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Immigration principles offer chance to examine our hearts

 

On Oct. 1, Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan and I published a joint pastoral letter on immigration, an issue that matters greatly to the future of our country and one that can also stir up intense, impassioned debate.

In that letter we set forth seven principles, all rooted in the Church’s social teaching, that are intended to help guide the national discussion of immigration.

I invite you to read these seven principles and reflect on your reaction to them. Ask yourself: “What does my reaction tell me about what is in my heart? Is my response to immigrants a Catholic one? How does my reaction correspond to the Church’s teaching?”

As Catholics we have an obligation to seek remedies to policies that do not respect the God-given dignity of immigrants. This especially applies to laws that break up families through deportation, which sometimes means a mother or father is separated from their children.

The seven principles are:

1. The principle of the common good: The Second Vatican Council defines the common good as “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment.”

2. The universal destination of the world’s resources and the right to private property: In Catholic teaching, the right to ownership has always been understood as being qualified by the duty to use property in a socially responsible way, in a way that supports the common good, especially the good of the poor. This responsibility arises from a theological truth: when God created the universe he intended the earth with all its resources for the use of everyone.

3. The dignity and rights of all migrants should be respected and protected: Because of every person’s God-given dignity, the Christian response to immigrants should be one of hospitality that rejects all sentiments and manifestations of xenophobia and racism.

4. The creation of nations and the right to control borders are legitimate: Governments have the difficult and important task of developing border control policies that both respect the dignity of the immigrants and their families, and safeguard the spiritual, material and cultural wellbeing of their nation.

5. The right to emigrate and respect for local laws: The Church has continually taught that people have a natural right to emigrate, that is, to leave their country in search of better economic and social conditions for themselves and their families.

6. Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection: Because of the serious dangers refugees face, the international community has a more serious obligation to accommodate their requests for asylum than it does for those who emigrate from countries that have a more stable social situation.

7. Authentic integration of immigrants and the enforcement of laws: Experience shows that when a society is too ethnically and culturally diverse it can give rise to political instability. Therefore, when politicians make decisions about immigration policies, the question of integration cannot be overlooked.

To read the entire letter, click here: http://archden.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Immigration-and-future-bilingual.pdf

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila
The Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila is the eighth bishop of Denver and its fifth archbishop. His episcopal motto is, "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5).
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