THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT • JULY 3, 2013
Fair immigration reform is our responsibility as Christians CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Senate passed S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which beefs up border security while providing a path to legalization and ultimately citizenship for many of the nation’s estimated 11 million immigrants who are here illegally. Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, said the bishops disagree with elements of the bill but “see the legislation as an overall improvement upon the status quo.” The bill faces an uncertain fate in the House, which is taking a piecemeal approach with separate bills focusing first on border security. The letter is signed by more than 100 Christian clergy, including bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Churches. They represent more than 2 million Minnesota Christians, said Carl Nelson, president of Transform Minnesota, a regional network of evangelical churches and ministries from nine denominations. He encouraged people to download the letter and send it to their representatives in Congress. The letter can be accessed on the Minnesota Catholic Conference’s website at HTTP://MNCC.ORG.
Respecting human dignity The letter recognizes the right of nations to secure their borders and make decisions about the identity and number of immigrants allowed into their country. But it also acknowledges the current system’s failures. “The painful experiences we have witnessed firsthand as we have ministered to [immigrants] and served with them tell us our current immigration system fails to reflect our nation’s commitment to the value of human dignity and protecting family unity,” Nelson said. Father Kevin Kenney, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Paul and the archdiocese’s vicar for Latinos, has seen firsthand the pain caused by the current immigration system, particularly for undocumented immigrants in the United States. “Thinking back to a recent visit to the immigration holding center in Bloomington,” he said, “I can still hear the cry of a mother whose 18-year-old son was deported that morning, knowing that her son did not speak Spanish because he had been brought to the United States as an infant and now was being sent to a border town as a lamb among wolves.” “Over the past years, more families have been torn
Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit
Archbishop John Nienstedt speaks at a press conference June 26 in Minneapolis announcing a joint statement from Minnesota faith leaders on federal immigration reform. Among those attending were, from left, the Rev. Yolandita Colon, executive justice pastor at Iglesia Maranatha Minneapolis; Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference; Father Kevin Kenney, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Paul; and Father Joseph Williams, pastor of St. Stephen in Minneapolis.
apart by this broken immigration system as fathers, brothers, mothers and children are being deported back to their countries for as little as a broken taillight on their car,” Father Kenney said. “Our immigrant families are open to working and want to work, so why not allow them to help grow our economy in a just and a safe way?” he said. “Our immigrant families are family-centered and have great faith and values. Their love for the church and life is refreshing and renewing. We need to keep our immigrant families together.” Father Joseph Williams, pastor of St. Stephen in Minneapolis, attended the press conference and said he understands the difficulties many immigrants face. “We’ve been content as a society too long to let these people serve us,” said Father Williams, who estimates that Latinos make up about 80 to 90 percent of St. Stephen’s congregation. “They cook our meals, clean our hotels . . . and we’re not recognizing them as our brothers and sisters. That has to end.” Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota
Marriage is blessed vocation with God as companion CONTINUED FROM PAGE 2 backgrounds is a source of deep concern for me, precisely because a mutually unified understanding of sacramentality in many cases is not present and because a fully unified practice of faith is not possible. In such instances, pastoral leaders must devote extra time and attention to ensure that these couples are prepared to face the inevitable challenges that will face their commitment.
Importance of children Lastly, allow me to speak to the overall importance of the procreation and education of children in regard to the sacramentality of marriage. The Second Vatican Council’s constitution, “Gaudium et Spes,” did not use the distinction of “primary” and “secondary” in referring to the two-fold significance of the conjugal act, namely its procreative and unitive significances. This has led some commentators to conclude that a conflict could arise whereby the procreative significance may legiti-
mately be ignored in favor of the unity of the couple, thus rationalizing the immoral use of contraception or sterilization. My bishop, John Cardinal Dearden (for whom I served four years as his priest secretary), served as the committee chair when that section on marriage was being drafted. He told me personally that the above interpretation was never intended by the Council Fathers. While the two ends are essential, they do not bear the same moral weight. The procreative intent of marriage has been its defining character “from the beginning.” (Genesis 1:28) St. Paul speaks of marriage as a “great mystery,” a marvelous participation in God’s life and mission. It is a blessed vocation and a holy adventure, wherein a man and a woman entrust their hearts, their lives and their eternal destinies to one another. God is the silent companion in the living out of that commitment. Marriages flourish when that is understood and when God’s assistance is sought in daily prayer and Sunday Eucharist.
Catholic Conference, said parishes and local communities can play a significant role in getting meaningful reform passed by educating others about the importance of the issue, dispelling myths that persist about immigrants and reform measures, and encouraging people to contact their lawmakers right away. “We recognize that finding solutions to the plight of immigrants today will sometimes necessitate the overcoming of boundaries of the heart, not just of the land,” Archbishop Nienstedt said. “Every immigrant is a person — a daughter, a son, a mother, a father, he said. “Each of those persons possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by all. As Christians, we have a responsibility to welcome the stranger out of charity and respect. Supporting legislation that helps repair our broken immigration system is part of this responsibility as believers in Jesus Christ.” This story contains information from Catholic News Service.
Protections needed at state level CONTINUED FROM PAGE 10 Yet, most states, Minnesota included, are still lacking conscience protections for “preventive care” services, namely contraceptives and abortifacient drugs. Thus, many pharmacists are still vulnerable to conscience discrimination while the administration continues to whittle away at contraception regulations. Just recently, for example, Plan B One-Step, the “morning after” emergency contraception pill, became available over the counter with no age restrictions. Some Minnesota legislators, however, are making efforts to address this concern. In April, Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) introduced a conscience rights amendment, entitled the Right of Conscience in Health Care Protected, to the Omnibus HHS Finance Bill (2013 H.F. 1233). This proposed legislation is similar to Illinois’ Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which is an ideal example of state conscience protections. The amendment as introduced protects health care professionals from discrimination and liability for refusing to participate in any potentially objectionable procedure, except for providing emergency contraceptives to
sexual assault victims as required by Minnesota law. Though the Right of Conscience in Health Care Protected amendment was not adopted, it did receive some support and will hopefully be reintroduced with greater success.
Faith in the public square Conscience protection is not about hindering access to health care. It is about respecting our right to act consistently with our consciences in the course of our employment. Efforts to pass conscience protection legislation will require faithful participation in the face of political adversity. As Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput recently reminded us, we are called to love our Catholic faith “enough to struggle for it in the public square.” It is our collective witness to the sanctity of life that will ensure our progress toward a greater respect for conscience. Sarah Schaefer is a law clerk at the Minnesota Catholic Conference and entering her second year of studies at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.
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