Immigration to be focus of sessions in English, Spanish
Presentations will explain how church teaching applies to migrants, how to support justice for immigrants
BY ARMANDO MACHADO
Two presentations on applying church teaching to immigration are set for this month at St. Louise Parish in Bellevue. The first, Tuesday, May 21, will be conducted in English; the second, Tuesday, May 28, will be in Spanish.
Both gatherings, with the title "No Borders to God's Love," start at 7 p.m. and are scheduled to last 90 minutes.
Eliza de la Cruz, center, and her daughter, Rosario, right, take part in a rally for comprehensive immigration reform April 10 near the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Demonstrators urged lawmakers to support a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Photo: CNS
The sessions are being coordinated by the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Faith Formation’s department of Catholic social teaching and family life.
Jim Thomas, department director, said the main topics will be: learning how the U.S. Catholic bishops apply the principle of the life and dignity of the human person to undocumented immigrants, and learning how to promote justice for immigrants.
"It's part of our effort to win passage of an acceptable, just piece of legislation for comprehensive immigration reform," Thomas said.
Respecting human dignity
The issue is not just about being compassionate, but also being respectful of each person's human dignity, he added.
"We are created in God's image and likeness, and therefore we have inestimable value and worth. … We really need to try to be aware of and understand the church's teachings on these issues, so that we see people not as a label like 'undocumented immigrant,' but as fellow human beings and members of the mystical body of Christ — as our brothers and sisters in Christ."
One of the ways to demonstrate the church’s understanding of human dignity, he said, is to become an advocate for just treatment of migrants. Thomas said the May presentations will include information and resources to contact Congress in support of comprehensive immigration reform.
He said the meetings will focus on federal-level efforts related to comprehensive immigration reform rather than proposals offered at the state level.
"States can do a little bit; most states that have done something have made it more difficult, and the (U.S.) Supreme Court invalidated much of those provisions — like the Arizona law last year," Thomas noted.
"We will also be talking about specific details of what's contained in the legislation that Congress is considering," Thomas said. "So we'll be helping people with understanding what's in there, and what the analysis and assessment of the bishops is with regard to those provisions."
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a background paper in February stating that any just immigration reform effort should include: policies that address the root causes of migration, such as economic disparities; broad-based legalization of the undocumented, including a pathway to citizenship; a future-worker program with appropriate protections for U.S. and foreign workers; changes to reduce waiting times for family reunification; and restoration of due process for immigrants.
Attendees at the presentations will be asked to contact senators and representatives and ask them to support a comprehensive immigration reform bill consistent with Catholic teaching and the principles outlined by the bishops.
Patty Repikoff, coordinator of the Eastside Catholic Hispanic Ministry, said the upcoming presentations are meant, in part, to remind Latinos, "You can make a difference in this. We want you to become agents of change, to become as knowledgeable as you can, and then take the steps you need to inform your family and friends, and your Congress people.
"We need to hear your stories," she said. "There are no borders in the church."
May 9, 2013