U.S. Catholics asked 'to accompany' migrants, refugees seeking better life

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By Julie Asher

bishops in a pastoral reflection released March 22 called all Catholics to do what each
of them can “to accompany migrants and refugees who seek a better life in
the United States.”

Titled “Living as a People
of God in Unsettled Times,” the reflection was issued “in solidarity
with those who have been forced to flee their homes due to violence, conflict
or fear in their native lands,” said a news release from the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“To live as a people of God
is to live in the hope of the Resurrection,” said the reflection, which
was approved by the USCCB Administrative Committee on the first day of a
two-day meeting in Washington.

The 50-member committee is made
up of the executive officers of the USCCB, elected committee chairmen and
elected regional representatives. It acts on behalf of the nation’s bishops
between the twice-yearly general meetings.

“To live in Christ is to
draw upon the limitless love of Jesus to fortify us against the temptation of
fear,” it continued. “Pray that our engagement in the debate over
immigration and refugee issues may bring peace and comfort to those most
affected by current and proposed national policy changes.”

The bishops urged Catholics to
pray for an end to the root causes of violence and other circumstances forcing families
to flee their homeland to find a better life; to meet with newcomers in their
parishes and “listen to their story, and share your own”; and to
call, write or visit their elected representatives to ask them to fix our
broken immigration system” in a way that would safeguard the country’s
security and “our humanity through a generous opportunity for legal immigration.”

The statement opened with a passage
from Chapter 19 of the Book of Leviticus: “The word of God is truly alive
today. When an alien resides with you in your land, do not mistreat such a one.
You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives
born among you; you shall love the alien as yourself; for you too were once
aliens in the land of Egypt.”

The bishops urged Catholics to
“not lose sight of the fact that behind every policy is the story of a
person in search of a better life. They may be an immigrant or refugee family
sacrificing so that their children might have a brighter future.”

“As shepherds of a pilgrim church,”
they wrote, “we will not tire in saying to families who have the courage
to set out from their despair onto the road of hope: “We are with you.”


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