…no matter what their background…
After a week off to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, the NCCW blog is back in action! This week, we are graced with a guest blogger, Ms. Catherine Jarboe! Ms. Jarboe is the Director of Information and Issues Management here at NCCW.
In his address to the New World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Immigrants in 1985, Blessed Pope John Paul II, stated: “Every human being has the right to freedom of movement and of residence within the confines of his own country. When there are just reasons in favor of it, he must be permitted to migrate to other countries and to take up residence there. The fact that he is a citizen of a particular state does not deprive him of membership in the human family, nor of citizenship in the universal society, the common, world-wide fellowship…” Holy Father clearly reminds us of the God-given dignity of all our fellow human beings. This means that all nations, especially ours which is so richly blessed, have an obligation to facilitate legal migration to the greatest extent we are able. As Catholic women, we are called to welcome the migrant, the traveler, the sufferer. We are called to welcome the immigrant family.
While Congress currently has failed to address this critical issue, hundreds of state legislators and local governments are taking the reins, passing laws in the name of progress and reform. For example, laws passed in Alabama and Arizona, halted now as they are challenged in courts; include provisions that prevent renters without legal status from receiving water service, renewing their mobile home licenses or signing rental agreements. These laws make it is a crime to “transport” a person without status, including giving a wage-earning father a ride to his workplace. When it is illegal to reach out and help our neighbor, these statutes strip Catholic women of our religious freedoms to exercise our faith. Misguided and mean-spirited efforts to keep people in the dark, without water and without a home, without access to the dignity of work, are reminiscent of pre-civil war era efforts to strip human rights and dignity from those of color.
Our immigrant brothers and sisters are hiding in fear, afraid to settle down and plan for their future here in this land they love so much. More than half of the 11 million immigrants without status have been here five years or longer, working in our local economy, renting homes, volunteering at church, sending their children to our local school. More than four million can’t leave, as that would mean tearing apart their families and leaving behind their US citizen children. (Despite this, almost one third of those deported in the US are forced to leave behind their American-born children.)
As Catholic women, we are not only called to honor our fellow human beings but to love them, as Christ himself has told us to do. This is especially true of the immigrant, of those who have travelled great distances, endured countless hardships and established themselves in our community as neighbors. At this time, more than ever, it is imperative that we be the welcoming, family-centered, loving voice of Catholic women with our state legislators, in our community, and in our parish.