August 2018 Four County Catholic
My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote in my newspaper column of “our shared call to action as faithful Catholics to stand in solidarity with those enduring the struggle of keeping families together.” The continuing struggle at the southern border has intensified considerably in a year’s time.
Our resolve to stand with immigrant families and to help encourage permanent solutions to a now further broken immigration system has remained steadfast. Family unity should and must be a core focus of U.S. immigration policy. We, as Catholics, honor he family as a foundational tenet of our faith. It is at the center of compassionate Catholic teaching. We are deeply and painfully disturbed by the recent breakdown of humane treatment and respect for family taking place at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Outrage on the part of communities of faith across the Country has already helped to bring about a temporary Executive Order to reunite the families of nearly 2,700 separated children. Even that temporary measure, while helpful, has been a trying challenge for law enforcement and government bureaucracy to implement.
It has been heartening to see Catholic Charities, coordinated by the Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services, mobilize short-term support for the reunited families in 12 of the cities where unification is taking place. Of course, these measures are not permanent fixes. As I have stated consistently during the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the border, we support and pray for comprehensive immigration reform to permanently fix a system broken and overwhelmed. We cannot lose sight of this larger issue which affects millions of undocumented families currently living and working side by side with us to build a just and unified America.
His Holiness Pope Francis accurately reminds us that “the immigration struggle is a complex phenomenon.” It is. The vetting process at the border must provide protection against criminal elements involved in the drug and human trafficking trade, violent gangs, terrorism infiltrators, smugglers and others of malicious intent. Protections must be in place for national security purposes as well as to protect the children themselves who may be in danger in the chaos of crossing the border. We recognize it is complicated. It is our shared hope that the latest sad chapter of separation of families will finally move Congress to act on permanent comprehensive legislation that will relieve the crisis at the border and permit lawful immigration to continue to serve as a proud source of growth, diversity and enrichment of this great land.
As we have communicated regularly, Catholic Charities and the Hispanic Ministry lead the way in providing assistance and education to immigrant families in the Diocese. A good website to access is CCFSN.org/immigration.html. This site is a very helpful gateway to understanding your individual rights under the law, access to legal counsel and other assistance in navigating through the system. Our diocesan ministries are there for you.
If we continue to raise our voices against injustices such as the separation of families at the border, we can help improve the outcome for all immigrant families. Please speak to your local representatives and those who represent us in Washington. Let them know separation of families is unacceptable in a caring and compassionate America. Let them know what happens in McAllen, Texas, affects us in Willimantic and Pomfret and in every town and home in our Diocese. We know Congress can fulfill their humanitarian responsibility and work together to heal the divides and create a fair and just permanent solution. We stand together.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop of Norwich