in my pastoral statements on immigration, our pastoral accompaniment with the immigrant community has taught us to recognize the root causes of migration, especially those associated with state-sanctioned violence, gang recruitment, poverty, and lack of educational opportunities. Rooted in our Christian vocation to be agents of justice and peace, we must denounce any attitudes, words or actions that denigrate the dignity of the human person and demonize people.As a Catholic faith community, we recognize the rights of governments to protect their borders and citizens, but we know that such noble pursuits cannot be done at the expense of doing violence to the inherent dignity of the human person. As this current situation continues to unfold, we look to the U.S. bishops’ affirmation “that seeking asylum is not a crime. We urge all governments to abide by international law and existing domestic laws that protect those seeking safe haven and ensure that all those who are returned to their home country are protected and repatriated safely” (Statement of the Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration and Presidents of Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA, Oct 29, 2018).
As Catholic citizens of this country, we remain committed to the pursuit of the common good and to our American values of hospitality, care for the vulnerable, and the rule of law. Indeed, our own history as a nation of immigrants has taught us that when we appeal to the best in us, our society becomes a beacon of hope and prosperity. In this steadfast spirit of compassionate advocacy and faithful solidarity (MT 25: 31-46), let us do our best to welcome and serve the stranger.