Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued the following statement this week:
On September 19, the United Nations General Assembly is calling together for the first time a summit level meeting of Heads of State and government officials to discuss the large movement of refugees and migrants in the world today. The event will highlight the need for shared responsibility by the international community to address migration related crises around the world. This provides an opportunity for the bishops to bring attention to their long-standing teachings on migration, which are rooted in the Gospel message of welcome and grounded in Catholic social teaching.
Standing before the United States Congress, Pope Francis called on all Americans to “seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.”
His words are prescient to our situation today, in which we find ourselves immersed in an environment that lays bare divisions and disagreements that undermine solidarity and authentic community. As Catholics, we are called to overcome the partisan divides that separate us and instead focus on the moral teachings of the Church that will help us build a vibrant public square.
The Catholic bishops of the United States recognize the responsibility of nations to control their borders. Maintaining secure and reliable procedures that effectively manage the flow of people entering the United States is an important component of our immigration system. In addition, we will continue to underscore the right of people to migrate who are unable to find the means to support themselves and their families in their homeland, or who are fleeing persecution and violence. Sovereign nations should find a way to accommodate this right.
But it is not enough that we welcome the migrants into our communities. The political and religious leaders of this great nation must work with the leaders of other countries to help create the conditions so people do not feel compelled to migrate in the first place. We must promote the common good everywhere, so that people in all nations can live a life where their human dignity is protected. We must nurture a culture that prioritizes family unity and which rejects situations where families are forced apart because economic opportunities are not available where they live. We must seek a world in which everyone has access to the economic, political, and social opportunities to live in freedom and dignity, and to achieve a full life through the use of their God-given gifts.