.- Saying the immigration crisis is “a test of our humanity,” Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput on Saturday told an open forum on immigration reform that Catholics must not ignore immigrants in need and cannot remain silent about flawed immigration policy.
He also noted that Catholics’ commitment to the immigrant arises from the same source as Catholics’ commitment to the unborn.
The archbishop spoke at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in the Denver suburb of Northglenn on Saturday afternoon. He was joined by Congressmen Jared Polis (D-CO) and Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL).
Archbishop Chaput opened with a prayer asking God to help man “build a culture of life” and to “live the Gospel.”
“Make us quick to forgive each other, quick to listen to each other, and eager to serve those who are suffering and in need,” he prayed. “And finally Lord, in all things, fill us with the courage to follow St. Paul when he urges us to ‘speak the truth in love.’”
Beginning his remarks, the archbishop said that immigration reform has been “gridlocked” for more than three years. He blamed both Democrats and Republicans for creating “paralysis.”
“We made our immigration crisis in a bipartisan way. Now we need to solve it in a bipartisan way that involves good people from both parties or no party.”
He noted that he and Rep. Polis, who is openly homosexual and a supporter of abortion rights, would disagree “vigorously” on “some very serious social issues.”
However, the archbishop said the agenda for that day concerned the improvement of immigration laws.
“We have a mutual interest in that important work -- and I respect the congressman’s sincerity and energy in trying to do something about it,” he said.
“The Catholic commitment to the dignity of the immigrant comes from exactly the same roots as our commitment to the dignity of the unborn child,” since being pro-life also means making laws and social policies that will care for “those people already born that no one else will defend.”
“In the United States today, we employ a permanent underclass of human beings who build our roads, pick our fruit, clean our hotel rooms, and landscape our lawns,” Archbishop Chaput remarked.
Stating that most immigrants are law-abiding and “simply want a better life for their families,” he noted that many have children who are American citizens or have been in America for most of their lives.
These people live in a “legal limbo,” he stated.
“They’re vital to our economy, but they have few legal protections, and thousands of families have been separated by arrests and deportations,” he reported.
“We need to remember that how we treat the weak, the infirm, the elderly, the unborn child and the foreigner reflects on our own humanity. We become what we do, for good or for evil.”
Archbishop Chaput insisted that the Catholic Church respects the law, including immigration law, and also respects those who enforce it.
“We do not encourage or help anyone to break the law. We believe Americans have a right to solvent public institutions, secure borders and orderly regulation of immigration.”
However, he said Catholics cannot ignore those in need and cannot be silent about laws that “don’t work” and also create “impossible contradictions and suffering.”
Characterizing the present immigration system as one that adequately serves no one, he urged reform that will address economic and security needs while regularizing “the many decent undocumented immigrants.”
“We become what we do, for good or for evil. If we act and speak like bigots, that’s what we become. If we act with justice, intelligence, common sense and mercy, then we become something quite different. We become the people and the nation God intended us to be.”
He said he hoped those present at today's forum will all take part in immigration reform.
“The future of our country depends on it,” he concluded.
The June 13 forum is part of a national outreach tour called “Familias Unidas.” The tour will visit 22 major cities across the United States and is intended to advance a better understanding of the harm caused to individuals and families by the present immigration system.