At the heart of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, whose birth we just celebrated and whose Epiphany we commemorated on January 3rd, is the infinite love of a God who desires our freedom and who asks us to live in solidarity with one another. The Church points to this vision and this fact as we support families who have come to this country, oftentimes for simple survival, ultimately for the pursuit of fulfilling their desire for a better life.
Many men, women and children who have come to this country in the past two decades struggle under economic and social burdens and live in fear of deportation and separation from spouses and children. Historically, our country has generously welcomed immigrants to our land. At the beginning of a new decade, we hope that society will once again recognize the great gifts that immigrants bring to this country and will allow those who have lived and worked among us but who are undocumented to enter a path toward legal residency and citizenship.
On his visit to the U.S. in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI appealed to then President Bush for a humane immigration policy that promotes the well-being of families. In a November 2009 address, the Holy Father stated, “the Church invites the faithful to open their hearts to migrants and their families, knowing that they are not merely a "problem" but constitute a "resource" to be appropriately appreciated for humanity's authentic progress and development.” The U.S. Catholic Bishops have consistently supported this goal over many years and have, in recent years, instituted the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform.
This is a crucial moment in our nation’s history. Now is the time to do what is just and fair for the immigrant and for the good of us all. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we commemorate this month, said it very clearly, “Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion.”
In prayer and solidarity with the Priests for Justice for Immigrants and the Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants in this National Migration Week, I encourage Catholics to participate in the USCCB National Postcard Campaign to promote immigration reform. We ask our nation, through our representative bodies in Congress and our current administration, to pass Comprehensive Compassionate Immigration Reform legislation this year.