Skip to comments.Florida Bishops on Immigration, Jan/2011
Posted on 01/02/2011 2:41:49 PM PST by shuck and yall
Florida Catholic Bishops Statement on Immigration
The Bishops of Florida have issued a statement on immigration which coincides with National Migration Week celebrated January 2-8, 2011 in parishes around the United States. Their message focuses on the flawed federal immigration system that divides families, causes economic hardship and diminishes the dignity of the human person.
The full statement appears below:
Florida Bishops' Statement on Immigration January 1, 2011
When an alien resides with you in your land, do not molest him. You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the Lord am your God.
Leviticus 19: 33 34
We, the Catholic bishops of Florida, are deeply concerned with our nations flawed immigration system and its impact on the human dignity and lives of our migrant brothers and sisters. This system divides families and causes human suffering to those who search for work in support of their families.
In Florida, our economy is dependent upon manual labor for agriculture, construction and the service industry. Limited numbers of worker visas are available to bring unskilled labor into the U.S. for jobs but too often, demand exceeds need. This has created a market for undocumented workers who may face abuses such as inadequate wages, substandard housing and no benefits with a real threat of exploitation by unscrupulous employers, human smugglers and human traffickers. While the Catholic Church does not advocate for undocumented immigration into the United States, it respects the dignity of the human person and the right to work to meet the basic needs of their families.
The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2241)
The failure of the United States Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform leaves migrants in search of work without legal protection and vulnerable to mistreatment. At the same time, our State and nation benefits from their work and their taxes, creating a permanent underclass with no rights in our society. In his 1981 encyclical letter, Laborem Exercens, Pope John Paul II expressedthat care should be taken to prevent the exploitation of those who must emigrate in order to find work. Furthermore, just legislation must ensure the same criteria apply to immigrant workers as other workers in society. As a moral matter, we cannot accept the toil and taxes of these human beings without offering them the protections of our laws. This is not the American way.
We also have grave concerns about the impact of this flawed system on family unity. Families are the building blocks for society and the place where children are nourished and protected. Too often, backlogs and visa quotas for countries prevent immigrant citizens and legal permanent residents from bringing spouses, parents and minor children from overseas, a wait for some approaching 20 years. The U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants are at significant risk if parents are incarcerated and scheduled for deportation.
Our humanitarian concerns with the broken immigration system do not conflict with, but complement the right of the sovereign nation to control its borders. By repairing the system comprehensively, and providing legal means for entry, the nation would replace illegality with legality so that individuals and families could migrate and work in a safe and controlled manner. This would not only protect the rights of the migrant, but also help ensure national security, as law enforcement would be able to focus on those who come to our country to harm us.
The Church recognizes the right of a sovereign state to control its borders in furtherance of the common good. It also recognizes the right of persons to migrate so that they can realize their God-given rights. These teachings complement each other. While the sovereign state may impose reasonable limits on immigration, the common good is not served when the basic human rights of the individual are violated. (Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, a joint pastoral statement composed by the Bishops of Mexico and the United States.)
While we support the right of the sovereign nation to control its borders, this does not mean that it should be done in a manner that undermines basic human rights. The vast majority of immigrants to this nation are not criminals, which should be taken into account in any enforcement strategy. The recent increases in deportation and the sometimes inhumane treatment of detainees such as refusal to allow contact with families and no legal representation causes us to question the methods used against those already in fear for their lives. Immigration law is complicated and only trained professionals have current knowledge of the laws, not local law enforcement.
Any passing of laws that give legal sanction to profiling people will decrease public safety and discourage reporting of crime. The so-called illegals are so, not because they wish to defy the law, but because the law does not provide them with any channels to regularize their status in our country which needs their labor. They are not so much breaking the law, as being broken by the law.
Instead of passing local and state laws which cause fear in immigrant communities, Congress must bring these persons out of the shadows so they can fully contribute their talents to our nation. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has consistently advocated for a path to citizenship meaning those who are already present and contributing to society could come forward and pay a fine, undergo a comprehensive criminal background check, show they have paid taxes, are learning English and obtain a visa that would lead to permanent residency. Immigration is a federal issue and there must be a federal solution rather than the attempts to craft varying proposals in several states including Florida.
We call upon our federal delegation to lead the fight for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress. We call upon the Florida legislature to resist efforts to demonize those who provide the labor for our economy and a living for their families. Our Catholic Social Teaching and the tradition of the Church affirm the dignity of every human being, made in the image of God.
Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski Archdiocese of Miami Bishop Victor Galeone Diocese of St. Augustine Bishop Robert N. Lynch Diocese of St. Petersburg Bishop John G. Noonan Diocese of Orlando Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito Diocese of Palm Beach Bishop Frank J. Dewane Diocese of Venice Auxiliary Bishop Felipe J. Estévez Archdiocese of Miami
To print this statement, click here.
To read and print this statement in Spanish, click here.
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Disagree on some many points.
Hey Mr Bishop what about the 6-8-10th Commandants?? Tell your little angles to go home.
I wonder if the Bishops of Mexico are agitating for an open southern border of Mexico. Can’t ignore that Leviticus passage, right?
Here's a rebuke from Pope Benedict XVI
As far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we find ourselves faced with a dilemma which nowadays challenges us directly. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts Gods nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God. Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: "In the beginning was the 'logos'". God acts with logos. Logos means both reason and word a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist.
Catholic immigration position ping.
I would recommend you read "Render Unto Caesar" by Archbishop Charles Chaput. You will learn a lot. The Catholic Church is not a law enforcement entity nor exclusively an American institution. It has a higher mission. It is an organization answerable only to the source of our rights, not those who seek to restrict or ration them. It is an institution that is a collection of citizens with a right to speak out on any issue like any other organization. As citizens, we will not abdicate our shared civic life to a political or economic elite or vocal crowd. Frankly, we Catholics are a little tired of hearing outsiders tell us to keep quiet about our religious and moral views in the big public debates that involve all of us as a society.
A nation's political life, like Christianity itself, is meant for everyone, and everyone has a duty to contribute to it. A democracy depends on the active involvement of all its citizens, not just lobbyists, experts, think tanks and the mass media. For Catholics, politics and the pursuit of justice and the individual good in the public square, is part of our history of salvation. No one is a minor actor in that drama. Each person is important.
Tolerance is not a Christian virtue, but charity, justice, mercy, prudence, and honesty. Tolerating evil and injustice within a society is itself a form of serious evil.
Our form of pluralism does not mean that Catholics should be quiet in public about moral issues because of some misguided sense of good manners. A healthy democracy requires vigorous moral debate to survive. Real pluralism demands that people of strong beliefs will advance their convictions in the public square, peacefully, legally and respectfully, but energetically and without embarrassment. Anything less is bad citizenship and a form of theft from the public conversation.
You mis-spelled your screen name, mad_as_ole
One of the most valuable books I own:
After reading the `statement’, unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the Bishops have read it, or anything similar: their rhetoric and logic is pure, boiled spinach.
These eight illogical bishops are speaking for.....exactly eight people. As a Catholic, I have absolutely no obligation to agree with them or follow their advice on this issue.
|Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.|
And to keep in mind what Pope Benedict said about "Forgiveness is not a substitute for justice."
My bible speaks of my moral obligations to the disadvantaged, the poor, the downtrodden. It does not tell me to satisfy my obligations by reaching into my neighbor’s pockets. It mystifies me that to some, immigration from Mexico is only a US problem. Mexico gets off easy, without much criticism for applying more stringent immigration laws than their neighbor to the north. Yet, when US laws are violated we are chastised for not being more “understanding, compassionate, humanitarian and even christian” but no mention of “Rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesars”. After 16 years of a Catholic education and I find myself more in conflict with the “shepherds” of the church than ever before.
So what does that mean?
Making irrational arguments in un-Godly.
What don’t the good bishops keep asses out my government and I will keep my ass out their fake church.
Unless the Pope himself is one of the bishops, a document written by more than one bishop is not authoritative. And as a general rule, any document written since 1970 by more than one bishop reads as vague, obtuse polito-speak.
How do you extrapolate what the bishop said to having your pocket picked or that the bishops statement was specific to Mexico. What part of the following do you object to?
"While the Catholic Church does not advocate for undocumented immigration into the United States, it respects the dignity of the human person and the right to work to meet the basic needs of their families."
Are you saying that Catholics should have no voice in policy formation because we may disagree with you? Rest assured we will not remain silent.
Fine if they want to change their tax status, i’m all for taxing the hell out of them, so to speak.
I already have the hell taxed out of me, thank you.
“A nation’s political life, like Christianity itself, is meant for everyone, and everyone has a duty to contribute to it.”
If the “everyone” includes the illegal immigrant, the statement is profoundly flawed.
The illegal immigrant can’t even be here legally, much less vote.
Any religious ‘leader’ saying otherwise is probably infected with that form of collectivism (communism) known as Liberation Theology.
No wonder the Catholic Church is in such serious problems.
The LibTheo chappies forgot that “DON’T STEAL” is a commandment, and they deny their communism is theft.
Don't listen to the liberal press or the traditional anti-Catholics, the Catholic Church is doing just fine.
Maybe your problem is with the constitution and not the Catholic Church. The 14th states:
"...nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Note that this amendment differentiates between citizens and persons. Surely you are not going to declare illegal immigrants untermensch are you?
But that's the whole point. We are WAY past the point where we are able to welcome such individuals. Whatever one thinks we owe the rest of the world, our obligations to our own citizens are paramount. And we can't even meet them.
Make sure you have a laminated card around your neck instructing the paramedics that under no circumstances are you to be treated at a Catholic hospital.
Bravo. But you should direct this to Mexico and it’s people. Somewhere they got it into their heads that my country is actually their living room and I’m the stranger in it. Where is it written that I, a Christian, have to subsidize criminality and welcome trespasser’s into my home ?
Well, since you mentioned a reference to the Third Reich, you must also be aware of the importance of culture, and the destructive impact of multiculturalism on all known societies?
When Americans can go illegally to other countries and work there and get welfare there, I will consider the flawed argument you are attempting to raise.
Man IS a territorial organism. No faith, neither Catholic nor Communism, can change that.
Also, America is the leading nation in the world, far further along the path to the “Shining City on a Hill” that man has always dreamed of. To allow any nation of people to destroy or even seriously degrade that achievement is simply not acceptable.
Come to the choice, as Islam seems about to force upon us, even the killing of one or two billion people is not too high a price to keep America American.
As Paul Johnson said, “If the American experiment in self government fails, that which comes after will be unspeakably worse.”
Unspeakable squats in hte White House as I type.
Oh, and all too many of the Catholic system support him.
As for what I would do with the illegal immigrants - what was good enough for America when Dwight Eisenhower was President is OK with me. Start another Operation Wetback, deport them, them build a good fence. The Israeli’s have lots of expertise, so have them design it.
But build the fence!
Your suspicion is correct - I am a one of those cold blooded, reptilian Republicans - I don’t think foreign criminals have rights here.
"14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, Go in peace; keep warm and well fed, but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." The vast majority of illegal immigrants are not lawless people. They come for the same reasons our ancestors did, for the opportunity for a better life for themselves and their families. They work incredibly hard for relatively little pay. Were Americans not willing to pay them they would not come. The Church only advocates for a respect for them as humans and children of God.
Mexicans are Catholics. They should fix their own country and respect the rights of the citizens of mine. If you want to come here, do it legally ,why can’t they understand this? Christ didn’t espouse lawlessness nor is it Christian to steal as Mexicans are doing. Using Biblical passages to sanitize criminality is a poor excuse indeed.
For the most part Mexicans are patriotic, conservative, religious, hardworking, family oriented, self reliant people. We conservatives have much more in common with the culture, character and values of the Mexican immigrant than we do with our home grown welfare class.
“For the most part Mexicans are patriotic, conservative, religious, hardworking, family oriented, self reliant people.”
I must note that Mexico (AKA Messico) seems not to resemble America, despite your claim of commonality.
Note the Messican civility, with murders being so infrequent. And, did I mention they don’t burn anywhere as many people alive in barrels as we do?
Mexico is culture based on stone age cannibal society with a alter Spanish Catholic graft that seems to be undergoing rejection. And, that Catholicism was impacted, negatively, by the 700 years of being Islamic dhimmis (slaves).
All too much of Islam can be found in Mexican culture. Note the degrqded position of women, the acceptance of mistresses, and let’s not forget that jewel of the Islamic world, Baaksheesh.
Yes, it is called La Mordita in Spanish, but it is still the Islamic bribe system.
Mexico never knew any legal system like American law. The best they had never assured they security in person or property. “El Padron” is still able to do as he sees fit.
I have saved the best comparison for the last. American cities don’t have airborne coliform bacteria counts as part of the weather report. Mexico City does.
You are correct about the American ghetto welfare class not being acculturated Americans. However, they did that to themselves. Detroit is a good example.
Most chancellories are staff by liberals, even when the bishop is a social conservative. Which is why they follow the Democratic line.
Are you suggesting that our country's immigration policy is illegal? That anyone should be permitted to waltz in and be treated as a citizen? The "we Catholics" you mention had better realize that not all Catholics agree with them and with bishops who advocate breaking our laws. And I'm not referring to "outsiders" here.
That Bishop Lynch was on the list of bishops came as no surprise to me. This man did nothing to save the life of Terri Schiavo who was starved to death in Florida. His opinion matters not one iota to me.
I’d guess the population of Tejanos in American jails is very low, even on a population adjusted basis. Some of those families were on their land before the Pilgrims went ashore, if I remember my history correctly.
However, Tejanos are not illegal immigrants, by definition.
Time for another Operation Wetback.
From the article: “It also recognizes the right of persons to migrate so that they can realize their God-given rights.”
I hope I read that quote wrong, but didn’t the Catholic Church’s Bishop’s Statement on Immigration just take the position that people have the RIGHT TO IMMIGRATE TO AMERICA?
If so, the Bishops are arguably over the theological line and into the territory of sedition/treason.
I suspect the Catholics, being a monarchical structure, have difficulties with America being a republic of sovereign citizens. Because we are sovereign citizens, we need not accept “authority”, not do we tend to accept the interpretation of the word of G*d, having Bibles of our own.
America is, at its core, Protestant. Catholicism is authoritarian in a way which must give the Catholic Bishops acute dyspepsia at times - times like this debate.
Personally, I find any specific religious “authority” claiming that God commands us to cede any portion of the Constitution to Mexicans to be ill advised, and eventually likely to cause a rejection of the Catholic Church.
No man has the “right to migrate to America” as I don’t have the right to migrate elsewhere.
I can apply for permission to move to another land, but to claim a divinely approved right for me to so do is assinine, if not overtly Liberation Theology.
PS Liberation Theology is communism with a churchy renaming plastered over the same old ancient evil.
Assimilation is a very important goal, and the Tejanos are assimilated. They serve to mute the cultural clashes. May be wrong, but my impression is they are more “Americanized” than the Puerto Ricans in New York and elsewhere.
You forget that the Catholic Church has long been the Church of Immigrants. For the Irish immigrants, the Church was their chief buffer against the bigotry and discrimination of the Anglo-Americans. But the bulk of immigration before 1920 was from Catholic countries, which caused a lot of anxiety among Protestants.
Does that mean they have to obey the law?
No body, especially the Church, is advocating the breaking of laws. It is only calling on reform of a broken system in a way in which the rights of the immigrants are recognized.
As Christians, we can't claim to love God and then ignore the needs of our neighbors. Loving God is like loving a spouse. A husband may tell his wife that he loves her but to fulfill his obligations and demonstrate his love she will need to see the proof in his actions. Likewise if we claim to be "Catholic," we need to prove it by our behavior and serving other people by working for justice, charity and truth in our nation's political life is one of the very important ways we do that.
The "separation of Church and state" does not require that we as private citizens separate our Catholic faith from our public witness, our political choices and our political actions. That kind of separation would require Christians to deny who we are; to repudiate Jesus when he commands us to be "leaven in the world" and to "make disciples of all nations." Our founding fathers depended on a religious people for our experiment to work and the manifest faith and the convictions of Christians of all denominations have for the most part kept the promise that our Declaration if Independence trumpeted.
If you would you rather have a Church that did not choose the path of conscience and compassion you could always become a Calvinist. Just don't expect a lot of company.
Hey Vette - I’ll bet your people have had nothing but problems with immigrants every since you got to this country.
Yea, but at least they came here legally, instead of swimming the Rio Grande like you and yours did. As a matter of record, as a hiring manager, I have arranged to have several immigrants brought here legally. They were people who came here able to contribute to the success of our business as professionals. Unlike the busboys and toilet cleaners the Catholic Church wants us to embrace. By the way, I still don’t know who “your people” are!
I have a pretty diverse ancestry. The earliest arrived in 1704 in the chains of indenture for the crime of siding against the Protestant crown in the Jacobite Rebellion. Others arrived over the following 200 years from places like Prussia, Bavaria, Ireland and Denmark. One was a stowaway so I guess that was an illegal. The Irish faced the same "Know-Nothing" blow back 150 years ago that you are spouting today.
The obligation to respond decently to needy people does not, however, wipe out the obligation to do in a way that doesn't destroy other elements of the Common Good. In fact, justice to these groups must take place in the larger context of justice to all, as far as our prudence can work that out. And that's where the problems arise.
The controversy about the status of those who enter this country unlawfully is difficult in part because many of these millions are simultaneously accessories to, as well as victims of, injustice.
Check out the testimony of Dr. Carol Swain, a Vanderbilt University professor of law and political science, who spoke to the House panel on immigration last September. (Good Link Here.) She made a convincing case that it is the steady flow of cheap migrant labor which destroys job opportunities and depresses wages for poor blacks and other American minorities.
It's very well to say, as you did, that Latino new-arrivals may be a better category of workers than our own home-grown welfare class. It's legitimate, though, to ask whether successive waves of low-wage foreign workers have played a role in keeping our own "welfare class" socially demoralized and unemployable.
The degradation of the wages of those who are already the poorest-paid workers in America, and the disappearance of jobs for unskilled youth, is having a catastrophic impact on our "permanent underclass." This is a legitimate argument against the acceptance of massive numbers of newcomers, no matter where they come from. It stems from concern for a vast group of sufferers whose interests are rarely considered: the millions --- particularly young, unskilled, minority males --- who are substantially, and in some cases for a lifetime, robbed of any prospect of gainful employment because they have been displaced by a vast influx of exploited foreign nationals.
Thats why I must ask you to resist reducing this controversy to racism or xenophobia on the part of those who strongly oppose illegal immigration. It's a mistake to assume that present immigration controversy is attributable to unreasonable fears and resentments.
The stand taken by these eight Florida bishops is sufficiently squishy that it will likely have little impact. But to the extent that we pay any attention to it at all, let's notice that they're making the same rhetorical error here that the USCCB made in the "health reform" debate: namely, they're giving a sonorous "Oremus" to the label of "immigration reform", while allowing the content to be substantially defined by President Obama and his legislative allies.
If the so-called "reform" is injurious to the Common Good, no amount of "Oremus" is going to make it "compassionate," "generous" or "just".
My own specific critique will have to wait til later. What I'm doing here, Natural Law, is defending our right as a matter of justice and charity to disagree with Bishops' ill-considered political positions. Charity and justice are always the Church's concern; but public policy is the sphere of lay responsibility in which clergy have neither special competence nor direct ecclesial authority.
I am not completely endorsing the Bishop's position, but I recognize too that the Bishop is not attempting to set policy, but rather to shape it. In doing so one must often exaggerate and over state ones position.
But lets not deceive ourselves into believing that we are innocent victims in this matter, intentionally targeted and abused by a hoard of uninvited immigrants. We as Americans share much of the blame for creating and fostering the conditions that lead to the current state of affairs. We as Catholics have an obligation to deal with the human consequences regardless of the causes and blames.
An insane drug policy that ignores the lessons of Prohibition, coupled with an insatiable demand for drugs in this country has created conditions south of the that no sane human would wish to endure or let alone attempt to raise a family. The popular culture here that thinks drugs are cool and that drug use is a victimless crime is an accomplice in the violence in Mexico.
The demand and tolerance for cheap, off the books labor, whether by businesses or by individuals looking for a nanny, construction workers, or crop harvesting is creating an attractive nuisance. This coupled with open borders and a catch and release immigration policy provides no disincentives. Lastly our welfare policies and freebies as a result of both political parties looking for new voters has resulted in a very large problem.
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