A most rewarding moment in my daily routine after a long workday or returning home from some travels is to sit with my wife for a while to watch our children play.
Their energy and creativity are mesmerizing. Their laugh is contagious. They make everything fun! As they play and talk, my mind often slips into the imaginary worlds that they describe, worlds charged with possibility.
I suddenly find myself drawn into contemplation. Their openness to possibility and hope invite me to consider how much these are part of my life. Theirs is an invitation to being Catholic in the sense of finding God’s grace in such moments.
A sudden cry or a dispute for a toy or a disagreement about who wins the game ends the moment. Yes, they quarrel. After all, this is part of being siblings. Yet, it was worthy. Then life goes on.
Many Catholic families in the United States experience these moments on a daily basis. It is likely that many of us enjoy them because of the relative stability — social, economic, mental — in which we live. Unfortunately, millions of immigrant Catholic families do not.
My heart breaks as I learn about the large number of Catholic families in the United States negatively affected by harsh migration policies that are tearing them apart and have many living in a state of constant fear.
The inability to pass legislative alternatives to help young people covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the suspension of Temporary Protected Status for tens of thousands who have lived in this country legally most of their lives is troubling. Statistically speaking, the majority of them are Catholic.
One cannot learn about the massive deportations of Catholic parents leaving U.S.-born children and vulnerable spouses behind and remain unmoved.
All these and the systemic separation of Catholic children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border amount to a theater of horror that demands Catholic action.
I am intentionally adding the word “Catholic” before each group. The majority of immigrants affected by these circumstances, documented and undocumented, are Hispanic and Catholic. These realities hit home for Catholics. They are our realities.
The merciless application of the rule of law in our society limits practices of welcoming and compassion toward women and men of all ages searching for better lives. Catholics cannot simply go with the flow. Remember our immigrant roots.
The Catholic bishops of the United States have been widely outspoken about the urgency of advocating for better and more humane immigration policies, especially policies that do not separate families. This implies also a better and more humane application of existing policies.
In conversation with a bishop in California, he expressed that bishops often feel alone in this conversation. Many Catholics do not seem interested in these matters; too many stand in opposition to their own bishops on questions of immigration advocacy. The further removed from the border Catholics are, the less we think that this is important.
How can we build Catholicism in the United States in the 21st century ignoring the plight and the struggles of millions of our own Catholic families? Being Catholic is to be pro-family. Let us then seize the moment, show our solidarity and advocate for immigrant Catholic families.
The moments I spend with my family are precious. In the warmth of the home, with the laughs and the vivid imagination of the young, hope is almost tangible. I want that the millions of immigrant Catholic families that cannot yet have those moments — most of them Hispanic families — have them as well. I hope you do, too.
Ospino is professor of theology and religious education at Boston College. He is a member of the leadership team for the Fifth National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry.
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