Monday, January 31, 2011

Wester Revisited

This morning brought with it, among the various appointments of bishops from around the world to posts on different Vatican committees, the announcement that Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City has been named a member of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. In other words, Bishop Wester is now part of the Vatican office that oversees migration/immigration issues.

This doesn't mean Bishop Wester is leaving Salt Lake City. A post such as this would involve meetings in Rome but would not be a full time relocation. What is notable about this appointment is that it comes on the heels of Bishop Wester's stint as chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.

Elected to the post in 2006, Bishop Wester was the lead voice on immigration concerns for the bishops for three years (November 2007-November 2010). During that time, he spoke out on a range of migration-themed issues, including the need for comprehensive immigration reform and the role immigration played in the health care debate.

His advocacy often brough Bishop Wester into the worlds of news and social media, including this piece in Politics Daily and a video outlining the bishops' priorities for immigration reform.

Bishop Wester passed the migration torch last fall to Coadjutor Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, who is already speaking out on issues like providing a path to citizenship for people who were brought across the border as children. But even with his most public work on this issue for the U.S. bishops behind him, the Vatican clearly intends Bishop Wester to have a part to play in shaping the Church's global response to this issue.

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