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What the Church Teaches About Immigration Policy View Comments
By Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas

Amilcar Ramirez weeps as he holds a U.S. flag at a May Day rally in Washington May 1, 2010.

EMOTIONS FLARE UP at the mention of immigration. People feel strongly about the issue on all sides. People express their opinion on Web sites, in blogs, at rallies and in phone calls to their legislators.

Like other bishops, I have received many e-mails, calls and letters, mostly voicing anger about my involvement with the issue. Certainly, attitudes toward immigration guide the decisions of some voters, especially in my state of Arizona.

As people of faith, it is critical that we understand the complexities of immigration. As people of faith, it is critical that we have opportunities to discuss the issue so that we can better understand
the Church’s concern and involvement. As people of faith, we need to share our attitudes and feelings and—as hard as it is sometimes—we need to listen.

Why, then, is the Church involved in the immigration issue? There are three broad, or overarching, reasons. In this article, we’ll explore the following: 1) how Scripture and Catholic teaching see and understand immigration; 2) immigration’s impact on the life of the Church—our parish life, our programs, our growth and diversity; and 3) the moral issues that the Church is called to address in the broader society.

Let’s start with a discussion of Sacred Scripture.

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Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas heads the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona. He also serves as the chairman of the board of directors of Catholic Relief Services.

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Augustine of Hippo: A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. 
<p>There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. </p><p>Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism. </p><p>In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, please fill my heart and soul with the confidence that you will always provide what I need, when I need it, and let me be obedient to you.

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