Why do you feel this [immigration] is such a crucial issue for Catholics to confront today?So many words, so little time...so we'll pick a few (red-highlight) items for response here.
The first thing to say, always, is that bishops are pastors, we’re not politicians. When we are talking about political, economic or social questions, we are always trying to engage in terms of Gospel values and principles.
And I think that all of us—laypeople, especially—need to keep allowing ourselves to be challenged by the Gospel, challenged by the teachings of the Church. If our faith doesn’t sometimes make us uncomfortable with our political commitments, then there’s something wrong.
Maintaining a true Catholic identity, understanding ourselves to be followers of Jesus Christ before we are anything else, is always a challenge. And, I think it’s getting harder in America today because everything is “politicized.”
For me, immigration is not about politics. It’s about the dignity of the human person. And it’s also about our national identity and purpose, what America means and what does it mean to be an American.
The bishops recognize that it’s the imperative of every nation to secure their borders and to regulate who enters their country and how long they stay. We also understand that every sector of our economy—from construction and agriculture, to hospitality and service industries, to high-tech and medical professions—has a vital need for immigrant workers.
And we understand that there is genuine anxiety in our country because our demographics are changing and our economy is changing. Also, migration is one of the signs of our times. That’s just a reality. Movements of people are happening in every part of the world, millions of people are leaving their homelands, seeking a better life for their families; often, they are leaving because of violence and poverty.
As Catholics, we need to remember that we are not talking about “statistics,” we are talking about human beings—the image of God, our brothers and sisters.
There are complicated issues involved, questions of law, economics, and politics. But the most basic consideration here is that migrants are human beings. They are loved by God and they are redeemed by Jesus Christ, and he calls us to love others as we love ourselves—especially the poor, the migrant, and the prisoner.
Jesus did not say we only love those who are fellow citizens or who have the proper “papers.” Men and women do not become less of a child of God because they are “undocumented.” This is not a political position, it is matter of our faith.
America has always been exceptional because it has always been a refuge for peoples who have no place left to turn, and it’s always been a place where peoples from all parts of the world can come to share their talents and creativity, bringing with them their values of family and hard work, and their dreams of a better life for their children.
In my own writing and teaching, I want to help us to rediscover the fact that we are all brothers and sisters in our common humanity and that we have this beautiful promise of America—to be a light to the nations. And this is just my opinion, but I don’t believe we should be saying that that the time for American generosity is over. We are too young of a nation to be afraid for our future....
1) Yes, we are Catholics first. But we are American fathers, mothers, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and children second, not 'citizens of the world.' Our responsibility is to our families first, just as Catholic social doctrine insists.
2) Dear Excellency: if you think immigration is NOT political, you are detached from reality.
3) There are plenty of well-informed people who insist, Excellency, that 'the need for workers' is ........ahh.........actually a "need" for "CHEAP" workers, particularly at the professional/technical end of the scale but including the lower end, too. Check out the testimony of unemployed or under-employed STEM graduates in this country, please.
4) I certainly hope you are not implying that some Catholics are totally lacking in humanity, Excellency!! What would that say about the teaching office of the Bishops for the last few decades??
5) Immigrants who are "children of God" are LEGAL immigrants, right? (Just checking.)
6) Yes, immigrants bring talent and creativity. However, when my grandparents (both sides) immigrated--legally--they were not afforded ANY State-paid welfare, nor State-paid healthcare, nor State-paid housing; instead, their already-present relatives or friends guaranteed that the new immigrants would have a job OR that the extant immigrants would pay for their needs out of their own pocket. Is there some fountain of Free Money that arose between then and now, Excellency??
7) Who is "afraid for the future"? As I recall the saying from my parish pastor, the Providence of God works in conjunction with the labor of man. Put another way, prudential management is a help to Providence. Please don't test God by suggesting that we should not manage immigration for the long-term.
Best wishes in your new assignment, Excellency!