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Archbishop Chaput: Justice, Prudence and Immigration Reform

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. weekly column, "Justice, Prudence and Immigration Reform."

The Catholic commitment to the dignity of the immigrant comes from exactly the same roots as our commitment to the dignity of the unborn child.  Any Catholic who truly understands his or her faith knows that the right to life precedes and creates the foundation for every other human right.  There’s no getting around the priority of that fundamental right to life.  But being “prolife” also means that we need to make laws and social policies that will care for those people already born that no one else will defend.

Around the United States today, we employ a permanent underclass of human beings who build our roads, pick our fruit, clean our hotel rooms, and landscape our lawns.  Most of these men and women, like millions of immigrants before them, abide by our laws and simply want a better life for their families.  Many have children who are American citizens, or who have been in America so long that they don’t know any other homeland.  But they live in a legal limbo.  They’re important to our economy, but they have inadequate legal protections, and in recent years many families have been separated by arrests and deportations.

We need to remember that how we treat the weak, the infirm, the elderly, the unborn child and the foreigner reflects on our own humanity. We become what we do, for good or for evil. The Catholic Church respects the law, including immigration law. We respect those men and women who have the difficult job of enforcing it. We do not encourage or help anyone to break the law. We believe Americans have a right to solvent public institutions, secure borders and orderly regulation of immigration.

At the same time, we can’t ignore people in need, and we shouldn't be silent about laws that don’t work — or that, in their “working,” create impossible contradictions and suffering. Despite all of the heated public argument over the past decade, Americans still find themselves stuck with an immigration system that adequately serves no one. We urgently need the kind of immigration reform that will address our economic and security needs, but will also regularize the status of the many decent undocumented immigrants who help our society to grow.  Congress and the president, despite their serious differences, do have an opportunity in the coming months to act justly to solve this problem.  Legislation could begin moving in congress as early as this spring.

The bishops of the United States have suggested at least five key elements needed for any serious reform:  (1) a path to citizenship for the undocumented; (2) the preservation and enhancement of family unity, based on the union of a husband and wife and their children; (3) the creation of legal channels for unskilled laborers to enter and work legally in this country; (4) due process rights for immigrants; and (5) constructive attention to the root causes of migration, such as economic hardship, political repression or religious persecution in the sending countries.

As many as 11 million undocumented persons now live and work in our nation.  We can't refuse to see them.  Catholics of good will can legitimately disagree on the best way to bring about immigration justice.  In an age of terrorism and organized drug violence, public safety is a pressing and understandable concern.  There are also pitfalls and unhelpful agendas in some elements of the immigration debate that need careful discussion.  But again, we can't simply continue to posture and delay in dealing with an issue that impacts so many lives.

We become what we do, for good or for evil. If we act and speak like bigots, that’s what we become. If we act with justice, intelligence, common sense and mercy, then we become something quite different. We become the people and the nation God intended us to be. Our country’s chronic immigration crisis is a test of our humanity. Whether we pass that test is entirely up to us.  That’s why the Catholic community needs to engage the issue of immigration reform as prudently and unselfishly as possible – not tomorrow or next week, but now.  The future of our country depends on it.

The U.S. bishops' “Justice for Immigrants” campaign can be accessed at www.justiceforimmigrants.org

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Maria Deszcz-Pan February 22, 2013 at 03:55 AM
It really takes a twisted mind to think that Catholic Church is after immigrants money... if money would be an issue Catholic Church could "make" millions by disbanding Catholic Charities and getting into abortion and euthanasia business.
Richard Weisgrau February 22, 2013 at 04:44 AM
Who said the Church was after immigrants money? I don't see that in this thread. The Church is financially dependent upon small contributions from persons in its 'flock' for cash flow. It has sold off some of its billions of dollars in real estate assets, but it still needs cash to operate at a local level. There is no evil in that. Any local religious organization needs it.. Parishoners, followers, or whatever you want to call them support their local religious institutions. Meeting economic necessities is not evil. The Church needs to replace the money lost by attrition so it can operate locally. Its opportunity to do that is in Catholics who live in the shadows because they are undocumented. Those people are faithful believers who will help the Church reverse its economic decline when they become economically stable legals. The idea of abortion and euthanasia for economic gain were brought up only by you. You seem to think a good defense is an unrealistic offense. No one has attacked the Church for its position. It's motivation and record have been challenged by some, including me. The argument we get back is to be called names and accused of Church hating. Sad! If the Church disbanded Catholic Charities it would lose millions, because those Charities have made more revenue than they cost in expense. Please get your knowledge base perfected. You will never convince a person with facts to abandon them and adopt your feelings. We can only weigh your facts. Pace!
Maria Deszcz-Pan February 22, 2013 at 07:39 AM
Facts? - here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Charities "90 cents of every dollar donated to Catholic Charities agencies goes directly to program" This means that with the revenue of 3.83 billion (3.83x10**9) 10% goes to operating cost (3.83x10**8). With 63000 employees it is about $6000 a year per employee, even if they do not have an office ....big money making machine!
Kim February 22, 2013 at 12:23 PM
Thank you Maria! Richard goes on and on bloviating and trying to sound really smart. Blah blah blah. He makes a point and then denies it. Guys like Kevin are enamored! Kevin basically calls me ignorant without knowing me. The guys love ganging up on the girl. They bite, but don't like getting bit back. We are just supposed to be in awe of thier wisdom! Richard has yet to give a good reason for the church needing to increase it's flock by adding illegal immigrants.
Kim February 22, 2013 at 12:33 PM
Richard, btw...I think the term you are looking for is....projection! You really are soooo impressed with yourself aren't you?
Richard Weisgrau February 22, 2013 at 02:28 PM
That confirms what I wrote. The Church makes money on it. That's good. It has to do so to be able to sustain its operating costs. That's a reality for any nonprofit organization. Nothing wrong with it. Great to read that the Charity is operating at such a low percentage of revenue. It is lower than many, many other charities,
Richard Weisgrau February 22, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Kim, no I got over my own capabilities and deficiencies by the time I was 50.
Richard Weisgrau February 22, 2013 at 02:38 PM
Kim, I think the reason is that the Church is being forced to close schools and churches, merge parishes, and sell property to stay solvent. It does not have enough followers to support all that it built over centuries. I have not denied any point I have made. I have only responded to others who have either made a comment I feel differently about or to clarify a readers written misinterpretation of my comments. I too think that Maria shed some good facts on this matter. I am glad she did. As for your insulting comments, I just ignore them. The are not worthy of a reply.
Roger M February 22, 2013 at 03:45 PM
blither cadences riverrun idiocy, enstine einstein difference what?
Version February 22, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Claty Oneill, I saw this the other night on TV and was blown away at want I was hearing, agree with you 100% on this one. It is sad!!
Maria Deszcz-Pan February 23, 2013 at 06:22 AM
Kim and Richard, thanks for your responses - I was angered by constant attacks on the Church I love and respect for her unpopular teachings that defend the humanity in all of us and the rights of the most vulnerable. Enjoy your weekend.
Kim February 23, 2013 at 07:47 PM
Maria, Have a good weekend! I stopped commenting because Richard has a real chip on his shoulder when it comes to the Catholic Church. He was blasting them on another stream with the healthcare bill as well. He is Mr. Know It All!
Bill February 23, 2013 at 08:36 PM
The Catholic Church is the largest private provider of care to HIV AIDS patients in the world according to Wiki. Much of the Church's aid effort is concentrated in developing nations - in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.[4] According to PBS news, in 2011, there were "117,000 Catholic medical facilities, from clinics in the deepest jungle to large urban hospitals in the developing world, that are involved in treating both people that are already infected with AIDS and trying to prevent the transmission to at-risk populations". So using the logic above, If the immigrants come here, then their dollar that went into the collection basket at home isn't going to the jungles were they came from to help AIDS victims. Right? Now I don't advocate wiki as a source, but they actual did a nice job with this. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_AIDS I heard that the RC Church contributes 40% of every dollar spent on AIDS. From research to care, but I couldn't find it. Searching the web has certainly changed recently (white washing articles etc...) I guess the church is on the hit list as well.
Richard Weisgrau February 24, 2013 at 05:10 AM
I think the Catholic Church is unmatched by any other religious organization, charity, or government when it comes to delivering benefit to those in need. I saw it first hand in the early part of my career as photographer when I did work for Misericordia and Fitz Gerald Mercy Hospitals, now known as the part of the Mercy Catholic system. As my career evolved I saw it in other lands where Nuns tended the poor and sick. Those things are the best part of the Church's efforts. While I am bashed here by one person who believes that I have "a real chip on his shoulder when it comes to the Catholic Church" I have no chip. I just do not give exemptions for bad behavior (and we all know it has and does occur within the Church) because of good behavior. What is right and good is admirable. What is wrong and bad is condemnable. The Church does great good to many. It has done great harm to a few. Each has to be wighed on its own merits.
Kim February 24, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Richard, You are a fraud. All anyone has to do is look back at your first post regarding Archbishop Chaput's position on the so called "compromise" regarding the healthcare bill. You said you " failed to understand the dogma", "started questioning the church at 13", "at 19 renounced the church" you told the Archbishop he loses! You are the only loser here. No one is asking you to embrace the Church. It's people like you who wrap your ugliness up with a pretty bow and then get mad when someone calls you out on your ugliness. I realize you are upset with the priest scandal, as all of us were. That does not demolish the goodness of the church and the people in it. Let it go already! I will no longer discuss the church with you!
Clayt Oneill February 24, 2013 at 03:05 PM
...and God rested on the seventh day...but after seeing the dialogue of this past week I hardly think he would regard this "as good." Let's give it a rest too.
Kim February 24, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Amen! :)
Kurt Reimer February 25, 2013 at 05:17 PM
It seems to me that your arguments about the 'purity', or lack thereof, of the Churches motives in supporting the rights and interests of the undocumented and their charitable enterprise overall, suffers from the misconception that the Catholic Church in the USA is the Catholic Church. I think the Church realizes that the person is a Catholic in, say, Guatemala just ad much as when he is in the USA.
gerhard sweetman February 25, 2013 at 08:56 PM
Lets try to get all those sinners out of hell
Kim February 25, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Gerard, It's their choice to be there if they are. God loves everyone, but it's the individual's free will to return that love or not. Some people don't choose God. In the end, it's up to the individual. The only power we have in that regard, is to pray for them.
gerhard sweetman February 26, 2013 at 12:05 AM
The sinners did nothing wrong!
Kurt Reimer February 26, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Gerhard, I question authority in this life at least as muchh as you seem to, but it was not your High School principal or the US Federal Govt that consigned the Damned to hell, it was an omniscient God. And after all, we don't really know who is on hell and who isn't, do we? We only know what the powers that be say in this world, and they're often hung up on the Gay thing, etc. Perhaps you disagree with the majority opinions on who is going up & who is going down. I often do, too. But we'd best not argue with God. I suppose we can beg his forgiveness for our own and our loved ones sons, but that's different.
Kurt Reimer February 26, 2013 at 01:55 AM
Sorry, that's 'sins', not 'sons'. Spellcheck strikes again!
gerhard sweetman February 26, 2013 at 02:09 AM
Religions dont speak for or have copys of Gods words, those that say they hear, speak to, or say they are God or Gods rep/agent are crazy see "scitso"
Kim February 26, 2013 at 02:20 AM
I had replied and asked why you call them sinners then. That post is still pending though. After reading Kurt's posts I realize that you didn't mean souls in hell, but those who people on earth claim to be going to hell. The only One who makes that call is God. I never put too much stock in someone else making that claim!
Kurt Reimer February 26, 2013 at 03:07 AM
Well, I'm Catholic, Gerhard, so I do set some considerable store by what folks like ArchBishop Chaput have to say. But I don't believe he has a Hotline to God, and sometimes he (or more generally the church) says one thing while my conscience says another. Do you think there is any divine origin at all in the Bible?
Taint Lover February 26, 2013 at 03:11 AM
the new black pope is coming to Philadelphia in September 2015, get the chicken and watermelon ready folks
Morgan King February 26, 2013 at 03:42 AM
That's even assuming that an omniscient god, or the original authors, ever even tried to communicate anything about the existence of a Hell - the Hebrew 'sheol' is translated into English multiple ways throughout the Old Testament, and it's as 'the grave' as often as it's as 'hell,' and in pretty much all instances it makes more sense with the structure of the writing to be 'the grave.' The biblical hell is death, perhaps death without the knowledge of love. The realm of the dead comes from many older religions - Hades, Duat, etc. - and the pit of fire and suffering was tacked on as a translation by religious leaders throughout the ages because humans seem to respond better to the threat of punishment than the promise of transcendence. Originally, the absence of divine love was punishment enough.
gerhard sweetman February 26, 2013 at 04:40 AM
There's 1 God/good TRUTH, & bad/evil IGNORANCE (no science/logic/reason) the Bibles & equals are pulp fiction
Randeroid March 05, 2013 at 11:43 PM
I understand that H.R. 592 (Hurricane Sandy) will pay to repair and replace 'houses of worship.' This will divert tax money from tax payers, who were victims of the storm, to beloved organizations like the westboro baptists. I understand that religious organizations used their lobbying muscle to get this through the house and the senate remains. Obviously, this is unconstitutional.

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