Living as a People of God in Unsettled Times
WASHINGTON—TheU.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Administrative Committee has issued thefollowing pastoral reflection in solidarity with those who have been forced toflee their homes due to violence, conflict or fear in their native lands.
WASHINGTON—TheU.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Administrative Committee has issued thefollowing pastoral reflection in solidarity with those who have been forced toflee their homes due to violence, conflict or fear in their native lands. In the statement, the bishops encourage eachof us to do what we can to accompany migrants and refugees who seek a betterlife in the United States.
Thefull text of the Bishops' Administrative Committee statement can be foundbelow:
The word of God is truly alive today. "When an alien resides with you in your land,do not mistreat such a one. You shalltreat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born amongyou; you shall love the alien as yourself; for you too were once aliens in theland of Egypt" (Lev. 19:33-34).
To live as a people of God is to live inthe hope of the resurrection. To live in Christ is to draw upon the limitlesslove of Jesus to fortify us against the temptation of fear. Pray that our engagement in the debate overimmigration and refugee issues may bring peace and comfort to those most affectedby current and proposed national policy changes.
Let us not lose sight of the fact thatbehind every policy is the story of a person in search of a better life. Theymay be an immigrant or refugee family sacrificing so that their children mighthave a brighter future. As shepherds ofa pilgrim Church, we will not tire in saying to families who have the courageto set out from their despair onto the road of hope: "We are with you." Theymay also be a family seeking security from an increased threat of extremistviolence. It is necessary to safeguard the United States in a manner that doesnot cause us to lose our humanity.
Intense debate is essential to healthydemocracy, but the rhetoric of fear does not serve us well. When we look at one another do we see withthe heart of Jesus? Within our diversebackgrounds are found common dreams for our children. Hope in the next generation is how the nationwill realize its founding motto, "out of many, one." In doing so, we will alsorealize God's hope for all His children: that we would see each other as valued sisters and brothers regardlessof race, religion or national origin.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Wordmade flesh (Jn. 1:14), strengthens us to bring our words to life. How might we, as Catholics and in our ownsmall way, bring our words of solidarity for migrants and refugees to life?
1. Pray for an end to theroot causes of violent hatred that force mothers and fathers to flee the onlyhome they may have known in search of economic and physical security for theirchildren.
2. Meet with members of yourparish who are newcomers, listen to their story and share your own. Hundreds ofCatholic parishes across the country have programs for immigrants and refugeesboth to comfort them and to help them know their rights. It is also importantto reach out in loving dialogue to those who may disagree with us. The more we come to understand each other'sconcerns the better we can serve one another. Together, we are one body in Christ.
3. Call, write or visityour elected representative and ask them to fix our broken immigration systemin a way that safeguards both our security and our humanity through a generousopportunity for legal immigration.
As Pope Francis said, "To migrate is theexpression of that inherent desire for the happiness proper to every humanbeing, a happiness that is to be sought and pursued. For us Christians, all human life is anitinerant journey towards our heavenly homeland."
Keywords:U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Administrative Committee, USCCB, PopeFrancis, migration, refugees, families, pilgrim Church, extremist violence,democracy, U.S. security, solidarity.