Archbishop Hebda pledges solidarity with immigrants

| December 12, 2016 | 5 Comments

The Catholic Church will not abandon immigrants and refugees, Archbishop Bernard Hebda and other leaders of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis wrote in a letter to immigrants Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The leaders acknowledged the concerns about immigration that have swelled since the Nov. 8 presidential election. During his campaign, president-elect Donald Trump spoke of tightening immigration regulations plus deporting people in the country illegally.

“We know that since the November elections, many of you have expressed concern about possible changes in immigration policies and practices. These possible changes are only speculation at this point, yet they have caused fear and uncertainty about work situations and even anxiety over deportation,” they wrote.

The letter coincided with a National Day of Prayer for Migrants and Refugees, which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops designated on the Marian feast day this year. The day, which celebrates 16th century apparitions of the Virgin Mary to St. Juan Diego in Mexico, is especially important to Latino Catholics. She is honored as patroness of the Americas.

The letter was signed by Archbishop Hebda, Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens and Father Kevin Kenney, vicar for Latino Ministries and the pastor of Divine Mercy in Faribault and St. Michael in Kenyon.

“We will seek to protect you, our brothers and sisters, and do what we can to prevent unjust deportation,” they wrote. “Jesus Christ clearly tells us in the Scriptures that we are to serve our neighbors and protect the most vulnerable among us. We will do our best to be faithful to His command to welcome the stranger in need.”

They also noted that Christmas preparations remind Christians that “our Savior Jesus Christ was born in a manger away from his home, and that the Holy Family themselves experienced a time as refugees in Egypt.”

The archdiocesan leaders also reaffirmed USCCB Vice President Archbishop Jose Gomez’s statement regarding the matter. Archbishop Gomez serves the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which has a vast immigrant population.

“We want immigrants to know the Church is with them, offers prayers on their behalf, and is actively monitoring developments at the diocesan, state and national levels to be an effective advocate on their behalf,” Archbishop Gomez said in the USCCB statement.

Archbishop Hebda and Bishop Cozzens also shared their message in Spanish in a video posted on YouTube.

In a separate letter to Catholics in the archdiocese dated Dec. 10, Archbishop Hebda encouraged everyone “to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world — and here in our country — who find themselves living in fear and uncertainty, away from their home countries due to violence, famine, oppression and economic depression,” and reiterated that “their experience is not unlike that of Christ.”

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