On Saturday, the
Colorado Catholic Conference hosted an Immigration Forum, attended by
all three of the state’s bishops, as well as San Antonio’s Archbishop
Jose Gomez and Brooklyn’s Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, a Catholic expert
on immigration issues, and consultant to the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops on the issue.
During a press
conference held prior to the Forum--which closed the Archdiocese of
Denver’s annual ‘Living the Catholic Faith Conference‘--Archbishop
Charles Chaput, along with Colorado Spring’s Bishop Michael Sheridan
and Pueblo’s Bishop Arthur Tafoya expressed their dissatisfaction at
the direction of the current national immigration dialogue.
For his part,
Bishop Sheridan said that Catholics should seek “real justice where
people are not unduly suffering,” referring to some 100 cases in which
he said the “plight of immigrants” led to their deaths crossing the
border last year.
“Things are not working now,” he said, and “we don’t like the direction things are headed.”
Chaput added that one of his main desires is that the immigration
debate might not be such a hot issue, but rather, one that can be
discussed reasonably. “People can’t even talk about it now,” he said,
noting the often temper-driven national debates.
He said that he
hopes that the Catholic Church can be a sign of hope to help bring
about a real national dialogue of healing, and added that any reform
that is not comprehensive is dangerous to the economy, to individuals
and to families.
election year legislations in which decisions tend to be politically
motivated rather than aimed at finding real solutions.
“We hope”, he said, “that the government would bring together common principles and form legislation that really might pass.”
The Forum comes
as the Colorado Bishops are launching a statewide campaign aiming to
educate and mobilize faithful to respond to the difficult issue in
light of Catholic Social Teaching.
strove to convey the complexity of the issue, saying that
responsibility lies not only on the U.S., but on the immigrant’s
countries of origin to find a solution.
Teaching, they pointed out, teaches first, that “persons have a right
to find opportunities in their homeland,” second, that “persons have a
right to migrate [in order] to support themselves and their families,”
third, that “sovereign nations have a right to control their borders,”
forth, that “refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded
protection,” and lastly, that “the dignity and human rights of
undocumented migrants should be respected.”
These principles, Bishop DiMarzio pointed out, need to be assessed in light of the common good of all involved
The Colorado campaign is part of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s national Justice for Immigrants campaign.
bill, already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, would seek
to criminalize those who assist undocumented immigrants--including
charitable and religious workers.
of legislation are being debated in Colorado and around the country,
although some hope of compromise came last Friday as the U.S. Senate
Judiciary Committee presented a surprisingly bi-partisan bill which
shows signs of real compromise between sides.
the issue of undocumented immigration continues to heat up, both at
federal and many local levels, the Catholic Bishops of Colorado are
insisting on a comprehensive reform of the nation’s immigration laws
which, at their core, must assure that the immigrant’s dignity is not
left behind in their country of origin.