J/P Alert is the newsletter of the Justice and Peace office of CMSM. It is intended to inform and stimulate discussion and involvement among the members. Its contents do not necessarily represent official positions of CMSM.
Leo Chavez, a sociologist from the University of California at Irvine, wrote a book some years ago titled Shadowed Lives: Undocumented Immigrants in American Society. In the book's preface he recounts the following anecdote:
Immigration reform has deeply divided both Congress and the American people. Among the bills presently being considered by Congress, two stand out:
The latter was recently passed by the House. The
former has not yet come to a vote.
The Sensenbrenner/King bill, on the other hand, stands in clear opposition to important principles of Catholic Social Teaching. The U.S. bishops strongly oppose H.R. 4437. The legislation includes many harsh provisions which would bring undue harm to immigrants and their families. Among its many provisions, it would make unlawful presence a felony; subject anyone who assists an undocumented alien, even humanitarian workers or clergy in pursuit of their pastoral duties, to criminal penalties; require mandatory detention of all aliens apprehended along the U.S. border, including children and families; and limit relief to asylum-seekers through an expansion of expedited removal. According to a March 1, 2006, article in the Los Angeles Times, Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles has instructed his priests and pastoral workers to "defy legislation [referring to the Sensenbrenner/King bill] — if approved by Congress — that would require churches and other social organizations to ask immigrants for legal documentation before providing assistance and penalize them if they refuse to do so."
At the present time, a third bill, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill of 2006, has been introduced by Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) and is currently undergoing hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Specter is the chair. Billed as an attempt to find a compromise, the bill as presently constituted retains most of the undesirable and punitive aspects of HR.4437.
More information and resources for local action are available on the US Bishops' Justice for Immigrants Web site.
A majority of Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House led by Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Connecticut) has released a statement of principles. Signed by 55 House Democrats, the statement documents how their faith influences them as lawmakers, making clear their commitment to the basic principles at the heart of Catholic social teaching and their bearing on policy – whether it is increasing access to education for all or pressing for real health care reform, taking seriously the decision to go to war, or reducing poverty. Above all, the document expresses the signers' commitment to the dignity of life and their belief that government has moral purpose. The full text of the statement is available at www.house.gov/delauro/press/2006/February/catholic_statement_2_28_06.html.
Family Research Council Vice President Tom McClusky, a Catholic, was quoted in the Feb. 28 Washington Post as saying, in response to the declaration, that issues "such as helping the poor, the death penalty, views on war… aren't tenets of the Catholic Church." This response was immediately challenged by Father Jim Hug, SJ, director of the Center of Concern: "Helping the poor has remained a basic principle of Catholic social ethics since the earliest days of our Church. Moreover, the Church's present leadership has been unequivocal in its condemnation of the death penalty in the U.S., and has repeatedly expressed grave moral concerns over the Iraq War. It is disappointing that Mr. McClusky would use his position to suggest otherwise."
Mr. McClusky's comments came as Pope Benedict XVI issued his message for Lent 2006, reflecting on "today's rapidly changing world, in which our responsibility towards the poor emerges with ever greater clarity and urgency."
[Ed Dunn, OFM, was a long-time member of CMSM's Justice and Peace Committee. The following was written by Rebecca Phares, Associate Director, Justice and Peace/Integrity of Creation Office, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.]
Br. Ed Dunn, OFM, who passed away on February 12, 2006 at the age of 55, was an amazing man. Ed did enough to fit into several lifetimes. He worked in El Salvador for many years, fought valiantly to end the deaths on the US/Mexico border and for compassionate treatment of migrants, and struggled for justice in many pastoral contexts. He formed alliances with union organizers and immigrant workers, with upper-middle class citizens of San Diego, with civil rights advocates and with Members of Congress.
Ed was a big man, in body and in spirit. He had an instant rapport with almost everyone he met, an amazing ability to bring people together. And Ed had a lot of fun doing all of this.
I first met Ed when I had just begun working for the Religious Task Force on Central America and Mexico (RTFCAM) on a border project. Ed convinced many of us from DC to be part of the Border Summit, an activist/advocate's conference about the US/Mexico Border. When faith based activists got together some months later at a meeting which Ed helped to plan, his beautiful voice opened the gathering with song. And when it came time to decide what we would undertake together, it was Ed who spoke up with his vision of a pilgrimage across the border. He made us believe we could take on the huge project of traveling across the 2000 mile US/Mexico border, establishing contacts in cities where we had none, and ending with a conference for faith-based activists interested in working on border issues.
Brother Ed offered me hospitality on several occasions while I was working for the RTFCAM. On one visit, during the three days I stayed with him, Ed led a gathering at a local church, a house meeting in a wealthy neighborhood above San Diego, took me to tour a toxic waste dump site with a local immigration lawyer, brought me to see a film on immigrant labor, and facilitated a meeting of local activists from all of these places who were working together to change local and national immigrant rights laws. By members of all of these diverse crowds, he was greeted as a dear friend.
As my colleague Margaret Swedish wrote the day after Ed's passing: "His spirit was infectious and always an inspiration, an antidote to the despair with which we all struggle from to time, and an affirmation of the faith in the larger Meaning that framed all of our efforts over these past decades. I loved him very much, me and a few thousand other folks. I know that last evening, Oscar Romero, the four churchwomen, and a host of saints and martyrs were there to receive Ed into their loving and joyful embrace. He will always be present to us, as are they, encouraging us, urging us on, filling us with their spirit and strength. And in the background, there will be that deep baritone voice breaking into song..."
May we all be gifted with a little bit of Ed's vision and also with some of his energy and joy. Ed, we love you, brother, and we'll miss you. May we bring a little bit more fun and a little more wild vision to the daily struggle of working for justice because we knew you.
This new study guide from the National Council of Churches USA, informs and motivates Christians to pray, study and take action to end extreme global poverty. In six sessions, structured around the Millennium Development Goals, the guide offers progress updates, spiritual reflections, discussion questions and action steps to make eight internationally-agreed goals to end extreme poverty, hunger and disease by 2015 a reality.
For more information on the study guide and ordering
information, please visit
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.
T. Michael McNulty, SJ, editor
8808 Cameron St., Silver Spring, MD 20910