(Vatican Radio) US and Mexican border Bishops have vowed to continue to follow the good example of Pope Francis and seek to construct bridges rather than the walls of exclusion and exploitation.
A joint statement released by Bishops of the border between Texas and Northern Mexico, calls on governments to adopt policies that respect the human rights of migrants and undocumented residents.
Listen to the report by Susy Hodges:
Please find below the full Statement entitled “The cry of Christ and voice of the migrant moves us”:
Statement of the bishops of the border between Texas and northern Mexico
The cry of Christ and voice of the migrant moves us
1. We greet great you joyfully from the basilica of Our Lady of San Juan de Valle, in the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. We speak on behalf of the bishops, priests, religious and committed lay persons who are participating in the bi-annual meeting of Tex/Mex border bishops. For this meeting we have invited representatives from all the border dioceses between the USA and Mexico.
2. We began these biannual meetings in 1986 as an expression of the communion of the Universal Church. The prime concern in all these years has been to address the life and pastoral needs of our migrant brothers and sisters.
3. In this difficult moment in our history we hear the cry of our migrant brothers and sisters whose voices reflect the voice of Christ Himself.
4. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as immigrants and refugees sought for a place to live and work hoping for a compassionate human response. Today this history repeats itself; this morning we visited detention centers and respite centers for mothers and their adolescent and minor children traveling with them. These centers are described as places of intolerable and inhumane conditions. There we heard the evangelical call: “Because I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was hungry and you gave me food…” (Mt 25:35-36).
5. Over the years we have seen first-hand the suffering that is caused by a broken immigration system caused by political structures and economic conditions that result in threats, deportations, impunity and extreme violence.
6. We have seen the pain, the fear, and the anguish suffered by the persons who have come to us, who may be facing having to live among us in the periphery of our society. Many have been extorted in their workplace, they have lived under the constant threat of deportation and have suffered the fear of the possible separation from their families and friends.
7. This reality is made evident as we consider the measures taken by the present administration. We can sense the pain of the separation of families, loss of employment, persecutions, discrimination, racism, and unnecessary deportations that paralyze the development of persons in our societies and the development of our nations leaving them of hope.
8. Immigration is a global phenomenon that arises from economic and social conditions, and the poverty and insecurity that directly displaces entire populations, causing families to feel that migration is the only way to survive. The migrant has a right to be respected by international law and national law as he/she faces the violence, criminality and inhuman policies of governments as well as the world’s indifference.
9. Regardless of their migration condition, the human dignity that every person possesses, must be respected in the person of the migrant. They are subjected to punitive laws and often mistreated by civil authorities both in their country of origin, the countries through which they travel, and the country of their destination. It is essential that governments adopt policies that respect the human rights of migrants and undocumented residents.
10. The border cities consider themselves to be sister cities and friends, because they share the same land, the same faith, the same traditions, the same culture in solidarity. We bishops shall continue to follow the good example of Pope Francis; we shall seek to construct bridges rather than the walls of exclusion and exploitation.
11. We affirm that the friendship between families and neighbors results in friendship between towns and between countries. Our encounter is already a clear manifestation of joy and a profound sign of lasting hope. The cross that Pope Francis blessed between the cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, in memory of the visit of Pope Francis on February of 2016, has become a sign of unity between the countries. This has become a symbol of encounter, unity and fraternity.
12. We reiterate our commitment to care for pilgrims, strangers, exiles, and migrants affirming that all persons have a right to live in conditions worthy of human life. If these are not given they have a right to migrate (Pope Pius XII), and we pledge ourselves as bishops, members of two different Episcopal Conferences, to monitor the suffering of our migrant brothers and sisters.
13. In the church there are no strangers, migrant families should feel at home in every church as their homeland. (JPII)
14. Through Catholic Charities USA and houses for migrants in Mexico, we will continue to offer qualities services to migrant families including spiritual, legal, and material assistance.
15. Likewise, we will maintain our constant presence in detention camps and assistance centers for migrants, on the border between southern Mexico and the USA.
16. We will continue to support and bless the well-known lay organizations that offer wholehearted support to migrants.
17. We applaud the many families in Mexico and the USA that open their hearts and their homes to migrants on their journey.
18. In these initiatives we find our support in prayer and the significant presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe who has accompanied the migrant since 1531. “Am I not here whom am your mother?”
19. We invite all persons of good will to join us in prayer and in carrying out this ministry, “we fly to your patronage O Holy Mother of God, do not despise our petitions in this hour of need but free us from all danger O Blessed Virgin Mary. Amen”