An Op-Ed on refugee status
You may have seen an Op-Ed in last Sunday’s Arizona Daily Star about the plight of Salvadoran refugees whose temporary protected status in this country recently was ended.
Bishop Emeritus Gerald F. Kicanas and I sent the article to the Star to call attention to this issue. It is important that we keep the right to life and dignity of people in mind when we hear or read stories about immigrants and refugees. It seems that increasingly, our government makes decisions that do not take the human element into consideration. It is our job as citizens to inform our lawmakers when decisions made by the government do not follow Catholic Social teaching, especially when those decisions adversely affect the lives of people who came to this country in search of safety and better lives, and who are fulfilling their role as temporary citizens.
In case you didn’t see the article, here is the text of the Op-Ed:
Time to speak up for immigrants
As we begin a new year, fears continue to grow for legal immigrants, as the administration rescinds protections that had been extended to them by previous presidents. Not only is the current administration set on deporting undocumented immigrants with equities, it is also focused upon deporting immigrants with legal status conferred under U.S. law.
Most recently, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), part of a federal law passed in 1990, has been terminated for the 200,000 Salvadorans, as it has been for Haitians and Nicaraguans. These groups came to the United States amid dangerous armed conflicts, environmental disasters or widespread epidemics in their countries.
Salvadorans were granted TPS protection, which defers deportation and grants work authorization, because of the 2001 earthquakes that devastated the area and killed more than 1,000 people. In their years in the United States they have planted roots, bore children and been contributing members of our society. According to the Center for Migration Studies of New York, nearly 90 percent are employed and close to a third of now-US based Salvadorans own homes. They have 192,000 US-citizen children. Now these families are in danger of being separated and possibly returned to countries still struggling with dangerous violence and instability. In addition, this will further disrupt the Salvadoran economy which currently receives and estimated 17 percent of its revenue from family members in the United States.
To compound matters, the administration rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September, leaving 800,000 undocumented youth at risk of deportation. Lately, we hear bickering in Washington about whether these young people-- known as “Dreamers”-- who came to the United States as young children with their parents should receive permanent status and possible citizenship from Congress. The administration, which ended the program, is requiring funding for a border wall and other restrictive measures as ransom for legislation protecting the Dreamers.
While all would agree that reasonable border protection is needed and while clearly countries have a right to protect their borders, it is wrong to barter the lives of these young people by making their protection contingent on a wall or stringent border protection that is unreasonable and a waste of taxpayer’s money. Congress should pass the Dream Act as a stand-alone bill.
We cannot believe that the majority of hard working, dedicated Americans support these punitive efforts. We understand there are strident voices who continue to make their feelings known to our politicians but more of us need to speak up. We should make known to our leaders in Washington that we are not a vindictive nation, but a people that honor our commitments and embrace those who have experienced trauma or who find themselves raised in our country without legal status through no fault of their own.
We have seen the good will and heroic efforts of Americans who helped people involved in devastating natural disasters in our country. We believe that these same Americans, good Samaritans, would support protecting vulnerable populations and not returning them to dangerous situations. We believe they would welcome with open arms people that have been traumatized and applaud the dreamers who want to be contributing members in our communities.
We are at a moment in our nation’s history that could define who we are as a people. Traditional American values of fairness and compassion are in conflict.
This is a situation that is a moral test for our society; we must not fail. Speak up.
Most Rev. Edward J. Weisenburger Bishop of Tucson
Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas Bishop Emeritus
Meeting with Gov. Ducey
I look forward to meeting with Gov. Doug Ducey this afternoon. The meeting, arranged by Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, also will include Ron, Most Rev. Eduardo A. Nevares, Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix and Bishop John Stephen Pazak, C.S.s.R., Bishop of Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix.
The Catholic Conference assists each of the member dioceses with setting common legislative goals in areas such as education funding for non-public schools, immigration, refugee concerns and right to life matters. Johnson conveys the decisions of the Conference members to state legislators and keeps both legislators and the member bishops advised of legislation.
New Catholic Foundation board president
Congratulations to John Tellmann, the new President of the Catholic Foundation Board of Directors. John, who retired from the energy industry, is a member of St. Mark Parish in Oro Valley. He serves or has served on the St. Mark Finance Council, Stone Canyon Community Foundation, and as Purdue University Alumni Association’s Director. His wife, Colette, serves on the Catholic Foundation’s Cornerstone Gala Planning Committee.
Week for Christian Unity
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an annual international Christian ecumenical observance that takes place for eight days between 18 January and 25.
Online resources report that observing the week “began in 1908, and it was then called the Octave of Christian Unity, and focused on prayer for church unity. The dates of the week were proposed by Father Paul Wattson, co-founder of the Graymoor Franciscan Friars. He conceived of the week beginning on the Feast of the Confession of Peter, the Protestant variant of the ancient Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, on January 18, and concluding with the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul on January 25.” Pope Pius X officially blessed the concept, and Benedict XV "encouraged its observance throughout the entire Roman Catholic Church."
Locally, it is our own Loretta Tracey, diocesan liaison with ecumenical and interfaith leaders, who coordinates the week’s prayers and events with those leaders.
You are invited to join with members of other Christian churches and communities in a special observance of this event on Jan. 23 at 7p.m. at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church, 3201 E. Presidio Road in Tucson (one block east of Country Club Rd and one block south of Ft. Lowell Rd).
The theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “Your Right Hand, O God, Glorious in Power”.
I told you about the Knights of Columbus Dinner with Bishop to benefit seminarian education and priest retirement in the last Update. The Jan 14 dinner, sponsored by the Msgr. Don H. Hughes Assembly #2392, was successful, and the Knights presented Bishop Emeritus Gerald F. Kicanas with a check for $27,000 for the two causes.
It is the work of groups such as the Knights that offer so much support to our diocese and I am grateful.
In the photo at right, Bart Pemberton, of the Knights of Columbus, is presenting the check to our Bishop Emeritus.