As one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy, educating the ignorant is a hallmark of human relating. Animals might teach their young, but not in the same way that human beings can. Not only are we capable of instructing another human being in practical matters, but we are able to touch on moral and religious truths. The moral values by which we make our individual decisions are what move entire nations. How are we to act rightly toward the immigrant, for example, if we have not educated our hearts and minds as to the nature of the problems that face those who await full recognition as fellow citizens?
The Church sees the plight of our immigrant population every day and the need to reform a broken immigration system. Catholic Charities of Dallas has processed more DACA applications than any other institution in the nation. In 2013, we had over 15,000 client consultations. The same year, we opened 300 new cases and saw 366 immigration applications submitted. Nonetheless, so many are unaware of the great obstacles that our clients face.
Bishop Kevin Farrell, in his recent blog, noted how campaign commercials for the primary election had demeaning references to immigrants seeking a better life. “Promises to ‘defend our borders’, ‘oppose amnesty’ make it sound like our nation must be defended from an invasion by a mob of hardened criminals determined to undermine our way of life, instead of men and women desperate to find a way to support a family and provide a better future.” He goes on to say that, “These commercials do not address the important issues facing our state and country. …they show no compassion or respect for human dignity.” The title of the blog: Have we no heart?
The Catholic Church in America is a Pilgrim People in a land of immigrants. We have to perceive in the immigrant and the refugee our brother and our sister if we care to think of ourselves as having hearts that see. How many ignorant hearts need educating?
I conclude with words from Pope Francis:
“A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.”