Thursday, August 11, 2011

I was a stranger and you welcomed me...

Over my (almost seven) years of blogging, I have often been critical - either explicitly or implicitly - of what I have felt to be a failing on the part of the United States Bishops to live up fully to their role as teacher. I am extremely proud, therefore, to share with you this link to a very powerful editorial written by Detroit's Archibishop Allen Vigneron.

I found the Archbishop's message to be clear and on-point: he emphasizes that the laws of any government - even our own - must be enforced in a way that treat "migrant peoples with the same dignity as its native-born citizens." Wholly acknowledging the nation's right to protect its borders and to ensure the security of its people, he rightly acknowledges the essential and inviolable dignity of the human person, a dignity that is not erased based on which side of a border one stands, whether legally or illegally.

If ever there has been a good argument for the active role of the devil in the world (Greek: diabolos meaning a 'false accuser) it can be seen in national discussions of immigration. Rather than looking for constructive ways of granting citizenship to the vast majority of immigrants who have contributed so much to the richness of our country, there is a (growing?) hysterical cry to throw them all out. The Archbishop speaks squarely from the midst of Catholic Social Teaching and offers an excellent application of it when he writes:
There must be a concerted effort to find a pathway toward citizenship for undocumented persons who have contributed to the common good. The positive impact migrant communities have made in our country, and especially in our state, should be recognized rather than overshadowed by the small number of those who engage in illicit and unacceptable activities.
Far from being a "bleeding-heart response," the Archbishop has wisely and faithfully reached into the richness of the Catholic intellectual heritage and brought and brought forth an orthodox way of framing our nation's discussion on immigration. For the disciples of Ayn Rand, this sort of orthodox retrieval will sound the notes of heresy and, dare I say, liberation theology. For the disciples of Jesus Christ, however, it will remind us of our call to exercise hospitality to the "widow, the orphan, and the stranger" and reminds us of Jesus' own words that "I was a stranger, and you welcomed me...".
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