Priests’ Immigration Group seeks renewed effort toward ‘Welcoming the Stranger’

2024 AssemblyImmigrationNews

An Open Letter to the Bishops of the USCCB

            We the members of the Association of United States Catholic Priests, at our meeting in Lexington Kentucky in this June of 2024, are asking our bishops throughout the United States to restudy, discuss, and respond to the Document “Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity In Diversity”, that the NCCB/USCC wrote and promulgated on November 15th, 2000.  

We feel that the conditions remain the same or have become more critical during these last 24 years. Here we present quotes taken from the summary of the original document:

“The call to solidarity can be summed up in Pope John Paul II’s Message for World Migration Day 2000: “The Church hears the suffering cry of all who are uprooted from their own land, of families forcefully separated, of those who, in the rapid changes of our day, are unable to find a stable home anywhere. She senses the anguish of those without rights, without any security, at the mercy of every kind of exploitation, and she supports them in their unhappiness” (no. 6). We bishops commit ourselves and all the members of our church communities to continue the work of advocacy for laws that respect the human rights of immigrants and preserve the unity of the immigrant family. We encourage the extension of social services, citizenship classes, community organizing efforts that secure improved housing conditions, decent wages, better medical attention, and appropriate educational opportunities for immigrants and refugees. We advocate reform of the 1996 immigration laws that have undermined some basic human rights for immigrants. We join with others of good will in a call for legalization opportunities for the maximum number of undocumented persons, particularly those who have built equities and otherwise contributed to their communities.

These immigrants, new to our shores, call us out of our unawareness to a conversion of mind and heart through which we can offer a genuine and suitable welcome, to share together as brothers and sisters at the same table, and to work side by side to improve the quality of life for society’s marginalized members. In so doing, we work to bring all the children of God into a fuller communion, “the communion willed by God, begun in time and destined for completion in the fullness of the Kingdom” (Ecclesia in America, no. 33).”

         Since the elections this November will highlight the issue of immigration as one of the central deciding points, we ask that each of you publicly take a proactive stance in your diocese.  The Catholic community is divided over the immigration issue.  They need strong leadership to guide them when so much negativity and much inaccurate information are being set forth about the immigrants and refugees entering our country.  Please consult with others in your dioceses to discern if you still agree with the content of this document promulgated by the NCCB/USCC in 2000 and that if it continues to express our Catholic social principles, that you publicly offer your support for the content of this document in your dioceses. We urgently need your pastoral guidance in this area. 

            We also encourage you to write a new pastoral document which will give us an up-to-date evaluation and suggested path for our pastoral outreach in the future toward immigrants and refugees and our governmental officials.

            Prayers for you all in your ministry.

[Signed] Participants in the Association of United States Catholic Priests at the 2024 Convocation in Lexington, Kentucky, June 2024

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