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“A Moment We Cannot Afford to Lose”

Jun 3, 2014
Tessa W. McKenzie

Taking their message to Capitol Hill on May 29th, bishops emboldened Catholics to seek justice for immigrants through support for comprehensive reform.  A mass, offered for the families of those separated by our broken immigration system, was concelebrated by six bishops at St. Peter Church in Washington, D.C.  The prayers of principal celebrant Archbishop Thomas Wenski were clear:  migration is a central narrative of our faith and nation’s history, and ensuring that laws evolve to uphold the dignity of migrants is a moral obligation.

The liturgy for this special mass recalled the parable of the Good Samaritan.   The story, shared by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, depicts a traveler who, beaten by robbers, is left for dead, and subsequently ignored by two men before being taken in and cared for by a merciful Samaritan.  Bishop Kicanas explains, “When there’s a faceless person, it’s easy to reject or ignore or put aside that person.”  Giving a human face to the immigration debate, the bishops reminded attendees that our faith commands that groups particularly at-risk, such as asylees, refugees and those who are undocumented, have inalienable dignity and should be afforded protection.

 “Our immigration system is a stain on the soul of our nation,” Archbishop Wenski asserted, “When laws fail to advance the common good, they can and they should be changed.”  With visa backlogs keeping families separated for years at a time, enforcement-focused immigration policies, and the exploitation migrant labor, much is yet to be done to uphold the rights of newcomers.   “Positive law is meant to benefit, not enslave mankind,” Archbishop Wenski goes on to say, for rights do not depended on membership in a particular state or immigration status.

Bishops Elizondo, Cantu, and Wester joined in the call for broad comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) that continued throughout the day.  Catholics were urged to participate in the Justice for Immigrants National Call-In Day to Congress.  Archbishop Wenski explained, “We are asking Congress to act—not to defend and unacceptable, inhumane, unjust status quo.  As a moral matter, it must be changed.  We must pray that our elected officials recognize this and have the courage to reform it.  This is a moment we cannot afford do lose – only seize.”

CLINIC and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) believe the U.S. immigration system demands significant reform.  For more information on the need for legalization, the Catholic position on immigration policy, advocacy resources and CIR preparation, visit:  https://cliniclegal.org/comprehensive-immigration-reform2