(RNS) — More than 100 Catholic organizations from Central America, Mexico and the United States are urging their respective bishops to “speak with one bold and united voice” to protect migrants and refugees seeking a better life.
“We need your pastoral and moral leadership to meet this moment,” reads a June 17 letter signed by 162 Catholic groups.
“This summer and fall, we have the best opportunity in a generation to make progress on core Catholic migration priorities,” it continues.
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This statement comes as U.S. bishops are meeting virtually for their annual spring gathering.
The letter is addressed to Archbishop Gonzalo de Villa y Vásquez of Guatemala, Bishop Angel Garachana Pérez of Honduras, Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas of El Salvador, Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera López of Mexico and Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, who is president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“The promise by a new U.S. Administration to address the root causes of migration, treat migrants humanely, and put immigrants who’ve lived in the U.S. for years, and in many cases decades, on a path to citizenship is a unique opportunity to relieve pain and suffering too long endured,” the letter says. “This moment requires a whole Church response that is regional, united, and robust.”
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As people continue to migrate from Central America, the groups are advocating for a pastoral response “to provide more safe refuge for people while they travel across the region and wait for resolution of their cases.” They also ask for more support as they help migrants resettle and integrate families in their new communities or when they return home, according to the letter.
“As a Church accompanying migrants every step of the way we are uniquely situated to fill the breach by planning for the increase in migrants,” the groups say.
They also advocate for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who are already in the U.S., adding that many families in their parishes have lived in the U.S. for a generation without legal status, and ask for support as Catholic groups work to ensure U.S. aid money makes it to the communities that need it the most.
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“Your leadership is pivotal in reorienting U.S. policy toward Central America, away from low wage employment and extractive industries, toward better jobs, sustainable development, and human rights protection,” the groups say in the letter.
The letter is signed by U.S. groups including Hope Border Institute, Faith in Action, Kino Border Initiative and Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico, Santa Fe and San Diego.
Other groups include Casa Monarca and Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados in Mexico as well as Pastoral de Liturgia and Misioneros Claretianos Izabal in Guatemala. Comunidades de Fe Organizadas En Acción in El Salvador and Pastoral de Movilidad Humana in Honduras also signed the letter.