When we, or the people in our parishes and schools, experience deep concern about the news headlines about the world-wide refugee crisis, as well as family separation of migrants at the borders of the USA, we must first pray, of course, and then act. It is important to remind ourselves and others that the global Church and many churches in the US, as well as the collective body of US Catholic Bishops, have long been working toward immigration reform and justice for migrants.
Below is an overview of Catholic-based actions and activities that we can pray for, participate in, and share with others.
It might serve well to begin with the US Bishops website, Justice for Migrants, where their “about us” page offers this summary:
In January 2003, the bishops of the United States and Mexico issued a joint pastoral letter, Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, (“Strangers No Longer”) that presented a Catholic framework for responding to the ongoing migration in their respective countries. Strangers No Longer offered pastoral guidance to Catholics who encounter and engage migrants, including undocumented immigrants, migrant children, and refugees, who are living and working in their communities. The letter also suggested systematic reforms to U.S. migration policy and presented an alternative to the existing immigration paradigm.
In 2004, the Catholic bishops of the United States committed to immigration reform as a priority of the U.S. Catholic Church, and to creating a culture of welcome in which all migrants are treated with respect and dignity. A diverse group of Catholic organizations with national networks joined the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Justice for Immigrants Campaign (JFI) in an effort to unite and mobilize a growing network of Catholic institutions, individuals, and other persons of goodwill in support of immigration reform.
On June 18, 2018, Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration wrote to the US Congress with two concerns about bills before Congress on this subject. Read Bishop Vásquez’ letter in full here.
On June 20, 2018, Catholic News Service reports:
The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said June 20 that the all clergy in the Catholic Church “have made a solemn promise to protect children and young people from all harm.”
“This sacred charge applies to all who minister in the church, no matter the person’s high standing or long service,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.
Also on June 20, 2018, #WorldRefugeeDay, there were many news items, including one where Reuters released details from their recent interview with Pope Francis. It states in part:
Speaking to Reuters, the Pope said he supported recent statements by U.S. Catholic bishops who called the separation of children from their parents “contrary to our Catholic values” and “immoral”.
“It’s not easy, but populism is not the solution,” Francis said on Sunday night.
Reuters video of the interview is here.
More links follow, but let me recall this inspiration from St. John Paul II:
In its history, America has experienced many immigrations, as waves of men and women came to its various regions in the hope of a better future. The phenomenon continues even today, especially with many people and families from Latin American countries who have moved to the northern parts of the continent, to the point where in some cases they constitute a substantial part of the population. They often bring with them a cultural and religious heritage which is rich in Christian elements. The Church is well aware of the problems created by this situation and is committed to spare no effort in developing her own pastoral strategy among these immigrant people, in order to help them settle in their new land and to foster a welcoming attitude among the local population, in the belief that a mutual openness will bring enrichment to all. (Ecclesia in America, par. 65)
Ways to get involved to help migrants:
Take action by contacting Congress on these issues
Social Media project: #MigrationMonday
Find out how you can foster children needing care via details at the USCCB website
10 ways to welcome children at our border (PDF) – Catholic Legal Immigration Network
CRS University — many resources from Catholic Relief Services including:
Holy Family — Advent Digital Retreat from Catholic Relief Services
Strangers No Longer – A pastoral letter from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States
Short videos on this subject:
PAT GOHN is the editor of Catechist magazine and of Catechist.com.
Image credit from top of the page: Skriedzeleu / Shutter Stock 402387037