Conference examines immigration
Tori Roeck | Monday, March 3, 2014
To begin the Church and Immigration Conference, Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini of the Diocese of Huehuetenango in Guatemala gave the keynote address Sunday night in McKenna Hall. Both University President Fr. John Jenkins and Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of the Archdiocese of Seattle introduced the speaker.
In Jenkins’ remarks, he said the United States is in political gridlock when it comes to immigration reform, and while politicians are bickering, immigrants are dying.
“We need to elevate the terms of the immigration debate onto a higher moral plane,” Jenkins said. “While we certainly recognize the right of a nation to regulate immigration, we must also recognize the economic realities that force people across borders to find the means to feed their families. We must also recognize the undeniable economic benefits that immigrants, both documented and undocumented, have brought to this nation.
“We must recognize the history of immigration that has helped define our nation.”
Elizondo, chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, said the Church’s obligation to care for immigrants began with Jesus himself.
“The Church has been involved in the immigration issue since her founding, when the Lord Jesus Christ instructed all of us to welcome the stranger, and in these interfaces we see Christ himself,” Elizondo said.
Elizondo said the USCCB is the largest refugee resettlement agency in the world, and has resettled more than one million refugees since 1975.
“The Catholic voice continues to have impact in the public debate on immigration,” he said. “As a community, we are at the forefront of the moral arguments governing the immigration reform debate. We should be proud of our rich tradition of defending the migrant, both here in the United States and globally. This of course not only includes the bishops but all the faithful and many of you present.”
Ramazzini said immigration crises throughout the world continue because people reduce immigrants to economic statistics.
“The economic dimension of globalization places productivity and effectiveness as the values that orient all our human relationships,” he said. “This economic dimension promotes inequality and injustices. That is to say, the most important values of truth, justice, love and … human dignity and the rights of others are subjective to the world market. I say [it should be] the God market.”
Ramazzini said a person is not just an economic factor.
“The crisis of capitalism and also the crisis of socialism is to forget that God is the fundamental in the reality,” he said. “Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation, ‘The Joy of the Gospel,’ emphasized that the Church — and I dare to say that I believe Christianity today is in a profound crisis — is living a new idolatry of money, in that it is money that governs us.
“We have created a world of inequality and this inequality is one of the causes of the migrants today.”
Consumerism has created a “throw-away society” that does not value the inherent dignity of every person, Ramazzini said.
“Being a Christian is to love God and our neighbor,” he said. “We know that. Because of this, we must promote a different globalization that emphasizes love for justice and a respect of human rights. … Even people who do not have documents are persons. Is it necessary to have a document in order to be a person? Can others be a hindrance in living as a human being?
“If we truly live with a globalization as I mentioned, we will have the capacity to discover who is suffering, and we would then have the capacity of helping them.”