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Immigration expert Bishop DiMarzio calls on faithful to reject any immoral immigration laws

.- As the U.S. Senate continues to inch closer to a comprehensive overhaul of the country’s immigration system, as many Catholic bishops have urged, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is warning that faithful need to keep a watchful eye and reject any immoral reform that does not respect the dignity of the human person.

Bishop DiMarzio, head of the Diocese of Brooklyn and a long time consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the subject of immigration, said in his regular column, published Monday, that true reform must be comprehensive, addressing the reasons why people need to come to the U.S. in the first place; must provide a pathway for people to regularize “and come out of the shadows”; and it must aim to protect families, workers and national security alike.

On Monday, a big step toward compromise and reform came as the Senate Judiciary panel sent a bill to the full Senate which would allow many of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants to be granted legal status provided they pay back taxes, hold jobs and pass criminal background checks.

Experts still wonder however, if the bill will make it through the Senate, with politicians on all sides sharply divided.

In his column, published in the Tablet newspaper, Bishop DiMarzio said that “It is time to recognize that immigration is a moral issue, calling forth from all of us that basic American value of respect for the dignity of each human person.”

“As religious people,” he said, “we know that this respect is generated by the belief that each person is created in the image of God our Creator, no matter in which country they were born, or how they may have crossed a border to the place they now call home.”

Bishop DiMarzio added that “It is because we believe that immigration is a moral issue, [that] we bishops have a duty to teach and to call for adherence to our teaching, even if this adherence might lead people to challenge provisions of particular laws.”

Referring to a resolution recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives which mirrors many currently on the table in individual states, he specifically affirmed that “there will never be a time when priests, religious and dedicated laypeople whose ministry and service is among immigrants will ever be forced to limit the Church’s outreach and care because of the contents of a person’s passport.” 

“The ‘passport’ of people of faith”, he pointed out, “comes directly from the Sacred Scriptures, which commands us to respect and care for the alien and the newcomer because they are brothers and sisters to all.”

Saying that undocumented immigrants must cease to be scapegoat as “terrorists” the bishop wrote that “The provisions of [the proposed House bill] calls forth the worst in people and will not fix our broken immigration system or make our country any safer.”

Bishop DiMarzio’s words echo that of numerous other bishops including Denver’s Charles Chaput, who has repeatedly called for just, comprehensive immigration reform. The two appeared together two weeks ago during an immigration forum at Denver’s Living the Catholic Faith Conference.


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