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Diocese Conducts Priest Study Day on Immigration

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The Diocese of Raleigh conducted a Priest study day, Thursday, February 10, on the subject of immigration and the need for comprehensive immigration reform in the United States. The sessions were conducted by the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn, and Mr. Kevin Appleby, Director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs.

In introducing Bishop DiMarzio, the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge cited Bishop DiMarzio’s long history of active involvement in migration issues, dating back 35 years. In addition to directing social service ministries in his home Archdiocese of Newark, Bishop DiMarzio served as Executive Director of the USCCB’s Office of Migration and Refugee Services from 1985-1991 and chaired the USCCB’s Committee on Migration from 1998-2001. He also serves as a member of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

Mr. Appleby holds a law degree from the University of Maryland and a Master’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University. He is a leading consultant to the United States Bishops on immigration issues, speaks on the issue at forums and conferences throughout the country, and has presented statements on behalf of the Bishops to Congressional committees.

Bishop DiMarzio and Mr. Appleby’s presentations involved a history of immigration in the country, comparing immigrants who arrived 100 years ago to those arriving today. Areas included assimilation, acculturation, specifically the transition from what was termed the melting pot, to the mosaic view, to what is now being labeled the “fruit salad,” which, Bishop DiMarzio pointed out, is a more multi-cultural approach.

The Bishop noted that the Catholic Church’s concern and involvement in the immigration issue is nothing new. He said it goes back decades, with several important Vatican and U.S. church documents written on the subject. “I do believe,” Bishop DiMarzio said, “that the history of the Church in the past 50 years has brought us to a better level of understanding of how to welcome immigrants.”

Bishop DiMarzio spoke of one significant document prepared by the Bishops’ Conferences of the United States and Mexico titled “Migration in a Globalized Context.”  He said it set forth five principles that speak to the Church’s teaching on migration, which, he added, permeates Catholic social teaching. They are the right to find opportunities in one’s homeland; the right to migrate to support themselves and their families; the rights of sovereign nations to control their borders; the affording of protection to refugees and asylum seekers; and the respect for human rights and human dignity of the undocumented.

In discussing globalization, Bishop DiMarzio reflected on the economic plight in their homelands that is forcing many migrants to seek livelihood in the United States. He noted that many come to our country because jobs exist for them, yet they are often not afforded protection. Citing the Vatican document, “Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi: A Response of the Church to the Migration Phenomenon Today,” Bishop DiMarzio shared the quote, “Foreign workers are not to be considered merchandise or merely manpower, nor should they be treated just like any other factor of production. Every migrant enjoys inalienable fundamental rights which must be respected in all cases.”

The Priest study day is one of three scheduled within the next several weeks. Others to be presented will be conducted for Pastoral Administrators and parish staffs.

Above: Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio addressing Priests serving in the Diocese of Raleigh during study day on immigration.

Below: Father Douglas Reed and Father Bruce Bavinger, S.J., during study day held at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Raleigh.