Letter to the Editor: Catholic ‘Disconnect’ On Immigration
Published: January 31, 2008
To the Editor:
Much has been made by our media about the force of the evangelical voice and vote in governmental policy-making and the upcoming presidential nomination and election. Statistics indicate that 26 percent of the population is comprised of evangelical Christians, compared with more than 24 percent of Catholics.
If Catholics represent such a great number of our population, why does no one talk about the Catholic vote or Catholics’ beliefs influencing our national policies?
I believe we are not considered a force because there is a great disconnect between what our church leaders, from the popes—John Paul II and Benedict XVI—the U.S. bishops and our own Archbishop Gregory, have been saying and what many Catholics are willing to embrace, to fight for and to speak up for. Most Catholics prefer to remain as the silent majority on controversial issues such as poverty and immigration.
We have witnessed a sample of this disconnect and dichotomy in recent letters to The Georgia Bulletin editor. In response to Father Stack’s concerns for the immigrant population in our midst, the writers implied that the deportation of all undocumented families is the only solution to our national dilemma because they are simply outside the law. However, Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. (Joseph) DeLaine (whose efforts to desegregate public schools led to Brown v. Board of Education) and many others have inspired us to denounce and change the law when it is not compassionate and does not serve the needs of the people.
In contrast to this disconnected position expressed in those letters to the editor are the words of compassion and reason of (Georgia) Bishops Gregory and Boland in their pastoral letter of March 2006:
“Today’s immigrants often face rejection, hostility, and discrimination in our communities and even within the Church. In the context of this complex issue, we, the Catholic bishops of Georgia, call for comprehensive immigration reform.”
I strongly feel that we should all recognize that those without documents were “allowed” into this country by our economic system. Both political parties and our businesses welcomed the new voluntary slaves to harvest our land, process poultry, manufacture carpet, and build our homes.
Yet while many of those immigrants are members of our own parishes, they cannot sit at our dinner tables; some in our churches do not want them to be part of our family.
If we feel that they are unclean, needing to be purified and banned from our society as the lepers of the Old Testament, we should then stop bringing into our homes and putting on our tables the “unclean” fruits of their labor.
The months ahead offer us a great opportunity to search into our souls for answers and to raise our voices and votes in a compassionate way to protect and defend those without voices, the poor, the immigrants, the unborn. The Catholic vote should also be counted.
Raul Trujillo, Atlanta