Message from CLINIC’s Board Chairman and Executive Director
One of the Catholic Church’s many gifts is that its commitments are not rooted in political expediency, but in its timeless teachings. The main principle that guides its work with newcomers is wellknown: immigrants are our “brothers and sisters” created in God’s image. We have a duty to welcome them, and we benefit from allowing them to become full members of society.
In 2005, the Catholic Church in the United States stepped up its efforts in support of comprehensive immigration reform. The church teaches that, first and foremost, the undocumented are human beings. They are not the stereotypes that we hear about so frequently on television and radio. They do not menace our security and threaten our sovereignty. They do not come to take our jobs or monopolize our public services. The great majority simply want what we do in life. They want to live in security and to support their families. They want to practice their faith and contribute to their new country. They want to build a future for their children. This is why they make the incredible sacrifices that they do. Pope John Paul II viewed migration as an act of self-determination. In fleeing inhuman conditions and seeking a better life for their families, migrants exercise their human dignity. In a sense, they become who they are called to be. We should honor, not scapegoat them.
Under the leadership of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), the church has begun to mobilize in support of a program that could ultimately assist more than 10 million persons to gain legal status in the United States. If comprehensive legislation passes, CLINIC will play a central role in implementing it, both within the Catholic Church and in the larger network of charitable immigration service providers. We are confident that CLINIC is qualified and prepared to meet this historic challenge.
In his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that it is the primary responsibility of the state to create a just society, but that the church can help the state to understand “what is just” and can contribute to justice through its own works of charity and service. “We contribute to a better world only by personally doing good now,” the Holy Father wrote. “The Christian’s program – the program of the Good Samaritan, the program of Jesus – is a ’heart which sees.’ This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly.” (Deus Caritas Est §§ 28(a) and 31(b)). Since 1988, CLINIC has contributed to justice for immigrants through its work. For the church, it has been a “heart which sees” the needs, aspirations, and gifts of newcomers. Its work has never been more important.