Friday, February 25, 2011

Remember the Fast Day

Bishop Latino:"We do not ask for documentation from individuals because the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love our neighbors."

Bishop Latino has asked all Catholics to spend the day in prayer and fasting toward the stopping of Senate Bill SB 2179. Along with activists and Catholic Charities, the bishop says this bill kindles "resentment among our people". He asks us to recognize immigrants as the face of "Jesus Christ".
From the Mississippi Catholic:
The current bill in our state Legislature on immigration that mirrors the Arizona immigration law, though perhaps well-intentioned by the authors, is an unnecessary, mean-spirited and retrogressive bill. We do not need to pass a state law requiring the enforcement of federal laws. Law enforcement agencies are already tasked with enforcing these laws.
We call upon our legislators to drop this unnecessary legislation. What we need is national comprehensive immigration policy change. State initiatives, such as the current proposed legislation, will not remedy our broken system of immigration and may even intensify the situation on a local level.
Our state unfortunately has a history of discrimination that we have worked very hard to overcome. Indeed we still have a long way to go in this area and current state legislation will only add to this journey
The immigration issue has certainly ignited some fierce debate and kindled some deep feelings of resentment among our people. Indeed the immigration issue is an emotional and divisive one. The complexities of this issue evoke concern, anger and confusion for many.
Surely, the fact the debate has become so heated indicates the real need for change and reform in our nation’s immigration laws. A just solution must be achieved nationally that benefits our state and country and at the same time respects the fundamental human rights and dignity of all people.
We would do well to pause for a moment and reflect on this issue from a pastoral perspective. Pastorally speaking, illegal immigration causes human beings to live a life lacking in dignity because of constant hiding, fear and abuse of basic human rights. Our church’s social service agencies serve people from all walks of life because they are in need. We do not ask for documentation from individuals because the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love our neighbors.
The U.S. bishops in no way condone or encourage illegal immigration. Illegal immigration does not benefit the common good of our society. The bishops support an earned legalization process that would require undocumented workers to pay a fine and work their way down a path to legalization.
Earned legalization is not amnesty. There are several stipulations and eligibilities that must be met by individuals seeking it. This position of the bishops, which is well grounded in the Gospel and in church teachings, recognizes a law has been broken and sets about a way to make amends for that in a just and humane manner.
The position of the bishops also exhibits the reality that, under the current system, individuals are being exploited in poor working and living conditions and families are being painfully separated.
Respect for the dignity of human life is what is at the heart of the Catholic Church’s position on immigration. The Catholic Church has always and will always speak for this fundamental universal value.
The Catholic Church respects the rights of sovereign nations and their laws. The United States is a nation built on a system of laws and principles, but if a law violates human dignity and basic human rights it is not just.
Yes, we should be concerned about laws being broken and our national security. Societies crumble when laws are ignored and broken. We should also be concerned that the current proposed state legislation eats away at the very fabric of our nation’s ideals and the fabric of humanity.
Let us remember to put a face on this situation – the face of Jesus Christ. 

In conjunction with fasting and the Bishop's stand for the undocumented worker's rights, Catholic Charities has also taken action by uniting with other national activists, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Mississippi Immigration Rights Alliance to pass out information to assist those who are faced with being deported. The documents can be ordered through Catholic Charities
Fr. Jeremy Tobin, OPraem (seated in back) listens as a woman recounts a raid from ICE. Fr. Jeremy is a member of MIRA and writes for the Mississippi Catholic.