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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Vatican Position On Migrants 

Gillibrand links to a document from the Vatican:


Erga migrantes caritas Christi
(The love of Christ towards migrants)

Vatican City

The document is devoted to migration in general, and only mentions the word "illegal" in four instances. For the record, here are these four occurrences:

The emigration of family nuclei and women is particularly marked by suffering. Women migrants are becoming more and more numerous. They are often contracted as unskilled labourers (or domestics) and employed illegally. Often migrants are deprived of their most elementary human rights, including that of forming labour unions, when they do not become outright victims of the sad phenomenon of human trafficking, which no longer spares even children. This is a new chapter in the history of slavery.
6. In this regard, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and the Members of their Families – which entered into force on 1 July 2003 and whose ratification was strongly recommended by Pope John Paul II[4]– offers a compendium of rights[5] that give migrants the possibility to make such a contribution. What the Convention foresees therefore deserves the adherence particularly of those states that benefit most from migration. To this end, the Church encourages the ratification of the international legal instruments that ensure the rights of migrants, refugees and their families. The Church also offers its advocacy, which is more and more necessary today, through its various competent institutions and associations (as centres for migrant needs, houses open to them, offices for necessary services, documentation and counselling, etc.). Migrants are often victims of illegal recruitment and of short-term contracts providing poor working and living conditions. This is because they often have to suffer physical, verbal and even sexual abuse, work long hours, often without the benefits of medical care and the usual forms of social security.

The precarious situation of so many foreigners, which should arouse everyone’s solidarity, instead brings about fear in many, who feel that immigrants are a burden, regard them with suspicion and even consider them a danger and a threat. This often provokes manifestations of intolerance, xenophobia and racism.[6]
7. The growing presence of Muslims, as well as followers of other religions, in traditionally Christian countries falls under the broader and more complex heading of the meeting between cultures and interreligious dialogue. In any case, Christians are also present in significant numbers in some nations whose populations are in the vast majority Muslim.

In the face of the widespread migratory phenomenon, with aspects profoundly different today from what they were in the past, policies on a purely national level would be of little value. No country today may think that it can solve migration problems on its own. Even more ineffective would be purely restrictive policies, which, in turn, would generate still more negative effects, with the risk of increasing illegal entries and even favouring the activities of criminal organisations.
41. For this reason the entire Church in the host country must feel concerned and engaged regarding immigrants. This means that local Churches must rethink pastoral care, programming it to help the faithful live their faith authentically in today’s new multicultural and pluri-religious context47. With the help of social and pastoral workers, the local population should be made aware of the complex problems of migration and the need to oppose baseless suspicions and offensive prejudices against foreigners.

In religious instruction and catechesis suitable means must be found to create in the Christian conscience a sense of welcome, especially for the poorest and outcasts as migrants often are. This welcome is fully based on love for Christ, in the certainty that good done out of love of God to one’s neighbour, especially the most needy, is done to Him. This catechesis cannot avoid referring to the serious problems that precede and accompany migration, such as the demographic question, work and working conditions (illegal work), the care of the numerous elderly persons, criminality, the exploitation of migrants and trafficking and smuggling of human beings.

So, as far as the Vatican is concerned, the issue is more "illegal work" than "illegal entry." Well, in this instance. In some cases, the Church feels differently:

A new college graduate from Detroit, Mary Ann Aitken thought herself lucky in 1989 when she got a tiny single-room apartment for $55 a week at Leo House, a century-old Chelsea hotel whose safety, cleanliness and sense of community made it the word-of-mouth choice for single women without a lot of money. Now when she thinks about her seven years there, she weeps.

Ms. Aitken, a 35-year-old social worker, is one of 28 tenants of Leo House Annex who were issued eviction notices on March 18, 1993. She is one of the last survivors of a New York landlord-tenant fight, in which the landlord, a Roman Catholic charity known as the Leo House for German Catholic Emigrants, is set against the remaining tenants, seven women who were either reared Catholic or who have converted.

Most of the other 21 have either left New York or been relocated. Angela D'Urso, who used to live in Room 407A and was 62 years old, had just been laid off from her job as a garment worker. Later in 1993, she died of a brain tumor; the eviction notice, her friends claim, worsened her illness....

Nydia Padilla-Barham, a lawyer for Leo House, said its board sought to evict tenants because they wanted to ''serve more people on a shorter-term basis.'' But whether that means an expansion of the hotel remains unclear, she said.

In other words, it's OK to allow people in our country, but we control the rights of people on our own property. And here's another one from that guardian of human rights, Mexico:

Uncertainty continues for some 36 Evangelical families in the town of San Nicolas, in the municipality of Ixmiquilpan, threatened to be expelled by the Catholic majority after talks broke down the offices of the state executive in this capital.
According to La Jornada, Catholics and Evangelicals have not managed to come to an agreement as the first insist on rejecting the aim of the Christians to build a temple and the Evangelicals say they are not only threatened with eviction but they are barred from meeting to hold worship services (see related stories, here and here).

The meeting between the two groups, the first since the conflict broke out at the beginning of October, when the community assembly ordered the eviction of 36 Evangelical families was led by the director of Religious Affairs for the Government Secretariat Francisco Gonzalez Perrioni and the Secretary of the State Government Francisco Olivera Ruiz.

The representative of around 500 Evangelicals who live in the town of some 8,000 residents Guillermo Cano criticized the federal government as it made no proposals during the talks....

Evangelicals demand the right to profess their religion without suffering discrimination of any type or reprisals and indicated that in San Nicolas, Catholics maintain the control of the town, to the point where they are not even allowed to bury their dead in the local cemetery.

On October 31 the deadline passed that the Catholics set to evict the Evangelical families. Some Catholics have warned that they will not give a specific date and will act in the night or at dawn to avoid the presence of authorities or journalists.

Ah, but the rights espoused by the Vatican only apply to migrants, not to people who have lived in the town all their lives.

But there are other instances:

Prosecutors dropped trespassing charges yesterday against two parishioners who were arrested last week after launching a sit-in at a Natick church to try to keep it from closing.

The decision was made at the request of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, which is wrestling with rebellious parishioners as it tries to close parishes to balance its budget and deal with a shortage of priests....

Parishioners Anne Green and Leo Ryan, both of Holliston, were arrested after Christmas Eve Mass when they refused to leave Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which is one of about 50 parishes the archdiocese has closed since July. It plans to close at least 30 more in coming months.

Sacred Heart officially closed Sunday, after a second group of parishioners left the church rather than face threatened trespassing charges.

Both Sacred Heart parishioners who were charged said yesterday that they were relieved not to have to go to court, but disillusioned by what they considered unnecessary action by archdiocese leaders.

''I think dropping the charges was the only sensible thing for them to do," said Green, 54. ''But I still feel suppressed, which is the word the archdiocese is using to close the churches. I feel put down, put out, rejected, and unimportant to the archdiocese."

A church employee apparently let in police, who ordered Green and Ryan to leave the building, archdiocesan officials said. The two were arrested after disobeying an officer's order, they said.

But archdiocese officials said the Rev. Joseph Slyva, Sacred Heart's pastor, expected police to escort the parishioners from the building.

''It was not the intention of Father Slyva to have these folks arrested," said Ann Carter, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.

''He asked the parishioners to leave, and when they wouldn't, he asked the police to escort them out."

Asked whether the archdiocese worries that the request to drop the charges might lead to similar action at other churches, Carter said: ''I'm not worried. These decisions are made on a parish-by-parish basis. I think the right judgment was made in this case."

If a sit-in had started at Sacred Heart, it would have been the ninth parish in the archdiocese where parishioners refused to leave. Vigils are ongoing at churches in Brookline, East Boston, Everett, Newton, Scituate, Sudbury, Wellesley, and Weymouth.

The arrests were the second time that protesting parishioners have been taken into custody since the archdiocese began closing parishes in July. Last month, police arrested Eugene E. Sweeney, 69, of Woburn, after he refused to leave his church, Immaculate Conception in Winchester, which was also slated to close.

At the archdiocese's request, prosecutors also dropped the charges against Sweeney.

One can argue that this is less distressing - hey, the Catholic Church didn't press charges. But one can argue that this is more distressing, since the Catholic Church expected the civil authorities to take care of the matter themselves by escorting the people out.

But a Pakistani paper notes that Protestants are just as guilty of trumpeting evictions:

Throughout the world, criticism is growing against Israel’s hard-line tactics against Palestinians, but support for Zionism remains firm among America’s millions of evangelical Christians.

Last week, thousands of evangelical Christians cheered as a member from Israel’s Knesset called for the “relocation of Palestinians” from the West Bank to Jordan.

Benny Elon, a member of the Moledet party, called for the “transfer of Palestinians” to Arab countries, saying the Bible calls for a “resettlement” of the Palestinians. His remarks were applauded at the annual convention of the Christian Coalition, and many of the neo-conservatives waved Israeli flags. The audience also cheered House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, who told them to back pro-Israel candidates....

Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson, the main speaker at the Christian Coalition convention held in Washington...attacked Yasser Arafat, saying he had “killed or deported the vast percentage of Christian population in Bethlehem.”...

Experts commenting on the conference say fundamentalist Christian, pro-Israel beliefs are fuelled less by evangelical graduate-level theologians than by media-savvy television preachers, such as Robertson. In addition, pro-Israel rallies are also held each year during the US Gospel broadcasters’ convention.

“Literalist” evangelicals often obfuscate historical facts in the Middle East. One example is Richard Land, a social-issues spokesman for the southern Baptist Convention, who told the Los Angeles Times earlier this year that the welfare of the United States depends on friendship with Israel because of God’s biblical covenant with Abraham’s descendants. It appears he overlooked Ismail’s lineage, also Abraham’s son.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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