Monday, December 12, 2011

Estas son las Mañanitas...of the Hispanic Bishops

The Hispanic/Latino Bishops of the United States greeted us early today, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with their own very special version of the "Mañanitas," a letter to immigrants. Signed by 33 bishops, the letter was released simultaneously from Los Angeles and San Antonio, the sees of the two highest ranking Hispanic archbishops.

The full text of the letter along with the signatories is reproduced below.


Dear immigrant sisters and brothers,

May the peace and grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you!

We the undersigned Hispanic/Latino Bishops of the United States wish to let those of you who lack proper authorization to live and work in our country know that you are not alone, or forgotten. We recognize that every human being, authorized or not, is an image of God and therefore possesses infinite value and dignity. We open our arms and hearts to you, and we receive you as members of our Catholic family. As pastors, we direct these words to you from the depths of our heart.

In a very special way we want to thank you for the Christian values you manifest to us with your lives—your sacrifice for the well-being of your families, your determination and perseverance, your joy of life, your profound faith and fidelity despite your insecurity and many difficulties. You contribute much to the welfare of our nation in the economic, cultural and spiritual arenas.

The economic crisis has had an impact on the entire U.S. community. Regretfully, some in reaction to this environment of uncertainty show disdain for immigrants and even blame them for the crisis. We will not find a solution to our problems by sowing hatred. We will find the solution by sowing a sense of solidarity among all workers and co-workers —immigrants and citizens—who live together in the United States.

In your suffering faces we see the true face of Jesus Christ. We are well aware of the great sacrifice you make for your families’ well-being. Many of you perform the most difficult jobs and receive miserable salaries and no health insurance or social security. Despite your contributions to the well-being of our country, instead of receiving our thanks, you are often treated as criminals because you have violated current immigration laws.

We are also very aware of the pain suffered by those families who have experienced the deportation of one of their members. We are conscious of the frustration of youth and young adults who have grown up in this country and whose dreams are shattered because they lack legal immigration status. We also know of the anxiety of those whose application process for permanent residency is close to completion and of the anguish of those who live daily under the threat of deportation. This situation cries out to God for a worthy and humane solution.

We acknowledge that, at times, actions taken in regard to immigrants have made you feel ignored or abandoned, especially when no objection is raised to the false impressions that are promoted within our society. Through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops we have testified before the U.S. Congress for change in our immigration laws and for legislation that respects family unity and provides an orderly and reasonable process for unauthorized persons to attain citizenship. The new law should include a program for worker visas that respects the immigrants’ human rights, provides for their basic needs and ensures that they enter our country and work in a safe and orderly manner. We will also continue to advocate on behalf of global economic justice, so that our brothers and sisters can find employment opportunities in their countries of origin that offer a living wage, and allow them to live with dignity.

Immigrants are a revitalizing force for our country. The lack of a just, humane and effective reform of immigration laws negatively affects the common good of the entire United States.

It pains and saddens us that many of our Catholic brothers and sisters have not supported our petitions for changes in the immigration law that will protect your basic rights while you contribute your hard work to our country. We promise to keep working to bring about this change. We know how difficult the journey is to reach the border and to enter the United States. That is why we are committed to do all that we can to bring about a change in the immigration law, so that you can enter and remain here legally and not feel compelled to undertake a dangerous journey in order to support and provide for your families. As pastors concerned for your welfare, we ask you to consider seriously whether it is advisable to undertake the journey here until after just and humane changes occur in our immigration laws.

Nevertheless, we are not going to wait until the law changes to welcome you who are already here into our churches, for as St. Paul tells us, “You are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; you are fellow-citizens with the holy people of God and part of God’s household” (Eph 2:19).

As members of the Body of Christ which is the Church, we offer you spiritual nourishment. Feel welcome to Holy Mass, the Eucharist, which nourishes us with the word and the body and blood of Jesus. We offer you catechetical programs for your children and those religious education programs that our diocesan resources allow us to put at your disposal.

We who are citizens and permanent residents of this country cannot forget that almost all of us, we or our ancestors, have come from other lands and together with immigrants from various nations and cultures, have formed a new nation. Now we ought to open our hearts and arms to the recently arrived, just as Jesus asks us to do when he says, “I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was an alien and you took me into your house” (Mt 25:35). These words of the Lord Jesus can be applied to the new immigrants among us. They were hungry in their land of origin; they were thirsty as they traveled through the deserts, and they find themselves among us as aliens. (See Daniel G. Groody, CSC, “Crossing the Line,” in The Way, Vol. 43,, No. 2, April 2004, p. 58-69). Their presence challenges us to be more courageous in denouncing the injustices they suffer. In imitation of Jesus and the great prophets we ought to denounce the forces that oppress them and announce the good news of the Kingdom with our works of charity. Let us pray and struggle to make it possible for these brothers and sisters of ours to have the same opportunities from which we have benefited.

We see Jesus the pilgrim in you migrants. The Word of God migrated from heaven to earth in order to become man and save humanity. Jesus emigrated with Mary and Joseph to Egypt, as a refugee. He migrated from Galilee to Jerusalem for the sacrifice of the cross, and finally he emigrated from death to life in the resurrection and ascension to heaven. Today, he continues to journey and accompany all migrants on pilgrimage throughout the world in search of food, work, dignity, security and opportunities for the welfare of their families.

You reveal to us the supreme reality of life: we are all migrants. Your migration gives a strong and clear message that we are migrants on the way to eternal life. Jesus accompanies all Christians on our journey toward the house of our Father, God’s Kingdom in heaven. (See Pope John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, No. 50.)

We urge you not to despair. Keep faith in Jesus the migrant who continues to walk beside you. Have faith in Our Lady of Guadalupe who constantly repeats to us the words she spoke to St. Juan Diego, “Am I, who am your mother, not here?” She never abandons us, nor does St. Joseph who protects us as he did the Holy Family during their emigration to Egypt.

As pastors we want to continue to do advocacy for all immigrants. With St. Paul we say to you: “Do not be mastered by evil; but master evil with good.” (Rm 12:21).

May Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, accompany you and bless you always.

Sincerely in Christ our Savior,

The Hispanic/Latino Bishops of the United States

Most Rev. José H. Gómez, Archbishop of Los Angeles
Most Rev. Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, Archbishop of San Antonio
Most Rev. Gerald R. Barnes, Bishop of San Bernardino
Most Rev. Alvaro Corrada del Rio, SJ, Apostolic Administrator of Tyler
Bishop of Mayaguez, PR
Most Rev. Felipe de Jesús Estevez, Bishop of St. Augustine
Most Rev. Richard J. García
, Bishop of Monterey
Most Rev. Armando X. Ochoa
, Apostolic Administrator of El Paso
Bishop-designate of Fresno

Most Rev. Plácido Rodríguez, CMF
, Bishop of Lubbock
Most Rev. James A. Tamayo,
Bishop of Laredo
Most Rev. Raymundo J. Peña
, Bishop Emeritus of Brownsville
Most Rev. Arthur Tafoya
, Bishop Emeritus of Pueblo
Most Rev. Daniel E. Flores
, Bishop of Brownsville
Most Rev. Fernando Isern, D.D.
, Bishop of Pueblo
Most Rev. Ricardo Ramírez,
Bishop of Las Cruces
Most Rev. Jaime Soto
, Bishop of Sacramento
Most Rev. Joe S. Vásquez
, Bishop of Austin
Most Rev. Carlos A. Sevilla, SJ
, Bishop Emeritus of Yakima
Most Rev. Oscar Cantú, S.T.D.
, Auxiliary Bishop of San Antonio
Most Rev. Arturo Cepeda
, Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit
Most Rev. Manuel A. Cruz
, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark
Most Rev. Rutilio del Riego
, Auxiliary Bishop of San Bernardino
Most Rev. Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S
, Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle
Most Rev. Francisco González , S.F.
, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington
Most Rev. Eduardo A. Nevares
, Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix
Most Rev. Alexander Salazar
, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles
Most Rev. David Arias, OAR
, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Newark
Most Rev. Octavio Cisneros, DD
, Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn
Most. Rev. Edgar M. da Cunha, SDV
, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark
Most Rev. Cirilo B. Flores
, Auxiliary Bishop of Orange
Most Rev. Josu Iriondo
, Auxiliary Bishop of New York
Most Rev. Alberto Rojas
, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago
Most Rev. Luis Rafael Zarama
, Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta
Most Rev. Gabino Zavala
, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12, 2011


Bob said...

As a footnote, please take note of the potential for evil in the politically popular sentiment against undocumented immigrants in the United States. It is no secret that there is a large constituency in this country that would like to round up and deport all undocumented immigrants. Let us imagine the implications of doing something like that. It is estimated that there are 10-12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. They typically come from countries with very weak economies, which they are driven to leave because of a lack of basic opportunity. Typically, these are people who pay their own way here in the United States by working at low-paying jobs. They would not have sought these low-paying jobs if their home countries offered even the most basic economic opportunities.

The most vicious version of the current sentiment against undocumented immigrants would see 10-12 million people rounded up and deported. Let us consider the implications. First of all, simply identifying 10-12 million undocumented people would entail a loss of civil liberties for every man, woman, and child in the United States. In addition, there is no conceivable process by which 10-12 million undocumented immigrants could be deported without a human catastrophe. Can we tolerate an America in which there are 10-12 million in detention centers? That is what we would get, because it is, as a practical matter, logistically impossible to send 10-12 million people to countries where the economies are weak enough that people are driven to take significant personal risks to come to the United States to work in relatively low-paying jobs. Why do we think the countries of origin are capable of reabsorbing 10-12 million people? It's kind of absurd even to suggest it. As a result, the U.S. government would be stuck holding 10-12 million in detention centers, which is guaranteed to be a human and spiritual disaster for the people involved. In order to get the countries of origin to accept deportees, the U.S. government would be constrained to provide economic aid to the countries of origin. Such economic aid can be expected to be very expensive on a per-deportee basis in those countries of origin in which U.S. economic aid it typically siphoned away from its intended purpose by forces of political corruption.

Thus, the result of a program of rounding up and deporting 10-12 million undocumented immigrants would be an extremely costly system of detention camps, from which exit is difficult if not impossible -- all to get rid of a group of people who are currently paying their own way in this country.

stpetric said...

I'm trying hard to "think with the mind of the Church" on immigration as with everything else. But when you say, "you are often treated as criminals because you have violated current immigration laws," you lose me. By definition, those who break the law (and moreover, do so knowingly) are criminals. Perhaps the immigration laws should be changed, but I fail to see how they're fundamentally immoral. So what possible reason would we have for not calling such lawbreakers criminals?

Lee Kramer said...

Here in Southern California there is a terrible and growing hatred toward our Central American brothers and sisters who come here to try to make a better life for their families, out of necessity. I will not call them criminals, because when I look at the crimes committed by the powerful people who run things in this country, they do not compare in any way. These are people who work two and three jobs, who pay into Social Security but cannot collect, who pay sales taxes, who keep businesses supplied with customers--but most importantly, who work and work and work and work and work. These are the people you see breaking their backs in the heat, in the fields, cleaning up after the cell-phone-toting Lexus-driving white folk whose kids don't even do chores, these are people who are working for pennies and are putting more into the economy than they are getting out by far. What is "criminal" when our own government dumped cheap corn onto Mexico's market, putting thousands of farmers out of business? What is "criminal" when you have that same government giving trillions of taxpayer dollars to banks who turn around and give managers lavish bonuses with that very same money?

When it comes to the concept of "crime" I fear that Southern Californians are deeply stunted in their understanding of these hard-working, good people who are nowhere near the level of criminal evil that's been at work destroying our economy.

And yet they are getting blamed for it.

I watch public bulletin boards on newspapers all over Southern California and have been watching the hatred get worse and worse, more and more blatant.

People really seem to believe that these people are taking something from them, and it just isn't true. Oh yes, something is being taken---but the ones who are taking it aren't the immigrants. As long as people think they are to blame, it will not get better. I strongly suggest that anyone in authority, Bishop, city official or whatever, wake up now to this problem, understand how bad it, is as Bob pointed out--because it's not complicated. People are blaming illegal immigrants for the economy. It's got to stop. Those of you in the know have got to find some way to tell people.

lovemercyhopefaith said...

@ stpetric: Yes, they may have broken a law, and by definition be "criminals". But I have just one question for you..."Did Jesus call the thief/tax collector Zachius a criminal? Or did he call him brother and enter into his house? How about the prostitute at his feet? Did he call her a criminal too? If Jesus himself did not call or treat criminals like criminals, what gives us the right to?