If we are following the national news, we know that there are strong feelings being expressed regarding the immigration laws of our country. We see the protests and the legal actions being taken both by those who are for and against stricter enforcement of the immigration laws. But have we thought about the people who are affected by the immigration situation? Every Catholic Church in this archdiocese has some percentage of Hispanic parishioners, some who are legally here and some who are not. There is an incredible amount of fear in the lives of our fellow parishioners over the immigration situation. Some have lived for years in the United States, illegally yes but never having been in trouble with the law. Their children are American citizens by birth in this country. If one of the parents is deported, what happens to the other spouse? Stay here with the children who are citizens? Join his/her spouse and leave the children with friends or relatives? Take the children back to the parent’s country of origin and to a culture and a country that the children may be completely unfamiliar with? As compassionate people, we certainly have to be affected by the fear and suffering that is going among the members of the body of Christ, fellow parishioners in our churches.
Pope Francis spoke at a conference about the migration issue. In his speech, he mentioned 4 verbs that should guide us in regards to the immigration issue. I share with you a summary of the speech that I found on www.zenit.org. If you want to read the actual speech, please go the Vatican web page, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/events/event.dir.html/content/vaticanevents/en/2017/2/21/forum-migrazioniepace.html
Pope’s 4 Verbs on Migration: Welcome, Protect, Promote, Integrate
Speaking to International Forum on Migration and Peace, Francis Appeals: ‘For those who flee conflicts and terrible persecutions, often trapped within the grip of criminal organizations who have no scruples, we need to open accessible and secure humanitarian channels’
“Before this complex panorama, I feel the need to express particular concern for the forced nature of many contemporary migratory movements, which increases the challenges presented to the political community, to civil society and to the Church, and which amplifies the urgency for a coordinated and effective response to these challenges.”
Pope Francis stressed this in his address to participants of an International Forum on Migration and Peace taking place in Rome, whom he received in the Vatican this morning, noting his conviction that their shared response may be articulated by four verbs: “welcome, protect, promote and integrate.”
Organized by the new Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development in collaboration with the Scalabrini International Migration Network, the two-day international forum aims to stimulate dialogue on the root causes of migration and to elaborate and propose the best solutions for an ethical approach on the international management of migration, as well as the integration of migrants in hosting communities, and to concretely influence migration policies and practices.
Discussing welcome, Francis said: “Rejection is an attitude we all share; it makes us see our neighbour not as a brother or sister to be accepted, but as unworthy of our attention, a rival, or someone to be bent to our will”
Faced with this kind of rejection, rooted ultimately in self-centredness and amplified by populist rhetoric, he added, “what is needed is a change of attitude, to overcome indifference and to counter fears with a generous approach of welcoming those who knock at our doors.
“For those who flee conflicts and terrible persecutions, often trapped within the grip of criminal organisations who have no scruples, we need to open accessible and secure humanitarian channels.”
Turning to protecting, Francis stressed that defending their inalienable rights, ensuring their fundamental freedoms and respecting their dignity are duties from which no one can be exempted.
“Protecting these brothers and sisters is a moral imperative which translates into adopting juridical instruments, both international and national, that must be clear and relevant; implementing just and far reaching political choices; prioritizing constructive processes, which perhaps are slower, over immediate results of consensus; implementing timely and humane programs in the fight against ‘the trafficking of human flesh’; which profits off others’ misfortune; coordinating the efforts of all actors, among which, you may be assured will always be the Church.”
Turning to promoting, Francis stated that protecting is not enough, and said that “what is required” is the promotion of an integral human development of migrants, exiles and refugees.
And for integration, he clarified this refers neither assimilation nor incorporation, “a two-way process, rooted essentially in the joint recognition of the other’s cultural richness: it is not the superimposing of one culture over another, nor mutual isolation, with the insidious and dangerous risk of creating ghettoes.”
“I believe that conjugating these four verbs, in the first person singular and in the first person plural,” Francis stated, “is today a responsibility, a duty we have towards our brothers and sisters who, for various reasons, have been forced to leave their homeland,” a duty namely of three types, he explained, of justice, civility and solidarity.
Pope Francis concluded, stating his hope that these two days will bear abundant fruit, assuring them of his prayers, and reminding them to pray for him.