"The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in
search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find
in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the
natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of
those who receive him.
|The First Family of Immigrants|
With the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops decrying new immigrant deportation raids, many people are still not quite clear why the Catholic Church is so focused on migrants and refugees.
Public authorities certainly have the responsibility for regulating immigration but, as the Catechism notes, this responsibility is always subordinate to the duty to welcome those who seek security and an opportunity to support their families. So, here are seven reasons why Catholics care so much about the immigration question:
1. Members of the Holy Family were themselves migrants, as were most of our ancestors.
2. Pope Francis says that he is "the pastor of a Church without frontiers, a Church which considers herself mother to all" (EG, n. 210).
3. Stephen Colbert thinks its better to take a stand than to try taking a farm worker's job. (It's timeless and timely Congressional testimony from 2010, in response to the United Farm Workers' "Take Our Jobs" campaign.)
4. Isaiah and fellow Old Testament prophets repeatedly warn us about mistreatment of widows and orphans. (We certainly don't want to mess with them!)
5. St. John Paul II wrote that "It is necessary to guard against the rise of new forms of racism or xenophobic behavior, which attempt to make these brothers and sisters of ours scapegoats for what may be difficult local situations."
6. Catholic social teaching says that respect for human dignity requires that we "welcome the stranger."
7. The Lord Jesus clearly teaches that whatever we do to the least we do to Him. (And there will be no check of immigration papers or visas on judgment day!)
It is understandable that a broken immigration system has proven to be frustrating to many people. But this right and responsibility must be understood as relative--that is, relative to the duty of protecting and defending those who are most vulnerable.
Above all, if Catholics truly believe that marriage and family are the building blocks of our national home, then separating families through deportation will only leave us a house divided. Let's pray for authentic dialogue and openness to truth on this issue.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, pray for us--