Wednesday April 19, 2017

Immigration Guided Reflection 1

By Meaghan Crowley

Lately there has been a lot of discussion around Immigration.  Campus Ministry’s Center for Social Concern thought it might be helpful to reflect on what US Catholic Bishops have to say!  So, we put together a reflection guide, for you to use in your own time, to prayerfully read and contemplate where the Catholic Church stands on issues surrounding Migration.  

Below is a guided reflection from one section of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Document, “Catholic Social Teaching on Immigration and the Movements of Peoples.”  Take some time, read it over, and follow the prompts as you’re ready.  But first, let’s pray:

Dear Lord,

Creator of all things,

true source of light and wisdom,

origin of all being,

graciously let a ray of your light penetrate

the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness

in which I have been born,

an obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding,

a retentive memory, and

the ability to grasp things

correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent

of being exact in my explanations

and the ability to express myself

with thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning,

direct the progress,

and help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.


To begin, here’s a section from the document.  Take some time to read it over.

First Principle: People have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families.

At the end of World War II, with the fall of the Nazi empire and the subsequent creation of the Soviet "Iron Curtain," Europe faced an unprecedented migration of millions of people seeking safety, food, and freedom. At that time, Pope Pius XII wrote Exsul Familia (The Emigre Family), placing the Church squarely on the side of those seeking a better life by fleeing their homes.

When there is a massive movement of people such as during a war, natural disaster, or famine, the lands that receive these displaced people may be threatened. The influx may make it impossible for the native population to live securely, as the land may not have enough resources to support both. Even in more orderly migrations, such as in the United States, citizens and residents of the land may fear that newcomers will take jobs, land, and resources, impoverishing the people already present.

Because of the belief that newcomers compete for scarce resources, immigrants and refugees are at times driven away, resented, or despised. Nevertheless, the first principle of Catholic social teaching regarding immigrants is that people have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families. This is based on biblical and ancient Christian teaching that the goods of the earth belong to all people. While the right to private property is defended in Catholic social teaching, individuals do not have the right to use private property without regard for the common good.

Every person has an equal right to receive from the earth what is necessary for life—food, clothing, shelter. Moreover, every person has the right to education, medical care, religion, and the expression of one's culture. In many places people live in fear, danger, or dehumanizing poverty. Clearly, it is not God's will that some of his children live in luxury while others have nothing. In Luke's Gospel, the rich man was condemned for living well while the poor man starved at his doorstep (Lk 16:19-31).

The native does not have superior rights over the immigrant. Before God all are equal; the earth was given by God to all. When a person cannot achieve a meaningful life in his or her own land, that person has the right to move.

Jot down some initial thoughts.  What jumps out at you?  How do you feel reading this?  What are some of the “take aways” you see?

Now, take a moment to watch and listen to the voice of someone who migrated to the US.  Take note of how you feel and any connections you may see to the document above.

TED Talk

So, how do these work together?

Closing Prayer

Prayer to Jesus, the Immigrant

Jesus, as an infant you fled to Egypt with your mother Mary and Joseph. You were a vulnerable family in a foreign land, looking for shelter and sustenance. Help us to welcome those like you who cross our borders today. Give us hearts of compassion, humane response, and laws that respect the dignity of all immigrants. Amen.

Thank you for your time and thoughtfulness!  We have 2 more similar guided reflections, so check back soon for more!  Peace!

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