Saint William Parish is communicating today about its plans to assist immigrants and refugees. Much of this corresponds to the priorities of our local Church and long-standing efforts by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The U.S. Bishops have issued numerous statements on these issues, most recently expressing serious concern about the limits placed on refugees admitted to the United States. Please see www.usccb.org.
Especially as we celebrate Respect Life Month, I call upon all 110 parishes of the Archdiocese of Louisville to share the call of Catholic social teaching to respect the dignity of every human person, especially those vulnerable persons seeking a better life and fleeing violence and persecution. Along with the bishops of the United States, I have long advocated for comprehensive immigration reform that protects families, provides a path to citizenship, and addresses the root causes of immigration while also respecting the right of nations to protect their borders.
In recent months, the Archdiocese has:
- Convened parishioners and members of the broader community for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees Prayer Service at the Cathedral of the Assumption on September 25. This observance offers the opportunity to pray for and reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and survivors of human trafficking.
- Completed a postcard campaign, along with the other three dioceses of the state, that invited parishioners to write to elected officials to communicate a welcome to immigrants in Kentucky and the expectation that immigrants deserve to be treated with dignity and respect at all times and in every situation. These postcards, which are now being collected by statewide Catholic Charities agencies, will be hand-delivered to the offices of Senator McConnell, Senator Paul, Governor Bevin, and those officials representing Kentucky districts in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- Hosted the July 12 Lights for Liberty rally in Louisville at the Cathedral. At that event, I offered a greeting, which stated:
We know that the Church and our nation is at our best when we welcome and accompany others. Chapter 22 of the Book of Exodus states: “You shall not oppress or do wrong to a stranger for you were once a stranger in the land of Egypt.” The New Testament relates the story of the Holy Family, migrants who fled from the terror of Herod, and we know that Jesus Himself moved from place to place with “nowhere to lay His Head” (Matthew 8:20).
Of course, the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 specifically link our response to those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, and who are strangers to the person of Jesus Himself.
While the Church respects the rights of sovereign nations to control their borders in the service of the common good of its citizens, these concerns are not an absolute right, and the capacity of rich and powerful nations like the United States to welcome refugees and immigrants also is a serious responsibility. “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more” (Luke 12:48). Comprehensive immigration reform and common sense security measures will challenge the false premise that claims security and treating people humanely are mutually exclusive. We need to do both, and I am confident that we can.
Above all, we should treat all who come to our borders with the respect and dignity they deserve as children of God. We can do better. Let us join together to insure that we do.
I am the grandson of Slovakian and Polish immigrants who came to this country to seek a better life. The diversity and hope of so many over the last 200+ years who have journeyed to the United States have made us what we are today. Our continued efforts to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate migrants will make us stronger tomorrow.
In this time of polarization, it is important that everyone’s rhetoric reflect the compassion and respect that we seek to promote. It is my hope that efforts such as those taken by Saint William Parish and other community organizations will build bridges among the many people of good will seeking justice. As Pope Francis reminded us on his March 2019 trip to Morocco, “…those who build bridges go forward…To build bridges is for me something that almost goes beyond the human, it needs very great efforts.”
Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D.
October 8, 2019