Monday, January 11, 2010

Bishop Finn's Message Supporting Immigration Reform

Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn delivered the following message on immigration reform in English and Spanish during Mass on the Feast of The Baptism of the Lord at St. Anthony Church in Kansas City. For more information on the U.S. Bishops’ efforts toward just and comprehensive immigration reform visit their Justice for Immigrants website.

Supporting Immigration Reform
Bishop Robert W. Finn

Dear Friends in Christ,

The feast of the Baptism of the Lord is the conclusion of the Christmas season. In these past weeks we have celebrated the mystery of God’s love for every human person. In the person of Jesus, God entered our world. In some way we can say that God migrated to our world. He destroyed the borders that separated us from Him. He came among us, full of love, wanting to bring us hope.

In the Christmas story, we recall that, when Herod sought to kill Jesus, the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt, to a foreign land, to find peace and the opportunity to work. Throughout the history of the United States many have come here seeking a new beginning: some come as political refugees; others come because of famine or serious economic destitution as they try to attain a decent life for themselves and their families.

Today’s immigrants are not so different from those of generations past. My own family has roots in Ireland, Germany, England, and Poland. We are all children of our heavenly Father. We are loved by Him. We are redeemed by Christ. We each have infinite value. We love our families. We are called to live for God and grow in holiness. We must also love one another. This is not merely my expectation as bishop. It is the commandment of Jesus Christ.

Our Lord knew that we would sometimes be tempted to reject those who are different from ourselves. Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me. …Whatever you do, or fail to do to, the least of my brothers, you do to me.”

As you know, many people have strong feelings about immigration in our country. Almost everyone agrees that our system is deeply flawed and must be changed to better protect and respect the integrity of our nation’s borders, and also the most fundamental rights of people and their families to work and live in peace. In response to these needs, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a campaign to work for comprehensive immigration reform. Postcards are available that urge Congress to enact immigration reform that, while addressing legitimate security concerns, respects the dignity of the human person, the unity of the family, and offers a reasonable and responsible path to legal status and eventual citizenship. As Pope Benedict XVI said in his latest encyclical Caritas in Veritate, “The migrant is a human person who possesses fundamental and inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance” (#62).

After holy Mass I will be signing these postcards, which will be sent to our elected officials, and I encourage everyone to please join me in this campaign, so that when the Lord Jesus asks us on the Day of Judgment whether we welcomed the stranger in our midst, we can confidently say yes. May almighty God bless you and protect you. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, our mother, teach us to see and serve her Son in others.