Archbishop Cordileone reminds Catholics of duty to welcome the stranger

"It is important that our people understand what our Church teaches on this critical and timely topic, which provides the rationale for the sorts of policies for which we advocate"

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco. (Photo/CNS)

In the year 2000, the bishops of the dioceses along the border between Mexico and Texas wrote a letter to the presidents of the Mexican and U.S. Conferences of Catholic Bishops. In the letter, they expressed their concern for the loss of life and destruction of family life resulting from existing immigration policies and practices.

For myself, ministering in another border diocese at the time, San Diego, I saw up close the need for immigration reform, and the human tragedy that results from our failure to achieve it. In fact, one of the first pastoral invitations I received as an auxiliary bishop was to celebrate Mass in a cemetery in the Imperial Valley for those buried there. The graves were unmarked. They had to be. The cemetery was for those who had died trying to enter the United States through the desert. Their bodies were found, unidentified. There were over 200 such victims buried in that cemetery at the time.

I had hoped at that time that, by now, our nation would have arrived at a workable solution to the plight of those seeking asylum, refuge or immigration to our land in a way that achieves justice for all involved. Instead, sadly, the problem continues to grow.

For almost fifty years now the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is being celebrated January 7-14 this year. This week is an opportunity the Church gives us to reflect on the harsh circumstances faced by migrants of all types, such as immigrants, refugees, unaccompanied minors and other children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. It is a reminder to all of us of the duty incumbent upon us as Christians to take responsibility for those suffering from our broken immigration system for, as St. John Paul II reminds us in his Encyclical The Gospel of Life, yes, we are all our brother’s and sister’s keeper. I would therefore ask our Catholic people to do two things to honor National Migration week – that is, two things to do not for or during National Migration week, but to do in order to apply the meaning of this week to their lives throughout the year.

First of all, for those not already well versed in the Church’s teaching on migration, I would ask that they become so. While it is true that some policy decisions fall within the area of prudential judgments, there are also basic moral principles that must always be respected if justice for migrants, and the countries they are seeking to enter, is to be attained. It is important that our people understand what our Church teaches on this critical and timely topic, which provides the rationale for the sorts of policies for which we advocate. A good starting point would be to obtain a copy of Strangers No Longer itself and give it a thorough reading. Other information is available on the USCCB immigration website:

Secondly, this important body of Church teaching must not remain in the head. Behind every immigrant story is a very real and moving, and sometimes tragic, human experience. Immigration is an issue which, perhaps more than any other, looks very different when one can put a human face to it. As Pope Francis has stated, “Each migrant has a name, a face and a story.” It is imperative that all people native to our country get to know immigrants and migrants, and listen to their stories. Every one of us in this country has an immigration story somewhere in our families’ lineage, and so in justice we must not see the newly arrived immigrant in our midst as “the other” or, even worse, a statistic, but rather pay attention to and care for them. And as Christians, we have the even higher calling of welcoming the stranger as Christ himself, for he reveals himself to us through them: “I was … a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35).

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.



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  1. The only bishops who have credibility on the topic of immigration are those who haven’t said anything about it. This claptrap is just as one-sided and skewed as all the other blather coming from other bishops on this topic. Europe is committing social and cultural and religious suicide by accepting too many immigrants who are not assimilating into European laws, culture nor Christian religion. When Europe falls to the Muslims, which is all but inevitable at this point, will the U.S. bishops continue to advocate for such foolish openness to the hostile alien here at home?

  2. Paul of Jersey says:

    If the stranger is a moslem he should be sent to a moslem country as there are 50 of them in this world of ours. Most of these moslem countries are quite well off and need workers etc. Strangers by the thousans-, or millions, have absolutely no business in western countries.

    • Paul of Jersey, your suggestion for sending all moslem(sic) back home is interesting. We are a country that doesn’t like to discriminate. I assume then, that you think that the Irish should all go back, the French should all go back, the Germans should all go back, and let’s not forget the people of three or four hundred other religions as well. Your suggestion is totally out of line with US values, built over nearly 400 years. America is a pluralistic country where all religions are welcome to practice as they believe as long as it is within the laws of the nation.. I don’t know where you live, but I suspect it is somewhere that is pretty insular and that you don’t experience diversity on a regular basis. Our nation is made up…

      • Roberta Siena says:

        Bob One — today’s immigrants cannot be compared to yesterday’s. My Portuguese ancestors did not hire ACLU lawyers and sue for “rights,” march in the streets shoving a foreign flag in your face. .. They did not demand welfare because it did not exist then. No comparison!

        • Roberta, you are partially correct. But you miss a lot of our history. In the early days of our nation, Catholics were today’s Arabs, treated badly by the majority. Some even tried to force all Catholics to live in Maryland, land set aside for papists. You may be too young to remember “Irish need not apply” signs in the windows of stores and factories. Nobody would hire them because the considered horrible people. People were mistreated throughout the history of our country. Even as late as the end of the Korean War, millions were deported so that there would be jobs for the returning veterans. The ACLU was created to protect the rights of individuals because of the poor and illegal way people were treating minorities. And it…

  3. As one reads the words of Arpb Cordelione, the thought that comes to mind is what is the obligation of one to do their best to rectify the gvt of the country in which they live.
    Are they just migrating or do they have prospects of employment in the country to which they are migrating.
    How much of their thinking, wanting, desireing is false hope?

  4. Bishop Cordileone is welcome at my parish anytime.

  5. Lou Cumming says:

    Sure sounds like Archbishop Cordileone has drunk the libtard kool-aid big time with all this blather. Yes, we all have an immigration tale in our backgrounds BUT that was legal immigration followed by assimilation into our nation’s culture. Today’s ILLEGAL ALIENS do not assimilate and refuse to speak English, all the while sucking at the public teat to the tune of $134 Billion/year. How much more of this fiscal theft can the nation withstand before the economic lifeboat takes us all down for good? Why isn’t Mexico stopping these illegals at their walled-off southern border? They are enablers of this financial scam! National Migration Week, he says – how about National Law-abiding Week every week for 52 weeks? Our Church leadership has…

    • Anglo Protestants said the same things about my ancestors when they came to New York from Cork in the 1850’s.

      • C&H the difference is that your ancestors and mine from Italy were not flying planes into tall buildings in the name of a false god, nor were they demanding the US change to suit their views.

        • Actually, the refugees from the Middle East are fleeing oppression from those who would fly planes into buildings and worse. The people who didn’t welcome our ancestors claimed WE worshiped false gods such as Mary, the Pope (that’s where “popist” comes from) and even the statues in our churches rather than God. Oh also, they claimed we were dirty and carried dangerous diseases. I have a couple who work for me who benefited from the ’82 amnesty. They’ve contributed 100X more to the country than the yahoos with the Nazi and confederate flags in Charlottesville.

          • Many of the Muslims coming into Europe and into the United States are not refugees. Many are young men without families, fleeing wars that they should be fighting themselves instead of Americans having to fight for them. Because of this rape is rampant in Europe. Many Muslims are even bringing in more than one wife. They admit it out of their own mouths on line, and they are taking government money. Your ancestors and mine did not bring Shariah here.

          • C&H, when immigrants came through Ellis Island they were rightfully checked for disease and quarantined if they had a contagious one. They were also deloused. That was common practice for most or all advanced nations. Every country should protect their own and immigrants coming in who do not have such problems. Ask the Native American tribes as many of them were almost wiped out by diseases brought over from Europe. You might say that we learned the hard way.

          • Hey C&H tell your story to the women of Sweden where rapes are up nearly 300%. You fail to understand that these so called refugees are not fleeing oppression, and if they were in control you would probably be put to death due to their extreme dislike of homosexuals

  6. Lou Cumming says:

    Our Church leadership has cast its lot with the lawbreakers, asking us to support their cause at great expense to us taxpaying citizens. Could this be a reason why financially supporting our parishes is becoming more difficult?
    There are over 400 different languages spoken in our country today and we taxpayers have to provide all these non-assimilating foreigners with translators in hospitals, in court rooms, etc. at enormous cost. This national suicide will not end whilst do-ggoders like the Archbishop keep promoting this nonsense! So sad!!!!!

  7. What would they say about [or to] the Irish, German, Italian and other immigrants of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Some seem to forget that the United States is NOT a Theocracy.

  8. Just try to walk into the Abp Codreleone’s without an official appointment. —–you will gwet the turn down. Where is the Catholic morality that teaches disrespect for the integrity and well-being of a good country like the USA?

  9. “Workable solution” ???

    It is called ENFORCED BORDERS.

    Vatican has them. Chancery has them. Churches themselves have them.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The poor families of those found dead don’t have any idea what has happened to them. Are they dead or alive? We need to find a way to fix that.

  11. I would still like the clergy to address the many Angel Families across the country whose loved ones were killed by illegal immigrants. We never hear a word about them! What about their lives?! What about their dreams?!

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