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Archbishop Gomez on the immigration debate

Catholic World News - March 25, 2011

In an address delivered at Catholic University of America, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles sought to “outline what I believe to be the root issues with US-Mexican migration,” “explain the Catholic Church’s approach to these issues,” and “make some suggestions and observations about the current debate in light of Catholic principles.”

“I also need to point out something obvious,” he said. “I am not a politician or a diplomat or an expert in the global economy. I am a Catholic archbishop. That means I am a priest and a pastor of souls. In everything, my concern is to be faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to defend and promote the dignity of the human person who is made in the image of God. I don’t have technical solutions or statistical analysis to offer. But I do think the Catholic Church has a unique and important perspective to offer on these issues.”

Addressing the Church’s “approach to these issues,” Archbishop Gomez offered three principles:

  • “the human family is one, although we have different ethnic origins and we are spread across different continents, regions, and national boundaries”
  • “the sanctity of the human person and the family”
  • “governments have the right to control migration into their countries and to defend their borders”
  • “This is important,“ he said as he discussed the third principle, adding:

    It means that nations must look at their security and their economic interests in making decisions about who and how many people they allow into their countries. It means that immigrants must respect the laws of the countries they emigrate to.

    But the Church also teaches that national sovereignty should never be used as an excuse to deny the rights of needy and decent people who are seeking their livelihood. No country can deny this basic human right to migrate out of exaggerated fears for national security or selfish concerns about threats to domestic jobs or standards of living.

    Those are the Church’s principles. Based on these on these principles, the American bishops have supported a comprehensive reform of our immigration policies that would secure our borders and give undocumented immigrants the chance to earn permanent residency and eventual citizenship.

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