U.S. Church Marks Twenty Years Since Release of "Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope"
On January 22, the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the pastoral letter Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope.
WASHINGTON - On January 22, the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the pastoral letter Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope. This landmark document, issued jointly by the bishops of the United States and Mexico, addressed the need to manage migration between the two countries more humanely and emphasized the importance of providing pastoral care to newcomers. The letter also underscored a part of the Church’s identity that is frequently affirmed by Pope Francis: we are a Church that transcends borders, in which nobody is seen as disposable and all are welcome.
Twenty years after its publication, the need for a systemic reform of the U.S. immigration system has only become more apparent. The Church continues to recognize that migration between our two countries is necessary and beneficial, but “some aspects of the migrant experience are far from the vision of the Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed: many persons who seek to migrate are suffering, and, in some cases, tragically dying; human rights are abused; families are kept apart; and racist and xenophobic attitudes remain.”
Reflecting on the significance of Strangers No Longer, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, stated:
“For two decades, Strangers No Longer has provided an important moral framework that has informed the Church’s engagement on the migration issue. More than that, it points to the solidarity that exists across national borders and the importance of working together to address complex issues. While much about our social and political landscape has changed during the past twenty years, the Church is unwavering in its commitment to walk with newcomers, especially the most vulnerable. We see this in the work of Catholic organizations along our border with Mexico and throughout the country—visible signs of Christ’s love, expressed through the virtue of hospitality.”
For the anniversary, the USCCB is encouraging Catholics and all people of good will to read and reflect on Strangers No Longer throughout the year. A summary of the pastoral letter and its primary themes is available in both English and Spanish.