yesterday was “earth day.” it’s our yearly reminder that care for the earth ought to be high on our priority list. we have also been seeing in the news the growing “crisis” at the southern border of refugees, children and other migrants. in order to understand better, we search for the reasons for the desperation of thousands of people who want to come into the usa. in part, we see the connection between climate change and the situation at the border.
i know that there are similar situations in so many places– migration challenges are all over the globe. but it is always heartrending when we hear the particular stories. this piece last night brought tears to me eyes:
especially for those who take international human rights seriously, the goals are clear. ( https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/refugees-compact and https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/refugees ) but we must remember that we are dealing with the precious lives of real people in front of us. many of them are children. they all need caring, compassionate responses.
a big part of our challenge in the usa is that the topics of immigration and refugees have become paralyzingly political. among a lot of people, it is very difficult to talk about our immigration challenges with civility and respect.
for me, i need to simplify things when there are so many ways of seeing these issues. it must always be about love. not feelings of love but the christian framework of willing the good and real actions toward that good. are we loving one another as ourselves and as jesus loves us? this applies to personal choices/action as well as our various relational structures.
there are many scriptural foundations for those of us in the christian faith. for me, matthew 25: 31ff is key. jesus said, “…when i was hungry, you gave me food; thirsty you gave me drink… a stranger and you welcomed me…” we cannot declare love of God and love of neighbor separate. they are interconnected– as are migration and climate change. liturgically, was it not just a few weeks ago at the last supper that jesus taught us to wash one another’s feet in loving service? are we not called to continue jesus’ love in our world?
the usa is a great country with our own unique flaws. with a change of heart, we can move in the direction of the common good for those who are suffering– if we really treat them as our sisters and brothers. if we really treat them as Christ among us.
Prayer for Migrants and Refugees
Lord Jesus, when you multiplied the loaves and fishes, you provided more than food for the body, you offered us the gift of yourself, the gift which satisfies every hunger and quenches every thirst! Your disciples were filled with fear and doubt, but you poured out your love and compassion on the migrant crowd, welcoming them as brothers and sisters.
Lord Jesus, today you call us to welcome the members of God’s family who come to our land to escape oppression, poverty, persecution, violence, and war. Like your disciples, we too are filled with fear and doubt and even suspicion. We build barriers in our hearts and in our minds.
Lord Jesus, help us by your grace,
- To banish fear from our hearts, that we may embrace each of your children as our own brother and sister;
- To welcome migrants and refugees with joy and generosity, while responding to their many needs;
- To realize that you call all people to your holy mountain to learn the ways of peace and justice;
- To share of our abundance as you spread a banquet before us;
- To give witness to your love for all people, as we celebrate the many gifts they bring.
We praise you and give you thanks for the family you have called together from so many people. We see in this human family a reflection of the divine unity of the one Most Holy Trinity in whom we make our prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen
our catholic teachings are clear but unknown by the vast majority of people (catholics included): https://www.usccb.org/committees/migration/migrants-refugees-and-travelers
there is even a special website to make the teachings easier to find! https://justiceforimmigrants.org/what-we-are-working-on/refugees/
our official catholic stance in this particular circumstance is this:
As U.S. and Mexican bishops along the border, we witness daily the dilemma that our migrant sisters and brothers face. For most, the decision to migrate is not motivated by an indifference toward their homeland or the pursuit of economic prosperity; it is a matter of life or death. The situation is all the more difficult for children.
Challenges such as these require humanitarian solutions. Undoubtedly, nations have the right to maintain their borders. This is vital to their sovereignty and self-determination. At the same time, there is a shared responsibility of all nations to preserve human life and provide for safe, orderly, and humane immigration, including the right to asylum.
For that reason, we renew our appeal to our governments, to political leaders, and civil society, that they work together to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate migrants in accordance with their intrinsic dignity, as well as work with other countries in the region to eliminate conditions that compel their citizens to resort to dangerous and irregular migration, producing long-term solutions. “Unlike disagreement and conflict,” Pope Francis reminds us, “persistent and courageous dialogue does not make headlines, but quietly helps the world to live much better than we imagine.”
Conscious of the importance of public health and safety, we encourage policies supported by sound scientific rationales. We maintain that family unity must be a vital component of any response. We ask that special attention be given to particularly vulnerable populations, such as children. We strongly urge that structures be put in place and reforms in our laws be made to both promote a welcoming culture for our sisters and brothers and respect the sovereignty and safety of our countries.
We pledge our support to continue helping our respective governments’ efforts to protect and care for families, as well as individuals who feel compelled to migrate. To accomplish this we commit to the ongoing work of Catholic organizations at the border and elsewhere, which are generously tended to by lay people, consecrated persons, and the clergy.
One year ago, on the eve of Easter Sunday, Pope Francis, exclaimed: “How beautiful it is to be Christians who offer consolation, who bear the burdens of others and who offer encouragement: messengers of life in a time of death.” ( https://www.usccb.org/news/2021/situation-us-mexico-border )
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