Our Church’s stance on immigration has been one of welcome from the very beginning. The Pentateuch features dozens of references to welcoming the stranger and it is contained as an act of mercy given by Jesus in Mt. 25. More, we understand that were it not for the kindness and charity of people in Egypt, neither the Holy Family with infant Jesus, nor Moses – who himself was an unaccompanied minor – would have reached the age of their public ministry. The reason for the command from God to treat strangers with welcome was simple: the people of Israel were once strangers themselves. Similarly, many Americans have roots from all across the globe and our experience as a nation has been burnished and strengthened by that cultural encounter. In the stories of the Irish fleeing famine, the Chinese fleeing revolution, Somalis fleeing war, and Central American youth fleeing extreme gang violence, we see parallels to our Holy Family and to Moses. We call to mind the great works that might not have been accomplished were it not for the generosity, mercy, and welcome extended by strangers in Egypt. We call to mind here, that we can participate in that same act of mercy be extending a welcome and creating a just environment for our immigrant community, now.
To our immigrant community, please know that your Church and your Bishop are with you. We continue to advocate and pray for merciful, compassionate, and just immigration reform, as well as a turn away from policies that create the environments that force migrants to abandon their beloved homelands in search of peace, stability, and better opportunities. We are aware of your burdens as many of us, myself included, are immigrants that have walked the same paths, sailed the same seas, or have flown across the same skies as you have. Your burdens, we know, are many, and we hope to be able to walk with you now, and always, to provide some way to make that burden light.
We pray, then, for the Spirit to descend and allow for a radical transformation in the hearts of our community:
- That our immigrant brothers and sisters might feel welcome and home in their Mother Church.
- That government authorities might find solutions to provide relief to our migrant community.
- To those that are afraid or resistant, that they might see Christ in these people and seek to, as Pope Francis says, build bridges and not walls.