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THE SOCIAL DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH: MAGISTERIAL TEACHING ON IMMIGRATION AND EMIGRATION

In all of the public debates on immigration and the flow of refugee migrants, it is important for us as Catholics to be grounded in the magisterial teaching of the Church. Here follows some excerpts from the excellent compendium by Christopher Jay, 2000 Years of Social Wisdom: Catholic Social Teaching from the Papacy, published in 2016:

When there are just reasons in favor of it, [people] must be permitted to emigrate to other countries and take up residence there. The fact that [they are] citizens of a particular State does not deprive [them] of membership in the human family, nor of citizenship in that universal society, the common, world-wide fellowship of men (“Pacem in Terris”, 1963, PAR 25)...And among man’s personal rights we must include his right to enter a country in which he hopes to be able to provide more fittingly for himself and his dependents. It is therefore the duty of State officials to accept such immigrants and— so far as the good of their own community, rightly understood, permits—to further the aims of those who may wish to become members of a new society. (Par. 106)

We are thinking of the precarious situations of a great number of emigrant workers whose condition as foreigners makes it all the more difficult for them to make any sort of social vindication, in spite of their real participation in the economic effort of the country that receives them. It is urgently necessary to people to go beyond a narrowly nationalist attitude in their regard and to give them a charter which will assure them a right to emigrate, favor their integration, facilitate their professional advancement and give them access to decent housing where, if such is the case, their families can join them. Linked to this category are the people who, to find work, or to escape a disaster or a hostile climate, leave their regions, and find themselves without roots among other people. It is everyone’s duty, but especially that of Christians, to work with energy for the establishment of universal brotherhood, the indispensable basis for authentic justice and the condition for enduring peace: ‘We cannot in truthfulness call upon God who is the Father of all if we refuse to act in a brotherly way toward certain men, created to God’s image.’ (“Octagesima Adveniens”, 1971, PAR 17)

We can say that we are facing a social phenomenon of epochmaking proportions that requires bold, forward looking policies of international co-operation if it is to be handled effectively...No country can be expected to address today’s problem of migration by itself. We are all witnesses of the burden of suffering, the dislocation and the aspirations that accompany the flow of migrants. The phenomenon, as everyone knows, is difficult to manage; but there is no doubt that foreign workers, despite any difficulties concerning integration, make a significant contribution to the economic development of the host country through their labor, besides that which they make to their country of origin through the money they send home. Obviously these laborers cannot be considered as a commodity or a mere workforce...Every migrant is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance. (Caritas in Veritate, 2009, PAR 62)  

(Fr. Higgins)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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