University to host immigration conference
Katie McCarty | Friday, February 28, 2014
Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) will host “The Church and Immigration” conference next week in McKenna Hall Conference Center, which will focus on the role of the Catholic Church in immigration reform.
Rev. Daniel G. Groody, C.S.C, associate professor of theology and director of the Immigration Initiative at the ILS, said the conference aims to promote the increasing importance of immigration reform, highlight the ethical issues involved and make connections to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“235,000,000 people are migrating around the world today, and in the United States alone 10 to 12 million of those are undocumented,” Groody said. “If Notre Dame as a Catholic university had nothing to say about this, how would it be credible as a university or a Catholic institution?”
The conference will explore what roles the Catholic Church can play in redefining immigration policies and practices, Groody said.
“Part of what has made America the great country that it is are the immigrants who have helped make it what it is today,” Groody said. “The focus of this conference is on what the Church has done, is doing and can better do in response to this challenging and important issue.”
The ILS will host various speakers, including several bishops and University President Fr. John Jenkins, and will hold workshops such as “Human Trafficking” and “Immigrant Voters and the Changing American Electorate.”
Groody said the United States can do more to aid immigration reform.
“People migrate because of economic need, the violation of human rights, weak juridical structures, environmental disasters and many other reasons,” he said. “While the United States cannot accept every migrant in need, there is much more it can do.”
Groody said the conference is born of out of principles of Catholic Social Teaching, which are based directly with the dignity of the human person.
“However one identifies oneself in liberal or conservative terms, the heart of Catholic Social Teaching deals with justice in the world and building a peaceful society,” Groody said. “Catholic universities should have a role in that process. Notre Dame is involved in this issue because this is both a national and global issue of significant importance.”
Colleen Cross, project coordinator of the conference, said the initiative critically engages the issue of immigration in the United States.
“Building on Notre Dame’s long-standing commitment to a faith that does justice, as well as the significance of immigration in Latino communities, the Immigration Initiative seeks to highlight the Church’s commitment to immigrants and immigration reform in the United States,” she said.
The conference will run from March 2 through 5.