The Dignity of the Human Person

A week or so ago, I watched with shame as an angry mob in southern California surrounded buses filled with frightened, hungry, homeless immigrants, shaking fists, and shouting for them to “get out!”

It was un-American; it was un-biblical; it was inhumane.  It worked, as the scared drivers turned the buses around and sought sanctuary elsewhere.

The incendiary scene reminded me of Nativist mobs in the 1840’s, Know-Nothing gangs in the 1850’s, and KKK  thugs in the 1920’s, who hounded and harassed scared immigrants, Catholics, Jews, and Blacks.

I think of this sad incident today, the feast of New York’s own Kateri Tekakwitha, a native-American (a Mohawk) canonized a saint just three years ago.  Unless we are Native Americans, like Saint Kateri, our ancestors all came here as homesick, hungry, hopeful immigrants.  I don’t think there were any Mohawks among that mob attacking the buses of refugee women and children.

Then on Saturday I watched another scene on the TV news.  Again there were busloads of shy, scared, immigrant women and children; again, there were crowds; this time – - in McAndrews, Texas – - the crowd was applauding the arriving refugees, and helping them into Sacred Heart Parish Hall, where parishioners and Catholic Charities workers welcomed them with a meal, a cold drink, a shower and fresh clothes, toys for the kids, and a cot as they helped government officials try to process them and figure out the next step.

 This time I was not ashamed, but relieved and grateful, proud to be an American and a Catholic.

We might argue and yell about policies, processes, and politics; we can never argue about the dignity of the human person or the sacredness of life, or yell at people who need our help.

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3 Responses to “The Dignity of the Human Person”

  1. I am proud to be an American and I do believe that we are a nation of laws. If we feel that America should have open borders, there is a legislative process to accomplish that.

  2. Josie says:

    I have disagree with you on this. Yes we should be charitable, but enough is is enough
    when it comes to illigal imagrants. When our parents and grandparents came to America they came through the proper channels. It is not right for illigal allians to get things, like insurance medicaid and drivers liscenes, when they are not even citizens.

  3. Michael Marmolejo says:

    You’re Eminence, over and over again I hear the Bishops speaking to US Catholics and all US citizens telling us our responsibilities to the “illegal” immigrant. While I agree with our bishops’ stance on the dignity of these people the one thing I have longed to hear is the bishops speaking to the “illegal” and/or “legal” immigrant’s responsibilities to their host nation. I believe if the bishops publicly speak to both the responsibilities of the concerned US citizen and the immigrants the bishops would greatly aid in a better understanding for all. As a side note it often appears many of the bishops stoop to the level of the media in mischaracterizing and lumping the intent of the majority of the objectors. I applaud you for recognizing the good deeds of those in Texas who greeted the immigrants with open arms. I also ask that you recognize that many of those objecting to the influx of illegal immigrants are otherwise people of compassion at a breaking point who are trying to send a message more to our dysfunctional government than to the immigrants. It is my hope you and your fellow bishops will address the responsibilities of the immigrants and show a more than passing understanding of those who object.

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