A Statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops from 11/15/00
- Fellow border activists:
This document provides significant foundations
for a close working relation with the catholic church
in the struggle ahead. The full document can be found
I'm including here one section called: The Call to Solidarity.
How can we go from this statement to an active massive participation
by this sector of the feith community? What reasonable proposals
can we put forward at the local/regional levels to facilitates the
fulfillment of the direction provided by their bishops?
Liberate the borders!
No more blockades!
No more death and suffering!
Issued by NCCB/USCC, November 15, 2000
Copyright © 2000, United States Catholic Conference,
Inc. All rights reserved.
Order Copies of This Statement
Welcoming the Stranger Among Us
Unity in Diversity
A Statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops
The Call to Solidarity
The Gospel calls us to solidarity with those who are suffering,
vulnerable, and in need. In this spirit we recall the words of
Pope John Paul II, who proclaimed, "The Church hears the suffering
cry of all who are uprooted from their own land, of families
forcefully separated, of those who, in the rapid changes of our
day, are unable to find a stable home anywhere. She senses the
anguish of those without rights,without any security, at the
mercy of every kind of exploitation, and she supports them in
their unhappiness" (Message for World Migration Day 2000, no. 6).
Among today's immigrants, those who have fled war, famine, civil
unrest, and economic desperation deserve ourspecial understanding
and support; but seafarers, those in the aviation world, and
migrant workers, too, suffer uprootedness, discrimination, and
injustice, along with all people on the move: circus and carnival
workers, truckers, tourists, pilgrims, Gypsies, and Irish travelers.
> In an age of economic globalization, a special concern of a(Ecclesia in America, no. 65).
> culture of solidarity must be the migrant worker, both
> rural and urban. These laborers are vital to our agricultural,
> construction, service, and tourist industries. From the
> time they leave their homes to the time they arrive at their
> place of work, these migrant workersforced to search
> for a basic livelihood for their familiesface hazardous border
> crossings. (In the past five years, more than 500
> have died at the U.S.Mexico border because of increased border
> enforcement.) They are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in
> transit, in border regions, and in the workplace. We bishops
> pledge ourselves, in the spirit of Ecclesia in America, to work
> in solidarity with the bishops of the migrants' countries of
> origin to provide for the safety, the basic needs, the human
> rights, and the effective pastoral care of these migrant
> workers. One of the propositions of the Synod of America
> asserts, "The Church in America must be a vigilant advocate,
> defending against any unjust restriction the natural right of
> individual persons to move freely within their own nation and
> from one nation to another. Attention must be called to the
> rights of migrants and their families and to respect for their
> human dignity, even in cases of non-legal immigration"
Solidarity with migrants and refugees will take many forms,
from participating in efforts to ensure that the U.S.
government respect the basic human rights of all immigrants,
to providing direct assistance to immigrants through
diocesan and parish programs. Particularly vulnerable are the
immigrant elderly who often find themselves isolated
in their new country, lacking in language skills and in the
family and community support system that they enjoyed in
their country of origin.
Community organizing efforts can also be important vehicles for
addressing the needs of immigrant communities and incorporating
immigrants into civic life. Such efforts can provide the basis
for achieving improved housing conditions, a living wage, better
medical attention, and enhanced educational opportunities for all,
and for empowering local communities. The United States Catholic
Conference supports many such efforts through the Catholic
Campaign for Human Development. The local church's participation
in such efforts is important, both for the direct good that
community organizing can do for individuals and groups and as part
of a broader evangelization that proclaims God's care for all his
children and the Church's special responsibility for the poor,
the persecuted, and the stranger.
The call to solidarity is also a call to promote the effective
recognition of the rights of immigrants and to overcome
all discrimination based on race, culture, or religion. "It means
bearing witness to a fraternal life based on the
Gospel, which respects cultural differences and is open to sincere
and trustful dialogue" (Pope Paul VI, Octogesima Adveniens, no. 17).
Especially since World War II, the Church has devoted special
efforts on behalf of the human rights of migrants and refugees
throughout the world, and in the United States in particular. At
the national level the U.S. bishops' Office of Migration and
Refugee Services has addressed these issues through
participation in public policy debates, special programs for
refugees, and aid to dioceses. Diocesan officials and
parish leaders often participate as well in city- or region-
wide bodies aimed at gaining recognition for immigrants in
local affairs and combating discrimination.
We Catholic bishops commit ourselves to continue to work at the
national level to promote recognition of the
human rights of all, regardless of their immigration status, and
to advance fair and equitable legislation for refugees
and prospective immigrants. Present efforts need to be strengthened
and supported with new initiatives, both at
the local level and at the national level as U.S. immigration law
and practice change in the face of changing political
pressures and social realities. In particular, Catholic lay people,
diocesan officials, and bishops should continue to
work together with community organizations, labor unions, and
other religious bodies on behalf of the rights of
immigrants in the workplace, schools, public services, our legal
system, and all levels of government. The Catholic
Church in the United States through the National Conference of
Catholic Bishops, many of the state Catholic
conferences, individual bishops, and other Catholic
organizations have been meaningfully involved in social
advocacy in behalf of migrant workers and other immigrants.
We encourage others to place public social policies
that impact this special population a higher priority.