Catholic voices on immigration Immigration is a main issue up for debate in this year’s presidential election. Here’s what Church leaders have said on the subject.
The topic of immigration isn’t an easy one. It involves an amalgamation of issues relating to national security, assimilation, the economy, international conflict, the drug trade, family values and — of course — faith.
Dialogue surrounding immigration often is fast-paced and emotionally charged, with sensational comments, proposals or numbers too often being the only facts reported by the media or spoken about by politicians. Individual comments, particularly from those in the Church, often get lost in the crowd.
That’s why this week’s In Focus is so valuable. Commentary from Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis and Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, himself an immigrant, show the consistent, thoughtful approach the Church has taken when it comes to the complex issue of immigration.
Our Sunday Visitor hopes these excerpts will be useful to you as you consider the issue of immigration within your own communities and your own consciences.
POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II
Undocumented Migrants: The Message of Pope John Paul II for World Migration Day
The following is an excerpt from Pope St. John Paul II’s 1996 message on World Migration Day:
The Church considers the problem of illegal migrants from the standpoint of Christ, who died to gather together the dispersed children of God (cf. Jn 11:52), to rehabilitate the marginalized and to bring close those who are distant, in order to integrate all within a communion that is not based on ethnic, cultural or social membership, but on the common desire to accept God’s word and to seek justice. “God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35).
The Church acts in continuity with Christ’s mission. In particular, she asks herself how to meet the needs, while respecting the law of those persons who are not allowed to remain in a national territory. She also asks what the right to emigrate is worth without the corresponding right to immigrate. She tackles the problem of how to involve in this work of solidarity those Christian communities frequently infected by a public opinion that is often hostile sto immigrants.
The first way to help these people is to listen to them in order to become acquainted with their situation, and, whatever their legal status with regard to State law, to provide them with the necessary means of subsistence.
Thus it is important to help illegal migrants to complete the necessary administrative papers to obtain a residence permit. Social and charitable institutions can make contact with the authorities in order to seek appropriate, lawful solutions to various cases. This kind of effort should be made especially on behalf of those who, after a long stay, are so deeply rooted in the local society that returning to their country of origin would be tantamount to a form of reverse emigration, with serious consequences particularly for the children.
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