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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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Charles Lwanga and Companions: One of 22 Ugandan martyrs, Charles Lwanga is the patron of youth and Catholic action in most of tropical Africa. He protected his fellow pages (aged 13 to 30) from the homosexual demands of the Bagandan ruler, Mwanga, and encouraged and instructed them in the Catholic faith during their imprisonment for refusing the ruler’s demands. 
<p>For his own unwillingness to submit to the immoral acts and his efforts to safeguard the faith of his friends, Charles was burned to death at Namugongo on June 3, 1886, by Mwanga’s order. </p><p>Charles first learned of Christ’s teachings from two retainers in the court of Chief Mawulugungu. While a catechumen, he entered the royal household as assistant to Joseph Mukaso, head of the court pages. </p><p>On the night of Mukaso’s martyrdom for encouraging the African youths to resist Mwanga, Charles requested and received Baptism. Imprisoned with his friends, Charles’s courage and belief in God inspired them to remain chaste and faithful. </p><p>When Pope Paul VI canonized these 22 martyrs on October 18, 1964, he referred to the Anglican pages martyred for the same reason.</p> American Catholic Blog Heavenly Father, I ask forgiveness of anyone I have wronged during my lifetime. I sincerely regret any harm I may have caused. Likewise, I am willing to forgive anyone who has wronged me. When my time comes, open your arms to me and accept me into your heavenly kingdom, where I will be united with all the loved ones who have gone before me, and I will rejoice forever in your saving presence. Amen.

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