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A Statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops from 11/15/00

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  • Juan Reardon
    Fellow border activists: This document provides significant foundations for a close working relation with the catholic church in the struggle ahead. The full
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 13, 2000
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      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
      at http://www.nccbuscc.org/mrs/unity.htm
      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
      > 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 workers—forced to search
      > for a basic livelihood for their families—face 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"
      (Ecclesia in America, no. 65).

      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.
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