People of Faith United For Immigrants- The Catholic Church

    The Catholic Church has a long tradition of aligning itself with the immigrant. Pope Benedict XVI, in his World Day of Migrants and Refugees speech in 2007, said, “In the drama of the Family of Nazareth we see the sorrowful plight of so many migrants…[T]he human person must always be the focal point in the vast field of international migration.” Because of the “inescapable network of mutuality” that King discusses, no part of humanity, however privileged, can ignore any other person’s situation.

    We are our brother’s keeper, just as he is ours. Humane immigration policies are a means of being brotherly; militarized borders are a sign of a refusal to help and a desire for distance. The Catholic Church has come out strongly against our current immigration laws and the proposed border wall. The Catholic Bishops in the U.S. put together the following “Five Principles to Guide Immigration Policy” for the 2008 election.

 

1. Persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland.

This principle states that a person has a right not to migrate. In other words, economic, social, and

political conditions in their homeland should provide an opportunity for a person to work and

support his or her family in dignity and safety. In public policy terms, efforts should be made to address

global economic inequities through just trade practices, economic development, and debt relief.

Peacemaking efforts should be advanced to end conflict which forces persons to flee their homes.

2. Persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families.

When persons are unable to find work and support themselves and their families, they have a

right to migrate to other countries and work. This right is not absolute, as stated by Pope John

XXIII, when he said this right to emigrate applies when “there are just reasons for it.” In the current

condition of the world, in which global poverty is rampant and political unrest has resulted in wars

and persecution, migrants who are forced to leave their homes out of necessity and seek only to

survive and support their families must be given special consideration.

3. Sovereign nations have a right to control their borders.

The Church recognizes the right of nations to protect and control their borders in the service of

the common good of their citizens. However, this is not an absolute right. Nations also have an obligation to the universal common good, as articulated by Pope John XXIII in Pacem in Terris, and

thus should seek to accommodate migration to the greatest extent possible. Powerful economic

nations, such as the United States, have a higher obligation to serve the universal common good,

according to Catholic social teachings. In the current global economic environment, in which labor

demands in the United States attract foreign laborers, the United States should establish an immigration

system that provides legal avenues for persons to enter the nation legally in a safe, orderly,

and dignified manner to obtain jobs and reunite with family members.

4. Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection.

Persons who flee their home countries because they fear persecution should be afforded safe

haven and protection in another country. Conflict and political unrest in many parts of the world

force persons to leave their homes for fear of death or harm. The United States should employ a

refugee and asylum system that protects asylum seekers, refugees, and other forced migrants and

offers them a haven from persecution.

5.The human rights and the human dignity of undocumented migrants should be respected.

Persons who enter a nation without proper authorization or who overstay their visas should be

treated with respect and dignity. They should not be detained in deplorable conditions for lengthy

periods of time, shackled by their feet and hands, or abused in any manner. They should be afforded

due process of the law and, if applicable, allowed to articulate a fear of return to their

home before a qualified adjudicator. They should not be blamed for the social ills of a nation.

http://www.coc.org/election2008/files/catholicBishops.pdf

This well-thought, eloquent logic for immigration reform is the sort of pressure which the Church must continue to exert on the State. Politics and bureaucracy does not necessarily have a moral conscience; it is the Church’s duty to be that conscience, that moral reminder, to keep capitalism in check and legislation within moral law. The Catholic Church, along with its Protestant brothers, would echo King in saying, “…True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring…” More specifically, a system which produces “illegal” people needs major re-imagining, and the Church must be the ones calling out for the individual in the face of the corporate. The Gospel of Jesus must continue to be good news to all, whatever their mother-tongue or father-land.

 

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3 Responses to “People of Faith United For Immigrants- The Catholic Church”

  1. Matt Says:

    Militarized borders are a sign of a refusal to help and a desire for distance.

    I couldn’t agree more. The security of our nation is undoubtedly important and I’m not attempting to undermine that. But the stance many current presidential candidates have taken toward immigration sends an unbelievably unwelcoming message. The emphasis should lie on the social and economic reasons prompting immigration, not militarizing our borders.

  2. Matt Says:

    Left my name as a broken link. Sorry, here it is.

  3. kielfharell Says:

    “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35). It is the Church’s task not only to present constantly the Lord’s teaching of faith but also to indicate its appropriate application to the various situations which the changing times continue to create. Today the illegal migrant comes before us like that “stranger” in whom Jesus asks to be recognized. To welcome him and to show him solidarity is a duty of hospitality and fidelity to Christian identity itself.

    Pope John Paul II, Message for the 1996 World Migration Day, no.6
    (this was taken from http://vox-nova.com)

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