The Strangers in Our Midst Print
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 18 February 2008 08:26
Great post by Michael Scamperlanda over at Mirror of Justice on the immigration debate:

On Feb.1, 2008 in Napa, California, Archbishop Gomez of San Antonio addressed a special meeting of Latin American bishops on immigration.

He began by reminding his audience that the Holy Family and their flight into Egypt has provided a powerful symbol of migrants. "For many decades, the Popes have held up the Holy Family in exile as a sign of Christ’s solidarity with all refugees, displaced persons, and immigrants—in every time and in every place. In his exile in Egypt, the infant Jesus shares in the fears and worries of all who are forced by violence and need to rise and flee their homelands seeking a better life in a new land that is not their own.

"Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has said: “In this misfortune experienced by the family of Nazareth . . . we can catch a glimpse of the painful condition in which all migrants live . . . . the hardships and humiliations, the deprivation and fragility of millions and millions of migrants” (Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2007, para. 1)."

After assessing the current political situation, Archbishop Gomez offered his reflections on the root causes of immigration, the church's teaching on the contours of a just immigration law and policy, and practical concrete steps for resolving the current crisis. The full text of his insightful, prophetic, and nuanced remarks can be found here.

At the end of his remarks, Archbishop Gomez spoke to a critical issue that, IMHO, transcends the immigration debates.

"But before I leave you, I want to talk about one more area that deeply concerns me. In the bitter debates of recent years, I have been alarmed by the indifference of so many of our people to Catholic teaching and to the concrete demands of Christian charity.

It is not only the racism, xenophobia, and scapegoating. These are signs of a more troubling reality. Many of our Catholic people no longer see the foreigners sojourning among them as brothers and sisters.

In some ways we are back to the debates of the first evangelization. Then the Church, in the person of brave pastors like Bartolomé de las Casas, had to fight to establish that the indigenous peoples of the New Worldwere truly and fully human, worthy of rights.

To listen to the rhetoric in the U.S.and elsewhere it is as if the immigrant is not a person, but only a thief or a terrorist or a simple work-animal.

Throughout the lands of America, we need repentance and conversion to the Gospel. We need to restore the truth that the love of God and the love of neighbor have been forever joined in the teaching—and in the person—of Jesus Christ.

“As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40).

Pope Benedict said in Deus Caritas Est that with Christ: “Love of God and love of neighbor have become one. In the least of the brethren we find Jesus himself, and in Jesus we find God” (no. 16)."

Isn't this problem - a problem that has been evident in the immigration debates in Oklahoma and elsewhere - part of a larger problem in our society where we so often fail to see the other as another "I"?