August 2017 Four County Catholic
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
A unifying theme this year in our charitable outreach to the most vulnerable among us has been “Our faith calls us to action.” That call draws us to the intensifying immigration crisis many families in our communities are facing. Let us take a moment to appreciate the ways your support helps provide guidance and relief to immigrant families within our Diocese.
As His Holiness, Pope Francis, so accurately describes, “the immigration struggle is a complex phenomenon.” We must find the grace and resolve to break through the partisan politics to focus light and attention on displaced families who need help, shelter and opportunity. With Catholic Charities and the Hispanic Ministry leading the way, we are working hard to provide assistance and education to families living in fear. Many families are in crisis mode and need to know the Church is there for them - there to help them navigate the complexities of local, state and federal regulations.
Please take the time to take a closer look at the immigration-focused services provided by Catholic Charities. Your most direct access to this information is the web address CCFSN.org/immigration.html There you will find the specifics of such services as assisting with naturalization applications, I-90 (Green Card) renewals, deferred action for childhood arrivals, fiancé visa applications, referrals to attorneys and other agencies. You will also find a direct link to the State of Connecticut Family Preparedness Plan, explaining your rights and outlining how to prepare your family for immigration law enforcement. One essential point of information in the State plan is that you are not required to open your door for an ICE agent or police officer unless they produce a judicial warrant. These guidelines, in Spanish as well as English, help to reduce the complexities. They will also reassure all of us that we are there for our brothers and sisters in their time of uncertainty, risk and need. Thank you on their behalf for supporting Catholic Charities, the Hispanic Ministry and all diocesan ministries prepared to help.
Please be aware of collaborative programs conducted by Catholic Charities and the Hispanic Ministry such as the Forum in Solidarity with Immigrants held recently at St. Mary Star of the Sea to discuss, among other topics, putting together a plan and power of attorney document for the protection of children in case of emergency. Our St. Vincent de Paul Place is also involved in sponsoring such forums along with other community action organizations. All co-sponsors help, through their respective communications channels, to get the word out.
Our call to action as faithful Catholics is to stand in solidarity with those enduring the struggle of keeping families together, finding a pathway to legalization and providing the opportunity to help continue to build a free and compassionate America as generations ofimmigrants have done since its founding.
At every opportunity, we speak out in support of comprehensive immigration reform based on inclusion, not on deportation – recognizing that the exception is violent offenders of the law. We support and pray for immigration reform that seeks to unite families, preserves the dignity of hard working immigrants and recognizes that families who have lived, worked and contributed to our society for years should not be torn from us as a consequence of laws inconsistently enforced in the past. We believe this to be a just outcome and one favoring the common good.
Effective immigration reform will protect those unfairly at risk, unite families, strengthen our wonderfully diverse society and leave ample room for tightened border security designed to control the lawbreakers in the drug trade, human trafficking, smuggling and terrorism. Let the law enforcement focus be there; not on peaceful hardworking people and their children.
As faithful Catholics, we view the currently broken immigration system with a spiritual desire to welcome and comfort those at risk. We bring a pastoral outlook to the national plight of an estimated twelve million hard-working neighbors among us who deserve to be invited to officially join our family.
From a legislative standpoint, our humanitarian position on this matter is well represented. Leading the way is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) who are extremely diligent in advocating for just reform. The USCCB’s Working Group on Immigration and the Committee on Immigration are right there in Washington testifying before Congress and meeting with Administration officials. Whether it is my fellow bishops’ voices being heard in Washington or your voices supporting the diocesan efforts by Catholic Charities and other ministries, our call to action as Catholics is clear and loud. We are carried by our faith to love, respect and care for our brothers and sisters. We respect the laws of the land, and ask only that immigration reform be enacted to embrace that same respect for the individual, while accommodating the common good. America has the capacity to make that happen. We are committed to working and praying for a gracious and fair solution. We ask for God’s wisdom and blessing to be imparted to those in leadership roles to bring about compassionate and just immigration reform.
Sincerely yours in Christ’s love,
Bishop Michael R. Cote