Friday, January 6, 2017
US Conference of Catholic Bishops
WASHINGTON | The following is a joint statement from Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the Conference, on National Migration Week, which is taking place Jan. 8-14.
Beginning Sunday, the Catholic Church in the United States marks National Migration Week. The observance began more than 25 years ago as a way to reflect upon the many ways immigrants and refugees have contributed to our Church and our nation. This year, we are invited to create a culture of encounter where citizens old and new, alongside immigrants recent and longstanding, can share with one another their hopes for a better life. Jesus, Mary and Joseph knew life as refugees, so let us also begin this encounter within our very own families.
Migration is, more than anything, an act of great hope. Our brothers and sisters who are forced to migrate suffer devastating family separation and most often face dire economic conditions to the point they cannot maintain a very basic level of living. Refugees flee their countries due to war and persecution which inspires them to risk everything for an opportunity to live in peace. As Catholics in the United States, most of us can find stories in our own families of parents, grandparents or great-grandparents leaving the old country for the promise of America. Take time this Migration Week to seek out those stories. Let us remind ourselves of those moments when our loved ones were forced to seek the mercy of others in a new land.
Americans have a great national heritage of welcoming the newcomer who is willing to help build a greater society for all. Fear and intolerance have occasionally tested that heritage. Whether immigrating from Ireland, Italy or countless other countries, previous generations faced bigotry. Thanks be to God, our nation grew beyond those divisions to find strength in unity and inclusion. We have kept dear the words of scripture, “do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels” (HEB 13:2).
This National Migration Week is an opportunity to embrace the important work of continuing to secure the border, to welcome the stranger and serve the most vulnerable — all components of a humane immigration policy.