SAN ANTONIO, Texas, DEC. 12, 2011. A letter to migrants dated Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was signed by 33 Hispanic Catholic bishops in the United States. In it they expressed their solidarity with the many illegal immigrants living in the country.
“We recognize that every human being, authorized or not, is an image of God and therefore possesses infinite value and dignity,” the letter stated.
The bishops expressed their concern for the difficulties being experienced by immigrants due to the economic downturn. In some cases people have even blamed them for the problems, the bishops noted.
“In your suffering faces we see the true face of Jesus Christ.” The letter called for greater solidarity between all workers and all who live in the United States.
The bishops explained how the Catholic Church has testified before Congress calling for changes to immigration laws. Among the points they raised was the need for the law to respect family unity and to enable illegal immigrants to regularize their situation.
“Immigrants are a revitalizing force for our country,” the letter declared. “The lack of a just, humane and effective reform of immigration laws negatively affects the common good of the entire United States.”
The bishops promised they would continue to press for changes to the law and lamented the fact that many Catholics have not supported their efforts on this matter.
The letter went on to say that they are not going to wait for the law to change to say that illegal immigrants are welcome in churches. The bishops offered them spiritual nourishment through the sacraments and the promise to help their children through religious education programs.
Jesus migrated from heaven to earth, the bishops noted, and on earth he migrated to Egypt, then to Galilee and then to Jerusalem to die on the cross. “Today, he continues to journey and to accompany all migrants on pilgrimage throughout the world in search of food, work, dignity, security and opportunities for the welfare of their families.